MFA Faculty Mentors
Karen Gettert Shoemaker
BiographyKAREN GETTERT SHOEMAKER is a writer, teacher and business owner living in Lincoln NE. Her novel, The Meaning of Names (Red Hen Press 2014), was chosen as Nebraska’s reading choice for the 2016 One Book One Nebraska statewide reading program. 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.
“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.”
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