Mar 29, 2007    #043
Contact: Michelle Boisseau

Creative writing scholarship unveiled

As part of an expansion of creative-writing opportunities taking place at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), the English department announces a new fellowship of $8,000 for one graduate student each fall and spring semester, totaling $16,000 of support per year.

The fellowships are funded by the Stanley H. Durwood Foundation of Kansas City, named for the former CEO of AMC Theaters and creator, in 1963, of the first mall multiplex.

These new awards will help UMKC Creative Writing compete with the funding offered for creative-writing students elsewhere.

“This is a magnificent boost for our program,” says Prof. Michelle Boisseau, coordinator of creative writing at UMKC. “It will allow some of our most promising students the time needed to refine their writing portfolios, while learning practical editing and publishing skills.”

Durwood fellows serve as interns, working with the staffs of “New Letters,” UMKC’s international journal of writing, BkMk Press, and other programs.

The first recipient of the Durwood fellowship is Janet Conner who will complete her Master of Arts degree in fall 2007.

A native of Independence and a graduate of Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Conner is a playwright, poet and fiction writer. One of her plays was selected for the 2006 Kansas City Playwrights Festival at Just Off Broadway Theatre and another was published and recently selected for the University of Missouri-Columbia's (MU) New Play Series and will be presented at MU in April. She has also published stories and poems.

Conner is at work on her final portfolio, a play that incorporates poetry as a characterization device. The Durwood Fellowship, along with funding from UMKC’s graduate assistance fund, is allowing Conner to travel to London this year to study technical theater and meet with acting compaines. As a Durwood fellow, Conner is working at “New Letters” and BkMk Press, writing reviews, interviewing writers, and creating book covers.

“I know that this experience will be extremely valuable to me,” Conner said. “Being given the opportunity to learn about the literary publication business is extremely beneficial to me as I pursue my career goals.”

Creative Writing at UMKC is undergoing other expansion, as well, and will introduce in the fall 2007 semester two new, full-time creative-writing faculty members, plus a series of new scholarships for writing students. In its present form, creative writing operations at UMKC include an international journal of writing and art, a literary book publisher, an international literary radio series, “New Letters on the Air,” editing internships, two summer writing conferences, and an award-winning faculty.

“No other writing program in the country can claim such a battery of resources with such far-ranging possibilities for teaching, promoting, training, and publishing writers,” Boisseau said.

The Stanley H. Durwood fellowship is offered to students on the basis of merit and need. Decisions on fellowship recipients are made by a committee of faculty writers and scholars. Prospective students who want to apply for creative writing instruction at UMKC should contact the English department at (816) 235-1307 or Prof. Michelle Boisseau at 235-2561. A description of faculty members and other resources for students can be found at

The University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC), one of four University of Missouri campuses, is a public university serving more than 14,000 undergraduate, graduate and professional students. UMKC engages with the community and economy based on a three-part mission: visual and performing arts, health sciences, and urban affairs.

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This information is available to people with speech or hearing impairments by calling Relay Missouri at (800) 735-2966 (TT) or (800) 735-2466 (voice).


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