Student and Alumni Achievements

Below is a representative sampling of MFA student and alumni professional and creative activities

Books

  • Richard Beban publishes, reads, and teaches nationally and internationally. He published his MFA final manuscript, “Young Girl Eating a Bird,” with Red Hen Press. He is also the author of “What the Heart Weighs.” His work “Silence” appears in the 2006 “Everyday Blessings Calendar: 365 Days of Inspiration, Comfort & Gratitude,” from Sourcebooks (Chicago, IL).
  • Esther Belin’s first book, “From the Belly of My Beauty” (University of Arizona Press), received an American Book Award. Her second book, based on her AULA MFA final manuscript, was published by University of Arizona in 2010.
  • Naomi Benaron won the 2010 Bellwether Prize for Fiction in Support of a Literature of Social Change for her novel “Running the Rift,” published in 2012 by Algonquin Books.  The prize includes a $25,000 cash award. The Bellwether Prize is given in even-numbered years. There have been six prize winners so far, two from AULA.  Gayle Brandeis won in 2002.
  • Laurie Barton is the author of two books in the NorthStar series, which is used to teach English around the world. She is currently developing a new reading series for the same publisher (Longman ESL).
  • Libuse Binder’s first book, “Ten Ways to Change the World in Your Twenties” (Sourcebooks, 2009), has just been released.
  • Bonnie Lee Black’s memoir “Somewhere Child” (Viking Press) continues to appear on the reading lists of support groups for families of abducted children. She is now working on her second creative nonfiction book, “How to Cook a Crocodile,” about her years in Gabon, West Africa. Her essay “Machete Lessons” about her experience as a Peace Corps volunteer in Gabon was published in the anthology “A Matter of Choice: 25 People Who Transformed Their Lives” (Seal Press, 2004).
  • Kim Burwick’s first book of poems, “Has No Kinsmen,” was published by Red Hen Press.
  • Gayle Brandeis is the author of “The Book of Dead Birds,” which won Barbara Kingsolver’s Bellwether Prize for Fiction in Support of a Literature of Social Change; “Fruitflesh: Seeds of Inspiration for Women Who Write” (both Random House); and “Self Storage.”  Her book of poems, “Dictionary Poems,” was published in 2003, and several other books, including “My Life with the Lincolns” and “The Delta Girls,” are forthcoming.
  • Jennifer Calkins is a poet, evolutionary biologist, and the author of “A Story of Witchery” (Les Figues Press), a book-length narrative poem which poet Amy Gerstler calls “a strange, brave journey in which normalcy, deformity, violation and wholeness are radically realigned.”
  • Terris McMahan Grimes writes the Theresa Galloway mystery series, including “Bad Girls,” “Somebody Else’s Child,” and “Blood Will Tell” (all Onyx Press).
  • Mary Guterson is the author of two novels: “Gone to the Dogs” and “We Are All Fine Here.”
  • Lamar Hawkin’s novel, “The Salem Branch,” was published by Tor in June 2006, under the professional name Lara Parker.
  • Karen Harryman’s AULA manuscript “Auto Mechanic’s Daughter” was published by Black Goat, an imprint of Red Hen Press.
  • Bruce Hoppe’s book “Don’t Let All The Pretty Days Get By” has been published by Ingram Books. He won nine New Mexico Press Association awards for writing while working as a journalist for the Union County Leader in Clayton, NM.
  • Anne Liu Kellor is the author of the  memoir “Searching for the Heart Radical: A Journey Between East and West.”
  • Chandra Kistner is the author of “Jesse Now and Then,” published by New Church Press/Morris Publishing.
  • Jillian Lauren’s “Some Girls: My Life in a Harem,” and “Pretty: A Novel,” were both on the New York Times Best Sellers list in 2011.
  • Christina Lynch, a current student, co-wrote the novel “City of Dark Magic”  with Meg Howrey, published by Penguin in January 2013.
  • Alistair McCartney is the author of “The End of the World Book: A Novel” (University of Wisconsin Press), which was a finalist for a Publishing Triangle Award.
  • Jeff McElroy’s collection of short stories, “Californios,” is forthcoming from Smashwords. One of its stories, “Brown Pride,” received first prize in the Writer’s Digest National Short Story Contest and appeared in that magazine. McElroy adapted another story, “Goofyfoot,” into a screenplay by the same name. The film version of “Goofyfoot” won first place in the Los Angeles Film Festival’s Short Film category.
  • Deborah Meadows’ books of poetry include “Representing Absence” (Green Integer, 2004), “Itinerant Men” (Krupskaya, 2004), and “The 60’s & 70’s: from ‘The Theory of Subjectivity in Moby Dick'” (TinFish Press, 2003).
  • Maiana Minahal’s book “Legend Sandayo” was published in 2009.
  • Bernadette Murphy’s recent books are “Zen and the Art of Knitting” and “The Tao Girls Guide to Real Estate” (Bloomsbury).
  • Jim Natal has published two collections: “Talking Back to the Rocks” and “In the Bee Trees,” which was a finalist for the PEN Center USA Award in poetry.
  • Peter Nichols is the author of six books, including “A Voyage for Madmen,” “Evolution’s Captain,” “Oil and Ice: A Story of Arctic Disaster,” and “Sea Change: Alone Across the Atlantic in a Wooden Boat.”
  • Pam Ore’s “Grammar of the Cage” (Les Figues Press) is her first collection of poetry. Her  poems have also appeared in “Cream City Review,” “13th Moon,” “4th Street,” and “37 Oklahoma Poets.”
  • Wendy C. Ortiz co-edited and co-published the anthology “Lounge Lit: An Anthology of Fiction and Poetry by the Writers of Literati Cocktail and Rhapsodomancy” with fellow AULA alumna Andrea Quaid in the summer of 2005.
  • Dennis Phillips is the author of nine books of poetry, the most recent being “Sand” (Green Integer, 2002), and a first novel, “Hope,” also published by Green Integer.
  • Vanessa Place is the author of several books, including “Dies: A Sentence” (Les Figues Press), “La Medusa” (Fiction Collective 2, 2008), and “Notes on Conceptualisms,” co-authored with Robert Fitterman (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2009). Her nonfiction book, “The Guilt Project: Rape, Morality and Law,” is forthcoming from Other Press/Random House. Information As Material will be publishing her trilogy: “Statement of Facts,” “Statement of the Case,” and “Argument.” “Statement of Facts” will also be published in France by éditions è®e, as “Exposé des Faits.”
  • Khadijah Queen is the author of “Conduit,” and has been featured as one of the year’s top emerging poets by Poets & Writers magazine.
  • Andromeda Romano-Lax is the author of “The Spanish Bow,” a book favorably reviewed in the New York Times, and “The Detour,” published in 2013 by Soho Press.
  • Shelley Savren’s first book, “The Common Fire,” was published by Red Hen Press in 2004.
  • Caty Sporleder’s experimental fiction “Flay, a book of mu,” was published by BlazeVox Books in 2009.
  • Joel Barraquiel Tan is the author of a collection of poems, “Monster” (Noice Press). Also a director and AIDS activist, Tan is the editor of LAMBDA Literary’s Best Fiction Anthology Award for a collection of Queer Asian and Pacific Islander Erotica. He has published fiction, essays and poems in both popular and academic anthologies, including “Asian American Sexualities” and “On a Bed of Rice: Asian American Erotica.”
  • Daniel Webster is the author of the book “Dreams and Responsibilities” and a chapbook called “Fir and Birch.” The Hoelderlin-Gesellschaft Association in Tuebingen, Germany added Webster’s books to their collection in the library of the Hoelderlin Museum, giving special mention to his translation of Hoelderlin’s poem “Da ich ein Knabe war” (“When I Was Still a Boy”). He is a contributing editor to the literary magazine “Printed Matter,” whose primary audience is the English-speaking community in Japan.
  • Cecila Woloch is the author of four books of poetry, and a chapbook. Her most recent book, “Carpathia,” was published by BOA in 2009. She has been awarded numerous national prizes, and her work has been read on Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac.
  • Yuvi Zalkow’s “A Brilliant Novel in the Works” was published by MP Publishing in the summer of 2012. His stories have been published in “Glimmer Train,” “Narrative Magazine,” the “Los Angeles Review,” “Carve Magazine,” and others. He is the creator of the “I’m a Failed Writer” online video series.

Chapbooks

  • At least five MFA program poets have chapbooks published and distributed by Finishing Line Press: Jane Alynn’s “Threads and Dust,” Lucia Galloway Dick’s “Playing Outside” (as Lucia Galloway), Laura Hershey‘s “Spark before Dark,” Carlos Martinez’s “The Cold Music of the Ocean,” and Chyrs Tobey. Kent D. Nielsen was a finalist in Annual Poetry Chapbook Contest at Gertrude Press.

Teaching and Public Service

  • Four poetry students and alumni– Chrissy Anderson-Zavala, Aya de Leon, Maiana Minahal, and Sandra Garcia – have studied and taught poetry and served as interim directors in June Jordan’s Poetry for the People at UC Berkeley.
  • Chrissy Anderson-Zavala teaches creative writing to local youth with WritersCorps.
  • Laurie Barton is an ESL professor at Orange Coast College in southern California where she teaches composition to immigrants, refugees, and international students.
  • Richard Beban publishes, reads, and teaches nationally and internationally.
  • Bonnie Lee Black has been a professional writer and editor for nearly 30 years and an educator (in the U.S. and overseas) for over 15 years.  She now teaches English at the University of New Mexico, Taos.
  • Amanda Borozinski is a reporter for the Keene Sentinel, a daily newspaper.
  • Teresa Carmody and Vanessa Place are the founding editors of Les Figues Press, a full and active literary nonprofit publishing house that also hosts journals and reading series.
  • Eric Delehoy has resurrected his small press literary magazine, Gertrude, and established Gertrude Press, a nonprofit literary and arts press featuring LGBTQA writers and artists.
  • Terris McMahan Grimes is the founder of Northern California’s Schools Writers in Residence program.
  • John R. Guthrie serves as editor for The Chickasaw Plum: Politics and the Arts Online.
  • Lamar Hawkins teaches freshman English at Pierce College in Los Angeles.
  • Anne Liu Kellor is a former Jack Straw writer-in-residence. She has read her work from coast to coast, and led writing workshops in schools, community centers, prisons, colleges, and senior centers.  She teaches at venues such as the Richard Hugo House and the University of Washington’s Experimental College, and volunteers with youth at 826 Seattle.
  • Mifanwy Kaiser is the founder of Tebot Bach, a nonprofit press and reading series.
  • Autumn Konopka is a nonprofit fundraiser who also teaches community-based poetry classes in Philadelphia.  She is the host of a monthly poetry reading for the Mad Poets Society, and has participated in the Philadelphia Fringe Festival and the 215 Festival.
  • Donna Mungen was invited to present a critical paper on The Rhetorical Traditions in the Literature of Zora Neale Hurston and Toni Morrison at the International Society for the History of Rhetoric.
  • Jim Natal curated and co-hosted the long-running Poem.X reading series in Santa Monica, and teaches the Plein Air Poetry Workshop in Joshua Tree National Park.
  • Wendy C. Ortiz curates and hosts the bimonthly Rhapsodomancy Reading Series at the Good Luck Bar in Hollywood.
  • Dennis Phillips is a professor in the Liberal Arts department at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California.  He is also a senior lecturer in the Otis MFA Writing Program.  Phillips co-edits the poetry section of the New Review of Literature, was a founding editor of Littoral Books, the first book review editor of Sulfur, and the L.A. Weekly’s first poetry editor.
  • Barbara Simpson is an affiliate member of Amherst Writers and Artists (AWA) and owns and operates A Different Kind of Writers Group, which offers writing workshops using the AWA method.  She also conducts a writing group called WHEW! (Writing Helps Empower Women!) at the Iowa Correctional Institution for Women.
  • Shelley Savren is a full-time faculty member in the English Department at Oxnard College and teaches writing in the schools.
  • Kristin Stoner has been happily teaching composition and humanities at a community college.
  • Ed Taylor is the former executive director of Just Buffalo Literary Center, a not-for-profit community arts organization.
  • Cecilia Woloch was founding director of the long-running Idyllwild Summer Poetry Festival. She currently teaches poetry at USC.

Selected Awards and Honors

  • Abraham Brennan received a work/study scholarship in creative nonfiction to the 2005 Bread Loaf Writers Conference.
  • Amanda Borozinski, while still a student,  received a grant from the state of New Hampshire and a scholarship from the Leopold Schepp Foundation.
  • Shonda Buchanan’s poem “At Buckroe Beach” was awarded the Long Story Short 2010 Poem of the Year Award.
  • Lisa Cheby was nominated for inclusion in the Best of the Web Series 2011 for her poem “Vows,” published on www.poeticdiversity.org.
  • Jenn Crowell was chosen as a finalist in the Summer Literary Seminars Contest, judged by Mary Gaitskill. An excerpt from Crowell’s novel-in-progress, ETCHED ON ME, was selected as one of the top 30 entries from over 1,200 submissions worldwide.
  • Seth Fischer received an honorable mention in the Glimmer Train September 2009 Fiction Open for his short story “Dr. Jacob’s Son.”
  • Steve De Jarnatt’s story was selected for the most recent Best American Short Stories.
  • Laurence Dumortier was named a finalist in the Glimmer Train Short Story Award for New Writers.
  • Lucia Galloway Dick has three poems that have won awards in the annual Artists Embassy International Dancing Poetry Contest. Her poem book, “Venus and Other Losses,” was published by Plain View Books in 2010.
  • Anne Liu Kellor was a 2009 Individual Artist Projects grant recipient from 4Culture.
  • Jeff Leavell’s story “Extinction,” available at www.velvetmafia.com, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
  • C.A. Leibow won the City Weekly Poetry Contest.
  • Topper Lilien was one of five MFA students nation-wide to receive an AWP Intro Journals Award in Fiction. Topper’s story “Dust” was AULA’s nominee in fiction in 2011.
  • Heidi Lyss, while still a student,won first place in the Unfinished Works Fiction Contest for her short story “Adinkra Eyes,” published in December, 2005. The contest was sponsored by the AIDS Services Foundation of Orange County, which states: “The theme of Unfinished Works is meant to symbolize all that remains to be done in helping those affected with HIV/AIDS and to prevent the spread of HIV.”
  • Terris McMahan Grimes’ first book, “Somebody Else’s Child,” won Anthony Awards for best first mystery novel and best paperback original.  She has won the Chester Himes Black Mystery Writers award, and has been nominated for an Agatha Award.
  • Maiana Minahal was a finalist for the 2009-2010 Astraea Lesbian Writers Fund in poetry.
  • Donna Mungen was awarded a California Arts Council grant to teach creative writing at Heman Stark Youth Training School in Chino for 1998-99.
  • Andrea Pappas was the recipient of the California Lutheran University Creative Writing Award for 2005.
  • Anh Chi Pham has been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship in Creative Writing for travel and research to Vietnam.
  • Vanessa Place’s Dies: A Sentence (Les Figues Press) has been selected by KCRW’s Michael Silverblatt as an October Bookworm Library Title.
  • Khadijah Queen will receive a $2,000 University Scholar Assistantship from Georgia State University.
  • Terry Jean Ratner is a 2005 winner of the Soul-Making Literary Competition, a community arts outreach program of the National League of American Penn Women. Her piece Relinquishing a Soul placed third in the Rosalie Fleming Memorial Creative Nonfiction category.
  • Shelley Savren is the recipient of nine California Arts Council Artist in Residence grants, two National Endowment for the Arts regional grants, and three artist fellowships from the City of Ventura.  She also received first place in the 1994 John David Johnson Memorial Poetry Award and a nomination for a Pushcart Prize.
  • Marie Delgado Travis was selected Juried Poet, 2009 Houston Poetry
    Fest and was honored as the Local Author of the Year at the 2010 Eighth
    Hispanic Book Festival held at the Hilton Houston Southwest in
    Houston, Texas.
  • Anna Waterhouse won first prize in the July issue of Berkeley Fiction Review for her sudden fiction piece, “Apple Thinks Again.” The same piece was featured in the August online zine, Tattoo Highway.  Her 5,000-word essay “From Glory to Glory Hole” was published in Los Angeles Magazine.
  • Sarajane Woolf’s essay “Life, with Mice” was selected as a Notable Essay of 2004 by Robert Atwan, series editor, The Best American Essays.
  • Recent alumna Khadija Anderson’s poem “Islam for Americans” has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Telaina Erickson, Susan Vespoli and Kate Maruyama’s work have also been recently nominated for Pushcart Prizes.

Selected Magazines, Anthologies, and Other Venues

  • Kim Burwick’s poems have appeared in “Fence,” “The Literary Review,” and other journals.
  • Jennifer Calkin’s work has appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies including “4th Street,” “Into the Teeth of the Wind,” “Big Bridge,” “Ken*Again” and “Encyclopedia of Animal Behavior.” Her chapbook, “Devil Card,” was published by Beard of Bees Press.
  • Joseph Callahan has been published in the 2004 and 2005 editions of “Edge City.”
  • Teresa Carmody’s work has appeared in “PoetsWest,” “Stolen Purse,” “Roar: Women’s Studies Journal,” and “4th Street.”
  • Beatrice M. Hogg’s essay “Gratitude” has been published in the anthology “Speak, Write, Dream.” Her essay “Survival Lessons” is featured in the new anthology “For Daddy, with Love.” Another essay, “The Middle Aged Rock and Roll Dating Blues,” is included in the anthology “Robot Hearts: True and Twisted Tales of Seeking Love in the Digital Age.”
  • Anne Liu Kellor’s essays/memoirs have appeared in “The Los Angeles Review,” the anthology “Waking Up American: Bicultural Women on Identity” (Seal Press), “Thoughts Out of School” (Peter Lang Publishing), “Stone Table Review,” and other places.
  • Amy Klein has an essay in the Los Angeles Times best-selling anthology, “The Modern Jewish Girls’ Guide to Guilt” (Dutton, 2005), which won the National Jewish Book Award. Klein is an editor at The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles.
  • Autumn Konopka’s poems have appeared in the “Mad Poets Review,” “Birmingham Poetry Review,” “Ekphrasis,” and “HiNgE,” among others.
  • Rebecca Kuder has published essays and poetry in “Mothering Magazine,” “The Knitter’s Gift,” and elsewhere. Her fiction has appeared in “West Wind Review.”
  • Sherilyn Lee’s work has appeared in “Prism Review,”” mo+th,” and several anthologies. She has performed at Beyond Baroque and the Los Angeles Times’ Festival of Books.
  • C.A. Leibow has been published in “Barrow Street,” “Poetry Motel,” “Stray Dog Review,” and “Bello Magazine.”
  • Scott MacFarlane contributed the chapter “Slaughterhouse-Five (1969): So It Goes” (from his book “The Hippie Narrative: A Literary Perspective on the Counterculture”) to  the newest edition of Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse-Five,” edited by Harold Bloom, in Bloom’s Modern Critical Interpretations Series (Chelsea House Press). “The Hippie Narrative” was an outgrowth of MacFarlane’s MFA critical paper “Hippie Narrative: Through the Looking Glass Shattered.”
  • Carlos Martinez has been published in the anthology “Pontoon #5″ (Floating Bridge Press, 2002) and the following journals: “4th Street,” “America Review,” “Black Bear Review,” “Crab Creek Review,” “Cranky,” “Firefly,” “Pitt Quarterly,” “Poet Lore,” and “Yawp.”
  • Hallie Moore’s latest poem, “From an Album of Ghosts,” appeared in the fall edition of “Calyx.” Recently. Moore was one of three poets to receive the highest scores from the judges in the Houston Poetry Festival and will be featured in next year’s festival.
  • Donna Mungen has written an essay for the Los Angeles Times Sunday Magazine.
  • Michelle Nordon’s essay “Book People” appeared in the summer 1998 issue of “Puerto Del Sol.”
  • Vanessa Place’s work has appeared in “Northwest Review,” “Northridge Review,” “4th Street,” “Film Comment,” “Contemporary Literary Criticism,” and the LA Weekly Literary Supplement. Place’s essay “The Politics of Denial and the Poetics of Evasion” originally appeared in “Film Comment” and was republished in “Contemporary Literary Criticism.” Her poem recently appeared in the July/August special issue of Poetry Magazine.
  • Kim Steutermann Rogers is a contributing editor for Hawaii magazine and freelances for others such as Hawaiian Airlines’ Hana Hou, Dandelion, Running Times, Fitness, Golf for Women, Sports Afield and Backpacker.
  • Johnie Scott has written six critical essays on American cinema and popular culture. Five of his six essays have been presented before major academic bodies including the 82nd Annual ASALH Convention, the National Association of African American Studies, and the Multidisciplinary Conference on African American Scholarship & Creativity. His essay “The Fault Line” has been published in a critical textbook.
  • David Rossi and Shelley Savren published five poems in the Spring 2008 “Prairie Schooner.”