Creative Writing MFA
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John Henry Fleming (PhD, University of Louisiana-Lafayette) is the author of Songs for the Deaf, a story collection; The Legend of the Barefoot Mailman, a novel; Fearsome Creatures of Florida, an illustrated bestiary; and The Book I Will Write, a novel-in-emails originally published serially. His short stories have appeared in McSweeney's, The North American Review, Mississippi Review, Fourteen Hills, New World Writing, and Carve. His awards include two Literature Fellowships from the State of Florida and an International Book Award for Songs for the Deaf. At USF, he serves as Creative Writing Program Director, teaches the Fiction Writing and Literary Editing and Publishing courses, directs graduate theses, and advises the graduate-student staff of Saw Palm: Florida Literature and Art. Visit his website at www.johnhenryfleming.com.
My courses focus on the free (and often funny) exchange of aesthetic ideas, the importance of production and revision, and opportunities to publish and to build a literary career. I run my graduate fiction workshop as a two-for-one: a standard, full-class workshop running alongside small-group workshops that allow students to share work every week—including partial drafts, revisions, weird experiments, and novel outlines. My Literary Editing and Publishing course gives students hands-on experience in literary magazine production (our own Saw Palm); introduces students to the business side of the literary world, using Skype discussions with publishers, editors, and literary agents; and allows students to pursue a major literary project to help advance their careers. For my undergraduate Novel Writing course, students frequently participate in National Novel Writing Month to complete an entire novel draft in a month. I love teaching and strive to make my courses both fun and practical.
Julia Koets is the author of The Rib Joint: A Memoir in Essays (2019, Red Hen Press), Pine (forthcoming in 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 MFA. at the University of South Carolina and her PhD in Creative Writing and Literature at the University of Cincinnati.
Jarod Roselló is a Cuban-American cartoonist, writer, and arts-based researcher from Miami, Florida. He holds an MFA in creative writing and a PhD in curriculum and instruction from Pennsylvania State University. His research focuses on language and literacy development, Latinx studies, and childhood studies. He is the author of The Well-Dressed Bear Will (Never) Be Found, and is at work on two graphic novels, Red Panda and Moon Bear and Those Bears, both forthcoming from Top Shelf Comics.
Roselló teaches comics, fiction, and pedagogy in the graduate and undergraduate creative writing programs. His courses are designed as studio courses—collaborative spaces for making and sharing—and focus on imagination-based learning. In his courses, students engage with theories of art-making, explore digital tools and art materials, and experiment with narrative, form, and genre.
Natalie Scenters-Zapico is the author of The Verging Cities (Center for Literary Publishing 2015) and Lima :: Limón (Copper Canyon Press 2019). Originally from the sister cities of El Paso, Texas, USA and Cd. Juárez, Chihuahua, México, she has won awards and fellowships from the Lannan Foundation, CantoMundo, PEN/America, the Great Lakes Colleges’ Association, and a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation, among others. In 2020 she was a finalist for the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Prize and the Griffin International Poetry Prize. Her poems have been published and anthologized in POETRY, the Kenyon Review, the Paris Review, Best American Poetry 2015, and more.
As a teacher of poetry I impart the refining of craft, the articulation of aesthetic choices of one’s own as well as of others’ work, and the importance of continued revision: three elements that I conceive of as a “re-envisioning project.” I pay attention to the particular needs of all students. I recognize that not all students access material from the same social, cultural, and political position, and therefore I value merit as much as final products. Still, I expect my students to conceive of all work as assemblages of a larger corpus, placing responsibility on students to take initiative and exceed my expectations. As a bilingual poet, I have focused a great deal on creating a strong sense of community in my classroom so that students feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and opinions in my class, while defending students’ right to their own language.
Heather Sellers, PhD, is the author of You Don't Look Like Anyone I Know: a true story of family, face-blindness, and forgiveness, an O, Oprah book-of-the-month club selection featured on Good Morning America, Dateline, Rachel Ray, NPR's All Things Considered, and Dick Gordon's The Story. Her essays appear in Tin House, Parade, Reader's Digest, The Sun, Good Housekeeping, O Magazine, The London Daily Telegraph, Brevity, The New York Times, Best American Essays and the Pushcart Prize anthology. Sellers is the author of three volumes of poetry: Drinking Girls and Their Dresses, The Boys I Borrow and a new collection forthcoming from BOA Editions Spring 2022. Georgia Under Water (Sarabande), a collection of linked short stories, won a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers award. She's written a children's book, Spike and Cubby's Ice Cream Island Adventure (Henry Holt), two books on craft, Page after Page and Chapter after Chapter (Writer's Digest), and a popular textbook for the multi-genre creative writing classroom, The Practice of Creative Writing (Bedford St. Martin's) now in its fourth edition.
Sellers teaches memoir, essay, poetry, hybrids and experiments, literature of mindfulness, short-story cycles and linked stories, flash fiction, micro-memoir, and the middle grade novel. She offers creativity workshops at Kripalu, a yoga center in the Berkshires, and at Esalen in California; mindfulness-based writing practices are at the core of every class. At USF, her student-centered writing workshops focus on the creative process and close reading, along with detailed technical instruction in structure, craft, and technique, alongside unique approaches to revision. She has received campus-wide awards for her teaching at Florida State University, Hope College, where she was a professor from 1995-2013, and at USF, where she received an undergraduate teaching award from the university in 2017.
Jake Wolff is the author of the novel The History of Living Forever (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), which was named one of the best books of Summer 2019 by Entertainment Weekly, Cosmopolitan, Buzzfeed, and Amazon. His fiction and essays have appeared in journals such as One Story, Tin House, Kenyon Review, Electric Literature, Guernica, and American Short Fiction. He earned an MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a PhD from Florida State University.
Jay Hopler is author of Green Squall (Yale University Press, 2006) and The Abridged History of Rainfall (McSweeney's Poetry Series, 2016); the editor of The Killing Spirit (Overlook Press, 1996) and, with Kimberly Johnson, Before the Door of God: An Anthology of Devotional Poetry (Yale University Press, 2013); and the editor and translator of The Museum of Small Dark Things: 25 Poems of Georg Trakl (Poetry International, 2016). He has been the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including The Yale Series of Younger Poets Award, the Whiting Award, a fellowship from the Lannan Foundation, two Florida Book Awards, the Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award, and the Rome Prize in Literature. In 2016, he was a Finalist for the National Book Award in Poetry. Photo credit to Ryan Johnson.