Augsburg University

MFA Program
Poetry, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction, Cross-Genre
Minneapolis, MN
Application Deadline: 
Rolling Admissions
Application Fee: 
$0
Affiliated Publications/Publishers: 

Howling Bird Press, which administers its annual National Book Prize.

Students enrolled in the publishing concentration work as editors of a literary press that publishes a book-length collection of prose or poetry each year.

The Poets & Writers Complete Guide to Being a Writer Launch Party

Caption: 

To celebrate the launch of The Poets & Writers Complete Guide to Being a Writer (Avid Reader Press, 2020), authors Mary Gannon and Kevin Larimer speak with novelist Nicole Dennis-Benn, literary agent Annie Hwang, publicist Michael Taeckens, and publisher and editor Jamia Wilson about the need for new voices in literature and the ins and outs of the literary world in this online event hosted by the Center for Fiction.

Greenidge Sisters

Caption: 

In this Open Studio With Jared Bowen interview, playwright Kirsten Greenidge; Kerri Greenidge, historian and author of Black Radical: The Life and Times of William Monroe Trotter (Liveright, 2019); and Kaitlyn Greenidge, author of We Love You, Charlie Freeman (Algonquin Books, 2016) talk about growing up together as sisters and how their work often overlaps.

PEN America Writers’ Emergency Fund Open for Applications

To help writers impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, we will be highlighting emergency funds available to writers. For more sources of support, read our running list of resources for writers in the time of coronavirus.

The PEN America Writers’ Emergency Fund is currently administering grants of $500 to $1,000 to writers who “demonstrate an inability to meet an acute financial need, especially one resulting from the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.” In response to the public health crisis, PEN America has streamlined its typical application process for support through the fund. Applicants will receive a response within ten days.

The grants are made to poets, fiction writers, nonfiction writers, translators, journalists, playwrights, and screenwriters. Professional writers who have a demonstrated record of publication and who are based in the United States are eligible. Qualifying professional credentials include the publication of one or more books; publication of multiple pieces in literary magazines within the last two years; full-time employment as a journalist, columnist, or critic; consistent publication on a freelance basis in a range of outlets; the authorship of a full-length play, performed by a professional theater company in a theatre seating 250 or more people; or contracted work as a writer. Other credentials may also be considered. Writers do not need to be members of PEN America in order to be eligible.

Using only the online application system, submit a statement of need, a recent tax return, information about personal finances, and contact information for three references. Writing samples are not required. Visit the website for complete guidelines and eligibility. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.

Since 1922, PEN America has worked “at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect free expression in the United States and worldwide.” Headquartered in New York City, with additional offices in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., the nonprofit works in conjunction with PEN International to advance causes including freedom of the press and artistic freedom from censorship.

José Torres-Tama and His Sci-fi Latino Noir

As we remain at home and do our part to stop the spread of the coronavirus, I wanted to share a short interview I did with poet and performance artist José Torres-Tama who I met a few years ago when we read along with other featured New Orleans poets at a venue off of St. Claude. I remember his chant of “no guacamole for immigrant haters” vividly. Torres-Tama has been touring his solo show Aliens, Immigrants & Other Evildoers across the country for almost ten years. The multimedia and bilingual show, which he describes as a “sci-fi Latino noir,” is updated regularly to reflect current events and is based on interviews Torres-Tama conducts with undocumented immigrants who share their courageous stories. The Readings & Workshops program cosponsored a powerful performance of the show this past September at the Alvar Branch of the New Orleans Public Library. I was able to speak with him about his work, his life in New Orleans, and the importance of giving voice to the immigrant experience.

How has Aliens, Immigrants & Other Evildoers evolved over the years?
Aliens, Immigrants & Other Evildoers premiered in 2010 at the Ashé Cultural Arts Center in New Orleans. In August 2019, we restaged the show for sold-out houses back at the Ashé to kick off a national tour. The show is about the hypocrisy of a country that exploits immigrant labor while criminalizing them. My comic battle cry is, “No guacamole for immigrant haters!” My 2020 tour opened in Mexico City and celebrated Glossolalia, a bilingual poetry book edited by iconic poet Guillermo Gómez-Peña that includes poems from Aliens, Immigrants & Other Evildoers.

Why does New Orleans feel like home to you?
I’m an Ecuadorian immigrant and naturalized U.S. citizen, and immigrant rights is the thematic platform for my poems. New Orleans is the northernmost point of the Caribbean with an often forgotten Latin legacy, and since the 1980s, I proudly call these swamplands home because I’ve cultivated my voice as a poet and performance artist here.

What do you feel is your contribution to the New Orleans literary scene?
I’m one of few Latin American poets here speaking to the immigrant experience. I believe my work is vital to a poetry scene that’s often stuck in a white and black binary quagmire. We need more Latinx voices to claim our rightful place in a city whose post-Katrina resurrection owes much to Latin American immigrant reconstruction workers who gave their blood, labor, and love to our rebirth.

Who are some local poets on your radar that we should look out for?
Two poets to watch in New Orleans are Linett Luna Tovar, a fierce Mexican wordsmith, and José Fermin Ceballos, an Afro-Dominican singer and poet.

Kelly Harris is the literary outreach coordinator for Poets & Writers in New Orleans. Contact her at NOLA@pw.org or on Twitter, @NOLApworg.

Party Time: Zine Fest Houston

Now that we are being asked to stay at home to help slow the spread of the coronavirus and adjusting to this new terrain, most literary events have been canceled or postponed. Knowing this, I thought maybe I shouldn’t be writing about literary festivals and conferences, but I wanted to add a little hope for the future and highlight some great events we can look forward to that take place in Houston. It has also been wonderful to see some events and conferences, like TeenBookCon, adjusting to the current state of things and finding ways to have virtual events via social media platforms. To wrap up this series of posts, I want to tell you all about Zine Fest Houston.

Zine Fest Houston has been around since 1993, first as a small gathering in a local park in Houston where zine creators came together to share their latest issues. Since then, they have grown each year but the annual festival has always been about DIY creations. This is a space for brilliant creators to showcase and share self-published works or small print runs of literary works. Everything presented, shared, and worked on is unique and unconventional and that is the main draw to the festival. According to their website, the event promotes “zines, mini-comics, and other forms of small press, alternative, underground, DIY media and art.” The registration is free and the event is for all ages. There are tables and tables of artists and zines, panels and talks, and even zine-making workshops.

I actually sighed in relief after thinking this would be another festival that had to be canceled and seeing that, as of their announcement on Twitter in early March, the event scheduled for November 7 is still a go! This year’s theme celebrates all things transit-related and the ways transportation has influenced Houston’s culture.

Zine Fest Houston has also just organized a “Cyber Mall: Texas Zinesters & Comic Creators Directory” as a community Google sheet to support those who have lost income and opportunities to sell at festivals and events. Keep up with their news on Twitter, @ZineFestHouston.

Lupe Mendez is the literary outreach coordinator for Poets & Writers in Houston. Contact him at Houston@pw.org or on Twitter, @houstonpworg.

Party Time: Fade to Black

As I mentioned last week, many of us were not able to attend the AWP conference earlier this month, but it did create some special moments, not only in San Antonio but in other cities and online. Although we are in a time when many events are being canceled or postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, I wanted to continue to highlight some great literary festivals and conferences we can look forward to that take place in Houston. So far, I have already covered Sin Muros: A Latinx Theater Festival and Comicpalooza, and today I want to feature Fade to Black.

Fade to Black is Houston’s first national play festival to showcase the new works of African American playwrights. It’s a brilliant lineup of national, regional, and local playwrights displaying their craft. The summer festival is jam-pack with play readings and performances read and produced by African American writers and actors, many of which are from here in Houston.

This past year’s festival celebrated their seventh season and was held last June at the Midtown Arts and Theater Center Houston (MATCH). Festival goers come in from all over the state of Texas and the country. The plays of ten finalists from a national competition are produced and performed, and there are writing workshops and playwright panels that are all part of the three-day festival. If you are a writer thinking about how to step out from behind the desk or want to engage in something performative, then this is just the ticket. In addition, the organizers have added in a Fade to Black reading series with live readings of even more plays. There is so much inspiration from this playwriting community!

Lupe Mendez is the literary outreach coordinator for Poets & Writers in Houston. Contact him at Houston@pw.org or on Twitter, @houstonpworg.

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