Faye Rapoport DesPres

Author News

In the Boston Area? Some Great Readings Are Coming Up Starting June 28!


It’s that time of the year again — the Solstice MFA in Creative Writing Program at Pine Manor College, my MFA Alma Mater, will soon hold its summer writing residency. Each residency features a variety of evening readings by Solstice faculty members and guests. Readings are held in the Founder’s Room of Pine Manor College, 400 Heath Street, Chestnut Hill, and are FREE and open to the public. All readings are at 7:30 p.m. unless *otherwise indicated. Author’s books will be available for signing, and there is plenty of parking!

Here’s the list for this summer’s residency, which begins Friday, June 28:

Friday, June 28 at 7:30 p.m.: Iain Haley Pollock (Spit Back A Boy, winner of the 2010 Cave Canem Poetry Prize); David Yoo (The Detention Club & The Choke Artist: Confessions of a Chronic Underachiever); & Steven Huff (The Water We Came From & A Pig In Paris).

Saturday, June 29 at 7:30 p.m.: R. Dwayne Betts (A Question of Freedom: A Memoir of Learning, Survival, and Coming of Age in Prison & Shahid Reads His Own Palm) & novelist Sterling Watson (Sweet Dream Baby & Fighting in the Shade).

Sunday, June 30 at 7:30 p.m.: Michael Steinberg (founding editor of Fourth Genre: Explorations in Nonfiction, author of Still Pitching); Mira Bartók (The Memory Palace, winner of the 2011 National Book Critics Circle Award for Autobiography); & Deborah Wiles (author of the Aurora County Trilogy, a fictional account of growing up in the South).

Monday, July 1 at 7:30 p.m.: Graduate Assistant Beth Grosart (published in Eastown Fiction & Somebody’s Child: Stories about Adoption); Assistant Director Tanya Whiton (published in Crazyhorse and American Fiction among other journals); & Laure-Anne Bosselaar (A New Hunger & The Hour Between Dog & Wolf).

*Tuesday, July 2 from 4:30-6:30 p.m.: Graduating Student Readings

Wednesday, July 3 at 7:30 p.m.: Kashmira Sheth (Boys Without Names & Tiger in My Soup); Anne-Marie Oomen (Pulling Down the Barn & An American Map: Essays); & Lee Hope (published in Witness and The North American Review, among other journals).

Thursday, July 4 at 7:30 p.m.: Philip Memmer (The Storehouses of the Snow: Psalms, Parables and Dreams & Lucifer: a Hagiography); Robert Lopez (Asunder & Kamby Bolongo Mean River); & Vievee Francis (Blue-Tail Fly & Horse in the Dark winner of the Cave Canem Northwestern University Poetry Prize for a second collection).

Friday, July 5 at 7:30 p.m.: Lita Judge (Red Hat, Red Sled, & Bird Talk), Program Director Meg Kearney (Home By Now & The Girl in the Mirror); & Laura Williams McCaffrey (Water Shaper & Alia Waking).

Directions to Pine Manor College, complete bios of our authors, and more information about the Solstice MFA Program can be found at www.pmc.edu/mfa.…

Joy Castro’s NEARER HOME gets Pre-Pub Review in Publisher’s Weekly


Just a quick note this morning. Many of you know that Joy Castro, author of THE TRUTH BOOK, HELL OR HIGH WATER, and ISLAND OF BONES, was a faculty member during my tenure at the Solstice MFA Creative Writing program. Joy no longer teaches at the program and I graduated in 2010, but Joy was — and remains — one of the writers and teachers who influenced me most as a writer. I am honored that Joy has also become a friend, and to this day she is one of my favorite essay, memoir, and fiction authors.

Last year Joy’s debut crime thriller, HELL OR HIGH WATER, arrived to much acclaim and positive reader response. On July 16 the sequel, NEARER HOME, will be published. I always pre-order Joy’s books so that I’ll have them in my hands (or on my Kindle) the moment they’re available.

Here’s a link to the pre-pub review in Publisher’s Weekly: http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-250-00458-1

Congratulations, Joy.…

Getting back to writing and literary news


The sun is shining in Boston today, although the air still has an early spring chill. Life is slowly returning to normal, and part of that process, for me, is to return to blogging about writing and literary news. A great place to start is some wonderful news from Joe Gannon, a graduate of the fiction track at the Solstice MFA Program in Creative Writing (my MFA alma mater). Joe, who currently teaches English in Abu Dhabi,  just announced that St. Martin’s press will publish his crime novel, The Kingdom of Death, in hardback in the summer of 2014. The house also made an offer on a second novel featuring the same protagonist, Captain Ajax Montoya. That book is slated for a summer 2015 launch.

Joe was always a warm, friendly colleague to run into at Pine Manor College in Newton, where the Solstice program hosts its bi-annual writing residencies. And now he’s quite an interesting Facebook friend as he reports on his life in Abu Dhabi. Congratulations, Joe!

The Solstice Program also has released book news from a number of other current and former students:

John Theo (July, 2008)
The Grotto Under the Tree (Astraea Press, http://www.astraeapress.com/index.html)

In John Theo’s first novel, a pair of young explorers, Sebastian and Sara, mistakenly descend into a mystical land where elves, mermaids, gnomes and other mythological creatures live.

John Theo, Jr. has numerous published articles on arts, culture, and sports figures. During the day John serves as Vice President of Operations for Blue Sky Holdings, which owns many commercial fitness clubs. John is also an adjunct professor at Endicott College in Beverly, MA, where he teaches screenwriting.

Alison Stone (January, 2011)
They Sing at Midnight (Many Mountains Moving, http://www.mmminc.org/)

If you’re not careful, Alison Stone will devour you,” Thom Ward writes of the first winner of the Many Mountains Moving Poetry Book Contest; her poems “whisper and howl, implore and grieve. Their versions of the mundane and the mythic engage us, offer shape and texture to ‘the messy bright life we are born for.’ Her poetics serves notice of the metaphysical amid the imminent, how Persephone is always and forever descending and returning, death into life and life into death.”

Alison Stone’s poems have appeared in myriad publications, including Paris Review, Poetry, Ploughshares, and Many Mountains Moving.

From the Fool to the World (Parallel Press, http://parallelpress.library.wisc.edu/poetry/)

The poems in this collection make up a series in the voices of the Major Arcana of the tarot. Alison Stone’s poetry extends and complements her own work as a visual artist in creating the Stone Tarot. The poems are rich with visual language and are filled with stories of light, journeys, and transformation: “If you won’t dance, / then who’s the fool? / Inside my cloth bag – apple, table, stallion, sky. / Come! The rich / cliff tempts like wine.”

A visual artist, Alison Stone spent ten years painting the images of the tarot, which were published as The Stone Tarot (www.stonetarot.com). She earns her living as a Gestalt therapist in New York City and Nyack.

Donna Coffey (January, 2011)
Firestreet (Finishing Line Press, https://www.finishinglinepress.com/)

“Donna Coffey’s wonderful poems combine merciless candor and merciful empath–the necessary gifts of a poet working to “fix broken things,” to record, reconcile, and transform discordant lives and landscapes. Fire Street is, as the title suggests, a place–a path of illumination and calamity. In this breathtaking, heartbreaking collection each spark of memory blazes into poetry of acuity and beauty.                                                –Terrance Hayes

Donna Coffey is an Associate Professor of English and the Director of the Humanities Program at Reinhardt University. Her poems have been published in numerous literary magazines.

Teresa Sutton (July, 2011)
They’re Gone (Finishing Line Press, https://www.finishinglinepress.com/)

“Teresa Sutton’s poems are haunted; lost brothers, months apart, lost mother, soon after. Like Emerson with his wife in her closing poem, Sutton’s poems, with their straight-to-the-point music of plain speech, visits them daily, digs them up, perhaps to see if they are really dead, perhaps to touch them again, perhaps to test the relationship of the soul to the world. We close this book, carry our dead with hers.” –Cornelius Eady

Teresa Sutton is a poet and a teacher. “They’re Gone” is her first poetry book. Teresa’s work has been published in numerous literary journals, including: Stone Canoe, The Healing Muse, and Fourteen Hills.

Alison McLennan (January, 2013)
Falling for Johnny (Twisted Roots Publishing, http://www.twistedrootspublishing.com/)

McLennan’s debut novel tells the story of Johnny McPherson, an organized crime boss in Boston, and Riley Donavan, a young woman who’s drawn into Johnny’s world by chance and circumstance. As they grow closer and Riley’s life spins out of control, their bond cracks. What will become of their friendship when Riley learns the truth of who Johnny is and what he’s done?  “A dark, violent story with a heart”–Kirkus Reviews

Alison McLennan was awarded the first Dennis Lehane Fellowship for Fiction by the Solstice MFA Program in 2010; Falling for Johnny won an honorable mention in the 2012 Utah Original Writing Competition.

Kim Suhr (current student)
Maybe I’ll Learn (Red Bird-Red Oak Writing, www.kimsuhr.com)

Follow this novice mom as she navigates the joys and challenges of raising kids in the Baby Einstein era. Determined to Do It Right!, she recounts moments that all parents will recognize: from sibling rivalry to overcoming fears to grappling with life’s big questions. Each of these light essays can be read in the time it takes to boil water for mac-n-cheese.

Kim Suhr is a writer, educator and mom who lives in Wisconsin. Her writing has been recognized by the Wisconsin Writers’ Association in their Jade Ring and Florence Lindemann Humor Contests. Her work has appeared in Grey Sparrow Journal, Full of Crow, and Staccato Fiction.

Beth Grosart (July, 2012)
Somebody’s Child: Stories About Adoption (Touchwood Editions, http://www.touchwoodeditions.com)

The third book …

My cousin has written a novel


Just a quick note to pass on some news from my cousin, Brynn Olenberg Sugarman, who has written a new novel for 10-14 year old readers titled Midnight at the Taj Mahal. The description on Amazon reads this way:

Hailey and Zach are out of school on a year long adventure. First stop: India! The excitement begins the moment they step off the plane. Hailey and Zach are entrusted with the magical diary of Shah Jahan, legendary builder of the Taj Mahal, and are whisked off on their first real adventure. The Taj pool shimmers in the full moon, and suddenly the twins are not just traveling the world but traveling back in time, sent on a mission to free the shah and his princess daughter from their prison tower. With the help of their ingenious friend, Sushil, anything seems possible. Can they help the shah win back his rightful place on the throne? Will they change India’s history forever? Time is running out! Will they succeed before their parents’ work in India is done, and it’s time for them to move on?

For more information about the book, visit this link.

Brynn’s first book is a children’s book titled Rebecca’s Journey Home and was published by Kar-Ben publishing. That effort was inspired by Brynn’s own experience as the adoptive mother of a girl from Viet Nam.

Although Brynn now lives in Israel, we both grew up in the States and I spent many childhood weekends in upstate New York climbing trees, collecting ceramic animals, and practicing gymnastics with her. Once she brought a rooster home from school to her 18th floor apartment in Co-Op City in the Bronx, and the neighbors were less than thrilled when the rooster began to crow at sunrise.

Best of luck on both of your literary efforts, Brynn!…

Writing news and notes


It’s been hot, hot, hot in the Boston area this week, and thunderstorms are scheduled to roll through at any moment. I hope they will take some of the humidity with them when they go. In the meantime, I wanted to check in to share some writing news and notes from friends, colleagues, and acquaintances.

If you haven’t figured out yet that I am a huge fan of Joy Castro and her writing, you probably haven’t been following my blog. But the truth is ever since I was lucky enough to work with Joy during my MFA experience, I have admired her not only as a writer but as a human being. And there is something satisfying — or perhaps vindicating? — about seeing someone who works so hard and who is so uniquely talented overcome major obstacles and achieve the success she so richly deserves. I just finished reading Joy’s new crime thriller, Hell or High Water, and I wasn’t disappointed. Whenever I read Joy’s work I feel like I’m attending my own personal master class in the craft.

But the news item is this, from Publisher’s Marketplace Deal News:

“Joy Castro’s HELL OR HIGH WATER, where a journalist takes it upon herself to investigate the 800+ sex offenders still missing three years after Katrina, optioned to producers Jane Startz of Jane Startz Productions and Aida Bernal of Spellbound Entertainment who have teamed up with sisters and producing partners, Zoe and Cisely Saldana from Saldana Productions, by Holly Frederick at Curtis Brown.”

Congratulations, Joy.

Friend and fellow Solstice MFA graduate Cindy Zelman also had some good news to report this week. Cobalt Review will publish Cindy’s essay, “Stuck in the Middle,” in their October print edition. The essay also is one of three finalists for the Cobalt Writing Prize. And as if that weren’t enough, a post from Cindy’s blog titled “What’s in a Butch’s Purse?” appeared on the new website Lesbian.com and was picked up by the Huffington Post. Cindy’s work is so honest and funny — she always blows me away with her courage and openness.

A book party celebrating the release of Clifford Garstang’s new book, What the Zhang Boys Know, is being held on August 22 at the Darjeeling Cafe in Staunton, Virginia. More information is available on Facebook here. Congratulations, Cliff!

Issue #23 of Prime Number Magazine is now online. This journal is always packed with interesting, absorbing work.

And finally, I’ll end with a couple of notes about my own work. Sugar Mule’s August issue, titled Women Writing Nature, is now online and features one of my short essays, “Morning and Night,” along with a lovely short essay by fellow MFA graduate Faye Snider titled “Predators.” And I was deeply honored when Robert Clark Young, the Creative Nonfiction editor of Connotation Press: An Online Artifact selected my essay “No One Watches the Old Lady Dance” as one of that publication’s best creative nonfiction pieces of the year (alongside nine other essays, including “A Smirnoff and Coke” by none other than Cindy Zelman!). These editor’s choice selections are printed in the August Retrospective Issue. Thank you so much, Robert Clark Young (and if you haven’t checked out his work, you must — I started with One Writer’s Big Innings.)

OK, I don’t want to inundate you — and that thunder is getting closer. Have a great week.…