Tina Egnoski, MFA '97
What are you currently working on?
I've been writing and publishing steadily since graduating from Emerson. I received the 2008 Black River Chapbook Award, and my fiction chapbook Perishables was published by Black Lawrence Press in 2010. My manuscript In the Time of the Feast Flowers was the winner of the 2010 Clay Reynolds Novella Prize, and the book is to be published by Texas Review Press in January 2012.
I am currently working on a collection of linked stories. They’re loosely based on family stories passed down from my grandmother and mother. During the Depression, my grandmother lived on a small island in the Great Lakes region. My mother, during World War II, worked at the Kellogg’s cereal factory in Battle Creek, Michigan. I’m exploring these particular geographical locations and historical periods to create a narrative about women’s lives in the first half of the 20th century.
Could you describe one person, experience, or series of events at Emerson that shifted the course of your career, and/or that illustrates one of Emerson’s core attributes of creativity, collaboration, risk taking, and excellence?
What I loved about Emerson’s MFA program is that you could pair writing classes with literature classes—and as every writer knows, writing and reading go hand in hand. So, while I was studying the work of Edith Wharton, John Cheever and Raymond Carver in James Carroll’s The American Short Story: Discovering a Vision seminar, I was revising a story for Pam Painter’s fiction writing workshop—and trying to bring it to the level of excellence of the “masters” I was reading. This helped me in so many ways. From Hemingway I learned how to compress language. From Sarah Orne Jewett I learned how landscape becomes a character. Both of these techniques found their way into my own work.
Is there an example of how a faculty member aided you with your career?
Jessica Treadway was my first instructor at Emerson. Two years later, she agreed to be my thesis advisor. She was generous with her time and encouragement. Her critiques of my stories were spot on, as were her suggestions for revisions. When it came time for me to find someone to “blurb” for my first book, the fiction chapbook Perishables (Black Lawrence Press/Dzanc Books, 2010), I wrote to her. Even though it had been ten years since I last worked with her, she heartily offered her support.
Are you professionally connected to other Emersonians?
Yes, I’m professionally and personally connected with other Emersonians. Using social media to stay in contact is so easy and convenient, even when I’m not able to spend much face-to-face time with a fellow student or a former instructor.
What’s the single most important piece of advice you’d like to give to Emerson students?
More than likely, at no other time in your life will you have this amount of concentrated time to focus on writing. Now is the time to write, write, write. Take advantage not only of the time you have but also of the other writers around you, both instructors and fellow students. Show them your work. Ask questions—What’s working in this story? What’s not working?—and listen to what they have to say with an open mind. Read their work and offer constructive criticism with an open heart. It’s not about competition, but camaraderie.
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.