March 6, 2012

Steve Heller Elected President of the National Board of Directors for Association of Writers & Writing Programs

CULVER CITY, CA – March 6, 2012- Steve Heller, Professor and Chair of the MFA in Creative Writing Program at Antioch University Los Angeles was recently named President of the Board of Directors for The Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP).The organization is an international, nonprofit literary organization for creative writers and teachers of creative writing.  Founded in 1967, AWP has grown to a membership of about 40,000, serving academic creative writing faculty and students, independent writers, and writing centers and conferences.  Heller previously served as Vice-President

“I attended my first AWP in 1980 when I was a graduate student,” Heller said. “The keynote speaker was poet Richard Hugo, who claimed that creative writers were destined to become the keepers of the literary canon, even if all we wnted at the moment was to expand it, replace it, or do away with it altogether.  Hugo was right. Today I direct one of the most progressive writing programs in one of the most progressive universities in the world.  And yet in pursuing our program’s special focus on community engagement and social justice, my MFA colleagues and I still read—and recommend that our students read—books because they are artfully written.  Writers who also teach not only create literature, we help our culture to preserve literature and treasure it as part of our heritage. It’s an honor to serve as President of the organization that taught me not only the rights but the responsibilities of a writer in the world.  And it’s a pleasure to teach at Antioch, where the role of the writer is recognized and supported.”

Heller was elected President just prior to AWP’s annual conference one of the biggest and liveliest literary gatherings in North America, features more than 400 presentations: readings, lectures, panel discussions, and forums plus hundreds of book signings, receptions, dances, and informal gatherings.  This year’s conference, held in Chicago, attracted more 11,000 attendees, including 9,600 registered participants.

“As outgoing president, I could not be more pleased to see such a capable, people-smart person step into the leadership role for AWP’s Board,” says Dr. Denise Low-Weso, AWP president 2011-2012, who teaches at Baker University School of Professional and Graduate Studies.  “Creative writing continues to show growth as a major field for students.  AWP leads the way for writers as new forms of media expand. Heller’s experience with online education, on-the-ground education, and administration—plus his own expertise as a fiction writer—prepare him for this national role.”

Prior to joining the MFA faculty at Antioch University Los Angeles in 2003, Steve Heller taught at Kansas State University for 22 years, including 15 as Chair of the Creative Writing Program.  He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Bowling Green State University and an EdD in English Education from Oklahoma State.  His first novel, The Automotive History of Lucky Kellerman, received the Friends of American Writers Award and was a selection of Book-of-the-Month Club and QPB.  Heller’s most recent book, What We Choose to Remember, is a collection of nonfiction narratives from Serving House Press.  Heller’s individual short stories and essays have appeared widely in journals such as Manoa, New Letters, Colorado Review, and Fourth Genre, and have been reprinted in anthologies such as Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards, In Brief: Short Takes on the Personal, and Living Blue in the Red States.  He has been a resident of Yaddo and the recipient of an NEA Fellowship Grant and numerous other writing awards and distinctions.  He helped found two literary journals, Hawaii Review and Mid-American Review.

About Antioch University Los Angeles

Antioch University Los Angeles (AULA) provides a rigorous progressive education to prepare students for the complexities of today’s diverse societies. AULA, a not-for-profit institution and part of the Antioch University system, has served the greater Los Angeles area for 40 years. The core values of social justice, service to the community and lifelong learning lie at the heart of the BA degree completion program and master’s degree programs in Organizational Management, Education and Teacher Credentialing, Psychology, Creative Writing, and Urban Sustainability.

Inspired by the work of pioneering educator Horace Mann, Antioch University provides learner-centered education to empower students with the knowledge and skills to lead meaningful lives and to advance social, economic, and environmental justice. With campuses in Keene, New Hampshire, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, Seattle, and Yellow Springs, Ohio, Antioch University is a bold and enduring source of innovation in higher education. The University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association.