Piper Center for Creative Writing

From the Director

This fall marks the beginning of the celebration of the ASU MFA Program’s 25th anniversary—a celebration that will continue well into next year.


Upcoming Events

Oct. 28 - Dec. 17
ASU’s Creative Writing 25th Anniversary Display
Hayden Library
ASU Tempe Campus

Nov. 3
Poets Kate Greenstreet, Elizabyth A. Hiscox, Douglas S. Jones and Rose Swartz
Public Reading. 7 p.m. Changing Hands Bookstore 6428 S. McClintock Dr.

Nov. 4
Author Caitlin Horrocks
Public Reading. 7:45 p.m.
Piper Writers House
ASU Tempe Campus

Nov. 12
Author Barbara Kingsolver
Ticketed Event, 7 p.m.
Marcos de Niza High School
6000 S. lakeshore Dr.

Featured Event

Nov. 30
Author Carol Ann Bassett
Public Reading, 7 p.m.
Pima Auditorium,
Memorial Union
ASU Tempe Campus

Carol Ann Bassett, a 1977 graduate of ASU, is the author of A Gathering of Stones: Journeys to the Edges of a Changing World, a finalist for the Oregon Book Award in creative nonfiction, and Organ Pipe: Life on the Edge. Bassett teaches at the University of Oregon and directs an on-going summer program, "Environmental Writing in the Galápagos." The islands, which were recently declared an endangered World Heritage Site, are the subject of her new book Galapagos at the Crossroads.

All Events

Trivia Time

What is the name of Kimiko Hahn's forthcoming book of poetry, and what is its major source of inspiration?

The first person to email editor Beth Staples with the answer will receive a copy of our next Piper Online Book Club selection, Harold Schechter's The Devil's Gentleman.

Comments? Questions? Suggestions?

Let us know what you think about the new online version of Marginalia. Send an email to editor Beth Staples.

Piper Online Book Club

November Selection
The Devil's Gentleman
by Harold Schechter

A riveting exploration of a notorious, sensational New York City murder in the 1890s, the fascinating forensic science of an earlier age, and the explosively dramatic trial that became a tabloid sensation at the turn of the century.

Piper Partners

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College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
300 E. University Dr
Tempe, AZ 85281

Department of English

PO Box 870302
Tempe, AZ 85287-0302

Creative Writing Program
LL 315C

Young Writers Program

Office of Youth Preparation 502 E Monroe St
Suite C124
Phoenix, AZ 85004-4435

November, 2009
Celebrating Caitlin Horrocks

Caitlin Horrock's story "The Lion Gate" has a long history, including the fact that it helped her win a bar bet with a fellow writer to see who could insert a specific 70s-era children's TV show into a short story first. It gets better. At her Nov. 4 reading at the Piper Writers House, the ASU MFA alumna will sing the opening lines to that television show. This will be your one and only opportunity to hear her sing (though she claims you won't want another one).

If Horrock's vocal skills are in question, her writing skills are not. Her credits include a story in the current PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories, a forthcoming short story collection from Sarabande Books, and story publications in Tin House, The Paris Review and many other literary journals. Back at ASU this semester as a visiting instructor, Horrocks will read from "The Lion Gate," forthcoming in the journal West Branch.

"Usually for readings I choose an older, familiar story: something I know well, something I know will work well aloud. Not this time; I’m excited to have finally finished a piece that’s gone through an especially long, strange series of changes and revisions: some small, some sweeping, some important, some irrelevant (farewell, comments about street signs and 19th century archeology)."

Click here to read an excerpt and hear more about the long and sundry history of the story. And join us on Nov. 4 at 7:45 p.m. at the Piper Writers House.

The Marriage of Poetry and True Crime

On Oct. 14, poet Kimiko Hahn and her husband, true crime writer Harold Schechter, gave craft talks at the Piper Writers House as part of our Distinguished Visiting Writers Series. Both events were well attended featured lively discussion. For those of you who couldn't attend, here are some of the highlights.

Though Hahn and Schechter write very differently—both in subject and in form—there are similarities in their work. "I have a problems with making things up," Hahn said with a laugh. "There are two written truths that I use when I teach," Hahn explained, one with a capital "T," which means an emotional truth and one with a lowercase "t" to indicate fact. "The language of science to me is incredibly exotic...and extraordinarily delicious," she said.

Likewise inspired by facts, Schechter talked about the place of historical crime novels in literature and the research and writing processes that go into each of his true crime projects. "I’m interested in not just gruesome crimes…but crimes that have resonated somehow with the public," he said. He added, "I take professional pride in creating works that I feel are built to last."

Click here for more of what the writers had to say.

HFR Featured Contributor: Urban Waite

Fiction writer Urban Waite's on a hot streak. His story, "Don't Look Away," which appeared in HFR #42, is now appearing in the anthology Best of the West 2009 (HFR is the only magazine besides The New Yorker to have two stories in the collection!). On top of that, he recently sold two novels at auction to publisher Little Brown. More recently, the rights for both books have been sold in England, the Netherlands, Spain, Germany and France.

"[When] the book went to auction I was so nervous about it. I didn't even tell my wife. I told no one...my nerves were all over the place. My wife who is in medical school kept giving me practice physicals and we watched my blood pressure rise through the week. 'What's going on?' she kept asking."

To find out more about Waite's books and the publishing process, read his full interview on the HFR blog.

Young Writers Program

During Kimiko Hahn's recent residency, she visited La Joya Community High School in the Tolleson Union High School District as part of the Distinguished Visiting Writers in the Schools program. The award-winning author read her poetry, spoke about her craft and answered questions for 150 aspiring young writers. In the weeks prior to her visit, the high school students wrote their own poems, studied Hahn's poetry and biography, and participated in creative writing residencies.

My Dog
His fur
Smells like the carpet.
His paws smell of old crumbs that have found
Their way in the crevices of his walking pads.
His breath smells like the inside of a
Bag of dog food, mixed with fish.
He also produces other smells, but theses I’d rather
Not mention.
When I give him a bath, he smells like
roses and soap.
Minutes later he goes back to smelling
Like carpet.

By Juan Flores
(La Joya Community High School student)

Click here for a recap of the event and another student poem.

Teaching Creative Writing in China

International fellowships through the Piper Center enable graduate students to teach and travel all over the world. Third-year MFA poet Leah Soderberg traveled to China in the summer of 2009, where she taught creative writing to students at Sichuan University in Chengdu, China.

"Walking into a classroom in this country also meant walking into a generation molded by the hands of the government. Mao might be dead, but from one’s very first moments in China, it is clear that his legacy has been carefully preserved. In the coming weeks my students would tell me about their classes spent memorizing Marxist theory, reciting the words of the Cultural Revolution. They were the generation of promise and progress—those who were able to choose their own careers, homes, and health care providers... It quickly became clear to me that teaching these students creative writing would be a great, but certainly worthwhile, challenge."

Click here to read more from Soderberg about her trip.


Alumni Update

The Job Interview As Story
by Maximilian Werner

“For those of us seeking positions in academe, I know it is sometimes difficult to view the interview as anything more than a costly gamble...I want to offer a more holistic and fulfilling way of looking at the interview experience; one that empowers the interviewee from the outset."


Hayden’s Ferry Review

Issue 45 will be available later this month. Click here for subscription information.

Piper Friends

The Piper Center for Creative Writing is committed to supporting a vibrant and diverse literary community in the Phoenix metropolitan area. Through our giving program, you can ensure your financial support for our students and our community programs.

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DNRS Update

Desert Nights, Rising Stars, will be on hiatus for 2010. This is in part a result of economic circumstances, in part a decision to take this opportunity to make use of our years of experience and the responses we’ve received from participants, faculty, volunteers and staff to reconsider some aspects of the conference.


Stay in Touch

There are many ways to stay connected with what is happening on campus, and with alumni and friends.


Piper Center for Creative Writing

Hayden’s Ferry Review


Piper Online Book Club

Hayden’s Ferry Review


Hayden’s Ferry Review

Looking for a Past Issue of Marginalia?

They are all on the Piper Center for Creative Writing website.

Contact Us

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Virginia G. Piper Center
for Creative Writing
PO Box 875002
Tempe, AZ 85287
P - 480-965-6018
F- 480-727-0820

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