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Meet MFA Directors & Faculty

Directors and Staff

Sena Jeter Naslund, Program Director

Sena Jeter Naslund MFA Director headshotSena Jeter Naslund’s nine books include the bestsellers Ahab’s Wife; Or, the Star-Gazer, Four Spirits and Abundance: A Novel of Marie Antoinette. Other works include The Fountain of St. James Court, or, Portrait of an Artist as an Old Woman and Sherlock in Love, as well as two short story collections, The Disobedience of Water and Ice Skating at the North PoleAhab’s Wife, a Book-of-the-Month Club main selection, was selected by Time magazine as one of the five best novels of 1999 and appeared on the notable book lists of the The New York Times Book Review and Publishers Weekly and was a finalist for the Orange Prize (UK). Four Spirits appeared on the notable book lists of The New York Review of Books, the Los Angeles TimesThe Seattle Times, and The (Louisville) Courier-Journal. Her fiction has appeared in The Paris Review, The Georgia Review, The Iowa Review, The American Voice, and The Michigan Quarterly Review and has been translated into nine languages. She has received grants from the NEA, the Kentucky Arts Council, and the Kentucky Foundation for Women, as well as the Lawrence Fiction Prize, the Heasley Prize, the Hall-Waters Award, the Southeastern Library Association award in fiction, and the Alabama Governor’s Award in the Arts. She holds an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

Karen Mann, Administrative Director

karen-mann-mfaMann is co-founder and administrative director of the low-residency Masters of Fine Arts in Writing, where she puts her varied past career experiences to good use.  She has published two novels: The Woman of La Mancha and The Saved Man. She has an MA in Higher Education Administration and an MA with creative writing concentration from University of Louisville. Her bachelor's degree in English is from Indiana University. Karen’s fiction and nonfiction have appeared in several anthologies. She was the managing editor for The Louisville Review and Fleur-de-Lis Press from 1986-2016. She is the recipient of two grants from the Kentucky Foundation for Women and has served as a grant reader for the Indiana Arts Council.  After having lived in the Indiana most of her life, Karen now lives near San Jose, Calif. Visit her website.

Kathleen Driskell, Associate Program Director, poetry

kathleen-driskell-mfaDriskell is the author of the poetry collections Blue Etiquette: Poems; Next Door to the Dead; Seed Across Snow, a Poetry Foundation national bestseller; Laughing Sickness and Peck and Pock: A Graphic Poem. Individual poems have appeared in The Southern Review, Shenandoah, North American Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Greensboro Review and Mid-American Review, among others, and have been featured in Poetry Daily, Verse Daily and American Life in Poetry. Her awards include grants from the Kentucky Arts Council and the Kentucky Foundation for Women, and she has received prizes from the Associated Writing Programs and Frankfort Arts Foundation. She is associate editor of The Louisville Review and a founding member of the Kentucky Writers’ Coalition. She received the Trustees Outstanding Faculty Award from Spalding University. Driskell received her MFA in creative writing from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Katy Yocom, Associate Administrative Director

katy-yocomYocom’s fiction, poetry, essays and journalism have appeared in The Louisville Review, New Southerner, Open 24 Hours, the blog StyleSubstanceSoul, Louisville Magazine, LEO Weekly, 2nd & Church, Food & Dining and elsewhere. She holds an MFA in Writing from Spalding University. Her awards include grants from the Elizabeth George Foundation and the Kentucky Foundation for Women. She was writer-in-residence at Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts (Nebraska) and at Hill House (Michigan).

Ellyn Lichvar, Administrative Assistant

Ellyn LichvarLichvar is the managing editor of The Louisville Review and is a poetry alum of Spalding’s MFA in Writing program. She was recently awarded an artist enrichment grant from the Kentucky Foundation for Women, and her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in DIAGRAM, BOAAT, The Journal, The Minnesota Review, Whiskey Island, Typo and others.

Jason Hill, Residency Assistant

Jason HillHill is a fiction alum of Spalding’s MFA in Writing and also holds an MA in Philosophy from the University of Connecticut. His short stories have appeared in The Austin Review and Tulane Review.

Faculty

Dianne Aprile, creative nonfiction

diane-aprile-mfaAprile is the author and editor of nonfiction books, including two collaborations with fine-art photographer Julius Friedman. Her essay “Silence” appears in the anthology This I Believe, Kentucky. Her poetry has appeared in journals and anthologies. Aprile was the recipient of the Al Smith artist fellowship from the Kentucky Arts Council and grants from the Kentucky Foundation for Women. She is a recipient of a Hedgebrook Women Writers Residency and Washington State Artist Trust Writers Fellowship. As a journalist, she was on a team that won a staff Pulitzer Prize for the Louisville Courier-Journal and was an award-winning columnist. She is currently working on a family memoir. She holds an MFA from Spalding University.

David-Matthew Barnes, writing for children & young adults

david-matthew-barnes-mfaBarnes is the author of several novels, plays, poetry and short stories. His honors include American Library Association recognition of two of his young adult novels for representations of diversity and the Hart Crane Memorial Poetry Award. His film Frozen Stars was distributed worldwide. His plays have been official selections for the Chicago Director’s Festival, the DC Queer Theatre Festival, and the Johannesburg One-Act Drama Festival, among others. His work has been performed at the American Globe Theatre, the Boston Center for the Arts, the Producer’s Club in New York City and abroad. He earned an MFA in creative writing at Queens University of Charlotte.

Susan Campbell Bartoletti, writing for children & young adults

susan-campbell-bartolleti-mfaBartoletti has published seventeen picture books, novels and nonfiction for young readers. Her awards include the Washington Post/Children’s Book Guild award, the ALA Newbery Honor, ALA Robert F. Sibert Award for Nonfiction, the NCTE Orbis Pictus Award for Nonfiction, and ALA Best Book for Young Adults, among others. Her nonfiction books include Terrible Typhoid Mary: A True Story of the Deadliest Cook in America and the YALSA honor-winning They Called Themselves the K.K.K: the Birth of an American Terrorist Group. Her latest novel is Down the Rabbit Hole: The Diary of Pringle Rose, 1871. She earned a Ph.D. in English from Binghamton University. Visit her website.

Beth Ann Bauman, writing for children & young adults

beth-ann-bauman-mfaBauman is the author of the short story collection Beautiful Girls and the young-adult novels Rosie and Skate, a New York Times editors’ choice and Booklist’s top ten first novels for youth, and Jersey Angel, selected by Publishers Weekly, Boston Globe, and The Horn Book as a best summer book. She has received fellowships from the Jerome Foundation and the New York Foundation for the Arts. She earned her MFA from the University of Arizona. Visit her website.

Larry Brenner, screenwriting, playwriting

larry-brenner-mfaBrenner's screenplay Bethlehem was a winner of Final Draft’s Big Break Contest. He has also written Labyrinth for Walt Disney Pictures and Angelology for SONY/Columbia Pictures. His play Saving Throw Versus Love was produced as part of the 2010 New York International Fringe Festival and was selected for the Fringe Encore Series. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America and WGA East. Brenner earned his MFA at Spalding and is a doctoral candidate in educational theatre at NYU.

Julie Brickman, fiction

Julie Brickman mfa faculty headhsotBrickman is author of the novel What Birds Can Only Whisper and the story collection Two Deserts. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in the North American Review, the Barcelona Review, Fireweed, International Journal of Women’s Studies, as well as other journals and the anthology States of Rage. Her honors include grants from the Canada Council, a writer-in-residence position at the Berton House in Yukon, Canada, and finalist status in the San Diego Book Awards. She earned her MFA from Vermont College. Brickman is also a clinical psychologist and spent seventeen years in private practice. Visit her website.

K.L. Cook, fiction

k l cook mfa faculty headshotCook's collection of linked stories Last Call won the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in fiction. His novel, The Girl from Charnelle, won the Willa Award for Contemporary Fiction. His second collection, Love Songs for the Quarantined, won the Spokane Prize for Short Fiction. His honors include the Grand Prize from the Santa Fe Writers Project Literary Arts Series, an Arizona Commission on the Arts Fellowship, and residencies at MacDowell Colony and Yaddo. He has an MFA from Warren Wilson College and a master’s in literature from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. Visit his website.

Leslie Daniels, fiction

leslie daniels mfa faculty headshotDaniels’s first novel, Cleaning Nabokov’s House, was translated into four languages. Her work has appeared in Ploughshares, The Missouri Review, New Ohio Review and The Florida Review, among others. She was the Walton Award visiting writer at the University of Arkansas. She worked previously as a literary agent in New York. She has served as the fiction editor for Green Mountains Review. She is on faculty at The Squaw Valley Writers Conference. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Vermont College. Visit her website.

Debra Kang Dean, poetry

debra kang dean mfa faculty headshotDean is the author of two full-length collections: News of Home, which was co-winner of the New England Poetry Club’s Sheila Margaret Motton Award, and Precipitates, a William Carlos Williams Award nominee. She has published three chapbooks. Her poems have been featured on The Writer’s Almanac, Poetry Daily, and Verse Daily, and have been published in The Best American PoetryPloughshares, and Prairie Schooner, among others. Her essays are included in The Colors of Nature: Culture, Identity, and the Natural World and Until Everything Is Continuous Again: American Poets on the Recent Work of W. S. Merwin. She earned an MFA from the University of Montana.

Gabriel Jason Dean, playwriting, screenwriting

gabriel jason deanDean’s plays have been produced or developed at New York Theatre Workshop, Manhattan Theatre Club, the Kennedy Center and American Theatre Company, among others. His play In Bloom was a finalist for the Laurents/Hatcher Award and received the Kennedy Center’s Paula Vogel Prize. His play for children, The Transition of Doodle Pequeño, received numerous awards including the American Alliance for Theatre & Education Distinguished Play Award. He is the recipient of the Essential Theatre New Play Prize and Austin’s 2013 B. Iden Payne Award for Best Original Script and Best Comedy for Qualities of Starlight. He has received multiple fellowships, including the Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University. He earned his MFA from the University of Texas-Austin. Visit his website.

Kathleen Driskell, Associate Program Director, poetry

kathleen driskell mfa faculty headshotDriskell is the author of the poetry collections Blue Etiquette: Poems; Next Door to the Dead; Seed Across Snow, a Poetry Foundation national bestseller; Laughing Sickness and Peck and Pock: A Graphic Poem. Individual poems have appeared in The Southern Review, Shenandoah, North American Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Greensboro Review and Mid-American Review, among others, and have been featured in Poetry Daily, Verse Daily and American Life in Poetry. Her awards include grants from the Kentucky Arts Council and the Kentucky Foundation for Women, and she has received prizes from the Associated Writing Programs and Frankfort Arts Foundation. She is associate editor of The Louisville Review and a founding member of the Kentucky Writers’ Coalition. She received the Trustees Outstanding Faculty Award from Spalding University. Driskell received her MFA in creative writing from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Pete Duval, fiction

pete duval mfa faculty headshotDuval’s novella Strange Mercies was published by Working Titles, an imprint of The Massachusetts Review. His collection, Rear View, won the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference Bakeless Prize and the Connecticut Book Award. Other awards include Grain Magazine’s Short Grain fiction prize and Florida State University’s World’s Best Short-Short Story. He is a recipient of two Connecticut artist grants. His work has appeared in Massachusetts ReviewAlaska Quarterly Review, Meridian, Witness and Appalachian Heritage,among others. He edits and designs books for Story Line Press. He holds a Master of Arts in creative writing from Boston University, a master’s in literature from the University of Illinois and a master’s in film studies from New York University.

Kirby Gann, fiction

kirby gann mfa faculty headshotGann is the author of Ghosting, a Best Book of 2012 by Publishers Weekly and Shelf Unbound, which has been translated into French. He is the author of the novels The Barbarian Parade and Our Napoleon in Rags. The latter was a finalist for the Kentucky Award in Literature and was named one of the top five novels published in 2005 by Frontiers Magazine. His stories have appeared in Ploughshares and Post Road. He is series editor of Bookmarked, a line of books in which authors wrestle with a book that has been fundamental to their writing, and contributed the first volume in the series, on John Knowles’ A Separate Peace. He holds an MFA from Vermont College. Visit his website.

Rachel Harper, fiction

rachel harper mfa faculty headshotHarper is the author of two novels: This Side of Providence and  Brass Ankle Blues, a Borders’ Original Voices Award finalist and Target Breakout Book. Her work has been anthologized in Black Cool: One Thousand Streams of Blackness and Mending the World: Stories of Family by Contemporary Black Writers. Her one-act play, “Bluffing on a Queens Playground,” was part of the New Black Playwrights Festival in Atlanta, and a television pilot she co-wrote with filmmaker Sam Zalutsky, based on a novel by award-winning author Jacqueline Woodson, was a Sundance Institute Screenwriters Lab finalist. She has received fellowships from Yaddo, The MacDowell Colony and the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts. A graduate of Brown University, she earned her Master of Arts degree from the University of Southern California. Visit her website.

Edie Hemingway, writing for children & young adults

edie hemingway mfa faculty headshotHemingway is co-author of two Civil War novels. Road to Tater Hill, a middle grade novel, won a Parents’ Choice Gold Award and was listed on Bank Street College’s Best Books List. She served as a regional advisor of SCBWI. She is a member of the Children’s Book Guild of Washington, DC, and is a contributor to the One Potato…Ten! blog, a project of several children’s authors and illustrators. She received her MFA in Writing from Spalding University. Visit her website.

Roy Hoffman, creative nonfiction, fiction

roy hoffman mfa faculty headshotHoffman, a novelist and journalist, has worked as a professional writer for more than twenty-five years. His latest book is the novel Come Landfall. He is the author of Alabama Afternoons: Profiles and Conversations, the essay collection Back Home: Journeys through Mobile, and the novels Chicken Dreaming Corn and Almost Family, which won the Lillian Smith Award for fiction. His essays have appeared in Newsday andSouthern Living and have been anthologized in Best American Essays 2003. He was a long-time staff writer for the Mobile Press-Register and has been a frequent contributor to The New York Times. He received his MFA in Writing from Spalding University. Visit his website.

Silas House, fiction

silas house mfa faculty headshotHouse is the author of five novels: Same Sun Here (co-written with Neela Vaswani), Clay’s Quilt, A Parchment of Leaves, The Coal Tattoo, and Eli the Good; two plays, The Hurting Part and Long Time Traveling; and a work of creative nonfiction, Something’s Rising (co-written with Jason Howard). His work can be found in The New York TimesOxford American and The Southeast Review, as well as in anthologies including New Stories from the South 2004. Silas is a two-time finalist for the Southern Book Critics Circle Prize, a two-time winner of the Kentucky Novel of the Year, the Appalachian Book of the Year, the Award for Special Achievement from the Fellowship of Southern Writers, the Appalachian Writer of the Year and the Lee Smith Award. He received his MFA in Writing from Spalding University.

Fenton Johnson, creative nonfiction, fiction

fenton johnson mfa faculty headshotJohnson’s latest book is the novel The Man Who Loved Birds. His book, Keeping Faith: A Skeptic’s Journey among Christian and Buddhist Monks, received a Lambda Literary Award and a Kentucky Literary Award. His memoir Geography of the Heart garnered the American Library Association and Lambda Literary Awards for best gay nonfiction. He is also the author of the novels Crossing the River and Scissors, Paper, Rock. In 2008, he received a Guggenheim Fellowship. He has been a staff writer at the New York Times Magazine and a contributor to Harper’s Magazine. He received his MFA in fiction from the Iowa Writers Workshop. Visit his website.

Helena Kriel, screenwriting

helena kriel mfa faculty headshotKriel is a screenwriter who writes for studios and independent producers and has worked in television as both a director and writer. Her plays Pigs on Passion, <Arachnid, andI Can’t Wait to Tie You to the Sofa premiered at the National Arts Festival in South Africa. She is the winner of the Steven Spielberg Dianne Thomas Award for her first screenplay, Virtuoso. Her film Kama Sutra was produced with director Mira Nair and released in 1996. Skin was produced by Elysian Films and won eight festival awards. In addition, she has created adaptations of Ahab’s Wife and Wuthering Heights, among others.

Robin Lippincott, fiction, creative nonfiction

robin lippincott mfa faculty headshotRobin Lippincott’s latest book is Blue Territory: A Meditation on the Life and Art of Joan Mitchell. He is also the author of the novels In the Meantime, Our Arcadia and Mr. Dalloway, as well as a short story collection, The ‘I’ Rejected. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in more than thirty journals, including The Paris ReviewFenceAmerican Short Fiction, Provincetown Arts and The Bloomsbury Review, and his fiction has been anthologized in M2M: New Literary Fiction as well as Rebel Yell. For ten years he reviewed art and photography books for The New York Times Book Review. He has been nominated for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award and the Lambda Literary Award, among others. He has received fellowships from Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony. He holds an MFA in Writing from Vermont College. 

Jody Lisberger, fiction

jody lisberger mfa faculty headshotJody Lisberger’s story collection, Remember Love, was nominated for a National Book Award. Her stories have appeared in Fugue and Michigan Quarterly Review, among others. She won third place in the 2003 American Literary Review fiction contest and was a finalist in the 2004 Quarterly West fiction contest. Her story “Bush Beating” was selected for the fiction anthology The Way We Knew It (2006), celebrating the first twenty-five years of Vermont College’s MFA in Writing Program. She has a Ph.D. in English and an MFA in Writing from Vermont College.

Nancy McCabe, creative nonfiction, fiction

nancy mccabe mfa faculty headshotMcCabe is the author of five books: a novel, Following Disasters, and four works of creative nonfiction, including From Little Houses to Little Women: Revisiting a Literary Childhood, After the Flashlight Man: A Memoir of Awakening, and the memoirs Meeting Sophie: A Memoir of Adoption and Crossing the Blue Willow Bridge: A Journey to My Daughter’s Birthplace in China. She has received a Pushcart Prize and been listed six times in the notable sections of Houghton Mifflin’s Best American series. Her writing has appeared in numerous magazine and journals. She also received a fellowship from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. She holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Arkansas and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Nebraska. Visit her website.

Shane McCrae, poetry

shane-mccraeMcCrae is the author of four full-length books of poetry: The Animal Too Big to KillForgiveness Forgiveness; Mule, a finalist for the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and the PEN Center USA Literary Award; and Blood. His work has appeared in The Best American Poetry 2010 as well as The American Poetry Review and has been featured on Poetry Daily and Verse Daily. He has received a Whiting Writer’s Award and a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. He holds degrees from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Harvard Law School, and the graduate English program at the University of Iowa.

Maureen Morehead, poetry

Maureen Morehead MFA faculty headshotMorehead has published five books of poetry: In a Yellow Room, Our Brothers’ War, A Sense of Time Left, The Melancholy Teacher, and Late August Blues: The Daylily Poems. Her poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, Black Warrior Review, The California Quarterly and other literary journals. She served as Kentucky Poet Laureate for 2011–2012 and has won fellowships for her poetry from the Kentucky Arts Council and the Kentucky Foundation for Women. She earned a PhD in English with a creative writing thesis from the University of Louisville.

Eleanor Morse, fiction

Eleanor Morse MFA faculty headshotMorse has published three novels: Chopin’s Garden, An Unexpected Forest, which won the 2008 Independent Book Publisher’s Award for best regional fiction and the 2008 Maine Literary Award, and White Dog Fell from the Sky, which was a Publishers Weekly Pick of the Week. A nonfiction book, Over the Mountains: Two Tibetan Girls Journey Toward Hope, was written in collaboration with two young women from Tibet and describes their escape into Nepal. She has received grants from the Maine Humanities Council. She received a Master of Arts in teaching from Yale University and a Master of Fine Arts in writing from Vermont College. Visit her website.

Lesléa Newman, writing for children & young adults

Lesléa Newman MFA faculty headshotNewman is the author of 70 books including the short story collection A Letter to Harvey Milk, the middle grade novel Hachiko Waits, the poetry collection I Carry My Mother and the picture book Heather Has Two Mommies, the first children’s book to portray lesbian families in a positive way. Her awards include poetry fellowships from the Massachusetts Artists Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Highlights for Children Fiction Writing Award and the James Baldwin Award for Cultural Achievement. Her novel-in-verse October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard explores the impact of Matthew Shepard’s murder and received the American Library Association Stonewall Award. She is a former Poet Laureate of Northampton, Mass. Visit her website.

Kira Obolensky, playwriting

Kira Obolensky MFA faculty headshotObolensky is a playwright with the theater Ten Thousand Things. Her plays include Vasa Lisa, Why We Laugh: A Terezin Cabaret, which premiered in two international festivals, Raskol, Cabinet of Wonders, Modern House, Lobster Alice, a Kesselring Prize winner, and Lune (pronounced loony). She is a Guggenheim Fellow and has also received fellowships and grants from the Mellon Foundation, Henson Foundation and NEA, among others. Her novella “The Anarchists Float to St. Louis” won Quarterly West’s 2009 novella contest. She holds an MFA in Fiction Writing from Warren Wilson’s MFA Program for Writers. She is a core writer at the Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis.

Elaine Neil Orr, creative nonfiction, fiction

Elaine Neil Orr MFA faculty headshotOrr is a writer of fiction, memoir and literary criticism. Her book A Different Sun: A Novel of Africa received a starred review from Library Journal and is a SIBA Bestseller. Her memoir, Gods of Noonday, was a top twenty Book Sense selection. Her work has appeared in The Missouri Review, Blackbird, Shenandoah and Image Journal. She has received grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the North Carolina Arts Council, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She earned a Ph.D. in literature and theology at Emory University. Visit her website.

Jeremy Paden, translation

Jeremy Paden MFA faculty headshotJeremy Paden is the author of the chapbook Broken Tulips. His poems have appeared in Adirondack Review, Atlanta Review, Beloit Poetry Journal and California Quarterly. He was a 2013 finalist of the Nazim Hikmet poetry competition. His translations of poems from the Spanish have appeared in Words Without Borders. His articles on Latin American and Spanish literature have appeared in Calíope: Journal for Renaissance and Baroque Hispanic Poetry, Colonial Latin American Review, Review of International American Studies, and Romance Quarterly, among others. He received his Ph.D. in Spanish and Latin American literature from Emory University.

Greg Pape, poetry

Greg Pape MFA faculty headshotGreg Pape is the author of ten books, including Four SwansBorder Crossings, Black Branches, Storm Pattern, Sunflower Facing the Sun (winner of the Edwin Ford Piper Prize, now called the Iowa Prize), and American Flamingo (winner of a Crab Orchard Open Competition Award). Greg’s poems have appeared in The Atlantic, Iowa Review, The New Yorker, Northwest Review, and Poetry, among others. He has received the Discovery/The Nation Award, two National Endowment for the Arts Individual Fellowships, the Pushcart Prize, and the Richard Hugo Memorial Poetry Award. He served as Poet Laureate of Montana from 2007 to 2009. He holds an MFA from the University of Arizona.

John Pipkin, fiction

John Pipkin MFA faculty headshotJohn Pipkin’s newest novel is The Blind Astronomer’s Daughter. His critically acclaimed debut, Woodsburner, was awarded the First Novel Prize by the New York Center for Fiction, the Fiction Award from the Massachusetts Center for the Book, and the Texas Institute of Letters Steven Turner First Novel Prize and was named one of the best books of 2009 by The Washington Post, The San Francisco Chronicle and The Christian Science Monitor. He was awarded fellowships at the Harry Ransom Center and from The Dobie Paisano Fellowship program. He received his Ph.D. in British Literature from Rice University. Visit his website.

Eric Schmiedl, playwriting

Eric Schmiedl MFA faculty headshotSchmiedl’s plays for adult and family audiences have been produced by The Cleveland Play House, the Theatre Company of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, the Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Cleveland Public Theatre, the Idaho Shakespeare Festival and New Stages Theatre, among others. He is the recipient of a grant from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (with the Denver Center), a Sloan Foundation Commission, a CAC Creative Workforce Fellowship, an Aurand Harris Fellowship and three Edgerton Awards for New American Plays. He is a member of the Cleveland Play House’s Playwrights’ Unit. He is a graduate of Kent State University and the University of Hawaii.

Charlie Schulman, playwriting, screenwriting

Charlie Schulman MFA faculty headshotSchulman’s plays include The Birthday Present, The Ground Zero Club, Angel of Death, The Common Enemy, and Character Assassins, among others. His first musical, The Fartiste, was produced at The FringeNYC Festival (Outstanding Musical) and Off-Broadway at Under Sofia’s and at The Charing Cross Theater in London’s West End. He is a three-time winner of The Avery Hopwood Award for Drama from The University of Michigan. He is a recipient of The Charles MacArthur Award for comedy from The National Playwrights Conference, a Walton Fellowship from Arena Stage and the Paulette Goddard Fellowship from NYU. His television credits include three seasons as a writer for the Apollo Comedy Hour. He holds an MFA from New York University.

Jeanie Thompson, poetry

Jeanie Thompson MFA faculty headshotThompson has published five collections of poetry: The Myth of Water: Poems from the Life of Helen Keller, The Seasons Bear UsWhite for Harvest: New and Selected PoemsWitness, which won a Benjamin Franklin Award from the Publishers Marketing Association, and How to Enter the River. Her work has appeared in Antaeus, Crazyhorse, Ironwood, North American Review, New England Review, Southern Review and others. She has received fellowships from the Louisiana State Arts Council and the Alabama State Council on the Arts. She is director of the Alabama Writers’ Forum and holds the MFA from the University of Alabama.

Neela Vaswani, fiction

Neela Vaswani MFA faculty headshotVaswani is the author of the short story collection, Where the Long Grass Bends and the memoir You Have Given Me a Country. She is co-author of the middle-grade novel Same Sun Here (with Silas House). She is the recipient of the American Book Award, an O. Henry Prize and the ForeWord Book of the Year gold medal, as well as a Grammy and an Audie Award for her audio book narration. She has an MFA from Vermont College and a Ph.D. in cultural studies. An education activist in India and the United States, Vaswani founded the Storylines Project with the New York Public Library. Visit her website.

Rebecca Walker, creative nonfiction

Rebecca Walker MFA faculty headshotWalker is the author of the bestselling memoirs Black, White and Jewish and Baby Love, the novel Adé: A Love Story, and the editor of the anthologies To Be Real, What Makes a Man, One Big Happy Family, and Black Cool. Her writing has appeared online at CNN, The Root, Babble, and The Huffington Post, and in Marie Claire, Real Simple, Newsweek, and The Washington Post. A fellow at the LA Institute for the Humanities at USC, she is a recipient of fellowships from MacDowell and Yaddo and the Alex Award from the American Library Association. Rebecca holds a BA from Yale and an MFA from Spalding. Visit her website.

Crystal Wilkinson, fiction

Crystal Wilkinson MFA faculty headshotWilkinson is the author of The Birds of Opulence; Water Street, which was nominated for the Orange Prize and for the Zora Neal Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation’s Legacy Award in Fiction; and Blackberries, Blackberries, which was named Best Debut Fiction by Today’s Librarian magazine. She is the recipient of the Chaffin Award for Appalachian Literature and the Sallie Bingham Award for the promotion of activism and feminist artist expression. She is the co-editor of Mythium: A Journal of Contemporary Literature Celebrating Writers of Color and the Cultural Voice with Ron Davis, and together they own The Wild Fig bookstore in Lexington, Ky. She earned her MFA in writing from Spalding University.

Sam Zalutsky, screenwriting

Sam Zalutsky MFA faculty headshotZalutsky’s film You Belong to Me, for which he was short-listed for the Independent Spirit Award’s Someone to Watch Award, was distributed globally and won awards at festivals including San Diego FilmOut and NewFest. He also is a director and producer of the webseries The Go-Getters. His most recent film, How to Make It to the Promised Land, premiered on Short of the Week, was the San Francisco Jewish Film Festival’s short of the month and was a finalist for the Boston Jewish Film Festival shorts competition. He has been awarded residencies at the MacDowell Colony and Fundación Valparaiso. He earned his MFA in film from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Visit his website.