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Creative Writing Series at Saint Leo by Leading American Writers and Artists

By Guest Author Posted on July 13, 2017

Admission is free each evening to sessions with actor-writer Benjamin Busch, Florida luminary David Kirby, and many rising talents and experienced writing teacher-mentors

Contributed by Jo-Anne Johnston, Saint Leo University

Distinguished visiting artists will be performing in early-evening sessions from Saturday, July 15, through Friday, July 21 at Saint Leo University (, including novelists, poets, memoirists from the Iraq war, and a songwriter known for his narrative creations!

The events, free and open to the public, feature renowned artists who are here to teach during the summer residency session of Saint Leo University’s Master of Arts in creative writing program. The campus is at 33701 State Road 52, Saint Leo, FL 33574.

Several of the visiting speaker/performers create in more than one art form.

Craig Finn, singer-songwriter of the band, The Hold Steady, will kick the series off on Saturday, July 15.

The week of events are bookended by singer-songwriter Craig Finn, and writer and filmmaker Benjamin Busch, this year’s selections as the Saint Leo University Distinguished Visiting Artists.

Busch, who is scheduled to appear on Friday, July 21, is an actor known for his appearances on three seasons of the HBO television show The Wire, as well as for his memoir Dust to Dust, chronicling two tours of duty in Iraq as a U.S. Marine.

Finn is best known as the frontman of the acclaimed rock band The Hold Steady, with whom he has released six studio albums. Finn will perform a solo acoustic set Saturday, July 15, featuring songs from We All Want the Same Things, his third solo album.

Ian Stansel, novelist, will appear Saturday, July 15.

Each evening session is devoted to two presenters, and on two nights, married couples will present. Times and locations on campus vary, so details are specified for each day.

Ian Stansel, novelist, will appear Saturday, July 15.Saturday, July 15, 7 p.m., Black Box Theatre, Benedictine Hall. Novelist Ian Stansel will read from his debut novel, The Last Cowboys of San Geronimo. Stansel updates the American Western in taut, cinematic prose. Stansel’s reading will be followed by a solo acoustic performance by musician Craig Finn.

Sunday, July 16, 5:30 p.m., TECO Hall, Tapia School of Business.  Two faculty members in the Saint Leo master’s program will read from their work. Author Tom Bligh’s recent short story, Breezeway, was honored by the Maryland Arts Council, and his work has appeared in publications including The Cincinnati Review (fiction) and the Oxford American (nonfiction).

Tom Bligh, faculty member at Saint Leo and short story author.


Brooke King, Saint Leo alumni, writes fiction, nonfiction an poetry about being army life.

Saint Leo alumna Brooke King writes fiction, nonfiction, and poetry about her experiences as a U.S. Army veteran of the Iraq war. She also teaches nonfiction in the Master of Arts creative writing program. King is at work on her memoir Full Battle Rattle, and has had shorter works published in O-Dark-Thirty and in the anthology Home of the Brave: Somewhere in the Sand.

Monday, July 17, 5:30 p.m., TECO Hall, Tapia School of Business.

Alison Joseph teaches poetry at Southern Illinois University.

Literary and marriage partners Allison Joseph and Jon Tribble will present. Both hold positions at Southern Illinois University, where Joseph teaches poetry and edits the literary journal Crab Orchard Review. Joseph is the author of 17 books and chapbooks of poetry, including the recent Voice, and Mercurial, both from Mayapple Press. Tribble is managing editor of the journal, which has existed for 20 years. He is the author of the 2017 release, And There is Many a Good Thing, from Salmon Poetry.

Jon Tribble, Managing Editor of the Crab Orchard Review journal.




Tuesday, July 18, 5:30 p.m., TECO Hall, Tapia School of Business. Another married couple will present during the same hour, David Kirby and Barbara Hamby, who are on the faculty of Florida State University in Tallahassee.

David Kirby, winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Florida Humanities Council in 2016.

Kirby is a highly respected poet, essayist, critic, and children’s author. He has received many awards and honors including the Lifetime Achievement Award for Writing from the Florida Humanities Council in 2016. His most recent collection of poetry is called Get Up, Please.

Barbara Hamby, poet and scholar.

Hamby is a scholar who also writes poetry, nonfiction, and short fiction, and has received several distinguished fellowships and grants. Her most recent book is On the Street of Divine Love: New and Selected Poems, from the University of Pittsburgh Press.



Wednesday, July 19, 5:30 p.m., TECO Hall, Tapia School of Business.

Steve Kistulentz, author of a new novel, Panorama and director of the Saint Leo graduate program in creative writing.

Steve Kistulentz, director of the Saint Leo graduate program in creative writing, will read from his forthcoming novel Panorama, to be published by Little, Brown & Company in early in 2018.

Anne Barngrover

He will be joined by Anne Barngrover, an assistant professor of English and creative writing at Saint Leo University.  Barngrover is the author of three collections of poetry, including Brazen Creature, forthcoming in 2018 from the University of Akron Press.

Gianna Russo, Saint Leo faculty and poet who began the Sandhill Writers Retreat.

Thursday, July 20, 5:30 p.m., TECO Hall, Tapia School of Business.

Patrick Crerand teaches both in the graduate creative writing program and undergraduate English and writing courses.

Tampa native, poet, and Saint Leo faculty member Gianna Russo will present along with colleague Patrick Crerand, who teaches both in the graduate creative writing program and undergraduate English and writing courses. Russo is known locally for founding and running the Sandhill Writers Retreat at Saint Leo University, a one-day workshop held each year in May. Her most recent collection of published poetry is called Moonflower. Crerand co-founded and edits the online literary journal Lightning Key Review.

Tom McAllister, novelist and literary podcaster, will conclude the series on Friday, July 21 with Benjamin Busch.

Friday, July 21, 5:30 p.m., TECO Hall, Tapia School of Business. The series concludes with presentations from novelist and literary podcaster Tom McAllister and author-filmmaker-actor-photographer-Marine veteran Benjamin Busch.

McAllister’s debut novel The Young Widower’s Handbook was published in early 2017 by Algonquin Books to strong reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, and others. His next novel How to be Safe comes out in early 2018.

Stan Busch, television actor, author and U.S. Marine will share about creative writing in his life.

The multi-talented Busch may draw on his experiences from being deployed as a Marine officer to Iraq in 2003 and 2005. His literary debut Dust to Dust: A Memoir was published to wide praise. He also created three photographic exhibits from the images he captured in Iraq. Busch’s most recent film is a drama from 2011 called Bright. Busch acted in the film in addition to writing the script and directing it.

The Saint Leo University Master of Arts in creative writing is a two-year, low-residency program that offers tracks of study in fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. It is also the only graduate creative writing program in the country that offers an optional track of study in veterans writing and war literature.

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