Faye Rapoport DesPres

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 in a family of anthologies about the 21st-century family Somebody’s Child captures the many unforgettable faces and voices of adoption.

Beth Grosart is currently at work on a young adult novel, Arrival Day, about a Korean adoptee’s search for belonging.  A high school English teacher, Beth holds an MFA in creative writing from Scotland’s University of St. Andrews (in addition to her degree from Solstice). She has been published in Eastown Fiction and her essay, “Abandoned but Loved,” is included in Somebody’s Child: Stories about Adoption.

Mike Miner (January, 2011)
Pulp Ink 2: Stories of Crime and Horror (Snubnose Press, http://snubnosepress.wordpress.com/)

“It’s varied, it’s wild and it’s not for the faint hearted… An addictive collection.”–Benoit Lelievre of Dead End Follies

Mike Miner lives and writes in Connecticut. His stories can be found in the anthologies Lost Children: Protectors, Pulp Ink 2 and the Plan B Anthology as well as online in places like Narrative, PANK, Pulp Metal Magazine, The Flash Fiction Offensive, and Shotgun Honey. His collection of linked stories, Everything She Knows, is due to be released in 2013 as a “Solstice Selects” e-book. Also scheduled for 2013 is a novel from Full Dark City Press. In addition, Mike has a novella forthcoming from Gutter Books.

William Hastings (July, 2012)
Cape Cod Noir (Akashic Books, http://www.akashicbooks.com/)

“Youthful alienation and despair dominate the 13 stories in Akashic’s noir volume devoted to Cape Cod. [It] will satisfy those with a hankering for a taste of the dark side.”–Publishers Weekly

William Hasting’s contribution to Cape Cod Noir, “Ten Year Plan,” was listed in Best American Mystery Stories as a “Distinguished Short Story of 2011.”

William Hastings works at Farley’s Bookshop.  He lives in Pennsylvania.  His work can be found in Boulevard, Hanging Loose, Fray Quarterly and is forthcoming from the Writer’s Tribe Review.  He is a contributing editor at Boulevard and the fiction editor for Ping Pong, the literary magazine of the Henry Miller Memorial Library.  He has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

Congratulations, friends and fellow students and graduates! Before you know it, Solstice will have to open its own bookstore to accommodate the wonderful work that’s being produced by the program’s writers. I hope you’ll find something of interest above to add to your own reading list.