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 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 or is forthcoming in Hotel Amerika, Gulf Coast, Creative Nonfiction, Image, Arts & Letters, Gulf Stream, The Witness, PublicSource, INTER, Pittsburgh Magazine, Pittsburgh Quarterly, and The Dallas Morning News, among others, and 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 the University of Pittsburgh. Read more about him at jonathancallard.com.

Joanna Penn Cooper

Joanna Penn Cooper has published a book of autobiographical vignettes, The Itinerant Girl's Guide to Self-Hypnosis (Brooklyn Arts Press, 2014). 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 edits the “Approaching Mystery” flash memoir feature at Sick Pilgrim, an award-winning website for artists and spiritual seekers.

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.

Ellen Ficklen

Ellen Ficklen is a career writer and editor who has held a number of editorial positions in the Washington, D.C., area and been widely published. Her articles have appeared in the Washington Post, the New York Times, USA Weekend, the Baltimore Sun, the Los Angeles Times, the Chronicle of Higher Education, Saveur, and Preservation. Ellen also has produced editorial projects for the National Geographic Society, American Rivers, NASA, and National Public Radio. She was the author of a "My Turn" column in Newsweek and a finalist for a National Magazine Award. Ellen is a coeditor of Narrative Matters: The Power of Personal Essay in Health Policy, published by Johns Hopkins University Press. For eight years, she was the editor of "Narrative Matters," the first-person essay section of Health Affairs, the nation's leading health policy journal, where she also was a senior editor of the journal. Ellen has a B.A. from Connecticut College and an M.A. in writing (nonfiction) from Johns Hopkins University.

Waverly Fitzgerald

Waverly Fitzgerald teaches writing in Seattle, most recently for Richard Hugo House, although she has also taught for the University of Washington and the UCLA Writers Program, among others. She has received a grant from Artist Trust, a fellowship from the Jack Straw Foundation and residencies from Hedgebrook and the Whiteley Center for her essays on urban nature. Her current writing project is the fourth in a series of humorous mystery novels written with Curt Colbert under the name of Waverly Curtis and published by Kensington Books. 

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 northeast California and is writing her third book.

Jessica Mesman Griffith

Jessica Mesman Griffith is a widely published writer whose work has been noted in Best American Essays. Her memoir, Love and Salt: A Spiritual Friendship in Letters, co-authored with Amy Andrews, won the 2014 Christopher Award for “literature that affirms the highest values of the human spirit.” She is also the author of Stranger Journeys (forthcoming 2017, Loyola Press), Grace Filled Days (2016, Loyola Press) and a co-author of Daily Inspiration for Women (2014, Loyola Press). She’s currently at work on a second memoir of her Catholic girlhood in southern Louisiana, called Eden Isles. You can read more about her at jessicamesman.com.

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.

Jennifer McGuiggan

Jennifer (Jenna) McGuiggan's essays have appeared in The Rappahannock Review, Essay Daily, Flycatcher, New World Writing, and on the blogs of 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.

LaTanya McQueen

LaTanya McQueen’s work has been published or is forthcoming in Ninth Letter, Bennington Review, Passages North, Fugue, North American Review, Black Warrior Review, Fourteen Hills, Booth, New South, and New Orleans Review, among other journals. One of her essays was recently listed as a “notable entry” in Best American Essays. She received her MFA from Emerson College and is a PhD candidate at the University of Missouri.

Rhonda J. Miller

Rhonda J. Miller is  a reporter and producer for WKU Public Radio in Bowling Green, Kentucky, the local NPR affiliate. She 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 has won regional Edward R. Murrow awards and AP awards in Mississippi and Florida. 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.

Meghan O'Gieblyn

Meghan O'Gieblyn is the author of the essay collection Interior States. Her essays, memoir, and criticism have appeared in Harper's, The New Yorker, Tin House, Ploughshares, n+1, The Point, The Pushcart Prize anthologies and The Best American Essays 2017. She received her MFA from University of Wisconsin-Madison where she won the Jerome Sterns Teaching Award. You can read some of her work at meghanogieblyn.com

M. Randal O'Wain

M. Randal O'Wain holds an MFA from Iowa's Nonfiction Writing Program. Currently, he is a lecturer at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He serves as a National Endowment of the Arts Writing Fellow at the Beckley Federal Correctional Institution. His collection of essays, Superman Dam[n] Fool: Family, Loss, and Coming of Age in the Working Class South, is forthcoming on Bison Books as part of Tobias Wolff's American Lives Series (2019). He is also the author of Hallelujah Station and Other Stories (Autumn House Press, 2020). His essays and short stories have appeared in Oxford American, Guernica, The Pinch, Booth, Hotel Amerika, storySouth, Zone 3, Master's Review, among others.

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 3 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's work has been published in Tor.com, Apogee Journal, Bellingham Review, The East Bay Review, Griffith Review, Asia Literary Review, Fiction International, among other places. She is the recipient of grants and fellowships from the San Francisco Arts Commission, the Creative Capacity Fund, Ragdale Foundation, Anderson Center, Headlands Center for the Arts, Brush Creek Foundation, Kundiman and others. She received an MFA from San Francisco State University and is currently at work on a memoir about interracial dating called, An Equation to tell your mother your boyfriend is Black.

James Polchin

James Polchin, Ph.D. is a writer, cultural critic, and educator. He is a contributing writer to the Gay and Lesbian Review Worldwide, and has been the Arts Columnist at The Smart Set where his essays were regularly featured on Arts and Letters Daily and 3 Quarks Daily. His reviews, essays, and fiction have been published, or are forthcoming, in Lambda Literary, The New Inquiry, Brevity, and Ducts Magazine. He is founder and editor of Writing In Public, a curated website that promotes the art and intelligence of nonfiction writing. For over ten years he has been a professor in the Global Liberal Studies program at New York University where he teaches courses in writing, visual studies, and American cultural history. He has also taught at NYU sites in London, Paris, and Florence, Italy. Before NYU, he held faculty appointments in the Princeton Writing Program, the Parsons School of Design, and the New School for Public Engagement.

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.

Barrett Swanson

Barrett Swanson is the 2016-2017 Halls Emerging Artist Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing. He is the winner of a 2015 Pushcart Prize, and his short fiction and essays have been distinguished as "notable" in Best American Nonrequired Reading of 2014, Best American Essays of 2014, and Best American Essays of 2015. His work has appeared most recently in The Guardian, The New Republic, American Short Fiction, Boston Review, Dissent, LA Review of Books, Ninth Letter, The Point, and Mississippi Review, and is forthcoming in Orion, New England Review, Pacific Standard, The Southern Review, and The New York Times Magazine.

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.