Since 2015, the Low Residency MFA in Creative Writing & Writing for the Performing Arts at the University of California, Riverside has been proud to be the home of the Barbara Seranella Award, an honor given to an incoming MFA student who best exemplifies the indomitable spirt, tenacity, and boundless generosity of the late writer Barbara Seranella. The award is also given as a way to pass along the incredible life story of an author who left us too soon while helping an aspiring writer find their voice in the process. Funded originally by a generous grant from the Palm Springs Writers Guild, where Barbara served as a member for many years, and sustained in the proceeding years from donations from professional writers who knew Barbara, as well as generous members of the community who took to Barbara’s story, the award has been given annually to writers of great promise, whose lives have not been the simplest, but who have defined themselves with their present, not their past. The first of these honorees, screenwriter & playwright Clarinda Ross, will be graduating from the program in December of 2017.
And so it is with great joy that we announce the Palm Springs Writers Guild has made another substantial donation to the Barbara Seranella Award which will ensure the prosperity of this honor well into the future and which solidifies the long-term partnership of the Guild and the MFA program, two entities with the same goals: to celebrate and foster the written word in all its forms.
The Low Residency MFA is one of the few programs at the University of California, Riverside which is self-supporting, which means unlike other programs, it receives no state funding for fellowships, scholarships, or awards, and thus we are dependent on the generosity of our community partners, our alums, our faculty, and groups just like the Palm Springs Writers Guild to support our students. We can’t thank the Palm Springs Writers Guild enough for their thoughtful attention to this award and to the memory of Barbara Seranella, who was a person deeply invested in the success of beginning writers, who was both generous of her time and her wit in equal measure, and who, if you were her friend, were her family.
If you are interested in learning more about the Barbara Seranella Award, we encourage you to read this letter from MFA program director Tod Goldberg, or if you’d simply like to donate any amount, please feel free to do so right here. It’s all tax deductible, of course, but more than that, it affirms the memory of a wonderful person.