Lorrie Moore’s short story collection, “Bark,” published

Lorrie Moore, photo by Zane Williams

Vanderbilt Creative Writing Program faculty member Lorrie Moore has published a much-anticipated collection of short stories.  The book, called Bark, published in February 2014 by Knopf, is her first such collection in more than a decade.

About Bark, New York Times editor Parul Sehgal writes in Book Forum:

“We still need Lorrie Moore to work hard at making us laugh, to remind us that we’re frauds, we’re all just acting. To unzip words for us and let their sounds and meanings and pun potentialities jingle out like coins. To point out the silver linings even if they are, as in the case of one story in Bark, just the “early die-off of the alewives” ringing the lake, their scales glinting in the sun. She never lies to us. She never tells us the water’s fine. She says, Dive in anyway, “swim among the dying while you can. Learn how to suffer in style.”

David Gates writes in his review on the cover of the New York Times Sunday Book Review (February 20, 2014):

“The uncrowded format of Bark allows each story the chance it deserves for leisurely examination and appreciation, like the kind of museum retrospective you never get to see anymore. It’s just enough: No admirer of Moore’s will go away either overloaded or unsatisfied, and it lets us contemplate and savor just what makes her work unique.”

Moore talks about the new collection and about her recent move to Vanderbilt in a number of recent interviews; for example in New York Magazine (February 24, 2013) she says, “We’ll see if Nashville changes my writing.  A change is always good for a writer.”

Announcement of Moore’s appointment

Lorrie Moore, whose much praised short-story collections include Birds of America and Like Life, has joined Vanderbilt’s Creative Writing Program faculty as the Gertrude Conaway Vanderbilt Professor of English.  She started teaching at Vanderbilt in the spring 2014 semester.

“Lorrie is the essence of original expression and commentary. Her unique voice illuminates her poignant and brilliant writing, and she represents a terrific addition to our world-class English faculty,” said Vanderbilt Chancellor Nicholas S. Zeppos. “She is the latest example of the university’s strong commitment to investing in exceptional faculty who provide transformative learning opportunities for our students.”

“We are thrilled to welcome Lorrie to Vanderbilt, with its storied history in creative writing, where she will have the opportunity to work with some of the nation’s most promising young writers,” said Carolyn Dever, dean of the College of Arts and Science and professor of English.

Moore’s most recent novel, A Gate at the Stairs (Random House), was described in a New York Times book review as “…her most powerful book yet, a book that gives us an indelible portrait of a young woman coming of age in the Midwest in the year after 9/11 and her initiation into the adult world of loss and grief.” Honors for the book include finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, Orange Prize: Shortlist, and Midwest Booksellers Choice Award for Fiction. Her books also include Anagrams and Who Will Run the Frog Hospital?

“Lorrie is an extraordinary writer,” said Kate Daniels, professor of English and director of the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Vanderbilt. “Not only one of the most celebrated and widely respected of contemporary American authors, she is esteemed as well for her teaching and mentoring of young writers. Her presence among us will be a great addition to the Nashville literary community and a boon for our growing master of fine arts program in creative writing. We look forward with great happiness to having her join us.”

In 1985 Moore’s career took off with the publication of Self-Help, a collection of short stories that was also her master’s thesis at Cornell University. Earlier, she had graduated summa cum laude from St. Lawrence University.

“Lorrie’s the most influential short story writer working in America, and has been been for the last 20 years,” said Tony Earley, the Samuel Milton Fleming Professor of English at Vanderbilt. “Ordinarily I would say that our MFA students have no idea how lucky they are, but they know exactly how lucky they are. They actually shouted with joy when they heard. I did, too, but first I made sure nobody could hear me.”

Moore is currently the Delmore Schwartz Professor in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her many honors have included fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation and the Lannan Foundation.

Moore has written for The New York Review of BooksThe New York TimesThe New Yorker,The Atlantic Monthly and elsewhere. Other previous honors include the Rea Award for the Short Story, the PEN/Malamud Award for excellence in the art of the short story, and The Irish Times International Fiction Prize. Moore, who is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, spoke at Vanderbilt in January 2012 as part of the Chancellor’s Lecture Series. Her talk was titled “Creative Writing and the Customer Survey.”

Kate Daniels, Guest Blogger for The Best American Poetry website:


Tony Earley interviewed

“This Week in Fiction,” a blog on The New Yorker website, on September 24, 2012 featured an interview with Vanderbilt faculty member and fiction writer Tony Earley about his story, Jack and the Mad Dog,” which appeared in that week’s issue of the magazine.

Earley has also recently been interviewed by Chapter 16, an online publication of Humanities Tennessee, which promotes education in the humanities for people in Tennessee.

Rick Hilles’ new poetry collection, A Map of the Lost World, published by Pittsburgh

Rick Hilles’ new poetry collection, A Map of the Lost World, was recently published by the University of Pittsburgh Press.  The collection, Hilles’ second, has been praised by critic Harold Bloom. “I emerge from this book somber yet fortified because like Kafka, it reminds us of a kind of indestructibility of the human spirit,” Bloom writes, and he compares Hilles’ poetry favorably with the work of other important poets of Hilles’ generation.

Hilles says that this new book feels connected with his first collection, Brother Salvage (winner of the Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize) because they share a certain set of obsessions: “memory, what is at risk of getting lost.”

“A Map of the Lost World is an important book, combining history with lyric gravity. Rick Hilles writes of modern life in language that is beautiful and magical, having an intensity that compels as it startles. In poems of World War II (“A Map of The Lost World” and “The Red Scarf & The Black Briefcase”), we read of an American’s search for self as well as for the fate of Auschwitz prisoners. By turns Hilles thrills, excites, intrigues, and terrifies, as he finds in the past insights into the world around him and presents a landscape ‘full of secrets only some of them benign.’” —Grace Schulman

“Like John Keats, who is in many ways the presiding spirit of this exquisitely true and beautiful gathering of poems, Rick Hilles is a poet with genuine authority, licensed to lead us to the lost world where great poets, dear friends and righteous survivors pay tribute to what it means to be human, to love and bear witness even beyond death. This is a truly wonderful book.” —Lorna Goodison

Little magazine in France publishes a selection of poems from Rick Hilles’ workshop

The June 2011 issue of N4728, Revue de poésie, published with the support of the Centre National du Livre in Paris, includes a selection of poems entitled Jeunes Poètes de Nashville (Young Poets of Nashville).   Béatrice Machet, a French poet who sat in on Creative Writing faculty member Rick Hilles’ Graduate Workshop in Poetry last spring,  has translated and published poems by recent MFA graduates Claire Burgess, Kendra De Colo and Lisa Dordal; and by current MFA students Chad Abushanab, Melissa Pexa and third year fellow Matt Baker.  Hilles contributed a poem as well.