Meet the Faculty

The voice is yours.  But we can teach the craft. We share our experiences and observation, with generosity, insight and wit (if we do say so ourselves).  We encourage, inspire, instruct and, sometimes, light a fire.

  • Lesley Arimah

    Lesley Nneka Arimah was born in the UK and grew up in Nigeria and wherever else her father was stationed for work. Her stories have been honored with a National Magazine Award, a Commonwealth Short Story Prize and an O. Henry Award.

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    Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, , McSweeney’s, GRANTA and has received support from The Elizabeth George Foundation and MacDowell. She was selected for the National Book Foundation’s 5 Under 35 and her debut collection WHAT IT MEANS WHEN A MAN FALLS FROM THE SKY won the 2017 Kirkus Prize, the 2017 New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award and was selected for the New York Times/PBS book club among other honors. Arimah is a 2019 United States Artists Fellow in Writing. She lives in Las Vegas and is working on a novel about you.
  • Bob Bledsoe

    Bob Bledsoe is a lecturer at Indiana University Bloomington and the director of the Indiana University Writers’ Conference. He is a Pushcart Prize nominee and his fiction has appeared in Ploughshares. He worked on his first novel.
  • Amy Bloom

    Author of two New York Times best-sellers and three collections of short stories, a children’s book and a ground-breaking collection of essays. She’s been a nominee for both the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award. 

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    Her stories have appeared in Best American Short Stories, Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards, and numerous anthologies here and abroad. She has written for The New Yorker, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, O Magazine and Vogue, among many other publications, and has won a National Magazine Award for Fiction. Her work has been translated into fifteen languages.

    She has written many pilot scripts, for cable and network, and she created, wrote and ran the excellent, short-lived series State of Mind, starring Lili Taylor. She lives in Connecticut and is now Wesleyan University’s Shapiro-Silverberg Professor of Creative Writing.

  • Kimberly Burns

    Kimberly Burns is an independent literary publicist who has recently led campaigns for Susan Orlean, Laila Lalami, Peter Orner, Cathleen Schine and Benjamin Moser. Past clients include Ann Beattie, Bill Clegg, AM Homes, Yiyun Li, Natalie Merchant, Molly Ringwald, Jon Ronson, and Salman Rushdie as well as The Moth, FILI Finnish Literature Exchange, PEN World Voices Festival, and The New Yorker Festival.

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    Before starting her own company in 2003, she worked at Knopf, Random House, Pantheon, and The Penguin Press – where she led campaigns for, among many others, Amy Bloom, Adam Gopnik, WG Sebald, and Zadie Smith. She is the proud co-founder of the literary publicity consortium, Broadside: Expert Literary PR.  www.BroadsidePR.com  and www.KimberlyBurnsPR.com
  • Rich Cohen

    Rich Cohen is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Tough Jews; Monsters; Sweet and Low; When I Stop Talking, You’ll Know I’m Dead (with Jerry Weintraub); The Sun & the Moon & the Rolling Stones; and The Chicago Cubs: Story of a Curse. He is a co-creator of the HBO series Vinyl and a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone.

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    He has written for The New Yorker, The Atlantic, and Harper’s Magazine, among other publications. Cohen has won the Great Lakes Book Award, the Chicago Public Library’s 21st Century Award, and the ASCAP Deems Taylor Award for outstanding coverage of music. His stories have been included in The Best American Essays and The Best American Travel Writing. Despite frequent predictions, he still lives in Connecticut.
  • Michael Cunningham

    Michael Cunningham gets all the little things right in his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Hours. Rarely missing a telling detail or a larger emotional truth, he masterfully explores the quiet, private moments of a life. Crediting Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway with allowing him to entertain “the wild hope” of being a writer, Cunningham deftly evokes fleeting thoughts and states of consciousness in his books.

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    Michael Cunningham was born in Cincinnati, Ohio in 1952 and grew up in La Canada, California. He received his B.A. in English Literature from Stanford University and his M.F.A. from the University of Iowa.  His novel A Home at the End of the World was published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux in 1990 to wide acclaim.  Flesh and Blood, another novel, followed in 1995.  He received the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the PEN/Faulkner Award for his novel, The Hours.  He has written one nonfiction book,  Land's End: A Walk Through Provincetown.  He is the author of Specimen Days, which has been optioned for the movies, and By Nightfall. His latest novel is The Snow Queen and a story collection, A Wild Swan and Other Tales, illustrated by Yuko Shimizu, was released by FSG in 2015.

    A film version of The Hours was directed by Stephen Daldry and featured Julianne Moore, Nicole Kidman and Meryl Streep. The film was released to general critical acclaim and received nine Academy Award nominations, including Best Picture, and a win for Nicole Kidman as Best Actress. A film version of A Home at the End of the World was directed by Michael Mayer, and featured Colin Farrell, Robin Wright Penn, Dallas Roberts and Sissy Spacek. Cunningham and Susan Minot co-wrote the screenplay for her novel Evening; the film stars Vanessa Redgrave, Claire Danes, Toni Colette, Patrick Wilson, and Meryl Streep.

    Cunningham's work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, The Paris Review, and other publications. His story “White Angel” was chosen for Best American Short Stories 1989, and another story, “Mister Brother,” appeared in the 2000 O. Henry Collection.

    Michael Cunningham is the recipient of a Whiting Writers Award (1995), a Guggenheim Fellowship (1993), a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship (1988), and a Michener Fellowship from the University of Iowa (1982). He is currently a senior lecturer in the English department at Yale University.

  • Benjamin Dreyer

    Benjamin Dreyer is vice president, executive managing editor and copy chief, of Random House. He began his publishing career as a freelance proofreader and copy editor. In 1993, he became a production editor at Random House, overseeing books by writers including Michael Chabon, Edmund Morris, Suzan-Lori Parks, Michael Pollan, Peter Straub, and Calvin Trillin.

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    He has copyedited books by authors including E. L. Doctorow, David Ebershoff, Frank Rich, and Elizabeth Strout, as well as Let Me Tell You, a volume of previously uncollected work by Shirley Jackson. A graduate of Northwestern University, he lives in New York City.
  • Tayari Jones

    New York Times best-selling author, Tayari Jones, is the author four novels, most recently An American Marriage . Published in 2018, An American Marriage is an Oprah’s Book Club Selection and also appeared on Barack Obama’s summer reading list as well as his end of the year roundup. 

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    The novel was awarded the Women’s Prize for Fiction (formerly known as the Orange Prize), Aspen Words Prize and an NAACP Image Award.  With over 500,000 copies in print domestically, it has been published in two dozen countries.

    Jones, a member of the Fellowship of Southern Writers,  has also been a recipient of the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award,  United States Artist Fellowship, NEA Fellowship and Radcliffe Institute Bunting Fellowship.  Her third novel, Silver Sparrow was added to the NEA Big Read Library of classics in 2016.

    Jones is a graduate of Spelman College, University of Iowa, and Arizona State University. She is an A. D. White Professor at Large at Cornell University and a  Professor of Creative Writing at Emory University.

  • Jason Katzenstein

    Jason Katzenstein is a cartoonist and writer for print and television. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, the New York Times and MAD Magazine, and on Cartoon Network. He is the illustrator of The White Man's Guide to White Male Writers of the Western Canon and the graphic novel Camp Midnight.

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    He is also a visiting professor at Wesleyan University.   is a cartoonist and writer for print and television. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, the New York Times and MAD Magazine, and on Cartoon Network. He is the illustrator of The White Man's Guide to White Male Writers of the Western Canon and the graphic novel Camp Midnight. He is also a visiting professor at Wesleyan University.
  • Kirby Kim

    A native of Los Angeles, California, Kirby attended Harvard-Westlake high school then went to Pomona College where he was a PPE (Philosophy, Politics, and Economics) major. He spent the year after graduation teaching English in South Korea and when he returned moved to San Francisco to get his JD at UC Hastings College of the Law.

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    Kirby moved out to New York in the spring of 2004 and got his first job in publishing working for Charlotte Sheedy Literary, at that time an affiliate of Sterling Lord Literistic. He then moved to Vigliano Associates where he gradually started representing his own projects. In 2008, he joined Endeavor which the following year merged with William Morris. He stayed at WME for five years before joining Janklow & Nesbit.

    Kirby represents both literary and commercial authors. He’s most interested in receiving manuscripts that straddle the fence a bit, with upmarket expression combined with a genre element or plot device. When it comes to straight literary work, he’s alternatively drawn to rich, sweeping stories that try to encompass a time or a place or tightly written, narratively innovative stories or voices with award potential. His commercial interests include thrillers and mysteries, speculative fiction, and young adult.

    He also represents a range of nonfiction working with leaders and journalists in the areas of science, culture and current affairs. He’s also known for representing pop culture, in particular music and comedy.

    Kirby is currently a board member of the Asian American Writers Workshop. He lives in Phoenix, Arizona with his wife and two kids.

  • R.O. Kwon

    R.O. Kwon’s nationally bestselling first novel, The Incendiaries, is published by Riverhead (U.S.) and Virago/Little Brown (U.K.), and it is being translated into six languages. Named a best book of the year by over forty publications, The Incendiaries was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Award for Best First Book, Los Angeles Times First Book Prize, and Northern California Independent Booksellers Association Fiction Prize. The book was also nominated for the Aspen Prize, Carnegie Medal, and the Northern California Book Award. Kwon’s next novel, as well as an essay collection, are forthcoming.

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    Kwon’s writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, The Paris Review, Buzzfeed, NPR, and elsewhere. She has received fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, Yaddo, MacDowell, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Born in Seoul, Kwon has lived most of her life in the United States.

  • Sarah Moon

    Sarah Moon is a teacher and writer. She lives and works in Brooklyn, New York, with her wife, Jasmine, and their daughter, Zora. She is the coeditor of THE LETTER Q, a young adult anthology. Her first YA novel is the critically acclaimed SPARROW.
  • Marilyn Nelson

    Marilyn Nelson, a three-time finalist for the National Book Award, is one of America’s most celebrated poets. She is the author or translator of seventeen poetry books for adults and children, five chapbooks, and in 2014 she published a memoir, named one of NPR’s Best Books of 2014, entitled How I Discovered Poetry—a series of 50 poems about growing up in the 1950’s in a military family, each poem stamped with a place and date from the many places they lived.

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    Image Journal writes, “American history as conceived by Marilyn Nelson is the inside-out, last-shall-be-first version. She inhabits the voices of the overlooked and disenfranchised and shines light into forgotten corners that reveal essential truths about the whole….But if she is a revisionist historian’s poet, she is also a child’s poet, a mother’s poet, a housekeeper’s poet, and scientist’s poet….It’s this breadth of perspective, from pole to pole, past to present, from spheres domestic to atmospheric, that make her so remarkable. Nelson is also an openhanded citizen of the nation of writers.”

    Of her many collections, The Homeplace won the 1992 Annisfield-Wolf Award and was a finalist for the 1991 National Book Award. The Fields Of Praise: New And Selected Poems won the 1998 Poets’ Prize and was a finalist for the 1997 National Book Award, the PEN Winship Award, and the Lenore Marshall Prize. The poems in this collection embrace numerous themes, including the changing nature of love, racism, motherhood, marriage, and domesticity. Carver: A Life In Poems won the 2001 Boston Globe/Hornbook Award and the Flora Stieglitz Straus Award, was a finalist for the 2001 National Book Award, a Newbery Honor Book, and a Coretta Scott King Honor Book. Fortune’s Bones was a Coretta Scott King Honor Book and won the Lion and the Unicorn Award for Excellence in North American Poetry. Her young adult book, A Wreath For Emmett Till, won the 2005 Boston Globe Horn Book Award and was a 2006 Coretta Scott King Honor Book, a 2006 Michael L. Printz Honor Book, and a 2006 Lee Bennett Hopkins Poetry Award Honor Book. The Cachoiera Tales And Other Poems won the L.E. Phillabaum Award and was a finalist for the LA Times Book Award. In 2016, her poetry collection My Seneca Village won the LA Times Book Award in Young Adult Literature.

    She has also published books for children and young adults including: American Ace, a historical novel that uncovers a richer understanding of race, identity, and each other (Penguin Random House, 2016); Snook Alone, a picture-book illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering (Candlewick Press, 2010); Sweethearts of Rhythm: The Story of the Greatest All-Girl Swing Band in the World, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney (Dial Books, 2009); The Freedom Business: Including A Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Venture, a Native of Africa (Front Street, 2008); The Cat Walked through the Casserole and Other Poems for Children (with Pamela Espeland, 1984); and Halfdan Rasmussen’s Hundreds of Hens and Other Poems for Children (1982), which she translated from Danish with Pamela Espeland. In 2012, Faster Than Light: New and Selected Poems and Ostrich and Lark, a picture-book illustrated by San (Bushman) artists, were published.

    Her honors include two NEA creative writing fellowships, the 2019 Poetry Foundation’s Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the 1990 Connecticut Arts Award, an A.C.L.S. Contemplative Practices Fellowship, the Department of the Army’s Commander’s Award for Public Service, a Fulbright Teaching Fellowship, a fellowship from the J.S. Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and the Frost Medal-the Poetry Society of America’s most prestigious award, for a “distinguished lifetime achievement in poetry.” Nelson is a professor emerita of English at the University of Connecticut; was (2004-2010) founder/director and host of Soul Mountain Retreat, a small non-profit writers’ colony; and held the office of Poet Laureate of the State of Connecticut from 2001-2006.

  • Greg Pardlo

    Gregory Pardlo's ​collection​ Digest (Four Way Books) won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Other honors​ include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Arts for translation; his first collection Totem won the APR/Honickman Prize in 2007.

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    He is Poetry Editor of Virginia Quarterly Review and teaches in the MFA program at Rutgers University-Camden. His most recent book is Air Traffic, a memoir in essays.
  • Robert Pinsky

    Robert Pinsky’s first two terms as United States Poet Laureate were marked by such visible dynamism, and such national enthusiasm in response, that the Library of Congress appointed him to an unprecedented third term. Throughout his career, Pinsky has been dedicated to identifying and invigorating poetry’s place in the world.

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    As Poet Laureate, Robert Pinsky founded the Favorite Poem Project, in which thousands of Americans — of varying backgrounds, all ages, and from every state — shared their favorite poems. The project’s videos, giving voice to the American audience for poetry, demonstrates that, contrary to stereotype, poetry had a vigorous presence in the American cultural landscape. The anthology Americans' Favorite Poems, which includes letters from project participants, is in its 18th printing. A more recent anthology, An Invitation to Poetry, comes with a DVD featuring the FPP video segments, including videos sponsored by the Poetry Foundation. In 2013 WW Norton published Singing School: Learning to Read (and Write) Poetry by Studying with the Masters, a unique combination anthology, personal essay and textbook. His next edited collection will be The Mind Has Cliffs of Fall: Poetry at the Extremes of Feeling (Norton, October 22, 2019).

    Elegant and tough, vividly imaginative, Pinsky’s poems have earned praise for their wild musical energy and range. Selected Poems (FSG, 2011) is a collection that spans his career. His The Figured Wheel: New and Collected Poems 1966-1996 was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. Pinsky often performs his poems with eminent jazz musicians, in venues ranging from schools and universities to jazz clubs. His CDs PoemJazz and PoemJazz II House Hour, with Grammy-winning pianist Laurence Hobgood, were released by Circumstantial Productions. 

    Robert Pinsky’s landmark, best-selling translation of The Inferno of Dante received the Los Angeles Times Book Award and the Howard Morton Landon Prize for translation. He is also co-translator of The Separate Notebooks, poems by Nobel Prize winner Czeslaw Milosz.  Pinsky’s prose book, The Life of David, is a lively retelling and examination of the David stories, narrating a wealth of legend as well as scripture. Pinsky also wrote the libretto for Tod Machover’s opera Death and the Powers: A Robot Pageant, which premiered in Monaco in fall 2010. His book, Selected Poems, was published by Farrar Strauss & Giroux in spring of 2011. He was editor of The Best of the Best American Poetry, the twenty-fifth volume of the popular Best American Poetry series. In March – June 2013, the Shakespeare Theatre Company performed his newly commissioned adaptation and translation of Friedrich Schiller’s Wallenstein. His newest book of poetry is At the Foundling Hospital (October 2016).

    Pinsky’s Tanner Lectures at Princeton University were published as Democracy, Culture and the Voice of Poetry (Princeton University Press, 2002).  His Campbell Lectures at Rice University were published as Thousands of Broadways: Dreams and Nightmares of the American Small Town (University of Chicago Press, 2009). His popular online MOOC, “The Art of Poetry,” was on the EdX platform in September 2014.

    Robert Pinsky is the only member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters to have appeared on “The Simpsons” and “The Colbert Report.” For years a regular contributor to PBS’s The NewsHour, he publishes frequently in magazines such as The New Yorker, The Atlantic Monthly, The Threepenny Review and The Best American Poetry anthologies. He is also the winner of the PEN/Voelcker Award, the William Carlos Williams Prize, the Lenore Marshall Prize, Italy’s Premio Capri, the Korean Manhae Award and the  Harold Washington Award from the City of Chicago. He teaches in the graduate writing program at Boston University. In 2015 Boston University named Robert Pinsky a William Fairfield Warren Distinguished Professor, which is the highest honor bestowed on senior faculty members actively involved in research, scholarship, and University civic life, and teaching.

  • Said Sayrafiezadeh

    Saïd Sayrafiezadeh is a memoirist, fiction writer and playwright. He is the author of the story collection, Brief Encounters With the Enemy, a finalist for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Fiction Prize, and the critically acclaimed memoir, When Skateboards Will Be Free, selected as one of the ten best books of the year by Dwight Garner of The New York Times.

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    His short stories and personal essays have appeared in The New YorkerThe Paris ReviewThe New York TimesGrantaMcSweeney’sThe Best American Nonrequired Reading and New American Stories, among other publications. He is the recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award for nonfiction and a Cullman Center for Scholars and Writersfiction fellowship.

    Saïd lives in New York City with his wife, the artist Karen Mainenti, and serves on the board of directors for the New York Foundation for the Arts. He is a Visiting Scholar at Wesleyan University, and teaches creative writing at Columbia University, Hunter College and NYU, where he received an Outstanding Teaching Award.

  • Ruby Rae Spiegel

    Ruby Rae Spiegel is from Brooklyn, New York. Her first play, Carrie & Francine, was selected for the Off-Broadway Summer Shorts 5 Festival. Her most recent play, Dry Land, was produced at the HERE Arts Center by downtown theater company, Colt Coeur, and was developed at New York Stage and Film’s Powerhouse Summer Theater Session as well as the Ojai Playwrights Conference.

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    Ruby is a graduate of Young Playwrights Inc. and is currently finishing her last semester at Yale College.
  • Ocean Vuong

    Ocean Vuong is the author of The New York Times bestselling novel, On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous, out from Penguin Press (2019) and forthcoming in 24 languages worldwide. A recipient of a 2019 MacArthur "Genius" Grant, he is also the author of the critically acclaimed poetry collection, Night Sky with Exit Wounds, a New York Times Top 10 Book of 2016, winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize, the Whiting Award, the Thom Gunn Award, and the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. Read Bio

    A Ruth Lilly fellow from the Poetry Foundation, his honors include fellowships from the Lannan Foundation, the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, The Elizabeth George Foundation, The Academy of American Poets, and the Pushcart Prize.

    Vuong's writings have been featured in The Atlantic, Harpers, The Nation, New Republic, The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Village Voice, and American Poetry Review, which awarded him the Stanley Kunitz Prize for Younger Poets. Selected by Foreign Policy magazine as a 2016 100 Leading Global Thinker, alongside Hillary Clinton, Ban Ki-Moon and Angela Merkel, Ocean was also named by BuzzFeed Books as one of “32 Essential Asian American Writers” and has been profiled on NPR’s “All Things Considered,” PBS NewsHour, Teen Vogue, Interview, Poets & Writers, and The New Yorker.

    Born in Saigon, Vietnam, he lives in Northampton, Massachusetts, where he serves as an Assistant Professor in the MFA Program for Poets and Writers at UMass-Amherst. 

  • Asiya Wadud

    Asiya Wadud is the author of the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award-nominated Crosslight for Youngbird (Nightboat Books, 2018). Her other collections include day pulls down the sky… a filament in gold leaf , written collaboratively with Okwui Okpokwasili (Belladonna/ Danspace, 2019) and Syncope (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2019). No Knowledge Is Complete Until It Passes Through My Body is forthcoming from Nightboat Books in 2020.

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    Asiya teaches poetry at Saint Ann’s School and leads an English conversation group for new immigrants at the Brooklyn Public Library. A member of the Belladonna Collaborative, her work has been supported by the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, Brooklyn Poets, Dickinson House, Mount Tremper Arts, and the New York Public Library, among others. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, where she loves animals.