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Acclaimed writers, M.F.A. alumni and faculty to read from their works Aug. 4-9 : WCSU M.F.A. program to present distinguished author readings

DANBURY, CONN. — Award-wining novelists, poets and nonfiction authors will read from and discuss their works during the Master of Fine Arts in Creative and Professional Writing summer residency session in August at Western Connecticut State University.

A series of programs each evening from Aug. 4 through 9, 2018, will feature distinguished writers whose achievements include selection as recipients of the Housatonic Book Award as well as major national honors in the fields of fiction, nonfiction, memoirs and poetry. All readings will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the President’s Reception Room, located in room 218 of the Classroom Building on the university’s Westside campus, 43 Lake Ave. Extension in Danbury. Admission will be free and the public is invited to attend.

The evening series is presented as part of the summer residency for graduate students currently enrolled in the M.F.A. in Creative and Professional Writing program. Launched in 2005, the M.F.A. program at WCSU enables participants from across the nation to pursue master’s degree studies in a diverse range of creative and professional writing genres through a comprehensive distance learning program complemented by summer and winter on-campus residencies. The coordinator of the WCSU M.F.A. program is Anthony D’Aries, a widely published essayist and author of “The Language of Men: A Memoir,” winner of the PEN/New England Discovery Prize and Foreword magazine’s Memoir of the Year Award.

Following is the program schedule:

  • Saturday, Aug. 4: An evening of readings by M.F.A. program alumni will also include a featured faculty reading from writer and educator Elizabeth Cohen. Cohen is the author of the memoir, “The Family on Beartown Road”; the short story collection, “The Hypothetical Girl”; as well as poetry collections and literary essays and articles. Recipient of an M.F.A. in Poetry from Columbia University, she has taught at WCSU, the New School, SUNY Plattsburgh and the University of New Mexico.
  • Sunday, Aug. 5: “In Conversation with Dan Pope” will feature the author of the novels “Housebreak” and “In the Cherry Tree,” and of short stories that have appeared in many literary publications including McSweeney’s, Harvard Review, Crazyhorse, Iowa Review and “Best American New Voices 2007.” Pope, who serves as a mentor in the M.F.A. program at WCSU, graduated from the Iowa Writers Workshop and is the recipient of the Glen Schaeffer Award from the International Institute of Modern Letters and the John Leggett Prize in Fiction.
  • Monday, Aug. 6: Featured reader Peter Selgin, an educator and writer whose acclaimed works include novels, essays, memoirs, plays and children’s books, received the 2017 Housatonic Book Award in Nonfiction for his memoir, “The Inventors.” Other recognitions include the Flannery O’Connor Award for Fiction for the novel, “Drowning Lessons”; the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Prize for the novel, “The Water Master”; and finalist for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing for “Confessions of a Left-Handed Man: An Artist’s Memoir.” His stories and essays have been published in many journals and collections including Glimmer Train, Gettysburg Review, Ploughshares, and the “Best American Essays” and “Best American Travel Writing” anthologies. Selgin, recipient of an M.F.A. at the New School, is an associate professor of creative writing at Georgia College and State University.
  • Tuesday, Aug. 7: Jo Knowles will read from several of her fiction works including “Still a Work in Progress,” winner of the 2017 Housatonic Book Award in the Young Adult and Middle Grade category. Knowles has gained national recognition as a young-adult book author with seven titles published since 2006, among them “Lessons from a Dead Girl,” “Jumping Off Swings,” Living with Jackie Chan” and “Read Between the Lines.” Knowles, who resides in Vermont and teaches in the M.F.A. program of Southern New Hampshire University, has earned numerous honors including two SCBWI Crystal Kite awards, an Editor’s Choice and Notable Book citation from the New York Times, Bank Street College’s Best Books for Children, and the YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults prize.
  • Wednesday, Aug. 8: Featured readers will be essayist and memoirist Lisa Romeo and poet Julia Lisella. Romeo, an M.F.A. graduate of the University of Southern Maine and member of the Bay Path University M.F.A. faculty, is the author of “Starting with Goodbye: A Daughter’s Memoir of Love after Loss” and nonfiction works that have appeared in the New York Times, O the Oprah Magazine, Brevity, Tishman Review, “Best American Essays” and other publications. Lisella, an associate professor of English at Regis College, has been a contributor to many poetry journals and anthologies and published three poetry collections including “Always,” “Terrain” and “Love Song Hiroshima.”
  • Thursday, Aug. 9: Mystery, suspense and horror writing will be the theme for the concluding presentation by poet, novelist and essayist Stephanie Wytovich and mystery author Jane Cleland. Wytovich, an M.F.A. graduate of Seton Hill University and poetry editor for Raw Dog Screaming Press, earned a Bram Stoker Award for her poetry collection “Brothel” and nominations for “Hysteria: A Collection of Madness,” “Mourning Jewelry” and “An Exorcism of Angels.” Described in her biographical notes as “an instructor of English by day and a horror writer by night,” she published her first novel, “The Eighth,” in 2016. Cleland has earned numerous awards for her popular Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery series. An M.F.A. mentor at WCSU and director of the Program for Professional Communications at Lehman College, she has authored books on the craft of writing including “Mastering Plot Twists” and “Mastering Suspense, Structure and Plot,” winner of the Agatha Award for Best Nonfiction.

For more information, visit the M.F.A. program website at or call the Office of University Relations at (203) 837-8486.


Western Connecticut State University changes lives by providing all students with a high-quality education that fosters their growth as individuals, scholars, professionals and leaders in a global society. Our vision: To be widely recognized as a premier public university with outstanding teachers and scholars who prepare students to contribute to the world in a meaningful way.