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Alumni Updates Spring 2023

Submitted by Henry J Laufenberg on May 26, 2023 - 3:30pm

As faithful readers of English Matters have no doubt noticed, our alumni updates can lean towards celebrating new publications.  But this time around we have reached a new benchmark: if we include speeches and plays, all of our alumni updates this spring celebrate new publications.  Every. Last. One. English Matters is thrilled to report on our talented graduates’ accomplishments!  And we can hardly wait for the next round of books, plays, and critical works to drop – please keep us in the loop regarding your publishings.   But dear alumni do please also let us know as well if you’ve done something as apparently unusual as not writing a book.  We are delighted to convey your honors, achievements and good news.  Now on with new publications!


Playwright Duane Kelly (BA’73) had a play Patrimony produced in May at 18th & Union theatre on Capitol Hill in Seattle, and will have another play, Visiting Cezanne, produced in August at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. In 2023 Edinburgh Business College will produce Duane’s play Enquiry Concerning Hereafter, commissioned by the College, about the friendship between David Hume and Adam Smith. Kelly is one of the Department’s more prolific alum writers, having now authored eleven full-length plays.   In 2016 he co-founded Red Rover Theatre Company, which performs new plays in Seattle’s fringe venues. Duane is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America and for eight years served as the Guild’s regional representative for Washington state.  For more of Kelly’s life and work, please visit his interesting professional website.

Rachelle ArteagaRachel Arteaga (PhD ‘16), recently published “Mary Rowlandson and Restorative Reading” in Early American Literature, vol. 57, no. 2, 2022, pp. 445-468.  Dr. Arteaga summarizes her article as “exploring the concept of restorative reading, defined as a practice in which sacred texts are read for affective assurances of previously established religious convictions ….. The article contends that Mary Rowlandson participates in the Puritan theological discourse on the affections as much by writing from it as by living it out, and that her narrative furthermore preserves, though it antagonistically misreads, Indigenous understandings and uses of the emotions.”

Lecturer and English Matters frequent flyer Matthew Poland’s (PhD 2022) dissertation, “The Global Migrations of George Eliot and Charles Dickens: Books, Newspapers, Archives”, has been chosen to receive the prestigious Graduate School 2022 Distinguished Dissertation Award (category: Humanities & Fine Arts).  

One of the English Department’s new PhD’s, Lecturer Nancy Bartley, received notice that she’s been chosen to present a speech based on her dissertation at the National Fulbright Conference in D.C.  Addressing the Fullbright Conference is, it goes without saying, a remarkably high honor. Congratulations Nancy!

The UW English Department is happy to announce the publication of Charles Fischer’s (PhD ’02) debut novel, The Eunuch : Complete and Unexpurgated, by the Gabbro Head Press in November 2022. Dr. Fisher speaks with animation about his wildly original novel in this video.  Dr. Fischer teaches English and Humanities at Everett Community College, and serves as Humanities Alliance Coordinator.

Angela SucichUW English Alumna Angela Sucich (PhD ‘07) will have her first book of poems, Illuminated Creatures (Finishing Line Press) published in fall 2023. The chapbook won the 2022 New Women’s Voices Chapbook Competition and was shortlisted for the 2022 Saguaro Poetry Prize and the 2022 CutBank Chapbook Contest.

In Illuminated Creatures, Sucich puts her expertise in medieval literature to creative use, exploring human experiences through the frame of animal lore, and interrogating the dubious stories and illustrations that brought the creatures to life in old manuscripts. Poems play with the structures and constraints of poetic forms, as well as more thematic boundaries and the questions they raise.

NPR poetry reviewer Tess Taylor writes: “[Angela Sucich’s] halcyon book is humming, full of self-made, remade myths, full of animals and beasts which often gleam, worlds in which ‘a silver lining/ flashes like a minnow pinned.’”

Illuminated Creatures is currently available for preorder from the publisher at the link above, and discounted through August 4, 2023 to boot.  Congratulations Angela!

Jason Harris (PhD ’01, MFA Bowling Green State University ‘14) has taught since 2014 in the English Department at Texas A&M University, where he serves as Creative Writing Coordinator.  Dr. Harris’ novella Master of Rods and Strings launched in 2022 to critical acclaim:

Master of Rods and Strings isn’t overt in your face horror, it is far more delicate and insidious. The constant small unnerving moments are compounded by claustrophobic tension, so what starts as a light caress soon develops into a strangling grip.  The writing is flawless and beautiful…. Harris manages to create not only a vivid breathing ‘here’ but weaves around it an ominous and malignant ‘other’ leading to each and every scene being loaded with both the seen and the unseen.

If you are a fan of smart and spooky, Master of Rods and Strings is for you! Dr. Harris’ critical work Folklore and the Fantastic in Nineteenth-Century British Fiction, an ambitious study arguing the importance of folklore in the formal British literary canon, also remains available.  Congratulations on the novella Jason!

And now we’ve reached the portion of our alumni updates dedicated to the new publications of graduates of our MFA program.  Eleven of them to be exact – a remarkable number for books published in a single year.  Our MFA faculty and staff have certainly created an incubator for talented writers.  Congratulations to all involved!

Gabrielle Bates photo by Patrycja HumienikGabrielle Bates' (MFA, 2016) debut poetry collection Judas Goat (Tin House, 2023) was recommended by the New York Times Book Review and named by the Chicago Review of Books as a must-read book of 2023!

Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, Bates currently lives in Seattle, where she works for Open Books: A Poem Emporium and co-hosts the podcast The Poet Salon. Her work has been featured in the New Yorker, Poem-a-Day, Ploughshares, The Slowdown show, and elsewhere. She has served as visiting faculty for a variety of universities, arts organizations, and museums, including the University of Washington Rome Center and the Tin House Writers' Workshops.

Several of the poems in Gabrielle's debut collection, Judas Goat, were drafted and workshopped during Bates' time in the MFA program from 2014 through 2016. The poem "Ownership" in the collection is inspired by an experience she had at UW's Friday Harbor Labs, and Bates also credits the UW with introducing her to the work of Brigit Pegeen Kelly, who was an inspiration to the collection.

Judas Goat is available in paperback, e-book, and audiobook formats. Signed copies are available through Seattle's poetry bookstore Open Books: A Poem Emporium (link). 

You can listen to Gabrielle Bates talk more about the book on David Naimon's podcast Between the Covers (link).  Congratulations on the great reviews of your new book Gabrielle!

Former MFA poetry candidate Erin Lynch (now in the USC PhD program) will publish her debut collection, Removal Actsin the summer of 2023, on Graywolf Press, one of America’s best independent presses.  From Graywolf:

Drawing its title from the 1863 Federal Act that banished the Dakota people from their homelands, [Erin Lynch’s] remarkable debut collection reckons with the present-day repercussions of historical violence. Through an array of brief lyrics, visual forms, chronologies, and sequences, these virtuosic poems trace a path through the labyrinth of distances and absences haunting the American colonial experiment.

Congratulations Erin! Click to read a selection of Erin’s award winning poems.

Elizabeth Cooperman (MFA ’10) published a first solo book, Woman Pissing, in September with University of Nebraska Press.  Cooperman previously published with Professor David Shields Life Is Short – Art Is Shorter; In Praise of Brevity, “a course’s worth of writing exercises; a rally for compression, concision, and velocity in an increasingly digital, post-religious age; and a meditation on the brevity of human existence.”  Cooperman has taught Advanced Creative Writing tutorials at UW’s Friday Harbor Labs.  Congratulations Elizabeth!

Justine ChanJustine Chan (MFA ‘15) is excited and proud to share that her poetry book debut Should You Lose All Reason(s) has been released by Chin Music PressShould You Lose All Reason(s) is a luminous triptych of poems in which Chan examines her experiences as a Chinese American woman yearning for genuine belonging and connection. In conversation with a Southern Paiute folktale, these poems run off the page, exploring landscapes, cityscapes, music, exile, race, family, and resilience.  Seattle’s Everout praises Chan’s book as “at times scorching, at times brimming with awe and desire, this debut book of poems resonates with a brilliant new voice.”

Just this April, Justine Chan was featured on KUOW by Seattle Civic Poet and Ten Thousand Things host Shin Yu Pai.  You can read Pai’s profile of Chan and some of Chan’s poems here.  Congratulations on your book Justine!

Emma Aylor's (MFA ’19) poetry manuscript, Close Red Water, has won the 2022 Barrow Street Book Prize.  It will be published in autumn, 2023.  Great work Emma!

Martha Ryan (MFA ’21) and Lecturer Jerico Lenk (MFA ’22) are busy repping the UW English Department in the F(r)iction Spring Literary Contest. Martha's electric lyric ekphrasis (say that three times fast) "Trace, a Treatment" received recognition as creative nonfiction finalist.  And both Jerico's pecha kucha-adjacent persona poem "Ekphora (or, Telemachus Dreams of Funerals)" and flash lyric nonfiction "Reprise: Persephone Before the Underworld" were selected as winners in their respective categories. You can find the official announcement on F(r)iction's Instagram. Congratulations!

And rounding out new and upcoming books from our MFA graduates we congratulate Catherine Bresner(2015) , Rachel S. Edelman (2016), Alexandra Moni-Sauri (2018), and Deven Philbrick (2018). All of these authors are the winners of poetry publication contests selected from national pools of applicants. Congratulations to one and all!

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