Acclaimed authors Bernice L. McFadden and Tyehimba Jess to read at SMU’s 2016 Kimbilio Litfest Thursday, Oct. 13

Creative Writing Program

Acclaimed authors Bernice L. McFadden and Tyehimba Jess to read at SMU’s 2016 Kimbilio Litfest Thursday, Oct. 13

Kimbilio Fiction logoLiterature fans and aspiring authors at SMU and throughout North Texas have an opportunity to meet and read with acclaimed writers Bernice L. McFadden and Tyehimba Jess at SMU’s second annual Kimbilio Litfest.

The group will meet Thursday, Oct. 13, 2016, in McCord Auditorium, 306 Dallas Hall. A reception will be held at 6 p.m., with readings scheduled from 6:30-8:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Professor of English and Creative Writing Director David Haynes started the Kimbilio project in 2012 as a writers’ retreat at SMU-in-Taos. Kimbilio, which means “safe haven” in Swahili, is “a community of writers and scholars committed to developing, empowering and sustaining fiction writers from the African diaspora and their stories,” according to its mission statement.

> Learn more about Kimbilio at kimbiliofiction.com

This year’s guest authors:

Bernice L. McFaddenBernice L. McFadden is the author of nine critically acclaimed novels including Sugar, Loving Donovan, Nowhere Is a Place, The Warmest December, Gathering of Waters (a New York Times Editors’ Choice and one of the 100 Notable Books of 2012), and Glorious, which was featured in O, The Oprah Magazine and was a finalist for the NAACP Image Award. She is a three-time Hurston/Wright Legacy Award finalist, as well as the recipient of three awards from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (BCALA). She lives in Brooklyn, New York. McFadden will read from hter latest novel, The Book of Harlan.

Visit Bernice L. McFadden’s personal homepage: bernicemcfadden.com

Tyehimba JessTyehimba Jess, a Cave Canem and NYU alumnus, received a 2004 Literature Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and was a 2004-05 Winter Fellow at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. His first book of poetry, leadbelly, was a winner of the 2004 National Poetry Series. The Library Journal and Black Issues Book Review both named it one of the “Best Poetry Books of 2005.” His other honors include a 2000-01 Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Poetry, the 2001 Chicago Sun-Times Poetry Award, and a 2006 Whiting Fellowship. Olio, his second collection, was published by Wave Books in April 2016.

Visit Tyehimba Jess’ personal homepage: tyehimbajess.net

> Visit SMU’s Department of English online: smu.edu/english

October 13, 2016|Calendar Highlights, Faculty in the News, News|

2015 Kimbilio Litfest will introduce African-American fiction writers’ organization to SMU Thursday, Oct. 15

Kimbilio Fiction logoLiterature fans and aspiring authors in SMU’s Dallas neighborhood have an opportunity to get acquainted with an African-American fiction writer’s group, founded by a University faculty member, that hosts an annual retreat at SMU-in-Taos.

The inaugural Kimbilio Litfest tour stops on the main campus from 6-8:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015, in 131 Dedman Life Sciences Building. The event is sponsored by the SMU Department of English.

2015 Kimbilio Litfest banner

“This is our first opportunity to introduce Kimbilio to Texas,” says Professor of English and Creative Writing Director David Haynes, who started Kimbilio in 2012. “These are some really extraordinary writers and readers, and we’re really excited to present this emerging national organization to Dallas and the SMU community.”

> Learn more about Kimbilio at kimbiliofiction.com

October’s guest authors include these literary lights:

  • Reginald Dwayne Betts is the author of two books and one poetry collection. Jailed at a young age, Betts spent his late teen years in solitary confinement. While in prison, he corresponded with any poet who would write him back. Once released, he earned an undergraduate degree from Maryland and then a Masters degree in writing from Warren Wilson College. He’s now in his third year at Yale Law. [More about Reginald Dwayne Betts at the Poetry Foundation]
  • Sanderia Faye is a Kimbilio Fellow and author of Mourner’s Bench (University of Arkansas Press, September 2015). Her work has appeared in various literary journals and in Arsnick: The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in Arkansas. Faye is also a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Arts and Humanities at the University of Texas-Dallas. [Sanderia Faye at sanderiafaye.com]
  • Ravi Howard is the author of two novels, Driving the King (Harper, 2015) and Like Trees, Walking (Amistad, 2007), which received the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence and was a finalist for the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award and the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award for Debut Fiction. Howard has recorded commentary for NPR’s “All Things Considered,” and his work has appeared in The New York Times, Massachusetts Review, and Salon. [Ravi Howard on Facebook: Ravi.Howard]
  • LaToya Watkins is a Kimbilio Fellow who has has received fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference and Kimbilio Fiction. Her stories have appeared in online and print publications including Joyland Magazine, Lunch Ticket: Antioch, Los Angeles, Kweli Journal, Ruminate Magazine and Potomac Review. Most recently, she was awarded a 2015 Pushcart Prize for short fiction. [LaToya Watkins on Twitter: @LaToyaSWatkins]
  • Rosalyn Story is a Dallas resident, Kimbilio Fellow, classical violinist, journalist and author of both fiction and nonfiction. A member of the violin section of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra, she divides her time between performing and writing magazine and journal articles on the visual and performing arts. She has also penned three books – including Wading Home, which was adapted as an opera through a collaboration between SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts and the cities of Dallas and New Orleans. [More about Rosalyn Story at GoodReads.com]

Written by Kenny Ryan

> Visit SMU’s Department of English online: smu.edu/english

October 8, 2015|Calendar Highlights, For the Record, News, Save the Date|

SMU’s DeGolyer Library celebrates Joe Coomer’s life in letters

Author Joe Coomer, SMU '81

Award-winning author and SMU alumnus Joe Coomer will be celebrated in a retrospective exhibition running through May 24 at SMU’s DeGolyer Library.

The career and achievements of acclaimed author and SMU alumnus Joe Coomer is celebrated in a retrospective exhibition running through Friday, May 24, 2013 in SMU’s DeGolyer Library.

“Joe Coomer: A Life in Letters” explores Coomer’s creative process using handwritten drafts, manuscripts, galleys, letters, first editions, translations and other materials drawn from the literary archive he recently donated to DeGolyer Library.

The gift of more than 20 boxes of materials includes essays and stories, tests, a transcript and other papers from Coomer’s time as an undergraduate in SMU’s creative writing program. He graduated in 1981.

Known for his graceful prose and memorable characters, Coomer has published eight works of fiction, two non-fiction books and one collection of poetry. His writing has been praised by The Boston Globe as “fresh and authentic” and as “compelling” and a “genuine pleasure” by The New York Times.

The Decatur Road: A Novel of the Appalachian Hill Country by Joe Coomer

A 30th-anniversary edition of Joe Coomer’s debut novel, ‘The Decatur Road: A Novel of the Appalachian Hill Country,’ has been published by SMU’s DeGolyer Library. Coomer graduated from the University in 1981.

“Joe Coomer is one of the great voices to emerge from SMU’s English department and creative writing program,” says Russell L. Martin III ’78, ’86, DeGolyer director. “We are honored and delighted to have his papers, where they will join our growing collection of the archives of other contemporary writers. It is also fitting, during SMU’s centennial, that we recognize our own.”

A 30th-anniversary edition of Coomer’s debut novel, The Decatur Road: A Novel of the Appalachian Hill Country, will be published by DeGolyer Library in conjunction with the exhibit. He will sign copies and talk about his work at a reception and lecture Thursday, April 18 as part of the SMU Founders’ Day weekend. The event will begin at 6 p.m. at the library and will be free and open to the public.

First published in 1983, the book won the Jesse A. Jones Award for Best Work of Fiction from the Texas Institute of Arts and Letters in 1984. He started writing the book as an SMU student.

“I wrote three of the short segments for an independent study with Marsh [Terry]. He liked them, so after I graduated, I wrote 55 more,” Coomer says.

Terry ’53, ’54, who retired in 2007 as the E. A. Lilly Professor of English, founded the creative writing program and the SMU Literary Festival and became Coomer’s mentor and friend.

“Joe Coomer transferred into SMU and came to my office in Dallas Hall and asked, ‘Are you the writing teacher?’ I nodded my head and did my best, and Joe turned out to be the leader of our nationally celebrated SMU Literary Festival. John Updike and Raymond Carver heard him read at the festival and were impressed,” Terry recalls.

> Read the full story from SMU News

 

March 22, 2013|Calendar Highlights, News|

Creative Writing alumna, soon to be published, will speak May 28

Shilpi Somaya Gowda at SMU's 2007 New York Seminar for writersIn a publishing industry hit hard by the economic downturn, Shilpi Somaya Gowda has beaten the odds. Gowda (at right in photo), a 2007 alumna of the Creative Writing Program in SMU Continuing and Professional Education (CAPE), has signed a contract with HarperCollins for her upcoming debut novel, The Secret Daughter. The publisher has given Gowda’s book a release date of winter 2010.

Gowda will share her experiences selling her first novel in an SMU Writer’s Salon at 7 p.m. May 28 at Legacy Books, 7300 Dallas Parkway in Plano.

Even in a slumping and increasingly cautious publishing market, Gowda’s achievement “is proof that excellence sells,” says Amy Heitzman, CAPE executive director in SMU’s Annette Caldwell Simmons School of Education and Human Development.

The novel tells the stories of three women – an Indian who places a daughter for adoption; an American who adopts the girl; and Aisha, the daughter, who travels to India to discover her roots.

Gowda wrote the book while studying in the SMU CAPE Creative Writing Program novel track. She also attended the program’s New York Seminar, where eligible writers meet with editors and agents who have read the beginnings of their books.

“Shilpi is talented. Most of our students are,” says Suzanne Frank, director of the Creative Writing Program and New York Seminar. “But she also had the determination, the drive to write and rewrite until she made her work the best she could. The willingness to work and to learn is probably her – or any writer’s – greatest strength.”

Gowda’s talk will be free and open to the public. RSVP online to the SMU CAPE Creative Writing Program.

Visit SMU Continuing and Professional Education online
Learn more about the SMU CAPE Creative Writing Program

Above, Shilpi Gowda (at right in photo) with fellow participants in the 2007 New York Seminar of the SMU CAPE Creative Writing Program.

May 22, 2009|Calendar Highlights, News|
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