Jolika Sudermann and Alma Soderberg
Introduced by Taylor Rasnick and Emily Poulis

Jolika Sudermann is a freelance director and choreographer in the field of contemporary dance and physical theater. With a background in environmental sciences, she studied dance theater in Hamburg and graduated from the Mime course at the Amsterdamse Hogeschool voor de Kunsten in 2010. She is based in Berlin and teaches at Tanzfabrik Berlin, engaging in community dance and theater projects with adolescents and asylum seekers. Jolika also works as an artist in residence at Het Veem Theater Amsterdam where she produced the successful duet A Talk, a collaboration with Alma Söderberg.

Alma Söderberg is a Swedish choreographer, performer, and musician. She graduated from SNDO, the choreography department in the Amsterdam School of the Arts in 2010, where she studied flamenco, contemporary dance and choreography. She creates performances where sound, movement, and speech are of equal importance. She also performs with the Berlin-based ensemble, John The Houseband.

Jolika and Alma  have created an astoundingly riveting performance piece, A Talk, in which they explore the musicality and structural tendencies of human speech.  We are introduced to the notion that different conversations warrant different words, pauses, positions, and tones.  Terrifically executed, A Talk gives us insight into the verbal and nonverbal interactions people have on a daily basis, showing us what it looks like when we talk to ourselves in our apartments and when we talk to others about that guy we saw on the train earlier today and *uh* how we talked about him and- and his speech patterns changed from time to *uh* time and- (BOTH)

This uniquely thoughtful, touching, amusing production was awarded the “audience prize” and “the special prize for outstanding performative skills” by the Stuttgarter Tanz-und Theaterpreis in 2013.  As you, the audience, will shortly see, Jolika and Alma have managed to generate a piece of theater that harmoniously blends performers' projections and the attention of spectators, inspiring both laughter and wonder.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Jolika Sudermann and Alma Söderberg.

Patricia Smith

Madison Davis and Sarah Appel

After emerging as a leader in the 1980s slam poetry scene in her hometown of Chicago, Patricia Smith established herself as a bridge between written and spoken words, and began a career that produces work which flows from the page to engaging live performances.

A four-time Poetry Slam National champion, she enacts, playwrites, teaches.  Her six books of poetry dissolve worlds: Blood Dazzler, National Book Award finalist, Teahouse of the Almighty, National Poetry Series selection, Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah, winner of the Phyllis Wheatley Award and the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets.

The rhythmic lyricism of Smith’s work transports the reader into the world of her writing. In some of the words of our fellow student, Savannah Hampton, “myself getting lost… her words… instinctual… her ability to enter…” These places are illuminated in Blood Dazzler: "Baby daddies, the jazz of their legs, mama whirls toward hellfire siss against, Unlucky Sunday. Bucktoothed man peppered collards. Red heat."

Student Grace Hancock puts it this way “… her father teaching her… to make cornbread or… a child molester… in the Super Dome during Hurricane Katrina… is musical," makes all the world sound beautiful, with its un-romanticized ugliness.

Headlines, historical documents, facts delimit form, and move. Her writing,  the listener, an observation. No single voice used to relay the experience, points to view a kind of fearlessness. Acting is writing her characters to embody, not only what but why, allowing each its part, its own page.

What it means to be a storyteller, through various forms and styles, expanding our world view more than thirty years,

Patricia Smith.

Jenny Offill
Martha Gilleece and Sam Krovocheck

In an interview with The Paris Review, Jenny Offill says she tries, in her writing, to “capture the feeling of being alive, of being awake. Because of this,” she says, “I’m more apt to follow the wisp of a thought or a half-glimpsed image than chart a sequential series of events. But I absolutely believe in momentum.”

There is momentum—a suspenseful urgency—in the “glimpses” of life that Offill reveals in her latest novel, Dept. of Speculation.  Here, she uses fragments, of thought, of fact, of allusive, epigrammatic prose, in the form of puzzle-like paragraphs.  To paraphrase our fellow student Kai Smith, this is a stylistic risk, an experiment in narration, but the pieces come together so effortlessly and effectively, it is as if such a risk had not been taken.

Yet it is sometimes frightening how “alive” Offill’s characters seem to be.  Her use of multiple points of view reveals the shifting emotions of the narrator.  Familiar subjects—marriage, parenthood, infidelity, writer’s block, madness—take on unfamiliar form, and the result is a story that is both utterly original and utterly believable.

Offill is the author of the novels Last Things and Dept. of Speculation, and the coeditor, with Elissa Schappell, of two anthologies of essays. She has written the children’s books 17 Things I’m Not Allowed to Do Anymore, 11 Experiments That Failed, and Sparky! She teaches in the MFA program at Columbia University.

She’s also a deliberate rule-breaker, an “art monster”—the name her Dept. of Speculation narrator gives to the persona she once aspired to.  I feel not only inspired, but also grateful, to have been introduced to such a brave and multitalented writer.

Please join us in welcoming Jenny Offill.

Lev Grossman
By Sasha Leonard and Erica Ammann

Lev Grossman published his first novel, Warp, in 1997, and his second, Codex, which won him international recognition, in 2004. He then went on to write the New York Times bestselling Magicians trilogy-- The Magicians, The Magician King, and, most recently, The Magician’s Land.  In addition to being an acclaimed author, Grossman has been a cultural critic for Time magazine since 2002.

While Grossman's work is at times compared to classics such as The Chronicles of Narnia, or the more recent Harry Potter, Grossman has taken a fresh approach to fantasy, which breaks old conventions and sets the bar for future books of its kind. The Magicians trilogy revives key elements of the fantasy genre such as magic and an alternate universe, but with a dark twist.  Quentin, the protagonist of the trilogy, is a conflicted high school teen facing the struggle between the search for happiness and the inability to accept what one has.  Grossman makes clear in his books that magic is not a placebo for life’s problems. It does not become an excuse for characters to avoid their realities.  Grossman believes fantasy is not a form of escapism; rather, as he puts it in his Studio 360 interview, “it is a way to reencounter one's problems in a transformed state.”

In fact, Grossman’s work is surprisingly grounded in the real world. The setting of the books wavers between a magic school, a fantasy land, and real places like Brooklyn, and never suggests that one place is better than the other. Magic quickly loses its “magic” and becomes a mundane thing; its painful challenges are not romanticized, and the magic in itself is taxing to learn. Grossman’s work explores the complexities of everyday life: With no ultimate evil to be destroyed, no heroic battle to defeat the forces of darkness, he is able to focus on the nuances of morality and the choices we make.

As Grossman put it in an interview with the A.V. Club, “the great thing about when you attack conventions of a genre, new conventions form, and the genre as a whole gets stronger.” Grossman’s approach is both an homage to and a reevaluation of the fantasy genre.  His genuine characters connect with readers, who relate to them on a level not usually achieved in this form. That is where the true magic of his work lies. It is an honor to welcome Lev Grossman to Pratt’s Writer’s Forum.

Lucy Corin
By Cate Douglas

Friedrich Nieztsche once said that the old gods are dead, that mankind needs to create new meaning – forge new myths. Well, too bad Nietztsche died one hundred and eleven years ago and never got to meet or read the work of Lucy Corin. In her, he would have seen his dream realized. In her novel, Everyday Psychokillers: a History for Girls, Corin successfully weaves together reptiles, horses, Ted Bundy, the Egyptian god Osiris, and growing up as a girl in suburban America. In her short story collection, The Entire Predicament, everyday life slips into the fantastic. Each story becomes our existence reflected back to us in a funhouse mirror. With frank language and keen, intricate storytelling, Corin creates for us a world that is at once tangible, recognizable and highly surreal – even mythical. Whether she is discussing a garden party, brutal puppy murder, the apocalypse, or Henry Lee Lucas, Corin never once lets us forget that life is anything but mundane.

In both books, Corin’s to-the-point language only adds to her intoxicating and deceptive world. She does not need page-long descriptions of landscape and costume. Only sentences like, “I folded the card in half and cut a heart out of it. You see how close that is to cutting its heart out,” are needed to encourage the reader to participate, engage. Clearly, articulately, we are introduced to gruesome horrors and, as we read, happily take them at face value. When, eventually, we put down the book and remove ourselves from the universe she has created, a double shock syndrome sets in. We are at once troubled by what we have just read and also disturbed by our own willingness to accept, and even enjoy it. This is the true root of Corin’s brilliance. She forces us to not only confront her characters’ wickedness, but our own.

Lucy Corin is the author of the novel Everyday Psychokillers: a History for Girls – published by FC2 Press, and The Entire Predicament – published by Tin House Books. Her stories have appeared in American Short Fiction, Conjunctions, Ploughshares, Tin House, and New Stories From the South: The Year’s Best, as well as in a host of other magazines and journals. She currently teaches in the English Department and Creative Writing Program at the University of California, Davis.

Ladies and Gentlemen, Boys and Girls,

Lucy Corin

Jen Bervin and Brian Blanchfield
By Emily Martin-Mckamie & Alya Albert

A poet and artist, Jen Bervin’s work, as both, has been shown at The Power Plant in Toronto, The Walker Art Center, The Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, Temple Contemporary, and is in more than thirty collections including The J. Paul Getty Museum. Her books- The Dickinson Composites, The Desert, The Silver Book, A Non- Breaking Space, and Nets have been published by Granary Books and Ugly Duckling Presse to much acclaim. Most recently, Jen developed an ongoing engagement with the work of Emily Dickinson into the The Gorgeous Nothings: Emily Dickinson's Envelope Poems, which made Best of 2013 lists in The New Yorker and The Times Literary Supplement. This year, she will be a Fitt Artist in Residence at Brown University and will teach at Vermont College of Fine Arts and Harvard University. 

In her Working Note from Nets, Jen Bervin writes: “When we write poems, the history of poetry is with us, pre-inscribed in the white of the page; when we read or write poems, we do it with or against this palimpsest”. Bervin’s work is not only highly aware of the work that came before it, but also honors that history through recognition and reinvention. This is evident in her continuous response to the work of Emily Dickinson, and as my classmate Shelby Cook noticed, in reviewing The Gorgeous Nothings: , “through the inclusion of the whole-ness of the envelopes, a space is a created in which the art is no longer simply about the text, but about the entire history of the work itself ...”

When viewed through this palimpsestic lens, Jen Bervin's work becomes something greater than the reconciliation of the old and new; it stands as an intersection of creation and erasure--of art, as text and textile--and illuminates the inescapable union between artists past and present. Bervin has succeeded in asking her audience to reevaluate--reconsider what you know and now imagine it as never before. However, she does not allow us to forget what once was; in fact what makes her work so exquisite and humble is her ability to remind us of the immortal nature of art, and the great and innate possibilities that poetry preserves. As writers and artists, through rhyme and through weave, we cannot ignore the potential of the past or the freedom of the future. 

Jen’s current project, The Silk Poems includes consulting nanotechnology and biomedical labs, medical libraries, and over 50 international textile archives and sericulture museums. She presented the project at the 2013 Creative Capital Artist Retreat speaking on the silk as, “[t]hat imaginative space [which] is something poetry and art are poised to speak to.” This project takes future technology and applies it to the now, creating a job for the poetry itself to do. “Drawing oncontemporary biomedical engineering research using patterned silk as sensors under human skin, the book is fabricated by pouring silk solution on nano-patterned plates. The resulting pages will be combined into a transparent “book” resembling a piece of microfiche film—a single small sheet, with every poem present, that can be read with fiber-optic light” ( 

Brian Blanchfield is the author of two books of poetry–Not Even Then and A Several World, as well as a chapbook, The History of Ideas, 1973-2012 (Spork Press) and a collection of essays in progress, Onesheets. He spent his twenties in New York City, where he worked in the editorial department of Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Since 2010 he has been a poetry editor of Fence. He is currently teaching poetry in The Honors College at the University of Arizona and runs the Intermezzo reading series at The Temple Lounge.

Blanchfield’s work shows us that fragmentation and collaboration can become pieces wholly on their own. His project the Destroyer for instance, shows us that broken pieces can be of value still, and that collaborating with multiple artists can create a kaleidoscope landscape; a landscape which opens up an entirely new space for the reader to become engaged in. As my classmate Mariya Poe noticed, “Blanchfield experiments with syntax in order to create space within his poetry for the reader to search for connections.” Maggie Nelson’s introduction from the PEN Poetry Series mentions that, “Brian Blanchfield’s rigorous, beautiful, and complex poems turn grammar and syntax into a high-wire act, revealing and dramatizing the tensions inherent in sentence, line, etymology, and speech act. They ask us to re-discover our language as we discover what and how his poems mean and sound.” This holds true for Blanchfield's collaborative works as well. The poem ‘The City State,’ written with Richard Siken, reads like a melody, as the lines drift from one to the other, “Good surprises/if you hike up into the higher coppices with me in mind./Along the manifold fulfillment of local plans, outlanders/often strode through hollering, singing the uncertain song,/and so we expected we knew the words—-any deities/to propitiate, la la—-when, in the melody familiar, the man/and a youth drew us to the window./” Blanchfield’s unique use of phrases in his poetry and humor in his essays shows the versatility of writing and makes his writing accessible. As my classmate Nathan Reinke pointed out, “the seriousness of the topics that Blanchfield tackles makes it easy to overlook how flat-out funny much of his work is. But for Blanchfield, it’s just another in a long line of undeniably human intersections.” This humanity is present in every aspect of Brain Blancfield's work. 

For both Jen Bervin and Brian Blanchfield, writing cannot be separated from history; the entirety of the event becomes the art. Within that spectrum these two writers have created new ins to new and old mediums, redefining them in such a way that revamps and revitalizes them. 

Please join us in welcoming Brian Blanchfield and Jen Bervin.

Elizabeth Subrin
By Sirena He & Claire LeDoyen

Elisabeth Subrin is an artist whose work encompasses many genres and forms. She moves fluidly between film, installation, and photography. Her work has been screened and showcased at the Museum of Modern Art, The Vienna International Film Festival, The Institute of Contemporary Art, The Whitney Biennial, The Guggenheim Museum, and The New York Film Festival among numerous other places, and has won countless honors and awards.

Subrin's work has been influenced by feminist theory, and reclaims female biography and history to expose them in a new perspective. But to say that her work is just feminist or just experimental would be restrictive. Elisabeth Subrin’s films work far beyond this scope and explore the subjectivity of an individual’s experience. She doesn’t shy away from difficult topics. Rather, she puts the focus on what might be untouched by mainstream media. As our classmate Dillina Nwabueze points out “when the subject and imagery are both emotional and unconventional, the structured influences can create a compelling contrast that stimulates the narration.” Elisabeth Subrin develops a narrative voice in her films that gains power through recreating historical evidence. In her 1997 film, Shulie, for instance, she constructs remake of a little-known 1967 documentary about Shulamith Firestone, who later authored widely a influential feminist text, “The Dialectic Sex.” Elisabeth Subrin boldly grabs these experiences and turns them into evidence to showcase a woman’s narrative voice in the world.

One of the many themes Subrin's work  tackles is the treatment of mental illness and disorder. The discourse of the psychiatric system is one rich with opportunities for activism and re-imagination, and  Elisabeth Subrin's has made important contributions to the fight of individuals written off as “mentally ill” to gain more agency in classifying their own mind and experience. In an interview with Sabrina Beram from the blog Required Taste, Subrin says, "… all of the films are about mental illnesses and there is something about containing them in mathematical structures.” Her narrative voice gains its special power from generally-untapped personal histories as well as her radical use of plot and structural devices. Subrin is a master of working with the possibilities of form relating to or structuring its content. For example, her piece Lost Tribes and Promised Lands is a split screen of New York City Storefronts immediately after 9/11 and the same spot ten years after--an exercise in imagining simultaneity and presenting political work without making overbearing commentary.

Among other tools, she employs overlapping formal and thematic references,  shooting with out-of-date and damaged film stock, and using processing and editing techniques to“age” some of her work; for example, in watching Shulie, one finds it hard to believe that her 1997 remake of this film wasn’t shot in the 1960’s.  Subrin's film Sweet Ruin is a great example of how she interrogates both subject matter and its presentation. Described as an “experimental adaptation” of a lost script by Michelagelo Antonioni called Technically Sweet,  the conceptual possibilities of form explode when put under Subrin’s socio-political lens.
It is an honor to introduce to Writer’s Forum Elisabeth Subrin.

Paula Fox
By Sarah Appel and William Reilly

Since publishing her first book in 1967, Paula Fox has written six novels, two memoirs and twenty-two children’s books. They are the work of a tireless genius, a writer who evokes her rich narratives on the page in a clear and distinct voice.

Fox’s memoirs, Borrowed Finery and The Coldest Winter, detail events from her extraordinary life. Born in 1923, the unwanted daughter of absentee parents, Fox spent her childhood in the care of a series of guardians, including two years on a Cuban plantation with her maternal grandmother. She worked several different jobs after finishing high school, ranging from machinist to publishing company employee. She read books for a film studio and worked as an English teacher for both Spanish­-speaking and emotionally disturbed children. At twenty­-two, Fox found work as a stringer for a British news service in newly liberated Europe.

Growing up without a net, Fox was not able to write full ­time until the age of 40. Her first,novel, Poor George, was critically acclaimed but not commercially successful, creating her reputation as a writer’s writer. She won the Newberry Award for The Slave Dancer, a National Book Award for A Place Apart, and in 1978 was presented with the Hans Christen Andersen award by the Queen of Denmark for her lasting contributions to children’s literature. Today, Paula Fox is perhaps best known for her monumental novel, Desperate Characters.

Nelly Reifler
By Amanda Horn and Samantha Borek

Nelly Reifler’s Elect H. Mouse State Judge “. . .is an unexpected illustration of the most difficult questions man-kind faces today,” says our classmate Grace Dilger. “[Like] Are people inherently good, and what qualifies as a vice in world ripe with cruelty? Here’s the catch-- the pupils enrolled in Reifler’s school of morality aren’t human at all, just the opposite.” Her use of animal and toy characters rather than human ones gives her the wiggle room to explore human facets of life--grief, the powerlessness of life, loneliness, and sex-- and lays them bare to her readers. With a concise, sharp voice, Reifler’s works are as honest and moving as they are unsettling, coupling non-traditional narrators and points of view with very real issues of identity, sanity, and a world that does not follow a strict set of ethical guidelines. Because of this, Nelly Reifler is a master of defamiliarization—sometimes people act like dolls and sometimes dolls act like people.

Though Reifler rarely uses human characters, the fantastical elements serve only to enhance the poignancy of her storytelling. Her wit and charm helps the readers cope with the tension and foreboding that can sneak into his or her consciousness. She has a way of giving readers a complicated story by using less. We can see this most recently in her three-part essay series, "Blue Spark," in which she analyzes the extreme and vulnerable parts of her life with concise, cutting prose. Reifler makes complex emotions accessible—her fiction, as well as her nonfiction, shares with readers experiences that echo the process of overcoming grief and guilt. In her work, the reader gains an understanding not only of the characters, but of themselves.
Nelly Reifler is the author of a collection of short-stories entitled See Through as well as THE novel Elect H. Mouse State Judge. Her stories have appeared in McSweeney's, BOMB, jubilat, and Lucky Peach, among others, and anthologized in books such as Lost Tribe: Jewish Fiction from the Edge and Found Magazine's Requiem for a Paper Bag. She's a Recommendations editor at Post Road, and she teaches at Sarah Lawrence College. She was co-director of Writers' Forum FROM 2005-2013, and she will be the visiting writer at Western Michigan University in spring 2014. Please join us in welcoming Nelly Reifler.

Aracelis Girmay
By Helena Duncan and Zaina Goggins

Aracelis Girmay's poetry was born of three nations--Eritrea, Puerto Rico, and America--but observes the beauty and culture of all creations throughout the globe, drawing bridges to love and life. Girmay's major works include “Changing, Changing,” a story book of original collages published in 2005, “Teeth,” a book of poetry published in 2007, and “Kingdom Animalia,” published in 2011, all award- winning books. Girmay teaches at Hampshire College’s M.F.A. program and is a Cave Canem Fellow, as well as a recipient of numerous other grants and honors.

Says student Dilinna Nwabueze of Kingdom Animalia, “death and life are heavily explored as separate entities that coexist and manipulate the mind and body.” This juxtaposition is reflected throughout Girmay’s work, and often involves conjuring a positive, hopeful note, even in times of grief or tragedy. “Then Sing” ends: “When they take away the sunlight, even the sunlight, be the sunlight. Let them tell you you cannot sing in hell, good man, then sing.” Girmay’s work takes us from the small sorrows of every day to the atrocities of war crimes, inviting the reader to explore the depths and breadth of human experience through her vivid, lyrical words. Her ability to see beauty even in times of unthinkable sorrow lends her work a voice that is unwavering in its testament to the power of such beauty to transcend both darkness and the cacophony of daily life.

Girmay's work explores not only the connection between life and death but also the connection between the human and non-human worlds. “Girmay’s personification of nonhuman elements,” writes student Sophia King, “is a vehicle for understanding her own human body and its history, somewhere between mysticism and reality.” Influenced by Darwin’s “Origin of Species,” Girmay’s work describes characters--human or not-- that hold an equally captivating power and beauty, whether it’s her abuelo, a soldier, or the blue sky. This interconnection is comforting; in an ode to the jacaranda tree, Girmay writes: “I watched your flowers move with it, Jacaranda...they danced away. I saw them--bodies flying like our dead. Featherless and defiant.”

Girmay’s poetry has a convicting and inspiring power over all restraints of age, race, and gender. Many consider her work to be highly political. In a passage published on, Girmay said, “As long as we are living in a society or culture that says that it's okay for some people to have voices & others to not have voices, then speaking is a political act. As long as we are living in a society that promotes war, hate, fear--then, sadly, even love is made political. But I believe love is larger than politics--much larger...”. 

Victor LaValle
By Ashley Conolly and Cameron Blais

Victor LaValle is an author who unapologetically embraces the ugliness in humanity as an expression of his love for it.  His works are provocative reflections of an advanced urban consciousness.  LaValle’s style is hard to characterize, and is often referred to as speculative fiction.  Although LaValle's writings are indeed speculative, they are at the same time rooted in the contemporary urban existence. His narratives glide seamlessly through macabre humor, gruesomely sexuality, the supernatural, and the psychological. His characters are complex; those who deal with mental illness are at once alien and completely relatable.  With his highly crafted prose, LaValle translates uncanny and hallucinatory situations into fluid and poetic sequences that draw the reader deep into the experience of his characters. In his work, unlikely protagonists, like the heroin-addicted janitor and the obese schizophrenic, finally have voices in literature.  

Charged with what seems a fierce love of humanity, LaValle’s work deals with themes of redemption and free will. His work often concerns itself with those marginalized by society––the “despised”, as he refers to them in his novel, Big Machine––in order to not only illustrate the plight of the otherwise ignored, but to encourage his audience to examine their own place, fortunate or not. In an Interview with Vanity Fair, he states , “there are other people who need help more than you [and] you can learn to be more appreciative about your own place in the world.” What makes his interrogation of this concept so successful is the distinct humanity of his writing. He never positions himself or his characters above the audience (or anyone else) fostering contemplation in his readers, without ever allowing his work to become didactic in tone or subject matter.

A Queens native, Victor La Valle has written and published three novels, a novella, and a collection of short stories: The Ecstatic, Big Machine, The Devil in Silver, Lucretia and the Kroons, and Slapboxing with Jesus, respectively. All have released to widespread critical acclaim, earning him the Whiting Writers' Award, a Guggenheim Fellowship, The PEN Open Book Award, and the Shirley Jackson award for Best Novel, among many others. LaValle is also the Acting Fiction Director of the Creative Writing Program at Columbia University.

Gary Lutz

Gary Lutz, as far as this humble introducer can surmise after decrypting his delicately rendered prose, is a complete madman.

His stories disregard the traditional notion of plot and transcend grammar, as he manipulates words in an unnaturally creative way. Every sentence of a Gary Lutz story turns you into an evangelist. His words make you want to grab the nearest person by the shoulders and say “read this!”  By creating friction rather than coherence between words, his language denies us the traditional crutches that we are taught to expect to guide us through all writing: the subjects and predicates are there, the verbs have their objects, but they are married in unions that no other linguistic matchmaker could arrange. 

He presents characters in what other writers would consider to be the negative space, nameless orators with a fluid sense of gender and sexuality who are likely to ask: “What could be worse than having to be seen resorting to your own life?” They all seem to be trapped in themselves, some in spite of not knowing exactly what defines them, others just afraid of how they’ll come together.

I don’t think you can read his work without having your view of fiction challenged and changed—I know I couldn’t.  Writers weaned on the teats of Aristotle won’t find a lot in Lutz’s work to suck on.  He believes film is the perfect storytelling medium, and that fiction provides him with a unique venue for exploring the function of language.  By separating fiction from storytelling, he allows fiction to grow into something more complex and more interesting.

Lutz’s fiction does not exist within the popular paradigm of creative writing. A sample from his piece “It Collects In Me” almost exactly explains this: “Can I skip over what was popular then without leaving anything to the imagination? Because the imagination has to be left out of this. I would hate for something to have to get created here. That is the last thing I want.” It’s not that his writing is unimaginative, it is just that it is on an entirely different plane.  He creates characters and lives that are as complete as, or more complete than, those of his contemporaries, but he does it in ways they haven’t figured out yet.  Amy Hempel said she wishes she could see through skin the way he can. 

He’s published two collections of short stories: Stories in the Worst Way (in paperback from 3rd bed, 2002) and I Looked Alive (Black Square Editions, 2004). He has received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and a grant from the Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts. His stories have been anthologized in publications including The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories (Anchor Books, 2004) and he edits the online experimental literary journal 5_Trope. He considers himself a grammarian, and co-wrote The Writer’s Digest Grammar Desk Reference with Diane Stevenson.  He currently teaches at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensberg. 

We are humbled and greatly pleased to welcome Gary Lutz. 

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