Archive for the ‘Advisory Board news’ Category

James Jones First Novel Fellowship

November 6, 2013

The 22nd Annual James Jones First Novel Fellowship awarded first place and $10,000 to Margot Singer of Granville, OH for her manuscript titled The Art of Fugue. Runners-up in the competition were Jennifer S. Davis of Baton Rouge, LA for her manuscript Reckonings; and Timothy Brandoff of New York, NY for his manuscript Connie Sky. They were each awarded $750. Tamara B. Titus, of Charlotte, NC received honorable mention for her manuscript Lovely in the Eye.

The James Jones First Novel Fellowship was established in 1992 to “honor the spirit of unblinking honesty, determination, and insight into modern culture as exemplified by (the writings of) James Jones.” It is awarded to an American author of a first novel-in-progress. The competition is co-sponsored by the Wilkes University Graduate Creative Writing Program and the James Jones Literary Society.

New Managing Editor for Etruscan Press

June 26, 2013



Etruscan Press is delighted to announce that Dr. Jaclyn Fowler has agreed to accept the position of Managing Editor of Etruscan Press. Jackie received her M.F.A. and M.A. from Wilkes University’s Creative Writing program.

Prior to coming to Etruscan Press, Dr. Fowler taught English, Creative Writing, and Education to K-12, undergraduate, graduate, and adult learners in both the traditional ground and asynchronous online classrooms. She also served several independent schools as head of their academic programs and sits on the PA State Board of Private Schools.

Dr. Fowler received her doctorate in Education and Second Language Acquisition from The Pennsylvania State University.

New Program Tracks in Publishing and Film

May 29, 2013

Ever thought you wanted to start your own press, e-zine, or literary journal? Thanks to the initiative of Akashic Books editor Johnny Temple and Etruscan Press founding editor Phil Brady, alums and current students now have the option of pursuing a Master of Arts in Publishing! This new track will open at the June 2013 residency. Wilkes alums will take only an additional 18 credits to earn the M.A. in publishing.

Have you found the world of documentary film fascinating? The Wilkes low-residency program has also added a Master of Arts in documentary film, which will begin in January, 2014. Like the new publishing degree, alums need only take an additional 18 credits to earn this degree. The curriculum is being developed now working with Robert May and SenArt Films and other to be named companies.

For more information or to apply to any of the newly revised program tracks, please email or call Dr. Culver or Ms. Dawn Leas. Deadline to apply is May 31, 2013. Visit the Wilkes writing program website for updates.

Dr. Bonnie Culver, Director:
Ms. Dawn Leas, Associate Program Director:

advisory board member Susan Cartsonis honored

May 22, 2013

Faculty and advisory board member Susan Cartsonis was recently honored for her accomplishments in film by the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America at their 6th Annual Women of Distinction luncheon at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

Susan offered this speech at the luncheon:

Thank you so much for this honor. I’m excited to be sharing this day with Lisa Greer and Amy Brenneman. While I’ve been TOLD I’m being honored as a Woman of Distinction for my accomplishments in film, if we’re being really honest here, it’s about Stan. Stan Seidel was my life partner of seventeen years, and all around great guy, who died suddenly in 2000 and way too young at 48 of the complications Crohn’s Disease. Stan’s the real reason I’m being honored. And I’m more than ok with that.

Susan Cartsonis

Susan Cartsonis

I’m proud of the role I played in helping Stan prevail over his disease to become as he always said with truth behind the joke: a “well respected member of his chosen profession”. Which was screenwriting.

Stan used to call me, his “helpmeet”, which I thought was a word he just made up until I looked it up, Googled it last night, and found it is a combination of two roots from Hebrew, one meaning “to rescue” or “to save,” and the other meaning “to be strong.” The roots merged into one word, so did their meanings.

So I’d like to share this lovely award with all of the Women and Men of Distinction and helpmeets who have been and are caretakers for people with Crohn’s and Colitis and other debilitating diseases.

Those caretakers include people here like Miriam Scharf, who was Stan’s therapist. Miriam helped him break through creative barriers so that he got to see his work on the big screen, and got to be a well respected member of his chosen profession. Also, Dr. Ed Feldman, who reassured and comforted Stan about his condition from the moment Stan arrived in L.A. and encouraged him to go on adventures around the world, even when it presented a logistical nightmare due to shipments of medications, refrigeration, and risks. Under his care in the 90’s we went to London, Paris, Milan and Florence and the South Pacific—but not to Thailand or Mexico… (for those who weren’t there, there was a big laugh here—because it’s widely known that you have to be extremely careful about travel in these and certain other countries if you are vulnerable to these diseases.)

I share this also with friends like Kevin Goetz, whose late mother had M.S. and who takes care of others with M.S. now through a foundation he established in his mother’s name. And with friends with aging parents who are dealing with the challenges of giving and getting them help.

And I share the award with those of you who are caretakers I haven’t met or I don’t know about because you quietly, even secretly take care of someone in your life.

Secrecy is a big thing with bowel disease especially in the movie business. Not very glam. When Stan died it was a huge shock to people who knew us well. That’s because Stan didn’t want anyone to know anything about it. I respected Stan’s wishes not to discuss his disease publicly —which was hard. But I did it.

As a caretaker you gain a lot of wisdom and perspective along with the feeling that you too are sick without actually BEING sick. Caretaking taught me a lot about the nature of illness and life and death.

But once someone is gone, how do you continue to care for them? Well, in my case it’s by accepting this honor, and supporting important research about what ultimately killed Stan. That’s what he would have wanted. So thanks to you all for shedding light so that Crohn’s and Colitis can get the attention and funding it so deserves. I accept this award on behalf of all of the caretakers in the audience today and beyond. Thank you.


To learn more or to make a donation to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America, visit the CCFA website.

Fellowships Available: Norman Mailer Center

April 24, 2013

J. Michael Lennon offers a tour

Fellowship applications are now available for the 2013 season at The Norman Mailer Center. The Center and the Colony offers Fellowships for fiction, nonfiction and poetry writers during the second half of 2013. During a Fellowship period of three weeks, the mentoring faculty will be headed by three highly regarded writers. Greg Curtis will mentor Nonfiction, Meena Alexander, Poetry, and Jeffery Renard Allen the Fiction fellows, each of whom will be in residence.

This year, from July 20 to August 10, 2013, Michael Mailer will host the Center’s fellowship programs at Norman’s home in Brooklyn Heights, New York.  Wilkes faculty member J. Michael Lennon will again be leading workshops with NMC. The Workshop schedule and details are also available online:

Previously, Wilkes alum Patricia A. Florio attended the Provincetown sessions. She has this to say:

“We all were in awe of our surroundings as Norman Mailer’s energy filled the room. Dr. Lennon gave us a tour of the home early on Sunday morning. You have to experience this tour through his home to understand the magnanimous legacy that he left behind. His office and writing desk were exactly as he left it on the day he died.  Books surrounded him. Papers, drawings, ideas on index cards filled his desk. We were on the third floor of his home looking at the view of Provincetown. A view, we were told, that Norman Mailer loved….

Every morning as we entered the house, the view of the beach and Cape Cod Bay filled our eyes. Dr. Lennon’s voice filled our ears.  It was the perfect storm for creative juices to flow. And flow they did.”

For more information about The Norman Mailer Center and available programs, visit

Lennon’s Mailer Biography News

April 17, 2013

lennon-jacket-220Norman Mailer: A Double Life, by J. Michael Lennon, will be published by Simon and Schuster on October 15, 2013.

J. Michael Lennon, Norman Mailer’s archivist, editor and authorized biographer, teaches creative writing at Wilkes University, and is the founding president of the Norman Mailer Society.

Lennon has a new website where news about the book, related events and signings, and more is now shared online. Visit The site will be regularly updated, and you can sign in and comment on the displayed materials.

J. Michael Lennon

J. Michael Lennon

J. Michael Lennon was authorized by Mailer and the Mailer estate to write his biography, and as such, had access to family and friends, and to unpublished documents, notably Mailer’s letters (Lennon has edited the letters for publication by Random House, Mailer’s longtime publisher). He has interviewed more than 80 people for this biography, but most important of all, he knew Mailer for decades before the latter’s death in 2007.

Norman Mailer: A Double Life reflects Mailer’s dual identities: journalist and activist, devoted family man and notorious philanderer, intellectual and fighter, writer and public figure. Mailer himself said he had two sides “and the observer is paramount.” Readers of Lennon’s biography may find this self-assessment to be debatable.

Norman Mailer: A Double Life will be 800+ pages in length (around 330,000 words), contain a bibliography, 43,000 words of notes, an index, and about 55 photos which will tell the story of Mailer’s life in another way. It will sell for $37.50, but pre-ordered is $24.28, or $19.99 for an electronic version. You can also order it via the website.

Wilkes featured in Low-Res MFA Handbook

February 6, 2013

wilkes-university-grad-logoDid you know the Wilkes Creative Writing MA/MFA programs are featured in a book that focuses exclusively on low-residency writing programs?

The Low-Residency MFA Handbook: A Guide for Prospective Creative Writing Students (Continuum/Bloomsbury, 2011), by Lori A. May, includes more than 150 interviews with program directors, faculty, current students, and alumni from 49 different low-res programs.

Several voices represent the Wilkes program:

  • In Chapter 6: The Programs, six pages are dedicated to the programs at Wilkes. Interviewees include Bonnie Culver, J. Michael Lennon, Phil Brady, Kaylie Jones, Amye Archer, Brian Fanelli, and James Warner;
  • In Chapter 5: Funding, Bonnie Culver discusses the incredible assistantships and scholarships available at Wilkes;
  • In Chapter 8: Non-Residency Semesters, Jim Warner talks about working with a mentor online and how to manage time and organize one’s writing life.
The Low-Residency MFA Handbook

The Low-Residency MFA Handbook

Just a few days ago, alum Gale Martin interviewed Handbook author Lori A. May on the Scrivengale website.

Wilkes alum Amye Archer interviewed Lori about low-res programs back in 2011. Read the Q&A here.

Unlike other creative writing resources, The Low-Residency MFA Handbook focuses specifically on low-residency programs and aims to share useful tips and advice for low-res students. Wilkes is prominently featured throughout the book and, as such, offers an ‘insider look’ into what our program has to offer prospective students.

If you’re near campus, you can visit the Creative Writing office where a few copies of The Low-Residency MFA Handbook are on the bookshelf.  There is also a free preview of The Low-Residency MFA Handbook on Amazon.

About the Book

The Low-Residency MFA Handbook: A Guide for Prospective Creative Writing Students (Continuum/Bloomsbury, 2011)
by Lori A. May
ISBN 978-1-4411984-4-0

Available @ Amazon, on Kindle, at Barnes & Noble, and @ Bloomsbury

Free preview on Amazon

More about the book and author at

From the back cover: The Low-Residency MFA Handbook offers prospective graduate students an in-depth preview of low-residency creative writing MFA programs. Interviews with program directors, faculty, alumni, and current students answer many questions prospective graduates have, including: What happens during the non-residency semester? What are the residencies like? What community is established between faculty and fellow students? The guide also considers program structures, funding, and unique opportunities that extend beyond the degree. 


Chapter 1: An Introduction to Low-Residency MFAs
Chapter 2: Is the Low-Residency Model Right for Me?
Chapter 3: The Selection Process
Chapter 4: The Application Process
Chapter 5: Funding
Chapter 6: The Programs
Chapter 7: The Residency Experience
Chapter 8: Non-Residency Semesters
Chapter 9: Pedagogical Preparation
Chapter 10: Learning from Experience
Chapter 11: Life After the MFA
Chapter 12: AWP Membership & Services
Appendix A: Extended Interviews
Appendix B: Quick Reference
Appendix C: Additional Resources

 What People Are Saying

 “The Low-Residency MFA Handbook is a must for anyone trying to push their creative writing educational credentials to the next level.”   – Midwest Book Review

“What an invaluable handbook! Lori A. May has done her research, knows her stuff, and, what’s best, lets the programs speak for themselves through her extensive interviews. There’s a chorus of quotes from faculty, students, and graduates in The Low-Residency MFA Handbook. Anyone making the decision to apply for an MFA should consult this wise guide. May’s clarity and authority make it a gold standard.”   – Molly Peacock, author of The Second Blush

The Low-Residency MFA Handbook is an important book, not only for prospective students, but for program faculty and administrators as well. This guide will prove invaluable for students preparing to apply for low-residency MFA programs and will inform them of what to expect once they gain acceptance. The low-residency MFA in creative writing is increasingly popular, and there has been a lack of resources available to students, faculty and administrators. The Low-Residency MFA Handbook fills that void.”   – Derick Burleson, author of Melt

More Information

Visit or Amazon for more info.

SenArt Films Partners with Wilkes

October 19, 2011

New York-based SenArt Films has found a new home in the Wilkes University Creative Writing building. The independent production company was founded by producer Robert May, who is also an advisory board member for the low-residency creative writing program. 

In 2004, SenArt Films received an Academy Award for Best Feature Documentary for The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara. In 2003, The Station Agent won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts award for Best Original Screenplay. 

SenArt Films is providing student internships inclusive of research and production assistance. Students in the master’s in screenwriting have immediate access to producers and SenArt’s staff, providing an enhanced academic—and practical—experience.  

“Having worked with Wilkes for several years now, I’ve been impressed with the creative writing program, and we’re excited to give qualified students the chance to get actively, creatively involved with our ongoing film projects. It’s hard work, but for students with the right attitude, we offer the opportunity to experience what the film business is all about,” said producer and founder Robert May. 

“We are delighted to host SenArt Films on campus and offer our students the opportunity to work with a top shelf independent film company,” offered program director, Bonnie Culver.  “This partnership underscores the Wilkes mission of real life learning.”  

Other acclaimed SenArt Film projects include The War Tapes, winner of Best Documentary at the 2006 Tribeca Film Festival and Best International Documentary at BritDoc 2006, and the feature film Bonneville, starring Jessica Lange, Kathy Bates and Joan Allen.

International Win for Colum McCann

October 12, 2011

Wilkes creative writing program advisory board member Colum McCann has received international recognition for his novel, Let The Great World Spin (Random House). The International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award is the largest and most international prize of its kind. McCann’s was selected from a shortlist of ten nominees and brings home a literary prize worth 100,000 euro (approx $139,000 USD). More than 160 titles were nominated by 166 libraries worldwide. 

Let The Great World Spin opens with a true-to-life historical event, when Philippe Petit walks a tightrope nestled between the twin towers of the World Trade Center in 1974. It is the life happening beneath the tightrope that McCann explores, using the shared experience to branch out into an homage to the city and its people within it. 

In The New York Times Sunday Book Review, Jonathan Mahler credits Let The Great World Spin as “one of the most electric, profound novels” he has read in years. USA Today praised McCann’s novel, calling it “Stunning… [an] elegiac glimpse of hope…It’s a novel rooted firmly in time and place. It vividly captures New York at its worst and best. But it transcends all that. In the end, it’s a novel about families – the ones we’re born into and the ones we make for ourselves.” 

McCann is a contributor to The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, and The Paris Review. His short film Everything in This Country Must, directed by Gary McKendry, was nominated for an Oscar in 2005. McCann’s other works include the bestsellers Zoli, This Side of Brightness, and Dancer.