Creative Writing students earn ‘Desert Nights, Rising Stars’ scholarships

MFA Creative Writing students (top left to right) Jer Xiong, Delaney R. Whitebird Olmo, Carolina Mata, (Bottom left to right) Amber L. Carpenter, Mariah Bosch and Karissa Ellison.

~ By Jefferson Beavers, Communication Specialist, Department of English


Six Fresno State graduate students in the Master of Fine Arts Program have been awarded scholarships to attend the 2021 Desert Nights, Rising Stars virtual conference at Arizona State University.

The scholarships, made possible by a partnership between Fresno State’s College of Arts and Humanities and the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State, provide admission to the annual writing conference, broadcasting virtually Feb. 18-20 from Tempe, Arizona. The 2021 conference brings together more than 300 writers from all backgrounds, genres and levels of experience for three days of literary craft, culture and community.

Meet the creative writing scholars:

Mariah Bosch | Genre: Poetry
Mariah Bosch | Genre: Poetry

Mariah Bosch is a third-year MFA candidate in poetry. She’s a fellow in Juan Felipe Herrera’s Laureate Lab Visual Wordist Studio inside the Henry Madden Library, and her work has been published on Poets.org, Hobart, Cosmonauts Avenue, and elsewhere. She is an Andrés Montoya creative writing scholar and a C. G. Hanzlicek poetry fellow.

Amber L. Carpenter | Genre: Creative Nonfiction
Amber L. Carpenter | Genre: Creative Nonfiction

Amber L. Carpenter is a first-year graduate student in creative nonfiction. Her work explores trauma’s effects on the body and the nonlinear nature of healing. Her work has appeared in Flies, Cockroaches & Poets and the San Joaquin Review. 

Karissa Ellison | Genre: Fiction
Karissa Ellison | Genre: Fiction

Karissa Ellison is a second-year graduate student in fiction. She teaches first-year writing for the English Department, she’s the social media coordinator for The Normal School magazine, and she’s an officer for the San Joaquin Literary Association. Karissa is working on a supernatural young-adult novel.

Carolina Mata | Genre: Fiction
Carolina Mata | Genre: Fiction

Carolina Mata is a Latina writer from the San Joaquin Valley and a second-year graduate student in fiction. She is the senior fiction editor for The Normal School magazine, vice president of the San Joaquin Literary Association, and has been published in the San Joaquin Review and The Painted Cave. She is an Andrés Montoya creative writing scholar.

Delaney R. Whitebird Olmo | Genre: Poetry
Delaney R. Whitebird Olmo | Genre: Poetry

Delaney R. Whitebird Olmo (Kashia Pomo, Yurok) is a poet living in Fresno, a second-year graduate student in poetry. Her work can be found in deLuge Literary Arts Journal, Foothill Poetry Journal, Rockdale Review, and elsewhere. 

Jer Xiong | Genre: Creative Nonfiction
Jer Xiong | Genre: Creative Nonfiction

Jer Xiong is a Hmong American writer and third-year MFA candidate in creative nonfiction. She has been an instructor, tutor, and mentor, and has served as an editor for the Watershed Review and The Normal School. She’s a member of the Hmong American Writers’ Circle (HAWC) and the founding president of Hmong American Ink & Stories (HAIS). She is a Soul Vang creative writing scholar and a Whitney Alan Fisher creative writing scholar.

The creative writing program’s participation in Desert Nights, Rising Stars is organized by Steven Church, professor of English and coordinator of the Master of Fine Arts program.

Recent MFA alumnus Anthony Cody presented as a teaching fellow at the conference in 2020.

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