Core and Visiting Faculty
Marlin Barton (Fiction) Barton is the recipient of a number of prizes for his short stories, including the Andrew Lytle Award from The Sewanee Review and the first Truman Capote Prize for short fiction by an Alabama writer. He is the author of the story collections The Dry Well, Dancing by the River and Pasture Art and the novels A Broken Thing and The Cross Garden. His newest novel, Children of Dust, is scheduled for publication in September of 2021. Individual work has appeared in Shenandoah, The Southern Review, VQR, Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards, and Best American Short Stories, and recently in Alabama Noir. Barton has received two Individual Artist Fellowships from the Alabama State Council on the Arts. He earned his MFA from Wichita State University and currently lives in Montgomery, Alabama where he is assistant director of the Writing Our Stories project for juvenile offenders.
Suzanne Cleary (Poetry) is happy to say that Crude Angel (BkMk Press 2018) was recognized as a finalist for the Paterson Poetry Prize and the Kessler Award. Her third book, Beauty Mark, won the John Ciardi Prize for Poetry (BkMk Press 2013). Her other awards include a Pushcart Prize, the Cecil Hemley Memorial Award of the Poetry Society of America, and fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and Yaddo. Her poems appear in anthologies including Best American Poetry and in journals including Georgia Review, Southern Review, New Ohio Review, and Poetry London. She is currently working on her fifth book, a new-and-selected volume.
Tyree Daye is a poet from Youngsville, North Carolina. He is the author of two poetry collections, River Hymns 2017 APR/Honickman First Book Prize winner and Cardinal published by Copper Canyon Press.
Daye is a 2017 Ruth Lilly Finalist and Cave Canem fellow. Daye’s work is published in Prairie Schooner, New York Times, American Poetry Review, The New Yorker, and Nashville Review. Daye won the 2019 Palm Beach Poetry Festival Langston Hughes Fellowship, 2019 Diana and Simon Raab Writer-In-Residence at UC Santa Barbara and is a 2019 Kate Tufts Finalist. Daye most recently was awarded a 2019 Whiting Writers Award.
Denise Duhamel (Poetry and Creative Nonfiction) is, most recently, the author of Second Story (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2021) and Scald (Pittsburgh, 2017). Blowout (Pittsburgh, 2013) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. Her other titles include Ka-Ching! (Pittsburgh, 2009), Two and Two (Pittsburgh, 2005), Mille et un Sentiments (Firewheel, 2005), Queen for a Day: Selected and New Poems (Pittsburgh, 2001); The Star-Spangled Banner (Southern Illinois University Press, 1999); and Kinky (Orchises Press, 1997). A bilingual edition of her poems, Afortunada de mí (Lucky Me), translated into Spanish by Dagmar Buchholz and David Gonzalez, came out in 2008 with Bartleby Editores (Madrid.) She served as guest editor of The Best American Poetry 2013. Her nonfiction has appeared in The New York Times and her book of lyric essays with Julie Marie Wade is The Unrhymables: Collaborations in Prose (Noctuary Press, 2019). A recipient of NEA and Guggenheim Fellowships, she also is a professor at Florida International University in Miami.
Geoff Herbach (YA Fiction) is the author of nine novels, including those in the Stupid Fast trilogy, Fat Boy vs. The Cheerleaders, and Hooper. His books have received the Cybil’s Award for best YA fiction, the Minnesota Book Award, Outstanding Book by a Wisconsin author and have been listed among the year’s best by many organizations, including the American Library Association and the American Booksellers Association. In the past, Geoff wrote and performed comedy and traveled around the country telling weird stories in rock clubs. He lives in St. Peter, Minnesota and teaches writing at Minnesota State, Mankato. His new book, Cracking the Bell, comes out from Katherine Tegen/HarperCollins in the Fall of 2019.
Cary Holladay (Fiction) is the author of Brides in the Sky: Stories and a Novella (Ohio UP 2019) and seven previous volumes of fiction, including Horse People: Stories (LSU Press 2013) and The Deer in the Mirror (Ohio State UP 2013). Her awards include an O. Henry Prize and a literary fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. A native of Virginia, she teaches at the University of Memphis.
Ashley M. Jones
Ashley M. Jones is Poet Laureate of the state of Alabama (2022-2026). She received an MFA in Poetry from Florida International University (FIU), where she was a John S. and James L. Knight Foundation Fellow.
She served as Official Poet for the City of Sunrise, Florida’s Little Free Libraries Initiative from 2013-2015, and her work was recognized in the 2014 Poets and Writers Maureen Egen Writer’s Exchange Contest and the 2015 Academy of American Poets Contest at FIU. She was also a finalist in the 2015 Hub City Press New Southern Voices Contest, the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award Contest, and the National Poetry Series.
Her poems and essays appear or are forthcoming in many journals and anthologies, including CNN, the Academy of American Poets, POETRY, Tupelo Quarterly, Prelude, Steel Toe Review, Fjords Review, Quiet Lunch, Poets Respond to Race Anthology, Night Owl, The Harvard Journal of African American Public Policy, pluck!, Valley Voices: New York School Edition, Fjords Review: Black American Edition, PMSPoemMemoirStory (where her work was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2016), Kinfolks Quarterly, Tough Times in America Anthology, and Lucid Moose Press’ Like a Girl: Perspectives on Femininity Anthology. She received a 2015 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award and a 2015 B-Metro Magazine Fusion Award. She was an editor of PANK Magazine.
Her debut poetry collection, Magic City Gospel, was published by Hub City Press in January 2017, and it won the silver medal in poetry in the 2017 Independent Publishers Book Awards. Her second book, dark // thing, won the 2018 Lena-Miles Wever Todd Prize for Poetry from Pleiades Press. Her third collection, REPARATIONS NOW! is forthcoming in Fall 2021 from Hub City Press. She won the 2018 Lucille Clifton Poetry Prize from Backbone Press, and she is the 2019 winner of the Lucille Clifton Legacy Award from St. Mary’s College of Maryland.
Jones is a recipient of a Poetry Fellowship from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and a 2020 Alabama Author Award from the Alabama Library Association. She was a finalist for the Ruth Lily Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship in 2020. She currently lives in Birmingham, Alabama, where she is founding director of the Magic City Poetry Festival, board member of the Alabama Writers Cooperative and the Alabama Writers Forum, co-director of PEN Birmingham, and a faculty member in the Creative Writing Department of the Alabama School of Fine Arts. She is also a member of the Core Faculty at Converse University’s Low Residency MFA Program. Jones recently served as a guest editor for Poetry Magazine.
Rick Mulkey (Poetry) is the author of six collections including Ravenous: New & Selected Poems, Toward Any Darkness, Before the Age of Reason, Bluefield Breakdown, and All These Hungers. His work appears in the anthologies American Poetry: the Next Generation, The Southern Poetry Anthology: Volume I and Volume II, and A Millennial Sampler of South Carolina Poetry, among others. Individual poems and essays have appeared in a variety of venues such as Crab Orchard Review, Denver Quarterly, The Literary Review, Poet Lore, Poetry East, Shenandoah, Southern Poetry Review and Poetry Daily. His awards include the Hawthornden Fellowship for Writing, the Charles Angoff Award from The Literary Review, the Editor’s Choice Award from Still: the Journal, and the Gearhart Prize from Southeast Review. An Associate Professor of English and director of creative writing, Mulkey is co-founder of the Low Residency MFA in creative writing at Converse College.
Sheila O’Connor is a multi-genre writer who writes books for both adults and young people. Her novels Until Tomorrow, Mr. Marsworth, Tokens of Grace, Where No Gods Came, Sparrow Road, and Keeping Safe the Stars have received wide critical acclaim and awards, including the Michigan Prize for Literary Fiction, Minnesota Book Award, International Reading Award, and Midwest Booksellers Award, among others. Her new hybrid novel, Reconstructing V will be forthcoming from Rose Metal Press in October 2019. Her books have been included in Best Books of the Year by Booklist, VOYA, Book Page, Bank Street, Chicago Public Library, and Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers. Sheila’s work has been anthologized in Riding Shotgun: Women Write about Their Mothers, The Next Parish Over, Mothers and Daughters, and Best of Helicon Nine. Her short stories, poems, and essays have been published in magazines and anthologies including Bellingham Review, Minnesota Monthly, Alaska Quarterly Review, Baltimore Review, Great River Review, Blue Earth Review, and others. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Sheila O’Connor has been awarded Bush Fellowships (2003, 2009), Minnesota State Arts Board Fellowships (2004, 2015), and a McKnight Fellowship. She has also been the recipient of artist residencies from The Studios of Key West, Anderson Center for Interdisciplinary Studies, Tyrone Guthrie Center, and Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild. She is a professor in the MFA program at Hamline University where she serves as fiction editor for Water~Stone Review.
Robert Olmstead (Fiction) is the author of nine books, including Savage Country which was published by Algonquin in September 2017, and was an Amazon “Best Book of October 2017.” Other recent award-winning novels include The Coldest Night, and Coal Black Horse published by Algonquin Books. He also has published a textbook for fiction-writing workshops (“Elements of the Craft”) and a non-fiction memoir (“Stay Here with Me: A Memoir”), plus numerous individual stories and essays in some of our nation’s finest magazines. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim fellowship and an NEA grant. He has taught in numerous colleges, universities and writing workshops, including Dickinson College, UC Irvine, Boise State University and the Summer Literary Seminars in St. Petersburg, Russia. His novel Far Bright Star is in production as a feature film directed by Casey Affleck, starring Joaquin Phoenix, and adapted for the screen by Damien Ober.
Leslie Pietrzyk (Fiction and nonfiction) Leslie Pietrzyk’s collection of linked stories set in DC, Admit This to No One, is forthcoming in November 2021 from Unnamed Press, the publisher of her 2018 novel Silver Girl, which received a starred review from Publishers Weekly. Her first collection of short stories, This Angel on My Chest, won the 2015 Drue Heinz Literature Prize and was published by University of Pittsburgh Press. She is the author of two additional novels, Pears on a Willow Tree (Avon) and A Year and a Day (William Morrow). Her award-winning short fiction and essays have appeared in, among others, Ploughshares, Story Magazine, The Hudson Review, Southern Review, Arts & Letters, Shenandoah, The Gettysburg Review, The Iowa Review, Washingtonian, The Sun, Salon, New England Review, River Styx, Hobart, Midwestern Gothic, Cincinnati Review, and The Washington Post Magazine. Awards include a Pushcart Prize in 2020 and the 2020 Creative Arts Prize from the Polish American Historical Association. Organizations awarding fellowships include the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, the Hermitage Artist Retreat, Virginia Center for the Arts, Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, the Hambidge Center, Jentel Foundation, and Hawthornden International Retreat at Hawthornden Castle in Scotland.
Flash fiction: “Acquiescence” from Shenandoah
Susan Tekulve’s newest book is Second Shift: Essays (Del Sol Press, 2018). She is the author of In the Garden of Stone, winner of the 2012 South Carolina First Novel Prize and a 2014 Gold IPPY Award. She’s also published two short story collections: Savage Pilgrims and My Mother’s War Stories. Her nonfiction, short stories and essays have appeared in journals such as Denver Quarterly, Indiana Review, The Georgia Review, Connecticut Review, The Louisville Review, Puerto del Sol, New Letters, and Shenandoah. Her web chapbook, Wash Day, appears in the Web Del Sol International Chapbook Series, and her story collection, My Mother’s War Stories, received the 2004 Winnow Press fiction prize. She has received scholarships from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. She teaches in the BFA and MFA writing programs at Converse.
Richard Tillinghast (Poetry and Nonfiction) is the author of twelve books of poetry and five of creative nonfiction. He studied with Robert Lowell at Harvard while getting his PhD there and later wrote a critical memoir, Robert Lowell’s Life and Work: Damaged Grandeur. With a Sinclair-Kennedy travel grant from Harvard he traveled in Europe in 1966-67, and again in 1990-91 with an Amy Lowell travel grant, also from Harvard.
His Selected Poems came out in 2010, and in 2010 he was awarded a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship in poetry in addition to a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in translation for Dirty August, his versions of poems by the Turkish poet, Edip Cansever, written in collaboration with his daughter, Julia Clare Tillinghast. Poems of his have appeared in The Atlantic, Paris Review, The New Yorker, American Poetry Review, Poetry, Best American Poetry, The Best of Irish Poetry, and many other places. His 2012 travel book, An Armchair Traveller’s History of Istanbul, was nominated for the Royal Society of Literature’s Ondaatje Prize. He has been a faculty member at Harvard, Berkeley, the University of Michigan, the college program at San Quentin prison, and Sewanee. Beginning in 2005 Richard lived in Ireland for six years, moving back to this country in 2011. He currently teaches part-time in Converse College’s low-residency MFA program and divides his time between Sewanee, Tennessee, and the Big Island of Hawaii.
Noah Ballard is an agent at Curtis Brown, Ltd. He studied creative writing at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln and began his career in publishing at Emma Sweeney Agency. Noah focuses on literary fiction, short story collections and narrative non-fiction, including memoir, journalism and pop culture. Noah has appeared at graduate writing programs and writers conferences across the country speaking about query letters, building non-fiction platforms and submission etiquette. A New Jersey native, Noah currently lives in Brooklyn.
Josh Bell (Poetry) is Senior Lecturer at Harvard University. He’s published the poetry collections No Planets Strike and Alamo Theory, and he is the recent recipient of a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Bryn Chancellor (Fiction) is the author of the novel Sycamore (Harper/HarperCollins 2017), which was a Southwest Book of the Year, an Indie Next pick, an Amazon Editors’ Best Book of 2017, and among Bustle‘s Best Debuts of 2017. Her story collection When Are You Coming Home? (University of Nebraska Press 2015) won the Prairie Schooner Book Prize, and her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Gulf Coast, Blackbird, Colorado Review, Crazyhorse, Phoebe, The Common, Publishers Weekly, and elsewhere. She is a grateful recipient of fellowships from the Alabama, Arizona, and North Carolina state arts councils and the Poets and Writers Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award.
C. Michael Curtis
C. Michael Curtis (Nonfiction and Fiction) has been the influential fiction editor at The Atlantic Monthly for more than four decades. Under his direction The Atlantic Monthly’s fiction has received a prestigious National Magazine Award and individual stories selected and edited by Curtis have year after year been included in such important annual prize collections as Best American Short Fiction, the Pushcart Prize and others. Curtis has also edited several books including American Stories: Fiction From The Atlantic Monthly, Contemporary New England Stories, Contemporary West Coast Stories, God: Stories, and many more. His own essays, articles, reviews, and poems have been published in The Atlantic, The New Republic, National Review, and Sport, among other periodicals. Curtis is also renowned for his teaching, and he has taught creative writing and other subjects at Harvard, MIT, Cornell, Tufts, Boston University, Bennington, and Wofford.
Nonfiction writer Tessa Fontaine spent a season performing with the last traveling circus sideshow, the World of Wonders, where she learned to eat fire, charm snakes, and dance with four legs. Her book about that experience, THE ELECTRIC WOMAN, was published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in May 2018. Raised outside San Francisco, Tessa received her M.F.A. from the University of Alabama. She has won awards in fiction, nonfiction, and poetry, the University of Alabama’s National Alumni Fellowship, Boone Fellowship, Truman Capote Award, First-Year Teaching Award, the Robert Snow Fellowship at the University of Utah, and fellowships from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Writing by Writers, the Taft Nicholson Center, and more. Her nonfiction won the 2016 Associated Writing Program’s Intro Journals Prize.
For four years, Tessa has been teaching creative writing and performance inside prisons and jails in Alabama and Utah. In 2016, she founded a Salt Lake City Writers in the Schools program. She currently lives in South Carolina.
Jonathan Bohr Heinen
Heinen’s writing has appeared in Florida Review, Cimarron Review, Arroyo, The Boiler, Tusculum Review, The McNeese Review, and elsewhere, and has received special mention from the Pushcart Prize. He teaches writing and publishing courses for the undergraduate and MFA programs at the College of Charleston, where he is also the managing editor for Crazyhorse.
Leah Huizar (Poetry) is a Mexican-American writer originally from Southern California. Her writing and research interests center on the cultural and historic landscape of the west coast. She holds an MFA from Penn State University and is an Assistant Professor of English at Drake University. She is the writer of Inland Empire, her first collection of poetry.
She can be found online at leahhuizar.com.
Born and raised in Topeka, Kansas, Gary Jackson is the author of the poetry collection Missing You, Metropolis, which received the 2009 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. His poems have appeared in Callaloo, Tin House, Crab Orchard Review, and elsewhere. He is the recipient of both a Cave Canem and Bread Loaf fellowship, and an associate poetry editor at Crazyhorse. He currently teaches in the MFA program at the College of Charleston in Charleston, SC.
Julia Koets is the author of The Rib Joint: A Memoir in Essays (2019, Red Hen Press), Pine (forthcoming April 5, 2020, Southern Indiana Review Press), and Hold Like Owls (2012, The University of South Carolina Press). She is the winner of the 2017 Red Hen Press Nonfiction Book Award judged by Mark Doty, the 2019 Michael Waters Poetry Prize, and the 2011 South Carolina Poetry Book Prize judged by National Book Award Winner Nikky Finney. Julia’s essays and poems have been published or are forthcoming in literary journals including Creative Nonfiction, Indiana Review, Nimrod, The Los Angeles Review, Carolina Quarterly, and Portland Review. She earned her M.F.A. at the University of South Carolina and her Ph.D. in Creative Writing and Literature at the University of Cincinnati. She is an Assistant Professor of creative nonfiction at the University of South Florida in Tampa.
Margaret’s essays have appeared in USA Today, The Washington Post, The Huffington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Boston Herald, Glamour, The Millions, The Morning Consult, Teachers & Writers Magazine, The Montréal Review, National Geographic for Kids, Southern Accents, Mississippi Magazine, and other periodicals. Her short stories have appeared in Ploughshares, Deep South Magazine, StorySouth, TriQuarterly, Michigan Quarterly Review, The Greensboro Review, Other Voices, Boulevard, The Arkansas Review, Southern California Anthology, and The Sun among other journals and anthologies. A recipient of a National Endowment of Arts Fellowship in literature and a Fulbright at the University of Pécs in Pécs, Hungary, Margaret has served as a faculty mentor at the Stony Brook Southampton Low-res MFA Program in New York where she also taught on the summer faculty. She was the Melvin Peterson Endowed Chair in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Evansville, where she taught for 25 years. She writes full time now in Pass Christian, Mississippi.
Juan J. Morales is the author of three poetry collections, including Friday and the Year That Followed, The Siren World and The Handyman’s Guide to End Times (forthcoming UNM Press, 2018). His poetry has appeared in Copper Nickel, Crab Orchard Review, Green Mountains Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Pank, Pleiades, terrain.org, Zone 3, and others. He is also a CantoMundo Fellow, Editor/Publisher of Pilgrimage Press, and Department Chair of English & World Languages at Colorado State University-Pueblo.
John Morgenstern (Editor/Publisher) has worked in publishing for nearly two decades. He began his career in trade publishing at Simon & Schuster, Henry Holt, and as a freelance editor. While completing his doctorate at the University of Oxford, he was an editorial assistant in the journals division at Oxford University Press. He has published articles and book chapters on literature and the arts and edited several essay collections for university presses. He is currently the director of Clemson University Press.
Amy Reed is the award-winning author of several novels for young adults, including The Nowhere Girls, The Boy and Girl Who Broke the World, Beautiful, Clean, and Crazy. She also edited the anthology Our Stories, Our Voices: 21 YA Authors Get Real About Injustice, Empowerment, And Growing Up Female in America. Her newest book, the psychological thriller Tell Me My Name (forthcoming March 2021), is a near-future, gender-swapped retelling of The Great Gatsby. Amy is a feminist, mother, and Virgo who enjoys running, making lists, and wandering around the mountains of western North Carolina where she lives.
You can find her online at amyreedfiction.com.
Catherine Reid (Nonfiction) has taught at a number of different schools, most recently at Warren Wilson College, in Asheville, North Carolina, where she served as director of the undergraduate creative writing program and specialized in creative nonfiction and environmental writing. In addition to three works of nonfiction, Falling into Place: An Intimate Geography of Home; Coyote: Seeking the Hunter in Our Midst, and the recent The Landscapes of Anne of Green Gables, she has edited two anthologies (Every Woman I Ever Loved and His Hands, His Tools, His Sex, His Dress) and published essays in such journals as the Georgia Review, Fourth Genre, Bellevue Literary Review, and Massachusetts Review. She has been a creative writing fellow at the American Antiquarian Society in Worcester, Massachusetts and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and has received fellowships in creative nonfiction from the North Carolina Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Susan Rivers (fiction) began her writing career as a playwright, receiving the Julie Harris Playwriting Award and the New York Drama League Award, working as an NEA Writer-in-Residence in San Francisco, and being named as a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Award for British and American Women Playwrights. Fiction became her focus after moving to the Carolinas in 1995. She holds an MFA in Fiction-writing from Queens University of Charlotte.
Her debut novel, The Second Mrs. Hockaday, published by Algonquin Books, was a People Magazine “Best New Books Pick” and a Woman’s Day “Editor’s Desk Pick” in 2017, as well as an IndieNext, Library Reads, Winter OKRA Pick and WNBA Great Group Reads 2018 Selection. The novel was a finalist for the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize 2017 and the Southern Book Prize 2018. Rivers’ second novel, Troublefield, is due out from Algonquin in the spring of 2021. Rivers lives with her husband in a former cotton-mill town in upstate South Carolina.
Megan Hansen Shepherd
New York Times bestselling author Megan Shepherd’s first novel, The Madman’s Daughter (HarperCollins, 2013), was a Kids’ Indie Next List selection from the American Booksellers Association, won the 2013 North Carolina Young Adult Book Award, and received a starred review from School Library Journal. It was followed by two more books in the series, Her Dark Curiosity and A Cold Legacy, and was optioned for film by Paramount Pictures. Megan’s second young adult series, The Cage (HarperCollins, 2015), is a New York Times bestselling title, and is followed by The Hunt and The Gauntlet. Her next young adult series, Grim Lovelies (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018) is forthcoming.
Megan’s debut middle grade title, The Secret Horses of Briar Hill (Random House, 2016), received starred reviews from Kirkus, Booklist, and Shelf Awareness, and was written about in Time magazine and The Wall Street Journal.
“Born” into the book world, Megan grew up in her family’s independent bookstore in the Blue Ridge Mountains. She now lives and writes on a 125-year-old farm outside Asheville, North Carolina
Julie Marie Wade
Julie Marie Wade is the author of ten collections of poetry and prose, including Wishbone: A Memoir in Fractures, Small Fires, Postage Due, When I Was Straight, Catechism: A Love Story, SIX, Same-Sexy Marriage: A Novella in Poems, and the newly released The Unrhymables: Collaborations in Prose, co-authored with Denise Duhamel. A recipient of the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Memoir and grants from the Kentucky Arts Council and the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, she teaches in the creative writing program at Florida International University and reviews regularly for Lambda Literary Review and The Rumpus. Julie is married to Angie Griffin and lives on Hollywood Beach.
Master of Fine Arts (MFA) in Creative Writing
Advanced instruction in poetry, fiction, young adult fiction, and creative nonfiction.
Rick Mulkey, Director
Paperwork or application materials should be sent to:
580 East Main Street
Spartanburg, South Carolina 29302-1931