Faculty Photo

M.F.A. Faculty

Kaveh Akbar Poetry
Eloisa Amezcua Poetry
Clare Beams Fiction/Nonfiction
Elizabeth Miki Brina Nonfiction/Fiction
Andrés Cerpa Poetry
Jos Charles Poetry
Anthony Cody Poetry
Lilly Dancyger Nonfiction/Fiction
Jaquira Díaz Nonfiction/Fiction
Mira Jacob Fiction/Nonfiction
Paige Lewis Poetry
Sabrina Orah Mark Fiction/Nonfiction/Poetry
Angel Nafis Poetry
Diana Khoi Nguyen Poetry
Julia Phillips Fiction/Nonfiction
Maurice Carlos Ruffin Fiction/Nonfiction
Anjali Sachdeva Fiction/Nonfiction
Chet'la Sebree  Poetry/Nonfiction
Danez Smith Poetry
John Vercher Fiction
Phillip B. Williams Poetry
Gary Dop M.F.A. Director

Select Recent/Upcoming Guest Artists
Jane Wong, Jonathan Escoffery, Crystal Hana Kim, Natalie Diaz, Gregory Pardlo, Alexander Chee, Hanif Abdurraqib, Marie-Helene Bertino, Tiana Clark, Nicole Dennis-Benn, Tyree Daye, Nafissa Thompson-Spires, Eduardo C. Corral, Don Mee Choi, Danielle Evans, T Kira Madden, NourbeSe Philip, and more...
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, 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 was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. His second book of poetry is  Pilgrim Bell (Graywolf Press, 2021)

Concerning Pilgrim Bell:

“Working at and along the outer edges of language, Pilgrim Bell calls us to attention and to attend to that which poetry and prayer share, while simultaneously demanding that we tend to the political, the social, the erotic—all that is quotidian and human. . . . Kaveh Akbar, ‘God’s incarnate spit in the mud,’ takes us down to the ground, to the prosaic, the dismissed and overlooked, the better to talk to the great Silence, bearer of many names including that of God.” -- M. NourbeSe Philip

(Concerning Calling a Wolf a Wolf  and Portrait of an Alcoholic (Sibli

“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.” -- Stephanie Burt
"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 is the poetry editor for The Nation, and he founded 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 teaches in the M.F.A. programs at Warren Wilson and Purdue University.

        Kaveh Akbar: www.kavehakbar.com

photo of Eloisa Amezcua
photo by Chris Cheney

Eloisa Amezcua

Poetry Faculty

Amezcua's debut collection, From the Inside Quietly, was selected by Ada Limón as the inaugural winner of the Shelterbelt Poetry Prize (Shelterbelt Press, 2018). Eloisa is the author of three chapbooks: On Not Screaming (Horse Less Press, 2016), Symptoms of Teething, winner of the 2016 Vella Chapbook Award (Paper Nautilus Press, 2017), & Mexicamericana (Porkbelly Press, 2017). Her second collection of poems, Fighting Is Like a Wife, is forthcoming from Coffee House Press.

Concerning From the Inside Quietly (Shelterbelt Press):

“With a voice that’s barbed at times but also full of empathy and grace, this is a powerful debut that will continue to rattle and quake in the mind.” -- Ada Limón
“Amezcua is a poet who means to see what can’t be said. This is a beautiful debut.” -- Jericho Brown

Eloisa is from Arizona. She earned a BA in English from the University of San Diego, where she was the recipient of the Lindsey J. Cropper Award for Creative Writing in Poetry selected by Ilya Kaminsky. She holds an MFA program from Emerson College in Boston, MA.

Eloisa has received fellowships & scholarships from the MacDowell Colony, the Fine Arts Work Center, Vermont Studio Center, and the Bread Loaf Translators' Conference. She is the founder of Costura Creative, a Latinx owned & operated talent agency representing contemporary poets & writers.

        Eloisa Amezcua: www.eloisaamezcua.com

photo of Clare Beams
photo by Kristi Jan Hoover

Clare Beams

Fiction/Nonfiction Faculty (2021-2022)

Clare Beams’s novel The Illness Lesson was named a New York Times Editors’ Choice, a best book of 2020 by Esquire and Bustle, and a best book of February by Time, O Magazine, and Entertainment Weekly; and to the longlist for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. Her new novel, The Garden, will be published by Doubleday in 2023. 

Clare's story collection, We Show What We Have Learned, was published by Lookout Books in 2016. It won the Bard Fiction Prize, was longlisted for the Story Prize, and was a Kirkus Best Debut of 2016, as well as a finalist for the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize, the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Fiction Award, and the Shirley Jackson Award.

Concerning The Illness Lesson (Doubleday, 2020):

“Beams’s first novel is a meticulously crafted suspense tale seething with feminist fury."  -- O, The Oprah Magazine
“Astoundingly original, this impressive debut belongs on the shelf with your Margaret Atwood and Octavia Butler collections."  -- The New York Times Book Review (Editors Choice) 
“Unusual and transporting…This is Alcott meets Shirley Jackson, with a splash of Margaret Atwood."  -- The Washington Post

Clare has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, the Sewanee Writers' Conference, and the Sustainable Arts Foundation. She has taught creative writing at Carnegie Mellon University and St. Vincent College.

        Clare Beams: www.clarebeams.com

photo of Elizabeth Miki Brina

Elizabeth Miki Brina

Nonfiction/Fiction Faculty (Fall 2023)

Elizabeth Miki Brina is the author of Speak, Okinawa: A Memoir, published by Knopf in February of 2021, and one of NPR’s best books of the year. Elizabeth is the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Bread Loaf Scholarship and a New York State Summer Writers Institute Scholarship.

Concerning Speak, Okinawa (Knopf, 2021)

"Searingly candid . . . Poignant . . . Powerful.” —The New Yorker"Dancyger crafts a striking composition out of found objects, a poignant portrait of the identities we construct out of grief."--Oprah Daily
“Masterful . . . Brina’s writing is crisp, captivating, and profound. She is vulnerable, raw, and relatable, and her stories will no doubt cause readers to reflect on their relationships with their own parents. As educational as it is entertaining, Speak, Okinawa is well worth the read.” —The Associated Press
“Speak, Okinawa is the book I’ve needed my entire life. Elizabeth Miki Brina plumbs the depths of mixed-race girlhood, parental love and harm, and the daily, intimate aches of growing up between cultures. This is a book that gives feelings—however fleeting—clear form. I urge everyone to read it.” —Jessica J. Lee, author of Two Trees Make a Forest, winner of the Hilary Weston Writers’ Trust Prize

Elizabeth’s work has also appeared in The Sun, River Teeth, Lit Hub, Gulf Coast, and Hyphen Magazine, among others. She lives in New Orleans and teaches writing at the University of New Orleans and at the Randolph College MFA.

        Elizabeth Miki Brina: instagram.com/elizabethmikibrina

photo of Andrés Cerpa
photo by Alice Plati

Andrés Cerpa

Poetry Faculty (2023-2024)

Andrés Cerpa is the author of The Vault (2021), a longlist selection for the 2021 National Book Award, and a 2021 Rumpus Poetry Book Club Selection. The Vault and Cerpa’s 2019 debut collection, Bicycle in a Ransacked City: An Elegy, are from Alice James Books.

Concerning The Vault (Alice James Books, 2021):

“In The Vault, his striking sophomore poetry collection, Andrés Cerpa is our Virgil, offering us a path through the dark realm of loss with fragments of unsent letters, indelible imagery, and exquisite language. … Cerpa has traveled a long way to return with this collection, and through his skillful writing, his unanswered missives offer their own reply.” —Mandana Chaffa, Ploughshares
“A teacher once told me that a poem should be like a spider web — if you touch any part, the rest of it will tremble. This whole book feels like that” –Elisa Gabbert, The New York Times

Concerning Bicycle in a Ransacked City (Alice James Books, 2019):

“Cerpa’s is a magnificent talent―a yawp made for this very moment, and a voice for the ages.” ―Brenda Shaughnessy
“The poetry of Andrés Cerpa gives startling dimension to the most profound experiences of human sadness; his words come from the ache of longing for what has been taken away or denied by loss and love. A remarkable and poignant debut that illuminates the dark rooms we all inhabit in our search for solace, beauty, or saving grace.” ―Rigoberto González

Cerpa is the recipient of fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and Canto Mundo. His work has appeared in Ploughshares, Poem-A-Day, The Kenyon Review, The Bellevue Literary Review, TriQuarterly, The Rumpus, Frontier Poetry, West Branch, Foundry Journal, Wildness, and elsewhere. He holds degrees from the University of Delaware and Rutgers University, Newark, and now teaches at CUNY College of Staten Island.

        Andrés Cerpa: www.andrescerpa.com

photo Jos Charles
photo by Sergio De LaTorre

Jos Charles

Poetry Faculty (2022)

Jos Charles is author of the forthcoming collection a Year & other poems (Milkweed Editions, March 15, 2022), feeld, a Pulitzer-finalist and winner of the 2017 National Poetry Series selected by Fady Joudah (Milkweed Editions), and Safe Space (Ahsahta Press, 2016).

Concerning a Year & other poems (Milkweed editions, 2022)

“Months / I move in you: so begins this brilliant lyric cycle, a daybook, a hymnbook, a book of whispers to the dead and the living, a book of lullabies, of songs, of spells. . . Here is a poet who is a cousin of Niedecker and Celan and Valentine, a maker of silences that speak, of grievances that lyric us..."  -- Ilya Kaminsky

Concerning Feeld (Milkweed editions, 2018)

“Dazzling . . . In Charles' hands, the language itself transitions, defamiliarized, and in its new spellings it opens to a poly-vocality where words contain hidden meanings. – Paris Review
“Jos Charles bends language, via willful spelling, to a place where it must be parsed slowly, struggled through, read not so much with the brain as the mouth. Language becomes a felt thing, a terrain to be crossed.” — Tracy K. Smith, U.S. Poet Laureate

Charles has poetry published with Poetry Magazine, Poem-a-Day, PEN, Washington Square Review, Denver Quarterly, Action Yes, The Feminist Wire, and elsewhere. From 2013-2018 she served as the founding-editor for THEM lit, a trans literary journal. Jos Charles has an MFA from the University of Arizona.

Jos Charles: www.joscharles.com

photo of  Anthony Cody

Anthony Cody

Poetry Faculty (2022-2023)

Anthony Cody is the author of Borderland Apocrypha (Omnidawn, 2020), winner of the 2018 Omnidawn Open Book Contest, a finalist for the National Book Award in Poetry, the PEN America / Jean Stein Book Award, the California Book Award, the LA Times Book Award in Poetry, as well as longlisted for The Believer Magazine 2020 Editor's Award in Poetry. Cody is a 2022 Whiting winner, 2021 American Book Award winner, a 2020 Poets & Writers debut poet and a 2020 Southwest Book Award winner.

Concerning Borderland Apocrypha (Omnidawn, 2020)

“Cody makes his reader face what has been forgotten and swept under the rug, pushing our understanding of history—and also, importantly, our understanding of how books might evolve—to reflect our modern, multimodal forms of communication.” –Ruben Quesada, Harvard Review
“History’s true story is littered with collusions, silences, and with bodies: the dark ecology Anthony Cody brilliantly prosecutes in his debut collection, Borderland Apocrypha.” ― Carmen Giménez-Smith
“… Anthony Cody delivers poetry back to the general sense of ritual and charm, a gnosis that takes its shape at the double edge of the words and the transmitting body. And because everything must change, the transit leads from here to the dead and back.” ---Farid Matuk

A CantoMundo fellow from Fresno, California, Anthony has lineage in both the Bracero Program and the Dust Bowl. His poetry has appeared in The Academy of American Poets: Poem-A-Day, Gulf Coast, Ninth Letter, Prairie Schooner, TriQuarterly, The Boiler, ctrl+v journal, among others. Anthony co-edited How Do I Begin?: A Hmong American Literary Anthology. He has taught ecopoetry at Fresno State, and serves as an associate poetry editor for Noemi Press and a poetry editor for Omnidawn.

        Anthony Cody: anthonycody.com

photo of Lilly Dancyger

Lilly Dancyger

Nonfiction/Fiction Faculty (Fall 2023)

Lilly Dancyger is the author of Negative Space (2021), a reported and illustrated memoir selected by Carmen Maria Machado as a winner of the Santa Fe Writers Project Literary Awards; and the editor of Burn It Down (2019), a critically acclaimed anthology of essays on women's anger. She is currently at work on First Love, a collection of personal and critical essays about the power and complexity of female friendship, forthcoming from The Dial Press.

Concerning Negative Space (Santa Fe Writer's Project, 2021)

“A lovely and heartbreaking book.” --Carmen Maria Machado, author of In the Dream House
“Dancyger crafts a striking composition out of found objects, a poignant portrait of the identities we construct out of grief.”--Oprah Daily
“This book is so many things: a daughter’s heartrending tribute, a love story riddled by addiction, a mystery whose solution lies at the intersection of art and memory. Together, they form a chorus that I could not turn away from, and didn’t wish to.” --Melissa Febos, author of Whip Smart and Abandon Me

Lilly's writing has been published by Guernica, Literary Hub, The Rumpus, Longreads, The Washington Post, Playboy, Rolling Stone, and more. She lives in New York City, and teaches creative nonfiction at Columbia University School of the Arts and at the Randolph College MFA.

        Lilly Dancyger: www.lillydancyger.com

photo Jaquira Díaz
photo by Maria Esquinca

Jaquira Díaz

Nonfiction/Fiction Faculty (2022)

Jaquira Díaz is the author of Ordinary Girls: A Memoir, a Summer/Fall 2019 Indies Introduce Selection, a Fall 2019 Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection, a November 2019 Indie Next Pick, and a Library Reads October pick. Her second book, I Am Deliberate: A Novel, is forthcoming from Algonquin Books.

Concerning Ordinary Girls: A Memoir (Algonquin Books, 2019):

“Jaquira Díaz writes about ordinary girls living extraordinary lives. And Díaz is no ordinary observer. She is a wondrous survivor, a woman who has claimed her own voice, a writer who writes for those who have no voice, for the black and brown girls 'who never saw themselves in books.' Jaquira Díaz writes about them with love. How extraordinary is that!” — Sandra Cisneros
“In her debut memoir, Jaquira Díaz mines her experiences growing up in Puerto Rico and Miami, grappling with traumas both personal and international, and over time converts them into something approaching hope and self-assurance. For years, Díaz has dazzled in shorter formats—stories, essays, etc.—and her entrée into longer lengths is very welcome.” — The Millions
“[A] compelling debut. A must-read memoir on vulnerability, courage, and everything in between from a standout writer.” — Library Journal, starred review

Jaquira Díaz’s work has been published in Rolling Stone, The Guardian, The Atlantic, The Fader, T: The New York Times Style Magazine, and The Best American Essays 2016, among other publications. She is the recipient of a Whiting Award, two Pushcart Prizes, an Elizabeth George Foundation grant, a Florida Individual Artist Fellowship, an NEA Fellowship to the Hambidge Center for the Arts, and more. A former Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s MFA Program in Creative Writing, and Consulting Editor at the Kenyon Review, she splits her time between Montréal and Miami Beach, with her partner, the writer Lars Horn.

Jaquira Díaz: www.jaquiradiaz.com

photo of Mira Jacob
photo by In Kim

Mira Jacob

Fiction/Nonfiction Faculty

Mira is the author of the graphic memoir Good Talk: a Memoir in Conversations (One World/Random House), which was named one of the ten best books of the year by the New York Public Library, Chicago Tribune, and Publisher's Weekly, and one of the best books of the year by the New York Times Book Review, Time, and Esquire. Mira's novel The Sleepwalker's Guide to Dancing (Random House), also widely recognized as a best book of the year, 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.

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 received her M.F.A. from the New School and has written for television and publications 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. In addition to Randolph College, Mira teaches at the New School. 

        Mira Jacob: www.mirajacob.com

photo of Paige Lewis
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 MFA and PhD from Florida State University. In addition to teaching for the Randolph College MFA, they currently teach creative writing at Purdue University.

Paige curates the video series Ours Poetica, which "captures the intimate experience of holding a poem in your hand" as it's read to you. The Ours Poetic YouTube channel distributes poetry to tens of thousands of readers and listeners each week.

Paige Lewis: paigelewispoetry.com

photo of Sabrina Orah Mark
photo by Sarah Baugh

Sabrina Orah Mark

Fiction/Nonfiction/Poetry Faculty 

Sabrina Orah Mark is the author of Happily, a collection of essays on fairytales and motherhood which began as a monthly column in The Paris Review and was published in 2023 by Penguin Random House. Sabrina was named the Georgia Author of the Year for her short story collection Wild Milk (Dorthy, 2018).

Her debut collection of poetry, The Babies won the Saturnalia Book Prize and was followed up with the collection Tsim Tsim.

Concerning Happily (Penguin Random House):

“One of the most inventive, phenomenally executed books I’ve read in decades.”  —Kiese Laymon, author of Heavy
“Each [essay] sums up a different fairy tale, or set of tales, making clever, lyrical, sometimes-disturbing connections . . . Sprinkle these clever essays like breadcrumbs through the forest of your days.” —Kirkus Reviews

Concerning Wild Milk (Dorothy):

“Totally spellbinding and mesmerizing.” --Boston Globe
“Mark’s collection is perplexingly captivating; she applies a poet’s playful sensibilities to the fiction form and creates something astonishing and new..” --Publisher’ s Weekly

Concerning The Babies (Saturnalia, 2004):

"Rarely do we encounter poems that are so precisely framed, though on their surface seemingly whimsical and erratic. These poems are gorgeous, intelligent, and disturbing.” --Claudia Rankine

Sabrina earned an MFA from the University of Iowa and a PhD from the University of Georgia. She has received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a Sustainable Arts Foundation Award, and a fellowship from the Fine Arts Work Center.   

        Sabrina Orah Mark: www.sabrinaorahmark.com

photo of Angel Nafis
photo by Niqui Carter

Angel Nafis

Poetry Faculty

Angel, an NEA fellow, a Cave Canem fellow, and a Ruth Lilly fellow is the author of BlackGirl Mansion (Red Beard Press/ New School Poetics), which Elle named one of the 9 books to add to the Modern Brown Girl Literary Canon. An internationally touring performer, Angel represented New York City at the Women of the World Poetry Slam and the National Poetry Slam.

Concerning BlackGirl Mansion:

"Angel Nafis’ poems swallow blood and witness truth at its deepest roots... you do not doubt the wisdom of her spirit and her craft in BlackGirl Mansion. The poems you will find here climb mountains! They share the glory and pains of survival against and within the narrative of family and womanhood. They fight for the love they are and know...hers is an original and astonishing voice." -- Rachel Eliza Griffiths
"There is nothing here to skip, forget, or misremember." -- Ashley C. Ford

Angel's poems can be found in Poetry, Muzzle, Buzzfeed Reader, and The Rumpus. She is half of the Odes For You Tour and The Other Black Girl Collective, an internationally touring Black Feminist poetry duo. Angel is the founder and curator of the Greenlight Bookstore Poetry Salon.

Angel Nafis: www.angelnafis.com

photo of Diana Khoi Nguyen

Diana Khoi Nguyen

Poetry Faculty

Diana  Khoi Nguyen’s book of poems Ghost Of (Omnidawn) won the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and was a finalist for the National Book Award and the L.A. Times Book Prize. Diana also won 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 is a multimedia artist. Her 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 received her MFA from Columba University and her PhD from the University of Denver. She now lives in Pittsburgh and teaches at the University of Pittsburgh.

       Diana Khoi Nguyen: www.dianakhoinguyen.com

photo of Julia Phillips
photo by Nina Subin

Julia Phillips

Fiction/Nonfiction Faculty

A finalist for the National Book Award, Julia Phillips is the author of the bestselling novel Disappearing Earth, which is being published in fifteen countries and was a finalist for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize, a finalist for the New York Public Library's Young Lions Fiction Award, and one of the The New York Times Ten Best Books of the 2019.

Concerning her collection Disappearing Earth:

"A couple of days ago, I felt like I needed to read a book that would submerge me somewhere beautiful, severe, isolated, unknown to me. Then this novel, Disappearing Earth, set in far eastern Russia, in the world’s second largest city that’s inaccessible by land, came like magic." --Jia Tolentino
“A superb debut...A nearly flawless novel.” -- The New York Times
"Mesmerizing….The story reads as a page-turner without relying on any cheap narrative tricks to propel it forward, and the strength of Phillips’s writing—her careful attention to character and tone—will grip you right up until the final heart-stopping pages." -- Vanity Fair

Julia studied at Barnard College and Columbia University. She was a Fulbright Fellow and, Julia has written for The New York Times, The Atlantic, and The Paris Review. She lives in Brooklyn.

      Julia Phillips: www.juliaphillipswrites.com/

photo of Maurice Ruffin
photo by Clare Welsh

Maurice Carlos Ruffin

Fiction/Nonfiction Faculty

Maurice's novel We Cast a Shadow was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, the PEN/Open Book Award, and the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. Maurice is also the winner of the Faulkner-Wisdom Competition and the Iowa Review Fiction Award. A New York Times Editor's Pick, We Cast a Shadow and named one of the best books of the year by NPR, Publisher's Weekly, and The Washington Post. In 2021, Penguin/Random House published his collection of stories The Ones Who Don't Say They Love You.

Concerning his collection We Cast a Shadow:

"An incisive and necessary work of brilliant satire." --Roxane Gay
“Stunning and audacious . . . at once a pitch-black comedy, a chilling horror story and an endlessly perceptive novel about the possible future of race in America. . . . Ruffin proves to be a master . . . a fast-paced and intricately plotted book . . . The real draw of the novel is Ruffin’s gift at creating unforgettable characters. . . . He writes with a straight face, never in love with his own cleverness—there are echoes of Ralph Ellison’s intelligent, unshowy prose. . . . There’s no doubt that We Cast a Shadow, with its sobering look at race in America, can be difficult to read, but it’s more than worth it. . . . It’s a razor-sharp debut from an urgent new voice of fiction..” -- NPR

Maurice Carlos Ruffin's work appears in The New York Times, VQR, AGNI, Iowa Review, The Kenyon Review, and elsewhere.

A native New Orleanian, Maurice regularly publishes short stories and essays and is a founding member of the Peauxdunque Writers' Alliance. Maurice received his MFA from the University of New Orleans, and he teaches at LSU.

      Maurice Carlos Ruffin:loweramericanson.com

photo of Anjali Sachdeva
photo by Becky Thurner Braddock

Anjali Sachdeva

Fiction/Nonfiction Faculty

Anjali received the Chautaqua Prize for her collection of stories,  All the Names They Used for God (Spiegel & Grau). It also won Book of the Year from the Writing Women's podcast and was selected as one of the best books of the year by NPR, Book Riot, and Refindery 29.

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's writing, which has been awarded an NEA fellowship, has appeared in The American Scholar, Iowa Review, Gulf Coast, Yale Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, The Literary Review, and Best American Nonrequired Reading.

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 Chet'la Sebree
photo by Shannon Woodloe

Chet'la Sebree

Poetry/Nonfiction Faculty (2022)

Chet'la Sebree is the author of Field Study (FSG Originals, June 2021), winner of the 2020 James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets. She is also the author of Mistress, selected by Cathy Park Hong as the winner of the 2018 New Issues Poetry Prize and nominated for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work-Poetry (2020). 

Most recently, her poem “And the Record Repeats” appeared in Dr. Ibram X. Kendi & Dr. Keisha N. Blain’s Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America, 1619-2019. 

Concerning Field Study:

"Layered, complex, and infinitely compelling, Chet’la Sebree’s Field Study is a daring exploration of the self and our interactions with others—a meditation on desire, race, loss and survival."—Natasha Trethewey
"Woven from the rough threads of race, legacy, and love, Field Study is a groundbreaking book that vibrates with truth and lyrical beauty. A profound poetic talent, Chet'la Sebree has created a brilliant book that both haunts and heals." -- Ada Limón

For her work, Chet’la has received fellowships from the Delaware Division of the Arts, Hedgebrook, the Hermitage Artist Retreat, MacDowell, the Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies, the Stadler Center for Poetry, the Vermont Studio Center, and Yaddo. In 2018, she was named the co-recipient of Yaddo’s National Endowment for the Arts Residency for Collaborative Teams for her collaboration with poet and essayist Shayla Lawson. Chet’la’s poetry and prose have appeared in publications including Kenyon Review, Pleiades, Guernica, and Poetry International. She is an assistant professor of English and the Director for the Stadler Center for Poetry & Literary Arts at Bucknell University.

        Chet'la Sebree: www.chetlasebree.com

photo of Danez Smith
photo by David Hong

Danez Smith

Poetry Faculty (2022-2023)

Danez Smith is a Black, Queer, Poz writer & performer. Danez is the author of Homie (Graywolf Press, 2020), Don’t Call Us Dead (Graywolf Press, 2017), winner of the Forward Prize for Best Collection, the Midwest Booksellers Choice Award, and a finalist for the National Book Award, and [insert] boy (YesYes Books, 2014), winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry.

Concerning Homie (Greywolf Press, 2020)

“The radiance of Homie arrives like a shock, like found money, like a flower fighting through concrete. . . . This is a book full of the turbulence of thought and desire, piloted by a writer who never loses their way.” – The New York Times
“[Homie] offers the opportunity to witness ‘the miracle of other people’s lives’ and will challenge you to consider how and why that miracle is dismissed in countless daily acts of racial aggression.” ― Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
“[Homie] is a collection that confirms Smith’s great talent.” ― BuzzFeed

Concerning Don’t Call us Dead (Greywolf Press, 2017)

“Exceptional. . . . There is pain here but there is so much joy, so much fierce resistance to anything that dares to temper the stories being told here.”―Roxane Gay, Vulture

They are the recipient of fellowships from the Poetry Foundation, the McKnight Foundation, the Montalvo Arts Center, Cave Canem, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Danez's work has been featured widely including on Buzzfeed, The New York Times, PBS NewsHour, Best American Poetry, Poetry Magazine, and on the Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Danez has been featured as part of Forbes’ annual 30 Under 30 list and is the winner of a Pushcart Prize.

        Danez Smith: www.danezsmithpoet.com

photo of John Vercher
photo by Karen Maria

John Vercher

Fiction Faculty (Fall 2022)

John Vercher is the author of Three-Fifths, named one of the best books of 2019 by the Chicago Tribune. Three-Fifths was named a Book of the Year by The Sunday Times, The Financial Times, The Guardian, and earned an Edgar Award nomination for best first novel. His second novel, After the Lights Go Out, releases in June 2022 from Soho Press.

Concerning After the Lights Go Out (Soho Press, 2022)

“Vercher strides back in the ring with the explosive story of a troubled Philadelphia MMA fighter whose career has stalled . . . expertly captures the brashness and discipline of combat sports as well as the harsh realities of the fighting life, delivering all of it in a swiftly paced triumph complete with a surprising one-two punch of a conclusion. This is simply brilliant.” —Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
“Written in deft and visceral prose—Vercher’s trademark—After the Lights Go Out is one of the best books I’ve read this year. I loved every moment of it, even the ones that broke my heart.”—Lauren Wilkinson, author of American Spy

Concerning Three-Fifths (Polis/Agora Books, 2019)

“… Vercher builds strong, multifaceted characters with bold strokes and using the tools of noir to present what is finally a full-blown tragedy. This powerful exploration of race and identity pairs well with Steph Cha's superb Your House Will Pay (2019).” —Bill Ott, Booklist (STARRED Review)
“Vercher’s debut novel is a blunt-edged thriller… A sad, swift tale bearing rueful observations about color and class as urgent now as 24 years ago.”—Kirkus

John’s writing appears on NPR, Cognoscenti, and WBUR Boston. His non-fiction work appears in Entropy Magazine, CrimeReads, and Booklist. He holds a Bachelor’s in English from the University of Pittsburgh and an MFA in Creative Writing from the Mountainview Master of Fine Arts program.

        John Vercher: www.johnvercherauthor.com

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,  the Ruth Lilly Fellowship, and a Harvard Radcliffe Fellowship. Phillip 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 first book of poems, Thief in the Interior (2016) was published by Alice James Books, and his newest collection is Mutiny (Penguin, 2021).  

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 and earned his M.F.A. from Washington University in St. Louis.

        Phillip B. Williams: www.phillipbwilliams.com

photo of Gary Dop
photo by Jill Nance Waugh

Gary Dop

M.F.A. Director

Gary is the receipient the Great Plains Emerging Writer Prize, a Puschart Special Mention, and the Gillie A. Larew Distinguished Teaching Award. Gary's most recent new media play is Deemocracy: An American Absurdity (Rain Taxi, 2020) and his collection of poetry is Father, Child, Water, (2015), a bestselling collection with Red Hen Press.

Concerning Father, Child, Water:

“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." -- 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.” --  Noth American Review

Gary Dop’s poetry, stories, and essays appear in the Georgia Review, Prairie Schooner, Southern Review, New Letters, Washington Post, AGNI, and elsewhere.

Gary received his M.F.A. from the University of Nebraska. His essays, plays, and scripts have have been performed on radio, screen, and stage venues throughout the country.

        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

Administrative Faculty

Gary Dop 

M.F.A. Director

Christopher Gaumer 

M.F.A. Assistant Director

Laura-Gray Street 

Revolute Editor

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.