Tag Archives: Bryan Johnson

by English Department Communications Intern Kara Nosal

Where does a person end and her words begin? I began to wonder at the February 19th Master of Fine Arts poetry and fiction reading held at the University Center for the Arts. Each of the four writers — Kristin George Bagdanov, Mary Hill, Bryan Johnson, and M.C. Torres — infused their art with distinctive parts of their identities, and because of this, as the night went on, I could feel boundaries disappear.

First to read was Kristin George Bagdanov, an ecopoet. Before many of her poems, she explained to the audience what part of nature inspired her to write. One poem was written from her history with earthquakes as a young girl in Orange Country, California. Another was inspired by a recent fascination with YouTube videos chronicling the crumbling of polar ice caps.

Interspersed between these poems examining large swaths of the natural world were poems about bodies. Bagdanov reminded the audience that the human body is also part of the natural world, even if we often live as separate from it as possible. In her poem “Purge Body” which was also published in the Mid-American Review, Bagdanov writes about light pollution on a very small, very human scale: “Small crack/ in the door, green flare of the charger: no/ darkness. No place left wholly its own.”


Kristin George Bagdanov

Mary Hill was next to read. Recently, Hill worked as a caregiver for an elderly man with Parkinson’s and her poetry chronicles their parallel journeys: her journey from caretaker to friend and his journey to his final days on Earth. These journeys were not easy, it seemed. One series of poems from this time period was titled, “Reasons to Get Up in the Morning.” The reoccurring sound of these words created a time loop in which the audience could get lost. Hill’s use of line breaks continued this loop. I remember one line that seemed to end like this: “to fix you” but was immediately followed by “eggs.” The closeness of this relationship, between these two people who “grow cold together” is apparent in the tiniest of details.


Mary Hill

Soon it was Bryan Johnson’s turn to read from his novella, In the Eternal Shade. Like Hill, Johnson zoomed in to focus on the small details of his story. Quickly, I became engrossed in the drama happening in front of me centralized in the main character, Leon, a father and artist struggling to create the life he wants. I listened intently as Johnson drew a parallel between Leon’s interactions with his daughter, which balance on the brink of violence, and Leon’s need for literal balance up in a tree later. The tension as Leon reins in his temper toward his daughter and shifts his weight to keep from falling was revealed in the details: the accidental bonk of the daughter’s head on the back of a chair, or a quick test of a branch’s strength.


Bryan Johnson

Lastly, M.C. Torres approached the podium to read from her novel, All Things Occur in the Heights, which focuses on four characters who live in the same town, but happen to live in different time periods. “The day,” Torres recited, “never ended and perhaps it never began.” Torres read to us in a voice much like the “methodic rhythm of the bus” while leaning intently on the podium to get as close to us as she could. I’ll admit that I didn’t take very many notes as Torres read. I couldn’t tear myself away from her description of one character who hears the voice of God long enough to pick up my pen again. I simply wanted to know what was next, what was around the corner.


M.C. Torres

At the end of the reading, I felt as if I had shared the personal experiences of these writers. The line between words and writer had dissolved, but furthermore, the line between the writers and myself seemed to have dissolved as well — all because they were brave enough to allow me into their art.

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Colorado Review Spring 2015 issue, cover design by Abby Kerstetter

Colorado Review Spring 2015 issue, to be published in March. Cover design by Abby Kerstetter

The Center for Literary Publishing has received matching funds from the Vice President of Research, the College of Liberal Arts, and the English Department to provide travel funding for twelve CLP interns — Jayla Rae Ardelean, Kristin George Bagdanov, Cedar Brant, Neil FitzPatrick, Melissa Hohl, Anitra Ingham, Bryan Johnson, Andrew Mangan, John McDonough, Katie Naughton, Marie Turner, and Drew Webster — to attend the annual Association of Writers and Writing Programs in Minneapolis, April 9-11, 2015.

Students will represent the Center and Colorado Review in the conference exhibit hall; interact with CLP/CR authors; meet both CSU alumni and potential students; attend panels on writing, publishing, and pedagogy; and have the opportunity to attend readings by such literary icons as Louise Erdrich, Charles Baxter, T. C. Boyle, and Alice McDermott, among many others.

The Center was also awarded a $15,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for 2015. The grant will support the publication of two new titles in the Center’s Mountain West Poetry Series: The Verging Cities, by Utah poet Natalie Scenters-Zapico, and A Lamp Brighter than Foxfire, by Nevada poet Andrew S. Nicholson. Designed, typeset, and copyedited by CLP interns, the books will be published in April and November, respectively, and distributed to the trade by the University Press of Colorado. The grant additionally funds the production costs and author payments for the Spring 2015 issue of Colorado Review, to be published in March.

Cover design by Melissa Hohl

Cover design by Melissa Hohl

Cover design by Abby Kerstetter

Cover design by Abby Kerstetter

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image by Marc Levin

image by Marc Levin

Join us in congratulating the recipients of recent travel funding awards. We are so proud of their efforts and so happy they will be getting the opportunity to travel and share their work.

Graduate Student Travel Grant Awards:

Kristin George Bagdanov: Presenting “The Anthropocenic Lyric” at the Association for the Study of Literature and the Environment (ASLE) biennial conference in Moscow, Idaho

Mandi Casolo: presenting on “The Promise of Too Much Happiness: Alice Munro’s Undertaking of Contemporary Feminist Concerns in Literary Narrative” for the North American Review bicentennial conference, Cedar Falls, Iowa

Alhassane Ali Drouhamane: Presenting “Using CALL Websites to Enhance and Streamline L2 Vocabulary Learning” at the 46th Annual TESOL Convention in Toronto

Joni Hayward: presenting “Woman as Rebel: Depiction of Woman in Lars Von Trier’s Nymphomaniac Volume I & II” at the Image of the Rebel in Literature, Media and Society conference in Colorado Springs, CO

Moriah Kent: presenting “Exploring a Potential Vocabulary Gap Between the Lexical Proficiency of Advanced ELLs and the Lexical Requirements of First-Year University Readings,” American Association for Applied Linguistics and Association Canadienne de Linguistique Appliquée 2015 Conference in Toronto, Ontario

Angelina Maio: Presenting “The Illegal Immigrant as Rebel: Immigration Policies and Human Consequences in Ana Castillo’s The Guardians” at the Society for the Interdisciplinary Study of Social Imagery Conference titled “The Image of the Rebel” in Pueblo, Colorado

Karen Montgomery Moore: presenting “Reading the Dead Bodies on Bones” at the University of Nevada, Reno’s College of Liberal Arts Graduate Symposium

Courtney Pollard: Presenting “Exploring Alternative Literacies: Reading English Broadside Ballads as Multimedia Texts” at the “Expanding Boundaries and Reconceptualizing Text” conference hosted by the University of South Florida English Graduate Student Association in Tampa, Florida

Kylan Rice: Presenting “Knotted Up in Place: Melville and the American Spatial Subject” at the Melville in a Global Context – The Tenth International Melville Conference in Tokyo

John Whalen: presenting “Using CALL Websites to Enhance and Streamline L2 Vocabulary Learning” at the 46th Annual TESOL Convention in Toronto


AWP Attendees with Funding:

With support from the office of the Vice President of Research, the College of Liberal Arts, the English Department, and the Center for Literary Publishing, the following graduate students will receive funding to attend the Association of Writers and Writing Programs conference in Minneapolis in April: Jayla Rae Ardelean, Kristin George Bagdanov, Cedar Brant, Neil FitzPatrick, Melissa Hohl, Anitra Ingham, Bryan Johnson, Andrew Mangan, John McDonough, Katie Naughton, Marie Turner, and Drew Webster.

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