Robert David Vivian

Interests include the modern and contemporary novel, American short fiction, modern American poetry, theology, Turkish literature.


Associate Professor of English



Educational Background

  • B.A., Univ. of Nebraska-Omaha (1990)
  • M.A., Univ. of Nebraska-Omaha (1994)
  • Ph.D., Univ. of Nebraska-Lincoln (2001)

I am...

An inveterate lover of the written and spoken word, especially those spoken from the white hot center of a poet’s heart. I am blown away, sustained, and renewed by the poems of Rumi, Hafiz, Osip Mandelstam, Mary Ruefle, and too many others to name here. I agree utterly with Mandelstam when he wrote that “Words are sheer pleasure, a cure for anguish”–and I believe literature is the ongoing hope of the world because only it speaks for the entire array of humanity in both its particularity (you, me, a neighbor next door or in Asia) and universality. Univocity of being, the throat swollen with praise and wonder, a moan, a whisper, a tender phrase.


Associate Professor

My career at Alma began in


I'm an expert in

creative writing

My expertise:

The novel is a poem and so is a play–and so is an essay, and so is a short story. Everything comes out of poetry. I write and have published in all these forms, but my home always was and always will be the lyric in its most mysterious and emotive form. When Rumi writes “Lovers, it is time for the taste for fire” he’s inviting every one who reads these words to stand up straight and lift our heads to the stars before we open our mouths to sing. If I can claim any expertise at all (I’m not sure I can), it’s the lifelong commitment to creative writing in all its forms and utterances, all the permutations it is capable of, which are as vast as the universe itself.

Signature course(s):

American Literature 261

Recent publications:

The dervish essay “Mother Forever” has been accepted for publication by Upstreet, a literary journal.

The dervish essay “Lead Me” has been accepted for publication by Iron Gall Press.

The dervish essay “Some Kind Of Holiness” has been accepted for publication by Stoneboat.

The dervish essay “Who Is The Spirit” has been accepted for publication by Gravel Literary Magazine.

The dervish essay “Inside A Whisper” has been accepted for publication by Scintilla Literary Magazine.

The dervish essay “Wake” has been accepted for publication by Pithead Chapel.

Dervish essay “More Moon, More Stars” has been accepted for publication by Compose: A Journal Of Simply Good Writing.

Dervish essays “Stay Awhile,” “Moon Snake Boogie,” and “Going To The Dentist With The Mantra Love And Devotion” have been accepted for publication by Clockhouse Magazine.

Dervish essay “Essay By The Black Sea” published by Small Portions, a literary journal.

Dervish essay “Letter To Neruda” published by Hermeneutic Chaos Literary Journal of Australia.

Dervish essay “High Lit Lonesome” accepted for publication by Madcap Review.

Dervish essay “Combines In The Dark” accepted for publication by Booth, a literary journal.

Dervish essay “Come Earthward” accepted for publication by Wraparound South.

Dervish essay “Lips, A Mouth” has been accepted for publication by Kindred Magazine.

Dervish essay “Gobsmack Essay” has been accepted by Profane Literary Magazine.

Dervish essay “Dog Essay” accepted for publication by Animal: A Beast Of A Literary Magazine.

Dervish essay “Chlorophyll Destiny Desiring” accepted for publication by The Bleeding Lion.

Dervish essay “Train Dreams” accepted for publication by Damfino Literary Journal.

Dervish essay “Mystery My Country” accepted for publication by The Tishman Review.

Dervish essay “Read To You” accepted for publication by the Timberline Review.

Dervish essay “Keeper Bees” accepted for publication by Twisted Vine Literary Journal.

Dervish essay “Dervish Fisherman” accepted by Temenos Literary Magazine for their special themed issue of Paradigm Shift.


Recent presentations:

“A Thousand Ways To Kiss The Ground”: a reading of dervish essays at University of Nebraska-Omaha.

Other recent accomplishments:

Dervish essay “Mystagogic Liftoff” nominated by Sundog Lit. for a 2013 Pushcart Prize.

“Always A River” listed as notable essay in Best American Essays of 2013.

Dervish essay “Come Again Good Rain” nominated for 2014 Pushcart Prize by Red Savina Review.

Dervish essay “Some Kind Of Holiness” nominated for 2014 Pushcart Prize by Stoneboat literary journal.