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Contributor Spotlight on Jacob Newberry

by Dan Froid

Occasionally I become enamored of certain Twitter accounts—it isn’t only me, right?—taking pleasure in them nearly as if they were a weird, fragmentary novel. A sort of voyeuristic pleasure, sure, but one which the Internet offers in spades. I have, anyway, been enjoying Jacob Newberry’s tweets lately, which shift among poetic and satirical modes; which reference what music he’s listening to (Etta James, Aretha Franklin) and crack jokes about Golden Girls—my kind of Twitter account. Fortunately, Newberry is also a writer, and so we can take greater pleasure in reading his fiction, essays, and poetry.

Newberry is a PhD student at Florida State University. His work has appeared in Granta, Ploughshares, Kenyon Review, and Iowa Review, among others. He has won the Southwest Review’s 2012 McGinnis-Ritchie Prize for Best Fiction. In profile with FSU, he elaborates on the time he spent in Jerusalem as a Fulbright scholar, a period that resulted in his essay “What You Will Do,” which won the Ploughshares Emerging Writers’ Contest in Nonfiction. As he explains in the interview, “This essay is my attempt to evoke the panic and claustrophobia that Jerusalem so often exudes . . . . I wrote it in the second person, with the goal of implicating the reader in the inescapable anxiety that the city produces in anyone who is paying even the smallest amount of attention.” Check out the essay here. Newberry’s interest in evoking place carries over more recently to “Place de Clichy,” which featured in our recent round-up of Prairie Schooner writing prize winners: this essay won Newberry this year’s Bernice Slote Award for a beginning writer. “Place de Clichy” was published in the summer issue. You can read an excerpt here (full access with Project MUSE subscription).

For more from Newberry, check out his website, which includes numerous links to his work online. And, of course, see what I mean and follow him on Twitter, @jacobhottberry.