National Book Award winner and Oprah Book Club novelist to headline Fairfield University MFA Creative Writing Program


Poet Mark Doty, just selected for the 2008 National Book Award for his poetry collection, "Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems," will be a guest author when Fairfield University launches its new MFA in Creative Writing - Low Residency Program at the end of December. The program will be held on Enders Island, on Long Island Sound in Mystic, Conn., where Doty will present a public reading of his poetry at The Chapel of Our Lady of the Assumption on New Year's Eve at 7 p.m. The public is welcome and admission is free.

The National Book Awards were announced Wednesday evening at a black-tie dinner at Cipriani's in New York with more than 700 in attendance. Mark Doty, a former judge for the L.A. Times Book Prizes, said it was thrilling to have his work singled out in this way "especially because the other poets who are nominated are my friends and people whose work I have admired forever." He said he felt "privileged to be in this good company."

He already has his next project planned, a prose book about Walt Whitman, who he says has been "kind of ghosting my life for a number of years." The book will be about his relationship with Walt Whitman.

Another headliner for Fairfield's MFA Creative Writing Program is Anita Shreve, the author of 14 novels, including the Oprah's Book Club pick "The Pilot's Wife" and the Orange Prize finalist "The Weight of Water." Her latest novel, "Testimony," just published in October, takes place at a New England boarding school rocked by a sex-tape scandal.

Dr. Michael White, professor of English at Fairfield and director of the MFA program, said, "I knew we were very fortunate to have two exceptional guest writers for our first class. Mark's latest award is especially meaningful because it recognizes his work over a nearly 25-year span. The theme for our MFA program is "Inspire the writer within," and certainly I know our guest faculty will bring a great deal of inspiration to our gifted students."

As Fairfield's first low residency program, the MFA offers students from around the country the opportunity to meet together twice a year to participate in intensive 10-day residencies with nationally-renowned writers and then in between residencies, to work independently with personal mentors to develop their own writing style and skills in fiction, creative nonfiction and poetry. The students benefit from a close-knit, supportive community of writers as they work toward producing a book of publishable quality by the end of the program.

Fairfield University is now accepting applications for the next MFA Creative Writing Program which begins in July 2009. For more detailed program and admission information visit www.fairfield.edu/mfa.

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Media Contact: Nancy Habetz, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2647, nhabetz@fairfield.edu

Posted on November 21, 2008

Vol. 41, No. 145