Aurelie Sheehan Blurs Line Between Fiction, Poetry, And Essay In New Collection

Jan. 16, 2019
Aurelie Sheehan

Aurelie Sheehan. Photo by Cybele Knowles, Courtesy of the University of Arizona Poetry Center.


Once into the Night, a collection of 57 brief stories by Aurelie Sheehan, head of the University of Arizona Department of English, was published on Feb. 19, 2019, by FC2/University of Alabama Press. The collection won the 2018 Fiction Collective 2’s Catherine Doctorow Innovative Fiction Prize. FC2 is one of the premier venues in the country for experimental prose.

A few of the stories were originally published in Conjunctions and can be read online.

“These stories dwell in a netherworld between memory and the imagination, exploring the nature of truthtelling,” said the University of Alabama Press site. “Radical in its conception of story, this collection blurs the line between fiction, poetry, and essay, reconceiving contemporary autofiction in its own witty, poignant vernacular.”

Aurelie Sheehan writes eerie legends, intimate stories, and beguiling personal confessions that chase after the bottomless mystery inside our everyday lives,” said Ben Marcus, author of Notes from the Fog.

Sheehan says she write stories of many lengths, but the very short prose form appeals to her for its “versatility and willingness to create a hybrid space with poetry and the essay.”

“A brief story may have the limitation of length, but it invites freedom,” said Sheehan. “At times the traditional short story format crowds out certain truths or possibilities in its quest for plot or character development. What would a story do if it could do anything? That’s the question I let myself ask when I write these short stories.”

Sheehan is the author of three short story collectionsDemigods on Speedway (University of Arizona), Jewelry Box: A Collection of Histories (BOA), and Jack Kerouac Is Pregnant (Dalkey), and two novelsHistory Lesson for Girls (Viking) and The Anxiety of Everyday Objects (Penguin). Her writing has appeared in Conjunctions, Mississippi Review, New England Review, PloughsharesThe Southern Review, and other journals. She has also received a Pushcart Prize, a Jack Kerouac Literary Award, a Camargo Fellowship, and an Artists Projects Award from the Arizona Commission on the Arts.

In her teaching and research, Sheehan investigates the novel and short story, flash fiction and prose poetry, the novella, and cross-genre writing. She’s taught graduate craft seminars on topics including Plot and Its Discontents, The Art of the Short Novel, Parameters of Fiction, and Brevity, Economy, and Lush Life.