Allen Braden was the fourth and last generation to work his family farm in White Swan, Washington, where they raised cattle, hay, grain and hundreds of barn cats. He earned a B.A. from Central Washington University and M.A. and M.F.A. degrees from McNeese State University in Lake Charles , Louisiana. Braden has published in The Virginia Quarterly Review, Seneca Review, Southern Review, Georgia Review, Threepenny Review, Shenandoah, North American Review, Bellingham Review, Poetry Northwest and The New Republic. He has been published online by Poetry Daily, Literary Salt, Arhutus, Brevity and Switched-on Gutenberg. His essay "Richard Hugo's Marginal West," appears in a recent issue of North Dakota Quarterly. Founder of The Gallery Reading Series, he teaches poetry and interdisciplinary writing at Tacoma Community College and lives in Puyallup, Washington. Most recently, Braden was the recipient of a $20,000 fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts for excellence in writing.
Neil O'Boyle Connelly
Neil O'Boyle Connelly graduated from McNeese in 1996 and returned to his Alma Mater in the fall of 2000 to became the fiction studies coordinator. After Dr. John Wood's retirement in 2006 Neil was appointed the new director of the MFA program. In June 2010 Neil accepted an offer from Shippensburg University, PA, where he will continue to teach creative writing and help oversee the student litereray magazine The Reflector. The move to the north enables Neil and his family to be closer to his hometown, Allentown, where his father and five of his siblings still live.
Neil's second novel, Buddy Cooper Finds a Way (New York: Simon and Schuster, 2004), explores the connections between QVC, faith healing, divorce, asteroids, and professional wrestling. The book was chosen by Amazon.com as a Breakout Book. St. Michael's Scales, Connelly's first book (New York: Arthur A. Levine, 2002), was listed as "Best of the Best 2002" by Borders books. His short fiction has appeared in The Yalobusha Review, The Southeast Review (formerly Sundog), and Speak, among other journals. His story "The Adventures of Ultimate Man" was published in River City and subsequently nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Neil has also been included by Oxford American in a list of prominent Southern novelists. His third novel, The Healer Boy's Sister, will be published in fall of 2010. Connelly is the recipient of the 2004 Pinnacle Teaching Excellence Award as well as a fellowship from the Louisiana Division of the Arts.
Andre Dubus (1936-1999) was an American short story writer, essayist, and autobiographer. Born in Lake Charles as the oldest child of a Cajun-Irish Catholic family, he graduated from McNeese State University in 1958 as a journalism and English major. Later in life, he rose to the rank of captain in the Marine Corps and obtained an MFA degree from the University of Iowa where he studied under Richard Yates. His first and only novel, The Lieutenant, was published in 1967. Many of his short stories were initially published in distinguished literary journals such as Ploughshares and Sewanee Review. His publications include Separate Flights (1975), Adultery and Other Choices (1977), Finding a Girl in America (1980), The Times Are Never So Bad (1983), Voices from the Moon (1984); The Last Worthless Evening (1986), Selected Stories (1988), Broken Vessels (1991), Dancing After Hours (1996), and Meditations from a Movable Chair (1998). His writing awards include the PEN/Malamud, the Rea Award for the Short Story, the Jean Stein Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and fellowships from the Guggenheim and MacArthur Foundations. Several writing awards are named after Dubus. His papers are archived at Mcneese State university and Xavier University in Louisiana.
A native of rural northeast Kansas, Amy Fleury earned an M.F.A. from McNeese State University before she went to Topeka, Kansas (in 1998) to become an associate professor of English at Washburn University and the managing editor of Woodley Memorial Press. Amy returned to McNeese as an Associate Professor of English and coordinator of the poetry program in 2008. She was nominated for the position of the director of the MFA program in summer 2010.
Amy is the author of Beautiful Trouble (Southern Illinois University Press, 2004), which won the Crab Orchard First Book Award and was names a top ten book of 2004 by the Kansas City Star. Her poemes have appeared in Copper Nickel, The American Life in Poetry, Prairie Schooner, North American Review, and The Southeast Review, among other journals and anthologies. She has received a Poetry Fellowship from the Kansas Arts Commission and the Nadya Aisenberg Residency Fellowship from the MacDowell Colony, and she was the 2009-10 Resident Poet at the Amy Clampitt House in Lenox, Massachusetts.
Adam Johnson, a former Wallace Stegner Fellow, teaches at Stanford University. His fiction has appeared in Esquire, Harper's, and The Paris Review, as well as Best New American Voices four years in a row. For three years he studied writing with Robert Olen Butler at McNeese State University. He then went on to earn a Ph.D. in English from Florida State University. He was awarded the Wallace Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University, where he is now a Jones Teaching Fellow. His short stories have appeared in Missouri Review, New England Review, Paris Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, Esquire, Harper's as well as being reprinted in Orion, Speak, Best New American Voices and Scribner's Best of the Fiction Workshops. Adam Johnson's much acclaimed debut collection of short stories, Emporium was published by Viking in Spring 2002 and was nominated for a Young Lions Award. His debut novel, Parasites Like Us, was published by Viking in August 2003.
Keagan LeJeune is Professor of Folklore and English at McNeese State University in Lake Charles, Louisiana. His first book, Always for the Underdog: Leather Britches Smith and the Grabow War, was published in 2010 by the Texas Folklore Society in cooperation with the University of North Texas Press. His newest book, Legendary Louisiana Outlaws: The Villains and Heroes of Folk Justice, was released in March 2016 by LSU Press. His Ph.D. in English is from University of Louisiana in Lafayette. He is a former president of the Louisiana Folklore Society and served as the editor of the Louisiana Folklore Miscellany from 2013-2018. Appointed by former Governor Bobby Jindal, he served as a member of the Louisiana Folklife Commission. He was the primary researcher for the Myths and Legends Byways project completed by Allen, and Beauregard, and Vernon Parish. The current byway includes more than twenty interpretive kiosks that relate popular stories told throughout the parishes. A member of the American Folklore Society, he served as a member of the program committee for the 2012 Annual Meeting in New Orleans. He has given several presentations on Louisiana folklife and culture, including “Louisiana French and Contemporary Louisiana Poets” at the Conference on Bicultural Literature at the L’Institut Français in London (December 2010) and “Traditional Mardi Gras Practices” at the Texas Tech lecture series (March 2011). He has published several articles on a range of topics, including the significance of the post-burial home visit in Cajun culture, Job’s Tears rosaries, and the communicative properties and subversive messaging of homemade signs erected following Hurricane Rita. Other than outlaw legends, his research interests include the folklife of Louisiana’s Neutral Strip. In 2010, he compiled an Annotated Bibliography of Sources Relating to the History and Culture of Louisiana’s Neutral Strip, which was commissioned by Five Parishes West in partnership with the Louisiana Division of the Arts and the Louisiana Office of Tourism, and in 2015 he published an essay titled “Western Louisiana's Neutral Strip: Its History, People, and Legends,” which was commissioned by Louisiana’s Office of Cultural Development Division of the Arts: Folklife Division. He also holds an M.F.A. in creative writing from McNeese State University and studied there under Pulitzer-winner Robert Olen Butler and John Wood, who won the Iowa Poetry Prize twice. His poems have appeared in New South, Louisiana Literature, 2River, The Xavier Review, Borderlands, The Review, among other journals, and in several recent anthologies, including The Southern Poetry Anthology: Louisiana and The World Is Charged: Poetic Engagements with Gerard Manley Hopkins. He is the author of Gilded Circles and Sure Trouble (poetry and photography, 21st Editions, 2012), a collaboration with photographer Josephine Sacabo. His poetry manuscript was a semifinalist for the 2013 Berkshire Prize by Tupelo Press and he was a finalist for the 2016 Tennessee Williams Festival Poetry Prize.
Mary Alice Trent
Dr. Mary Alice Trent, former tenured Professor of English at Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, OK, and former Chair of the English and Foreign Languages Department and Professor of English at Claflin University in Orangeburg, SC, is the Division Chair of Modern Languages and Literature at Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Indiana. She is the Founder and Past Chair of the Conference on Christianity, Culture, and Diversity in America (CCCDA) in 2005 and 2006. In 2008, the CCCDA was hosted by Huntington University in Huntington, IN, where Dr. Susan Burson served as Local Chair. In 2010, the CCCDA was hosted by Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI, where Dr. Michelle Loyd-Paige served as Local Chair. In both 2008 and 2010, Dr. Trent served as conference consultant. In addition, Dr. Trent has presented at more than 50 professional conferences in the United States and the United Kingdom. Along with a number of scholarly journal articles and poetry and story publications, Dr. Trent has edited the book, Ethics in the 21st Century America in 2005 by Pearson Longman in Boston/NYC. She has also co-edited The Language of Diversity, published in 2007 by Cambridge Scholars Publishing in Newcastle, England; and Religion, Culture, Curriculum, and Diversity in America, published in 2007 by University Press of America in Lanham, Maryland. Along with her writing, she has taught creative writing, grant writing, African-American Literature, upper division composition, and freshman comp. She is currently working on a book of scholarship on Bowen Theory and literary applications to the works of six African-American authors, a project that has already received a book contract offer. Her other works-in-progress include a novel set in four American cities and Western Europe and chronicles the triumphs and despair of an African-American heroine and a creative writing textbook. Dr. Trent graduated in 1987 with a Bachelor of Arts in English Education and in 1989 with a Master of Arts in English/Rhetoric. She participated in the 1990 McNeese National Writing Project, and in the summer of 1998, she was invited as a guest lecturer to direct the McNeese National Writing Project. In 1995, she earned her Doctorate in Philosophy in English/Rhetoric and Composition Studies with Minors in Linguistics, Early American, and Nineteenth Century British from University of Louisiana at Lafayette (formerly USL).
Dafydd Wood, one of the department's most recent alums, is already making a name for himself in the academic world. Dafydd, who was the first graduate of the McNeese Honors College and a Summa Cum Laude graduate in English, presented a paper, "Variations on an Ancient Theme" which dealt with various manifestations of the Orpheus myth in literature, at the 2003 Southern Comparative Literature Association's annual conference in Austin, Texas. Dafydd is currently in his first year of doctoral work in Comparative Literature at the University of Texas, Austin. Dafydd graduated from McNeese in Spring 2003. Under a special program, he was admitted to McNeese when he was only 15 years old and graduated when he was 18. He received a full tuition scholarship through the Honors College and graduated with a 4.0 GPA. While majoring in English, Dafydd also studied Latin, Greek and French. Dafydd's interest in and knowledge of multiple languages and literatures made him an attractive prospect for graduate programs in Comparative Literature. Turning down offers from the University of Massachusetts, the University of North Carolina and the University of South Carolina, Dafydd finally decided that the University of Texas was for him.
Mark C. Wyman
Mark C. Wyman graduated from McNeese State University in 2000 with a B.A. English 2000, a B.S. in Physics, and a B.S. in Math. After finishing his PH.D. at Cornell, Mark spent four years in Waterloo, Ontario, with a post-doc at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. His field is Early Universe Cosmology. Mark, who continues to sing the praises of his education at McNeese, recently received a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Chicago (for Fall 2010). In Spring 2010 Mark gave a lecture for the McNeese Honors College. More information and a detailed c.v. can be found on his personal webpage at http://www.markcwyman.com.