Gayle Brandeis, MFA

Affiliate Faculty, Fiction and Writing for Young People
MFA in Creative Writing


(310) 578-1080

Gayle Brandeis is the author of Fruitflesh: Seeds of Inspiration for Women Who Write (HarperSanFrancisco), Dictionary Poems (Pudding House), The Book of Dead Birds (HarperCollins), which won Barbara Kingsolver’s Bellwether Prize for Fiction in Support of a Literature of Social Change, and Self Storage (Ballantine), a Target Breakout Book. She has two new novels out in 2010–her first YA novel, My Life with the Lincolns (Holt, March) and her new novel for adults, Delta Girls (Ballantine, June).

Her poetry, fiction and essays have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies (such as, The Nation, and The Mississippi Review) and have received several awards, including the QPB/Story Magazine Short Story Award, a Barbara Mandigo Kelley Peace Poetry Award, and a grant from the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund. Her essay on the meaning of liberty was one of three included in the Statue of Liberty’s Centennial time capsule in 1986. In 2004, The Writer Magazine honored Gayle with a Writer Who Makes a Difference Award. Gayle holds a BA in “Poetry and Movement: Arts of Expression, Meditation and Healing” from the University of Redlands, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing/Fiction from Antioch University.

Gayle has taught at universities, libraries, community centers and writing conferences around the country, and was Writer in Residence for the Mission Inn Foundation’s Family Voices Project for several years. She is also on the national staff of the women’s peace organization CODEPINK and is a founding member of the Women Creating Peace Collective. Gayle currently lives in Riverside, CA and has one son in college, one daughter in high school, and one new baby boy.

Teaching Statement—Gayle Brandeis

E.L. Doctorow once said that writing fiction “is like driving a car at night. You never see further than your own headlights but you can make the whole trip that way.” My function as a mentor is to help shed a bit of extra light as you travel those mysterious highways. You always hold your own map, of course, but I can keep you from running off the road and make sure you don’t miss some important scenery on the route. I also hope to help you surprise yourself on your travels by taking creative risks and playing with language in fresh, unexpected ways.

When I was a student at Antioch, I learned something different from each of my mentors—some helped me understand specific aspects of craft, while others led me to deepen my vision of my novel and coax out its truest voice. I am grateful for what each mentor brought to the table, and hope to bring a synthesis of their teachings to my own students—a mix of heart and head, rigor and dream. I offer extensive line edits as well as larger questions and suggestions to help your work move toward wholeness.

I expect 10-20 pages of writing from you per month. I welcome final manuscripts and critical papers, and am happy to look at manuscripts-to-date. As a mentor group, we’ll read and discuss five books in common, and I’ll help you choose at least five individual books to read over the project period. We’ll also have a separate discussion forum open to discuss issues of craft and the writing life.

It’s a true pleasure to be back at Antioch, on this side of the table. I feel very lucky to be part of this nurturing and vibrant literary community, and privileged to work with passionate, creative students deeply committed to the whole writing journey.