School of Writing Faculty and Directors

Naslund-Mann Graduate School of Writing Faculty and Directors

Kathleen Driskell

Chair, Naslund-Mann Graduate School of Writing

Louisville, Kentucky

Kathleen Driskell is the author of the poetry collections Blue Etiquette: Poems, a finalist for the Weatherford Award; Next Door to the Dead, a Kentucky Voices selection by the University Press of Kentucky and winner of the 2018 Judy Gaines Young Book Award; Seed Across Snow, a Poetry Foundation national bestseller; Laughing Sickness, and Peck and Pock: A Graphic Poem. With Katy Yocom, she co-edited the anthology Creativity & Compassion: Spalding Writers Celebrate Twenty Years. Individual poems and essays have appeared in The Southern ReviewShenandoahNorth American ReviewHayden’s Ferry ReviewThe Greensboro ReviewRattle, Mid-American Review, and Appalachian Review, among others, and have been featured in anthologies and online at Poetry DailyVerse Daily, and American Life in Poetry. She was awarded the Appalachian Review 2020 Denny C. Plattner Award in Creative Nonfiction for an essay that was also listed as Notable in Best American Essays 2020. Other 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 currently serves as chair of the board of directors of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, the largest professional organization of creative writers in the U.S., and she founded and served two terms as chair of the Low-Residency MFA Directors’ Caucus, which meets annually at the national AWP conference. She received the Trustees Outstanding Faculty Award from Spalding University and served as the faculty representative to the Spalding Board of Trustees. Driskell received her MFA in creative writing from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Karen Mann

Administrative Director

Loveland, Colorado

Karen MannMann 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 Loveland, Colorado. Visit Mann's website.

Lynnell Edwards

Associate Program Director, Poetry Faculty

Louisville, KY

Lynnell Edwards’ most recent collection of poetry is This Great Green Valley (Broadstone Books, 2020), a chapbook of documentary poetry based on revisionist narratives of Kentucky’s pioneer founding in the 18th century. Three additional full-length poetry collections, Covet, The Highwayman’s Wife, and The Farmer’s Daughter, were published by Red Hen Press. A chapbook, Kings of the Rock and Roll Hot Shop, chronicles the work and art of a glass-blowing studio. Her short fiction, book reviews, and essays have appeared in Another Chicago Magazine, New Madrid, Connecticut Review, Cincinnati Review, Pleiades, and elsewhere. Awards include a 2007 Al Smith Fellowship and a fellowship at The Hermitage in Sarasota, Florida, for 2020-2021. She is a founding member and past president of Louisville Literary Arts and also served on the Kentucky Women Writers Conference Board of Directors. She holds the PhD in Rhetoric and Composition as well as the MA with Creative Writing Thesis, both from the University of Louisville. Her work often investigates the deep connections between a people and their place, including the natural, political, and family narratives in its history. Visit Edwards' website.

Katy Yocom

Associate Director for Communications and Alumni Relations

Louisville, Kentucky

Katy Yocom, School of Writing

Yocom writes about animals, the environment, love, and loss. Her debut novel, Three Ways to Disappear, won the Siskiyou Prize for New Environmental Literature, the Phillip H. McMath Post-Publication Book Award, the First Horizon Award, and the Micro Press Award and was named a Barnes & Noble Top Indie Favorite. Other awards include the Al Smith Fellowship for artistic excellence from the Kentucky Arts Council and grants from the Elizabeth George Foundation and the Kentucky Foundation for Women. With Kathleen Driskell, she co-edited the anthology Creativity & Compassion: Spalding Writers Celebrate Twenty Years. Her writing has appeared in Newsweek, LitHub, American Way in-flight magazine, Salon, Necessary Fiction,, The Louisville Review, and elsewhere. She is a former member of the board of directors of the Kentucky Women Writers Conference, co-hosts Spalding at 21c reading series, and holds an MFA in Writing from Spalding University as well as a degree in journalism from the University of Kansas. Visit Yocom's website.

Ellyn Lichvar

Programs Manager

Louisville, Kentucky

Ellyn LichvarIn addition to her role as programs manager for the School of Writing, Ellyn is the managing editor of the school’s biannual literary journal, Good River Review. In this role she oversees the production of each issue from start to finish, working with Spalding students and graduate assistants as they read editorially each semester. Ellyn holds a BA in English from the University of Louisville and an MFA in Writing (poetry) from Spalding University. Her own poems have been published in the journals DIAGRAM, BOAAT, MeridianThe Journal, and others. In addition to poetry, Ellyn loves hound dogs, summertime, Audrey Hepburn movies, bourbon, gardening, good food, and spending time with her people.

Renée Culver

Student Services Coordinator

Louisville, Kentucky

Renee CulverRenée Culver is the student services coordinator for Spalding’s School of Writing. She is an alumna of Spalding’s MFA program and holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Kentucky. She also teaches part-time in the English department at Bellarmine University.

School of Writing Faculty

Dianne Aprile

Creative nonfiction

Kirkland, Washington

Aprile 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.

Beth Ann Bauman

Writing for children & young adults

New York, New York

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 Bauman's website.

Larry Brenner

Screenwriting, playwriting

Plainview, New York

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 has a PhD in educational theatre from NYU.

Julie Brickman


Laguna Beach, California

Julie Brickman mfa faculty headhsotBrickman is author of the novel What Birds Can Only Whisper and the story collection Two Deserts.  Her novella The Galapagos Story will appear in in 2019.  Brickman’s fiction and nonfiction have appeared in the North American Review, The Barcelona Review, The Louisville Review, Persimmon Tree, Fireweed, the anthology States of Rage and other journals. 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 Brickman's website.

Wiley Cash


Wilmington, North Carolina

Wiley Cash Wiley Cash is the New York Times bestselling author of When Ghosts Come Home, The Last Ballad, A Land More Kind than Home, and This Dark Road to Mercy. His work has appeared in The Oxford American, Garden & Gun, and elsewhere. Honors include American Library Association Book of the Year, Chicago Public Library Best Book of 2017, Southern Book Prize, Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Fiction, Weatherford Award, Bloodroot Mountain Prize, Thomas Wolfe Book Prize, Pat Conroy Legacy Award, and Appalachian Writers Association’s Book of the Year. He holds a Ph.D. in American Literature from UL-Lafayette, an M.A. in English from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, and a B.A. in Literature from UNC-Asheville. Visit Cash’s website.

Felicia Rose Chavez

Creative Nonfiction

Colorado Springs, Colorado

Felcia Rose Chavez Felicia Rose Chavez is an award-winning educator with an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the University of Iowa. She is the author of The Anti-Racist Writing Workshop: How to Decolonize the Creative Classroom and co-editor of The BreakBeat Poets Volume 4: LatiNEXT. Originally from Albuquerque, New Mexico, she currently serves as the Bronfman Creativity and Innovation Scholar-in-Residence at Colorado College. For more information about The Anti-Racist Writing Workshop, and to access (and add to!) a multi-genre compilation of contemporary writers of color, visit

K.L. Cook


Ames, Iowa

K. L. is the author of six books of fiction, poetry, and essays, including The Art of Disobedience (craft essays based on his Spalding lectures); a collection of poems, Lost Soliloquies; a novel, The Girl from Charnelle; and three collections of linked stories, Last Call, Love Songs for the Quarantined, and most recently, Marrying Kind. He has won the Prairie Schooner Book Prize, the Willa Award for Contemporary Fiction, and the Spokane Prize for Short Fiction, among other awards, and his work has appeared widely in such journals, magazines, and anthologies as Glimmer Train, American Short Fiction, One Story, Threepenny Review, Poets & Writers, The Writer's Chronicle, Best of the West, and Best American Mystery Stories. A member of the Spalding faculty since 2004, he is also Professor of English and Co-Coordinator of the MFA Program in Creative Writing & Environment at Iowa State University. Visit Cook's website.

Debra Kang Dean


Bloomington, Indiana

debra kang dean mfa faculty headshotDean’s most recent collection of poetry is Totem: America (2018). Her other books are News of Home, co-winner of the New England Poetry Club’s Sheila Margaret Motton Award; Precipitates, a William Carlos Williams Award nominee; and Back to Back and Fugitive Blues, both prize-winning chapbooks. Her poems have been featured on Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and the Academy of America Poet’s Poem-a-Day and in The Best American Poetry. She has also published renku, a collaborative form, in Rattle and Diode. 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 holds an MFA from the University of Montana.

Gabriel Jason Dean

Playwriting, screenwriting

Brooklyn, New York

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 Dean's website.

Kirby Gann


Louisville, Kentucky

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 Gann's website.

Ellen Hagan


New York, New York

ellen hagan mfa faculty headshotA writer, performer, and educator, Ellen Hagan is the co-author with Renée Watson of the young adult novel Watch Us Rise. Her books include the poetry collections Blooming Fiascoes, Hemisphere, and Crowned, and the middle-grade novel in verse Reckless, Glorious, Girl. Her work can be found in ESPN Magazine, She Walks in Beauty, and Southern Sin. She received a New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship in poetry in 2020 and has received grants from the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance and the Kentucky Foundation for Women. Raised in Kentucky, she splits her time between Kentucky and New York City with her family.

Rachel M. Harper


Los Angeles, California

rachel harper mfa faculty headshotRachel M. Harper is a novelist and screenwriter based in Los Angeles—but she doesn’t want you to hold that against her. She is the author of three novels: The Other Mother (Spring 2022 from Counterpoint Press), This Side of Providence, shortlisted for the 2016 Ernest J. Gaines Award, and Brass Ankle Blues, named a Borders’ Original Voices Award finalist and a Target Breakout Book. Her short fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including African American Review, Chicago Review, Carolina Quarterly, BLACK COOL—One Thousand Streams of Blackness, and Mending the World. One of her new passions is book to tv/film adaptation. In addition to adapting her own work, she’s collaborated with colleagues from Spalding,  working with Sam Zalutsky to write a television pilot based on Jacqueline Woodson’s novel Hush, chosen as a Sundance Institute Screenwriters Lab finalist, and with Rebecca Walker, adapting her novel Áde: A Love Story for K Period Media. She has received fellowships from Yaddo and The MacDowell Colony. Visit Harper's website.

Leah Henderson

Writing for children & young adults

Washington, D.C.

Leah Henderson is the author of the middle grade novels The Magic in Changing Your Stars, a SCBWI Golden Kite Finalist, and One Shadow on the Wall, a Bank Street Best book. Her picture books include A Day for Rememberin’, Together We March, and the forthcoming titles Daddy Speaks Love and Your Voice, Your Vote. Leah mentors at-risk teens and is an avid traveler. Her volunteer work has roots in Mali, West Africa. She attended Callaloo Writing Workshop at Oxford University, is on Highlights Foundation faculty, and volunteers with Kweli Journal and We Need Diverse Books. She received her MFA here at Spalding and lives in Washington, D.C.

Roy Hoffman

Creative nonfiction, fiction

Fairhope, Alabama

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 Hoffman's website.

Silas House


Lexington, Kentucky

silas house mfa faculty headshotHouse is the author of six novels: Southernmost (long-listed for the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction), Same Sun Here (co-written with Neela Vaswani), Clay’s QuiltA Parchment of LeavesThe 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.

Jason Kyle Howard

Creative Nonfiction, Professional Writing

Lexington, Kentucky

Jason HowardJason Kyle Howard is the author of A Few Honest Words, an essay collection that explores how the land and culture of Kentucky have shaped American music through the work of musicians including Dwight Yoakam, Jim James, and Naomi Judd. He is the co-author of the essay and oral history collection Something’s Rising. His essays and commentary have appeared in The New York Times, Oxford American, Salon, The Nation, The Millions, Utne Reader, Paste, and Sojourners and have been featured on C-SPAN’s Book TV and NPR. He served as senior editor for Equal Justice Magazine and is currently editor of Appalachian Review. He teaches and directs the creative writing program at Berea College and he holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Howard's work often engages themes of history, popular culture, sexuality, female iconography, and the intersection of place and identity.

Angela Jackson-Brown


Eaton, Indiana

Angela Jackson-BrownAngela Jackson-Brown is an award-winning writer, poet, and playwright. Her novel When Stars Rain Down was released in 2021 from Thomas Nelson, an imprint of HarperCollins. She is the author of a previous novel, Drinking from a Bitter Cup, and a poetry collection, House Repairs, which won the 2021 Alabama Authors Award in poetry from the Alabama Library Association. Her short fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry have appeared in numerous literary journals, including The Louisville Review and Appalachian Review. Her plays have been included in the IndyFringe DivaFest, the Indiana Bicentennial Celebration at the Indiana Repertory Theatre, and OnyxFest. She teaches creative writing and English at Ball State University. She holds an MFA from Spalding University as well as degrees from Troy University and Auburn University. Visit Angela's website.

Erin Keane

Poetry, Professional Writing

Louisville, Kentucky

Erin KeaneErin Keane is editor in chief at, where she also writes about books, cocktails, and culture. Her memoir in essays, Runaway, is forthcoming from Belt Publishing in September 2022. She is also the author of three full-length poetry collections — Demolition of the Promised Land, Death-Defying Acts, and The Gravity Soundtrack — and editor of The Louisville Anthology, from Belt's city anthology series. Her poems, plays, essays, and award-winning journalism have been published in How to Read a Poem; David Bowie: A Life; All Things Considered and many other outlets. In 2018, she co-produced and co-hosted the limited-series audio project These Miracles Work: A Hold Steady Podcast. Keane is a recipient of the Al Smith Individual Artist Fellowship from the Kentucky Arts Council and the Marlene M. Helm Award for outstanding alumnus of the Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts. She holds an MFA from Spalding University.

Helena Kriel


Calabasas, California

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

Boston, Massachusetts

Robin LippincottCurrently working on a memoir, Lippincott is the author, most recently, of Blue Territory: A Meditation on the Life and Art of Joan Mitchell, and Rufus + Syd, a YA novel co-written with Spalding alum Julia Watts. He has also published the novels In the Meantime, Our Arcadia, and Mr. Dalloway, as well as a story collection, The ‘I’ Rejected. His work has appeared in more than thirty journals, including The Paris Review, Fence, American Short Fiction, and Provincetown Arts, and his fiction has been anthologized in Unbroken Circle: Stories of Cultural Diversity in the South, M2M: New Literary Fiction, and Rebel Yell. For ten years he reviewed art and photography books for The New York Times Book Review. He has received fellowships from Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony. He holds an MFA in Writing from Vermont College. He lives in the Boston area.

Douglas Manuel


Longbeach, California

Douglas ManuelManuel was born in Anderson, Indiana. He received a BA in Creative Writing from Arizona State University and a MFA from Butler University, where he was the Managing Editor of Booth a Journal. He is currently a Middleton and Dornsife Fellow at the University of Southern California where he is pursuing a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing. He has served as the Poetry Editor for Gold Line Press as well as one of the Managing Editors of Ricochet Editions. His poems are featured on Poetry Foundation's website and have appeared or are forthcoming in Poetry Northwest, The Los Angeles Review, Superstition Review, Rhino, North American Review, The Chattahoochee Review, New Orleans Review, Crab Creek Review, and elsewhere. His first full length collection of poems, Testify, was released by Red Hen Press in 2017. Visit Manuel's website.

Lee Martin

Fiction, Creative Nonfiction

Grove City, Ohio

Lee MartinMartin is the author of six novels, including The Bright Forever, a finalist for the 2006 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction. He has also published four memoirs and two short story collections, most recently The Mutual UFO Network, in addition to the craft book, Telling Stories. He is the winner of the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Ohio Arts Council. He teaches in the MFA Program at The Ohio State University. He holds an MFA from the University of Arkansas and a PhD in English from the University of Nebraska. Find him online at Martin's website.

Charles Maynard

Professional Writing

Louisville, Kentucky

Charles MaynardMaynard is the author of seven books in the Far Away Land Role-Playing Game series (under the pseudonym Dirk Stanley) and several card games. His most recent book is Far Away Land: Adventures in the Materiosphere (2021). His first novel, The Way Things End, was published in 2019. He is working on a middle-grade fantasy series as well as a new novel about consciousness and Appalachia. He is obsessed with emergent group storytelling. He is the BFA Director of Creative Writing at Spalding and teaches Professional Writing and Editing in Spalding's low-residency graduate certificate and MAW programs. He holds an MFA from Spalding University.

Nancy McCabe

Creative nonfiction, fiction

Bradford, Pennsylvania

nancy mccabe mfa faculty headshotMcCabe is the author of six books: a novel, Following Disasters, and five works of creative nonfiction, including Can This Marriage Be Saved? A Memoir, From Little Houses to Little Women: Revisiting a Literary Childhood, After the Flashlight Man: A Memoir of Awakening, 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 PhD in English from the University of Nebraska. Visit McCabe's website.

Karen Salyer McElmurray

Nonfiction, Fiction

Bradford, Pennsylvania

karen salyer mcelmurray mfa faculty headshotKaren Salyer McElmurray’s Surrendered Child: A Birth Mother’s Journey, was an AWP Award Winner for Creative Nonfiction. Her novels are The Motel of the Stars, Editor’s Pick by Oxford American, and Strange Birds in the Tree of Heaven, winner of the Chaffin Award for Appalachian Writing. Her nonfiction work has been a recipient of the Annie Dillard Award for Essay, the New Southerner Award, the Orison Anthology Award for Creative Nonfiction and, most recently, the LitSouth Award. She co-edited, with poet Adrian Blevins, an essay collection called Walk till the Dogs Get Mean. Wanting Radiance, her newest novel has just been released in paperback from University Press of Kentucky and Voice Lessons, a short collection of lyric essays, was released in June 2021 from Iris Press. McElmurray is currently a visiting writer at the University of South Dakota. She also teaches at Gettysburg College.

Eleanor Morse


Peaks Island, Maine

Eleanor Morse MFA faculty headshotMorse has published four novels: Margreete's Harbor, White Dog Fell from the Sky, which was a Publishers Weekly Pick of the Week, An Unexpected Forest, which won the 2008 Independent Book Publisher’s Award for best regional fiction and the 2008 Maine Literary Award, and Chopin’s Garden. Her short stories have been recently anthologized in two editions of North by Northeast. 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 and received a Master of Arts in teaching from Yale University and a Master of Fine Arts in writing from Vermont College. Visit Morse's website.

Lesléa Newman

Writing for children & young adults

Northampton, Massachusetts

Lesléa Newman MFA faculty headshotLesléa Newman has created 78 books for readers of all ages, including the teen novel-in-verse October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard, the middle-grade novel Hachiko Waits, the picture books, Gittel's Journey: An Ellis Island Story, Ketzel, the Cat Who Composed, Welcoming Elijah: A Passover Tale With A Tail, Heather Has Two Mommies, and Sparkle Boy, and the dual memoir-in-verse, I Carry My Mother and I WIsh My Father.  Her literary awards include two National Jewish Book Awards, two Association of Jewish Libraries Sydney Taylor Awards, two American Library Association Stonewall Honors, the Massachusetts Book Award, an Allen Ginsberg Poetry Award Honor, and a Robinson Jeffers Tor House Poetry Award Honor. She has received poetry fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Massachusetts Artists Foundation. From 2008 to 2010, she served as the poet laureate of Northampton, Massachusetts. her work has been translated into French, Italian, Spanish, German, Turkish, and Chinese. Visit Newman's website.

Kira Obolensky


Minneapolis, Minnesota

Kira Obolensky MFA faculty headshotKira Obolensky's plays have been produced Off Broadway, in Los Angeles, in Prague and Terezin, and in such locations as homeless shelters, prisons, tribal colleges, chemical dependency centers, and immigrant centers. She has received awards and fellowships for her work, including the Kesselring Prize, a Guggenheim Fellowship and most recently a Mellon Foundation National Playwright Fellowship, which put her in residence with the award-winning theater Ten Thousand Things. Her novella "The Anarchists Float to St. Louis" won Quarterly West’s Novella prize, and her short stories have most recently appeared in The Brooklyn Review. She attended Juilliard’s Playwriting Program and Williams College and is a core writer at the Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis.  New work includes Soul Machine (formerly Four Measures), (Rhinebeck Musical Theater Festival), There Once Was a Happy Consortium (2021, Wanderlust Theater), and breakfastlunchdinner (The Echo Theater, LA, developmental reading 2021).

Elaine Neil Orr

Creative nonfiction, fiction

Raleigh, North Carolina

Elaine Orr headshotOrr is a writer of fiction, memoir and literary criticism. Her newest novel is Swimming Between Worlds. 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 PhD in literature and theology at Emory University. Visit Orr's website.

Jeremy Paden


Lexington, Kentucky

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 PhD in Spanish and Latin American literature from Emory University.

Greg Pape


Frankfort, Kentucky

Greg PapeGreg 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


Austin, Texas

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 PhD in British Literature from Rice University. Visit Pipkin's website.

Bruce Marshall Romans

Screenwriting, Playwriting

Los Angeles, CA

Bruce Romans Bruce Marshall Romans writes and develops film and television projects in Los Angeles. His film credits include producing the independent film Blackbird, as well as writing the independent film How You Look To Me. His television credits include selling a variety of original drama pilots to networks such as ABC, NBC, Fox, Lifetime, and FX. He has also written and produced four seasons of Hell on Wheels on AMC, Steven Spielberg’s Falling Skies on TNT, Marco Polofor Netflix, Marvel's The Punisher on Netflix, and Messiah, also for Netflix. He is currently writing/co-executive producing a new drama, Shantaram, for Apple +.

Charlie Schulman

Playwriting, screenwriting

Washington, DC

Schulman’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.

Maggie Smith


Columbus, Ohio

Maggie Smith is the author of five books: Good Bones, The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison, Lamp of the Body, and the national bestsellers Keep Moving: Notes on Loss, Creativity, and Change and Goldenrod. Her poems and essays have appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Southern Review, The Guardian, The Paris Review, Washington Post, and Best American Poetry. She has received an NEA fellowship in poetry, a Pushcart Prize, and fellowships and awards from the Academy of American Poets, the Ohio Arts Council, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the Sustainable Arts Foundation. A freelance writer and editor, Smith serves as an Editor at Large for the Kenyon Review. Visit Smith's website here.

Jeanie Thompson


Montgomery, Alabama

Jeanie ThompsonThompson 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. Visit Thompson's website.

Neela Vaswani


New York, New York

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 PhD in cultural studies. An education activist in India and the United States, Vaswani founded the Storylines Project with the New York Public Library. Visit Vaswani's website.

Rebecca Walker

Creative nonfiction

Los Angeles, California

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 Walker's website.

Keith S. Wilson

Poetry, Professional Writing

Chicago, Illinois

Keith WilsonAuthor of the poetry collection Fieldnotes on Ordinary Love, Wilson is an Affrilachian Poet, Cave Canem fellow, and graduate of the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop. He has received both a Kenyon Review Fellowship and a Stegner Fellowship. He serves as Assistant Poetry Editor at Four Way Review and Digital Media Editor at Obsidian Journal. His work in interactive fiction includes A Day in the Life, a narrative decision-making game, and Black Box, an educational roleplaying game. His writing has appeared in Poetry, Adroit Journal, Crab Orchard Review, Little A, Narrative, 32 Poems, Rhino, Muzzle, Blueshift Journal, and Vinyl. He has received an NEA Grant, a Kenyon Review Fellowship in Poetry, a Best of the Net Award, and a Redivider Blurred Genre prize, and his work has been anthologized in Best New Poets. He holds an MFA from Chicago State University.

Sam Zalutsky


New York, New York

Sam ZalutskySam’s recent feature, Seaside, a revenge thriller starring Ariana DeBose, won the Best Feature Jury Award at the Klamath Independent Film Festival and the Yale in Hollywood Film Festival and is streaming now on Amazon. His first feature, You Belong to Me, a psychological horror story with a gay lead, was shortlisted for the Independent Spirit Award’s Someone to Watch Award and screened at Frameline, Outfest, Palm Springs, San Diego FilmOut (Audience Award, Best First Feature), and NewFest (Honorable Mention). Sam has directed on true crime shows, A Crime to Remember and I, Witness (Discovery ID). His short, How to Make It to the Promised Land, was funded by the Jerome Foundation. Residencies: the MacDowell Colony, VCCA, and Fundación Valparaiso. He holds an MFA in film from NYU Tisch School of the Arts and BA from Yale University. Visit Zalutsky's website.