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MFA

Program News

New Poetry Mentors Mischa Willett and Jennifer Maier

Although we are saddened to say goodbye to our poets and friends Bob Cording, longtime MFA faculty mentor, and Karen An-hwei Lee, new Provost of Wheaton College, we welcome our new mentors! Mischa Willett and Jennifer Maier have joined our ranks as first and second year poetry mentors, respectively.  Both currently also serve as undergraduate professors at Seattle Pacific University. 

Mischa Willett is the author of The Elegy Beta (Mockingbird 2020) and Phases (Cascade, 2017), which was listed among the Best Books of 2017 by the Washington Independent Review of Books. Also a scholar of Romantic aesthetics, Willett serves as editor of the poems of Phillip James Bailey, and publishes research on Coleridge, Wordsworth, and Shelley. 

His poems, academic articles, essays, and translations appear in journals such as Chronicle of Higher Education, The Gospel Coalition, Victorian Literature and Culture, Rio Grande Review, The Cresset, Comment Magazine and elsewhere.

Jennifer Maier is a professor of poetry and modern literature, as well as Writer in Residence, at Seattle Pacific University, where she also co-founded and directs the English Department's Rome Study Abroad Program. From 2007-2018 she served as associate editor of the arts quarterly Image. Her work has appeared in Poetry, Plume, The Gettysburg Review, American Poet, New Letters, and elsewhere. Her first book, Dark Alphabet (Southern Illinois UP), was named on of the Ten Remarkable Books of 2006 by the Academy of American Poets and was shortlisted for the 2008 Poets' Prize; a second, Now, Now, was published in 2013 from The University of Pittsburgh Press. Her latest collection The Occupant, is expected in 2021 from The University of Pittsburgh Press. 

Welcome aboard!

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.

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.