Pitt graduate Dennis Palumbo (B.A., 1973), author of From Crime to Crime and Writing From the Inside Out, recently examined the trend to label irresponsible and selfish behavior as evidence of a mental illness in an article in The Huffington Post. “Do You Suffer From Political Apathy Disorder?” appeared in the January 22, 2009 edition of the blog. You can read Mr. Palumbo’s thought-provoking piece here.
As one of the oldest writing programs in the United States, the Writing Program at the University of Pittsburgh has an excellent record of not only producing talented creative writers but also developing the writing skills of undergraduates who go on to work in a variety of professions, including journalism, law, and publishing.
We created the Minor in response to a number of students saying they were passionately interested in writing but their main major required too much of a commitment for them to take on a second major. The Minor in Creative Writing fulfills a need that is different from the certificate in Public and Professional Writing, with its particular focus on writing in business, nonprofit, government, and legal environments, and the Writing Major, which requires a more substantial commitment of time and study.
We know from many different sources (CEOs, personnel and graduate school committees) that those students who write well, no matter what their major might be, are the students who get noticed by employers. The kind of self-examination that the practice of writing encourages, as well as the ability to organize information into narrative, expressive and communicative forms, will always make candidates stand out. We hope, as a side effect, to also attract students who might want to work at the intersections of, say, Neuroscience and the Humanities, or students who want to think about and articulate the kind of complex relationships a more connected world creates.
Work by Visiting Writer Sherrie Flick, who teaches Readings in Contemporary Fiction with a focus on Flash Fiction, will be included in an upcoming anthology of flash fiction craft essays, The Rose Metal Press Field Guide to Writing Flash Fiction. The anthology is ready for pre-order at the press' Website now, but the book itself will be printed and ready to launch by mid-May. The anthology will also include essays by other experts in the field—including Robert Olen Butler, Ron Carlson, Kim Chinquee, Stuart Dybek, Jayne Anne Phillips and Deb Olin Unferth, along with a history-packed introduction by editor Tara L. Masih.
An essay by Lois Williams (Lecturer, Department of English), “The House of Provisions,” published by Granta (Issue 103), has been honored with a Notable Essay selection in the 2009 issue of The Best American Essays, edited by Mary Oliver.
From the department website:
Lois Williams teaches poetry, reading, and writing in the Department's undergraduate curriculum. She writes about landscape, family, and migration and is currently at work on a nonfiction book about the invention of home. Her essay “The House of Provisions” appears in the October 2008 issue of Granta.
Congratulations to Rebecca Skloot (MFA Nonfiction, 2008), whose upcoming book, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, was just named A Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers pick, Spring 2010.
Publishers Weekly writes, that Skloot's work is “a remarkable debut … a rich, resonant tale of modern science, the wonders it can perform and how easily it can exploit society’s most vulnerable people.“
Her name was Henrietta Lacks, but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors, yet her cells — taken without her knowledge — became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture, they are still alive today, though Henrietta has been dead for nearly sixty years. They were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer, viruses, and the effects of the atom bomb; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization, cloning, and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions.
Now Rebecca Skloot takes us on an extraordinary journey, from the “colored” ward of Johns Hopkins Hospital in the 1950s to the small, dying town of Clover, Virginia — a land of wooden slave quarters, faith healings, and voodoo — to East Baltimore today, where Henrietta’s children, unable to afford health insurance, wrestle with feelings of pride, fear, and betrayal. Their story is inextricably linked to the birth of bioethics, the dark history of experimentation on African Americans, and the legal battles that could determine whether we own our bodies. Intimate in feeling, astonishing in scope, and impossible to pub down, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks captures the beauty and drama of scientific discovery, as well as its human consequences.
Visiting Assistant Professor Elizabeth Kadetsky’s essay “Modeling School” appears in Going Hungry, published this month by Anchor.
The War Against Miss Winter, the first novel in Kathryn Miller Haines’ Rosie Winter Mystery series, has been nominated for a Reader’s Choice Award by the Salt Lake County Library Association. (MFA 1998)
Current MFA student Mark Kramer’s “Immigrant Stories” is one of seven essays featured in Creative Nonfiction’s latest publication, Pittsburgh in Words.
Hey! Cathy Day is in here, too! Read “Week 4: Colts @ Jets, or Against the Odds”.
Brendan Kerr’s “The Sunbather” has been chosen as one of ten finalists for the Wordstock short fiction award. And another story, “The Believer,” has been selected as one of 25 finalists for the Glimmer Train Family Matters short fiction award. (MFA 2007)
West Virginia University Eberly School of Arts and Sciences presented Professor Chuck Kinder with an Alumni Recognition Award.
Kristin Naca’s Bird Eating Bird (Harper Collins, 2009) was named winner of the National Poetry Series contest, judged by Yusef Komunyakaa. In this video, she sits down with the Pulitzer Prize winning poet who thought her work was the best. (MFA 2003)
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.
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.
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.