Acclaimed American Author Noy Holland Visits Rhodes

Noy Holland

In September 2014, Noy Holland, an Associate Professor in the MFA Program for Poets & Writers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, will visit Rhodes University's MA programme in Creative Writing. During her 10 day visit, Holland will participate in the Teaching Creative Writing Colloquium and host writing workshops.  In adddition, Holland will present a public reading on 5.30pm Monday 9th September at NELM Eastern Star Anglo African Street, Grahamstown. 

Like so many of her contemporaries in American letters, Holland came to readers through Gordon Lish’s editorship at Knopf; her first story collection, The Spectacle of the Body, was published in 1994. In the twenty years since, her unsettling fiction has garnered several awards (a Massachusetts Cultural Council award for artistic merit and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship) and earned the praised of writers and critics who have celebrated her prose as “beautifully lyrical but bitter”, “unsettling and intensely satisfying” and “risk-taking, ambitious.”

 Since her 1994 debut anthology, she has published two collections of short fiction, Swim for the Little One First (Fiction Collective 2, 2012) and What Begins with Bird (Fiction Collective 2, 2005). In both these works Holland continues to push boundaries of rhythm and language to explore family relationships, frequently through the eyes of female protagonists. Her first novel, Palisade, is forthcoming from Counterpoint.

 Brian Evenson says of her work: "Holland creates a genuine and satisfying tension between the satisfactions of meaning and the lyrical satisfactions of language, which makes reading some of these stories a distracted, ethereal experience, the fiction felt as often as it is understood."

 Holland has taught for many years in the MFA Program for Poets and Writers at the University of Massachusetts, as well as at Phillips Andover and the University of Florida. She serves on the board of directors at Fiction Collective Two.

 In a recent interview with The Black Warrior Review ( she described the relationship between her creative practice and her teaching as operating on a sentence level:

“I do believe that the story resides in its sentences and that there is no separation really between language and story.  I mean that seems like a really cornball thing to say—that the story resides in its sentences—but then you hear people, you know, writers say that ‘I’m really not into that language thing’ and that’s baffling. You know, what are you going to use?  It’s like a painter saying I don’t like paint. So I do pay really close attention, because I think often that the story emerges from one sentence, and when the work is unfinished, it’s easier to see that one sentence than at a later stage.

“So, I hope I’ve gotten okay at helping other writers to see that sentence. Last night it came up that Rikki Ducornet said that you write right toward the heat of the story.  And I often think of the sentence as being a kind of kernel or a seed sentence and really everything else around it has become irrelevant because that’s the place that you wrote yourself into that you didn’t mean to get to. So, you know, hopefully, occasionally, I can find that. I can help another writer see that sentence. You know then the story really becomes something more… more important than it would have been.”

Last Modified: Tue, 26 Aug 2014 16:38:11 SAST