Creative Writing

Faculty

Faculty Director

Reginald Gibbons won the 2004 O. B. Hardison Jr. Poetry Prize from the Folger Shakespeare Library and is the author of many books of poetry, including Sparrow: New and Selected Poems, Homage to Longshot O'Leary, and It's Time. His latest book of poetry, Creatures of a Day, was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award. With the late Charles Segal he translated Euripides' Bakkhai and Sophocles' Antigone. He is also the author of a novel, Sweetbitter, a collection of very short fiction, Five Pears or Peaches, and other works. Gibbons has edited several works of fiction by William Goyen as well as a collection of Goyen's autobiographical writings, While You Were Away. He was the editor of TriQuarterly magazine from 1981 to 1997 and is professor of English and classics at Northwestern. Since 1989 he has also taught in the low-residency MFA program for writers at Warren Wilson College. He has an AB from Princeton University and MA and PhD from Stanford University.

Author website: reginaldgibbons.northwestern.edu

Faculty

Chris Abani teaches Creative Writing (Fiction and Poetry) and Literature. His prose includes The Secret History of Las Vegas (Penguin 2014), Song For Night (Akashic, 2007), The Virgin of Flames (Penguin, 2007), Becoming Abigail (Akashic, 2006), GraceLand (FSG, 2004), and Masters of the Board (Delta, 1985). Among his poetry collections are Sanctificum (Copper Canyon Press, 2010), There Are No Names for Red (Red Hen Press, 2010), Feed Me The Sun - Collected Long Poems (Peepal Tree Press, 2010) Hands Washing Water (Copper Canyon, 2006), Dog Woman (Red Hen, 2004), Daphne's Lot (Red Hen, 2003) and Kalakuta Republic (Saqi, 2001). He has also written numerous essays, articles, book reviews and critical papers on art, poetry, cities and literature for local and international journals, magazines and newspapers. He is the recipient of the PEN USA Freedom-to-Write Award, the Prince Claus Award, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, a California Book Award, a Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, a PEN Beyond the Margins Award, the PEN Hemingway Book Prize and a Guggenheim Award. Chris Abani holds a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Southern California and has taught in numerous countries around the world including countries in sub Saharan Africa (Gambia, Nigeria and South Africa), the Middle East (Qatar), Central Asia (Thailand) and Europe (UK).

Author website: chrisabani.com

Steve Amick is the author of the novels Nothing But a Smile and The Lake, the River & the Other Lake-a Washington Post Book of the Year and cited in the Encyclopedia Britannica Yearbook in 2006 as one of three debut novels of note. He is a two-time recipient of the Michigan Notable Book Award. His shorter work has appeared in McSweeney's, Story, Playboy, The Southern Review, The New England Review, Five Chapters, The Cincinnati Review, various anthologies, The New York Times, The Washington Post and on National Public Radio. Amick is the winner of the Lawrence Foundation Prize in 2011. He has had plays produced in Chicago and won a Clio for advertising. He is a graduate of the MFA workshop at George Mason University.

Author website: steve-amick.com

Eula Biss is the author of The Balloonists and Notes from No Man's Land: American Essays. She has received a Rona Jaffe Writers' Award, an Illinois Arts Council grant and a Pushcart Prize. Biss is co-founder and co-editor of Essay Press, a small press dedicated to publishing innovative essays in book form. Her essays have recently appeared in The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2009, Norton's The Best Creative Nonfiction 2007, and the Touchstone Anthology of Contemporary Nonfiction as well as in Gulf Coast, Columbia, Ninth Letter, the North American Review, the Iowa Review, the Seneca Review, and Harper's. She holds an MFA in nonfiction writing from the University of Iowa.

Author website: eulabiss.net

Scott Blackwood’s novel We Agreed to Meet Just Here won the AWP Prize for the Novel and the Texas Institute of Letters Award for best fiction and was a finalist for the PEN Center USA Award. Blackwood, an assistant professor of English at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, has also published an award-winning collection of stories, In the Shadow of Our House. His fiction has appeared in American Short Fiction, the Chicago Tribune’s Printer’s Row Journal, the Gettysburg Review, Boston Review, the New York Times Book Review’s “First Chapters,” Southwest Review and Other Voices, among other journals. He is a former Whiting Writers’ Award recipient and Dobie-Paisano Literature Fellow. Blackwood received his MFA at Texas State University.

Author website: scottblackwood.com

Steve Bogira grew up on Chicago's south side. He has written features for the Chicago Tribune and, for most of his career, for the Chicago Reader, where he is currently a senior writer. His stories have won five Lisagor awards and three awards from the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies, and this year he won a Studs Terkel Community Media Award. His book, Courtroom 302, published by Knopf in 2005, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times book award and won the Society of Midland Authors nonfiction award. He has been an Alicia Patterson Fellow and a Kaiser Media Fellow, and he has an honorary doctorate in humane letters from Albion College. He is a 1976 Medill graduate.

John Bresland is a writer and documentary filmmaker. Several of his essays have aired on public radio, and his video essays can be seen at Ninth Letter and Blackbird online. His print essays have appeared in North American Review, Hotel Amerika, Minnesota Monthly and elsewhere. He was the recipient of the Tamarack Award for Fiction and a Ludwig Vogelstein Foundation fellowship in 2006, and he was twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Bresland received his MFA from the University of Iowa.

Author website: bresland.com/index.html

Eugene Cross teaches in Northwestern's School of Professional Studies MFA Program. He was the Simon Blattner Visiting Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Northwestern University and has taught creative writing at Penn State University and Columbia College Chicago. He is the author of the short story collection "Fires of Our Choosing," which was long listed for the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award, and was named the Gold Medal winner in the Short Story category by the Independent Publisher Book Awards. His stories have or will appear in Glimmer Train, Narrative Magazine, American Short Fiction, Story Quarterly,TriQuarterly, and Callaloo, among other publications. His work was also listed among the 2010 Best American Short Stories' 100 Distinguished Stories. He is the recipient of scholarships from the Chautauqua Writers' Festival and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, as well as fellowships from Yaddo and the Sewanee Writers' Conference.

Author website: eugenecross.com

Sheila Donohue received her MFA from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she was a Randall Jarrell Fellow and served as poetry editor and production manager for the Greensboro Review. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow and Jones Lecturer in Poetry at Stanford University, she is a recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize and several nominations for a Pushcart Prize. Her work has appeared in numerous literary magazines, including the Threepenny Review, Prairie Schooner, the New England Review, TriQuarterly, and Epoch. She has been a member of the English department faculty at Northwestern since 1998, teaching poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction at the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Author website: poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poets/detail/sheila-donohue

Two new collections of fiction by Stuart Dybek, Ecstatic Cahoots and Paper Lantern, were published simultaneously by FSG in June 2014. His previous books of fiction are Childhood and Other Neighborhoods, The Coast of Chicago, and I Sailed with Magellan. He has also published two volumes of poetry, Brass Knuckles and Streets In Their Own Ink. His work is widely anthologized and appears in publications such as The New Yorker, Harpers, The Atlantic, Tin House, Granta, Zoetrope, Ploughshares, and Poetry. Dybek is the recipient of many literary awards including the PEN/Bernard Malamud Prize for “distinguished achievement in the short story”, a Lannan Award, the Academy Institute Award in Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Writer’s Award, the Harold Washington Literary Award, two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, and four O’Henry Prizes. His work has appeared in Best American Poetry and in Best American Fiction. In 2007, he was awarded both a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship and the Rea Award for the Short Story. He is the Distinguished Writer in Residence at Northwestern University.

Author website: poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poets/detail/stuart-dybek

Goldie Goldbloom was awarded a 2014 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and a Brown Foundation-Dora Maar Fellowship. Her novel, The Paperbark Shoe, won the AWP Novel Award and several other awards. Goldbloom's collection of short fiction, You Lose These, includes the title story that appeared in the queer anthology, Keep Your Wives Away from Them. Her writing has appeared in The Kenyon Review, NPR, Narrative Magazine, Prairie Schooner and StoryQuarterly, amongst others. She is an internationally recognized speaker, and was invited to lecture at the Assises Internationales du Roman in Lyon, France, in the same year that she was recognized for her excellence in teaching by way of Northwestern University’s Honor Roll. In 2014, she won Hunger Mountain's Non-Fiction Prize. Goldbloom is a graduate of the Warren Wilson MFA Program in North Carolina.

Author website: goldiegoldbloom.com

Susan Harris is the editorial director of Words without Borders, an online magazine of literature in translation. She previously spent seventeen years at Northwestern University Press, where she founded the Hydra imprint in literature in translation and published two authors--Imre Kertész and Herta Müller--who went on to win the Nobel Prize in literature. With Ilya Kaminsky, she is the co-editor of The Ecco Anthology of International Poetry, forthcoming from Ecco Press. Harris received her BA in English and fiction writing from Northwestern, where she was a member of the first graduating class in the writing major, and her MA in fiction writing from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on publishing.

Miles Harvey’s work includes The Island of Lost Maps: A True Story of Cartographic Crime, a national and international bestseller that USA Today named one of the ten best books of 2000, and Painter in a Savage Land: The Strange Saga of the First European Artist in North America, which received a 2008 Editors’ Choice honor from Booklist, and a best-books citation from The Chicago Tribune. He is the editor of How Long Will I Cry?: Voices of Youth Violence, a collection of oral histories, and the author of a play, also called How Long Will I Cry?, which premiered at Steppenwolf Theatre in 2013. His essays and short stories have appeared in Ploughshares, AGNI, New Ohio Review, The Michigan Quarterly Review, Fiction Magazine and The Sun, and have received a Distinguished Story citation in Best American Short Stories, 2005, a Special Mention in Pushcart Prize XXXVII: Best of the Small Presses, 2013, and the 2014-2015 Sherwood Anderson Fiction Award from Mid-American Review.

Author website: milesharvey.com

Laurie Lawlor is the author of 37 works of fiction and nonfiction for children and young adults. Recipient of the Illinois Reading Council’s Prairie State Award for Excellence in Writing for Children, Lawlor recently published Rachel Carson and Her Book That Changed The World, winner of the 2012 John Burroughs Riverby Award for Excellence in Nature Writing and is featured on the ALA Amelia Bloomer Award List, the 2013-14 Reading Is Fundamental List, and the 2014 Illinois Reads Program. Her distinguished historical fiction for middle grade readers includes Addie Across the Prairie, nominated for six state reading awards. Young adult titles include Dead Reckoning, He Will Go Fearless, and The Two Loves of Will Shakespeare. Trained as a journalist at Northwestern University, she has a M.A.T. from National-Louis University and has taught creative writing at Columbia College of Chicago and workshops throughout the Midwest.

Author website: laurielawlor.com

Rebecca Makkai is the author of the forthcoming story collection Music for Wartime, as well as the novels The Hundred-Year House (a BookPage “Best Book” of 2014 and winner of the Chicago Writers Association Award) and The Borrower (which has appeared in nine translations and was chosen as a Booklist Top Ten Debut). Her short fiction was featured in The Best American Short Stories anthology in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011, and appears regularly in publications such as Harper’s, Tin House and Ploughshares, and on public radio’s This American Life and Selected Shorts. Makkai is the recipient of a 2014 NEA Fellowship, and in addition to Northwestern University, she teaches at Lake Forest College and StoryStudio Chicago; in the fall of 2015, she will be visiting faculty at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She holds an MA in English Literature from Middlebury College.

Author website: rebeccamakkai.com

Juan Martinez is a fiction writer. He was born in Bucaramanga, Colombia, and has since lived in Orlando, Florida, and Las Vegas, Nevada. His work has appeared in various literary journals and anthologies, including EcotoneGlimmer Train, McSweeney's, TriQuarterly, Conjunctions, National Public Radio's Selected Shorts, Norton's Sudden Fiction Latino: Short-Short Stories from the United States and Latin America, and The Perpetual Engine of Hope: Stories Inspired by Iconic Vegas Photographs. He holds a PhD from the University of Nevada and is currently at work on a novel.

Simone Muench is the author of The Air Lost in Breathing (Marianne Moore Prize for Poetry; Helicon Nine, 2000), Lampblack & Ash (Kathryn A. Morton Prize for Poetry; Sarabande, 2005), Orange Crush (Sarabande, 2010), Disappearing Address co-written with Philip Jenks (BlazeVOX, 2010), and Wolf Centos (Sarabande, 2014). Additionally, her chapbook Trace (Winner of the 2012 Black Lawrence Chapbook Award) is forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press in 2014. She is a recipient of a 2013 NEA fellowship, a Yaddo residency, two Illinois Arts Council Fellowships, two Vermont Studio Center Fellowships, the 49th Parallel Poetry Award, the PSA’s Fine Lines Contest, the PSA’s Bright Lights/Big Verse Contest, and others. She received her Ph.D from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and now directs the writing program at Lewis University where she teaches creative writing and film studies. She currently serves on the advisory board for Switchback Books, and is chief faculty advisor for Jet Fuel Review.

AUthor website: simonemuench.com

Naeem Murr's first novel, The Boy, was a New York Times Notable Book. Another novel, The Genius of the Sea, was published in 2003. His latest, The Perfect Man, was awarded The Commonwealth Writers¼ Prize for the Best Book of Europe and South Asia, and was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize. His work has been translated into eight languages. He has received many awards for his writing, most recently a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Pen Beyond Margins Award. He has been a writer-in-residence at the University of Missouri, Western Michigan, and Northwestern University, among others.

Author website: naeemmurr.com

Nathanaël is the author of a score of books written in English or in French, and published in the United States, Canada, Québec, and France. These include Sotto l’immagine (2014); Sisyphus, Outdone. Theatres of the Catastrophal (2012); the cycle of notebooks, Carnet de désaccords (2009—a finalist for the Prix Spirale-Éva-le-Grand), Carnet de délibérations (2011), Carnet de somme (2012); and the essay of correspondence, Absence Where As (Claude Cahun and the Unopened Book) (2009), first published in French as L’absence au lieu (Claude Cahun et le livre inouvert) (2007). Her work has been translated into Basque, Greek, Slovene, and Spanish (Mexico), with book-length publications in Bulgarian and Portuguese (Brazil), including Cadernos do meio after the aforementioned notebooks, following their English language iteration, The Middle Notebookes (2015). The recipient of the Prix Alain-Grandbois for …s’arrête? Je (2008), Nathanaël’s extrinsic translations include works by Édouard Glissant, Danielle Collobert, Catherine Mavrikakis, Hervé Guibert, and Hilda Hilst (the latter in collaboration with Rachel Gontijo Araujo). She is a contributing editor to Recours au poème (France) and Aufgabe (U.S.). A Distinguished Visitor at the University of Alberta in 2008, Nathanaël was received in 2011 at l’École Normale Supérieure de Lyon on the occasion of a transdisciplinary symposium dedicated to questions raised by her work. A recipient of a Chalmers Arts Fellowship (2002), and residential bursaries from the British Centre for Literary Translation at the University of East Anglia (2003) and the Collège international des traducteurs littéraires in Arles (2013), Nathanaël’s translation of The Mausoleum of Lovers by Hervé Guibert has been recognized by fellowships from the PEN American Center and the Centre National du Livre de France. Her translation of Murder by Danielle Collobert was a finalist for the Best Translated Book Award in 2014. Nathanaël’s first book of talks on translation, At Alberta (2008),is followed, in 2015, by the subsequent Asclepias: The Milkweeds.

Author website: nightboat.org/author/nathanael

Ed Roberson is the author of seven volumes of poetry, including Voices Cast Out to Talk Us In, winner of the Iowa Poetry Prize; Just In: Word of Navigational Change: New and Selected Work; Atmosphere Conditions, a National Poetry Series winner; and his most recent, City Eclogue. Roberson received the 2008 Shelley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America. He has also received a Lila Wallace Reader's Digest Writer's Award.

Author website: edroberson.net

Shauna Seliy, artist in residence in Northwestern’s English department, is the author of the novel When We Get There, published in the UK under the title The Trials and Tribulations of Lucas Lessar. Her work has appeared in Other Voices, Meridian, the New Orleans Review and the Alaska Quarterly Review. Seliy has received fellowships from Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony and the Mary Roberts Rinehart National Award for emerging writers. Her MFA is from the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

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Peggy Shinner is the author of the forthcoming book You Feel So Mortal/Essays on the Body (University of Chicago Press, March 2014). Her essays and stories have appeared in The Southern Review, Colorado Review, Daedalus, The Gettysburg Review, Fourth Genre, TriQuarterly, Alaska Quarterly Review, Western Humanities Review, Other Voices, Another Chicago Magazine and others. She has been awarded two Illinois Arts Council Fellowships, several Pushcart Prize Special Mentions and residencies at the Ucross and Ragdale Foundations. Shinner's MFA is from Warren Wilson College.

Author website: peggyshinner.com

Christine Sneed’s story collection Portraits of a Few of the People I’ve Made Cry won the Association of Writers and Writing Programs’ 2009 Grace Paley Prize in Short Fiction and was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for first fiction. Portraits was also awarded Ploughshares’ 2011 John C. Zacharis Prize for a first book and was the Chicago Writers Association’s book of the year in the traditionally published fiction category. Her second book, a novel titled Little Known Facts, was published by Bloomsbury USA in February 2013. Bloomsbury has also recently acquired her novel-in-progress, Paris Gare St. Lazare, and a story collection, tentatively titled The Virginity of Famous Women. Her short stories have appeared in Best American Short Stories, PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories, Ploughshares, Southern Review, New England Review, Glimmer Train and other journals. She has been awarded an Illinois Arts Council fellowship in poetry and has published poems in journals such as River Styx, Pleiades, Black Warrior Review, Poetry East and Poet Lore.

Author website: christinesneed.com

Megan Stielstra is the author of the story collection Everyone Remain Calm, a Chicago Tribune Favorite of 2011, and her debut essay collection, Once I Was Cool, is forthcoming in summer 2014. Her fiction and creative nonfiction have appeared in numerous anthologies and journals including The Best American Essays 2013, The Rumpus, PANK, Other Voices, f Magazine, Make Magazine, Pindeldyboz, and Swink. Stielstra serves as the Literary Director of the critically-acclaimed 2nd Story storytelling series and has told stories for theaters, festivals, and performance series around the country including the Goodman, the Steppenwolf, the Museum of Contemporary Art, Wordstock, Story Week, the Neo-Futurarium, Victory Gardens, Cabinet of Wonders, and The Paper Machete live magazine at The Green Mill. Currently, she teaches writing and performance at Columbia College Chicago and is the Associate Director of The Center For Innovation in Teaching Excellence. She is also a lecturer in creative writing at the University of Chicago and a 3Arts Teaching Artist Award Finalist for her work with 2nd Story, helping people of all ages get their stories on the page.

Author website:meganstielstra.com

S. L. Wisenberg is the author of the nonfiction book The Adventures of Cancer Bitch, as well as the essay collection, Holocaust Girls: History, Memory & Other Obsessions and the short story collection The Sweetheart Is In. She has received a Pushcart Prize and awards and fellowships from the Illinois Arts Council and Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. She was a feature writer at the Miami Herald and has taught at Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism. Her work has appeared in dozens of anthologies as well as magazines such as the New Yorker, Ploughshares, Michigan Quarterly Review, and Creative Nonfiction. She is the creative nonfiction editor of ACM/Another Chicago Magazine. Wisenberg holds an MFA from the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop.