MFA faculty news

Eastern Oregon University MFA faculty are much in the news recently.

Lidia Yuknavitch (teaching 2014-15) has just signed a two book deal with Harper Books. Calvert Morgan, Executive Director of Harper, announced the deal on Facebook: “…delighted to announce that we have acquired the next two novels by the extraordinary talented and widely admired Lidia Yuknavitch, author of the unforgettable memoir The Chronology of Water and the fascinating novel Dora: A Headcase. Her writing is provocative, fiercely intelligent, and like nothing else you’ve ever read. Her new books, The Small Backs of Children and The Book of Joan, will tear through your psyches like brushfire.”

Director of our Wilderness Writing Institute, Justin Hocking (teaching fall and winter 2014-15), published his memoir The Great Floodgates of the Wonderworld (Graywolf) to much acclaim. The New York Times wrote of The Great Floodgates of the Underworld, “The truth is that while the surf may often be mediocre or worse in New York, the essential pagan joy of surfing can be had in the bare minimum, hence the sport’s booming popularity. Knowing how to skateboard helped Hocking, as did a tendency to focus intensely on whatever captured his interest; in surfing, even mere competence requires full, sustained immersion.” A recent review in the New Yorker calls The Great Floodgates of the Underworld, “An appealing memoir…the passages about surfing and the relationships it fosters are filled with excitement and tenderness. It’s hard not to cheer for [Justin Hocking].”

Jon Raymond (teaching fall and winter 2014-15) is widely praised for his award-winning work as a screenwriter with Todd Haynes and Kelly Reichardt. His most recent screenwriting collaboration with Reichardt for her film, Night Moves, starring Jesse Eisenberg and Dakota Fanning, is also receiving praise. A.O. Scott praised the film in the New York Times, concluding, “…it is hard to leave the theater unshaken.” And Nicolas Rapold wrote, Reichardt’s and Raymond’s characters “are fleshed-out people with extreme beliefs, and the potential for ambiguity in the characterization and the drama sets them apart. “Night Moves” — which looks at the insidious psychological consequences of their attack — is grounded in the detail of its Pacific Northwest milieu. And as Mr. Eisenberg’s character deals with the aftermath of the group’s violent acts, the film, written by Ms. Reichardt and Jonathan Raymond, unfolds beyond the typical debate of condemning or condoning.”

Program co-director, David Axelrod (teaching summer, winter and spring 2014-15) recently published his new collection of poems, Folly, which is also receiving praise. This from The Rumpus: “Though he might humbly cast himself as a ‘fool,’ Axelrod’s intellectual rigor and willingness to engage with the darker sides of humanity have kept me reading and admiring his poems for many years now. It would be easier as an artist, after all, to gloss over the ignorance and cruelty that punctuate our days with an empty, hollow praise. But it takes someone far braver to place hope and despair alongside one another as two sides of the same coin, and to claim them as his constant currency.”


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