16. Practice & Patience: A Dialogue with 2014 Masters Review Author Drew Ciccolo

Drew Ciccolo Masters Review

Drew Ciccolo, a 2014 graduate of Rutgers University-Newark’s MFA Program, won Talking Writing‘s 2013 prize for creative non-fiction. His story “The Behemoth” was selected by Lev Grossman for the 2014 anthology, The Masters Review. A first-year PhD candidate in the Rutgers-Newark American Studies program this fall, he will study, among other things, representations of culture and socialization in fiction containing non-mimetic elements. His website is forthcoming.


Giveaway Details

We’re giving away two copies of the The Masters Review Volume III, which opens with Drew’s story, The Behemoth. To be entered in the drawing, leave a comment on this blog post or on the Facebook post. Click here to like The Postmasters Podcast on Facebook! We’ll announce the winners later this month.

Highlights

On the MFA Draft Facebook Group group…

“You get a feel for what schools people are applying to… I definitely noticed people supporting each other and boosting each other’s spirits, and that seemed like a good thing.”

On choosing Rutgers’ MFA program…

“I applied to either 11 or 13 programs. [On Facebook,] I saw that people were worried about the cost of application. I’ll suck it up on the application costs if it means I could get some kind of a funding package somewhere.”

On patience as a writer…

“Most people [at the start of the MFA] hadn’t even written ten stories, me included. If you put that in the context of a writing life, it’s really just the beginning.”

Advice to people considering an MFA…

“When MFA faculty are looking at applications, they’re trying to find people, not who have written the most polished story, but they’re looking for people who… if they were they to work with this person, some good would come out of it.”

Who’s Who

The Masters Review

Donald Barthelme

Steven Millhauser

Justin Taylor

Jayne Anne Phillips

Rutgers University MFA Program

University of Florida MFA Program

Akhil Sharma

Alice Elliott Dark

Paige, Drew Ciccolo’s personal essay won Talking Writing‘s 2013 prize for nonfiction

James Goodman

Closing Quote

In this there is no measuring with time, a year doesn’t matter, and ten years are nothing. Being an artist means: not numbering and counting, but ripening like a tree, which doesn’t force its sap, and stands confidently in the storms of spring, not afraid that afterward summer may not come. It does come. But it comes only to those who are patient, who are there as if eternity lay before them, so unconcernedly silent and vast. I learn it every day of my life, learn it with pain I am grateful for: patience is everything! ~ Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet

15. Essay Therapy: A Dialogue w/ Nonfiction Writer Suzanne Hegland

suzanne_hegland

Suzanne Hegland completed her MFA in Nonfiction at Lesley University in 2011. Something of a perpetual student, she also holds a Master’s in History and a Master’s in Education. Founder of Essay Therapy, Suzanne has combined her deep knowledge of what goes on “back stage” in higher education with her love of teaching and her passion for narrative nonfiction to work with students on the dreaded college application essay. Suzanne teaches College Writing and is the Director of the Writing Center at New England Conservatory in Boston. When she’s not talking about writing to musicians, she plays the role of Associate Dean of Students. Suzanne’s work has appeared in The Boston Globe, The World Scholar, Femamom, The Huffington Post, and Creative Nonfiction. She claims to be working on her manuscript Comfort Measures Only, and sometimes this is true. {27:54}

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12. The Replacement Life: A Dialogue with Author Boris Fishman

boris_fishman

If you’re wondering what to read this summer, you’ve tuned into the right podcast. We’re excited to have Boris Fishman joining us today to talk about his debut novel, The Replacement Life, out from HarperCollins on June 3rd. It’s a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers pick for the summer, and having recently finished the book myself, I heartily agree with that choice!

Boris was born in Minsk, in the former Soviet Union, in 1979, and emigrated to the United States in 1988. He received a degree in Russian Literature from Princeton University, and an MFA in Fiction from New York University, where he was a New York Times Foundation Fellow. The list of residences and fellowships he’s received includes the New York Foundation of the Arts, Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Mass., and the Djerassi Resident Artist Program in Northern California. Boris’s journalism, essays, and criticism have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine and Book Review, Harper’s, Vogue, The London Review of Books, and The Wall Street Journal, among other publications. He worked on the editorial staff of The New Yorker, but has also supported his writing by working as a hiking guide, a farm laborer, a market researcher, and the editorial director of a tech start-up. But today he’s here to talk about writing fiction. (29:39)

 

Website: borisfishman.com

Highlights

“None of it happened, but it’s all true.” — Novelist Arthur Phillips

“You work alone in a room, day in and day out, for three years, and then your agent calls you one day and says that HarperCollins wants to issue a preempt offer for this novel… It’s meant to reflect the enthusiasm of the house for the book. To get any offer at all would have been incredibly affirming after three years of uphill climbing. Years that, I want to point out, were filled with no after no.”

“Even when I was getting said no to… it was still kind of amazing that the answer wasn’t, I don’t think this could sell. The answer was, I need to be on fire about this, and because I’m not, I regretfully have to turn it away… So, even though the answer was no, it’s wonderful to be part of a business where the heart is deciding along with the mind and the wallet.”

“You’re calling me on a very significant day. Just this very morning I finished revising my second novel. So, I will be having a drink later.”

“I’m just about fully secular, however, I feel profoundly Jewish… I grew up in a very secular country. So, where I connect to Jewishness is the literature, the culture, the history, the humor, the language, the inflection, the grammar, the way of speaking.”

“Everyone agrees that money can’t restitute suffering, and yet the slate is expected to be wiped clean after [restitution is made]. One of the amazing things about Germany, at least for me as a Jew, and as the grandson of a survivor, is that this country has continued to remember its responsibility and to commemorate long after it satisfied its monetary obligations, such as they are.”

“I’m the child of immigrants; it would be so awesome if I were interested in something more stable and lucrative than writing fiction. So, even as there’s [one eye on] MFA world, the other eye is swiveling around looking for other opportunities. It’s a blessing that they came along relatively rarely.”

“I’m the one-man MFA-defense army. It’s so fashionable to knock MFAs these days. In my case, it was essential. It provided structure that I didn’t have, deadlines… It made me interested in discipline in a way I hadn’t been previously. I did not start writing every day until I started my MFA. Like a job, every morning, Monday through Friday.”

Who’s Who & Books

Bernard Malamud — An American novelist and short story writer whose “gorgeously mangled syntax” inspired Boris in his writing of The Replacement Life.

Jonathan Lethem — Author of Dissident Gardens

Darin Strauss — Author of Half a Life

Wild East: Stories from the Last Frontier by Boris Fishman

This Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolff

Other Stuff

Ringleader of $57 million Holocaust survivor fraud found guilty (2013)

The Case for Reparations (by Ta-Nehisi Coates for The Atlantic)

Closing Quote

This month, we have four!

I carry a window in order to look at what I wish. ~ Jim Harrison

Some people have to burn up or become smudge. ~ Jim Harrison

In writing, I had to say what had happened to me, yet present it as though it had been magically revealed. ~ Bernard Malamud

Beware, o wanderer, the road is walking, too. ~ Rilke

07. Life, Poetry & the Freak Show: A Dialogue w/ Poet Valerie Bandura

Valerie_Bandura

Poet Valerie Bandura

Born in the former Soviet Union, Valerie Bandura received degrees from Columbia University and the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College, where she served as the Joan Beebe Teaching Fellow. She was awarded a residency from the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference and the James Merrill Fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center. Her poems have appeared, among other publications, in Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, Crazyhorse, Alaska QuarterlyThird Coast, and the Best New Poets anthology. She teaches writing at Arizona State University. (27:47)

Valerie’s Website: http://valeriebandura.com/

We’re giving away a free copy of Freak Show! Details at the bottom of the post… Continue reading