University of Pittsburgh


News Archive

Pitt's English Department Ranked One of the Top Five in PA

We're pleased to report that a recent study places Pitt's Department of English among the top five in Pennsylvania. And we're a big state. 

Eugene Cross Wins 2009 Dzanc Prize for Exellence in Literary Fiction and Community Service

The Writing Program is pleased to announce that Eugene Cross (MFA Fiction, 2006)is the winner of the 2009 Dzanc Prize for Excellence in Literary Fiction and Community Service. Cross was selected from more than 100 applicants for both the quality of his fiction writing, as well as his proposal to set up and run a progressive series of creative workshops for refugees from Nepal, Sudan and Bhutan-in Erie, PA. The $5,000 prize is awarded annually to a writer working toward completion of a novel or short story collection who is also interested in bettering their community through literary community service. You can find out more about Eugene, his project, and Dzanc Books here.

Sangeeta Mall reports "Incredible Response" to readings.

Sangeeta Mall, a graduate of Pitt’s MFA program, is reporting an “incredible” response at recent readings from her upcoming novel, Cloud 9 Minus One.  Mall, who has been focusing on reading to groups of women, gives her all at every reading, commenting that “the way the women react makes it all worth it.”  Mall’s novel will be published by Harper Collins India in June 2009.

Pitt Alumnus Rebecca Skloot Featured on Cover of Publisher's Weekly

Rebecca Skloot (MFA Nonfiction, 2008) is featured on the cover of the current issue of Publishers Weekly in promotion of her upcoming book from Crown, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, which has been making quite the literary splash. The book, also her MFA thesis here at Pitt, delves into the fascinating and transcendent legacy of Henrietta Lacks, a Southern tobacco farmer, and more importantly, her cells. 

From Publisher's Weekly:

"Henrietta Lacks was an accidental medical heroine. The black, 31-year-old mother of four died of cervical cancer in Baltimore in 1951. But before her death, doctors took cervical tissue samples that proved to be medicine's holy grail—Henrietta's cells (known as HeLa) were the first ever to survive in the laboratory, and the cells reproduced ad infinitum, providing material for medical research to be done outside the human body.”

Skloot's book was also recently named a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Pick. 

Read the profile of Skloot and her amazing journey to publication at the Publishers Weekly website. 

Kusnic Named Semifinalist in 1st Annual Norman Mailer Competition

Peter Kusnic (Senior, Creative Writing) has earned recognition as a national semifinalist in the first annual Norman Mailer College Writing Award for Creative Nonfiction competition. 

From the National Council of Teachers of English:

Norman Mailer produced extraordinary writing in many genres, and he was a true pioneer in the emerging realm of creative nonfiction. Thus, evaluation criteria for this award reflected qualities of writing he pursued across a lifetime: originality; insight; clear voice and style; artful arrangement of elements and materials; and overall aesthetic, emotional, or intellectual effect. Out of the extraordinarily rich pool of
work submitted, [Kusnic's] was deemed to show considerable promise, and fell within the top 3% of entries received from College writers.


April 2008


Robin Clarke’s poetry manuscript, “Cryptography for R. Lansberry,” was selected as a finalist for the Fence/Motherwell prize. Fence is a print and online literary journal that offers the Motherwell prize for a first or second book of poems by a woman writer. (MFA 2008)

Professor Fiona Cheong was named one of four finalists for the Make It Your Own Award for her proposal, “Re-Imagining Our City.” 

Karin Lin-Greenberg (MFA 2005) just heard that she’ll be a Visiting Assistant Professor at College of Wooster for the next three years.

“The Plain, Unmarked Box Arrived,” an essay by Lori Jakiela (MFA 1992), was published in the April 13, 2008 edition of The New York Times. Lori is an associate professor at Pitt-Greensburg and directs the writing program. 

Lecturer Jeff Oaks received the 2008 David and Tina Bellet Arts and Sciences Teaching Excellence Award.  The award recognizes outstanding and innovative teaching in Arts and Sciences.

Professor Irina Reyn participated in the Hedgebrook Writer’s Residency.

December 2008

Liz Ahl’s chapbook, A Thirst That’s Partly Mine, won the 2008 Slapering Hol Press chapbook competition and has been published in a handbound/numbered edition of 500. She is currently Associate Professor and Chair of the English Department at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire. (MFA 1995)

Pitt faculty member Jeanne Marie Laskas appeared on WNYC’s Leonard Lopate Show, talking about the changes in the world of magazine publishing and what effects, if any, are being felt in graduate creative writing programs. Listen in.

Gregory Lawless’s debut book of poems, I Thought I was New Here, will be published by BlazeVOX in 2009. (B.A. 2001)

Ashleigh Pederson (M.F.A 2009) had a story accepted at The Iowa Review. "Small and Heavy World" will appear in the August 2009 issue.

The English translation of Horacio Castellanos Moya’s Senselessness made NPR’s Best Foreign Fiction of 2008 list!

"Hunters," a short story by Eugene Cross (MFA 2005), is out in Hobart.


Pitt MFA Student Publication News

David James Keaton's (MFA Fiction, 2010) short story "Nine Cops Killed For A Goldfish Cracker" appears in the new Comet Press dark crime anthology The Death Panel. His online publications in 2009 included fiction in Thuglit, Espresso Stories, Big Pulp, Six Sentences, Pulp Pusher, and Crooked. A review of his work is available here.

Two essays by Joshua Schriftman (MFA Nonfiction, 2010) have just been accepted for publication. "How to Build Your Own Labyrinth" was accepted for publication in The Pinch, and "On Silence" was accepted by The Ninth Letter.

Emily Testa (MFA Fiction, 2009) breaks down Papirmasse Magazine for The Walrus.

"Eschaton," by Jonathan Callard (MFA Nonfiction, 2010) has been chosen for publication in an upcoming issue of Arts & Letters.

An essay by Emily Stone (MFA Nonfiction, 2010), "On the Occasional Importance of a Ceiling Fan," was recently cited among the "Notable Travel Writing of 2008" in The Best American Travel Writing 2009, edited by Simon Winchester. "On the Occasional Importance of a Ceiling Fan" was also included in the Best Travel Writing 2008, published by Travelers' Tales.

"Clear Blue Michigan Sky" written by Robert Yune (MFA Fiction, 2008) will appear in volume 23 of Green Mountains Review.

Kelly Ramsey's Reading Receives Good Review

Congratulations to MFA student Kelly Ramsey, whose reading at Garfield's Modern Formations Gallery garnered a nice review from City Paper's Bill O'Driscoll. Click here to read the article.

Revised 01/17/2019
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