Before award-winning novelist, short-story writer, and essayist Richard Bausch, who holds the Moss Chair of Excellence in the creative writing program at the University of Memphis, makes his move, he's bidding Memphis a fitting farewell. The move will be to Chapman University's Wilkinson College of the Humanities in Orange, California, outside Los Angeles. The farewell will be in the form of a reading and booksigning on Wednesday, April 25th, inside the U of M's University Center at 8 p.m.
Any end of semester is bound to be a busy time for students and teachers alike. This spring has been extra busy for Bausch. He's overseen student work. He and his wife Lisa have put their house up for a sale (and sold it). And this month, Bausch had a workshop in the Bahamas to lead. But he's made time for a few thoughts on the U of M's writing program, which he joined in 2005. And he's had some thoughts on Memphis as well.
Here, then, those thoughts, prompted by a few questions by email:
On tap: three MFA candidates from the program's three genres: Scott Carter (fiction), a recent finalist in Narrative Magazine's "30 Below" competition; Devon Taylor (creative nonfiction), this semester's senior creative nonfiction editor for The Pinch, the U of M's semiannual literary journal; and Tara Mae Mulroy (poetry), managing editor and marketing director for the spring 2012 issue of The Pinch. Student Tom Useted will act as emcee for the evening.
1st place: Daniel Zuo, of White Station High School here in Memphis, who wrote to Dr. Seuss about The Cat in the Hat.
2nd place: Hanna Lustig, of Houston High School in Germantown. Hanna's letter was to Ray Bradbury about his novel Dandelion Wine.
3rd place: Victoria Gray, of Germantown High School, who also wrote to Dr. Seuss, in response to Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are?.
"As you can imagine, I'm very pleased by the nominations," Russell said by email this week and on the very day he found out that his novel was also a finalist for ForeWord's Book of the Year Award in the lesbian/gay fiction category. ForeWord, a trade journal for librarians and booksellers that recognizes titles of excellence from independent publishers, will announce this year's book-of-the-year winners at the American Library Association's annual conference in June.
"Nice to see that having gone with a small press like Cleis didn't mean that my book got completely ignored," Russell added. "I think more and more literary fiction will appear from such presses in the future. But then, Ulysses first appeared in The Little Review, so how much really has changed?"