Creative Writing Month 2017

Sponsored by the Department of English and its Creative Writing Program

Literary events throughout the month! Meet other student writers, hear award-winning authors discuss their work, and learn more about creative writing at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. All events are free and open to the public unless otherwise noted.

Poetry in Print: the poetry book and the publishing process

Thursday, October 5, 11:00 am, Andrews Hall Bailey Library

Three poets, Crystal Gibbins, Adrian Koesters, and Michelle Menting—alumnae of the Creative Writing PhD Program of the UNL English Department—offer advice and insights into the process of bringing their poetry to publication: from navigating the typical poetry-press contract to working with editors, from selecting cover art to marketing and promoting their new books. They’ll each read excerpts from their new poetry collections, and they’ll answer your questions about pursuing a writing career and a literary life.

Crystal S. Gibbins grew up on the islands of Lake of the Woods, Minnesota/Ontario. She is the author of the full-length poetry collection Now/Here (Holy Cow! Press) and two poetry chapbooks.

Adrian KoestersThree Days with the Long Moon: Poems was published in 2017 by BrickHouse Books, who also published her book, Many Parishes, in 2013.

Michelle Menting is the author of the full-length poetry collection Leaves Surface Like Skin (Terrapin Books).

Reading by Bradford Morrow

Monday, October 9, 5:00 pm, Great Plains Art Museum

Bradford Morrow will read from The Prague Sonata, a novel that moves from Nazi-occupied Prague to turn-of-the-millennium New York as a young musicologist seeks to solve the mystery behind an eighteenth-century sonata manuscript.

Morrow has received a Guggenheim Fellowship in fiction, O. Henry and Pushcart prizes for his short stories, an Academy Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the PEN/Nora Magid Award for excellence in editing a literary journal. His novel Trinity Fields was a Los Angeles Times Book Award finalist, and The Almanac Branch was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award.

Panel with Agents and Editors

Tuesday, October 10, 3:30 pm, Nebraska Union Heritage Room

Join us for a panel discussion and Q&A with New York City agents Noah Ballard, Monika Woods, and Jane von Mehren, and editor Morgan Jerkins.

Alumni Reading: Nick White and Devin Murphy

Tuesday, October 10, 5:00 pm, Great Plains Art Museum

The Boat Runner, by Devin Murphy, is in the tradition of All the Light We Cannot See and The Nightingale; an incandescent debut novel about a young Dutch man who comes of age during the perilousness of World War II. Library Journal writes: “Debut novelist Murphy lends authenticity to his story by drawing on the life of his Dutch maternal grandfather and his own experiences at sea, where Jacob crucially spends time…An effectively detailed, morally complex book that will appeal to all readers of historical fiction.”

How to Survive a Summer, by Nick White, is a searing debut novel centering around a gay-to-straight conversion camp in Mississippi and a man’s reckoning with the trauma he faced there as a teen. Rolling Stone writes: “…what makes White’s novel feel so urgent and so fresh, is the startling compassion he evinces for the place on which it centers, the effort that is made to give breadth and humanity to a part of the world both he and his book’s narrator are from, and by which both of them were unavoidably shaped.”

Reading and Discussion with Morgan Jerkins

Wednesday, October 11, 12:00 pm, Andrews Hall Bailey Library

Morgan Jerkins will read from her upcoming debut essay collection, This Will Be My Undoing, a book of essays about living at the intersection of black, female, and feminist in (white) America. She’ll also talk about writing, editing, and publishing. Jerkins is a contributing editor at Catapult and a Book of the Month judge. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Atlantic, ELLE, Lenny Letter, Rolling Stone, The New Republic, and BuzzFeed, among many others.

Publishing Clinic with Agents and Editors

Wednesday, October 11, 2:00 pm, Andrews Hall Bailey Library

Throughout the afternoon, NYC agents and editors will advise on the following topics. Either come for the whole clinic or sit in for parts of it! All welcome! Free and open to all students, staff, and the public at large.

Setting Work/Writing Balance with agent Monika Wood
Making time to write is easier said than done. As both an agent and a writer, Monika Woods has a unique perspective on how to make time and headspace for both the demands of her clients and her own literary pursuits. This workshop will provide tips and experiences of working a 9-to-5 (and raising a young child) but still managing to place short fiction and complete a debut novel.

Everybody Starts Somewhere with editor Morgan Jerkins
Pitching stories to editors of renowned publications can be a scary ordeal, especially if you don't feel like you have any connections. Morgan Jerkins uses her experiences publishing in The New Yorker, The New York Times and BuzzFeed to show some of the common mistakes writers make, how to approach editors, and the anatomy of pitch-writing in order to jumpstart your portfolio and increase your visibility online.

The Special Relationship with agent Noah Ballard
Agents are writers’ strongest advocates, but finding the right one and setting the right tone can be challenging for a debut author. Noah Ballard explains how writers can professionally and confidently query agents and develop productive business relationships with them and what to expect and avoid before signing.

Agent with the Heart of an Editor with Jane von Mehren
An agent is often a writer’s first editor before a book even goes on submission. Jane von Mehren spent most of her career on the editorial side of New York book publishing, and that has given her insights and wisdom about both strengthening her clients’ writing and what convinces and compels acquiring editors on the page.

"What Editors Want," a craft talk with Lynne Barrett

Thursday, October 12, 2:00 pm, Andrews Hall Bailey Library

Lynne Barrett is a fiction writer, essayist, and editor. She will discuss the craft of writing and her book, What Editors Want: A Must Read for Writers Submitting to Literary Magazines. The book covers the steps in the submission process and how to handle them—from understanding editors’ expectations, to researching and evaluating potential markets, handling cover letters, rejections, and acceptances, and keeping good records. She teaches in the MFA program in Creative Writing at Florida International University and edits The Florida Book Review.

SJ Sindu, author of Marriage of a Thousand Lies

Thursday, October 12, 3:30 pm, Andrews Hall Bailey Library

Novelist, memoirist, and UNL alum SJ Sindu will discuss her new work: the novel Marriage of a Thousand Lies and the hybrid fiction/nonfiction chapbook, I Once Met You But You Were Dead.

Shot through with humor and loss, Marriage of a Thousand Lies offers a warm exploration of friendship, family, and love. Lucky, the millennial narrator, is charming and complex as she struggles to remain true to herself while navigating familial obligations. This debut novel offers a touching addition to both Sri Lankan and American LGBTQ canons.

SJ Sindu was born in Sri Lanka and raised in Massachusetts. Her chapbook, I Once Met You But You Were Dead, won the 2016 Turnbuckle Chapbook Contest and was published by Split Lip Press. She was a 2013 Lambda Literary Fellow and holds a PhD in Creative Writing from Florida State University.

Reading: Lynne Barrett

Thursday, October 12, 6:00 pm, Andrews Hall Bailey Library

Lynne Barrett is the award-winning author of the story collections The Secret Names of Women, The Land of Go, and, most recently, Magpies, which received the Florida Book Awards Gold Medal for General Fiction. Barrett edited Tigertail: Florida Flash, and co-edited Birth: A Literary Companion and The James M. Cain Cookbook, a collection of Cain’s nonfiction. She has received the Edgar Allan Poe Award for best mystery story from the Mystery Writers of America, the Moondance International Film Festival award for best short story, and fellowships from the Florida Division of Cultural Affairs and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Poet Twyla Hansen

Wednesday, October 18, 6:00 pm, Andrews Hall Bailey Library

Twyla Hansen will read from her new book, Rock • Tree • Bird (Backwaters Press). Hansen is the first woman to serve as Nebraska State Poet. Her poetry collection, Potato Soup, is one of Nebraska’s 150 Notable Books ( and was the winner of the Nebraska Book Award. Her other books include How to Live in the Heartland, In Our Very Bones, Sanctuary Near Salt Creek, Dirt Songs: A Plains Duet, and Prairie Suite: A Celebration (illustrated by Paul Johnsgard). For more about her work, visit Poetry from the Plains: A Nebraska Perspective.

No Name Reading Series

Monday, October 23, 5:15 pm, Barrymore's (124 N 13th Street)

No Name features the best in poetry and prose from graduate student writers in the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Department of English. Happening once per month from 5:15-7:00 pm at Barrymore’s (124 N 13th St), readings are free and open to the public. To learn more, visit the No Name Series page and follow them on Twitter and Facebook.

Poetry Slam featuring Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib

Thursday, October 26, 7:00 pm, Nebraska Union Auditorium

Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib is a poet, essayist, and cultural critic, whose work has appeared in the New Yorker, the New York Time, and Pitchfork, and on MTV News. He is the author of the poetry collection The Crown Ain’t Worth Much and the forthcoming essay collection, They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us.

Nasty Women Poets: A Reading by Contributors to the Anthology

Monday, October 30, 7:00 pm, Andrews Hall Bailey Library

Featuring Grace Bauer, Twyla Hansen, Christine Stewart Nuñez, Kimberly Tedrow, Hope Wabuke, Stacey Waite, and Laura Madeline Wiseman.

Nasty Women Poets: An Unapologetic Anthology of Subversie Verse: is an anthology of poems from women who proudly celebrate their own nastiness and that of other women who have served as nasty role models; poems by and about women defying limitations and lady-like expectations; women refusing to be “nice girls;” women embracing their inner bitch when the situation demands it; women being formidable and funny; women speaking to power and singing for the good of their souls; women being strong, sexy, strident, super-smart, and stupendous; women who want to encourage little girls to keep dreaming.

Matthew Jockers, co-author of The Bestseller Code: Anatomy of the Blockbuster Novel

Thursday, November 2, 3:30 pm, Andrews Hall Bailey Library

Kick off National Novel Writing Month with a discussion about The Bestseller Code, which explores the relationship between creativity and analytics, and examines trends in the New York Times bestseller list. Matthew Jockers, who wrote the book with author and editor Jodi Archer, will discuss the results of their research, which bring fresh new insights into how fiction works and why we read. And all with fascinating supporting data taken from a five-year study of twenty thousand novels.

Matthew Jockers is the Associate Dean for Research and Global Engagement in UNL’s College of Arts and Sciences, and a Susan J. Rosowski Associate Professor of English.