Laura van den Berg, MFA '08
Q. What are you currently working on?
I’m at work on a novel, Find Me, and new short stories. I’m also the 2011–2012 creative writing fellow at the Gilman School, so I’m teaching fiction writing as well.
Q. Could you describe one person, experience, or series of events at Emerson that shifted the course of your career and that illustrates one of Emerson’s core attributes of creativity, collaboration, risk taking, and excellence?
A number of experiences at Emerson helped shape my writing: the teachers I worked with, the connections I formed with my peers, the support and camaraderie, the wealth of opportunities available in Boston and its rich literary culture. In addition, my time as editorial assistant and then assistant editor at Ploughshares helped me learn about the publishing side of the writing world.
Q. Is there an example of how a faculty member aided you with your career?
I was fortunate enough to work with so many terrific members of the Emerson writing faculty, including Margot Livesey, Pamela Painter, Jessica Treadway, and Frederick Reiken, to name a few. Their instruction was invaluable. I owe an especially large debt to Margot Livesey, as I workshopped early drafts of nearly all the stories in my debut collection, What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us, in her classes. Her mentorship was instrumental in helping me help the stories find their way.
Q. Are you professionally connected to other Emersonians?
Yes! I have remained in close touch with my MFA classmates. Having a core group of insightful, honest readers is crucial for any writer and, luckily for me, my colleagues from Emerson have continued to be wonderfully helpful readers of my work-in-progress.
Q. What’s the single most important piece of advice you’d like to give to Emerson students?
Take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. Take risks. Don’t let fear hold you back. You never know where something will lead.
Creative Writing MFA Stephen Shane (2015) and his colleague David Knight created a short documentary on Boston busing called Desegregated, Yet Unequal, and it was recently named an Editors' Pick by The Atlantic.
Professor Steve Yarbrough has been elected to the Fellowship of Southern Writers, and, in addition, will receive the 2015 Robert Penn Warren Award for Fiction this spring from the same organization.
Current MFA Jennifer Crystal recently signed a book deal with Belfort & Bastion for her memoir Et Voilà: One Traveler's Journey from Foreigner to Francophile. The publisher has a target launch date of Jan. 1.
WLP alum and writer Thomas Page McBee's memoir Man Alive: A True Story of Violence, Forgiveness and Becoming a Man was named on Publisher's Weekly's "Best Books of 2014."
Greg Nichols (MFA '11) released his first book, Striking Gridiron, A Town's Pride and a Team's Shot at Glory During the Biggest Strike in American History. The book was named a Junior Library Guild Fall 2014 Selection.
Lecturer Tamera Marko's writing collective with Emerson maintenance workers from Latin America and undergraduates presented a bilingual presentation: "Proyecto Carrito II: When the Student Receives an 'A' and the Worker Gets Fired: Driving our Own Narrative" at the Conference on Rhetoric and Composition.
Recent MA in Publishing & Writing alumni collaborated to launch a new literary genre journal called Strangelet. Alumni include Executive Editor Casey Brown (MA ’13), Managing Editor Leah Thompson (MA ’12), Production Editor Franco Alvarado (MA ’13), and Creative Director Chandra Asar (MA ’12).
WLP Professor Megan Marshall and the emersonWRITES program participate in the launch and unveiling of Boston as the country's first Literary Cultural District.
Michelle Bailat-Jones (MFA '05) won the inaugral Christopher Doheny award for her novel Fog Island Mountains. The award recognizes a book-lenth work exploring the experience of serious illness and includes a $10,000 prize and publication and promotion of the book.