Connecticut's Lary Bloom among top authors who join faculty in Fairfield University's MFA in Creative Writing Program


Fairfield University's low residency MFA in Creative Writing program, announced a year ago, was designed to give enrolled students the benefit of mentorship under successful authors and the opportunity to grow professionally in a writers colony. Just six months into the program six more outstanding authors are signing on as faculty.

Lary Bloom, a leading Sunday magazine editor for 30 years, has nurtured such writers as Edna Buchanan, Carl Hiaasen, Dave Barry, Madeleine Blais, David Hays and Susan M. Dodd. He is the author and co-author of several nonfiction books, including "The Writer Within," and "Lary Bloom's Connecticut Notebook," as well as the memoirs, "Letters From Nuremberg" (with Senator Christopher J. Dodd) and "The Test of Our Times," (with former Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge).

Da Chen, who arrived in America at the age of 23 with $30 in his pocket, wrote his highly acclaimed first memoir, "Colors of the Mountain," which was compared to "Angela's Ashes." A New York Times bestseller, it became the object of an intense bidding war among five top New York publishing houses, and was published in six other languages. "China's Son," the children's adaptation of Da Chen's memoir, is a Borders 2002 Original Voices Award finalist, while "Sounds of the River" the sequel to his first memoir, was published this year to rave international reviews.

Da's first fiction for young readers, "Wandering Warrior," by Random House Children's Books, is described by USA Today as "China's answer to (Harry) Potter." The movie rights were optioned by Warner Brothers. Meanwhile, his first adult fiction, "Brothers," was published to much critical acclaim, including as a Washington Post Best Book of 2006. His next book of fiction will be published by Crown in 2010.

Mary Syzbist's book, "Granted," was named one of the ten best poetry books of 2003 by Library Journal, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the winner of both the Beatrice Hawley Award and the Great Lakes Colleges Association's New Writers Award in Poetry. Her work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. She teaches at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Ore.

Kim McLarin is the author of the critically acclaimed novels "Taming It Down," "Meeting of the Waters," and, her latest, "Jump At The Sun," all published by William Morrow. McLarin is also co-author of the memoirs "Growing Up X" by Ilyasah Shabazz with Kim McLarin and "This Child Will Be Great" by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. A former staff writer for The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Greensboro News & Record and the Associated Press, she is a writer-in-residence at Emerson College in Boston.

William B. Patrick's works have been published or produced in several genres: creative nonfiction, poetry, fiction, screenwriting, and drama. "Saving Troy," published in late 2005, is a creative nonfiction chronicle of a year spent living with the professional firefighters and paramedics of the Troy, N.Y., Fire Department's 1st Platoon. A poem from an earlier collection, "These Upraised Hands," published by BOA Editions, was featured on Garrison Keillor's Writer's Almanac on National Public Radio. He is currently writing a novel set in 1981 about a Las Vegas psychologist and his schizophrenic patient who believes he is the infamous 1930s bank robber, John Dillinger. Patrick has taught the writing of fiction, nonfiction, screenplays, and poetry at the University at Albany and is a Visiting Writer at the College of St. Rose.

Joan Wickersham is the author of the novel "The Paper Anniversary." Her work has appeared in the Best American Short Stories series and an excerpt from "The Suicide Index" earned her the 2007 Ploughshares Cohen Award for Best Short Story. "The Suicide Index," a philosophical and deeply personal exploration that above all is a loving elegy to her father who took his own life, was a finalist for the National Book Award for Nonfiction.

The MFA program is directed by of Michael C. White, Ph.D., professor of English at Fairfield University and a highly acclaimed author in his own right ("Soul Catcher," "A Dream of Wolves"). In addition to the faculty who individually work with each student, Dr. White has attracted an impressive group of visiting faculty who address the MFA students during the two annual 10-day residencies that are held at scenic Ender's Island in Mystic, Conn., on Long Island Sound.

Among the writers who inspired the first class during their winter residency were novelist Anita Shreve ("The Weight of Water," "The Pilot's Wife," both turned into films); and poet Mark Doty (winner of several awards including the National Book Award in poetry in 2009 for "Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems"). This summer's visiting faculty include Rick Moody, author of several books, short stories and a memoir, most famously, "The Ice Storm," and Sue William Silverman, whose memoir, "Love Sick: One woman's Journey Through Sexual Addiction" (W.W. Norton) is also a Lifetime television original movie.

While many of the 48 students enrolled in the program come from Connecticut, they also come from as far away as Ohio and California. They include graduates from the University of Michigan, Yale, Middlebury College, Boston College, Boston University, Fairfield University, Trinity College, Colby College, Northwestern and Syracuse University.

For more detailed program and admission information about the MFA program, please visit www.fairfield.edu/mfa or call (203) 254-4184, toll-free (888) 488-6840.

Questions for Michael C. White: mcwhite@fairfield.edu

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

Posted on June 8, 2009

Vol. 41, No. 347