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School of Creative and Professional Writing Faculty and Directors

School of Writing Directors and Staff

Kathleen Driskell

Chair, School of Creative and Professional Writing

Louisville, Kentucky

kathleen-driskell-mfaDriskell 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. Individual poems have appeared in The Southern ReviewShenandoahNorth American ReviewHayden’s Ferry ReviewThe Greensboro ReviewRattle, and Mid-American Review, among others, and have been featured in anthologies and online at Poetry DailyVerse 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 a trustee of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs and 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

San Jose, California

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 San Jose, Calif. Visit Mann's website.

Lynnell Edwards

Associate Program Director, Poetry Faculty

Louisville, KY

Lynnell Edwards HeadshotLynnell 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 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. Her writing has appeared in Newsweek, LitHub, American Way in-flight magazine, Salon, Necessary Fiction,, The Louisville Review, and elsewhere. She serves on 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

Coordinator of Admissions and Independent Study

Louisville, Kentucky
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

Coordinator of Student Services and Marketing

Louisville, Kentucky

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.

School of Writing Faculty

Dianne Aprile

Creative nonfiction

Kirkland, Washington

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.

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.

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.

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 is a doctoral candidate in educational theatre at NYU.

K.L. Cook


Ames, Iowa

k l cook mfa faculty headshotK. 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 Best, 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.

Leslie Daniels


Ithaca, New York

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 Daniels' 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.

Pete Duval


Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Pete Duval Pete Duval is a fiction writer and photographer. His short story collection, Rear View (Houghton Mifflin), won the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference Bakeless Prize, the Connecticut Book Award, and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times’ Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction. A second collection, The Deposition, winner of the 2020 Juniper Prize for Fiction, will be published by The University of Massachusetts Press in the spring of 2021. Other awards include Grain Magazine’s Short Grain fiction prize and Florida State University’s World’s Best Short-Short Story prize. Pete has received fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and the Collegeville Center for Ecumenical Research, and is the recipient of two Connecticut artist grants. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Ascent, The Massachusetts ReviewAlaska Quarterly Review, Witness, Chelsea, Exquisite Corpse, and Appalachian Heritage, among other venues. As a street and landscape photographer, Pete explores urban Philadelphia, where he lives, and coastal Massachusetts, where he grew up—settings that figure significantly in his writing as well.

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.

Lamar Giles

Writing for Children & Young Adults

Harrisonburg, Virginia

Lamar Giles, MFA faculty Giles is an author, speaker, and founding member of the nonprofit We Need Diverse Books. His YA novel Fake ID was nominated for a 2015 Edgar® Award and received the Virginia State Reading Association’s 2015-2016 Readers Choice Award. His second novel, Endangered, was a finalist for the 2016 Edgar® Award. His novel Overturned was called “an utterly compelling whodunit” in a starred review from Kirkus Reviews. Spin was named a Kirkus Reviews Best YA Book of 2019. The Last Last-Day-of-Summer was a TIME Magazine Best Children’s Book of 2019. His most recent, Not So Pure and Simple, was a Project Lit YA Selection for the ’20-’21 school year. He holds an MFA from Old Dominion University.

Rachel Harper


Los Angeles, California

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 Harper's website.

Edie Hemingway

Writing for children & young adults

Frederick, Maryland

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 Hemingway's website.

Leah Henderson

Writing for children & young adults

Washington, D.C.

Leah HendersonHenderson’s novel One Shadow on the Wall is an Africana Children’s Book Award notable and a Bank Street Best Book of 2017, starred for outstanding merit. Her short story “Warning: Color May Fade” will appear in the YA anthology Black Enough: Stories of Being Young & Black in America, and her forthcoming picture books include Mamie on the Mound, Day for Rememberin’ and Together We March. 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 Howard

Creative Nonfiction, Professional Writing

Lexington, Kentucky

Jason HowardHoward is 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 author of the essay and oral history collection Something’s Rising (co-written with Silas House). 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 Heritage. He teaches and directs the creative writing program at Berea College. He holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Fenton Johnson

Creative nonfiction, fiction

Tucson, Arizona

fenton johnson mfa faculty headshot Johnson’s most recent book, At the Center of All Beauty:  Solitude and the Creative Life, was selected as a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Pick.  He is also the author of three novels, most recently The Man Who Loved Birds, and three books of literary nonfiction. His memoir Geography of the Heart received American Library Association and Lambda Literary Award, while his Keeping Faith: A Skeptic’s Journey Among Christian and Buddhist Monks received Lambda Literary and Kentucky Literary Awards. He has been featured on Terry Gross’s Fresh Air and is a regular contributor to Harper’s Magazine, with four cover essays.  He is creative writing professor emeritus at the University of Arizona. Visit Johnson's website,

Erin Keane

Poetry, Professional Writing

Louisville, Kentucky

Erin KeaneKeane is editor in chief at, where she also writes about books and culture, and author of three full-length poetry collections: Demolition of the Promised Land, Death-Defying Acts, and The Gravity Soundtrack. Her poems, plays, essays, and award-winning journalism have been published in How to Read a Poem; David Bowie: A Life; PANK; Forklift, Ohio; The Collagist; All Things Considered; American Theatre, and elsewhere. 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 LippincottLippincott 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 MeantimeOur 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 Review, Fence, American Short FictionProvincetown Arts and The Louisville Review, 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.

Charles Maynard

Professional Writing

Louisville, Kentucky

Charles MaynardMaynard is the author of the Far Away Land Role-Playing Game (under the pseudonym Dirk Stanley) and several card games. His first novel, The Way Things End, is forthcoming. He is currently finishing a middle-grade novella and is working on a new novel. He is the Writing Center Director at Spalding University, where he also serves as Assistant Professor of English in the School of Liberal Studies, teaching first-year writing. Maynard lives in Louisville with his wife. He spends his free time 3d printing, drawing, reading, making games, playing Tetris, and worrying incessantly about things out of his control. He hopes one day to release a progressive rock album about the creation and death of the universe. He holds an MFA from Spalding University.

Nancy McCabe

Creative nonfiction, fiction

Bradford, Pennsylvania

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 PhD in English from the University of Nebraska. Visit McCabe's website.

Eleanor Morse


Peaks Island, Maine

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 Morse's website.

Lesléa Newman

Writing for children & young adults

Northampton, Massachusetts

Lesléa Newman MFA faculty headshotNewman is the author of more than 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 Honor. She is a former Poet Laureate of Northampton, Mass. Recently she received the Matthew Shepard Foundation "Making a Difference Award" and the Association of Jewish Libraries Sydney Taylor Award. Her newest children's book, Gittel's Journey: An Ellis Island Story received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and School Library Journal. Visit Newman's website.

Kira Obolensky


Minneapolis, Minnesota

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

Raleigh, North Carolina

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 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 RomansBruce 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 Polo for Netflix, Marvel's The Punisher on Netflix, and Messiah, also for Netflix. He is currently writing/co-executive producing a new drama, Deputy, for Fox, as well as developing and writing an original television pilot, also for Fox.

Eric Schmiedl


Cleveland Heights, Ohio

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

Washington, DC

Charles SchulmanSchulman’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 smithMaggie Smith is the author of three award-winning books of poetry—Lamp of the Body, The Well Speaks of Its Own Poison, and Good Bones, which the Washington Post called one of the Five Best Poetry Books of the year—as well as three prizewinning chapbooks and a forthcoming essay collection. Smith’s poems and essays have appeared in the New York Times, Tin House, The Paris Review, AGNI, The Believer, the Washington Post, and Best American Poetry. Her viral poem “Good Bones,” called the “Official Poem of 2016” by Public Radio International, was featured on an episode the CBS drama Madam Secretary. A freelance writer and editor, and an editor at large for the Kenyon Review, Smith has received a Pushcart Prize as well as fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Sustainable Arts Foundation, the Ohio Arts Council, and the Academy of American Poets. 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.

Jacinda Townsend


Bloomington, Indiana

Jacinda TownsendJacinda Townsend is the author of Kif (Graywolf Press, 2022) and Saint Monkey (Norton, 2014), which was the winner of the 2015 Janet Heidinger Kafka Prize for best fiction written by a woman, and the 2015 James Fenimore Cooper Prize for best historical fiction. Saint Monkey was also the 2015 Honor Book of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. Jacinda has a BA from Harvard, a JD from Duke Law School, and an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She recently completed work on a third novel, James Loves Ruth, in which a young woman changes her identity and moves across the country after her father is killed during a shocking afternoon of police brutality.

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 ZalutskyZalutsky's second feature, Seaside, is a thriller set on the Oregon Coast starring Ariana DeBose (Hamilton). For his first feature, You Belong to Me, he was shortlisted for the Independent Spirit Award’s Someone to Watch Award. The film, available on iTunes and Amazon, and won the Audience Award, Best First Feature at San Diego FilmOut. Sam has directed second unit on two true crime shows, including Emmy-winner A Crime to Remember. His short film, How to Make it to the Promised Land, premiered on He also directed and produced the comedy web series, The Go-Getters. Sam has received residencies from The MacDowell Colony, Fundacion Valparaiso, and VCCA. He earned his BA in studio art from Yale and his MFA in film from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and is on twitter and instagram @zalutsky. Visit Zalutsky's website. Visit Zalutsky's website.