Faculty Photo
Randolph M.F.A. Faculty
Kaveh Akbar Poetry
Rigoberto González Nonfiction/Poetry/Fiction
Mira Jacob Fiction/Nonfiction
Ilya Kaminsky Poetry
Aviya Kushner Nonfiction/Fiction
Paige Lewis Poetry
Wayétu Moore Fiction/Nonfiction
Diana Khoi Nguyen Poetry
Anjali Sachdeva Fiction/Nonfiction
Erika L. Sánchez Fiction/Poetry
Layli Long Soldier Poetry
Phillip B. Williams Poetry
Gary Dop M.F.A. Director
Select Recent/Upcoming Guest Artists
Gregory Pardlo
Hanif Abdurraqib
David Mura
Erika Meitner
Tiana Clark
Nicole Dennis-Benn
Tyree Daye
Alexander Chee
photo of Kaveh Akbar
photo by B. A. Van Sise

Kaveh Akbar

Poetry Faculty

Kaveh is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize, a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation, and the Poetry Society of America's Lucille Medwick Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America. Kaveh Akbar’s book of poems, Calling a Wolf a Wolf (2017), was published by Alice James Books and is shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection, 2018.

Concerning Calling a Wolf a Wolf (Alice James Books):

“Truly brilliant.” -- John Green
“Akbar has what every poet needs: the power to make, from emotions others have felt, memorable language nobody has assembled before.” -- Steph Burt

Concerning Portrait of an Alcoholic (Sibling Rivalry Press):

"Kaveh Akbar has written one of the best books I've ever read." -- Patricia Smith

Kaveh Akbar's poems appear in The New Yorker, Poetry, Tin House, Ploughshares, Georgia Review, Harvard Review, American Poetry Review, PBS NewsHour, Virginia Quarterly Review, and elsewhere.

Kaveh founded and edits Divedapper, a home for dialogues with the most vital voices in contemporary poetry.

Kaveh was born in Tehran, Iran. In addition to the Randolph College M.F.A. program, he currently teaches in the M.F.A. program at Purdue University.

        Kaveh Akbar: www.kavehakbar.com

photo of Kaitlyn Greenidge
photo by Marion Ettlinger

Rigoberto González

Nonfiction/POETRY/FICTION Faculty

Rigoberto González is the author of five books of poetry, most recently The Book of Ruin (Four Way Books, 2019) and Unpeopled Eden, which won the Lambda Literary Award and the Lenore Marshall Prize from the Academy of American Poets. His ten books of prose include two bilingual children's books, three young adult novels in the Mariposa Club series, the novel Crossing Vines, the story collection Men Without Bliss, and three books of nonfiction, including Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa, which received the American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation.

Concerning The Book of Ruin (Four Way Books):

“In a vital body of work that now encompasses multiple genres, Rigoberto González has been practicing the seer’s art of illuminating the social through the personal, the present and the future through the past, and the work of wonder through the work of grieving. The Book of Ruin is his darkest reckoning so far with the violent histories that embitter our current moment and whose damage is propelling us into a scorched hereafter . . .” --Rick Barot

Concerning Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa (University of Wisconsin Press):

“This moving memoir of a young Chicano boy’s maturing into a self-accepting gay adult is a beautifully executed portrait of the experience of being gay, Chicano and poor in the United States. . . . González writes in a poetic yet straightforward style that heightens the power of his story.” -- Publishers Weekly
The recipient of Guggenheim, NEA, and USA Rolón fellowships, a NYFA grant in poetry, the Shelley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, The Poetry Center Book Award, and the Barnes & Noble Writer for Writers Award, Rigoberto is also a contributing editor for Poets & Writers Magazine and writes a monthly column for NBC-Latino online.
Currently, Rigoberto is professor of English at Rutgers-Newark, the State University of New Jersey. As of 2016, he serves as critic-at-large with the L.A. Times and sits on the Board of Trustees of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP).

        Rigoberto González: www.rigobertogonzález.com


photo of Mira Jacob
photo by In Kim

Mira Jacob

Fiction/Nonfiction Faculty

Mira is the author of the acclaimed novel, The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing (Random House), which was a Barnes & Noble Discover New Writers pick, shortlisted for India's Tata First Literature Award, longlisted for the Brooklyn Eagles Prize, and honored by the Asian Pacific American Library Association. It was named one of the best books of 2014 by Kirkus Reviews, Boston Globe, Goodreads, Bustle, and The Millions. In 2019, Random House will publish Mira's graphic memoir Good Talk: Memoir in Conversations.

Concerning Good Talk:

“Mira Jacob just made me toss everything I thought was possible in a book-as-art-object into the garbage. Her new book changes everything.” --Kiese Laymon
“A beautiful and eye-opening account of what it means to mother a brown boy and what it means to live in this country post–9/11, as a person of color, as a woman, as an artist . . . In Jacob’s brilliant hands, we are gifted with a narrative that is sometimes hysterical, always honest, and ultimately healing.” --Jacqueline Woodson

Concerning The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing:

“Beautifully wrought, frequently funny, gently heartbreaking...Moving forward and back in time, Jacob balances comedy and romance with indelible sorrow, and she is remarkably adept at tonal shifts. When her plot springs surprises, she lets them happen just as they do in life: blindsidingly right in the middle of things” -- The Boston Globe

Mira has written for television and venues such as The New York Times, Vogue, Virginia Quarterly Review, Guernica, Telegraph, Buzzfeed, and Bookanista.

Mira is the founder of Pete’s Reading Series in New York City. She earned an M.F.A. from The New School, and she currently teaches fiction at NYU and the The New School. In 2017-18, she’s a visiting professor in the M.F.A. program at Syracuse University.

        Mira Jacob: www.mirajacob.com

photo of Ilya Kaminsky
photo by Cybele Knowles

Ilya Kaminsky

Poetry Faculty

Ilya Kaminsky was born in Odessa, in the former Soviet Union, in 1977, and arrived to the United States in 1993, when his family was granted asylum by the American government. Ilya is the author of Dancing In Odessa (Tupelo Press), which won the Whiting Writer's Award, the American Academy of Arts and Letters' Metcalf Award, the Dorset Prize, a Lannan Foundation Literary Fellowship, and the Ruth Lilly Fellowship. Dancing In Odessa was also named Best Poetry Book of the Year by ForeWord Magazine.

Deaf Republic (Graywolf Press), Kaminsky's much-anticipated second book is new in 2019.

Concerning Deaf Republic:

“Re-envisioning disability as power and silence as singing, Kaminsky has created a searing allegory precisely tuned to our times, a stark appeal to our collective conscience.” --NPR.org

Concerning Dancing in Odessa:

"This is an intricate, muscular, startlingly powerful collections, one that amazes by image and statement, by its shaped whole, and by the sheer scope of its poetic observation. Kaminsky is truly a descendant of Odysseus, after whom his birth city was named, and his poems reflect both Odyssean wanderings and the liberation of mind that opens the way to craft. Inventiveness of language, the investigative passion, praises, lamentation, and a proper sense of the ridiculous are omnipresent. Kaminsky poems are wholly local yet unprovincial, intimate yet free of ego. This book is a breathtaking debut ." --Jane Hirshfield

Ilya co-edited, with Susan Harris, the Ecco Anthology of International Poetry (2010), and edited and co-translated Polina Barskova’s This Lamentable City (2010). Ilya, in addition to teaching in the Randolph MFA program, teaches at San Diego State University.

Ilya Kaminsky: www.ilyakaminsky.com

photo of Aviya Kushner
photo by Danielle Aquiline

Aviya Kushner

Nonfiction/Fiction  Faculty

Aviya is the recipient of Brown University’s Howard Foundation Fellowship, and she was a finalist for a National Jewish Book Award and a Sami Rohr Prize. Publisher’s Weekly named her nonfiction book The Grammar of God one of the top ten Religion Stories of 2015.

Concerning The Grammar of God (Spiegel & Grau/Random House):

“A remarkable and passionately original book of meditation, exegesis, and memoir. In Kushner’s redemptive vision, the Bible in its many translations is a Noah’s ark, and her book, too, does a work of saving. When I put it down, I wept.” -- Rosanna Warren
“Aviya Kushner has written a passionate, illuminating essay about meaning itself. The Grammar of God is also a unique personal narrative, a family story with the Bible and its languages as central characters.” -- Robert Pinsky

Aviya’s essays and stories appear in Gettysburg Review, Harvard Review, Partisan Review, Poets & Writers, A Public Space, TriQuarterly, The Wall Street Journal, The Wilson Quarterly, Zoetrope: All-Story, and elsewhere.

Aviya was the travel columnist for the International Jerusalem Post. She is the language columnist for The Forward, and also serves as a translation mentor in the National Yiddish Book Center and a contributing editor for A Public Space.

Aviya grew up in a Hebrew-speaking home in New York, and she has a longstanding fascination with language, culture, and belief. She graduated from the University of Iowa’s Nonfiction M.F.A. program. In addition to teaching in the Randolph College M.F.A. program, Kushner teaches in the M.F.A. program at Columbia College, Chicago.

       Aviya Kushner: www.aviyakushner.com

photo of Aviya Kushner
photo by Kaveh Akbar

Paige Lewis

Poetry  Faculty

Paige Lewis is the recipient of the Editor’s Award in Poetry from The Florida Review as well as a Gregory Djanikian Scholarship from The Adroit Journal. Paige’s debut book of poems, Space Struck, is new from Sarabande Books in 2019.

Their poems have appeared in Poetry, American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, Georgia Review, Best New Poets 2017, and elsewhere.

Concerning Space Struck (Sarabande Books):

"I think a lot of people have been awaiting Paige Lewis’s full-length debut, Space Struck, and we are getting very close to a countdown at Mission Control. I love their imagination so much, the way they gather bits of this planet and its occurrences and make from it something utterly particular to their own enchanting perception. This book made me laugh the kind of laugh that means something new has tickled my thoughts." --Heather Christle
"The brilliant, glow-in-the-dark poems are bursting with magic, risk, and oodles of wonder." --Tiana Clark

Paige received their M.F.A. from Florida State University. In addition to teaching for the Randolph College MFA, they currently teach creative writing at Purdue University.

Paige Lewis: www.paigelewispoetry.com

photo of Kaitlyn Greenidge
photo by Yoni Levy

Wayétu Moore

Fiction/Nonfiction Faculty

Wayétu is the author of She Would Be King (Graywolf, 2018), which was a Publisher's Weekly Most-Anticipated Book of 2018 and a BEA Editors' Buzz Pick 2018. Her writing can be found in The Paris Review, Guernica Magazine, The Rumpus, The Atlantic Magazine and other publications. She has been featured in The Economist, NPR and NBC, among others, for her advocacy work for diversity in children’s literature. Her memoir, Dragons, Giant, Women is forthcoming with Graywolf Press.

Concerning her novel She Would Be King:

“Epic, beautiful, and magical, this astonishing first novel boldly announces the arrival of a remarkable novelist and storyteller.” -- Edwidge Danticat
“Moore uses an accomplished, penetrating style—with clever swerves into fantasy—to build effective critiques of tribal misogyny, colonial abuse, and racism..” -- Publishers Weekly
She Would Be King is both epic and intensely intimate, a gripping story that moves through years and crosses borders to remind us what it means to be African, and American, and truly free.” -- Maaza Mengiste, author of Beneath the Lion's Gaze

In addition to her writing, Wayétu runs One Moore Book, a non-profit publishing company that encourages reading among children of countries with low literacy rates and underrepresented cultures by publishing culturally relevant books that speak to their truth.

Wayétu is a graduate of Howard University and the University of Southern California, and is currently a Margaret Mead Fellow at Columbia University Teachers College. In addition to teaching in Randolph's MFA program, Wayétu teaches Africana Studies in the City University of New York's John Jay College.

        Wayétu Moore: www.wayetu.com

photo of Kaitlyn Greenidge
photo by Jess X Snow

Diana Khoi Nguyen

Guest Poetry Faculty, 2019

Diana Khoi Nguyen’s book of poems Ghost Of was a 2018 National Book Award Finalist. She is the winner of the 92Y's Discovery / Boston Review 2017 Poetry Contest and the Omnidawn Open Book Contest.

Concerning her collection Ghost Of:

Lyric fills in the holes in the stories. These poems sing to and for the ghosts of identity, history and culture; they sing like a ghost who looks from the window or waits by the door. Ghost Of is unforgettable. --Terrance Hayes
“Exceptionally spare . . . A soaring tribute, a mesmerizing visual feat, and an all-around astonishing debut.” -- Booklist 
"Nguyen’s voice is both wraithlike and astonishingly frontal; this is one of the most gifted first books I’ve read." -- Lucie Brock-Broido

Diana Khoi Nguyen’s work appears in Poetry, American Poetry Review, Boston Review, PEN America, and The Iowa Review, among others. She has received awards, scholarships, and fellowships from the Academy of American Poets, Key West Literary Seminars, Bread Loaf Writers Conference, Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, Community of Writers at Squaw Valley, and Bucknell University.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Diana Khoi Nguyen now lives in Denver, where she teaches at the Lighthouse Writers Workshop and in the Daniels College of Business at the University of Denver. Diana received her MFA from Columbia University.

       Diana Khoi Nguyen: www.dianakhoinguyen.com

photo of Kaitlyn Greenidge
photo by Becky Thurner Braddock

Anjali Sachdeva

Fiction/Nonfiction Faculty

Anjali Sachdeva’s writing has appeared in The Iowa Review, Gulf Coast, Yale Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, The Literary Review, and Best American Nonrequired Reading. Her first collection of stories, All the Names They Used for God (Spiegel & Grau), was named a must-read book for 2018 by Elle and AM New York, and a top read for Harper's Bazaar, Entertainment Weekly, Fast Company, The Christian Science Monitor, Bustle, Shondaland, Popsugar, Sada El-Balad and Refinery29.

Concerning her collection All The Names They Used for God:

All the Names They Used for God fuses science, myth, and imagination into a dark and gorgeous series of questions about our current predicaments. Sachdeva is a fascinating storyteller, willing to push her inventiveness as far as it will go, and I cannot wait to see what she writes next.” -- Anthony Doerr
"...One page into it [Sachdeva’s story "Pleiades"] I thought, Man, this is a great writer. This is something different. This shows great command, wonderful pacing. The story -- about septuplet sisters conceived via genetic manipulation -- could have been told in a thousand terrible ways, but she's managing to make it sing...I went home feeling electric about the possibility of the written word." -- Dave Eggers
"What an outstanding short story collection. I knew nothing about this book going in and was thrilled by each story. There is so much range here, and there is a nice fabulist edge to nearly all the stories. The writer wields so much confidence and control in her prose and my goodness, what imagination, what passion there is in this work. From one story to the next I felt like the writer knows everything about everything. One of the best collections I’ve ever read. Every single story is a stand out." -- Roxane Gay

Anjali worked for six years at the Creative Nonfiction Foundation, where she was Director of Educational Programs. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and currently teaches writing at the University of Pittsburgh.

Anjali Sachdeva: www.anjalisachdeva.com

photo Layli Long Soldier
photo by Robyn Lindemann

Erika L. Sánchez

Fiction/Poetry Faculty

Erika’s debut young adult novel, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, is a New York Times Bestseller and a 2017 National Book Awards finalist. Erika L. Sánchez’s debut poetry collection, Lessons on Expulsion, was published by Graywolf Press in July 2017. Erika is a 2017-2019 Princeton Arts Fellow. In 2015, Erika was awarded a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship from The Poetry Foundation. She has been profiled by NBC News and has appeared on National Public Radio on many occasions.

Concerning I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter (Knopf Books for Young Readers):

"A timely and must-have account of survival in a culturally contentious world."—School Library Journal, starred review
"Ultimately, it’s Julia herself who’s the key to the novel...She’ll resonate with many readers, and they’ll be glad to see her make it through a tough time."—The Bulletin, starred review

Concerning Lessons on Expulsion:

“Lush and formidable.” -- The New York Times Book Review
“[A] fierce, assertive debut.” -- The Washington Post
"In lusty verse that startles and caresses, the author―whose parents traveled from Mexico to raise her in Illinois―vivifies the complexities of the immigrant experience.”―O, the Oprah Magazine

Erika’s writing appears in Copper Nickel, Guernica, Paris Review, ESPN.com, Rolling Stone, Al Jazeera, Salon, Cosmopolitan, Jezebel, and elsewhere.

Erika graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago, then went onto Madrid, Spain on a Fulbright Scholarship. After her scholarship, Erika moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico where she received an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of New Mexico.

        Erika L. Sánchez: https://erikalsanchez.com/

photo Layli Long Soldier
photo courtesy of Layli Long Soldier

Layli Long Soldier

Poetry  Faculty

Layli’s book of poems WHEREAS won the 2018 PEN/Jean Stein Book Award, The National Book Critics Circle Award, and was a 2017 National Book Award Finalist. Layli is the recipient of a Whiting Award, a Lannan Literary Award, a National Artist Fellowship from the Native Arts and Culture Foundation, and her work has been featured on NPR’s On Being, and PBS NewsHour.

Concerning her collection WHEREAS (Graywolf Press):

“Writers who live between two languages face an extra challenge in their role as lexicographers of metaphor….Layli Long Soldier manages this double-ness with the precision of a master glassblower….You do not slip into this book on silken bolts of easy beauty, but scratch yourself raw on language disassembled into glittering shards.” -- Los Angeles Times
“The Whereas Statements lay bare the realities and contrasts of Long Soldier’s life and her role as an Oglala Lakota poet, mother, and daughter. There are moments of beautiful intimacy, connection, and forgiveness; there is also an awareness of separation, and acknowledgement of the difficulty (sometimes, impossibility) of repair.” -- The Atlantic

Layli Long Soldier’s poems and critical work appear in Poetry, American Poetry Review, American Reader, Kenyon Review, New York Times, American Indian Journal of Culture and Research, PEN America, The Denver Quarterly and Brooklyn Rail, among others.

Layli is a contributing editor at Drunken Boat and the poetry editor for Kore Press, a literary press that publishes poetry, fiction and nonfiction by women. Layli is a citizen of the Oglala Lakota Nation.

She holds a B.F.A. in Creative Writing from the Institute of American Indian Arts and an M.F.A. with Honors from Bard College. In addition to Randolph College's M.F.A. program, Layli teaches at Diné College.

photo of Phillip B. Williams
photo by Beowulf Sheehan

Phillip B. Williams

Poetry Faculty

Phillip is the recipient of the Whiting Award, a Lambda Literary Award, the Kate Tufts Discovery Award, and the Ruth Lilly Fellowship. He has also been a finalist for an NAACP Image Award, INDIES Book of the Year, Publishing Triangle’s Thom Gunn Award, and the Eric Hoffer Book Award. His book of poems, Thief in the Interior (2016) was published by Alice James Books.

Concerning Thief in the Interior (Alice James Books):

“To experience [Phillip B. Williams’] poetry is to encounter a lucid, unmitigated humanity, a voice for whom language is inadequate, yet necessarily grasped, shaped, and consumed. His devout and excruciating attention to the line and its indispensable music fuses his implacable understanding of words with their own shadows.” --Rachel Eliza Griffiths, Boston Review
“Not just more of the artfully skill-less, conceptual talk of a poem, this is what you’ve been waiting for: some poetry. Not just skill as possession, as a commodity, but skill to accomplish the expressive event, a deeply felt poetic argument. For example, Williams’ line is no arbitrary unit of type, but an effective musically syntactic accomplishment of line. Poetry!” --Ed Roberson

Phillip B. Williams’ poems appear in Poetry, Kenyon Review, Boston Review, The Southern Review, The Paris-American, Blackbird, Missouri Review, and elsewhere.

Phillip is also the author of the chapbooks Bruised Gospels (Arts in Bloom Inc.) and Burn (YesYes Books), and he served as a creative writing fellow in Poetry at Emory University. Phillip is a Cave Canem graduate and the poetry editor of the online journal Vinyl Poetry.

Williams was born in Chicago, Illinois and earned his M.F.A. from Washington University in St. Louis, where he was a Chancellor's Graduate fellow. In addition to the Randolph College M.F.A. program, Phillip teaches at Bennington College.

        Phillip B. Williams: www.phillipbwilliams.com

photo of Gary Dop
photo by Jill Nance Waugh

Gary Dop

M.F.A. Director

Gary is the recipient of the Great Plains Emerging Writer Prize and a Pushcart Special Mention, and his work has been featured on public radio’s All Things Considered. Gary’s first book of poems, Father, Child, Water, (2015) was a bestselling collection with Red Hen Press.

Concerning Father, Child, Water (Red Hen Press):

“The poems in Father, Child, Water by Gary Dop are funny, wicked, and poignant. Dop’s poetic gaze is wide-ranging and piercing. The poems about his father engage with the violence embedded in American masculinity and the character-driven poems are empathic and quirky. A highly enjoyable and memorable book." -- Eduardo C. Corral, Poetry Magazine
“Dop’s first collection, Father, Child, Water establishes him as a poet, like Billy Collins, whose work seems to effortlessly share the space of authentic humor and seriousness.” -- Rachel Morgan, North American Review

Gary Dop’s poetry and prose appear in Georgia Review, Prairie Schooner, Southern Review, New Letters, Washington Post, New Ohio Review, Poetry Northwest, AGNI, Sugar House Review, Rattle, and elsewhere.

Gary received his M.F.A. from the University of Nebraska. In addition to directing the M.F.A. program, Dop is an Associate Professor of English at Randolph College, where he teaches poetry, scriptwriting, and creative nonfiction. Dop's teaching has been recongized with the Gillie A. Larew Distinguished Teaching Award.

Dop dabbles in stage and film work as a writer, actor, and director.

        Gary Dop: www.garydop.com

M.F.A. Advisory Board

Stephanie Burt 

Harvard University Professor, Poet, & Critic

Eduardo C. Corral 

Yale Younger Poet & N. C. State M.F.A. Faculty

Erika Meitner 

Virginia Tech M.F.A. Director & Poet

Gregory Pardlo 

Pulitzer Prize Winner & Rutgers M.F.A. Faculty

Julie Schumacher 

Thurber Prize Winner & U. of Minnesota M.F.A. Faculty

Jeff Shotts 

Executive Editor at Graywolf Press

M.F.A. Committee

Gary Dop 

M.F.A. Director

Christopher Gaumer 

M.F.A. Assistant Director

Laura-Gray Street 

Director of Undergraduate Creative Writing

The Randolph College M.F.A. Advisory Board comprises some of the best writers and editors in the world, not only encouraging us to succeed but also keeping us accountable to our mission.