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Visiting Writers | Creative Writing

    Our 2020 summer residency has moved online. Students, faculty, and community members will be able to join us online for presentations and performances by the following guests. Our summer program is held Monday evenings and begins on June 29, 2020.

    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.

    Contact Admissions

    Creative Writing Program

    Office of Graduate Admissions

    Phone: (352) 588-7404
    Toll Free: (800) 707-8846
    Fax: (352) 588-7873

    Office of Graduate Admissions
    Saint Leo University
    33701 State Road 52
    PO Box 6665, MC 2248
    Saint Leo, FL 33574

    Admissions Office Hours:
    Monday-Friday: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
    Select Saturdays: 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
    Closed Sundays

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