Writer-in-residence joins faculty

Novelist Liz Moore will work with graduate students this semester.

Liz Moore holds a copy of her novel, “The Unseen World,” which was published in 2016. Moore has published two other novels and will begin a writer’s residency at Temple this semester. | KYLE THOMAS / THE TEMPLE NEWS

Author Liz Moore has lived abroad, won numerous literary awards and published three novels.

Now, she is coming to Temple as the College of Liberal Arts’ newest writer-in-residence.

While past writers who held the position have remained at Temple for only a few days, Moore is extending her stay to one full semester so she can teach a fiction writing workshop for graduate students.

Each fall semester, Temple’s graduate Creative Writing Program invites a distinguished novelist to work as a resident, teach students, host readings and give guest lectures. Moore is the fourth writer-in-residence since the program began in 2014.

Don Lee, director of the MFA program in the College of Liberal Arts, first met Moore at a fiction reading in Philadelphia. At the time of their meeting, he was aware of her reputation as a “superb novelist,” he said. Years later, he connected with Moore once again — this time to offer her a writer’s residency.

“I knew that she was a smart, dedicated teacher and that she’d be a good fit at Temple, so when this spot arose, we decided to approach her,” Lee wrote in an email. “It turned out she was ready for a change. We feel very fortunate to have lured her.”

In the past, Moore has taught fiction-writing workshops at readings and other special events. In 2014, Moore was awarded the Rome Prize in Literature. She took a year-long leave of absence from Holy Family University, where she taught writing and served as humanities coordinator. She lived at the American Academy in Rome for a year while she worked on her third novel, “The Unseen World.” After returning  from Rome, she resumed her professorship at Holy Family University.

While at Temple, she will work with graduate students to edit and improve their manuscripts — a familiar process for a published novelist. Her first novel, “The Words of Every Song,” drew from her experiences as a musician, performing and working in a guitar store when she attended Hunter College in New York City.

“The book itself is fiction,” she said. “It’s about the music industry in New York City, but it’s based on experiences I had. I was a musician then.”

Her second novel, “Heft,” received worldwide recognition, appearing on National Public Radio’s Best Books of 2012 list.

Her graduate-level fiction workshop will train students to become skillful readers, writers and critics. Moore also hopes to provide students with interesting example texts by authors she loves, like Katherine Mansfield, Virginia Woolf and John Cheever.

“I hope I can foster a supportive environment in which they can grow as writers,” she said. “I’m really looking forward to meeting all the students I’ll be working with. I think getting to know students as people is really important to the success of the program.”

Moore said she looks forward to providing the students with individual feedback on their work.

“I think Temple’s MFA program is really exciting because it’s a new program,” Moore said of the program, which was established in 2011. “It contributes really important things to the culture of Philadelphia. I think it’ll allow different kinds of people from different walks of life to flourish in the city.”

She said because Philadelphia isn’t “saturated” with colleges offering MFA degrees, Temple’s MFA program is attracting more creative people to the city instead of them choosing to go elsewhere for the same degree.

“I think Temple offers a lot of resources to its students,” she said. “I’m really impressed by the level of the faculty across the board and I’m really excited to join them for the moment.”

While a writer-in-residence is not a permanent position, Lee hopes that Moore will choose to remain at Temple through Fall 2018.

“There’s a chance she might elect to teach an undergraduate course or two,” he added. “We certainly hope she’ll be able to stay longer.”

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