Our MFA faculty are distinguished writers established in the literary field. Through workshops, they encourage students' literary craft.

Sample MFA Courses

Recent MFA Faculty

Nickole Brown, Poetry

Nickole Brown received her MFA from the Vermont College, studied literature at Oxford University, and was the editorial assistant for the late Hunter S. Thompson. She worked at Sarabande Books for ten years. Her first collection, Sister, a novel-in-poems, was first published in 2007 by Red Hen Press and a new edition was reissued by Sibling Rivalry Press in 2018. Her second book, a biography-in-poems called Fanny Says, came out from BOA Editions in 2015 and won the Weatherford Award for Appalachian Poetry. The audiobook of that collection became available in 2017. She was an assistant professor at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock for four years until she gave up her beloved position there in hope of writing full time. She has received grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Kentucky Foundation for Women, and the Kentucky Arts Council. Currently, she is the editor for the Marie Alexander Poetry Series and teaches periodically at a number of places in addition to the Sewanee School of Letters, including the Great Smokies Writing Program at UNCA and the Hindman Settlement School. Nickole Brown lives with her wife, poet Jessica Jacobs, in Asheville, NC, where she volunteers at two different animal sanctuaries. She’s at work on a bestiary of sorts about these animals. A chapbook featuring some of these poems called To Those Who Were Our First Gods won the 2018 Rattle Chapbook Prize, and another sequence called The Donkey Elegies was published as a chapbook by Sibling Rivalry Press in 2020. In 2020, Spruce Books of Penguin Random House published Write It! 100 Poetry Prompts to Inspire, a book she co-authored with Jessica, and they regularly teach generative writing sessions together as part of their SunJune Literary Collaborative.

Kelly Grey Carlisle, Nonfiction

Kelly Grey Carlisle is the author of the memoir We Are All Shipwrecks. Set in Los Angeles, it tells the story of her mother’s murder, possibly at the hands of the Hillside Stranglers, and Carlisle’s eccentric childhood living on a boat with her grandfather, a larger-than-life Englishman and purveyor of pornography. In a starred review, Library Journal calls it “moving and complex...an exquisitely written tale of perseverance and unconditional love.” The Dallas Morning News calls it a “dazzling debut.” Carlisle’s personal essays have appeared in journals like Ploughshares, Salon.com, The Rumpus, New England Review, The Sun, and The Touchstone Anthology of Contemporary Creative Nonfiction. Her work has been cited four times in Best American Essays. She is a 1998 graduate of Sewanee, where she earned departmental honors in English and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She lives in San Antonio, where she is an associate professor of English at Trinity University and edits 1966: A Journal of Creative Nonfiction.

Lee Conell, Fiction

Lee Conell is the author of the story collection Subcortical, which was awarded The Story Prize Spotlight Award, an Independent Publisher Book Award, and an American Fiction Award. Her short fiction appears in the Oxford AmericanChicago Tribune, Kenyon Review, Guernica, Sewanee Review, Memorious, Glimmer Train, and elsewhere. She has received creative writing fellowships from the Japan-United States Friendship Commission and the National Endowment for the Arts, the Tennessee Arts Commission, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Vanderbilt University, and the Yiddish Book Center. Her stories have been awarded the grand prize in the Chicago Tribune’s Nelson Algren Literary Arts contest and cited in Best American Short Stories. Formerly the nonfiction editor for Nashville Review, Lee Conell regularly contributes reviews and interviews to Chapter 16, while her personal essays have appeared in The Millions, Electric Literature, and The New York Times. She has taught writing at Vanderbilt University, SUNY New Paltz, the Sewanee Young Writers’ Conference, the Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital, and the Nashville Public Library.

Michael Griffith, Fiction

Michael Griffith's books are Trophy, Bibliophilia: A Novella and Stories and Spikes: A Novel; his fiction and nonfiction have appeared in New England Review, Salmagundi, Oxford American, Southwest Review, Five Points, Virginia Quarterly Review, Golf World, and The Washington Post, among other periodicals. He is completing a new nonfiction book called Windfalls in the Bone Orchard. His work has been honored by fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Humanities Center, the Taft Foundation, the Louisiana Division of the Arts, and the Sewanee Writers' Conference. Michael Griffith was educated at Princeton and Louisiana State University. Formerly associate editor of the Southern Review, he is now professor of English at the University of Cincinnati and fiction editor of The Cincinnati Review. He is also the editor of Yellow Shoe Fiction, an original-fiction series from LSU Press.

Adrianne Harun, Fiction

Adrianne Harun’s first collection of stories, The King of Limbo (Houghton Mifflin), was a Sewanee Writers' Series Selection and a Washington State Book Award finalist. Her novel, A Man Came Out of a Door in a Mountain (Viking/Penguin), won the Pinckley Prize for Debut Crime Fiction and was also a finalist for the Washington State Book Award and the Pacific Northwest Booksellers’ Award (PNBA) and has been longlisted for the 2016 International Dublin (IMPAC) Award. Adrianne studied Art History at Sarah Lawrence College and English Literature at Drew University and holds an MFA from Warren Wilson College. A longtime resident of Port Townsend on Washington's Olympic Peninsula, she has worked as an editor for many years and currently teaches in the Rainier Writing Workshops, an MFA program at Pacific Lutheran University.

Arlene Hutton, Playwriting

Playwright Arlene Hutton is best known as the author of The Nibroc Trilogy, which includes Last Train to Nibroc (New York Drama League Best Play nomination), See Rock City (In the Spirit of America Award) and Gulf View Drive (LA Weekly and Ovation Award nominations). Other works include Running, Letters to Sala, The Three Sisters Brontë, and As It Is In Heaven. Her one-act play "I Dream Before I Take the Stand," a timely courtroom drama about sexual assault, has been revived on stages from California to London. Other recent productions were staged at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, B Street Theatre, Kitchen Theatre, Echo Theatre, Playhouse on Park, Florida Studio Theatre, Riverside and Chester Theatre, and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. An alumna of New Dramatists and a member of Ensemble Studio Theatre and Dramatists Guild, Hutton has seen her work honored with the Macy’s New Play Prize, the Lippman Award, and the Calloway Award, along with residencies at the Australian National Playwrights Conference, Yaddo, and the MacDowell Colony. She has taught playwriting at Fordham University, The College of Charleston, and (as Tennessee Williams Fellow) at the University of the South.

Cheri Magid, Playwriting

Cheri Magid’s plays include The Ghost of Enoch Charlton, Manna, First Lady of Christmas, Playing Dog, et al; The Reluctant Dragon, Post Mortem, and Hot Chicken. They have been performed at Primary Stages, New Georges, The New Group, The Women’s Project, Rattlestick and The Lark, among others. She was a member of the Dorothy Strelsin Playwright Group at Primary Stages, was the Tennessee Williams Playwright in Residence at Sewanee in 2015-2016, a 2014 Audrey Resident at New Georges, and a 2014 Walter E Dakin Fellow at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. Her erotic story "She Grinds Her Own Coffee" was shot as a short film starring Raul Castillo (Looking) and screened at the New York Film Festival and the St. Louis International Film Festival. Lydia, or the Girl at the Wheel, her radio play about the earliest days of burlesque, aired on National Public Radio and her short story "Yeah, We Got That," was featured on Playboy Radio. She wrote the screenplay Story of D, about the real story behind the writing of the famous sadomasochistic novel Story of O, for Nicole Kidman and adapted the book Heart of the Game for film producer Richard Wiener (Any Given Sunday). Cheri Magid writes for the Emmy-award-winning children’s television show Arthur and is an assistant arts professor in dramatic writing at New York University.

Charles Martin, Poetry

Charles Martin is equally accomplished as an original poet and as a student and translator of Latin verse. His works in the former category include Room for Error (1978), Steal the Bacon (1987), and What the Darkness Proposes (1996), and in the latter, both a translation of The Poems of Catullus (1995) and a critical study of that poet. In 2002, his Starting from Sleep: New and Selected Poems (2002) was a finalist for the Lemore Marshall Prize from the American Academy of Poets, and in 2004 his translation of Ovid's Metamorphoses won that organization's Harold Morton Landon Award for translation. In 2005, the American Academy of Arts and Letters honored him with the coveted Award for Literature. His most recent books are Signs & Wonders, a new collection of poems, and a collaborative translation (with Gavin Flood) of the Bhagavad Gita. Charles Martin received his degrees from Fordham and the SUNY at Buffalo and has taught at the City University of New York and Syracuse University.

Neil Shea, Nonfiction

Neil Shea is a veteran journalist whose work—published in such venues as The Providence Journal, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic Monthly, The Christian Science Monitor, and The American Scholar—literally spans the globe, often covering military or environmental issues. Shea has been embedded with US troops in Iraq and interviewed a Taliban commander in Afghanistan; he has explored Mexico’s crystal cave, visited Madagascar’s remote stone forest, and reported on shrinking sea ice in the Arctic sea. An editor-at-large for the Virginia Quarterly Review and a writer for National Geographic, Shea has been honored with gold and silver Lowell Thomas Awards for stories on Ethiopia and Cuba, and has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award and the Overseas Press Club Award. Shea has taught courses in journalism and nonfiction writing at Boston University and at Furman University. Shea often posts dispatches on Instagram @neilshea13.

Meera Subramanian, Nonfiction

Meera Subramanian is an award-winning independent journalist whose work has been published in national and international publications including the New York TimesNewYorker.com, Nature, Virginia Quarterly Review, and Orion, where she serves as a contributing editor. Her book A River Runs Again: India's Natural World in Crisis, from the Barren Cliffs of Rajasthan to the Farmlands of Karnataka, published by PublicAffairs in 2015, was short-listed for the 2016 Orion Book Award. Through her work, she has explored the disappearance of India’s vultures, questioned the “Good Anthropocene,” sought out fragile shorelines, and investigated perceptions of climate change among conservative Americans. Her essays have been anthologized in Best American Science and Nature Writing, as well as multiple editions of The Best Women’s Travel Writing. She was an MIT Knight Science Journalism Fellow (2016-17) and Fulbright-Nehru Senior Research Fellow (2013-14) and earned an MA in Journalism from New York University. She taught nonfiction at the School of Letters in 2017. Based in Cape Cod, you can find her at www.meerasub.org and @meeratweets.

Jamie Quatro, Fiction

Jamie Quatro's debut novel, Fire Sermon, published in 2018 with Grove Press (U.S.), Picador (U.K.), and House of Anansi (Canada). Selected as one of the Top Seven Novels of 2018 by The Economist, and named a Book of the Year by the San Francisco Chronicle, LitHub, Bloomberg, and the Times Literary Supplement, Fire Sermon is a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers book, Indie Next pick, and New York Times Editors' Choice. Quatro's story collection, I Want To Show You More, was a New York Times Notable Book, NPR Best Book of 2013, and was chosen as a favorite book of 2013 by James Wood in The New Yorker. The collection was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award, the Townsend Fiction Prize, and the National Book Critics Circle John Leonard Prize.
Quatro’s books are published in translation in Spain, Italy, Slovakia, Poland, and the Netherlands. A contributing editor at Oxford American, her work has appeared in Ploughshares, The Guardian, The Paris Review, The New York Review of Books, and elsewhere. Recent essays have appeared in The New Yorker, Oxford American, and as part of the Greenpeace Climate Visionaries series. Her stories are anthologized in the O. Henry Prize Stories 2013, The Story and Its Writer, and the 2018 Pushcart Prize Anthology. A recipient of fellowships from Yaddo and MacDowell, Quatro teaches in the summers-only MFA program at the Sewanee School of Letters. She lives with her family in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Elyzabeth Wilder, Playwriting

Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder’s plays include Gee's Bend, Fresh Kills, The Flagmaker of Market Street, The Furniture of Home, White Lightning, and Provenance. Her plays have been produced at the Royal Court (London), Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Denver Center, Cleveland Play House, KC Rep, Northlight, the Arden, B Street Theatre, and Hartford Stage, among others. Most recently her play, Everything That’s Beautiful, premiered at the New Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, and her one act, “Santa Doesn’t Come to the Holiday Inn”was featured in the Marathon of One Act Plays at the Ensemble Studio Theatre. Commissions and workshops include A Requiem for August Moon (Pioneer Theatre), The Bone Orchard (Denver Center, Great Plains Theatre Conference), and a short play for the acclaimed My America, Too project (Baltimore Center Stage), as well as four commissions from the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. She is currently completing a new play, co-commissioned by the Sloan Foundation and the Geva Theatre, that explores racial bias and the development of color photography. Her play, The Light of the World, will be featured in the Southern Writers’ Festival at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival in October. Most recently, Elyzabeth traveled with the Alabama Shakespeare Festival on 10 day speaking and listening tour which explored the “State of the South” and the changing face of Southern identity. Elyzabeth is the recipient of the Osborn Award given by the American Theatre Critics Association and is a graduate of the dramatic writing program at New York University.