Month: September 2015

Mya Poe Talk

On Monday, October 19, 4pm, the English Department will host a talk by Mya Poe: Intended Consequences: What Students Can Tell Us About Writing Assessment

Poe’s research focuses on writing assessment, diversity, and writing in the disciplines. In this talk she will explore several questions: How does assessment shape writing development? Are students of the high stakes testing generation so saturated with assessment that evaluation no longer matters? Are there ways that we can make evaluation more meaningful? Through the experiences of culturally and linguistically diverse students’ encounters with writing assessment, we learn how past assessment experiences shape students’ identities as writers; how parents’, teachers’, and students’ own expectations shape what they want writing assessment to do, and how encounters with college writing assessment shape students’ understanding of what it means to learn in college. We also learn how stereotypes and racism inform students’ encounters with peer assessment. Students’ stories offer powerful lessons in how we might expand measurement theories to better serve students and improve our practices of teaching writing.

Mya Poe is assistant professor of English at Northeastern University. She has co-authored Learning to Communicate in Science and Engineering: Case Studies From MIT, which won the CCCC 2012 Advancement of Knowledge Award, and she co-edited Race and Writing Assessment, which won the 2014 CCCC Outstanding Book of the Year. She also has guest edited a special issue of Research in the Teaching of English and is co-guest editing a forthcoming special issue of College English on writing assessment and social justice. In addition to being a series co-editor of the new Oxford Brief Guides to Writing in the Disciplines, she has two books under contract—a monograph entitled Intended Consequences: What Students and Statistics Can tell Us About Writing Assessment and a co-edited collection entitled Writing Assessment and Social Justice. Her articles have been published in College Composition and CommunicationThe Journal of Business and Technical CommunicationIEEE Professional Transactions, and Across the Disciplines.

Monday, October 19, at 4pm.

Tutorials with Laura van den Berg

Fiction writer Laura van den Berg to be Fall Aetna Writer-in-Residence. Graduate and undergraduate students are invited to participate.

Laura van den Berg will spend two days at UConn this fall (November 4 and 5) as the Aetna Writer-in-Residence. Six student writers will be selected to participate in one-on-one writing tutorials with Ms. van den Berg. Students interested in participating should submit a typed 10-page manuscript of fiction to Professor Sean Forbes, English Department, Austin 208. Each manuscript must be accompanied by a cover sheet with the student’s name and all contact information. Manuscripts must be
received by Monday, October 19, 2015 for consideration.

Laura van den Berg was raised in Florida and earned her MFA from Emerson College. Her first collection of stories What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us (2009) was a Barnes & Noble “Discover Great New Writers” selection and short-listed for the Frank O’Connor International Award. Her second collection of stories The Isle of Youth (2013) won the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts & Letters and was named a “Best Book of 2013” by over a dozen venues. Her first novel Find Me was published in 2015. She is the recipient of a 2014 O. Henry Award and the Bard Fiction Prize. She lives in the Boston area and is a Writer-in-Residence at Bard College.



Hip hop: the most defining musical movement of the past couple decades. It changed how we produced and listened to music. It changed how we see the world. How can writers draw from its legacy?

We’re going to take a close look at a (very) loose collective called BreakBeat Poets and think more about how hip hop can enter our words.

This Thursday, Oct. 8th

Austin 217


Nadifa Mohamed Talk

On Wednesday, October 7, at 4pm in the Stern Lounge, Austin 217, the English Department will host a talk by Nadifa Mohamed: Writing Women, Writing War.

Somali-British novelist Nadifa Mohamed discusses the challenges of writing about women engaged in and affected by conflict. Mohamed was one of Granta’s “Best of Young British Novelists” and her debut novel Black Mamba Boy won the 2010 Betty Trask Award, and was shortlisted for numerous awards, including the 2010 Guardian First Book Award, the 2010 Dylan Thomas Prize, and the 2010 John Llewellyn Rhys Prize. She was born in Hargeysa, Somaliland and moved to the UK at the age of six.

Wednesday, October 7, at 4pm in the Stern Lounge, Austin 217.

Brandy Lien Worrall Reading

On Monday, October 5, at 7pm in the Stern Lounge, Austin 217, the English Department will host a reading by Brandy Lien Worrall, author of What Doesn’t Kill Us.

Ms. Worrall is also the author of eight collections of poetry, as well as having served as editor of numerous magazines, journals, and anthologies. She is the owner and editor of Rabbit Fool Press, a small family-owned-and-operated publishing company based in Vancouver. Brandy received her MA in Asian American Studies from UCLA in 2002 and her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia in 2012. She is represented by the Anne McDermid & Associates Literary Agency.

What Doesn’t Kill Us chronicles Brandy’s journey with an aggressive, rare breast cancer at the age of 31. The book reflects on the parallels between her experiences with cancer, and her American father’s and Vietnamese mother’s trauma and survival during and after the Vietnam War. The book crosses borders, from rural, Amish-country Pennsylvania, where Brandy had grown up, to Vancouver, where she lived with her parents, husband, and two young children while enduring aggressive chemotherapy, radiation, and a double mastectomy. The book also explores the enduring legacy of chemical warfare on three generations. That both of her parents had been heavily exposed to Agent Orange does not escape Brandy, who searches for reasons why she would have cancer despite not having a family history, as well as having had epilepsy as a child. She also wonders how this exposure has touched her own children. Brandy tells her story with razor-sharp humor and wit, leaving readers a lasting impression of the meaning of survival.

Co-sponsors: Asian American Cultural Center and Creative Writing Program

Monday, October 5, at 7pm in the Stern Lounge, Austin 217.

Dennis Liu Presentation

Writer/Director Dennis Liu will present his latest project, the comic book RAISING DION, on Friday, October 2, at 6pm in the UConn Co-op bookstore, Storrs Center. The event is sponsored by Asian and Asian American Studies Institute, Asian American Cultural Center and the Rightors Fund for Children’s Literature.

Liu (DGA) graduated from The Taft School and NYU with a major in film. He began his career assisting producers at advertising agencies such as BBDO and Saatchi & Saatchi. His breakout piece, “Apple Mac Music Video,” quickly raked in a million hits on YouTube, landing him a spot on the director roster at age 23. In 2008, he won The People’s Choice Award in the Cannes New Director’s Showcase. He has received recognition from the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, SHOOT, ‘boards,, AICP (MOMA), Adcolor, Pixar, and The One Show. His “YouTube Mosaic Music Video,” has been shown at the Guggenheim Museum. RAISING DION was released in August 2015 as both a comic book and cinematic film trailer and received rave reviews from the TODAY Show, The Washington Post, Fast Company, Comic Book Resources, and The Guardian UK.

Friday, October 2, at 6pm in the UConn Co-op bookstore, Storrs Center.

Bruce Cohen Reading

Creative Writing professor Bruce Cohen will read from his collection of poetry on Wednesday, September 30, at 6pm in the UConn Co-op bookstore, Storrs Center.

Born in the Bronx, Bruce Cohen writes poems and nonfiction essays that have appeared in literary periodicals such as The New Yorker, Ploughshares, Poetry, Prairie Schooner, and The Southern Review. He has published four volumes of poetry: Disloyal Yo-Yo (2009), which was awarded the 2007 Orphic Poetry Prize; Swerve (2010); Placebo Junkies Conspiring with the Half-Asleep (2012); and No Soap, Radio! (2015). A forthcoming manuscript (2016), Imminent Disappearances, Impossible Numbers & Panoramic X-Rays, was awarded the 2015 Green Rose Prize from New Issues Press. A recipient of an individual artist grant from the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism, prior to joining the UConn Creative Writing faculty in 2012, Cohen directed, developed, and implemented nationally recognized academic enhancement programs at UConn, the University of Arizona, and the University of California at Berkeley.

Wednesday, September 30, at 6pm in the UConn Co-op bookstore, Storrs Center.

Thursdays: Nutmeg Writers Group

Tired of staring at your statistics homework, wondering if numbers themselves are soulless or if it’s just how humans seem to only use them for financial gain?

Tired of trying to identify the bits of “vegetables” in your cup of ramen that you bought in a pack of 50 from BJs?

Tired of crossing the days off the calendar until Thanksgiving Break even though the semester is only, like, three weeks old?

Do you feel a vague itch to stretch your creative muscles, to embark on a florid journey into the deepest recesses of your brain with a kindred crew of explorers?

Come join us at the Nutmeg Writers Group.

After a brief hiatus on Sept. 24, we will resume weekly meetings on Thursday, Oct. 1, 7:30-9

Austin 217 (Stern Lounge)

Interested? Questions?  Email Jared Demick at




Marilyn Nelson on Poetic Technique



UConn Professor Emerita, former Connecticut Poet Laureate, and 2012 Frost Medal recipient Marilyn Nelson spoke to writers about rhyme, scansion of meter, and poetic form on September 16.

Nelson, a three-time finalist for the National Book Award, has authored or translated fifteen books for adults and young readers. Her works for children usually address African-American history. A two-time winner of the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award, and frequent Coretta Scott King Honor Book selection, Nelson won the Lion and the Unicorn Award for Excellence in North American Poetry. Her acclaimed titles for young readers include: Carver: A Life in Poems, Fortune’s Bones, A Wreath for Emmett Till, The Freedom Business, Miss Crandall’s School for Young Ladies & Little Misses of Color, and Sweethearts of Rhythm: The Story of the Greatest All-Girl Swing Band in the World. Her memoir, How I Discovered Poetry, a series of 50 poems about growing up in a military family, was named one of NPR’s Best Books of 2014.

Nelson has earned numerous honors including NEA, Fulbright, and Guggenheim Fellowships. She actually won the Department of the Army’s Commander’s Award for Public Service. In 2012, she won the most prestigious award given by the Poetry Society of America, The Frost Medal.

Her session was sponsored by the Rightors Fund for Children’s Literature.

For more information about Marilyn Nelson, please go to

Sean Forbes Interview

Alum Sean Forbes (PhD 2011), who is the Director of our Creative Writing Program and is author of Providencia: A Book of Poems (2013), was interviewed by Rodrigo Joseph Rodríguez for Pennsylvania Literary Journal 7.2 (Summer 2015). In “Diasporas and Poetics: A Conversation with Poet Sean Frederick Forbes,” Rodríguez notes that Sean “offers lenses to various cultures, diasporas, geographies, histories, and world languages that inform his poetics.”