Archive for the ‘Congratulations’ Category


Spring 2011 Graduation

May 20, 2011

Heartfelt congratulations to our program’s most recent graduates:

  • Carrie Cutler
  • Lucy DuPertuis
  • Jennifer Krohn
  • Linda Rickert
  • Samantha Tetangco
  • Melanie Unruh

Sorry I didn’t make it to all of your defenses this Spring,  it is always inspiring ! Thank you guys for being part of our community of writers here, and best of luck. (and if I missed anyone– let me know!)

–Jennifer Simpson, MFA December 2011 (I hope!)


Dana Levin on Sky Burial

March 10, 2011

Dana Levin’s book of poetry, Sky Burial has just been released and is available in all the usual places.

If you don’t know Dana, she is currently the Joseph M. Russo endowed chair here at UNM–  at least until the end of this semester.  She’s been a tremendous asset to our Department, and will be missed, but fortunately she’ll not be far, she’ll be heading up the Creative Writing Department at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design (nee College of Santa Fe).

But what I really want to talk about is Dana’s work.  Recently published, Sky Burial (Copper Canyon Press, $15) has been getting fantastic reviews. And though I’ve not yet read it, I have heard her read from this manuscript, and I’ll just say that her poetry resonates with me.

Here’s a great article from the Santa Fe Reporter, an interview with Dana, talking about her work:  “SFR Talk: Musings with Dana Levin” by Ramon A Lovato.

And a nice review from Publishers Weekly, calling Levin’s third collection “aching but restrained.”  More good review coming, I’m sure.

AND if you’re in Albuquerque on March 27, and looking for something to do around 3pm, get thee to Bookworks, 4022 Rio Grande Blvd. NW
Dana will be giving a reading, Bookworks will be selling books…  you can get a coffee or tea next door…



2010 in review

January 2, 2011

The stats helper monkeys at mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads This blog is doing awesome!.

Crunchy numbers

Featured image

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 13,000 times in 2010. That’s about 31 full 747s.


In 2010, there were 63 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 251 posts. There were 14 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 1mb. That’s about a picture per month.

The busiest day of the year was March 13th with 88 views. The most popular post that day was Sage Advice.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were,,,, and

Some visitors came searching, mostly for dorothy parker, kurt vonnegut, unm creative writing, anne tyler, and unm creative writing blog.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.


Sage Advice September 2009


Some words from Kurt Vonnegut November 2009


UNM MFA Creative Non-Fiction Students April 2009
1 comment




Passages North, poetry and nonfiction competitions November 2008
1 comment


Lena Todd 2010 Award winners announced

December 6, 2010

UNM’s creative writing program congratulates the winners of the 2010 Lena Todd Awards:

FICTION: judged by Laurel Coffey
1st place: “Independence Day” by Johanna Byrn-Orand
2nd place: “The Birds of Italy” by Jean-Louise Zancanella
Honorable Mention: “Pink Elephants” by Matthew Skeets

Laurel wrote that first place “should be awarded to
‘Independence Day’ and its author. Hands down. I found
this story sophisticated, thoughtful, and funny in a witty
and quirky way. From the very start, I completely trusted
the capabilities of this narrator (and author) to take me
through the story. It was carefully plotted. Its
characterizations were unique and engaging. The author
wisely chose each detail to further his/her plot and never
distract from it. This is the type of short story that
deals with the intricacies of familial rites of passage I
would personally elect to purchase and read in a
collection or journal.”

About “The Birds of Italy,” she wrote, “I commend the
author’s ambitiousness in writing a short story that spans
close to the entire lifetime of a character. A pleasant
read, ‘The Birds of Italy’ is stocked with historically
and culturally appropriate details.”

Laurel also offered praise to “Pink Elephants” by Matthew

POETRY: judged by Bonnie Altamirano
1. “The Ringmaster’s Apology” by Johanna Byrn-Orand
2. “Letter 30” by Annie Seigel

Bonnie wrote, “My pick for first prize is the poem, ‘The
Ringmaster’s Apology.’ I was struck by the overall
tightness of form and vibrant content. Upon explication
one finds wonderfully executed line breaks such as ‘We
understand that these average limbs, these/ smooth
chins…'(13-14); and delicate manipulations of craft,
such as the rephrasing that occurs on lines 36-37, ‘Like
all things hover and rise, like you hover/and rise at our
shoulders.’ This poem is full of fresh and memorable
images: ‘lilac wives’,’mustache wax,/the sour kissing
smack of hard candy’, and my favorite, the alliterative
punch, ‘Our bearded lady vanished,/muttering murder, into
the moonlit trainyard'(11-12). I remembered this poem long
after it was read and consider it something I would expect
to see in a graduate-level workshop.
“My pick for second prize is the poem ‘Letter 30.’ I
love the idea of a poem posed as a letter to a person
whose identity is unknown; and then furthering the mystery
by defining and redefining the subject in lyric lines that
gracefully side-step the intellect. The strong and playful
tone is sustained throughout the piece and can be
characterized by humorous lines such as ‘King N has built
as his own monument,/a temple of limestone/to his father,
the God X, in the town of Y'(3-5). Lyric lines of
mysterious beauty propel tension and keep the reader
intrigued. My favorite line ‘The image of limbs make
love/in a field'(19-20).” She added that she found the
poem “wonderfully paced and intoned.”

NONFICTION: judged by Ty Bannerman
1. “Nor Cruel and Unusual Punishments Inflicted” by
Michael Gay
2. “In Passing” by Jaclyn McAlester

Ty wrote of “Nor Cruel and Unusual Punishments Inflicted,” “The author does an excellent job of balancing a discussion of societal and legal treatment of mental illness with a moving account of his own brother’s experience with schizophrenia. The piece is informative, deeply personal and very well written.”

Of “In Passing,” he wrote, “This piece offers a meditation on the meaning of death in a compartmentalized society, illustrated by the author’s experience as worker in a nursing home. The essay effectively communicates the tension between the needs for a nursing home staff to emotionally detach from their clients in order to efficiently perform their duties, and the author’s need to make a personal connection with a woman with dementia who is undergoing a difficult and frightening ordeal as she nears death.”

I’d like to congratulate the winners and thank all the writers and their teachers who contributed to the contest and to recognize the judges for their work as well. I’ll be working with Works in Progress coordinator Melanie Unruh to arrange a reading next semester for the winners. Winners, you’ll be hearing from me about this! Congratulations again!

Marisa P. Clark


Congratulations: Poets of the Dead

November 2, 2010

Warm congratulations to Adam Nunez and Bonnie Arning Altamirano, who won 2nd and  1st place in the “Champion Poet of the Dead” Contest of New Mexico.

Adam won $50 for 2nd place and Bonnie $100 for 1st place. They read two exceedingly cool poems with fierce delivery.

The Contest was in conjunction with the 2nd Annual Smithsonian Institution Latino Virtual Museum Dia de los Muertos Avatar Event (try that in one breath).


UNMs Adam Nunez blogging over at the MFA Blog

October 27, 2010

I’m sure if you’re looking into MFA programs, you’ve come across Tom Kealey’s awesome book (Creative Writing MFA Handbook) and related MFA Blog for everything (and more!) that you ever wanted to know about applying for anMFA program….

And now, you can hear first hand, from the University of New Mexico’s own first year poetry MFA candidate, Adam Nunez.

Congrats Adam!  and do feel free to cross post here anytime!


Good News in Creative Nonfiction

October 20, 2010

UNM Alumni Paul Bogard’s essay “The Path and the Pull of the Moon,” which appeared in Creative Nonfiction #36, was selected by editor Robert Atwan as one of the Notable Essays of 2009 in the just published Best American Essays 2010.

UNM Alumni Molly Beer was recently selected from over 700 applicants to be one of 10 Correspondents in Fall 2010 for National Geographic’s Glimpse: Your Stories From Abroad.  (

UNM Alumni Melody Gee’s essay “Jack’s Kitchen” has just appeared in the October 2010 issue of Copper Nickel.  (

UNM Alumni Chris Wrenn’s essay “Breaking Line” was published in the most recent North Carolina Literary Review, issue 19, 2010.  (

UNM Alumni Laura Matter’s essay “Franz Schubert Dreamt of Indians” was published in the Spring 2010 issue of The Georgia  Review.

Congrats Paul, Molly, Melody, Laura & Chris

UNM’s Creative Nonfiction MFA concentration was ranked #14 in the nation for 2011 in the September/October 2010 issue of Poet’s and Writer’s Magazine.  (