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Prairie Schooner News

ZZ Packer is Coming to Lincoln!

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln English Department is pleased to welcome fiction writer ZZ Packer as this year’s Writer in Residence from March 6-16. The recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, Packer was recently named one of America's Young Innovators by Smithsonian Magazine as well as one America's Best Young novelists by Granta Magazine. Her story collection, Drinking Coffee Elsewhere, was a PEN/Faulkner finalist and a New York Times Notable Book. According to Professor Judy Slater, Coordinator of UNL’s Creative Writing Program, “We're lucky to have ZZ Packer as our writer in residence this year. Our writer in residence program is a wonderful opportunity for students to meet and spend time with a nationally known writer over a period of two weeks.”

During her stay in Lincoln, Packer will present two free and open-to-the-public events. On Wednesday, March 7, at 12:30 p.m., Packer will give a craft talk entitled “Voice in Fiction” in the Dudley Bailey Library, located in Andrews Hall, UNL City Campus. On Thursday, March 8, at 7:00 p.m., Packer will give a reading in the Great Plains Art Museum (12th & Q Streets), followed by a reception and book signing. In addition to these events, Packer will be conducting a workshop for UNL graduate students and performing outreach work in the Lincoln community. Slater notes, “We have a vibrant regular reading series in which writers come for a day or two, but the writer in residence program is special."

Packer's stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, Story, Ploughshares, Zoetrope, and Best American Short Stories 2000 and 2004, and her nonfiction has been featured in The New York Times Magazine, The New York Times Book Review, The Washington Post Magazine, The American Prospect, Essence, O, The Believer, and Salon. A contributor to The Huffington Post, Packer has appeared as a commentator on NPR's “Talk of the Nation” and MSNBC. “Her work is fresh, funny, original, and moving,” Slater adds.

According to Professor Kwame Dawes, Editor-in-Chief of Prairie Schooner, “In Packer we have that rare combination of someone who is a genuine literary star and a writer of incredible skill and profound intelligence—she is a writer of substance—a voice we will be hearing from for a long time to come, so it is a real coup to get a writer of that mettle here in Lincoln. Very exciting!”

New Blog and Social Networking Editor Appointed

Prairie Schooner is pleased to introduce its new Blog and Social Networking Editor, Claire Harlan-Orsi!

Harlan-Orsi is a Bloomington, Indiana native. After attending Brown University, she worked as a college counselor for low-income students in Providence and as a youth job developer in Chicago before coming to the University of Nebraska-Lincoln to pursue a PhD. She studies fiction writing and literature, and teaches composition and creative writing courses to undergraduates. She's had fiction and essays published in The Cincinnati Review, MAYDAY, and The Believer.

Stay tuned to Prairie Schooner’s blog, Facebook, and Twitter for exciting news and information. Please help us in welcoming Claire Harlan-Orsi to the Prairie Schooner team!

Poets & Writers News Release on Dawes Honor


New York, NY – Poets & Writers, Inc. has announced that David Baldacci, Kwame Dawes, and Carol Muske-Dukes are the recipients of the 2012 Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award, and Kathryn Court is the recipient of the Editor’s Award.

“We are very proud of this year’s honorees,” said Elliot Figman, executive director of Poets & Writers. “Their diverse concerns, aesthetics, and the variety of ways in which they have extended themselves in order to contribute to the literary community—all of this points to the richness and breadth of contemporary American literature.”

The 2012 awards will be presented at Poets & Writers’ annual benefit dinner, In Celebration of Writers, on March 29, 2012, at Capitale in New York City. The chair of this year’s event is Michael Jacobs, President and CEO of ABRAMS. Continuing a Poets & Writers tradition, writers will be seated at each table. Among the notable authors serving as literary table hosts this year are Kurt Andersen, Robert Caro, Erica Jong, Jay McInerney, Sue Monk Kidd, and Sapphire. Acclaimed humorist Andy Borowitz will serve as the Master of Ceremonies and the novelist Susan Isaacs will present the awards to the honorees.

Tickets to the dinner begin at $500 per person. The evening is expected to generate over $350,000, with proceeds to support Poets & Writers’ extensive programs for creative writers. The Writers for Writers Award was established by Poets & Writers in 1996 to recognize authors who have given generously to other writers or to the broader literary community. The title of the award has been given to Barnes & Noble in appreciation of their sponsorship of Poets & Writers. The Editor’s Award was established in 2009 to recognize a book editor who has made an outstanding contribution to the publication of poetry or literary prose over a sustained period of time.

David Baldacci and his wife, Michelle, established the Wish You Well Foundation to support family literacy. In 2010 the Foundation partnered with Feeding America to launch Feeding Body & Mind, a program to address the connection between literacy, poverty, and hunger. Through Feeding Body & Mind, nearly 1 million new and used books have been collected and distributed through area food banks. David explains, “With this program, people go home with food, which they need to live, as well as with books, which they need to change their lives.” Three Baldacci titles were released in 2011: Zero Day, One Summer, and The Sixth Man. All were published by Grand Central Publishing/HBG and, like his twenty previous novels, all have become national and international bestsellers. His work has been translated into more than 45 languages and sold in more than 80 countries; over 110 million copies are in print worldwide.

Kwame Dawes is a tireless champion for poetry, the literary arts, and community. His efforts have helped facilitate poetry publications in the Caribbean, in South Carolina, and among Black British poets. He was the creative force behind the Emmy Awardwinning Live Hope Love, a multimedia exploration of the lives of
those living with HIV/AIDS in Jamaica. He is a founder and director of Calabash, an international literary festival held in Jamaica since 2001. He also founded and directed the South Carolina Poetry Initiative and the South Carolina Arts Institute. Born in Ghana in 1962, Dawes has written sixteen collections of poetry, most recently Wheels (Peeple Tree Press, 2011). He is the Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner, a Chancellor’s Professor of English at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, and a faculty member of the Pacific MFA program and of Cave Canem.

Carol Muske-Dukes is a fierce and passionate advocate for poets and poetry. She founded a long-running writing program for inmates of New York State prisons in the early 1970’s—Poets & Writers was the
first supporter of this program. She is the current Poet Laureate of California, and co-editor with Bob Holman of Crossing State Lines: an American Renga (FSG, 2011). Carol is the author of eight books of poems, including Twin Cities (Penguin, 2011), two collections of essays, including Married to the Icepick Killer: A Poet in Hollywood (Random House, 2002), and four novels. She is professor of English and Creative Writing and founding Director of the new PhD Program in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Southern California.

Past recipients of the Barnes & Noble Writers for Writers Award include Edward Albee, Judy Blume, Mary Higgins Clark, E. L. Doctorow, Junot Díaz, John Grisham, Stephen King, Barbara Kingsolver, Maxine Hong Kingston, Wally Lamb, Walter Mosley, Susan Sontag, and Amy Tan.

Poets & Writers, the nation’s largest nonprofit organization serving creative writers, believes in contemporary literature’s indispensible value to our national culture. Founded in 1970, P&W’s mission is to foster the professional development of poets and writers, to promote communication throughout the literary community, and to help create an environment in which literature can be appreciated by the widest possible public. Poets & Writers accomplishes this by publishing Poets & Writers Magazine, an award-winning bi-monthly journal; producing a website, pw.org, that provides trustworthy advice, information, and a lively online community for writers; administering the Readings/Workshops Program, which pays writers fees for giving readings and leading workshops throughout New York and California, as well as in eight cities outside those states; and sponsoring awards for writers including the $50,000 Jackson Poetry Prize, the Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award, and the Amy Award. Learn more at pw.org.

Prairie Schooner at AWP

Prairie Schooner is going to the AWP Conference in Chicago from February 29–March 3!

The Annual AWP (Association of Writers & Writing Programs) Conference and Bookfair is the largest annual Creative Writing marquee event in the country, featuring panel discussions and readings by many of the biggest names in literature today. Margaret Atwood will deliver the 2012 Keynote Address. Prairie Schooner Editor-in-Chief Kwame Dawes says, “AWP is always a tremendous gathering—it is one place where a writer feels as if writing is the most important thing in the world. We should get to feel that way at least once a year.” The 2012 conference in Chicago has sold out, meaning the number of registered attendees has exceeded 9,500, an all-time high for AWP.

To match the energy sparked by Prairie Schooner’s brand-new website and web initiatives—such as “Air Schooner,” a literary podcast series, and “Fusion,” an online collaborative series between Prairie Schooner and other innovative online entities—Prairie Schooner will be an important presence at this year’s AWP Conference. On Thursday, March 1, past Prairie Schooner Book-Prize-Winning authors will read at the Prairie Schooner Tenth Anniversary Book Prize Series Reading. Many of these authors will hold a book signing on Friday, March 2, at Prairie Schooner’s table in the Bookfair. Afterward, Glenna Luschei will be one of the presenters on the panel “Under New Management: The Literary Journal in the Changing World.” Friday evening, Prairie Schooner will host a private reception with over 100 guests planning to attend.

One of Prairie Schooner’s most important tasks at AWP is interacting with subscribers, readers, and submitting writers to receive feedback, especially this year with our new cover design, website, web initiatives, and online submission system. Professor Dawes says, “This year we are going to spend a lot of time listening to our subscribers and potential subscribers about what they think of our new look, new initiatives and where they see us going in the future. We hope to take advantage of the record attendance this year and try to excite people about taking out subscriptions to the journal.”

Roughly two-dozen staff members and UNL English faculty will be present as well. Managing Editor Marianne Kunkel says, “We work hard to have a big presence at this conference by offering travel stipends to graduate students willing to work at our bookfair table, encouraging students and faculty members to distribute flyers about the journal on-site, asking everyone to pack cameras and laptops to report about the conference online, and offering many Prairie Schooner-related conference events. This time of year, when the Prairie Schooner community prepares to join a much larger community of national and international creative writers, is exciting. I'm confident that our staff will be great ambassadors for the journal at this conference.”

Irish Issue Launch Party: Feb 9 & 10

The Prairie Schooner Irish Issue Launch Party, a two-day event at the Sheldon Museum of Art, begins tomorrow (Thursday, February 9) and ends Friday, February 10. This free and open-to-the-public event features award-winning Irish writers included in our Winter 2011 Irish Issue, along with other exciting, Irish-themed festivities.

Thursday, from 1:00 – 3:00 p.m., Irish authors Deanie Rowan Blank and Nuala Ní Chonchúir read and interview with Editor-in-Chief Kwame Dawes and Managing Editor Marianne Kunkel, followed from 3:30 – 5:00 p.m. with a panel focusing on contemporary Irish literature. Professor Stephen Behrendt moderates the panel, which includes Karen Babine, Ní Chonchúir, Aidan Rooney, and Bret Shepard.

From 1:00 – 3:00 p.m. on Friday, Irish writers Aidan Rooney and Sandra Bunting read and interview with Professor Grace Bauer and Cody Lumpkin, followed from 3:30 – 5:00 p.m. by the Prairie Schooner Irish issue launch, featuring guest readings from Jeff Alessandrelli, Jennifer Dean, Crystal Gibbins, Jason Hertz, and John Schulze (introduced by Stephen Behrendt).

Friday evening, from 7:00 – 8:00 p.m. in the Sheldon’s Great Hall, Prairie Schooner will host a reception featuring live Irish music along with Irish-themed food and alcoholic beverages, immediately followed at 8 p.m. with readings by Blank, Bunting, Ní Chonchúir, and Rooney.

Wheeler Appointed Web Editor

We’re pleased to announce that Theodore Wheeler has been appointed the new Web Editor of Prairie Schooner. Wheeler was previously the Blog and Social Networking Editor. He will be taking over the reins of the online presence from Timothy Schaffert.

Wheeler is a fiction writer who lives in Omaha with his wife and daughter. An alumnus of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (BA '05) he’s been a reader for Prairie Schooner the past four years, the past two as a Senior Fiction Reader, and was the journal’s first Blog and Social Networking Editor. His short stories have appeared in Best New American Voices 2009, The Kenyon Review, Boulevard, The Cincinnati Review, Confrontation, and other venues. Two of those stories won prizes from Boulevard and The Cincinnati Review; one of them was a special mention story in the 2010 Pushcart Prize anthology and has been used in a class designed to help military veterans and their families address issues of reintegrating into society following time in combat. Wheeler’s book reviews have been featured in Prairie Schooner, The Iowa Review Online, The Millions, and Pleiades. He’s been awarded scholarships from the Wesleyan Writers Conference, the Key West Literary Seminar, the Port Townsend Writers Conference, and earned an MA in Creative Writing as a fellow at Creighton University. He’s currently working on a novel set in Omaha during World War I and the Red Summer of 1919. Find out more about Ted at his blog, The Uninitiated.

Kwame Dawes in Scotland

If you happen to be in Ayr, Scotland this March for StAnza 2012--Scotland's international poetry festival--be sure to catch the reading by Prairie Schooner Editor Kwame Dawes on Tuesday, March 13. The event, titled "Kwame Dawes: Poetry from Jamaica," will take place at the Robert Burns Birthplace Museum, and begins at 7pm.

Read more here.

2011 Pushcart Nominations

On Dec. 1, we submitted Pushcart Prize nominations. Congratulations and best of luck to our nominees:

“Counting Sheep” by Linda Pastan, a poem from the Fall Issue.

“I'll Tell You about Speaking In Tongues” by Roxanne Beth Johnson, a poem from the Spring issue.

“Early Explorer’s Journal” by Desiree Alvarez, a poem from the Fall issue.

“Peach” by Nuala Ní Chonchúir, a short story from the forthcoming Winter issue.

“The Bird Lady” by Melodie Edwards, a short story from the Summer issue.

“How to Eat a Quince” by Patrick Toland, a poem from the forthcoming Winter issue.

Blog and Social Networking Editor

Prairie Schooner is excited to announce the creation of a new staff position, Blog and Social Networking Editor, and delighted to welcome Theodore Wheeler into the role.

Wheeler steps into the position after serving as a senior fiction reader for Prairie Schooner. His fiction has appeared in Best New American Voices, Kenyon Review, Boulevard, Cincinnati Review, and Confrontation, among others. He was awarded a residency at the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, and his work was listed among the Special Mention stories in the 2010 Pushcart Prize anthology. Wheeler lives in Omaha with his wife and daughter.

Pastan on Poetry Daily

Linda Pastan's "Counting Sheep," which originally appeared in our Fall 2011 issue, was the featured poem on Nov. 26 on Poetry Daily!