Our Trip to Boston for AWP

This year’s Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) was held in Boston on March 6th-9th. Sierra Nevada College students and faculty came from around the country to participate in the conference.

AWP airport 2013 2

Photo by Ben Currier

Wednesday, March 6th

Lee Herrick threw a fantastic party at an offisite reading to launch his new book, Gardening Secrets of the Dead. Ilyse Kusnetz and Optimisim One read at the event.

Gardening Secrets of the Dead Launch

Lee's Book Launch

Photo by Sandra Edwards

Thursday, March 7th

We met at 7:30 a.m. for coffee and to hear the game plan. It was too early!

Bryce 730 am

Bryce Bullins. Photo by Ben Currier

English, BFA, and MFA students, along with creative writing faculty, set up shop in the bookfair to spread the word about our low-residency MFA, the BFA in creative writing, and the Sierra Nevada Review.

AWP Table 1

L to R: Courtney Berti, Optimism One, and Brooke King. Photo by Sandra Edwards

Table Spread

Photo by Ben Currier

Brian Turner designed broadsides of the faculty’s work. Each broadside has a QR code that links to a reading. We’re innovating on every level.

June & Brian with Broadsides 2013

June Saraceno and Brian Turner. Photo by Ben Currier



Seamus Heaney and Derek Walcott were the keynote speakers this year. Two Nobel Laureates in one room!

Derek Walcott in Conversation with Seamus Heaney

Photo by Sandra Edwards

At AWP Keynote 2013 2

L to R: Kenny Stoneman, Shannon Beets, and Bryce Bullins. Photo by Ben Currier

At AWP Keynote 2013

L to R: Marcela De Lira Astorga, Courtney Berti, Brooke King, Savannah Hoover, and Sandra Edwards. Photo by Ben Currier


Friday, March 8th

Our MFA chapsticks were a huge hit  with the passers-by. We developed a new slogan based on the chapstick flavor: “Sierra Nevada College: It tastes like cake!” Kenny and Bryce built a chapstick fort on the table.

AWP Table 2

L to R: Bryce Bullins, Kenny Stoneman, Shannon Beets, June Saraceno, and Laura Wetherington. Photo by Sandra Edwards

Friday, March 9th

Even with the all day bookfair, panels, and readings going on, we found some time to get out into Boston to explore. Those MFA residencies train us to pack it all in!



Brooke King, Sandra Edwards, and Brian Turner at Cheers. Photo by Sandra Edwards.

Saturday, March 10th

Brooke at the Museum

Brooke King at the Museum of Fine Arts. Photo by Sandra Edwards

Savannah & June Seafood!

Ben Currier led a group of folks across town to a great seafood restaurant. Savannah Hoover and June Saraceno dig in. Photo by Sandra Edwards.

Next year’s conference will be held in Seattle. Annie Proulx is the keynote speaker. Seattle, get ready for SNC.

Tim O’Brien Visits Sierra Nevada College

Tim O’Brien at Sierra Nevada College from Sierra Nevada College on Vimeo.

The book “The Things They Carried,” by author and Vietnam
Veteran Tim O’Brien, was chosen as a community read at Sierra Nevada College.
This short video documents O’Brien’s visit to the university, and nearby Incline
High School. The video includes excerpts from an interview conducted by Jason
Paladino, a student writer for “The Eagle’s Eye,” the college newspaper, and a
story told by O’Brien after a public lecture and conversation with author and
Iraq Veteran Brian Turner, director of Sierra Nevada College’s MFA Writing
Program. The video was shot and edited by SNC students Nick Cahill and Trevor
Jackson, in collaboration with Associate Professor of Digital Art Chris

This Is What I’ve Done

by Optimism One

Ops Desk in BaliKelle Groom told us in English 517R (Craft of Literary Nonfiction Workshop) that at one point in her writing career, a pivotal point, she put her writing desk right by the front door of her apartment so that she always saw it before she left or when she came home.

This is what I’ve done.

She also told us that she made folders–physical, tangible folders–of all the printed drafts and pieces that went into individual essays or chapters or poems, labeling each folder according to its given content and keeping those folders visible on her writing desk.

This is what I’ve done.

Finally, she said that she designed her life in such a way that if it supported her writing, then it was welcome; if not, it was not.

This is not quite what I’ve done, but I’m certainly moving in that direction.

I’m in Bali, Indonesia, from now until Christmas and the next residency. I’ve rented a nice studio apartment and a motorbike, and I have a regional mobile phone, a ‘handphone’ in the local parlance.

My responsibilities are so basic (eating and sleeping) that there really isn’t any excuse but to read and write as much as possible. Therefore, so far, I’ve read all of a few literary magazines (The Normal School, Fourth Genre, and Creative Nonfiction), parts of a couple others (Tin House and Poets & Writers), and all of Suzanne Roberts’ Plotting Temporality [awe-some!]. Also, I just started a collection of interviews called A Sense of Place: Great Travel Writers Talk About Their Craft, Lives, and Inspiration. Meanwhile, after getting a somewhat slow start on my writing due to (excuses, excuses) not having and not being able to find a proper voltage converter and apparently not feeling compelled enough to simply put pen to paper, I have written a few things: “Yes and No,” a list of experiences and insights about being in the Hong Kong airport for thirteen hours; “Whipped by the Old Man,” a sketch on my first surfing expedition since arriving in Bali; and a few different parts for a much longer piece that is tentatively titled “What’s In a Name?,” an exploration of the various names I’ve had over the course of my life. All of the above are most certainly in the first-draft stage. Also, I keep my SNC MFA notebook with me everywhere I go, jotting down ideas and lines that come to me when inspiration shines. This latter idea comes from Suzanne Roberts, who said in our travel writing class that she has different-sized notebooks to fit any and every occasion.

This is what I’ve done.

SNC Welcomes Téa Obreht

Téa Obreht will co-lead a fiction workshop in our August 2013 residency.

Tea_Obreht_author_photoTéa Obreht was born in Belgrade in the former Yugoslavia in 1985 and has lived in the United States since the age of twelve. Her New York Times bestselling debut novel The Tiger’s Wife won the 2011 Orange Prize for Fiction and was a 2011 National Book Award Finalist.  Her writing has been published in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Harper’s, Vogue, Esquire and The Guardian, and has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories and The Best American Nonrequired Reading. She has been named by The New Yorker as one of the twenty best American fiction writers under forty and included in the National Book Foundation’s list of 5 Under 35. Téa Obreht lives in New York.



Téa Obrecht on PBS Newshour