Ryan Boudinot wrote part of his novel, Blueprints of the Afterlife, in our writer-in-residence office. Sherman Alexie filmed scenes from his movie, The Business of Fancydancing, in our bathroom. Through Hugo House’s programs, writers have drafted poems, jumpstarted novels, and refined manuscripts. The Made at Hugo House fellowship supports emerging writers, providing space and resources to four to six fellows in the Seattle area to complete a proposed project. Projects include (but are not limited to) completing the first draft of a novel, developing a new memoir, or creating a chapbook of poetry.
2014-2015 Made at Hugo House Fellowship Recipients
Steven Barker is the co-founder of “Cheap Wine & Poetry” and “Cheap Beer & Prose.” In 2009 he co-edited the chapbook Hill Poems: A Collection of Capitol Hill Poetry. He is currently working on a collection of essays titled Temp that detail the wide range of short-term jobs he’s held over the past ten years. He is the host of the arts & entertainment podcast Ordinary Madness.
Project: Temp is a collection of essays based on a series of contract jobs Steve held across a fifteen-year period. The essays document his attempt at adapting to a variety of jobs, as well as the anxieties and sometimes relief that come with a job that has a clearly stated termination date. The essays also explore his views on money, how gender and race play into the workforce, and how a “temp” is treated in a major corporation compared to a full-time employee.
Alex Bleecker is a teacher and poet from New York who recently graduated from the MFA program in creative writing at the University of Washington. His chapbook Found in a Cord (Uphook Press) was published in 2006; other poems have appeared in journals including Verse, Mantis, Matter, Page Boy, Hoarse, INACTUAL, fre•quen•cy, and Shampoo. Alex co-curates the Breadline reading series, which The Stranger called “Seattle’s most consistently innovative, entertaining, and surprising reading series.” He is also a founding member of the RE DRUM poetry ensemble, which has performed at Hugo House, Vermillion, and the Lo-Fi Festival at Smoke Farm.
Project: Before his death in 1973, Pablo Neruda was working on arguably the strangest project of his career. Rather than offer wisdom-filled parting thoughts, Neruda decided to ask. The Book of Questions—seventy-four sections of imagistic, surreal, and paradoxical interrogative couplets—was published the following year. For the fortieth anniversary of Neruda’s enigmatic book, Bleecker will compose responses that emulate the compression, velocity, and instantaneity of the original text. They will serve as autonomous poetic utterances while simultaneously engaging in dialogue with the questions. As the sequence of fragments develops, themes will breach and recede beneath the materiality of the language.
Jean Burnet lives and works in Seattle. She holds a BA in English and Creative Writing from Colby College and an MFA in prose from the University of Washington. Her fiction has previously been published in Brevity Magazine and The Acentos Review. In 2012, her stories “Mi Gorda” and “Things Delivered” were nominated for The Seattle Review’s Grace Posner Kameros Prize. Also in 2012, she won the David Guterson Award for her MFA thesis, a collection of mixed-language short stories entitled Out of the Valley, which takes place in her hometown, the San Joaquin Valley in California.
Project: She plans on completing a draft of her first novel, tentatively titled My Brother the Murderer, which focuses on a young woman’s journey to decipher the motivations behind her brother’s impulse to kill.
Laura Da’ is a poet and a public-school teacher. A lifetime resident of the Pacific Northwest, Da’ studied creative writing at the University of Washington and The Institute of American Indian Arts. Da’ is an enrolled member of the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma. She has published poems in Prairie Schooner, Hanging Loose, The Iowa Review, and elsewhere. Her first chapbook, The Tecumseh Motel, is soon to be published in Effigies II, and the University of Arizona Press will publish her first full-length manuscript, Tributaries, in 2015. Da’ lives near Seattle with her husband and son.
Project: The purpose of this project is to create a manuscript. The impetus of this project is the lyrical examination of the diverse consequences of the mapping of the American West and the period of Indian removal. The content of the chapbook will combine poems with both narrative with lyrical elements. This blending melds the genres of poetry, fiction, and historical research. American history of surveying, geography, and cartography underpin the organization of these poems. The narrative elements trace the lives of two men, one Shawnee, the other Euro-American, as they move through the landscape of the American West.
Deirdre Lockwood has a master’s in creative writing from Boston University, and her poetry has appeared in journals including Poetry Northwest, The Threepenny Review, andYale Review. She spent a year in Iceland as a Fulbright fellow and recently received a grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation to support work on her novel in progress. A few years ago, she made regular crossings of the Pacific by container ship to collect data for her Ph.D. in oceanography at the University of Washington. She’s now a landlubber and freelance science journalist, covering the environment and health.
Project: Lockwood plans to complete her novel in progress, The Breath of Fishes. It traces 16-year-old Leif Stevens’ quest to find his mother and reunite his family. The son of high school runaways, Leif has grown up self-reliant but sheltered in the woods of eastern Washington state. When his mother suddenly leaves Leif and his father for Iceland to pursue her long-postponed dream of becoming a scientist and her obsession with climate change, Leif sets out to find her and put his family back together.
2013-2014 Made at Hugo House Fellowship Recipients
Raymond Fleischmann received an MFA from Ohio State University, where he completed a collection of short stories and taught a range of composition and creative writing classes. His fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Iowa Review, Cimarron Review, The Pinch, River Styx, North Dakota Quarterly, and Los Angeles Review, among others. He’s also served as assistant editor of The Journal, Ohio State University’s literary magazine.
Fleischmann plans on completing his first novel, a manuscript currently titled How Quickly They Disappear. Beginning in June 1941, the novel takes place in a small town in the remote interior of Alaska, where the main character is temporarily living with her husband and ten-year-old daughter.
Ross McMeekin’s fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in publications such as Shenandoah, PANK, Hobart, Monkeybicycle, Passages North, and Tin House (blog). His essays have appeared in The Rumpus, Hunger Mountain, and Green Mountains Review. He holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. He was born and raised in Seattle, where he now lives with his wife and daughter.
McMeekin will be revising a group of short stories that explore the various geographies of the Pacific Northwest. Like the wild landscape, reality bends, stretches, and quakes, leaving the characters feeling like strangers in the places that were previously most familiar. Forced to find new ways to live, some find homes in community, some in solitude, and others in violence.
Jessica Mooney’s short fiction regularly appears in City Arts Magazine, and one of her stories was recently chosen as an Honorable Mention for Glimmer Train’s Very Short Fiction Award 2013. She received an MA in international studies with a graduate certificate in global health from the University of Washington, where she studied the confluence of gender and public health in war and post-conflict diaspora communities. In her non-fiction, scientific life, she co-authored a peer-reviewed paper on transgender women and HIV clinical research in the February 2013 issue of Prevention Science. She read in Seattle’s 2012 Lit Crawl as a featured guest of APRIL and received a writer-in-residence award as part of the Lady Assassins Writing Collaborative from Storefronts Seattle in 2011.
Mooney will complete a draft of a novel, as yet untitled, that explores the irreverent side of loss through secrets, cons, the unreliability of memory, and a young woman’s addiction to psychic hotlines.
Michelle Peñaloza grew up in Nashville, Tennessee. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in the Asian American Literary Review, Great River Review, and Bellingham Review, among others. She is a Kundiman Fellow and the recipient of an Oregon Literary Arts Fellowship, the Miriam McFall Starlin Award from the University of Oregon, and scholarships from the Vermont Studio Center, the Napa Valley Writers Conference, and the Bread Loaf Writers Conference.
Peñaloza’s project is a chapbook of itineraries: poems based in movement through landscape, poems that engages with journey, as it provokes or provides inspiration. During her time as a Made at Hugo House Fellow, she will ask volunteers to take her on a walk from the Hugo House to a specific place in Seattle where they’ve had their heart broken. Broken hearts need not only apply to romantic love, but to trauma of any kind that her volunteers are willing to share. She will then write poems in response to these walking conversations to compose a chapbook. In addition to these texts, she will record the paths of these walking conversations from Hugo House onto maps to include in the chapbook. The result will be a literary cartography of heartbreak in Seattle tied indelibly to Hugo House.
Paulette Perhach earned her degree in magazine journalism from the University of Florida. Then she interned at Health and Coastal Living magazines, where she realized she wasn’t that much of a magazine person. Then she worked as an education and features reporter in St. Augustine, where she found out she wasn’t supposed to be a journalist. Then she joined Peace Corps and found out she wasn’t meant to be that good of a person. But she has since discovered that one can sculpt confusion and error into art that is at least in itself beautiful, so that’s what she’s into now. She has a tech writing job that funds her traveling habit, is applying to MFA programs this year, and is committed to spending the next decade or two practicing until her writing does for others what great writing has done for her.
Perhach will attempt to cram all the bewilderment of two years in the Peace Corps into one long-form essay. An important aspect of this project is to stay true to her experience while respecting the people who loved and watched over her while she was in Paraguay. Then she really will stop talking about it, she swears.
Matthew Schnirman was born and raised on the southeastern coast of Florida, then moved north to Tallahassee where he earned a BA in Creative Writing from Florida State University. After living in Atlanta, London, and Beijing, Matthew moved to the desert and received his MFA in poetry from the University of Arizona, where he also taught poetry workshop courses and served as the associate poetry editor for Sonora Review. He has been nominated for an AWP Intro Journals Award and received a UA Creative Writing Foundation Award. In Tucson, he hosted a summer reading series, LIVE, and taught literature at Pima Community College. He lives and writes in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood.
Schnirman will complete a chapbook titled “American Shot.” The collection is a series of escapist poems, guided by an anti-muse through a landscape of cinematic tropes and cultural gestures in order to further explore the desires and flaws of reality.
Apply to Become a Made at Hugo House Fellow
Hugo House accepts applications to the Made at Hugo House Program every year. The application period opens January 1 and closes March 31. When the application period is open, you can apply via Submittable.