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MFA

Program News

New Book by Fiction Mentor, Robert Clark, is Out Now


"My Victorians is a hybrid in both form and content, part memoir/extended lyric essay but also a work of biography, photography, and cultural, literary, and art history. This is a travelogue of writer Robert Clark’s attempt to work through a sudden and inexplicable five-year-long obsession focused on Victorian novelists, artists, architecture, and critics. He wends his way through England and Scotland, meticulously tracking down the haunts of Charles Dickens, George Gissing, John Millais, the Bloomsbury Group, and others, and documenting everything in ghostly photographs as he goes.

As Clark delves deeper into the Victorian world, he wonders: What can its artists offer a twenty-first century writer by way of insight into his own life and work? His obsession with Victoriana bleeds into all aspects of his life, even the seemingly incongruous world of online dating. My Victorians is in the spirit of Geoff Dyer’s Out of Sheer Rage and Rebecca Mead’s My Life in Middlemarch. This book considers what happens when heartbreak, eros, faith, and doubt drive us to take refuge in the past."
—University of Iowa Press

“Writing fiction or nonfiction, Robert Clark is always mesmerizing. But this small masterwork of historical exploration is something special, moving deftly from personal obsession to cool historical consideration, never losing the narrative beat. My Victorians is passionate, clear-eyed, acute in its analysis. But are these Victorians? Surely he’s shown us ourselves.”

—Patricia Hampl, author, The Art of the Wasted Day 

Buy My Victorians: Lost in the Nineteenth Century here.

Fiction Mentor, Chigozie Obioma, Nominated for the Booker Prize

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Our new first-year fiction mentor Chigozie Obioma was nominated for the Booker Prize for the second time. His novel, An Orchestra of Minorities, is recognized among authors such as Margaret Atwood, Lucy Ellmann, Bernardine Evaristo, Salman Rushdie, and Elif Shafak. 

"Obioma’s latest work has the makings of a classic; in the sense that Italo Calvino describes, Obioma has written ‘a book which with each rereading offers as much of a sense of discovery as the first reading.’ That said, An Orchestra of Minorities does not only tell a tragic love story. It draws readers and critics to the understanding of a man through the metaphysics of existence and through race, socio-political background and economic power as the other factors that decide the fate of men. Steeped in a rich language that does not pander to the West and a narrative style that elevates the beauty of Igbo cosmology, Obioma’s conceptualization of man and fate is rooted in a tradition he has purposefully popularized in this novel...Obioma’s experimentation in his latest effort is, indeed, worthy of attention." 

―Lanre Apata, TheRepublic 


Find out more about the Booker Prize here.

Buy An Orchestra of Minorities here.

Our Winter 2020 Residency Guests

Jamie Quatro's debut novel, Fire Sermon, published in 2018 with Grove Press (U.S.) and Picador (U.K.). Selected as one of the Top Seven Novels of 2018 by The Economist, and named a Book of the Year by the San Francisco Chronicle, Bloomberg, LitHub, and Times Literary Supplement, Fire Sermon is a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers title, an Indie Next Pick, and a New York Times Editors' Choice. 

Quatro's debut collection, I Want To Show You More, was a New York Times Notable Book, an NPR Best Book of 2013, and was chosen as a favorite book of 2013 by James Wood in The New Yorker and Dwight Garner in the New York Times. The collection was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, the Georgia Townsend Fiction Prize, and the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize. 

A contributing editor at Oxford American, Quatro’s work has appeared in Tin House, Ploughshares, McSweeney’s, The New Yorker, the New York Times Book Review, and elsewhere. Her stories are anthologized in the O.Henry Prize Stories 2013, The Story and Its Writer, and the 2018 Pushcart Prize Anthology. She holds an MA in English from the College of William and Mary and an MFA in Fiction from the Bennington College Writing Seminars. A Visiting Professor in the Sewanee School of Letters MFA program, she lives with her husband and four children in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Quatro will lead a Craft Talk about fiction as well as share her work with our students and faculty at a reading.


Philip Metres was born in San Diego and grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. He earned a BA from Holy Cross College and both an MFA and PhD from Indiana University. Metres is the author of the poetry collections To See the Earth (2008), A Concordance of Leaves (2013), which won the Arab American Book Award, Sand Opera (2015), and Pictures at an Exhibition (2016), as well as numerous chapbooks. He is also the editor of the anthology Come Together: Imagine Peace (2008), and he has translated Russian poets in collections such as A Kindred Orphanhood: Selected Poems of Sergey Gandlevsky (2003), Catalogue of Comedic Novelties: Selected Poems of Lev Rubinstein (with Tatiana Tulchinsky, 2004), Compleat Catalogue of Comedic Novelties: Poetic Texts of Lev Rubinstein (with Tulchinsky, 2014), and I Burned at the Feast: Selected Poems of Arseny Tarkovsky (with Tulchinsky, 2015).

A scholar of war literature, Metres wrote the critical study Behind the Lines: War Resistance Poetry on the American Homefront since 1941 (2007). His work has appeared in Best American Poetry, and Inclined to Speak: Contemporary Arab American Poetry and he is the recipient of honors and awards including a National Endowment for the Arts award, a Watson Fellowship, two Ohio Arts Council Grants, and the Cleveland Arts Prize. He teaches literature and creative writing at John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio.

Metres will lead two Craft Talks about poetry and creative nonfiction as well as read his work to our students and faculty.


Peter Hawkins’ work has long centered on Dante, most recently in Dante’s Testaments: Essays on Scriptural Imagination (winner of a 2001 AAR Book Prize), The Poets’ Dante: Twentieth-Century Responses (2001), co-edited with Rachel Jacoff, and Dante: A Brief History (2006). The poet features as well in his expansion of his 2007 Beecher Lectures on Preaching in Undiscovered Country: Imagining the World to Come (2009). His research in the history of biblical reception has led to three co-edited volumes to which he also contributed essays, Scrolls of Love: Ruth and the Song of Songs (2006), Medieval Readings of Romans (2007), and From the Margin I: Women of the Hebrew Bible and their Afterlives (2009). Together with Paula Carlson he edited the Augsburg Fortress four-volume series, Listening for God: Contemporary Literature and the Life of Faith. He has also written on twentieth-century fiction (The Language of Grace), utopia (Getting Nowhere), and the language of ineffability (Naming the Unnamable from Dante to Beckett). Professor Hawkins’ essays have dealt with such topics as memory and memorials, televangelism, scriptural interpretation, and preaching.  He writes regularly for The Christian Century’s “Living by the Word” column and has work forthcoming in the Oxford Encyclopedia of the Bible and the Arts, Anglican Women  Novelists, Medieval Perspectives, and Pedagogy. From 2000 to 2008 he directed the Luce Program in Scripture and Literary Arts at Boston University. While at BU he won the Metcalf Prize for Excellence in Teaching.

Hawkins will lecture at five Art & Faith seminars discussing the relationship between arts and religion. He will be leading us through the entirety of Dante's Divine Comedy. 

Director Scott Cairns' New Book of Poetry is Out Now

"Anaphora is a book of both utterance and stillness, written in the language of attention suffused with the sacred. It is a work composed mid-prayer on the threshold of deep encounter, in the liminal spaces of breakwater and tree line, amidst the high peaks of the north Cascades, in forests of cedar and the silence within unceasing longing for God. These are poems of graceful and deft argument, echoing Wallace Stevens, the Book of Psalms, and the homilies of Saint Isaak of Syria, with whom this poet holds particular affinities. Cairns’ is a poetry of presence and watchfulness, of elegy and beatitude and counsel on how the just must respond to injustice. It is a poetry awake to love’s inspiring agency, soulfully both a burning and a balm, and most especially for our moment, a gift."

—Carolyn Forché, author of The Angel of History and What You Have Heard Is True

"Anaphora—the deliberate repetition of a word or phrase—is the major poetic device of Scott Cairns’ most recent book of echoes and reiterations tuned to the sound of praise and worship.  In other words, Cairns writes to arrive at 'the most of what our words could not.'  These poems exalt the lives of his literal forbears—both mother and father—and his poetic forbears—Strand and Stevens.  But they manage all of this adoration through a real respect for the natural world and the human body as a part of that world…even if (or especially because!) that body grows old, deteriorates: 'these the dimming eyes beholding.'  Look at what Cairns sees when his eyes do the beholding!"

—Jericho Brown, author of The Tradition: Poems.

Buy Anaphora here.

MFA at the 2019 Glen Workshop

Director Scott Cairns will be hosting a poetry workshop called "Writing Outside the Lines." Following an initial conversation regarding how poetic text might best be distinguished from other text, the workshop will collaborate to make each of the submitted poems more accomplished and sustaining poems. One factor in the enhancement of the verse poem on the page will involve the insistence that lines do actual work as lines, that they do more than simply move the syntax along, that they open the poem’s syntactically delivered meaning(s) to other, line-delivered meaning(s).

Our Creative Nonfiction second year mentor Lauren Winner, a writer, priest, professor, longtime writing faculty at the Glen Workshop, and nonfiction section editor for Image, will return to the Glen as chaplain in 2019. In addition to leading the community in morning worship, she’ll host a few unique group activities including visio divina at the Georgia O’Keefe museum. Lauren’s numerous works of spiritual nonfiction include Girl Meets God, Still, and Wearing God. Her most recent book is the academically inflected The Dangers of Christian Practice: On Wayward Gifts, Characteristic Damage, and Sin, recently reviewed in the Christian Century by Image’s editor in chief James KA Smith.

Alumnus and SPU Instructor Jeffrey Overstreet will be leading a film seminar, "It's Complicated: Movies About the Risks, Rewards, and Essential Creativity of Friendship."

We are living in a time that feels increasingly fragmented, as communities become camps of cultural like-mindedness. Marilynne Robinson describes this fragmentation as a threat to America’s foundational ideals: “Democracy, in its essence and genius, is imaginative love for and identification with a community with which, much of the time and in many ways, one may be in profound disagreement.”

Perhaps more than ever, we need imaginative visions of friendships that flourish in spite of, and even because of, fundamental differences in culture, belief, and priorities. In this seminar we will watch six overlooked cinematic treasures from around the world that provide just such visions: movies about fracture, forgiveness, and faithfulness among friends. We will give particular attention to films about relationships between artists. And then we will discuss their narratives, study their cinematic artistry, and talk about what they reveal about our own relationships.

While these visions come from artists from a variety of cultural backgrounds and religious commitments, they all amplify the summons of the Gospel: love your neighbor. Frederick Buechner reminds us that, in order to love them well, “before doing anything else we must see our neighbors. With our imagination as well as our eyes, that is to say like artists, we must see not just their faces but the life behind and within their faces.” 

Find out more about the Glen Workshop here.