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MFA Program for Poets & Writers

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Title: MFA Program for Poets & Writers  
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Subject: Ethan Paquin, University of Massachusetts Amherst, List of Louisiana State University alumni
Collection: Creative Writing Programs, Master's Degrees, University of Massachusetts Amherst
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MFA Program for Poets & Writers

The MFA Program for Poets & Writers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is a graduate creative writing program.


  • History 1
  • About 2
  • Events 3
  • Grants 4
  • Current faculty and staff 5
  • Faculty awards 6
  • Alumni 7
  • Periodical publications 8
  • UMass MFA Program-related projects 9
  • External links 10


The MFA Program for Poets & Writers was founded in the 1960s by poet Joseph Langland and is part of the English Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.


The program sponsors regular readings by creative writers and poets through its Visiting Writers Series. Recent visitors to the MFA Program for Poets & Writers include Tomaž Šalamun, Eleni Sikelianos, Thomas Sayers Ellis, William H. Gass and David Ohle. MFA students in the graduate creative writing program have the opportunity to participate in both the Mohawk Trail Writers in the Schools program and the Literary Arts and Outreach Internship Program.



Current faculty and staff

  • Noy Holland's first book, The Spectacle of the Body (Knopf), was nominated for the National Book Award. She is also the author of the book, What Begins With Bird (FC2). Her short stories have appeared in Story Quarterly, Glimmer Train, Conjunctions, Noon, Black Warrior Review, Open City and The Quarterly. Noy Holland is the recipient of fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, Bread Loaf Writers Conference, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts. In addition to being an Associate Professor in The MFA Program for Poets & Writers, she is the director of the Writers in the Schools Project and co-directs The University of Massachusetts' Juniper Initiative for Literary Arts and Action. She is married to fellow writer Sam Michel, who also teaches in The MFA Program for Poets & Writers. Padgett Powell on Noy Holland: "If you could breed a writer out of Faulkner by John Hawkes, and put it in a female frame, you might have Noy Holland."
  • Sabina Murray is the author of Slow Burn (Ballantine, 1990), A Carnivore's Inquiry (Grove/Atlantic, 2004) and The Caprices (Houghton Mifflin, 2002), which won the 2003 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction). She has held several important fellowships, including the Michener Fellowship at The University of Texas and the Bunting Fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute of Harvard University. Her stories have appeared in The New England Review, Ontario Review, and Ploughshares. Sabina Murray is the author of the screenplay The Beautiful Country, which stars Nick Nolte. Terrence Malick commissioned The Beautiful Country project. She is married to the poet John Hennessey.
  • James Tate's books of poetry include Return to the City of White Donkeys (Harper Collins, 2004); Memoir of the Hawk (Ecco Press, 2001); Shroud of the Gnome (1997); Worshipful Company of Fletchers (1994); Selected Poems (1991); Distance from Loved Ones (1990); Reckoner (1986); Constant Defender (1983); Riven Doggeries (1979); Viper Jazz (1976); Absences (1972); Hints to Pilgrims (1971); The Oblivion Ha-Ha (1970); and his first book, The Lost Pilot (1967), which was selected by Dudley Fitts for the Yale Series of Younger Poets. He is also the author of prose works: Lucky Darryl (1977), Hottentot Ossuary (1974), Dreams of a Robot Dancing Bee (2001) and The Route as Briefed (1999). He has received the National Book Award, the Pulitzer Prize, the National Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Poetry, the Wallace Stevens Award, a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. James Tate edited The Best American Poetry 1997 and is a Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets.
  • Dara Wier is the author of several books of poetry, including Reverse Rapture (2005), Blue for the Plough (1992), Hat on a Pond (2002), Voyages in English (2001), Our Master Plan (1998), The Book of Knowledge, (1988), All You Have in Common (1984), The 8-Step Grapevine (1980) and Blood, Hook & Eye (1977). Her tenth book of poetry, Remnants of Hannah, is forthcoming (2006). She is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. She has received the Jerome Shestack Prize, the Pushcart Prize and was a Phi Beta Kappa award finalist. Her work has been anthologized in The Best American Poetry and The Pushcart Prize Anthology. Dara Wier is the director of The MFA Program for Poets & Writers and co-directs The University of Massachusetts' Juniper Initiative for Literary Arts and Action. John Vernon on Dara Wier: "A Sappho of decomposition, Dara Wier will not provide the solace for which you may have been looking but within my American reading she is one of the most original female poets since Sylvia Plath." John Ashbery on Dara Wier: "It may not be for the faint of heart—most intense experiences aren't—but those who stay with it will find themselves face to face with a world whose eerily sharp focus suggests recent satellite photographs of Mars. And they will never be the same again."
  • Chris Bachelder is the author of Bear v. Shark: The Novel and U.S.! (Bloomsbury Press). He is a contributor to McSweeney's Quarterly Concern and The Believer. His e-book, Lessons in Large-Market Freelance Virtual Tour Photography, was published by Future Profits Now, the business and technology publication line of McSweeney's Books. Michael Chabon on Chris Bachelder: "Like the wonderful Bear vs. Shark, U.S.! is a mad contraption of a novel, an encyclopedia of all our rich American armamentarium of bullshit, cant, ad copy and hyperbole (including the blurbs on book jackets). But this one carries secret reserves of heartbreak and ruefulness that propel it farther and deeper into the reader's imagination. We need novelists like Chris Bachelder who can, with a microfine sense of humor and a tragic sense of history, almost make it all make sense. We're lucky to have him." Chris Bachelder will join the creative writing faculty at The University of Massachusetts in Fall of 2006.
  • Peter Gizzi is the author of Some Values of Landscape and Weather, Artificial Heart, and Periplum and other poems 1987-92. He has published several limited-edition chapbooks, folios, and artist books. His work has been translated into several languages. Peter Gizzi's honors include the Lavan Younger Poet Award from the Academy of American Poets (1994) and fellowships from the Howard Foundation, The Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts, and The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. He has held residencies at The MacDowell Colony, The Foundation of French Literature at Royaumont, Un Bureau Sur L'Atlantique, and the Centre International de Poesie Marseille (cipM). His editing projects have included o•blék: a journal of language arts, The Exact Change Yearbook, and The House That Jack Built: The Collected Lectures of Jack Spicer.
  • Anthony Giardina is the author of Men With Debts, A Boy's Pretensions and The Country of Marriage. His plays have been produced at, among other places, the Manhattan Theater Club in New York, the Long Wharf Theater in New Haven and the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. He is a regular contributor to Harper's, Esquire, GQ and The New York Times Magazine. Giardina's latest novel, White Guys, was recently published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. He is currently on tour. He has been interviewed and reviewed by, among others, Beatrice, Robert Birnbaum, and The New York Times.

Faculty awards

The faculty at this graduate creative writing program have received many awards, including the National Endowment for the Arts and The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.


Periodical publications

  • jubilat
  • The Massachusetts Review
  • Route Nine
  • Crate

UMass MFA Program-related projects

Literary Magazines, Journals and websites run by current and former students

  • Glitter Pony Magazine
  • Audio Blog
  • Verse
  • Kulture Vulture
  • Mustachioed
  • Slope
  • Slope Editions
  • Conduit
  • Wave Poetry
  • Brain Case Press
  • The Chuckwagon
  • The Creative Writing Handbook by MFA alum Tom Kealey.
  • Corollary Press

External links

  • The MFA Program for Poets & Writers Official website
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