The MFA degree and the undergraduate concentration in creative writing at ASU are thriving programs with deep interests in craft and content: the choices writers make about what to say and how to say it. Students work with core faculty in workshops, and also in literature classes designed specifically for writers, organized around either a subject matter or a strategic approach. Recent examples include “The Anti-Workshop,” “Visio-Textual Collaboration,” “The Black Female Body as Its Own Utopia,” “Worldbuilding,” “Literary Horror,” “Research-Based Fiction,” “Climate and the Imagination,” and “Ethics of Form.” There are also opportunities in nonfiction and translation.
Our programs are enhanced by many partnerships: the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing brings writers to campus for events large and small; the Center for Imagination in the Borderlands offers intensives with visiting writers and houses Poetry for the People, an arts/activism curriculum that takes a radical and galvanizing pedagogical approach, comprised of both teaching and mentorship, with explicit commitments to social justice and anti-racist practices. The generously endowed Swarthout Awards and Swarthout Fellowships allow us to support excellent work by students at all levels.
Graduate and undergraduate students in creative writing often serve in an editorial capacity with our national literary magazine, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and with HFR’s Thousand Languages Project (translation). MFA students also intern with New York-based Four Way Books, an award-winning independent press. Undergraduates can intern with ASU’s national electronic journal Superstition Review and participate in a range of campus literary clubs and publications. Creative writing also hosts an annual lecture series called Conversations in Craft and Content.
Please contact Program Manager, Justin Petropoulos, with questions regarding Creative Writing Area. For questions related to a specific program, please contact the appropriate undergraduate advisor or graduate advisor.
Scroll down to learn more about our programs, news, faculty, and alumni.
Creative Writing, MFA
Creative Writing News
Christopher Burawa(2004) is a poet and translator. His translationFlying Night Train: Selected Poems of Jóhann Hjálmarssonwas published by Green Integer Books in 2009. His book of poems,The Small Mystery of Lapses, was published by Cleveland State University Press in 2006. His translations of contemporary Icelandic poet Jóhann Hjálmarsson won the 2005 Toad Press International Chapbook Competition. He was awarded a 2008 American-Scandinavian Foundation Creative Writing Fellowship, a 2007 Literature Fellowship for Translation from the National Endowment for the Arts, a 2006 Witter Bynner Translation Residency at the Santa Fe Art Institute, and a MacDowell Colony fellowship in 2003. He is the Director of the Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee.
Kevin Vaughan-Brubaker(2001) is a public art project manager with the City of Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture. He is secretary of the board for Nightboat Books, an independent literary press based in New York City, and teaches arts and humanities classes for the University of Phoenix Online. He also plays bass and keys in the band Mondegreen and collaborates with artists on public art projects and gallery installations. He lives in Phoenix.
Jennifer Chapis(2000) has published poems in magazines and anthologies includingThe Iowa Review, Colorado Review, McSweeney'sonline,Best New Poets, andOnline Writing: Best of the First Ten Years. She received the Florida Review Editor's Prize, the GSU Review Poetry Prize, and the Backwards City Poetry Series Prize for her chapbook,The Beekeeper's Departure. Her book-length manuscript has been a finalist for the Colorado Prize, the New Issues Poetry Prize, the Dorset Prize, and the Benjamin Saltman Award, among others. In 2008, her poetry was showcased for a full year as part of a creative marketing project hosted by the world’s largest flavor and scent manufacturer. HerPoem as Saladwas chosen by the Center for Book Arts limited-edition broadside series. A full-time faculty member at New York University, she has received NYU's Outstanding Teaching Award, and was recently a guest lecturer of creative writing at the Königin-Olga-Stift School in Stuttgart, Germany. Founding Editor of Nightboat Books, Jennifer lives in New York City with her husband, fiction writer Josh Goldfaden.
Caitlin Horrocks'(2007) first short story collection,This Is Not Your City, won the 2008 Spokane Prize for Short Fiction and is forthcoming from Eastern Washington University Press. Stories from the collection have appeared inThe PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories 2009,The Paris Review,Prairie Schooner,Epochand other journals.Her work hasbeen short-listed inBest American Short Storiesand has won awards fromthe Bread Loaf and Sewanee Writers' conferences andtheAtlantic Monthly.She was the 2006-2007 Theresa A. Wilhoit Fellow at Arizona State University and is currently an assistant professor of writing at Grand Valley State University, teaching fiction and creative nonfiction. She lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan with fellow writer and ASU MFA alum W. Todd Kaneko.
Chris Hutchinson(2009) has published poems in literary journals and anthologies in Canada and the US. He isthe author three collections of poetry,Jonas in Frames: An Epic(Goose Lane Editions, 2014),Unfamiliar Weather(Muses’ Company, 2005), andOther People’s Lives(Brick Books, 2009). During his studies at ASU he taught creative writing to undergraduate students for the English Department, and to high school and elementary school students for ASU’s Young Writer’s program. He lives in Vancouver, BC.
Tayari Jones(2000) named the 2008 Collins Fellow by the United States Artists Foundation, has published three novels.Silver Sparrow,released by Algonquin Books in 2011, earned praise fromLibrary Journal,O Magazine,Slate, andSalon.The Untellingwas awarded the Lillian C. Smith Award for New Voices by the Southern Regional Council and the University of Georgia Libraries.Leaving Atlantareceived numerous awards and accolades, including the Hurston/Wright Award for Debut Fiction. It was named “Novel of the Year” byAtlanta Magazine, “Best Southern Novel of the Year,” byCreative Loafing Atlanta, and theAtlanta Journal-ConstitutionandWashington Postboth listed it as one of the best of 2002.Essencehas called Jones, "a writer to watch," and theAtlanta Journal Constitutionproclaimed her "one of the best writers of her generation." She has received fellowships from the Illinois Arts Council, the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, the Corporation of Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, the Arizona Commission on the Arts, and Le Chateau de Lavigny. A graduate of Spelman College and the University of Iowa, she has taught at Prairie View A&M University, East Tennessee State University, the University of Illinois, and George Washington University. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor in the MFA program at Rutgers-Newark University.
Bill Konigsberg(2005) is the winner of the 2009 Lambda Literary Award for young adult/children's books forOut of the Pocket. The novel made the Indie Next list for the fall of 2008, and was chosen for the ALA’s 2009 Rainbow List, and by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center as one of their 2009 Choices for teen novels. The New York Public Library includedOut of the Pocketon their Stuff for the Teen Age list for 2009. His second novel,Openly Straight, was released in 2013 and praised by theNew York TimesandBooklist. His first adult literary novel,Father, Son and Holy Buddha, is in circulation. Konigsberg has been a sports writer for the Associated Press and ESPN.com. In 2002, he won a GLAAD Media Award for his ESPN.com article “Sports World Still a Struggle for Gays.”
Hugh Martin(2012), who spent six years in the Army National Guard and eleven months in Iraq, is the author of the poetry collectionThe Stick Solders, which won the 2011 A. Poulin Jr. Poetry Prize from BOA Editions, Ltd. Named the 2014-15 Emerging Writer Lecturer at Gettysburg College, Martin is the recipient of a Wallace Stegner Fellowship and the Jeff Sharlet Memorial Award fromThe Iowa Review. His poems have appeared in numerous journals, includingThe Kenyon Review,The American Poetry Review,Crazyhorse, andThe New Republic. Kent State UP published his chapbook,So, How Was the War?, in 2010.
Gary Short(1990) is the author three full-length volumes of poetry:10 Moons and 13 Horses(University of Nevada Press);Flying Over Sonny Liston(University of Nevada Press), winner of the Western States Book Award; andTheory of Twilight(Ahsahta Press). Winner of a 2008 Pushcart Prize, he has also published three chapbooks. A fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and a Stegner Fellow at Stanford, he has received the Writers at Work Award from Quarterly West. He has taught at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Old Dominion University, and the University of California, Davis. He currently directs the creative writing program at the University of Mississippi.
Sarah Vap (2005) is the author of four collections of poetry:End of the Sentimental Journey, published by Noemi Press in 2013;Faulkner’s Rosary, from Saturnalia Books in 2010;Dummy Fire, which won the 2006 Saturnalia Poetry Prize; andAmerican Spikenard, which won the 2006 Iowa Poetry Prize. The recipient of an NEA Fellowship for Poetry, she is co-editor of poetry for the online journal42 Opus, and lives with her husband and their two sons in Santa Monica, California.
The tradition of outreach at ASU dates back to its days as the Arizona Territorial Normal School, when producing original literary work was encouraged in student and faculty publications. From the 1906 journal known as The Tempe Normal Student to the weekly 1932 Phoenix radio program that featured original poetry and prose from the college, through the 60s and 80s with the publication of The Prospector and Catalyst, and today through Channel 8’s Books & Co. and the award-winning Hayden’s Ferry Review, ASU creative writers have been reaching out to the community. Since the MFA program was established in 1984, our faculty, staff and students have been involved in projects in valley elementary schools, high schools, reservations, libraries, detention centers, Alzheimer’s units, and hospitals. More recently, through Piper Global Initiatives, students and faculty have been involved in exchanges with institutions and writing communities around the globe. In this way, the Creative Writing Program has opened the “classroom” to include the world.
The Young Writers at Work Program
Young Writers at Work projects are found in primary and secondary classrooms, libraries and community centers in our immediate community and beyond. These workshops are often one- or two-week residencies, wherein our graduate students teach in settings where the participants are not likely themselves to become writers. The program sends our MFA candidates from their own classrooms to the classrooms of others, where an understanding of writing is not based on theory or privilege, but on the real world, with the real considerations of age, ability, interest, and life experience. The program began in 1985 in the Phoenix Public Libraries, and our first partners were The Friends of the Library. Many venues have followed, with community partners never hard to find. Some partners provide funds for the graduate students.