Gayle Brandeis, MFA
Affiliate Faculty, MFA in Creative Writing Program
Gayle Brandeis (Fiction, Writing for Young People) is the author of the memoir The Art of Misdiagnosis: Surviving My Mother’s Suicide (Beacon Press, 2017), which Kirkus, in a starred review, calls a “A uniquely graceful, gorgeously written and composed collage of grief, misunderstanding, love, and an attempt at familial closure through art and prose” and the poetry collection The Selfless Bliss of the Body (Finishing Line Books), which former US Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera calls “a monumental achievement.” Her other books include Fruitflesh: Seeds of Inspiration for Women Who Write (HarperOne), and the novels The Book of Dead Birds (HarperCollins), which won the Bellwether Prize for Fiction of Social Engagement, Self Storage (Ballantine), Delta Girls (Ballantine), and My Life with the Lincolns (Henry Holt), which received a Silver Nautilus Book Award and was chosen as a state-wide read in Wisconsin. Her poetry, essays, and short fiction have been widely published and have received numerous honors, including a Barbara Mandigo Kelly Peace Poetry Award and a Notable Essay in Best American Essays 2016. Her novel in prose poems, Many Restless Concerns; The Victims of Countess Bathory Speak in Chorus (A Testimony), will be published by Black Lawrence Press in 2019.
The Art of Misdiagnosis: Surviving My Mother’s Suicide
The Selfless Bliss of the Body
Fruitflesh: Seeds of Inspiration for Women Who Write
The Book of Dead Birds
My Life with the Lincolns
E.L. Doctorow once said that writing fiction “is like driving a car at night. You never see further than your own headlights but you can make the whole trip that way.” My function as a mentor is to help shed a bit of extra light as you travel those mysterious highways. You always hold your own map, of course, but I can keep you from running off the road and make sure you don’t miss some important scenery on the route. I also hope to help you surprise yourself on your travels by taking creative risks and playing with language in fresh, unexpected ways.
When I was a student at Antioch, I learned something different from each of my mentors—some helped me understand specific aspects of craft, while others led me to deepen my vision of my novel and coax out its truest voice. I am grateful for what each mentor brought to the table, and hope to bring a synthesis of their teachings to my own students—a mix of heart and head, rigor and dream. I offer extensive line edits as well as larger questions and suggestions to help your work move toward wholeness.
I expect 10-20 pages of writing from you per month. I welcome final manuscripts and critical papers, and am happy to look at manuscripts-to-date. As a mentor group, we’ll read and discuss five books in common, and I’ll help you choose at least five individual books to read over the project period. We’ll also have a separate discussion forum open to discuss issues of craft and the writing life.
It’s a true pleasure to be back at Antioch, on this side of the table. I feel very lucky to be part of this nurturing and vibrant literary community, and privileged to work with passionate, creative students deeply committed to the whole writing journey.