2009 MFA Thesis Readings

Presented by the Creative Writing Program at Purdue University

Friday, April 10th & April 17th
7:30 p.m.
Wells Center
638 North Street, Downtown Lafayette

April 10, 2009

Brian Beglin, Fiction
The Toxic Cocktail

Brian Beglin knows criminals are a superstitious and cowardly lot, and has therefore devoted his life to funding outreach programs, which debunk the most common myths of the criminal fraternity.  (For instance, chicks do dig scars, but not if you name them.)  Courage is different.  It can’t be taught.  You get it only by kickboxing a Viking, taking restaurant recommendations from James Xiao, or leaping into a dark crevasse, a homemade jetpack strapped to your shoulders and a feather in each hand, just in case.  Brian’s collection of short stories, The Toxic Cocktail, is this leap in prose form.



When Theresa D. Smith was a child she lived in a three-story house on a magnolia-and-liquidambar-lined street in a California desert-edge town, in one room that was perfect, with a window set deep in an alcove. Beyond the window was an evergreen, in the evergreen uncountable mockingbirds. Placed in that room with her sister, Theresa sneaked nights onto the windowseat and waited for the birds to begin singing at four in the morning. That window made sleeplessness a pleasure. She writes about those birds, unrequited love, mothers and sorrow in We’ll Never Talk About This.




Theresa Smith, Poetry
We'll Never Talk About This

Erin Blakeslee, Fiction



Erin Blakeslee grew up surrounded by books in Erie, PA, an environment for which she thanks her avid-reader parents, Eileen and Patrick.  In 2006, she earned a Bachelor of Science from Ithaca College, where she studied screenwriting and anthropology.  Among other, less glamorous jobs, she worked as a reader for the Jim Henson Company in Hollywood.  She has loved her time in the Creative Writing Program, where she was privileged to take classes with inspiring professors, to read the work of her brilliant classmates, and to work as Nonfiction Editor of Sycamore Review.   She is most grateful for the opportunity to foster a passion for teaching, which she hopes to continue to do in the future.  Erin dedicates her thesis reading to her family and to Kim Bowman, whose support keeps her standing. 



Eric Scovel is originally from the small town of Polo, situated pastorally among the corn, soy beans, and occasional state parks of Northern Illinois. In addition to his duties at Purdue as instructor and graduate student, he is also Vice-President of the Graduate Employees' Organization. His thesis, Five Chapbooks, is intended to demonstrate a range of formal and aesthetic approaches to the art of poetry, and includes chapbooks that are variously lyric, visual and conceptual. He plans to move away now with Ekeama Goddard, whom he follows around “like a lovestruck and incredibly enthusiastic puppy,” to somewhere more tropical and perhaps less hazardous to his health.


Eric Scovel, Poetry
Five Chapbooks


April 17, 2009

Mehdi Okasi, Fiction
May This Be Your Last Sorrow

Mehdi Tavana Okasi was born by the Capsian Sea in northern Iran. A tortured artist since birth, his family lived for brief periods in Turkey, Yugoslavia, and Austria before settling in Massachusetts when he was seven. He earned his bachelor's degree from Connecticut College in 2003 and worked as an editorial assistant in New York City and taught English in the Massachusetts school system before beginning his MFA in creative writing at Purdue University. Mehdi has been awarded the Joyce Horton Johnson Fellowship to attend the literary seminars in Key West, the Bloomington Chapter Award for fiction by the Society of Arts and Letters, and his work has been published in Best New American Voices 2009 guest edited by Mary Gaitskill.


David Blomenberg was not born in a rain-gusted alley in 1965. This atmosphere would not have appealed to his mother. He also did not record his first rock album with Shannon Hoon of Blind Melon. He never knew Shannon Hoon. Dave Blomenberg never got much money pretending to be a street musician on the Arbat in Moscow, though it's likely that several American tourists have photos of a Russian street musician who sang with what they thought a superb American accent. This street musician may have looked quite a bit like Dave Blomenberg trying to look like Jesus. Trying to look like Jesus wasn't something he was intentionally doing at the time. This Silver Fox did not do well in Corporate America after college. He is no longer a professional egg gatherer, furniture de-upholsterer, or bank teller. He does not often speak in first person.



David Blomenberg, Poetry




Daniel Blue Tyx, Fiction
The Sir



Dan Tyx’s thesis, The Sir, is loosely based on his experiences as a fourth grade teacher north of Edinburg, Texas.  When Dan is not out saving the world with his unbridled optimism towards human nature, he is busy coordinating the Creative Writing Program's Visiting Writers Series, and curing disillusionment with his cherubim singing voice. He is grateful to his family, friends, faculty members, and the Sisters of Saint Joseph, for their support and patience.  The novel is dedicated to his students.





R.J. Talyor is either a poet posing as a software marketer or a software marketer posing as a poet.  Either way, he calls Indianapolis home and spends his free time running, reading and traveling.  Goethe says “Begin it” which has become R.J.’s call-to-action.  Special thanks goes to the Talyor/Warren/Hobley family for their support and to Don Platt for his honesty and patience in creation of this work. What new understandings lurk at the heart of R.J.'s manuscript, About Face? Find out this and more at the Wells Center on April 17th.  





R.J. Talyor, Poetry
About Face



Created by Jessica Mehr