Thursday, December 18, 2008

Lannan Recipient Kaminsky

Ilya Kaminsky, Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature, and a key member of our Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing faculty is the recipient of a $100,000 Lannan Foundation 2008 Literary Foundation Fellowship in Poetry.

The awards recognize writers who have made significant contributions to English-language literature. The fellowships recognize writers of distinctive literary merit who demonstrate potential for continued outstanding work.

Congratulations Ilya!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

NEA Awards Maggie Jaffe $25,000

English department lecturer Maggie Jaffe, who is known for her courses in Latin American literature, poetry, and creative writing is now also one of our nation's 2009 NEA poetry fellowship recipients. She has been selected to received a $25,000 award from The National Endowment for the Arts.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Professor Herman Writes on the Significance of the Physical Book

You may have already read Professor Peter Herman's defense of tangible, energy independent, and timeless books in The New York Times. If not, here's another opportunity to reconsider the paper and ink bound book, irreplaceable by the digital and downloaded.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Read Kendricks Column, PHOTO OPS in the Union-Tribune!

Filmmaker, artist, photographer, writer, Film Curator of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and SDSU lecturer Neil Kendricks has been commissioned to write a new column, PHOTO OPS for the San Diego Union-Tribune. The column will be published every two to three months in the paper's books section. Kendricks describes it as "what I hope will be a comprehensive and engaging column for photographers and artists, photography enthusiasts and general readers alike, who share a passion for delving into the best and most innovative new volumes focused on photography-oriented issues coming from such respected publishers as Aperture, among others." In the first installment, Kendrick reviews the book "Magnum Magnum" which he explains is a a "compendium of legendary photojournalists at the top of their game."

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Professor Griswold Reviews Novel for NY Times

Professor Jerry Griswold reviewed M.T. Anderson's “The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing” for New York Times' Sunday Book Review on November 7th, 2008. His review entitled "The War for Independence" compellingly synopsizes the narrative by describing both the novel's aesthetic and intellectual merits. The adolescent novel that Anderson wrote deals with racial relations in revolution era America, among other intriguing subjects. Griswold also describes the impetus inspiring Anderson's project. That is, "the 900 pages [of the volume] have essentially been a meditation on the word “liberty.” It was a term bandied about so much during the Revolution that it became meaningless."

Our First Online Poll: Spring 2009 Classes!


The department messed up (the Chair!) and left a section of English 580, Writing of Poetry off the Spring 2009 list of courses! Can you assist us by taking this poll! Send the chair an
email if you want to sign up for a crash list to ADD a section of 580 to the Spring 2009 list of classes!

Cast Your Vote

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


The theme for the 16th annual Crisis Carnival has been decided upon, and submissions for the mid-April event are being accepted now until the end of January. Crisis Carnival is an interdisciplinary gradate student conference sponsored by our very own Department of English and Comparative Literature. With a title like THE ECSTASY OF SPEED, this year's conference promises to attract a wide range of accelerating scholars from various fields and institutions.  Hurry up and spread the word, and if you've got something that fits the bill, be sure to rush it on over before your time is up. Visit the Crisis Carnival website instantly for details and up-to-date information.

Jane Hirshfield Rocks the House at SDSU

The Director of our Hugh C. Hyde Living Writers series, the one and only Victoria Featherstone, writes in to report on the success of our last reading for 2008:

Reply-To: Victoria Featherstone
To: "Dr. William A. Nericcio"
Subject: FYI

Dear Bill,

Thought I'd pass this article along to you; I met with the reporter for the Daily Aztec, and the last Tuesday she interviewed Jane Hirshfield. Perhaps you heard that we had an SRO crowd that night in the larger space (LL108), and library personnel had to bring out two more carts of chairs. Luckily we also had many people willing to sit on the floor because that was the only available seating left. Here's the link. Of course, I'd be remiss if I didn't express my gratitude to Ilya Kaminsky and Sandra Alcosser for their support of this event.


New Logo Test Run...

click to enlarge; comments welcome!

Saturday, October 4, 2008

SDSU Continues a Rememberance for Dave Wallace

With all due apologies for posting this in an untimely manner, I would like to once again take a moment to remember Dave Wallace. If you did not have the opportunity to read Joseph Thomas' moving email honoring Wallace's memory, below is another chance to reflect on Wallace's lasting contribution to the literary community.
While I was a graduate student at ISU, I was lucky enough to get to know David Foster Wallace, a wonderful man and an extraordinarily talented writer. A few hours ago, I received the tragic news that he died Friday, a victim of suicide. This is crushing news.

I would consider it a personal favor if you could alert our colleagues about Dave's death. Perhaps next week they could mention his passing to their students and encourage them to investigate his life and work.

I know we value rigorous, cutting edge work here at SDSU. Dave had an incredible intellect and has left us with a rich body of work of fiction and non-fiction that will outlast us all. At only 46 years old, he was much too young to die. We will never have a chance to grapple with a new work by Dave. That loss is almost as terrible as the loss of his witty, vibrant, and gracious self.

Below you will find a link to a short story with some details about his death and his life:

Joseph Thomas

Monday, September 29, 2008

Fall 2008 Living Writers Reading Schedule

Fall 2008 Living Writers Reading Schedule

Tuesday, September 23rd: Mark Wallace
Award-winning, innovative author Mark Wallace’s recent collection of tales is Walking Dreams. He currently teaches at California State University, San Marcos.

Wednesday, October 1st: Carolyne Wright
Acclaimed poet, Carolyne Wright, will discuss the art of translation and read from her new book, Majestic Nights: Love Poems of Bengali Women.

Tuesday, October 14th: Duff Brenna and Thomas E. Kennedy
Winner of AWP’s Best Novel Award, Duff Brenna’s novels, The Book of Mamie and Too Cool, have been optioned by a filmmaker.

Thomas E. Kennedy has published 25 books. A recent recipient of the Ellie Award, his new essay collection is Riding the Dog: A Look Back at America.

Wednesday, October 22nd: Matt de la Pena
MFA graduate, Matt de la Pena, returns to San Diego State after achieving acclaim and success with his first two novels, Ball Don’t Lie and newly released, Mexican Whiteboy.

Thursday, October 30th: M.L. Smoker ~ The Laurie Okuma Memorial Reading
Assiniboine and Sioux poet M.L. Smoker’s first collection of poems is titled Another Attempt at Rescue. Her poetry has been published in numerous literary journals.

Tuesday, November 18th: Jane Hirshfield
Hailed as “one of our finest, most memorable contemporary poets”, Jane Hirshfield’s honors and awards are numerous, and include the 70th Academy Fellowship for distinguished poetic achievement by The Academy of American Poets.
**This event will take place in the Malcolm A. Love Library, Room LL-108

Events are free and open to the public. Parking is available in conveniently located pay lots. Except for Jane Hirshfield’s appearance, all events will be held in SDSU’s Malcolm A. Love Library, Room 430.

For further information, contact Victoria Featherstone:

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Spooning with the Ghost of Upton Sinclair

As all of us with an avidity for literature can attest to, there come times when we can't help but feel an ethereal bond when we find ourselves in close proximity to someplace a literary luminary has once tread.  Some flock to Dublin for Bloomsday, others make the trek to Tintern Abbey or Mont Blanc, but still others chance upon greatness unbeknownst to them.  Here is once such case of the latter.  This anonymous anecdote was sent to us by one of our own fine graduate students about a "connection" with one of the American literary giants:    
This past Spring Break my friend Dustin and I decided to get out of town and fly up to Portland. I had been before but had never spent much time there. He had visited on several occasions and had fallen in love with it. We had a place to stay with a good friend of his named Nick who works there managing a vegan food restaurant. Being a lover of nature, good food, good people and travel, Portland seemed like the perfect vacation.
Nick lives in an old Victorian style house that has been converted into four different apartments. Nick lives on the bottom floor in a cozy two-bedroom space with a roommate named Molly. Molly was out of town, however, visiting some family, so my friend and I took turns sleeping on her bed while the other slept on the couch in the living room.
Nick and his girlfriend Annie—who lives in the apartment across the hall—were gracious hosts to us, taking us to the best restaurants, coffee shops and other such attractions. During our stay a friend of Annie’s came to town from Astoria to celebrate her birthday. I was introduced to said friend and I guess you could say that the two of us hit it off.
The night before Dustin and I left for San Diego, Nick and Annie had a little get together in Nick’s apartment with their housemates and some other friends. When the night came to an end—it being my turn to sleep on Molly’s bed—I asked the birthday girl if she’d like to join me, since she was going to be staying the night with several others in Annie’s crowded apartment.
Being two mature adults, sharing a bed together, one thing naturally led to another. Suffice to say we had a fun night. A happy ending to an all-around spectacular trip.
The trip was so fun, in fact, that Dustin and I decided to take a road trip up to Portland in June when school had let out for the summer. I had the opportunity this time around to meet the delightful Molly and our trip was even better than the last.
On our final night, the summer solstice, the housemates got together and cooked a massive, hedonistic feast of crab, lamb, pie and other tasty culinary items. As the night wound down, Nick and I got into a conversation about literature, he not having previously known what a lover of literature I am.
“Did Molly ever tell you that her grandmother was somewhat of a literary celebrity?” he asked. “She used to frequent some popular literary circles in the 50s and 60s. In fact, Molly’s bed used to belong to Upton Sinclair.”

If you'd care to share a similar story, or feel like you can top this one, feel free to send it our way so you can gloat with glee.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Hats off to Harold Jaffe

The San Diego Union-Tribune ran an article in its Arts section today featuring SDSU writing teacher Harold Jaffe.  The article highlights Jaffe's "Triple Threat" as writer, teacher, and editor of Fiction International.  

The article even quotes Jaffe hailing his colleagues who emphasize the importance of coupling both the study and writing of literature.

"The creative writing program at SDSU combines the two. Artistic imagination and rigor should come together."

Read the article for yourself (if you have the patience to get past the screwball baseball puns in the title): "Now batting for SDSU, Haaaarold Jaffe!"

Friday, August 8, 2008

No Más Muertes: No More Deaths

VAL CAÑEZ/Tucson Citizen

For anyone who imagines English professors spending their summer vacation sipping mai tais at tropical resorts, allow SDSU English lecturer John Granger to provide an alternative picture. Granger has spent this summer in Tucson working with No More Deaths, a humanitarian organization whose mission is "to end death and suffering on the U.S./Mexico border through civil initiative."

Working alongside friend and border activist Margot Cowan, Granger has launched a program that helps migrants charged with felonies for crossing into Arizona with the goal of returning their confiscated possessions to them once they have been walked back across the border stripped of rights to work and services of Mexican citizens.  

In a recent
article in the Tuscon Citizen, Granger says, "we're doing what the government should be doing - returning property to its owner - even if it's just a symbolic gesture."

While No More Deaths groups are also set up in Phoenix and Flagstaff, Granger hopes to see the project expand: "We're trying to get the string of sister cities linked by border groups at work on either side, from Texas to California."

Granger cites more local human rights groups sponsored by
American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) similar to No More Deaths, such as Tijuana's Casa del Migrante.

Follow the above links for more information on how to get linked to these groups, or follow this link to find out how to get linked into one of Professor Granger's great SDSU courses this Fall.  

Monday, July 28, 2008

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Neil Kendricks! Popular Prof AND Go-to Guy for Comic-Con

When The San Diego Union-Tribune needs an expert to guide SoCal fans and freaks to the joys of Comic-Con presently roiling our sometimes sleepy seaside town, who do they turn to? None other than Neil Kendricks, MCASD film curator and cultural studies lecturer for the Department of English and Comparative Literature at SDSU. Read his piece on graphic narrative and Comic-Con here and find more of his dispatches here and at KPBS Comic-Con Central! Congrats Neil!


Sunday, July 20, 2008

Toying With a New Logo for

We've been toying with our logos and markings--part of an overall effort to publicize the rising status of our department here on the West Coast and beyond; if you like this new one, leave us a comment!


Guillermo Nericcio García

update: a second potential logo...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Children's Lit MA Students Broaden Their Literary Horizons

Children's Lit. MA students, Emily Thomas and Vanessa Chalmers recently visited the book fair in Madrid, Spain to browse Children's Literature section. The intrepid travelers wrote "We're both, representing our trade half way around the world!"

Also photographed is their favorite book, The Little Prince, translated into Hebrew as well as many other major languages.

Friday, July 11, 2008

How To Join The Satanic Puppeteer Orchestra

                                         photo by chris woo
Professor B. Miller and his singing robot are taking over the San Diego music scene. But don't let the lab-coat and safety goggles fool you. The human half of the experimental music duo known as Satanic Puppeteer Orchestra is none other than SDSU English Department alumni Michael Buchmiller.

Buchmiller's behind-the-scenes artistic achievements before graduating with a BA in 2003 are blogworthy alone, but with the recent release of his debut 
4 CD box set and a handful of live shows since last December accumulating what amounts to a cult-like following and earning him a full-page article in this week's San Diego CityBeat, the man (and his robot) are now in the spotlight.

During those years at SDSU, Buchmiller ran a music magazine called Hand Carved, starting as a writer, and over time, a graphic designer. The success of his show posters, print ads, and t-shirts led him to start his own graphic design company, 
Hand Carved Graphics.

Buchmiller's love of music also landed him a weekly radio show at SDSU's college radio station, KCR. Aptly named Hand Carved Radio, the show featured live performances and on-air interviews with bands such as Rocket From the Crypt,DenaliThe Lawrence Arms, and Pretty Girls Make Graves. Promoted to Music Director of the station where he was responsible for weeding through the 200 plus albums sent in each week, Buckmiller's tastes began to broaden.

"After listening to hours and hours of bands that all sounded similar, I found myself being drawn to the more unusual music out there," he recalls. "That probably explains a bit about why the Satanic Puppeteer Orchestra sounds the way it does."

But how does any of this explain his reasoning for pursuing and obtaining an English degree?

Like most students entering a college English program, Buchmiller was considering the writer/teacher route, perhaps eventually incorporating his love of art and music. But, as he admits, "I guess at the heart of all of these different mediums, what I really loved was storytelling."

Buchmiller claims many of the influences of his current storytelling projects came from English classes.  Speaking of one current Department Chairman in particular, Buchmiller says, "up until that point, I had always thought of literature, paintings, motion pictures, and music as separate mediums. But in his classes, he showed me that there doesn't have to be a division between them. He'd go back and forth between the different formats and treat them all the same way. I think that's when I realized that the Satanic Puppeteer Orchestra could be one work of fiction that spans all of those categories. "

Among his other faculty influences from his time at SDSU, Buchmiller credits his interest in science fiction to Larry McCaffrey, his inspiration for creating his own postmodern fiction to guest lecturer and author Raymond Federman, and the encouragement and insight to experiment across different mediums to creative writing instructor Lidia Yuknavitch.

"At first it might not seem like an English degree would have any kind of direct correlation to how I make my living these days," Buchmiller adds, "but that's not really true. Every time I design something, I'm telling a story. Instead of words, I'm using photos, drawings, and colors. Then when I turn it in to the client, I don't just show it to them. I explain what it is and why I did it... why it's compelling, what things symbolize, and that sort of thing. It's really no different than when we'd read a book and come in to class and talk about what the author was doing. At the end of the day, it's all communication, and I think having a background in literature definitely gives me an advantage in the visual arts."

The Satanic Puppeteer Orchestra is proof that his time studying literature has not gone to waste. Combining music, art, and writing into one project, Buchmiller likes to think of it as one ongoing work of fiction loaded with layers of stories between the characters and songs. For example, the box set includes enhanced CDs with corresponding audio tracks that explain the origins of each song.

"As the band has started to perform live, I've taken on the role of the Professor and the lines between fact and fiction continue to blur."

But don't take our word for it.  Go check it out for yourself.  

The next Satanic Puppeteer Orchestra performance takes place July 30th at The Casbah.

box set

Sample Satanic Puppeteer Orchestra:
Stole Your Daddy's Time Machine
Haunted Rental Car