Our Instructors

Our instructors aren't just great teachers—they're working writers and editors too, with stories published in a broad range of outlets, from NPR to Best American Essays. You'll benefit from their real-world experience and their genuine desire to help you craft your next nonfiction story. See our stellar lineup below, as well as upcoming classes and feedback from past students.


Chelsea Biondolillo

Chelsea Biondolillo is author of The Skinned Bird and the prose chapbooks, Ologies and #Lovesong. Her work has appeared in Orion, Guernica, River Teeth, Discover Magazine, Science, Brevity, Nautilus, Vela and others. She is a recipient of the Carter Prize for the Essay and fellowships from Colgate University and the NSF-funded Think, Write, Publish project. Her essays have been collected in Best American Science and Nature Writing 2016, Environmental and Nature Writing: a Writer's Guide and Anthology, Waveform: 21st-Century Essays by Women, and How We Speak to One Another: an Essay Daily Reader. She holds an MFA in creative writing and environmental studies from  the University of Wyoming, and teaches and writes in a rural town not far from Portland, OR.

Michael Reid Busk

Michael Reid Busk is a graduate of the University of Southern California’s Literature and Creative Writing PhD, where he was a Feuchtwanger Fellow and Town and Gown Scholar. He has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize, and his nonfiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Iowa Review, Gettysburg Review, Fourth Genre, Prairie Schooner, and Michigan Quarterly Review.  Other work of his has appeared in Southern Review, Conjunctions, Ninth Letter, Denver Quarterly, and elsewhere. He lives in Indiana with his wife and four children. Some of his favorite things include frogs (not to eat), pork (to eat), Dixieland jazz, Sonoma County, early Picasso, and fiction that pretends to be nonfiction (and vice versa).

Jonathan Callard

Jonathan Callard writes and lives in Pittsburgh, PA. His work has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Hotel Amerika, Gulf Coast, Creative Nonfiction, Image, Arts & Letters, Gulf Stream, The Witness, PublicSource, Pittsburgh Magazine, Pittsburgh Quarterly, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and The Dallas Morning News, among others. The winner of the 2020 Prairie Schooner Creative Nonfiction Contest, he has received writing fellowships from Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts, the Ragdale Foundation, and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. He teaches writing at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary and the University of Pittsburgh, where he was recognized as “Most Valuable Professor” in 2019 for his mentoring of student athletes. Read more about him at jonathancallard.com.

Sarah Cannon

Sarah Cannon is the author of The Shame of Losing (Red Hen Press), which was a Finalist for the Washington State Book Awards in 2019. Her essays have been featured in The New York Times (Modern Love column), Salon, Bitch magazine, Chicken Soup for the Soul, and elsewhere. She earned her MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College, where she helped launch the inaugural Lighthouse Writers’ Conference and Retreat for MFA alumni in Port Townsend, WA. She lives in Edmonds, WA. www.cannonsarah.com.

Joanna Penn Cooper

Joanna Penn Cooper writes and teaches flash memoir, lyric essays, and poetry, and she is the author of The Itinerant Girl's Guide to Self-Hypnosis (Brooklyn Arts Press) and What Is a Domicile (Noctuary Press). Her work has appeared in The Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day feature, as well as South Dakota Review, Vinyl, On the Seawall, Poetry International, and other journals. Joanna holds a Ph.D. in English from Temple University and an MFA from New England College, and in her teaching career, she has held full-time visiting positions at Marquette University and Fordham University.  Joanna is a frequent contributor to Good Letters, the online component of Image Journal. She lives in Durham, North Carolina.

Suzanne Cope

Suzanne Cope is the author of the book Small Batch: Pickles, Cheese, Chocolate, Spirits and the Return of Artisanal Food and the upcoming Feeding The Revolution. Her essays and articles have appeared in the New York Times, The Atlantic, NPR, Washington Post, Creative Nonfiction, among others. She is also a professor at St. John's University and the New School, teaching writing and experiential learning.

Joelle Fraser

Joelle Fraser’s first memoir, The Territory of Men (Random House 2002) received praise from the New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today and others. Her second memoir, The Forest House: a Journey into the Landscape of Love, Loss and Starting Over (Counterpoint 2013), was called “A poignant study of gratitude for the simple life” by Kirkus Reviews. She occasionally blogs for The Huffington Post, and her award winning essays have appeared in many journals, including “Inspiration Point” in Crazyhorse, which received Honorable Mention in The Best American Essays 2010. A MacDowell Fellow, Fraser lives in Reno, Nevada and is writing her third book.

Kate Hopper

Kate Hopper is an editor, teacher, and the author of Use Your Words: A Writing Guide for Mothers, Ready for Air: A Journey Through Premature Motherhood, and co-author of Silent Running, a memoir. Her writing has appeared in many journals, including Brevity, Los Angeles Review of Books, The New York Times online, Poets & Writers and True Story. She has been teaching creative nonfiction, with a focus on mother writers, for almost 20 years..

Sonya Huber

Sonya Huber is the author of three books of creative nonfiction, Opa Nobody (shortlisted for the Saroyan Prize), Cover Me: A Health Insurance Memoir (Finalist for Foreward Book of the Year and Grub Street Nonfiction Book of the Year), and the essay collection Pain Woman Takes Your Keys: Essays on Pain and Imagination (2017). Her other books include The Evolution of Hillary Rodham Clinton and a textbook, The Backwards Research Guide for Writers: Using Your Life for Reflection, Connection, and Inspiration. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Creative Nonfiction, Brevity, Fourth Genre, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Washington Post Magazine, O: The Oprah Magazine, Salon.com, and other magazines and journals. She received the 2012 Creative Nonfiction Award from Terrain; her work appears True Stories, Well Told: From the First 20 Years of Creative Nonfiction, and her essays were named notable in Best American Essays 2014 and 2015. She teaches in the Department of English at Fairfield University and directs the Fairfield Low-Residency MFA Program.

Lori Jakiela

Lori Jakiela is the author of five books, most recently the memoir Belief Is Its Own Kind Of Truth, Maybe (Atticus Books), which received the William Saroyan Prize for International Writing from Stanford University, and the essay collection Portrait Of The Artist As A Bingo Worker (Bottom Dog Press). Her other books include the memoirs Miss New York Has Everything (Hatchette/Grand Central) and The Bridge To Take When Things Get Serious (C&R Press), as well as the poetry collection Spot The Terrorist (Turning Point Press). Her work has been widely published in newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Rumpus, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Brevity, and more. She directs the undergraduate Creative and Professional Writing Program at The University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, where she is a Professor of English. Her author website is http://www.lorijakiela.net/.

Kase Johnstun

Kase Johnstun (MA, MFA) lives and writes in Ogden, Utah. He is the author of Beyond the Grip Craniosynostosis (McFarland & Co), which has been featured in Pennsylvania Parenting Magazine, Portland Family Magazine, The Ogden Standard Examiner, and many other places, as well as having mentions in the Chicago Tribune and the Seattle Times. It was awarded the Gold Quill (First Place) in creative nonfiction by the League of Utah Writers for 2015. His work has been published widely by literary journals and trade magazines, including, but not limited to, Southwest the magazine, Today’s Parent, Yahoo Parenting, Creative Nonfiction Magazine, Coldnoon: Travel Writing and Traveling Poetics, Like The Wind, and The Chronicle Review. He hosts a literary podcast called LITerally where he interviews authors about all things publishing and writing. 

Marissa Landrigan

Marissa Landrigan is the author of The Vegetarian's Guide to Eating Meat (Greystone Books, 2017), and her essays have appeared in numerous publications, including Creative Nonfiction, Orion, Guernica, The Atlantic, The Rumpus, and others. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing and Environment from Iowa State University, and is currently an Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh Johnstown, where she teaches creative, professional, and digital writing courses. 

Marty Levine

Marty Levine's journalism and creative nonfiction have appeared in Time, Salon.com and throughout Pennsylvania and the U.S. He has won awards from the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association, Pennsylvania Newspaper Association and elsewhere. His fiction has appeared in and won awards from The Louisville Review, River City, The Mississippi Review, and New Letters. He received his MFA from the University of Pittsburgh.

Nancy McCabe

Nancy McCabe is the author of a novel and five works of creative nonfiction, most recently a memoir in essays that use alternate forms, Can This Marriage Be Saved?, which is due out in paperback and audiobook this year. Her book From Little Houses to Little Women: Revisiting a Literary Childhood (2016) was also recently released as an Audible audiobook. Her work has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Fourth Genre, Michigan Quarterly Review, Newsweek, Los Angeles Review of Books, and Oh Baby: True Stories about Conception, Adoption, Surrogacy, Pregnancy, Labor, and Love. She has received a Pushcart and had work recognized eight times on Best American notable lists. She teaches at the University of Pittsburgh at Bradford and in the low-residency MFA program at Spalding University in Louisville, KY. 

Jennifer McGuiggan

Jennifer (Jenna) McGuiggan co-authored Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood: A Visual History (Clarkson Potter, 2019). Her essays have appeared in The Rappahannock Review, Essay Daily, Flycatcher, New World Writing, and online for Prairie Schooner and Brevity. Her work has been nominated for the Best of the Net Anthology and chosen as a finalist in contests from Prime Number Magazine, Hunger Mountain, and the Orison Anthology. Jenna received her MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is currently writing a book of linked essays that explore longing and belonging, from where we live to what we believe. Through her business,The Word Cellar, she works as a freelance writer and editor and hosts an online membership community for writers.

Rhonda J. Miller

Rhonda J. Miller is  a reporter and audio producer for WKU Public Radio in Bowling Green, Kentucky, the local NPR affiliate. She won a 2020 Green Eyeshades Award, 2nd place in radio, for Public Service Journalism for a series of stories about hunger in Kentucky. She won the 2019 award for Best Radio Reporter from the Kentucky AP Broadcasters and the regional Edward R. Murrow awards and AP awards in Mississippi, Kentucky and Florida. Rhonda has worked as the Gulf Coast Reporter for Mississippi Public Broadcasting and education reporter for Rhode Island Public Radio. She has done public radio stories for stations in Connecticut and Florida, and her freelance stories have aired on Voice of America, AARP Radio, NPR and through Public Radio Exchange (PRX). She earned her master’s degree in media studies from Rhode Island College in 2013, and has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Boston University. You can listen to some of the radio stories she's produced on her website.

Peter Mountford

Peter Mountford is the author of the novels A Young Man's Guide to Late Capitalism (winner of the 2012 Washington State Book Award in fiction), and The Dismal Science (a NYT editor's choice). His essays and short fiction have appeared in The Paris Review, The Sun, NYT’s Modern Love column, The Atlantic, Granta, and elsewhere. He's currently on faculty at Sierra Nevada College's MFA program.

Jessica Kehinde Ngo

Jessica Kehinde Ngo’s writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, Entropy, Artillery, Hippocampus Books, and the Journal of Compressed Creative Arts. She studied creative nonfiction at the University of Southern California’s Master of Professional Writing program. She has taught writing at Pepperdine University and is currently an associate professor at Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, where she teaches writing and food literature.

Meghan O'Gieblyn

Meghan O'Gieblyn is the author of the essay collection Interior States (Anchor, 2018), which won the 2018 Believer Book Award for nonfiction. Her essays and memoir have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's Magazine, n+1, The Believer, The New York Times, The Guardian, Ploughares, Tin House, and elsewhere, and have been collected in the Pushcart Prize anthologies and The Best American Essays 2017. She received an MFA from University of Wisconsin-Madison where she won the Jerome Sterns Teaching Award. Her book God, Human, Animal, Machine is forthcoming from Doubleday in 2021. You can read some of her work at meghanogieblyn.com.

Melissa Petro

Melissa Petro is a freelance writer and writing instructor living in New York City. She has written for  Marie Claire, NY Magazine, Pacific Standard Magazine, Cosmopolitan, Redbook, Esquire, Salon, Daily Beast, The Guardian, Al Jazeera America, Jezebel, Narratively, New Inquiry, The Establishment, Rumpus and many other places. In 2015, she was one of three finalist for the PEN America / Fusion Young Emerging Writer's Prize judged by John Freeman, Roxane Gay, and Cristina Henrique. She is the founder and an instructor at Becoming Writers, a community organization that provides free and low cost creative writing workshops to under heard writers. She has a BA in Women's Studies from Antioch College and an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from The New School.

Ploi Pirapokin

Ploi Pirapokin is the Nonfiction Editor at Newfound Journal, and the Co-Editor of The Greenest Gecko: An Anthology of New Asian Fantasy forthcoming from Wesleyan University Press in 2021. Her short stories and essays are featured in Tor.com, Apogee Journal, The Offing, The Bellingham Review, Fiction International, and more. She has received grants and fellowships from the San Francisco Arts Commission, the Creative Capacity Fund, the Headlands Center for the Arts, Ragdale Foundation, Kundiman, and others. A graduate of the 2018 Clarion Writers Workshop, she also holds an MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University, and a BA in Communication Studies from the University of San Diego. In addition to teaching at CNF, she also teaches writing at the UCLA Extension's Writers Program, and at the University of Hong Kong's Creative Writing MFA Program. www.ppirapokin.com.

James Polchin

James is a Clinical Professor at New York University where he teaches in areas of creative nonfiction, LGBTQ history, and crime narratives. His writing has appeared in SlateTIMEHuffington Post UKCrime ReadsParis ReviewRolling StoneNewNextNowThe New InquiryLambda LiteraryThe Smart Set, Brevity, and the Gay and Lesbian Review WorldwideHis book Indecent Advances: A Hidden History of True Crime and Prejudice Before Stonewall was a finalist for an Edgar Award and was named one of the best crime books of 2019 by CrimeReads. 

Bridgette Shade

Bridgette Shade’s story collection was a Finalist for the Flannery O’Conner Award for Short Fiction. A former fiction editor at WEAVE, she has also written for newspapers and nonprofits. Her work has been featured in a wide variety of anthologies and journals, most recently The Rumpus, Story Houston, and Big Muddy. Since 2004, she has been teaching writing with an emphasis on social justice in classrooms at Carlow University, Point Park University, Waynesburg University, and The  University of Pittsburgh—where her students regularly change the world—one word at a time.

Becky Tuch

Becky Tuch is the founding editor of The Review Review, a website dedicated to reviews of literary magazines, and one of the founders of the literary blog Beyond the Margins. She has received literature fellowships from The MacDowell Colony and The Somerville Arts Council and her fiction has won awards from Moment Magazine, Glimmer Train, Briar Cliff Review, Byline Magazine, and elsewhere. Other writing has appeared in Salon, Virginia Quarterly Review online, Hobart, Quarter After Eight, and other print and online publications. Find her at BeckyTuch.com.