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Visiting Writers | Creative Writing

    2022 Distinguished Visiting Writers and Artists:

    Mary Biddinger

    Mary BiddingerMary Biddinger's seventh poetry collection is Department of Elegy (Black Lawrence Press, 2022). Poems have recently been published in Bennington ReviewCrazyhorseThe Laurel Review, and Pithead Chapel, among others. Flash fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Always CrashingDIAGRAMGone LawnOn the Seawall, and West Trestle Review. Biddinger has received awards and fellowships from the Cleveland Arts Prize, Ohio Arts Council, and National Endowment for the Arts. She teaches at the University of Akron, where she serves as chair of the departments of English and Modern Languages and is on the faculty of the NEOMFA. Since 2008 she has edited the Akron Series in Poetry for the University of Akron Press.


    Benjamin Busch

    Benjamin-BuschBenjamin Busch served 16 years as an infantry and reconnaissance officer in the US Marine Corps, deploying to Iraq in 2003 and 2005. His memoir Dust to Dust ranges from a boyhood of fort building and exploration in rural New York to deployment during the worst of the war in Iraq. He is also an actor, director and photographer, who portrayed Officer Anthony Colicchio in The Wire and is the writer/director of the film BRIGHT. He has been a contributor to Harper’sThe New York Times Magazine, NPR’s All Things Considered and The Daily Beast. He has also appeared as a guest commentator on NPR's All Things Considered. He lives on a farm in Michigan with his wife and two daughters


    Kristi Coulter

    Kristi Coulter Kristi Coulter is the author of the 2018 memoir-in-essays Nothing Good Can Come from This (MCD Books x FSG Originals), which was a finalist for the Washington State Book Award. Her work has appeared in The Paris Review, New York Magazine/The Cut, The Awl, Elle, Amazon Original Stories, GlamourVox, The Mississippi Review, Longreads, and elsewhere. She is a former Ragdale Foundation resident and the recipient of a grant from the National Foundation for Advancement in the Arts. She holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Michigan and teaches memoir writing at the University of Washington. She lives in Seattle and is at work on Exit Interview, a memoir about gender, ambition, and her twelve-year stint as an executive at Amazon (MCD x FSG, publication date TBD).


    Michelle Falkoff

    Michelle FalkoffMichelle Falkoff’s first young adult novel, Pushing Perfect, was selected as an NPR Great Read in 2015. She is also the author of three other YA novels—Pushing PerfectQuestions I Want to Ask You, and How to Pack for the End of the World—and her stories and reviews have been published in ZYZZYVA, the Harvard Review, the Cincinnati Review, among other places. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and currently serves as the Director of Communication and Legal Reasoning at Northwestern Pritzker School of Law.


    Amanda Leduc

    Amanda LeducAmanda Leduc is a writer, speaker, and disability rights advocate. She is the author of the non-fiction book Disfigured: On Fairy Tales, Disability, and Making Space (Coach House Books, 2020), which was longlisted for the 2020 Barbellion Prize, and the novel The Miracles of Ordinary Men (ECW Press, 2013). Her new novel, The Centaur’s Wifeis forthcoming from Random House Canada in February of 2021.

    Amanda holds a Masters degree in Creative Writing from the University of St. Andrews, Scotland (2008), and a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Philosophy from the University of Victoria, BC (2006). She speaks regularly at festivals, conferences, and events across Canada and the US on accessibility, inclusion, and disability in storytelling. She is the Communications and Development Coordinator for the Festival of Literary Diversity (FOLD), Canada’s first festival for diverse authors and stories, and contributes regularly to publications across Canada, the US, and the UK.


    2021 Distinguished Visiting Writers and Artists:

    Matt Bell

    Matt_BellMatt Bell’s next novel, Appleseed, is forthcoming from Custom House in July 2021. His craft book Refuse to Be Done, a guide to novel writing, rewriting, and revision, will follow in early 2022 from Soho Press. He is also the author of the novels Scrapper and In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods, as well as the short story collection A Tree or a Person or a Walla non-fiction book about the classic video game Baldur's Gate IIand several other titles. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Tin House, Conjunctions, Fairy Tale Review, American Short Fiction, and many other publications. A native of Michigan, he teaches creative writing at Arizona State University.


    Marissa Glover

    Marissa Glover Marissa Glover lives in Florida, where she teaches at Saint Leo University and serves as co-editor of Orange Blossom Review and a senior editor at The Lascaux Review. Marissa’s poetry was recently published in Rattle and SWWIM Every Day, and her poem “The World Asks Too Much of Mothers,” nominated by Whale Road Review, is a 2020 Best of the Net Finalist. Her full-length poetry collection, LET GO OF THE HANDS YOU HOLD, was released by Mercer University Press in April 2021. You can follow Marissa on Twitter and Instagram at _MarissaGlover_.



    Brandon Hobson

    BRANDON-HOBSONBrandon Hobson is the author of the novel The Removed, published earlier this year by HarperCollins. His previous book, Where the Dead Sit Talking, which was a finalist for the 2018 National Book Award for Fiction and winner of the Reading the West Book Award. His other books include Desolation of Avenues Untold and the novella Deep Ellum. His work has appeared in the Pushcart Prize anthology, The Believer, the Paris Review DailyConjunctionsNOON, and McSweeney’s, among other places. He is an assistant professor of creative writing at New Mexico State University and teaches in the MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts. Hobson is an enrolled citizen of the Cherokee Nation Tribe of Oklahoma.


    Dave Housley

    Dave Housley Dave Housley is the author of two novels and four story collections, most recently Howard and Charles at the Factory. His work has appeared in Booth, Hobart, Quarterly West, Ridivider, and some other places. He’s one of the Founding Editors and all around do-stuff people at Barrelhouse. He is the Director of Web Strategy at Penn State Outreach and Online Education. He tweets at @housleydave.




    R.O. Kwon

    R.O._Kwon R.O. Kwon’s nationally bestselling first novel, The Incendiaries, is published by Riverhead, and it is being translated into seven languages. Named a best book of the year by over forty publications, The Incendiaries received the Housatonic Book Award and was a finalist or nominated for seven other prizes, including the National Book Critics Circle First Book Award. Kwon was named one of four “writers to watch” by The New York Times, and she has received awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Yaddo, and MacDowell. Kwon and Garth Greenwell co-edited an anthology, Kink, published in 2021 by Simon and Schuster.


    Jennifer Maritza McCauley

    Jennifer-Maritza-McCauleyJennifer Maritza McCauley is a writer, teacher and editor. She received a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and awards from Best of the Net, Independent Publisher Book Awards, and a Pushcart Prize Special Mention. She received her PhD in creative writing & literature from the University of Missouri. She is presently fiction editor at Pleiades. Her cross-genre collection SCAR ON/SCAR OFF was released in 2017 on Stalking Horse Press. She teaches at the University of Houston-Clear Lake.




    Brenda Peynado

    Brenda PeynadoBrenda Peynado is a Dominican American writer of fiction, nonfiction, and screenplays. Her writing style ranges from lyric essays, magical realism, fabulism, science fiction, fantasy, surrealism, to some perfectly realistic exaggerations thrown in the mix. Her short story collection, THE ROCK EATERS, was published by Penguin Books in May 2021.

    Her work appears in, The Georgia Review, The Sun, Threepenny ReviewEpochKenyon Review online, Pleiades, Prairie Schooner, and elsewhere.  Her stories have won a Nelson Algren Award from the Chicago Tribune, an O. Henry Prize, a Pushcart Prize; inclusion in The Best American Science Fiction and FantasyBest Small Fiction, and Best Microfiction anthologies, two Vermont Studio Center Fellowships, and other awards.


    Leslie Pietrzyk

    Leslie-PietryzkLeslie Pietrzyk is the author of the novel Silver Girl, released in 2018 by Unnamed Press, and called “profound, mesmerizing, and disturbing” in a Publishers Weekly starred review. In November 2021, Unnamed Press will publish Admit This to No One, a collection of stories set in Washington, DC. Pietrzyk’s collection of unconventionally linked short stories, This Angel on My Chest, won the 2015 Drue Heinz Literature Prize and was published by the University of Pittsburgh Press. Kirkus Reviews named it one of the 16 best story collections of the year, Her previous novels are Pears on a Willow Tree and A Year and a Day. Short fiction and essays have appeared in Southern Review, Ploughshares, Gettysburg Review, Hudson Review, The Sun, Shenandoah, Arts & Letters, River Styx, Iowa Review, Washingtonian, The Collagist, Cincinnati Review, TriQuarterly, New England Review, Salon, WashingtonianWashington Post Magazine, and many others. She has received fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and in 2020, her story “Stay There” was awarded a Pushcart Prize. Pietrzyk is a member of the core fiction faculty at the Converse low-residency MFA program and often teaches in the MA Program in Writing at Johns Hopkins University. Raised in Iowa, she now lives in Alexandria, Virginia.


    Anjali Sachdeva

    Anjali SachdevaAnjali Sachdeva’s short story collection, All the Names They Used for God, was the winner of the 2019 Chautauqua Prize. It was named a Best Book of 2018 by NPR, Refinery 29, and BookRiot, and longlisted for the Story Prize. The New York Times Book Review called the collection "strange and wonderful," and Roxane Gay called it, "One of the best collections I’ve ever read. Every single story is a stand out." Her fiction has been published in McSweeney's, Lightspeed, and The Best American Nonrequired Reading, among other publications, and featured on the LeVar Burton Reads podcast--with a new story debuting July 6. Sachdeva is the recipient of a Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and an Investing in Professional Artists grant from the Heinz Endowments and the Pittsburgh Foundation. She currently teaches at the University of Pittsburgh, and in the low-residency MFA program at Randolph College.


    Avni Vyas

    Avni VyasAvni Vyas (she/her) is the author of Little God (Burrow Press 2021), Far From Glorious Feeling (The Offending Adam, 2021), and co-author of Candy In Our Brains (CutBank 2014). She serves as the Essays editor for Honey Literary and poetry editor at The Offending Adam. Her work has been published in journals such as Meridian, Grist, Conjunctions, Third Coast, Juked, and others. She teaches in the Writing Program at New College of Florida. You can visit her on Instagram(@singstooloud) and Twitter (@AvniDangerfield).

    2020 Distinguished Visiting Artists

    Benjamin Busch

    Benjamin-BuschBenjamin Busch served 16 years as an infantry and reconnaissance officer in the US Marine Corps, deploying to Iraq in 2003 and 2005. His memoir Dust to Dust ranges from a boyhood of fort building and exploration in rural New York to deployment during the worst of the war in Iraq. He is also an actor, director and photographer, who portrayed Officer Anthony Colicchio in The Wire and is the writer/director of the film BRIGHT. He has been a contributor to Harper’sThe New York Times Magazine, NPR’s All Things Considered and The Daily Beast. He has also appeared as a guest commentator on NPR's All Things Considered. He lives on a farm in Michigan with his wife and two daughters


    Peter Lenkov

    Peter-LenkovPeter Lenkov is an Emmy Award-nominated writer and producer. His notable work includes the television series La Femme NikitaHawaii Five-024 and CSI: NY and films such as R.I.P.D.Demolition Man and Son in Law. As a comic book author, he wrote R.I.P.D. and Fort: Prophet of the Unexplained, which was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award for Best Illustrated Narrative. In 2011, his television series Hawaii Five-0 was awarded Best New Drama at the People's Choice Awards. Lenkov's second comic series Fort: Prophet of the Unexplained was also recently put into development at Universal with Robert Zemeckis attached to direct. He is also the executive producer of Magnum PI and MacGyver, currently airing on CBS.


    Joe Pernice


    Joe Pernice is an American musician and writer best known for his work as a member of Scud Mountain Boys and the Pernice Brothers. He has recorded 17 albums, published two works of fiction and one book of poetry. He has also written for television. Since 1999 he has co-owned and operated Ashmont Records, a record company headquartered in Dorchester, MA. He currently lives in Toronto, Ontario.


    Kathy Valentine

    Kathy-ValentineKathy Valentine has been a working musician and songwriter for over 40 years, most notably as a member of the Go-Go’s. Kathy co-wrote the Go-Go’s hit songs "Vacation" and “Head Over Heels.” The band has sustained its career with touring, a Broadway musical and  film documentary.

    In Spring 2020, Valentine released a widely acclaimed memoir, published by the University of Texas Press, with an accompanying soundtrack.

    In addition to her on-going musical and writing pursuits, Kathy has found opportunities as a keynote speaker, spokesperson, actress, producer, and college student.  In 2017, she created the “She Factory,” an event series to raise money for women-centered non-profits.

    She resides in her hometown of Austin, Texas, with her teenaged daughter she says is her “greatest pride and joy.”  


    Visiting Writers

    Sandra Beasley

    Sandra-BeasleySandra Beasley is the author of Made to Explode (forthcoming 2021); Count the Waves; I Was the Jukebox, winner of the Barnard Women Poets Prize; Theories of Falling, winner of the New Issues Poetry Prize; and Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales from an Allergic Life, a disability memoir. She also edited Vinegar and Char: Verse from the Southern Foodways Alliance. She lives in Washington, D.C.


    Mary Miller

    Mary MillerMary Miller is the author of two collections of short stories, Big World and Always Happy Hour, as well as the novels The Last Days of California and Biloxi. Her stories have appeared in The Paris Review, the Oxford American, Norton's Seagull Book of Stories, The Best of McSweeney’s Quarterly, and American Short Fiction, among others. She is a former James A. Michener Fellow in Fiction at the University of Texas and John and Renée Grisham Writer-in-Residence at the University of Mississippi. 


    David Phillip Mullins


    David Philip Mullins is the author of The Brightest Place in the World, a novel, and Greetings from Below, a collection of stories.  He is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and his work has appeared in The Yale ReviewThe Massachusetts ReviewNew England ReviewCimarron Review, and elsewhere.  He has received fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Yaddo, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, the Nebraska Arts Council, and the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame.  He is an associate professor at Creighton University.

    Aimee Nezhukumatathil

    Aimee Nezhukumatathil

    Aimee Nezhukumatathil is the author of four books of poetry, most recently, Oceanic, winner of the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award. Other awards for her writing include fellowships and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Mississippi Arts Council, and The MacDowell Colony. Her writing appears in Poetry, The New York Times Magazine, ESPN, and Tin House. Her book of illustrated nature essays is forthcoming with Milkweed. She serves as poetry faculty for the Writing Workshops in Greece and is professor of English and Creative Writing in the University of Mississippi’s MFA program.

    Dustin Parsons

    Dustin Parsons

    Dustin Parsons is the author of Exploded View: Essays on Fatherhood, with Diagrams (University of Georgia Press, 2018). His essays have appeared or are forthcoming in magazines such as The Georgia Review, Brevity, Hotel Amerika, Pleiades, and many more. He teaches at the University of Mississippi and lives in Oxford, MS. 

    Elizabeth Wetmore

    Beth Wetmore

    Elizabeth Wetmore is the author of the debut novel VALENTINE, is forthcoming in April 2020 from Harper Books. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she is also the recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and two fellowships from the Illinois Arts Council as well as a grant from the Barbara Deming Foundation. In addition, she was a Rona Jaffe Scholar in Fiction at Bread Loaf and a Fellow at the MacDowell Colony. Her short stories have appeared in the Iowa Review, Crab Orchard Review, Kenyon Review, and other journals. Before devoting herself to writing, Elizabeth variously tended bar, waited tables, taught English composition, drove a cab, edited psychology dissertations, and painted silos and cooling towers at a petrochemical plant. She lives in Chicago with her husband and son, but she dreams of being bicoastal (Lake Michigan and Lake Travis).

    2019 Visiting Writers

    Julianna Baggott

    julianna baggottJulianna Baggott is the critically acclaimed, bestselling author of over twenty books, published under her own name and various pen names. Her novels Pure and Harriet Wolf’s Seventh Book of Wonders were New York Times Notable Books of the Year. Her essays and poems have appeared in The Washington Post, The New York Times Book Review, Poetry, Agni, Best American Poetry, and on NPR’s Talk of the Nation, All Things Considered, and Here and Now. There are over one hundred foreign editions of her books. She teaches screenwriting at Florida State University’s College Motion Picture Arts. You can find her six-week audio series on Efficient Creativity here; the first episode is free, available on SoundCloud.

    Elise Blackwell

    Elise Blackwell 19

    Elise Blackwell is the author of five novels: Hunger, The Unnatural History of Cypress Parish, Grub, An Unfinished Score, and The Lower Quarter. Her work has been translated into several languages, and her books have been named to numerous "best of the year" lists, adapted for the stage, and served as the inspiration for a Decemberists’ song. Originally from southern Louisiana, she currently teaches at the University of South Carolina, where she is also host and organizer of The Open Book.


    Peter Bognanni

    Peter Bognanni

    Peter Bognanni is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop. His debut novel, The House of Tomorrow, won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for first fiction and the ALA Alex Award and has been adapted into a feature film. He teaches creative writing at Macalester College in Saint Paul, Minnesota. His new book is called This Book is Not Yet Rated.

    Kristin Hersh

    Kristin Hersh 16

    Songwriter, guitarist and singer, Kristin Hersh has released over 20 records solo, with Throwing Muses and 50FOOTWAVE. She is the author of the memoir Don’t Suck, Don’t Die, about her friendship with singer-songwriter Vic Chesnutt. She’s also the author of an acclaimed memoir — based on her teenage diary — about a particularly eventful year, titled Rat Girl in the USA (published by Penguin), and titled Paradoxical Undressing in the UK (published by Atlantic Books). 

    Erika Meitner

    Erika Meitner

    Erika Meitner is the winner of the 2018 National Jewish Book Award for Poetry and author of five books of poems: Holy Moly Carry MeInventory at the All-Night DrugstoreMakeshift Instructions for Vigilant Girls; and Ideal Cities, which was a 2009 National Poetry series winner; and Copia. Her poetry and prose have been widely anthologized. Born and raised in Queens and Long Island, NY, Meitner is a first-generation American: her father is from Israel; her mother was born in a refugee camp in Germany, which is where her maternal grandparents settled after surviving the Holocaust. Meitner is currently an associate professor of English at Virginia Tech, where she directs the MFA and undergraduate programs in Creative Writing.

    Mark Winegardner

    Mark Winegardner

    Mark Winegardner's books include the novels The Veracruz Blues, Crooked River Burning, The Godfather Returns, and The Godfather’s Revenge, the story collection That’s True of Everybody and the textbook 3x33.  He is now working on a novel called Florabama Normal. A Senior Writer for The Oxford American and a frequent contributor to ESPN The Magazine, Winegardner's work has also appeared in Details, Esquire, Five Points, GQ, The New York Times Magazine, Playboy, Ploughshares, and many others. Winegardner has taught at George Washington University and John Carroll University and is currently the the Burroway Chair of English & Distinguished Research Professor at Florida State University.

    2018 Distinguished Visiting Writers

    Adam Johnson


    Adam Johnson  is a Professor of English with emphasis in creative writing at Stanford University. Winner of a Whiting Award and Fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the American Academy in Berlin, he is the author of several books, including Fortune Smiles, which won the 2015 National Book Award, and the novel The Orphan Master’s Son, which was awarded the 2013 Pulitzer Prize. His fiction has appeared in Esquire, GQ, Playboy, Harper's Magazine, Granta, Tin House and The Best American Short Stories. His work has been translated into more than thirty languages.

    Steve Almond

    Photo of Steve Almond

    Steve Almond is the author of nine books of fiction and non-fiction, most recently “Bad Stories: What the Hell Just Happened to Our Country.” His short fiction has appeared in the Best American Short Stories and Pushcart Anthologies, Best American Mysteries, and Best American Erotica. His essays have appeared in Tin House, the New York Times Magazine, and elsewhere. He hosts the New York Times podcast “Dear Sugars” with Cheryl Strayed. 


    Beth Ann Fennelly

    Photo of Author Beth Ann Fennelly
    Beth Ann Fennelly
    , Poet Laureate of Mississippi, teaches in the MFA Program at the University of Mississippi, where she was named Outstanding Teacher of the Year. She’s won grants and awards from the N.E.A., the United States Artists, a Pushcart, and a Fulbright to Brazil. Fennelly has published three poetry books: Open House, Tender Hooks, and Unmentionables, a book of nonfiction, Great with Child, and The Tilted World, a novel she co-authored with her husband, Tom Franklin. Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs  will be published by Norton Oct. 10, ‘17. Fennelly and Franklin live in Oxford with their three children.

    Tom Franklin

    Photo of Author Tom Franklin
    Tom Frankin
    , is the award-winning and New York Times  bestselling author of Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, which was nominated for nine awards and won the Los Angeles Times  Book Prize and the prestigious Crime Writers’ Association’s Gold Dagger Award. His previous works include the Edgar-winning story, Poachers, from the collection under the same title, as well as Hell at the Breech, Smonk, and The Tilted World, co-authored with Beth Ann Fennelly. Winner of a 2001 Guggenheim Fellowship, he teaches in the University of Mississippi’s MFA program.

    Amina Gautier

    Photo of Author Tom Franklin
    Amina Gautier
    ,is the author of three short story collections: At-Risk, Now We Will Be Happy and The Loss of All Lost Things. At-Risk was awarded the Flannery O’Connor Award and the Eric Hoffer Legacy Award. Now We Will Be Happy was awarded the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction, the International Latino Book Award, the Royal Palm Literary Award was a Finalist for the William Saroyan International Prize. The Loss of All Lost Things was awarded the Elixir Press Award in Fiction, the Phillis Wheatley Award, the Chicago Public Library’s 21st Century Award, and was a Finalist for the Hurston/Wright Award, the Paterson Prize, and the John Gardner Award. She has been the recipient of fellowships and grants from the American Antiquarian Society, the Camargo Foundation, the Chateau de Lavigny, Dora Maar House/Brown Foundation, the MacDowell Colony, the Vermont Studio Center, and the Woodrow Wilson Foundation.

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