2020-21 Visiting Writers

In the midst of the pandemic, the MFA program worked to ensure that they continued offering their Visiting Writers Series by moving online.

The writers for the academic school year of 2020-2023 were:

Amy Tan

Amy Tan is an American writer whose works explore mother-daughter relationships. Her best-known work is “The Joy Luck Club”, which has been translated into 35 languages. In 1993, the book was adapted into a commercially successful film. Tan has written several other bestselling novels, including “The Kitchen God’s Wife,” “The Hundred Secret Senses,” “The Bonesetter’s Daughter” and “Saving Fish from Drowning.” She also wrote a collection of non-fiction essays entitled “The Opposite of Fate: A Book of Musings.” In addition to these, Tan has written two children’s books: “The Moon Lady” and “Sagwa, the Chinese Siamese Cat,” which was turned into an animated series which aired on PBS. She also appeared on PBS in a short spot encouraging children to write. Tan is also in a band with several other well-known writers, the Rock Bottom Remainders.

Watch the Amy Tan YouTube Streamed Video Here

Susan Choi

Susan Choi’s first novel, The Foreign Student, won the Asian-American Literary Award for fiction.  Her second novel, American Woman, was a finalist for the 2004 Pulitzer Prize.  Her third novel, A Person of Interest, was a finalist for the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Award.  In 2010 she was named the inaugural recipient of the PEN/W.G. Sebald Award.  Her fourth novel, My Education, received a 2014 Lammy Award.  Her fifth novel, Trust Exercise, won the 2019 National Book Award for Fiction, and in 2021 she received the Sunday Times Audible Short Story Award for “Flashlight.”   She serves as a trustee of PEN America and teaches in The Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University.

Watch the Susan Choi YouTube Streamed Video Here

A. Kendra Greene

A. Kendra Greene is an essayist, printer, and maker of artist’s books. She writes about collections and records radio essays and spends not enough time locking up wood type on a Vandercook proof press.

She began her museum career adhering text to the wall one trembling vinyl letter at a time. From there she went on to manage a collection of photography, costume a giant ground sloth, and keeps returning as a Visiting Artist at the Nasher Sculpture Center.

Her work as an essayist started during a Fulbright to teach English in South Korea, and she earned an MFA in Nonfiction Writing from the University of Iowa and a Graduate Certificate from the University of Iowa Center for the Book under the auspices of a Jacob K. Javits Fellowship. She is Associate Editor of prose at the Southwest Review and lately a Fellow at Harvard University’s Library Innovation Lab.

Kendra makes books and broadsides under the imprint Greene Ink Press, and occasionally Red Thread Press, while posters are done under the name Miniature Giraffe Press. Her chapbooks and broadsides are held in the special collections of Yale, Carnegie Mellon, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, University of Florida, University of Miami, and University of Iowa, among others. Kendra’s writing is more broadly available in print publications like The Normal School, Field Working: Reading and Writing Research 4th ed., and The Best Women’s Travel Writing 2010. Ephemerally, her zines can be found in the White Rock Zine Machine, for 25 cents a pop.

Watch the A. Kendra Greene YouTube Streamed Video Here

Todd Davis

Todd Davis is the author of seven full-length collections of poetry–Coffin Honey, Native Species, WinterkillIn the Kingdom of the Ditch, The Least of These, Some Heaven, and Ripe—as well as of a limited edition chapbook, Household of Water, Moon, and Snow. He edited the nonfiction collection, Fast Break to Line Break: Poets on the Art of Basketball, and co-edited Making Poems: Forty Poems with Commentary by the Poets. His poetry has appeared in Ted Kooser’s syndicated newspaper column American Life in Poetry and has been anthologized in such books as The Autumn House Anthology of Contemporary American Poetry and Bedford/St. Martin’s textbook, Approaching Literature.

His poems have won the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Prize, the Chautauqua Editor’s Prize, the Midwest Book Award, the ForeWord INDIES Book of the Year Bronze and Silver Awards, and the Bloomsburg University Book Prize. More than 400 of his poems have appeared in such noted journals and magazines as American Poetry Review, Iowa ReviewEcotone, North American Review, Indiana ReviewAlaska Quarterly ReviewMissouri ReviewPoetry NorthwestSycamore ReviewGettysburg ReviewOrion, West Branch, River Styx, and Poetry Daily. He teaches creative writing, American literature, and environmental studies at Pennsylvania State University’s Altoona College.

Noah Davis

Noah Davis grew up in Tipton, Pennsylvania, and writes about the Allegheny Front. Davis’ manuscript Of This River was selected by George Ella Lyon for the 2019 Wheelbarrow Emerging Poet Book Prize from Michigan State University’s Center for Poetry. His poems and prose have appeared in The Sun, Best New Poets, Southern Humanities Review, Orion, North American Review, River Teeth, The Year’s Best Sports Writing, and Chautauqua among others. His poetry and prose have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and awarded a Katharine Bakeless Nason Fellowship at the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference along with the 2018 Jean Ritchie Appalachian Literature Fellowship from Lincoln Memorial University. Davis earned an MFA at Indiana University.

Watch the Todd and Noah Davis YouTube Streamed Video Here

Zaina Arafat

Zaina Arafat is an LGBTQ Arab-American fiction and nonfiction writer. She is the author of the novel, You Exist Too Much, which won a 2021 Lambda Literary Award and was named Roxane Gay’s favorite book of 2020. Her stories and essays have appeared in publications including The New York Times, Granta, The Believer, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, Harper’s Bazaar, BuzzFeed, VICE, Guernica, Literary Hub and NPR. In recognition of her work, she was awarded the Arab Women/Migrants from the Middle East fellowship at Jack Jones Literary Arts and named a Champion of Pride by The Advocate. She holds an M.F.A. from Iowa and an M.A. from Columbia University. She lives in Brooklyn and is currently at work on a collection of essays.

Watch the Zaina Arafat YouTube Streamed Video Here

Alex Marzano-Lesnevich

The writer Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich (USA), Nantucket, Massachusetts, June 16, 2019. Photograph © Beowulf Sheehan

Alex Marzano-Lesnevich is the author of “THE FACT OF A BODY: A Murder and a Memoir,” which received a Lambda Literary Award, the Chautauqua Prize, the Grand Prix des Lectrices ELLE, the Prix des libraires du Quebec, and the Prix France Inter-JDD, an award for one book of any genre in the world. Named one of the best books of the year by Entertainment Weekly,, Bustle, Book Riot, The Times of London, The Guardian, Paris Match, Lire, Telerama, and The Sydney Press Herald, it was an Indie Next Pick and a Junior Library Guild selection, long-listed for the Gordon Burn Prize, short-listed for the CWA Gold Dagger, a finalist for a New England Book Award and a Goodreads Choice Award, and has been translated into ten languages.

They have written for The New York Times, The New York Times Sunday Magazine, The Boston Globe, Oxford American, Harper’s, and many other publications. They earned their BA at Columbia University, their JD at Harvard Law School, and their MFA at Emerson College. They are now an assistant professor at Bowdoin College and live in Portland, Maine, with an enormous puppy.

Watch the Alex Marzano-Lesnevich YouTube Streamed Video Here

Lina Ferreira

Lina was born and raised (mostly) in Bogota, Colombia and has since then been tumbleweeding aimlessly through the world. She is the author of “Drown Sever Sing,” and her ode to cannibalism can be found in the collection titled, “After Montaigne: Contemporary Essayists Cover the Essays.” She is a graduate of The University of Iowa’s Creative Nonfiction and Literary Translation programs, and her work has been featured in Arts and Letters, The Chicago Review, and Fourth Genre, among others. Her new book, “Don’t Come Back,” is published by Mad River Books, an imprint of The Ohio State University Press (January 2017). Ferreira is a recipient of the 2016 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award.

Watch the Lina Ferreira YouTube Streamed Video Here

Alex Espinoza

Alex Espinoza was born in Tijuana, Mexico to parents from the state of Michoacán and raised in suburban Los Angeles. In high school and afterwards, he worked a series of retail jobs, selling everything from eggs and milk to used appliances, custom furniture, rock T-shirts, and body jewelry. After graduating from the University of California-Riverside, he went on to earn an MFA from UC-Irvine’s Program in Writing. His first novel, “Still Water Saints,” was published by Random House in 2007 and was named a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection. The book was released simultaneously in Spanish, under the title “Los santos de Agua Mansa, California,” translated by Lilliana Valenzuela. His second novel, “The Five Acts of Diego León,” was also published by Random House in March 2013. His latest book is “Cruising: An Intimate History of a Radical Pastime,” published by Unnamed Press in 2019.

Watch the Alex Espinoza YouTube Streamed Video Here

Eman Hassan

Bicultural poet and essayist from Massachusetts and Kuwait, Eman Hassan is the author of Raghead, which was the recipient of a Folsom Award and named as the 2018 Editor’s Choice for a first collection of poems (New Issues Press, 2019). She recieved an MFA in poetry from Arizona State University, where she worked as International Poetry Editor for Hayden’s Ferry Review, and a PhD in poetry from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she worked as an Associate Editor for Prairie Schooner. Eman is one of the founders of The American University of Kuwait and part of Zayed University’s start-up team (UAE). She is also a veteran of the first Gulf War, where she served as a medic-interpreter. Her poetry and translations have appeared or are forthcoming in Aldus Journal of Translation, Blackbird, KUDZU, Painted Bride Quarterly, Mizna, Pilgrimage, and sub/Terrain, among others.

Watch the Eman Hassan YouTube Streamed Video Here



Head over to the Visiting Writers Page to learn about this years Writers!