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Spring training is starting, thus marking the beginning of baseball season. I haven’t asked around, but I bet it’s safe to assume that each and every one of us in the Creative Writing Program is equally as excited as I am. Time to break out those great baseball books: The Natural, The Art of Fielding, The Great American Novel, and of course Notre Dame’s very own Valerie Sayers’s, The Powers. If you’re a poet, go and memorize Casey At The Bat.

And what better way to celebrate the beginning of baseball season than a double-header? In the spirit of the late Ernie Banks, we’re gonna “play two” by having both Tom Miller and Noni Ramos read at the Hammes Bookstore!

Tom Miller grew up in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin. He graduated from Harvard University and went on to earn an MFA in creative writing from the University of Notre Dame and an MD from the University of Pittsburgh. While writing The Philosopher’s Flight, he worked as a travel guidebook writer, EMT and college English instructor. He’s now an emergency room doctor in Madison, Wisconsin. This is his first novel.

Noni Ramos is an award-winning educator and writer of “intense” young adult literature. Carolrhoda Labs will release her debut novel The Disturbed Girl’s Dictionary February 1st 2018 and The Book of Love, fall 2019. She resides in Virginia with her soul mate Michael G. Richards, beloveds Margot and Lango Tango, lizard Athantas, nefarious guinea pigs Cookie Dough and Friskette, and two felines, Black Magic and Eartha Kitt. #weneeddiversebooks @POCinpub @LatinxinPublishing


So come on down to Hammes Bookstore on February 21 at 7:30 PM. Don’t bring your gloves, because there will be no foul balls, and because even if there were, only kids should do that.

Go Cubs,




The Olympics are well underway. The USA’s collected three golds so far, from Jamie Anderson, Red Gerard and Chloe Kim. There’s no event that involves reading or writing fiction though, so we’re going to live up to the hype our own way by entertaining a visit from our own de-facto gold medalist, last year’s Sparks Prize winner, Tania Sarfraz.

Ms. Sarfraz got her BA in anthropology from Brown University before coming to Notre Dame’s MFA, where she wrote her thesis, Metropolis. She digs the exhaustion of the short form.

You can find her work in Occulum, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, and Cosmonaut’s Avenue.

So luge your way over to Hammes Bookstore by tomorrow, February 14, at 7:30 PM. Try not to crash like Emily Sweeney.


AAAaaaand We’re Back

While the winter rages on, winter break has come to a screeching halt.  Hopefully everyone has enjoyed their vacations or staycations, because it’s back to the assignments and working and snow and afternoon coffee-jitters, and spring break it’s a long road to spring break.

Silver Lining:

With the MFA students, the MFA reading series has also returned! The first reading will feature Jac Smith, Joseph Thomas, and myself (Jake McCabe). The three of us can’t wait to welcome everybody back into the sphere of productivity with a little bit of fiction.

Here are our bios:

Jac Smith is from Long Beach, California where she received her degree in psychology at CSULB. In 2014 she was a recipient of the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program Scholarship for fiction. Recently she was awarded the 2018 summer residency through The Studios of Key West. Her fiction has appeared in Santa Ana River Review and Hypertrophic Literary.

Joseph Earl Thomas is a Black writer from Northeast Philly whose writing has appeared or is forthcoming in After the Pause, Apiary, Philadelphia Printworks, The Offing, and Philadelphia Stories. He is also 2017 VONA workshop alumni. A memoirist and poet, he often wonders how things might have gone had he fallen in love with hominids first, and so he spends much of his time reading and writing speculative fiction. Joseph is grinding on two book-length projects: Sink, a memoir about coming of age as an undereducated blerd in the city, and a “war” novel, God Bless You, Otis Spunkmeyer. Joseph blogs on birth world problems at josephearlthomas.com and is currently an MFA candidate in prose at the University of Notre Dame.

I am from Chicago and I hold a BFA from Pratt Institute, where I worked as a creative writing teacher at Pratt’s “Saturday Art School” program, as well as editor of Ubiquitous, Pratt’s literary magazine. At Pratt, I wrote a collection of shorts called Chicago Stories for my senior thesis, which was a finalist for Pratt’s thesis prize.

Come and join us January 31, at 7:30 PM in the Geddes Hall Coffee Shop. Free drinks at the water fountain out in the hallway.


The holiday season is kind of a ridiculous time, if you think about it; when else, during the year, do we so wholly dedicate the (sometimes literal) fabric of our daily lives around a certain aesthetic for as long as a month? It’s pleasant, yes, but it’s weird. The fake white beards, the ho-ho-ho-ing, the eggnog, the twinkling lights all over the place. If an alien were to come to Earth and just observe the holiday season, they might think, “What are all these people doing all of a sudden? Why are they acting this way?”

So in the spirit of that investigation of yuletide strangeness, Kellie Wells is coming to read fiction at Notre Dame on December 6!

Ms. Wells graduated from the University of Kansas with a BS in Journalism and a BA in English. She received MFAs from the University of Montana and the University of Pittsburgh, and a PhD from Western Michigan University. Previously the director of the graduate writing program at Washington University in St. Louis, Wells now teaches at the University of Alabama, where she is also a member of the advisory board for The Tusculum Review. She also teaches in the low-residency MFA program at Pacific University. Her short story collection God, the Moon, and Other Megafauna won the 2017 Richard Sullivan Prize.

Ms. Wells is known for her enveloping pushing fictive style and authorial voice, which has been described as “at once fey and surgically precise” (Jamy Gordon, National Book Award winner). Her most recent short story collection, The God, The Moon, and Other Megafauana is concerned with the surreal highs and lows of humanity with characters that seem to exist on the emotion outskirts of daily life.

So grab your candy cane, wear your long red hat, put on a very ugly sweater, think about how absurd that process is, and head over to the Hammes Campus Bookstore on December 6, at 7:30 PM.

Merry Christmas!

Jake M

The insecurity associated with driving a car usually occurs at night, when you have to watch out for creepy stalkers who conceal themselves in the backseat of your vehicle. But as the urban animals (pigeons, squirrels, bunnies, etc.) have enhanced their intelligence by mingling with humans in the pretense of begging for food to learn humans’ weaknesses, they are secretly developing an intricate plot to conspire against humans. They decide to walk in an innocent manner on the road and  drivers have to be extra cautious so they won’t crush them. When the humans are blocked by the seemingly ignorant animals and come out the car to chase the animals away, these evil creatures will bring you down with martial arts they picked up from watching Kungfu Panda, and hijack all the cars to crash nuclear stations to destroy humanity.

If you are interested in hijacking and resurrection, you should definitely come to see Joyelle McSweeney’s play Dead Youth, Or the Leaks. In the play, the protagonist called into life teenagers from all over the world who died violently on a containership to Magnetic Island, and have to deal with two potential hijackers: a young Somali pirate and a female Antoine de St-Exupery. The play explores survival amid violence and obscenity, and subverts misery and death resulting from capitalistic exploitation.

Here is the bio of Joyelle McSweeney, the author of Dead Youth, or the Leaks:

Joyelle McSweeney is the author of two hybrid-genre novels: Flet, a sci-fi (Fence, 2008) and Nylund, the Sarcographer(Tarpaulin Sky Press, 2007), a baroque-noir. She is also the author of two volumes of poetry, The Commandrine and Other Poems (Fence, 2004) and The Red Bird, which was chosen by Allen Grossman to inaugurate the Fence Modern Poets Series in 2001. Her most recent titles include The Necropastoral: Poetry, Media, Occults, a book of transnational, transgenre poetics essays (University of Michigan’s Poets on Poetry Series, 2015), Percussion Grenade(Fence), and Salamandrine, 8 Gothics (Tarpaulin Sky Press). With Johannes Göransson, she publishes Action Books  and Action, Yes, a press and web-quarterly dedicated to international writing and hybrid forms. She teaches at the University of Notre Dame.

McSweeney’s areas of interest and teaching include poetry, prose, and translation; performance and dramatic form; manifestos, art and politics; theory and media studies; mixed and intermedia art and writing; mixed, hypergenred and non-genred writing; disability studies and gender studies; as well as modern and contemporary literature and various avant gardes. She has written critical articles and manifestos on all of the above as well as review articles on such authors as Alice Notley, Hannah Weiner, Anne Carson, and Lyn Hejinian for such journals as the Boston Review, American Book Review, and boundary2. Other authors and artists of special interest include Antonin Artaud, Jack Smith, Kenneth Anger, Kate Bernheimer, Roberto Bolaño, Pume Bylex, Hiromi Itō, and Aimé Césaire.

The play will be performed at Philbin Studio Theatre in DeBartolo Performing Arts Center from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

I will see you there.


So often I’ll be doing something, anything, just going about my day, and the question will kind of fall on me — why are things the way that they are?

Because things so rarely make sense — think about the days of your life. Think about a good day you’ve had, a fun night out, think back even further, maybe a birthday party when you were a kid, a fun vacation, something like that. After that, think about the bad days — maybe you failed a class, got caught doing something bad, maybe you were broken up with, etc. Then, if you can muster it, think about the really bad thing — that moment in your life that was simply awful, the thing you’ve blocked out, the thing that was just beyond the pale. I bet it felt as though it came from nowhere.

Fiction writers work constantly in that liminal space between the things that could happen and the things that do happen. And then, what do we make of it? Do we try to make sense of it? Do we just capture it?

Lydia Yuknavitch holds those moments up and looks at them, letting them exist in all their human strangeness as she approaches them from angles one most certainly would not have otherwise come up with — she uses the lens of the body, the lens of mythology, the lens of sexuality and sociality to find the banal in the profound and the profound in the boring. Reading her work is essential.

A few words on Ms. Yuknavitch:

Lydia Yuknavitch is the author of four books. The Book of Joan is her most recent. Before that, The Small Backs of Children won the 2016 Oregon Book Award for Fiction. Other works include Dora: A headcase, Allegories of Violence, and her widely acclaimed memoir, The Chronology of Water. The Chronology of Water was a finalist for the PEN Center USA’s award for creative nonfiction and winner of a PNBA Award, and the Oregon Book Award Reader’s Choice. Forthcoming this fall is The Misfit’s Manifesto, a book based on her most recent TED Talk.


She has also had writing appear in publications including Guernica Magazine, Ms., The Iowa Review, Zyzzyna, Another Chicago Magazine, The Sun, Exquisite Corpse, TANK, The Rumpus, and in the anthologies Life As We Show It (City Lights), Wreckage of Reason (Spuytin Duyvil), Forms at War (FC2), Feminaissance (Les Figues Press), and Representing Bisexualities (SUNY).


She lives in Portland, Oregon, where she lives with her husband and son and runs the workshop series she founded, Corporeal Writing. She teaches both in person and online.

She will be reading on November 1 at Hammes Campus Bookstore, at 7:30 PM.

See you there!


The reading will take place in Hammes Campus Bookstore from 7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on November 8th, 2017.

Nights’ meanings have shifted constantly throughout my life. Now I welcome nights with my whole heart because it means I can sleep soon after I finish all my work at home (or it can mean endless caffeine and writing, as well as few hours of sleep). But as a kid, things are different. I would protest when my parents attempted to put me in bed, and disliked the fact that I had to stay at home rather than playing outside. Under the pretense of being a rambunctious child, the real reason that my reluctance to sleep is my fear of a nocturnal ghost roaming in my room (maybe before we moved to the apartment?). It is invisible, but I could clearly sense it approaching to my bed to play some tricks on me. I was afraid that the apparition would pinch my face and pull off my hair, so I hid under my quilts. But in retrospection, I find hiding a futile action because this ghost probably doesn’t have eyes anyways, and is relying on its sixth sense. In the mornings though, I would discover that either I or my toys were displaced, lying on the ground instead of on the bed.

I was lucky that this ghost I encountered is mischievous rather than malicious. Sometimes though, inanimate objects can be way more scarier than ghosts. Imagine that the dolls or toys you have become active at night, rob all the cows in a nearby farm, and you wake up with cows licking your face. So a piece of advice for you: when you sleep, don’t annoy your toys by holding them too tightly like the cat does. Treat them gently, otherwise they might cause you trouble while you sleep.

But nights are not always full of creepy and uncanny phenomena. In Marosa Di Giorgio’s I Remember Nightfall, the night is beautiful (though disturbing as well). In the translation, we can read Giorgio’s visceral language fleshed out in English. In parts of her poetry, we are grounded in the domestic atmosphere. In the kitchen of the narrator’s mother, we can smell the scent of vegetables and fresh-cut flowers, and hear that cake talks through her inventive language.  We can observe the birth of mushrooms, listen to the moaning of the old cat in the household, and sense the ghost girl riding a horse as well as the apparition moving furtively under the magnolia. I Remember Nightfall creates a mythic night-world where imaginary entities roam freely in familiar space.

Here are the bios for this cool poet and excellent translator of her book:

Born in Salto, Uruguay, and raised on her family’s farm, Marosa di Giorgio (1932-2004) is one of the most prominent Uruguayan poets of the twentieth century. Di Giorgio began writing in her childhood and published her first book of poems at the age of twenty-two. She then went on to publish a total of fourteen books of poetry, three collections of short stories, and one novel. While some critics have categorized her as a surrealist, she herself denied membership in any literary movement or school. Although she was relatively unknown outside the Southern Cone during her lifetime, she is now becoming more and more widely read throughout Latin America and Europe.

Jeannine – is a writer, teacher, and Spanish-English literary translator currently living in Dubuque, Iowa, where she teaches at the University of Dubuque. She is the author of two poetry chapbooks and the translator of several Uruguayan poets. She has published translations of acclaimed Uruguayan writer Marosa di Giorgio’s work, The History of Violets (UDP) and I Remember Nightfall(UDP), and her own first full-length poetry collection, Things Seen and Unseen, is forthcoming from Quattro Books.

I hope to see you there.

Best, Lavinia


The weather has been cold and rainy recently. Despite a few weeks of delusionally warm weather in the middle of October, we can’t ignore the old prophecy “Winter is Coming in South Bend!” Once snow hits campus, you probably won’t want to venture out of home and trudge in the snow for an event. But our third 2nd year MFA reading will occur before the snow arrives, and it will be definitely worth it to come and hear poetry from three great poets: Moonseok Choi, Madison McCartha, and Jean Yoon. After going to our last MFA reading this semester, you can be content by staying warm at home and waiting for Santa Claus to leave the throne and give you tons of chocolate for you to survive the winter.

Here is the bio for these cool poets:

Moonseok Choi was born in Seoul, South Korea, but spent 6 years of his childhood in the wilderness of Kansas picking up English. His fluency in both languages earned him a BA at Yonsei University’s Underwood International College, and allowed him to serve as a military translator in the ROK Army Special Forces for 2 years. He majored in Comparative Literature and Culture and became 11 different people for his senior thesis to write a fictional anthology of world poetry.

Moonseok won Yonsei’s Academy of American Poets Prize in 2014 for his sonnet “A Postcard from İzmir.” He enjoys writing in traditional forms as much as experimenting with contemporary poetry, and takes inspiration from Federico Garcia Lorca, John Berryman, Kenneth Koch, and many more. His other interests include teaching, translating both literature and official documents, watching and analyzing films, and exploring issues of gender, race and discrimination in Korea and America.

Graduating from Beloit College, Madison McCartha has had flash-fiction published in Burrow Press, and poetry in Nightjar Review, Verse Pressand The Pinch. Raised in San Diego, Madison recently spent his time freezing to death in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he served both as Asst. Editor and Design Editor for Cream City Review, and became the Poetry Editor for Storm Cellar Quarterly. At Notre Dame, he reads for the Notre Dame Review, and has served as the Managing Editor for Yield Magazine. Artists who have influenced him include Antonin Artaud, Aimé Césaire, Peter Gizzi, Kim Hyesoon, Dorothea Lasky, Larry Levis, Anne Waldman, Kara Walker, and Yoko Tawada. Madison’s interests include horror flicks, affect theory, shamanism, Björk, and a capacious poetry capable of housing a multiplicitous self.

Jean uses writing, speaking, singing, video, and gesture to investigate the relationships between language, memory, and the body.

The reading will be on Wednesday November 15th, 2017, at 7 p.m. in the Geddes Hall Auditorium.

I will be there, and hope you can come too.

Best, Lavinia

It’s been raining a lot lately — good weather for reading.

The best weather for going to a reading?

Perhaps not. But that all depends on the reading you’re thinking about going to, and this reading is well worth it. So make like Donald Duck and break out your umbrellas and make your way to Geddes Hall Auditorium and 7:45 PM tomorrow (if it’s still raining tomorrow — if not it will look weird if you bring an umbrella), and listen to some top-notch fiction by three top-notch writers: Abby Burns, Ingabirano Nintunze, and Daniel Tharp.

Here are their bios:

Abby Burns earned her BA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2015, where she studied English literature, creative writing, and rhetoric. Her writing primarily focuses on how grief and loss work to shatter our sense of normality. Queer rhetorical theory and writers like James Baldwin, Jeanette Winterson, and Toni Morrison, all influence her work. Abby’s other interests include social movements, intersectional feminism, migration studies, and cheese curds.

Ingabirano received a B.A. in English Literature and Telecommunication from Texas A&M University. She has won the Gordone Award for undergraduate poetry and the UWC Writing Award for her short story, “A Midday Train Through Russia.” She’s worked as a production assistant on several professional video projects, performed as a theatre actress in Austin, Texas, and when she’s not writing words, she likes writing music to go along with them. Her work explores urban and suburban magic, belief systems, genuine representations and romantic tragedy. She likes her protagonists average and her fantasy in excess.

Daniel Tharp attended Kirtland Community College for a year before moving half way across the country and graduating from Pittsburg State University with a Bachelors of Arts degree. A Teaching Assistantship, over a hundred students, and two years later, Daniel Tharp graduated from Pittsburg State University with a Masters of Arts degree with emphasis in fiction. His thesis entitled “Home,” which is currently under review for the Distinguish Thesis Award at his Alma Mater, depicts a complex and brutal world where characters struggle not with outside forces but with themselves and what it means to be human. Tharp attends the University of Notre Dame’s MFA program on a Prose Fellowship.

Time: 7:45 PM

Place: Geddes Hall Auditorium

Date: October 25, 2017

I will see you there!

Jake McCabe


Always, I feel like the beginning of fall, maybe more so than other seasonal changes, has many positive associations to go along with it. Fashion-wise, you can begin layering again, breaking out that cool sweater or edgy denim jacket you’ve had in the closet since spring. Halloween comes along, and we can all enjoy picking out costumes and the spooky decorations adorning houses around the neighborhood, along with the fun nostalgia that comes along with Halloween TV specials and the like. The drama of playoff baseball takes place in the fall (although in fairness this can be stressful), and the NFL season begins again. The foliage, of course, is the prettiest it will be all year. Hot chocolate. Flannel.

Another thing about the fall that maybe goes underappreciated: writing programs the world over begin their student reading series! Notre Dame’s first reading will take place on October 11, and the readers will be Daniel Uncapher and Erik-John Fuhrer.

Here are the readers’ bios:

Daniel studied philosophy and classics at the Universities of Edinburgh and Mississippi, where his creative non-fiction and poetry won first and third place in the 2013 Southern Literary Festival. He operates a private letterpress in Water Valley, Mississippi called Ridge & Furrow, collects incunabula and mid-century jacketed hardcovers, and used to be a hip-hop videographer. His most recent interests include the work of the Water Valley writer Hubert Creekmore and the unique literary legacy of Gogol, Chekhov, Kafka and Borges. His short fiction has appeared in Neon Literary Magazine and his creative non-fiction about Mississippi in The Baltimore Review.

Erik Fuhrer is interested in literary boundary crossings, manifested most recently in representations of the nonhuman and transgressions between human and nonhuman subjects in modernist literature. He is inspired by hybrid forms of literary expression that elide genre boundaries as well as by quiet, lyric poetry that often achieves the same transgressions more subtly. He is currently also a PhD student in English at Notre Dame where he is a presidential fellow. His work has previously appeared in The Long Island Quarterly, First Literary Review East, The Fib Review, The Shotglass Journal, and the Oxonian Review, where he was a finalist for their Third Annual Poetry Competition.

Come and bring everyone you’ve ever met. I am in workshop with both writers, so I can personally vouch for how awesome the night will be.

The reading will be at Geddes Hall auditorium at 7:00 PM.


Jake McCabe

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