Homepage Poetry

Poem forthcoming in Prick of the Spindle

Very pleased to have a poem accepted for publication in an upcoming print issue of Prick of the Spindle. Many thanks to the editors for their support.

Homepage Nonfiction

Personal essay in latest issue of Post Road

My first job out of college, I worked at a small advertising/PR agency in Madison, Wisconsin, and I remember early on handing a piece of copy to the proprietor, Russ, with a note at the bottom saying I was proud of it. Russ, who was from rural Reedsburg, Wisconsin, wrote back, “Pride grows on the human heart like lard on a pig.”

In an ever-lasting way, Russ confounded my propensity as a native New Yorker to boast; since whatever I was back then, 21 or 22, I’ve been conflicted about even thinking of myself as proud of something I produced.

So I’ll say this about the personal essay I have in the Spring/Summer 2016 issue of Post Road Magazine: I’m pleased with how it finally reads and unabashedly proud to have work in an issue that includes Julia Strayer’s short story “The Goldfish” and Rhiannon Catherwood’s personal essay “Rear View” and Marianne Leone’s personal essay-review of the Mario Puzo novel The Fortunate Pilgrim.

I’m also grateful to the people who helped me with sections or whole drafts, going back to workshops at WMU, when I wrote down the bones as fiction. 

And deep thanks to Pete Hausler for accepting the piece and to the other folks at Post Road who treated it so well.

Homepage Teaching

Renewed three-year appointment at Albion College

I’m very pleased to have accepted a renewed three-year appointment in the English Department at Albion College. I’m especially appreciative of a good handful of former students who already are applying their classroom and newsroom experiences to even more challenging roles in graduate school and professions such as education and journalism. Certainly I’m working with at least several more who’ll be launching meaningful careers in the near future.

Fiction Homepage

Story in Spring 2014 Confrontation Magazine

“Little Guy” appears in Confrontation 115. I’m pleased to have a story in an issue that also includes fiction by Kent Nelson, Justine Aimee McNulty, Debbie Urbanski, Leanne Rose Sowul, Hadley Moore, Sonia Christensen, Harley Carnell, Buzz Mauro, and Dennis Kennedy.

Fiction Homepage

Short story forthcoming in Confrontation Magazine

I’m honored and excited that Confrontation has accepted my  story “Little Guy” for publication. It’s slated to appear in the Spring 2014 issue. Here’s an interview with Editor-in-Chief Jonna Semeiks.


Delighted to be joining Albion College

I will be joining the Albion College English Department starting in 2012-13 as a visiting assistant professor of English with initial responsibility for teaching multimedia journalism and composition and advising the Albion Pleiad. I also anticipate a role in developing courses in professional writing.

After teaching mainly literature and creative writing these last six years, I’m excited to have an opportunity to contribute to another academic program, particularly at Albion College, where I started to get to know the students and my new colleagues during the latter half of the Fall 2011 semester, when I was a leave replacement for fiction faculty member Danit Brown.

One of my greatest joys at Kalamazoo College has been knowing students well enough to write for them when they’ve applied to graduate programs in literature or creative writing. I’m especially enthused now about giving back in a similar way to the field of journalism.


Two 2011 Alpha Lambda Delta initiates designate me a ‘Favorite Professor’

Alpha Lambda Delta initiates Charlotte Steele and Trevor Vader have recognized me as a “Favorite Professor.” The 2010 Kalamazoo College chapter initiation ceremony was held Oct. 27.

Seven other initiates have honored me as a “Favorite Professor” since 2007.

Eligibility for membership in Alpha Lambda Delta is determined by the first-year academic record, and is limited to those maintaining a grade point average of at least 3.5 and class standing in the top 20 percent.

Charlotte was a member of two courses I taught in 2010, Introduction to Creative Writing and a hybrid literature/writing class on graphic memoir and identity. She wrote and illustrated an especially memorable piece about growing up with two sisters. And she wrote the best student story I’ve ever seen having to do with asparagus.  For his part, Trevor took Intro Creative Writing, and wrote terrifically from the point of view of a young Kalamazoo restaurant worker.

Thank you, Charlotte and Trevor,  for associating me with your success.

Homepage Teaching

‘Warning: Graphic Literature’ seminar for 2011

Since 2007 I have been teaching a fall First Year Seminar at Kalamazoo College titled “Warning: Graphic Literature.” Here’s a brief course description for the 2011 iteration:

We’ll analyze exemplars of graphic literary fiction, memoir, essay and journalism. Across the myriads of genres and forms, we’ll do close readings of the texts’ verbal and visual layers to see how they work, each on their own and together. In addition, we’ll discuss themes and socio-cultural and other contexts. The cartoon form and comics format of course are widely considered “low” or “popular,” so we’ll look at criticism that seeks to distinguish “serious” from “low,” “elite” from “popular,” taking note of writers and artists from outside the field of graphic literature who’ve mixed seemingly disparate aesthetics. For instance, the cartoon form has influenced serious painters, and prose artists have long mixed high and low forms. In all, we will consider how the cartoon form and the comics format, in a dance with serious intent and interesting writing, can turn into something we don’t mind calling graphic literature. Reading list (subject to change): Understanding Comics, by Scott McCloud; An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons, and True Stories, Vol. 1, ed. Ivan Brunetti; French Milk, by Lucy Knisley; The Impostor’s Daughter, by Laurie Sandell; Fun Home, by Alison Bechdel; Farm 54, by Galit Seliktar and Gilad Seliktar; Palestine, by Joe Sacco; The Complete Maus, by Art Spiegelman; The Complete Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi; and Forget Sorrow: An Ancestral Tale, by Belle Yang.

Homepage Teaching

Two 2010 Alpha Lambda Delta initiates recognize me as a ‘Favorite Professor’

Alpha Lambda Delta initiates Frances Hoepfner and Amanda Patton have recognized me as a “Favorite Professor.” The 2010 Kalamazoo College chapter initiation ceremony was held Oct. 28.

Five other initiates have honored me as a “Favorite Professor” since 2007.

Eligibility for membership in Alpha Lambda Delta is determined by the first-year academic record, and is limited to those maintaining a grade point average of at least 3.5 and class standing in the top 20 percent.

Fran was a member of two classes I taught in 2009, my first-year seminar on graphic narrative, Warning: Graphic Literature, and Introduction to Creative Writing, where she wrote seriously entertaining fiction and perhaps the best poem yet from a Harper’s Magazine “Findings” prompt. Amanda was a standout memoirist as well as explicator of published work in Reading Autobiography.

Thank you, Fran and Amanda,  for associating me with your success.

Homepage Teaching

Winter course on graphic memoir & essay

This coming quarter I’ll be teaching one of Kalamazoo College’s new Reading the World courses. English 155 is subtitled Identities; our topic will be Graphic Memoir and Essay.

The objective of the course is to provide students with the skills to analyze graphic memoirs and essays, in part by experimentally authoring their own duotextural pieces. Students will be expected to bring first-year writing competencies and approximately first-grade drawing skills to in-class and at-home exercises and, optionally, longer midterm and term projects.

Evaluation will include points for writing and for sketches—ranging from rough to comprehensive, depending on the assignment—that suggest how verbal and visual narrative elements would be joined to make an excellent whole. Weekly response papers, meanwhile, will ask students to analyze style and theme in published works. Students may undertake all-text critical papers in lieu of duotextural midterm and term projects.

Required readings (subject to change): The Complete Maus: A Survivor’s Tale, by Art Spiegelman (or Maus I and Maus II); The Complete Persepolis, by Marjane Satrapi (or Persepolis 1 and Persepolis 2); Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic, by Allison Bechdel; Stitches, by David Small; Vietnamerica: A Family’s Journey, by GB Tran; Forget Sorrow: An Ancestral Tale, by Belle Yang; A Few Perfect Hours, by Josh Neufeld; Blue Pills: A Positive Love Story, by Frederik Peeters (trans. Anjali Singh); In the Shadow of No Towers, by Art Spiegelman; Syncopated: An Anthology of Nonfiction Picto-Essays, ed. Brendan Burford; Drawing Words & Writing Pictures, by Jessica Abel and Matt Madden; additional short graphic memoirs and essays; and theoretical essays on form, genre, and the ethics of life writing.

Required materials: inexpensive sketch pad; pen or pencils; and a 1303i Pickett Metric General Purpose or similar drawing template (costing approximately $10).

The course will meet MWF, 1:15-2:30.