September alumni news: publication success & a new local workshop

Posted by on September 6th, 2012

We continue to hear good publishing news from alumni — including the latest crop of participants from 2012.

Fiction writer Kirstin Chen, who was in Lan Samantha Chang’s workshop this year, learned while at the conference that her debut novel will be published in the fall of 2013 by Amazon Publishing.

A 2011-2012 Steinbeck Fellow at San Jose State, Chen’s work has appeared in Hobart, Pank, Juked, The Good Men Project, and others, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and the Best New American Voices anthology.

Her novel, Soy Sauce for Beginners, details the odyssey of a proudly independent woman who leaves her floundering marriage in San Francisco and moves back in with her parents in Singapore, where she finds herself caught up in the family’s soy sauce business.

In a profile on the AWP Web site, Chen disclosed that she’s already at work on her next novel, set in 1958 on an island off the coast of Southern China. “The family living on the island is forced to flee to Hong Kong when the son reports his grandmother to the communist government,” she explained. “In their attempt to procure visas on such short notice, the family is forced to leave behind the youngest daughter as proof of their plan to return.”

Another 2012 fiction alumnus, Chas Jackson, has placed his poem “Shug Avery,” which he read at the conference participant reading, in the anthology, Chorus, edited by musician and poet Saul Williams. Williams rose to prominence with his star turn in the film Slam, which won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance in 1998 and showcased the poetry slam phenomenon. Chorus is described as “an anthology in rant” and can be ordered here. Jackson, like Williams, counts spoken-word art among his talents; here he is performing “Accept the Charges” at an event for the Snap Judgment radio show.

Open Winter by Rae GouirandWe’ve also heard from Rae Gouirand, who attended the conference in 1999 and 2000 and whose journey has come full circle. Her first book of poetry, Open Winter, published this year, has garnered a raft of awards: the 2011 Bellday Prize for Poetry, a 2012 Independent Publisher Book Award for Poetry and the 2012 Eric Hoffer Book Award for Poetry. It was a finalist for the Audre Lorde Award, the California Book Award, and the Montaigne Medal.

Former conference poetry director Mark Wunderlich said of Open Winter: “Gouirand repunctuates the world in stops and starts as she reaches toward new ways to parse the complexities of love. Open Winter shows us how language breaks and fails, how poems repair and revive.”

Gouirand, who lives in Davis, runs community literary programs in the Sacramento area, and teaches in the Bay Area as well. Starting next week, she’ll bring her creative nonfiction workshop to Napa. Classes will be held Mondays at the Slack Collective beginning Sept. 10; for information about registering, email rgouirand [at] gmail [dot] com.

“I’m very excited to be bringing my love of new writing back to Napa this fall, this time as a published author and seasoned instructor,” Gouirand wrote.

Congrats to one and all!

Got news of your own? Send it to us: info@napawritersconference.org. We publish updates as we receive them  to our Facebook page and monthly to the blog.

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