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Department of English Language and Literature


Student & Alumni News

Program News

The Open Book line-up for Spring 2016 features Nuruddin Farah, Anthony Doerr, Jenny Offill, Celeste Ng, and Paul Auster. Each will offer a master class for our MFA students. (Other upcoming visiting writers and master classes will be announced soon.)

Over the past year, our MFA students participated in master classes with Claudia Rankine, Mary Szybist, Teju Cole, Chang-rae Lee, George Saunders, and other visiting writers.

You can now find us on Facebook (University of South Carolina MFA) and on Twitter (@scMFA)

Student News

Anna Barry's essays or poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in WordgatheringThe Feminist Observer, and Creative Nonfiction / In Fact Books.  She was a finalist for Creative Nonfiction's Writing Pittsburgh series on neighborhoods and will be published in the first of three books in 2017. She is currently working on a book of essays about her family's tumultuous relationship with Pittsburgh, their home.

Justin Brouckaert's work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Rumpus, Passages North, DIAGRAM, Catapult, NANO Fiction and Smokelong Quarterly, among other publications. His essay "What Not to Do at the Starting Line" was named the winner of Blue Earth Review's 2015 Flash Nonfiction Contest, and his fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net and the Queens Ferry Press, Best Small Fictions anthology. He serves as editor at Yemassee and fiction editor at Banango Street.

Amanda Mitchell Dutton’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The JournalThe Classical OutlookDamselfly Press, and other publications.

Chris Koslowski has stories recently published in Front Porch Journal and Day One. He serves as editor of Yemassee, and is working on a novel about professional wrestling.

Rebecca Landau spent summer 2015 as a Writer-in-Residence at Art Farm in Nebraska. A winner of the 2013 Havilah Babcock Short Story Contest, she is currently serving as Prose Editor for Yemassee and working on a short story collection titled Dirt.

Maya Marshall is a Cave Canem fellow and an alumna of the Squaw Valley Community of Writers. Currently, she is a Poetry Editor at Muzzle Magazine and a Poetry Reader for Yemassee. Her writing has appeared in or is forthcoming in The Volta, Fjords, RHINO, Blackberry, and other publications.

Chris Schumerth has accepted a position as an academic adviser at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. His writing has recently appeared in CahootsIn the FraySalonThe Miami HeraldFront Porch RepublicPunchnel's, and other places. He's in the process of finishing a teaching memoir.

Alumni News

Dan Albergotti's (1995) first collection, The Boatloads, was selected by Edward Hirsch as winner of the 2007 A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize. His poems have appeared in Mid-American ReviewShenandoahThe Southern ReviewThe Virginia Quarterly Review, and other journals. He has been a scholar at the Sewanee and Bread Loaf writers' conferences and a fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Former poetry editor of The Greensboro Review, he is Associate Professor at Coastal Carolina University.

Forrest Anderson's (MFA 2005) fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in BULL: Men's FictionBlackbirdThe Louisville Review,The South Carolina ReviewThe North Carolina Literary Review, and elsewhere, and his nonfiction has appeared in Fiction Writers ReviewThe Southeast Review, and Pembroke Magazine. Anderson holds a PhD in creative writing from Florida State University, where he worked for two years as an archivist and assistant for Robert Olen Butler. He is an assistant professor of English at Catawba College.

David Axe (MFA 2004) is a freelance war correspondent. He has written articles for EsquireWired, the Atlantic,CosmopolitanPopular Science, and many others. His nonfiction books include the graphic novels War FixWar is BoringThe Accidental Candidate, and Army of God and the prose works Army 101From A to B, and Shadow Wars.

Jennifer Bartell (MFA 2014) is a Teaching Associate at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, SC.  Her poetry has appeared in pluck!A Sense of the MidlandsdecomPFall LinesComposite {Arts Magazine}, and other journals. Jennifer’s nonfiction has appeared in The Art of Medicine in Metaphors and is forthcoming in the second edition of Limelight. She is a Callaloo Fellow.

Julie E. (Payne) Bloemeke (MFA 1998) also holds MA in American Literature from USC and an MFA from Bennington. Her poetry has appeared in Pebble Lake ReviewOuroboros Review, and Mason's Road as well as the anthologies Lavanderia: A Mixed Load of Women, Wash, and WordObama-Mentum, and The List Anthology. She was a finalist in the 2001 Arts & Letters poetry competition and was awarded first place in the spring 2010 Atlanta Writer's Club poetry contest.

J. Matthew Boyleston (MFA 2003) is the Dean of the School of Fine Arts at Houston Baptist University. His poems and essays have appeared widely in such journals as Confrontation, the Spoon River Poetry ReviewBlackwell's Companion to Creative Writing and Puerto del Sol. His manuscript, Viewed from the Keel of a Canoe, was a finalist for the Tampa Review Prize for Poetry, the Melissa Lanitis Gregory Poetry Prize and a semi-finalist for the St. Lawrence Book Award, the Able Muse Book Award, the Miller Williams Arkansas Poetry Prize, and the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry Prize. He lives in Houston with his wife and daughter.

Robin Caine (MFA 2009) is currently a full-time Lecturer at Montclair State University. In 2013 she directed the "Live Literature Series" at MSU, and heads the Creative Writing Committee for First-Year Writing. Robin has published stories in literary journals, most recently in 34th Parallel.

Melanie Carter (MA 1993) has published poems in The Gettysburg ReviewAntioch ReviewShenandoahSpoon River Poetry Review, and other journals. Her book-length manuscript has been a finalist for the Yale Series of Younger Poets award and a semi-finalist for the Brittingham prize. She teaches at the American University in Cairo.

Phil Christman (MFA 2010) teaches in the English department at North Carolina Central University. Since 2009 he has served as Writing Coordinator at MURAP, a summer program that prepares outstanding minority undergrads for graduate school in the humanities. His stories, essays, and book reviews have appeared in PasteAnnalemmaBooks & CultureIdentity TheoryThe Christian CenturyThe Mercy ReviewNWSA Journal, and other places.

F. Brett Cox (MA 1984), who also holds a PhD in American literature from Duke, is Professor of English at Norwich University. He has published short stories and poems in a variety of magazines and anthologies in the US and UK, including Century, Carriage House Review, Sucarnochee Review, Kestrel, Postscripts, Phantom, Eclipse Online, and Manifest West: Even Cowboys Carry Cell Phones. He co-edited, with Andy Duncan, the anthology Crossroads: Tales of the Southern Literary Fantastic. His plays have been performed in the Vermont Playwrights Circle's TenFest as well as the Play Lab of the Last Frontier Theater Conference in Valdez, Alaska, and the Burlington Fringe Festival in Burlington, VT. He serves on the Board of Directors for the Shirley Jackson Award. His short story "Maria Works at Ocean City Nails" (New Haven Review) was included in Best Indie Lit New England 2. Recent publications include fiction in the anthology War Stories, poetry in IthicaLit, The Lake, and Exit 13, and a monologue in the anthology Geek Theater.

Jackson Culpepper's (MFA 2012) fiction has appeared in Armchair ShotgunRock & SlingSteel Toe Review, and is forthcoming in Real South Magazine. One of his stories also appeared in The Drum Literary Magazine as an audio reading. He currently lives in east Tennessee with his wife, Margaret, two dogs, and two horses.

KC Culver (MFA 2003) teaches at the University of Miami, where she is Assistant Director of the Writing Center and Managing Editor of the undergraduate literary journal Mangrove. Her poetry has been published in numerous journals, including wordriverGulf StreamFlint Hills ReviewSendero, and Peregrine.

Elizabeth Daniel (2011) works as a copywriter in Los Angeles.

Ajit Dhillon's (MFA 2014) story "Marshmallow Man" has recently been published in The Doctor T.J. Eckleburg Review. His story "Coffee with Mr. Dao" was published in Used Gravitrons.

Lauren Eyler (MFA 2013) has received two Pushcart nominations in fiction: one for "Kingsport, Tennessee," which appeared in Crack the Spine, and one for "Green Car Crash," which appeared in Steel Toe Review. She has also recently published stories in the Saint Anne's ReviewWaccamawBluestem, and Paper Nautilus. She has pieces forthcoming in The Meadow and The Rumpus.

Matthew Fogarty (MFA 2015) has stories forthcoming or recently published in Passages NorthFourteen HillsFRiGG MagazineJMWW,Johnny AmericaMoon City ReviewBelleville Park PagesCrack the SpineMidwestern GothicUmbrella Factory Magazine, andWhiskeyPaper. His story "Semis" was a finalist in the 2013 Gigantic Sequins Flash Fiction contest. He has stories forthcoming in anthologies for Ice Cube Press and Muddy Ford Press and was anthologized in the Crack the Spine Summer 2013 Anthology.

Andrew Geyer (MFA 1992) published his fourth book, a novel entitled Dixie Fish (Ink Brush Press 2011). His other books areSiren Songs from the Heart of Austin, a story cycle; Meeting the Dead, a novel; and Whispers in Dust and Bone, a story cycle that won the silver medal for short fiction in the Foreword Magazine book of the year awards and a Spur Award from the Western Writers of America. His award-winning stories have appeared in dozens of literary magazines and anthologies, and been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. A member of the Texas Institute of Letters, and recently recognized as a Breakthrough Rising Star by the USC system, he currently serves as Associate Professor of English at the University of South Carolina Aiken.

Leslie Haynsworth's (MFA 2011) debut story collection, Philanthropy, is forthcoming from Aqueous Press. Her work has recently appeared in Barrelhouse and JMWW, and her story "When I Pulled Her Out of the Water" was nominated forStorySouth's 2012 Million Writers Award. She teaches English in USC's Opportunity Scholars program.

Melissa Johnson (MFA 1996) is the author of the poetry chapbook Looking Twice at the World, and her poetry has recently appeared in WaccamawKakalak: An Anthology of Carolina PoetsThe Potomac Review, and The Cortland Review. Also a literary scholar, she has published numerous articles and co-authored the textbook Uncommon Threads: Reading and Writing about Contemporary America. She serves as the Curriculum Coordinator for the Focused Inquiry program at Virginia Commonwealth University, where she is Assistant Professor in the University College.

Julia Koets (MFA 2009) is the author of Hold Like Owls, which was selected by Nikky Finney as the seventh annual winner of the South Carolina Poetry Book Prize. Julia has also published numerous poems in journals including Euphony and Cutthroat. A former AmeriCorps Fellow, she has recently run poetry workshops for low-income youth at Cal Poly Pomona's Academy for Literacy through the Arts. She is currently a graduate student in the University of Cincinnati's PhD in creative writing program.

Gary Leising (MFA 1998) has published poetry in journals including Connecticut ReviewCincinnati ReviewRiver StyxSouth Carolina Review, and Mid-American Review. His work was chosen by Russell Edson for the 2008 1/2K Prize from Indiana Review, and he is Associate Professor of English at Utica College.

Rachel Luria (MFA 2006) is Assistant Professor at Florida Atlantic University's Wilkes Honors College. She is a two-time winner of the South Carolina Fiction Project, and her stories and essays have been published in Florida Review and elsewhere. She is co-editor of Neil Gaiman and Philosophy.

Ray McManus (MFA 2000) is the author of three collections: Driving through the country before you are born (winner of the SC Book Prize, USC Press 2007), Left Behind (winner of the SC Poetry Initiative Chapbook Competition, Stepping Stones Press 2008), and Red Dirt Jesus (winner of the 2010 Marick Press Poetry Prize, Marick Press). His poetry has appeared in numerous journals, most recently The Asheville Poetry ReviewBorderlands, and The SC Anthology of Poets. He is Assistant Professor of English at USC Sumter and also directs the creative writing program at the Tri-district Arts Consortium.

Zach Mueller (MFA 2012) was the 2012 Summer Writer-in-Residence with the Hub City Writer's Project, and is now visiting assistant professor of creative writing at Franklin College in Indiana. He has poems published in Gulf CoastPrairie Schooner,Timber, and other journals.

Heidi Nobles (MFA 2011) recently had two essays accepted for publication: "Remember, Forget," an essay reflecting on trauma and hope in the lives of several Iraqi refugees who have resettled in a small Texas town, appeared in Welter. "Watching Songs," a reflection on a marriage and divorce in the hearing/Deaf communities appears in Relief. Heidi has also joined the National Military Family Association as a contributing writer. Her first feature article will appear in the next issue of The Voice for Military Families.

Zack O'Neill (MFA 2011), is an English instructor at Sierra College in California. In 2015 his fiction appeared in Atticus Review and SNReview, and his short story collection "Zen Creoles" was named a semifinalist for the Subito Press Book Prize. His latest work appeared in DRYLAND Literary Journal in early 2016.

Brandi Perry (MFA 2014) recently co-edited an anthology, The Art of Medicine in Metaphors: A Collection of Poems and Narratives(Copernicus, 2013). She has been awarded an inaugural SPARC Fellowship to conduct research in Virginia Beach, VA, toward her memoir. She is joining the board of the Association of Carolina Emerging Scholars.

Joey R. Poole (MFA 2000) has published short stories in various literary journals, including The Adirondack ReviewThe Southeast Review, and Clapboard House. He also writes regularly for SC Wildlife magazine.

Mark Powell's (MFA 2001) third and fourth novels, The Dark Corner and The House of the Lord, will be published this year by the University of Tennessee Press and Kitsune Books. The winter 2012 issue of Appalachian Heritage was devoted to his work and included excerpts from his new novels as well as critical appraisals by Ron Rash, Casey Clabough, and Pete Duval. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Breadloaf Writers’ Conference, the Prague Summer Seminar, and the Collegeville Center for Ecumenical Research. He is an Assistant Professor at Stetson University and teaches a fiction workshop at Lawtey Correctional Institute, a Level II prison.

Brian Ray (MFA 2007) is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. His fiction publications include two novels, Through the Pale Door and Unknown Female, and stories in such journals as Green Mountains Review,Louisiana Review, and New South. His academic publications include articles for Composition StudiesJournal of Basic Writing, and Computers and Composition. He holds a PhD from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro.

Chad Rhoad (MFA 2012) is a commissioning editor for The History Press in Charleston, SC. He has completed his first novel,From L.A. to Breakfast, about love and life in small Southern towns. He won the Havilah Babcock Prize for Poetry in 2007, and his work was one of several featured in Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, a musical revue, which featured both Brel's work and original poems, raised thousands of dollars for Hope for Haiti. Chad has also presented at the New Voices Conference at Georgia State University. Chad served as editor of The Messenger in Hartsville, SC, for two years. He is currently working on his second novel, a story about war, obsession, and the chupacabra.

Brandon Rushton’s (MFA 2015) poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Journal, CutBank, Passages North, THRUSH, The Adroit Journal, and others. He was chosen as the runner-up for the 2015 Pinch Literary Award for Poetry by Ada Limon and was a finalist for the 2014 Indiana Review Poetry Prize.

Lisa Lopez Snyder won The Chattahoochee Review 2011 Lamar York Prize for Nonfiction with her essay "In Transit." She was also named a Short Story Finalist in the 2010 Faulkner-Wisdom Competition and received a full tuition scholarship for the 2010 NY State Summer Writers Institute at Skidmore College. Her short stories and essays have been featured in The Raleigh ReviewThe ScramblerBirmingham Arts Journal, and Quill & Parchment. She is Lecturer in the Institute for Writing and Rhetoric at Dartmouth College.

Charlene Spearen (MFA 2003) published a volume of poetry titled A Book of Exquisite Disasters (University of South Carolina Press). She is also the author of the poetry chapbook Without Possessions (Stepping Stone Press, 2006). Her poems have appeared in a variety of journals, including Country Dog Review and The SC Anthology of Poets. She is Associate Professor of English and Chair in Humanities at Allen University.

Alexis Stratton (MFA 2012) is an adjunct professor for Women's and Gender Studies Program at USC and works as an educator for a non-profit organization in Columbia, SC. She won the 2012 BLOOM Chapbook Contest for Fiction and was awarded second place in the Blue Mesa Review 2013 Fiction Contest. Recently expanding her repertoire to include screenwriting, she wrote and directed "Crosswalk," an award-winning short film created for the Second Act Film Festival.

Ashley Strosnider (MFA 2012) is the managing editor at Prairie Schooner in Lincoln, NE, and the fiction editor at Pithead Chapel. Her work appears in Fifth WednesdayPotomac ReviewWord RiotSmokelong Quarterly, and Nashville Review, among others, and her reviews appear in Publishers Weekly.

Andrew Valencia's (MFA 2015) short stories have appeared in The Southern Pacific ReviewCrack the SpineThe Fat City ReviewEclectica,Independent InkMixed FruitSwitchback, and other journals. He has also had a nonfiction essay published on the Ploughsharesblog. Summer 2014, he taught creative writing in the Duke TIP program at Rice University.

Candace Wiley (MFA 2012) was awarded a Fulbright to conduct research in San Basilio de Palenque, Columbia. Founded by escaped slaves in the 1600s, Palenque has its own language and customs that trace back to the Bantu and Kikongo in West Africa. Candace will collect narratives from Palenque residents as the basis of a creative prose and poetry project.

Ivan Young (MFA 1998) teaches creative writing at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, where he serves as the Coordinator of the Center for Faculty Excellence.  His poetry collection, Smell of Salt, Ghost of Rain was published in 2015 by Brick House Books.  He was the 2013 winner of the Norton Girault Literary Prize for poetry and a recipient of a Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award in 2011.  His work has been published in Passages NorthHayden’s Ferry ReviewCrab Orchard Review,North American ReviewLondon MagazineCream City Review, and Fourteen Hills, among others. He is currently working on his PhD in Creative Writing at University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

If you are a graduate of the MFA program, we would love to hear what you've been up to. Send news of your professional accomplishments to our MFA coordinator or director.