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UCA To Welcome Bonnie Jo Campbell As Artist-in-residence

By Andrew Tucker, College of Fine Arts and Communication Office

CONWAY — American novelist and short story writer Bonnie Jo Campbell will be an artist-in-residence at the University of Central Arkansas in April and will participate in a trio of events April 9 and 10 in Win Thompson Hall and the College of Business Auditorium.

On April 9, Campbell will conduct a private masterclass with students in the Arkansas Writer’s MFA Program. The program is in Win Thompson Hall room 331 and begins at 4 p.m. Also on April 9, Campbell will participate in a reading and book signing that is free and open to the public. This event will be held at 7:30 p.m. in the College of Business Auditorium room 107. On April 10, Campbell will participate in a Craft Talk and Q&A, also free and open to the public, at 11 a.m. in Win Thompson Hall room 331.

Campbell is a critically-acclaimed fiction writer whose work gives voice to marginalized characters and often dismissed rural landscapes. In her short fiction collection, “American Salvage,” she depicts the complex inner lives of working-class characters, illustrating the diverse struggles of post-industrial America, where jobs, ways of living and natural resources are vanishing. Her stories are set in small towns that have been plagued with methamphetamine use, job loss from a declining economy and all the usual small-town modern pains. Her novel “Q Road,” for example, investigates the lives of a rural community as suburban developers displace farmers by placing prefab homes in last year’s cornfields, forcing traditional, rural life to collide with the new.

Besides being a fiercely talented writer, Campbell enjoys helping writing students. Her website and blog, for example, aren’t simply dedicated to marketing but also function to help future writers succeed in the publishing world, especially those with a nontraditional start. Campbell herself began publishing with little formal education in writing. Before becoming a writer, she earned degrees in philosophy and mathematics, organized international bike tours and traveled with the Ringling Bros and Barnum & Bailey Circus selling snow cones. She later earned her MFA in creative writing from Western Michigan University, where she refined her craft and teaching pedagogy.

“The artist-in-residence program provides our creative writing students with the chance not only to meet but also to interact with some of the best writers from all over the country, and we are looking forward to Campbell’s visit,” said Sandy Longhorn, an assistant professor of creative writing at UCA.

Campbell is the author of three short story collections: “Mothers, Tell Your Daughters” (W.W. Norton and Company, 2015), “American Salvage” (W.W. Norton and Company, 2009), “Women and Other Animals” (University of Massachusetts Press, 1999; Simon and Schuster, 2002), as well as two novels: “Q Road” (Scribner, 2003) and “Once Upon a River” (W.W. Norton and Company, 2011). Her stories and essays have appeared in Ontario Review, Story, The Kenyon Review, Witness, The Alaska Quarterly Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Mid-American Review and Utne Reader, among many others.

Her collection “American Salvage” was a finalist for both the 2009 National Book Award in Fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Kansas City Star named it a Top Six Book of 2009. Her collection “Women and Other Animals,” which details the lives of a diverse range of women in rural and small-town Michigan, won the 1998 Associated Writing Programs Award for short fiction, as well as a Pushcart for the story “Smallest Man in the World.” Currently, Campbell teaches fiction at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon, in the low-residency MFA program.

For more information, contact Sandy Longhorn at slonghorn@uca.edu or (501) 450-5108.

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