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New Director of UT Creative Writing Program Knows “How to Lie and to Tell the Truth”

Published: August 25, 2011

Internationally-published fiction and nonfiction author Jeff Parker has been named program director of The University of Tampa’s new MFA in Creative Writing program.

“I know how to lie and how to tell the truth. These techniques come in handy in writing fiction and nonfiction,” Parker said.

Parker, who also teaches contemporary literature from the U.S. and around the world, is the author of the novel Ovenman (Tin House, 2007) and the story collection The Taste of Penny (Dzanc, 2010). E!Online named Ovenman one of “Books You Must Read: Picks for 2007,” and a book reviewer for the Portland (OR) Mercury called it "one of the most raucous and fun books I've read in ages.”

Parker’s fiction and nonfiction have appeared in American Short Fiction, The Best American Nonrequired Reading, n+1, Ploughshares, Tin House and other publications. His nonfiction book Igor in Crisis: A Russian Journal is forthcoming from HarperCollins. Parker is also the co-editor of the anthologies Rasskazy: New Fiction from a New Russia (Tin House, 2009) and Amerika: Russian Writers View the United States (Dalkey Archive, 2004).

Parker co-founded DISQUIET: The Dzanc Books International Literary Program in Lisbon, Portugal, in 2011, and for many years he was the program director of the Summer Literary Seminars in St. Petersburg, Russia. He spent 2010-2011 in Moscow, Russia, on a Fulbright Research Fellowship teaching creative writing at the Russian State University for the Humanities. Previously he taught at the University of Toronto and Eastern Michigan University.

Parker has received grants, fellowships and awards from the Fulbright Program, Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, Sewanee Writers Conference and National Endowment for the Humanities.

Parker received he bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida, and MFA degree from Syracuse University.

UT’s new MFA in Creative Writing, which was established last spring, works by bringing students for 10-day residencies in January and June and then facilitating individual mentorship with our writing faculty from a distance. It aims to:

  • Cultivate mentor relationships between our students and faculty by selecting the most interesting contemporary writers who also have reputations as great teachers.
  • To be a flexible but extremely personal, face-to-face program, harnessing the strengths of intense in-person workshopping with a maximum 1:5 ratio of instructor to individual mentoring from a distance.
  • To bring in writers not only from the region, not only from the U.S. but from around the world. In the future, the program will hold optional residencies abroad and facilitate engagement with the literary and cultural scenes around the world.
  • To become a cultural and literary center for the region.