For the publication of poetry books by MFA in Creative Writing graduates through Blue Light Press

The Noah Buntain Publishing Fund honors our dearly missed former colleague and writing community member, Noah Buntain, who passed away in February ‘21 from liver cancer at the age of forty-three. The fund will be used for the publication of poetry books by graduating Creative Writing MFA students through Blue Light Press, a San Francisco literary cooperative. Noah will receive a dedication in the publications.

Once or twice a year, on an on-going basis, we will select the book-length manuscript of a graduating student for this honor. By supporting the Noah Buntain Publishing Fund, you can honor Noah while helping our MFA graduates into print.

The pick will be made by MFA director Nynke Passi, MFA faculty Jennifer Espinoza, and Carole Connet, the mother of Noah, who is also a poet. The cost of publication of one book through Blue Light Press is $600. All surplus funds will continually go to fundraising for each next book. We hope to be able to publish one poetry student from every graduating class at the rate of one or two books per year.

“Everyone has some innate quality that makes them beautiful and worthy to love.”  — Noah Buntain

We want to thank Diane Frank, founding editor at Blue Light Press, for making this wonderful opportunity possible! We can’t think of a better way to pay homage to Noah and what he has meant to each of us, and to our community. We love that we can keep his memory alive in this meaningful way through writing, which was so close to his heart. We want to thank the Buntain family for supporting us with a beautiful biography detailing Noah’s life, which you can read below.

Everyone in our MIU English Dept and especially our MFA in Creative Writing is moved and happy that in this humble way we can honor the remarkable legacy of as fine and talented a person as Noah was. We all miss him dearly, as do his family and friends and those who knew him.

“Do not let the attainment of wealth dull your compassion for others. Always extend your hand and engage in the issues that are important to you.”  — Noah Buntain

Your donations are tax-deductible. All funds donated will the allocated directly to the Noah Buntain Publishing Fund.

Noah Buntain was born November 8, 1977, in Topeka, Kansas. In 1981, he moved with his mother and brothers to Fairfield, Iowa. At Maharishi School he practiced Transcendental Meditation and later the TM-Sidhi program. He also participated in drama, photography, yearbook, and school government. Next to his 1996 senior class picture, he is quoted as saying, “Everyone has some innate quality that makes them beautiful and worthy to love.” This quote exemplifies the heart and soul of Noah.

Noah earned a bachelor’s degree in literature from Northwestern University in 2000. He and his life mate, Jessica, moved to Idaho, where they taught fencing and where Noah worked as a photojournalist at the Coeur d’Alene Press and The Spokesman-Review. Noah published a short story, “Jake and the Fat Bird,” in 2011, which included this curious note: “They’re gonna arrest us for molesting a turkey out of season.” This captures Noah’s creativity and humor.

In 2011 Noah returned to Fairfield where he served as Program Director of the Media and Communications Dept. at Maharishi International University, where he also taught Critical Thinking. In 2017, Noah completed a Master’s degree in Interactive Media at Elon University in North Carolina. He was selected as the commencement speaker and encouraged his fellow graduates in this way: “Do not let the attainment of wealth dull your compassion for others. Always extend your hand and engage in the issues that are important to you.” This exemplifies Noah’s compassion and dedication.

This beautiful card was made by a fellow student from the speech Noah gave for their M.A. graduation at Elon University in 2017

Noah started a doctoral program at Syracuse University and taught a multimedia storytelling class. His own research focused on how humans process information in virtual and augmented reality, and how those technologies could be used to tell better stories. In 2018 he published an article entitled, “Trust in native advertising: The neuroscience behind the processing of branded content,” in the Journal of Digital and Social Media. This research shows Noah’s curiosity and intellect.

In one of his numerous tweets, Noah quoted Gus McCrae from Lonesome Dove: “Yesterday’s gone on down the river and you can’t get it back.” Noah went on down the river on February 17, 2021, and we can’t get him back. However, as one of his former professors explained, “Some students you can never forget. Maybe because of a strong personal connection, or the excellent work they produced in a specific class, or because of their creativity and sophisticated thinking, or many reasons. Noah Buntain was and always will be in that category for me, and, I believe, for all of the faculty and staff who were fortunate enough to spend time with him, teach him, and learn from him.”

Noah’s greatest desire was to teach. He received a posthumous doctoral degree from Syracuse University in June 2021. – Memorial text written by Iris Craver, PhD, Noah’s aunt

Blue Light Press is a collective of poets and artists based in the San Francisco Bay Area who produce artistically designed books. Blue Light Press is dedicated to the publication of poetry, fiction, and flash fiction that is imagistic, inventive, emotionally honest, and pushes the language to a deeper level of insight. Our MFA mentor Rustin Larson has published with Blue Light Press, as have several of our alumni, including poet and musician David Proctor Hurlin, who earned his BA in English at MIU, and Emilie Lygren, who is a student in our MFA program. Several of our students and faculty have been included in Blue Light Press anthologies, such as River of Earth & Sky and Pandemic Puzzle Pieces. Founding editor Diane Frank, former MIU faculty and frequent MFA guest, came up with the idea of this scholarship together with Nynke Passi and Care Connect, Noah’s mother. Many thanks to Diane for her incredible support!