Program Faculty

Christine Sneed

Christine Sneed

Faculty Director

Christine Sneed is the author of the novels Paris, He Said and Little Known Facts, and the story collections Portraits of a Few of the People I've Made Cry and The Virginity of Famous Men (Bloomsbury USA & Bloomsbury UK). 

Her stories or essays have been included in The Best American Short StoriesO. Henry Prize StoriesNew Stories from the MidwestNew York TimesSan Francisco ChronicleChicago TribuneNew England ReviewThe Southern ReviewPloughsharesGlimmer TrainGreensboro Review, and a number of other periodicals. 

She has received an Illinois Arts Council fellowship, the Associated Writers & Writing Program’s Grace Paley Prize in Short Fiction, Ploughshares' Zacharis Prize, the Society of Midland Authors Award in Adult Fiction, the Chicago Public Library’s 21st Century Award, and Book of the Year Award from the Chicago Writers' Association. Little Known Facts was a NYT Editor’s Choice, and Paris, He Said was a 2016 Illinois Reads selection. The Virginity of Famous Men was a finalist for the Chicago Review of Books best book of the year, fiction category, and was named one of the best books of 2016 by Booklist.

Author website: christinesneed.com

William "Scott" Blackwood

William "Scott" Blackwood

Scott Blackwood's Grammy-nominated book of creative nonfiction, The Rise and Fall of Paramount Records (1917-1932), chronicles the curious rise of jazz and blues and the individuals who created two iconic American art forms. The Los Angeles Times said, “true revelations arrive in these narratives …[they] bring the musical past to life in such a surprising and revealing way.” Published by musician Jack White’s Third Man, The Rise and Fall of Paramount Records—featured on NPR’s Weekend Edition as well as in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Rolling Stone—tell the curious tale of how an early American, white-owned “Race record” label operating out of a Wisconsin chair factory rose to prominence during the Great Migration on the South Side of Chicago, and how Paramount recorded, partly by accident, the greatest jazz and blues music in history music that changed America. Blackwood's creative nonfiction essay for Chicago magazine, “Here We Are,” was a finalist for the 2016 National Magazine Award for Feature Story Writing. He is also a fiction writer. Blackwood's most recent novel, See How Small, which National Public Radio called a “brutal, necessary, and near-perfect novel,” won the 2016 PEN USA Award for fiction, was named a “Great Reads” best book of 2015 by NPR, an “Editor’s Choice” book by the New York Times, and was chosen as a Texas Book of the Decade (2010-2019) by the Texas Observer. His fiction and creative nonfiction have appeared or are forthcoming in the New England Review, American Short Fiction, The Gettysburg Review, Chicago magazine, TriQuarterly, Boston Review, Southwest Review, Chicago Tribune Printer’s Row Journal, and The New York Times, and been anthologized in Janet Burroway’s Imaginative Writing.

Paula Carter

Paula Carter

Paula Carter is the author of the flash essay collection No Relation. Her work has appeared in Kenyon ReviewThe Southern ReviewSalonTriQuarterly, and Prairie Schooner. She is a company member with the storytelling series 2nd Story and holds an MFA from Indiana University.

Gioia Diliberto

Gioia Diliberto

Named one of Bustle’s “11 women in nonfiction who are totally killing it,” Gioia Diliberto is the author of four biographies, two novels and a play. Her books, which center on the lives of women, have been translated into several languages, and she has been a nonfiction judge for several prominent literary contests, including The National Book Award. Gioia’s work has been praised for combining rich story telling with deep research to bring alive worlds as varied as jazz age Paris and nineteenth century Chicago, Belle Epoque Paris and disco era Manhattan. As a journalist, Gioia has contributed to many publications including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, Vanity Fair, and Smithsonian.

Sheila Donohue

Sheila Donohue

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

Charles Finch

Charles Finch

Charles Finch is the USA Today-bestselling author of the Charles Lenox mysteries, including the most recent, The Woman in the Water (February 2018). His first work of literary fiction, The Last Enchantments, is also available from St. Martin's Press. Finch received the 2017 Nona Balakian Citation, for excellence in reviewing, from the National Book Critics Circle. His reviews and essays regularly appear in the New York TimesSlate, The Guardian, USA Today, The Chicago TribuneThe Washington Post, and elsewhere.
Gina Frangello

Gina Frangello

Gina Frangello is the author of four books of fiction in addition to the memoir, Blow Your House Down: A Story of Family, Feminism, and Treason (Counterpoint 2021). Her novel A Life in Men (Algonquin 2014) is currently under development by Charlize Theron’s production company, Denver & Delilah. Her most recent novel, Every Kind of Wanting (Counterpoint 2016) was included on several “best of” lists for 2016, including Chicago Magazine’s and The Chicago Review of Books’. Now the Creative Nonfiction Editor at the Los Angeles Review of Books, she has 20 years of experience as an editor, having founded both the independent press Other Voices Books and the fiction section of the popular online literary community The Nervous Breakdown. She has also served as the Sunday editor for The Rumpus, and as the faculty editor for both TriQuarterly Online and The Coachella Review. Her short fiction, essays, book reviews and journalism have been published in such venues as Salon, the LA Times, Ploughshares, the Boston Globe, BuzzFeed, the Chicago Tribune, the Huffington Post, Psychology Today, and in many other magazines and anthologies. After two decades of teaching at many universities, including University of Illinois Chicago, Northwestern University’s School of Continuing Studies, UCLA Extension, the University of California Riverside Palm Desert, Roosevelt University, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Columbia College Chicago, and Lake Forest College, Gina is excited to be a student again at the University of Illinois-Chicago’s Program for Writers, where she has returned to complete the PhD she left unfinished twenty years ago. Gina lives mainly in Chicago and occasionally in the California desert with her family and three gluttonous cats.

Rebecca Morgan Frank

Rebecca Morgan Frank

Rebecca Morgan Frank is the author of four collections of poems: Oh You Robot Saints!, forthcoming from Carnegie Mellon University Press in early 2020; Sometimes We’re All Living in a Foreign Country and The Spokes of Venus,  both from Carnegie Mellon; and Little Murders Everywhere (Salmon Poetry, Ireland), a finalist for the Kate Tufts Discovery Award. She is the recipient of the Poetry Society of America’s Alice Fay di Castagnola Award for her manuscript in progress. Her poems have appeared in such places as The New Yorker, American Poetry Review, The Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, Poetry Ireland, The Southern Review, Orion, The Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day series, and The Slowdown Podcast, and her collaborations with composers have been exhibited and performed widely. She is co-founder and editor of the online magazine Memorious: a journal of new verse & fiction, and her recent teaching positions include Poet-in-Residence at Brandeis University and Distinguished Visiting Writer at Bowling Green State University. She received her PhD from the University of Cincinnati and her MFA from Emerson College.

Author website: www.rebeccamorganfrank.com

Miles Harvey

Miles Harvey

Miles Harvey's new book is The King of Confidence: A Tale of Utopian Dreamers, Frontier Schemers, True Believers, False Prophets, and the Murder of an American Monarch, to published by Little, Brown in May 2020. His previous work includes The Island of Lost Maps: A True Story of Cartographic Crime, a bestseller 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, awarded an Editors’ Choice honor from Booklist, and a best-books citation from The Chicago Tribune. A former Knight-Wallace journalism fellow at the University of Michigan, Harvey teaches creative writing at DePaul University.

Author website: milesharvey.com

Laurie Lawlor

Laurie Lawlor

Laurie Lawlor is the author of 38 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 published in June 2017 Super Women: Six Scientists Who Changed the World (Holiday House), middle grade nonfiction profiling remarkable pioneers in a variety of fields—from astronomy to biochemistry. She was awarded the 2012 John Burroughs Riverby Award for Excellence in Nature Writing for her biography of Rachel Carson, which was featured on the ALA Amelia Bloomer Award List. 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

Rebecca Makkai

Rebecca Makkai is the Chicago-based author of the novel The Great Believers, longlisted for the 2018 National Book Award and the 2018 Carnegie Medal, as well as The Borrower and The Hundred-Year House, and the collection Music for Wartime -- four stories from which appeared in The Best American Short Stories. The recipient of a 2014 NEA Fellowship, Rebecca has taught at the Tin House Writers' Conference and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and is on the MFA faculties of Sierra Nevada College and Northwestern University. She is Artistic Director of StoryStudio Chicago. 

Author website: rebeccamakkai.com

Juan Martinez

Juan Martinez

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 TrainMcSweeney'sTriQuarterlyConjunctionsNational 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. His collection of stories, Best Worst American came out from Small Beer Press in February 2017. He holds a PhD from the University of Nevada and is currently at work on a novel. 

Faisal Mohyuddin

Faisal Mohyuddin

Faisal Mohyuddin’s debut full-length poetry collection, The Displaced Children of Displaced Children (Eyewear 2018), won the 2017 Sexton Prize for Poetry, was selected as a 2018 Summer Recommendation of the Poetry Book Society, and was named a “highly commended” book of 2018 by the Forward Arts Foundation. Also the author of the chapbook The Riddle of Longing (Backbone 2017), he is the recipient of the Edward Stanley Award from Prairie Schooner and a Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Award. He serves as an educator adviser to Narrative 4, a global not-for-profit dedicated to fostering empathy through the exchange of stories, and teaches English at Highland Park High School in Illinois. www.faisalmohyuddin.com

Natalie Moore

Natalie Moore

Natalie Moore is WBEZ's South Side Reporter where she covers segregation and inequality.

Her enterprise reporting has tackled race, housing, economic development, food injustice and violence. Natalie’s work has been broadcast on the BBC, Marketplace and NPR’s Morning Edition, All Things Considered and Weekend Edition. Natalie is the author of The South Side: A Portrait of Chicago and American Segregation, winner of the 2016 Chicago Review of Books award for nonfiction and a Buzzfeed best nonfiction book of 2016. She is also co-author of The Almighty Black P Stone Nation: The Rise, Fall and Resurgence of an American Gang and Deconstructing Tyrone: A New Look at Black Masculinity in the Hip-Hop Generation

Natalie writes a monthly column for the Chicago Sun-Times. Her work has been published in Essence, Ebony, the Chicago Reporter, Bitch, In These Times, the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Guardian. She is the 2017 recipient of Chicago Library Foundation’s 21st Century Award. In 2010, she received the Studs Terkel Community Media Award for reporting on Chicago’s diverse neighborhoods. In 2009, she was a fellow at Columbia College’s Ellen Stone Belic Institute for the Study of Women and Gender in the Arts and Media, which allowed her to take a reporting trip to Libya. Natalie has won several journalism awards, including a Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. Other honors are from the Radio Television Digital News Association (Edward R. Murrow), Public Radio News Directors Incorporated, National Association of Black Journalists, Illinois Associated Press and Chicago Headline Club. The Chicago Reader named her best journalist in 2017.

Prior to joining WBEZ staff in 2007, Natalie was a city hall reporter for the Detroit News. She has also been an education reporter for the St. Paul Pioneer Press and a reporter for the Associated Press in Jerusalem.

Natalie has an M.S.J. in Newspaper Management from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and a B.A. in Journalism from Howard University. She has taught at Columbia College and Medill. Natalie and her husband Rodney live in Hyde Park with their four daughters.

Simone Muench

Simone Muench

Simone Muench is the author of six books, including Orange Crush (Sarabande, 2010) and Wolf Centos (Sarabande, 2014). Her most recent, Suture, consists of sonnets written with Dean Rader (Black Lawrence Press, 2017). Currently, she is editing They Said: A Multi-Genre Anthology of Contemporary Collaborative Writing (BLP, 2018). In 2014, she was honored with the Meier Foundation for the Arts Achievement Award, as well as being a recipient of fellowships from the NEA, VSC, Artsmith, Illinois Arts Council, and Yaddo. 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 serves as advisor for Jet Fuel Reviewand as a poetry editor for Tupelo Quarterly.

AUthor website: simonemuench.com

Naeem Murr

Naeem Murr

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

Lori Rader-Day

Lori Rader-Day

Lori Rader-Day is the author of the crime fiction novels Death at Greenway, The Lucky One, Under a Dark Sky, The Day I Died, Little Pretty Things, and The Black Hour. Her books have won the Mary Higgins Clark Award and three Anthony Awards, and have been nominated for several other crime fiction awards, including the Edgar Award from Mystery Writers of America. She is also a past recipient of the Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana Author Award.

Rader-Day is co-chair of the crime fiction readers’ conference Murder and Mayhem in Chicago and a former national president of Sisters in Crime, a 4,000-member writers’ and readers’ association. Rader-Day has previously taught at Ball State University, Roosevelt University, Yale University, Midwest Writers Workshop, and StoryStudio Chicago, among others. She received an MA in creative nonfiction from Ball State University and an MFA in creative writing from Roosevelt University.

Ed Roberson

Ed Roberson

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.

Donna Seaman

Donna Seaman

Donna Seaman is the Editor for Adult Books at Booklist; a member of the Content Leadership Team and National Advisory Council for the American Writers Museum, and a recipient of the Louis Shores Award for Excellence in Book Reviewing, the James Friend Memorial Award for Literary Criticism, and the Studs Terkel Humanities Service Award.  Seaman has written for the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, and other publications, and contributed biocritical essays to the Oxford Encyclopedia of American Literature and American Writers. Seaman has been a writer-in-residence for Columbia College Chicago and has taught at Northwestern University and the University of Chicago. She created the anthology In Our Nature: Stories of Wildness; her author interviews are collected in Writers on the Air: Conversations about Books, and she is the author of Identity Unknown: Rediscovering Seven American Women Artists.
Shauna Seliy

Shauna Seliy

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 VoicesMeridian, 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.

Peggy Shinner

Peggy Shinner

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

Megan Stielstra

Megan Stielstra

Megan Stielstra is the author of three collections, most recently The Wrong Way to Save Your Life, winner of the 2017 Nonfiction Book of the Year Award from the Chicago Review of Books. Her work appears in Best American Essays, New York Times, Poets & Writers, The Believer, Longreads, Tin House, and elsewhere. A longtime company member with 2nd Story, she has told stories for National Public Radio, Museum of Contemporary Art, Goodman Theatre, and regularly with the Paper Machete live news magazine at the Green Mill. She teaches creative nonfiction at Northwestern University and is a 2020 Shearing Fellow at the Black Mountain Institute in Las Vegas.

Author website:meganstielstra.com

Rachel Jamison Webster

Rachel Jamison Webster

Rachel Jamison Webster directs the Undergraduate Creative Writing Program at Northwestern. She is the author of the book of poetry, September (2013); and the cross-genre books, The Endless Unbegun (2015) and the forthcoming In the Land of the Water Protectors. Her poems and essays have been published in journals including, PoetryThe Paris Review, Tin House and Narrative. Rachel's memoir about losing her partner to ALS, Double Vision, is being represented by the DiFiorini Agency in New York.

Michael Zapata

Michael Zapata

Michael Zapata is a founding editor of MAKE Literary Magazine and the author of the acclaimed novel The Lost Book of Adana Moreau, winner of the 2020 Chicago Review of Books Award for Fiction, finalist for the 2020 Heartland Booksellers Award in Fiction, and a Best Book of the Year for NPR, the A.V. Club, and BookPage, among others. He is the recipient of an Illinois Arts Council Award for Fiction and the City of Chicago DCASE Individual Artist Program Award. He is on the core faculty of StoryStudio Chicago and the MFA faculty of Northwestern University. As a public-school educator, he taught literature and writing in high schools servicing drop out students. He currently lives in Chicago with his family.

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