Mary Helen Specht
photo by Jennifer Nichols
The winners of the Dobie-Paisano Writing Fellowships for 2007-2008 are Alison Moore and Mary Specht.
Alison Moore, who will hold the Ralph Johnson Memorial Fellowship, will begin residence at Paisano in September 2007. Mary Specht will hold the Jesse Jones Writing Fellowship and begin residency at Paisano in March 2008.
Alison Moore is a former assistant professor of English/Creative Writing in the MFA Creative Writing Program at the University of Arizona and a current Humanities Scholar in Arkansas. She received her MFA from the Warren Wilson Program for Writers in 1990. Currently, she lives in Fayetteville, Arkansas, and Terlingua, Texas, and is completing a novel on the Orphan Trains. She has developed public outreach programs for the Orphan Train Heritage Society of America, Inc., and for ArtsReach, a Native American literacy project in southern Arizona. She is the author of three books, a collection of short stories entitled Small Spaces Between Emergencies (Mercury House, 1992) one of the Notable Books of 1993 chosen by the American Library Association, a novel, Synonym for Love (Mercury House, 1995) and her newest, The Middle of Elsewhere. She has received several national awards as well as state arts council awards and was the winner of the Katherine Ann Porter Prize for Fiction in 2004.
Alison and her husband, musician Phil Lancaster, have been touring Arkansas, Texas, and Arizona performing a multimedia program about the Orphan Trains with funding from state Humanities Councils. Alison is also a member of a four-piece acoustic band, Likely Stories.
Mary Helen Specht, born in Abilene, Texas, is a graduate from Emerson College with a MFA in creative writing. Her publications include, "In Search of a Bird" (Night Train VII); "The Emerging Critical Power of Cool" (Michigan Quarterly Review, Fall 2006); "Too Heavy to Carry Home" (Colorado Review, Fall/Winter 2006); "House of Guns" (The Florida Review, forthcoming); and several articles in The Houston Press and The Abilene Reporter-News. A Fulbright Scholar, Mary has received Night Train's "Richard Yates Short Story Award," the "Emerson Graduate Fiction Award," and was a Hanszen College Fellow at Rice University. She is working on a collection of short stories that explore what she calls a "post-western" Texas, in which characters try to piece together an identity amongst the remnants of what Texas used to be and still remains in the minds of outsiders. Mary is a former instructor of composition at Emerson College. She has lived in Chile, Ecuador, and is currently writing on a Fulbright in Nigeria.
The runners-up for the fellowship are Susan Somers-Willet and John Perryman. Susan’s award-winning poetry has appeared in many distinguished journals. Her first book of poetry is entitled Roam. John Perryman teaches at Greenhill School in Dallas, Texas and coaches the varsity and 7th grade football teams. A poet and short story writer, John’s work has likewise appeared in distinguished journals.