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    Program Faculty

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    ZACHARY SCHOMBURG is the author of Fjords, vol 1 (Black Ocean 2012), Scary, No Scary (Black Ocean 2009), The Man Suit (Black Ocean 2007), and two forthcoming books: a novella in prose poems, The Book of Joshua, and a book of French to English translations, Some Animals for Transportation and for Companionship by Jacques Rebotier. In 2009, he earned his Ph.D. in Creative Writing-Poetry at the University of Nebraska. He is the founder and co-editor of Octopus Magazine and Octopus Books, and co-curator of the Bad Blood Reading Series in Portland. His poetry, collaborations, and translations from the French and Russian have appeared in over 80 publications. He also occasionally teaches poetry, film, and composition at Portland Community College in Portland, and at Kaohsiung American School inTaiwan.


    “Poetry, like all arts, is necessarily in conversation with other poetry; its standards of excellence are defined in relation to other poetry. As an instructor, I consider my job to be, most essentially, a resource for my students, as a working poet and poetry publisher, to show them the contemporary landscape of poetry, the one they are currently writing from, and guide them through their own understanding of what is so exciting about the very best of it. So, my students are constantly reading and discovering the newest voices, and interacting with those voices. From there, and from responding to their peers' poetry in this context, they will begin to cultivate an understanding of where they fit in this landscape and in their own poetic trajectory. In order for my students to become more self aware poets, together we familiarize ourselves with philosophies, aesthetics and structures of poetry, writings that ask them to assess poetry, have discussions of theirr peers' poetry, and they consistently read, write, and revise.”




    (Fiction/CNF) KAREN GETTERT SHOEMAKER is a writer, teacher and business owner living in Lincoln NE. Her novel, The Meaning of Names, is forthcoming from Red Hen Press. Her first collection of short fiction, Night Sounds and Other Stories, was published in the United States by Dufour Editions and republished in the United Kingdom by Parthian Books. Her fiction and poetry have appeared in the London Independent, Prairie Schooner, South Dakota Review, Fugue, Foliage, West Wind Review, Kalliope, Arachne, The Nebraska Review, and has been anthologized in A Different Plain: Contemporary Nebraska Fiction Writers; Nebraska Presence: An Anthology of Poetry; Times of Sorrow, Times of Grace; and The Untidy Season.She has received numerous awards for her writing and her teaching, including two Independent Artist Fellowships from the Nebraska Arts Council and a Nebraska Book Award for Best Short Fiction. Her story, "Playing Horses," was chosen by the editors of Best American Short Stories as one of the 100 Distinguished Stories of 2001. She has taught literature and writing at the University of Nebraska, both Lincoln and Omaha campuses, and has conducted writing workshops through Hastings College, Chadron State College and the Nebraska Humanities Council. She received her Ph.D. in Creative Writing from the University of Nebraska Lincoln in 1997. She is currently a writing mentor with the University of Nebraska’s MFA in Writing Program.


    “I started out my professional writing life as a journalist for a small town newspaper. It was there I learned the importance of paying attention to smallest detail. (Small town truism: If the man you’ve written about doesn’t catch your mistake, his neighbors will.) I took up (intentional) fiction writing a little more than 20 years ago and fell completely and immediately in love with the craft. Learning to create the kind of stories I loved to read cracked open the world for me. I took up teaching because I wanted to pass that transcendent experience on to others. In the years since then I’ve received numerous awards for my writing and my teaching. However, my favorite award is an 'almost' award. My story 'Playing Horses' was short-listed in Best American Short Stories 2002. Series editor Katrina Kenison described the difficulty of selecting stories in the aftermath of 9/11. 'Preoccupied with the unfathomable changes in our world at large, it was almost impossible to focus on the details of the smaller picture. . . . I came to see that the kind of connection I’d been seeking was actually right in front of me, in stories that remind us that whatever happens, we aren’t alone in the world, that our own fears and concerns are universal, that the details of our ordinary everyday lives do matter.' It is that spirit I hope to bring to all my writing and to every teaching encounter. My philosophy about teaching writing is quite simple: I believe you learn to write by writing; you learn to write better by considering what you've written. My approach with students is to enter into a dialogue: Where are you? Where do you want to be? Then I dig in my big black bag of experience and education and offer some ways to get there. My goal is to keep you writing, writing carefully and truthfully, always seeking the writing that matters.”


    (Fiction/CNF) MARY HELEN STEFANIAK, a native of Milwaukee, is a writer of fiction and essays. Her work has appeared in many publications, including EPOCH, Short Story, The Yale Review, AGNI, and The Antioch Review, and in several anthologies, including New Stories from the South: The Year’s Best (Algonquin Books); In the Middle of the Middle West: Literary NonFiction from the Heartland (Indiana University Press); and A Different Plain (U. of Nebraska Press). A graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and fifteen-year veteran of the Iowa Summer Writing Festival faculty, she is currently Associate Professor of English and Director of Creative Writing at Creighton University in Omaha. She has also served as a commentator on Iowa Public Radio, a columnist for The Iowa Source, and as Contributing Editor for The Iowa Review. Her collection of short fiction, Self Storage and Other Stories (New Rivers Press), was selected by the Wisconsin Library Association to receive the 1998 Banta Award for Literary Excellence, and her novella, The Turk and My Mother" (EPOCH, Fall 2000) was shortlisted for the O. Henry Prize. Her first novel, also entitled The Turk and My Mother (W.W. Norton, 2004) received the 2005 John Gardner Book Award, was named a favorite book of 2004 by The Chicago Tribune, and has been translated or is forthcoming in six languages. Her second novel, The Cailiffs of Baghdad, Georgia (W.W. Norton) will be released September 2010.

    “I agree with Flannery O’Connor when she says, ‘The time to worry about technique is when you have the story in front of you,’ but also with William Faulkner who advises us to ‘Read, read, read everything . . . and ask yourself how they do it.’ Maybe poet Marvin Bell puts it best: ‘Learning to write is a simple process: Read something, then write something. And show in your writing what you have read.’ The teacher’s role in all this—whether she is the official instructor or a writer-colleague in the writing workshop—is not to ‘fix’ the draft under discussion, but to help the writer discover its gifts and identify its problems (which are also opportunities), i.e., to empower the writer to revise with enthusiasm.”