Kudos to Fresno Writers — Fall 2021

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Republished from We Grow Writers

Kudos to #FresnoWriters is an ongoing series on the Fresno State MFA blog, celebrating the professional accomplishments of students, alumni, and faculty in Fresno State’s Creative Writing Program and the Department of English. This compilation includes news between September 2021 and December 2021.

If you’re an alum of the English Department and you have a special announcement, a new job, a professional or creative success, or an inspiring story that you’d like to share, please submit this short “Keep in Touch” form.

Erin L. Álvarez (alumni) — Accepted a new job as tutor program coordinator at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Published the essay “Empty Chairs” in Wild Blue Zine.

J.J. Anselmi (alumni) — Interviewed for Ghost Cult Magazine’s podcast on “The Life of an Underground Music Expert.”

Stacey Balkun (alumni) — Announced the publication of her latest poetry collection, “Sweetbitter,” forthcoming from Sundress Publications.

Megan Baptista Geist (alumni) — With husband and fellow alum Joshua Geist, started the new YouTube video series “The Nuclear Family.”

Stephen Barile (alumni) — Published the poems “At the Grave of Luis Omar Salinas” and “Head Injuries” in Wild Blue Zine.

Jefferson Beavers (alumni, staff) — Published the poem “Cary Park, May 14, 2017” in Wild Blue Zine.

Venita Blackburn (faculty) — Longlisted for the 2022 Joyce Carol Oates Prize, honoring mid-career authors of fiction. Her new story collection “How to Wrestle a Girl” was reviewed by Jared Jackson in The New York Times, and noted as an NYT Books editor’s choice selection. Also interviewed about the book in Lit Hub, in Kirkus Reviews, in Alta Online, in the Los Angeles Daily News, by Mina Kim for KQED’s Forum, and by Tyrese L. Coleman in Electric Literature. Her book’s publisher, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, marked her publication day with a collection of original illustrations by artist Elliott Chambers. The book was included in the Autostraddle list “75 Queer and Feminist Books Coming Your Way in Fall 2021,” The Rumpus list of “What to read when in search of bodies,” and the Lit Hub list of “7 new story collections to fall into this season.” Published the story “Live Birth” in the Iowa Review. Performed the story “Fam” on episode 20 of The Paris Review podcast.

Sara Borjas (alumni) — Awarded a 2021-22 fellowship to the MacDowell artists colony in Peterborough, New Hampshire. Featured in episode 99 of the Chills At Will podcast. Published the poem “Self-Portrait as Mojave Phone Booth” in Image journal, as part of the Los Angeles Times.

David Borofka (retired lecturer) — Interviewed by Caitlin Hamilton Summie for The Lit Pub about his forthcoming story collection, “A Longing for Impossible Things,” from Johns Hopkins University Press.

Mariah Bosch (alumni, lecturer) — Published the poems “In fantasy I live forever” in Crazyhorse magazine, “She inventories her cupboards, I just stand there” and “Finding” in Wild Blue Zine, and “[I move through a forest cracking ribs]” in Small Press Traffic.

Michelle Brittan Rosado (alumni) — Will deliver one of the keynote lectures at the 2022 California Association of Teachers of English (CATE) conference.

Phyllis Brotherton (alumni) — Published the essay “Frog Perspectives” in After the Art journal.

Audra Burwell (BA student) — Published the poems “Things of Beauty,” “Expiration,” and “Aging” in Palaver journal.

David Campos (alumni) — Published the poem “Surveillance” on Verse Daily. His latest book, “American Quasar,” co-authored with the artist Maceo Montoya, was featured in the Harvard Review list “New Confessions: 6 Books by Latinx Poets.”

Mialise Carney (MFA student) — Nominated for a Pushcart Prize for the story “The Night the Cows Got Loose,” previously published in The Boiler journal. Published the stories “The Scab of the Family” in Okay Donkey magazine, and “The Hydrangea Fairy” in Alien magazine. Interviewed author Michael Chin for The Normal School magazine.

Kenneth R. Chacón (alumni) — Nominated for a Pushcart Prize for the poem “When You Take Me Out of Bondage,” published in Zone 3 journal. Also published the poem “The Cholo Is an Angel” in Zone 3.

Ethan Chatagnier (alumni) — Reviewed the Ye Chun story collection “Hao” for The Rupture magazine.

Sarah A. Chavez (alumni) — Named a finalist in the 2021 Diode Editions Book Contest for the manuscript “This Dark Shining Thing.”

Steven Church (faculty) — Featured on the Radio Boise podcast “Writer to Writer” for September 2021. 

Carol Claassen (alumni) — Nominated for a Pushcart Prize for the essay “Missing Man: A Memoir of Apparition,” previously published in Pidgeonholes journal.

Anthony Cody (alumni) — Curated the magazine feature “A Shifting, Dissolving Fresno Poetics” for Small Press Traffic. Published the poem “Jaguar” in Magma Poetry’s anthropocene issue, the poems “Wtr” and “Elegy with Barbed Wire Swaddling a Fortunate Child, as Barbed Triptych-Assemblage” in the Colorado Review, and “autorretrato #81, sin boca” in Small Press Traffic. Performed selections from his American Book Award-winning poetry collection, “Borderland Apocrypha” on C-SPAN’s BookTV.

Mike Cole (alumni) — Published the poems “Uprooting” and “Risk” in Wild Blue Zine.

Ronald Dzerigian (alumni) — Published the poem “‘Canto 25’ from A Lie in the Refrain” in Wild Blue Zine.

Lillian Faderman (emeriti faculty) — Announced the publication of her latest nonfiction book, “Woman: The American History of An Idea,” forthcoming from Yale University Press.

Kathy Fagan (alumni) — Published the poem “Inactive Fault, With Echoes” in the EcoTheo Review. Her poem “Conqueror,” previously published in the Kenyon Review, was re-published in The Best American Poetry 2021 anthology.

Rebeca Abidail Flores (alumni) — Awarded a fall 2022 residency to StoryKnife Writers Retreat in Homer, Alaska. Nominated for a Pushcart Prize for the story “Interrupting a Roadside Memorial,” previously published in Your Impossible Voice. Was the January 2022 featured studio artist in the Frank-Ratchye Project Space, at Root Division gallery in San Francisco. Interviewed author Andrés Cerpa for The Normal School magazine.

Will Freeney (MFA student) — Published the essay “Compunction” in Kithe journal.

Esmeralda Gamez (alumni) — Accepted a new job as a library aide at the Woodward Park Branch of the Fresno County Public Library. Also accepted a new job as a laboratory technician for IEH Laboratories and Consulting Group. Published two poems entitled “Burger Night” in Wild Blue Zine.

Joshua Geist (alumni) — With wife and fellow alum Megan Baptista Geist, started the new YouTube video series “The Nuclear Family.”

Eddie P. Gomez (alumni) — Published the essay “A Night at the Theatre: On Chaos and Fate” in the Michigan Quarterly Review.

Juan Luis Guzmán (alumni) — Awarded a 2021 Established Artist Fellowship from the California Arts Council. Directed a stage production of the Luis Valdez play “Zoot Suit” for the Selma Arts Center; interviewed about the production for The Munro Review, for Kings River Life magazine, and by ABC30.

John R. Hales (emeriti faculty) — Featured in an employee spotlight in Fresno State’s Campus News, for his work on campus as a professor.

Michael J. Harding (alumni) — Featured in an employee spotlight in Fresno State’s Campus News, for his work on campus as a digital accessibility coordinator.

Bonita Jewel Hele (alumni) — Published the essay “Wrestling the Angel” in Ekstasis magazine; and the story “Me Time for Two” in Chicken Soup for the Soul

Howard V. Hendrix (retired lecturer) — Published the essay “A wildfire took my home” in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Hermelinda Hernandez Monjaras (MFA student) — Published the poem “Labyrinth Micro +” in Small Press Traffic.

J.J. Hernandez (alumni, lecturer) — Published the poem “Nomad” in Small Press Traffic.

Sydney Allison Hinton (MFA student) — Published the essay “The Immaculate Illusion” in Under the Sun magazine. Featured in a student profile on Fresno State’s College of Arts and Humanities blog.

Patrick D. Hogan (alumni) — Published the story “Goodwill” in Wild Blue Zine.

Kimberly Horg (alumni) — Published the essay “Christmas Tree Lane” in Sterling Clack Clack journal.

Randa Jarrar (faculty) — Her new memoir “Love Is an Ex-Country” was included in the Newsweek list of “2021’s Most Transporting Books,” in the Cultured Vultures list of “21 Best Books of 2021,” and the Forbes magazine article “13 Books That Will Open Your Eyes to a More Diverse World of Travel.”

Arielle K. Jones (alumni) — Awarded a fellowship for BIPOC women artists from the Periplus mentorship collective, to be mentored by author Deesha Philyaw.

Jenny Krichevsky (faculty) — Featured in a day-in-the-life video for Fresno State’s 2021 Day of Giving campaign.

Hannah Leece (BA student) — Published the article “Glowing in the Dark: Examining ‘The Radium Girls’ and Other Forgotten ‘Herstory’ Tales” in Macksey Journal, from Johns Hopkins University.

Jacob M. Lesinski (alumni) — Published the poem “Melissophobia” in Wild Blue Zine.

Javier A. Lopez (alumni) — Published the poem “on an 8-day work ringer, the 9th feels like it’s just-around the bend” in Small Press Traffic.

Maiyang Lor (credential student) — Featured in a student profile on Fresno State’s College of Arts and Humanities blog.

Suzanne Lummis (alumni) — Her poem “I Am Not the L.A. River,” as read by Los Angeles poet laureate Lynne Thompson, is featured in episode 41 of the Los Angeles Public Library’s podcast, Poems on Air. Curated an installment of the Michael Caine Project for Poetry.LA.

Carolina Mata (MFA student) — Published the poem “Conquer the World” in Wild Blue Zine.

Marisa Mata (alumni) — Published the poem “after” in Brave Voices magazine. Served as publisher for Wild Blue Zine, which featured the creative works of 14 Fresno writers and artists. Featured in a CalArts impact story as the first Irene Borger Scholar for Creative Writing at California Institute of the Arts.

Andrea Mele (alumni) — Accepted a new job as program coordinator for the Fresno Arts Council.

Sarah Fawn Montgomery (alumni) — Nominated for a Best Small Fictions award for the story “Deliver,” published in Necessary Fiction. Published the essays “Descendant” in Fourth Genre“Teaching the Literature of Mad Women” in Lit Hub, and “Flash Diagnosis: Illness as Craft” in Brevity; the stories “Heartless” in Newfound journal, “Hide” in SmokeLong Quarterly, and “Voyeur” in The Forge magazine; and the poems “Careless” and “Taking Plan B in a Pandemic” in Diode Poetry Journal, “Ghost Town” in Split Lip Magazine, and “Wish, Bone” in Had journal. Also interviewed by Sierra Sitzes in SmokeLong Quarterly.

Olivia Muñoz (alumni) — Published the prose poem “Quarentena” in the lickety~split journal.

Samina Najmi (faculty) — Nominated for a Pushcart Prize for the essay “Trinità,” previously published in Under the Sun magazine. Published the essay “Teaching as a Pakistani American Muslim Feminist: Ten, Twenty Years On” in The Margins, from the Asian American Writers’ Workshop; and the essays “Memoir in Dust” and “Threshold” in the anthology “New Moons: Contemporary Writing by North American Muslims,” edited by Kazim Ali for Red Hen Press.

Delaney R. Whitebird Olmo (MFA student) — Awarded an Open Door Career Advancement Grant for BIPOC women artists from Poets & Writers, Inc. Named a semifinalist for the 2021 MacGuffin Poet Hunt Contest at Schoolcraft College. Published the poem “Crow Hop Elegy” in Solstice magazine; and the story “Where the Lilacs Bloom” in Hive Avenue journal. Published the poems “Small Humming Bird Dance,” “Soca-bic Cahno-nmuc,” “Trapped Between Colonial Legacies,” “The Parting Ceremony,” and “When He Will Return” in News from Native California; also performed three of these poems for the Fresno State MFA YouTube channel.

Mary Paul (alumni, lecturer) — Published the article “Mobile Technology Pedagogy: Improved Student Engagement for Improved Self-Assessment” in the International Journal of Technology in Education.

Taylor Petersen (alumni) — Featured in an employee spotlight in Fresno State’s Campus News, for her work on campus as a library services specialist.

Shelby Pinkham (MFA student) — Interviewed author Kelly Gray for The Normal School magazine.

Monique Quintana (alumni) — Wrote 15 prose pieces in 15 days for The Fresno 15 Creative Writing Marathon, benefitting the Creative Writing Alumni Chapter’s Larry Levis scholarship. Nominated for a Best Microfiction award for “Hollows,” published in Lost Balloon magazine. Published the poems “the claw game” and “we cross me” with Lover’s Eye Press; and the micro essays “On Beaches this Autumn” in Luna Luna Magazine, and “I binge watch Halston” with Pink Plastic House: A Tiny Journal. Interviewed about her novella “Cenote City” for the Words on a Wire podcast.

Charles L. Radke (alumni) — Published the essay “Mr. Porky Sunshine” with an illustration by Scott Wong.

Iris D. Ruiz (alumni) — Accepted a new job as assistant director of the Merritt Writing Program at the University of California, Merced.

Pauline Sahakian (alumni) — Joined The Fresno Bee’s new opinion advisory board.

Brynn Saito (faculty) — Featured in a story about her creative writing students finding inspiration in the Stonewall exhibition on Fresno State’s College of Arts and Humanities blog.

Bradley Samore (MFA student) — Shortlisted for the 2021 Aesthetica Magazine Creative Writing Prizes, for the poem “Oil on Canvas, Believed Unfinished.”

Paul Sanchez (alumni) — Published the poem “What I Want is to Honor the Keeper of My Shadow” in Small Press Traffic.

Cristina Sandoval (MFA student) — Published the poems “Southside Modesto, Age 8,” “Practice in F Major,” and “The Wrong Cave” in Stanislaus Connections. Was a featured reader for the Modesto-Stanislaus Poetry Center in November 2021.

Emily Jo Scalzo (alumni) — Published a haiku series in Ink Sweat and Tears magazine; the story “Wash Away” in Halfway Down the Stairs journal; and the essay “Generational Hoarding” in HerStry journal.

Reva E. Sias (faculty) — Published the article “Searching for Myrtilla Miner’s School for Colored Girls: Afrafeminist Strivings, Ethical Representations, and Nineteenth-Centuray Archives” in the new anthology “Ethics and Representation in Feminist Rhetorical Inquiry” from the University of Pittsburgh Press.

Tim Simmers (MFA student) — Profiled author Juan Felipe Herrera for the Noe Valley Voice newspaper.

Navdeep Singh Dhillon (alumni) — His forthcoming debut novel, “Sunny G’s Series of Rash Decisions,” with Dial Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House, was reviewed by Booklist and by Kirkus Reviews. The book was included on the BuzzFeed list of “40 Highly Anticipated YA Books in the First Half of 2022,” on the Pop! Goes the Reader list of “100 Most-Anticipated Young Adult Books,” and the Apple list of “Most Anticipated Books of 2022.”

Riley Thomas (alumni) — Presented the paper “Jezebel’s Resistance within the Counter-Spaces” at the annual Modern Language Association conference.

Brian Turner (alumni) — Wrote 15 poems in 15 days for The Fresno 15 Creative Writing Marathon, benefitting the Creative Writing Alumni Chapter’s Larry Levis scholarship. Published the poem “The Poet” in Literary Matters journal. Also published the hybrid essay “Our Bodies the Instruments of Love” in Fusion magazine; the piece includes prose, three poems, and original music.

Jessica Turney (alumni) — Accepted a new job as a reading and writing specialist for the TRiO Student Services Support Program at Fresno State. Published the poems “Wound” and “Elegy for Irene” in Mayday magazine.

Burlee Vang (alumni) — With brother Abel Vang, will release their next co-directed feature film, “They Live in the Grey,” with Vertical Entertainment, on the AMC Networks streaming service Shudder in early 2022.

Mai Der Vang (faculty) — Longlisted for a 2022 PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry Collection, from PEN America, for her new book “Yellow Rain.” The book was reviewed by Sarah Kain Gutowski in the New York Journal of Books, by Ronnie K. Stevens in The Poetry Question, by Genevieve Hartman in Gasher journal, and in The New Yorker. Also interviewed about the book by Sophia Terazawa for The Margins and the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, by Diana Khoi Nguyen for the Poetry Foundation, by Kao Kalia Yang for Electric Literature, by Donika Kelly for the Miami Book Fair, by Kathleen Schock for Valley Public Radio, by Tiffany Troy for the Heavy Feather Review, and by Lily Houston Smith for The Rumpus. The book was included in the Lantern Review list “An Asian American Poetry Companion: Fresh Books for Fall 2021.” Received a Humanities for All quick grant from Cal Humanities, for a series of “sudden experiment” workshops in the Laureate Lab Visual Wordist Studio inside the campus library. Published the poems “Take to the Days a Fist of Starlight” in Alta journal, “I Understand This Light to Be My Home” in Poetry magazine, and “Subterfuge” in Guernica magazine; and the essay “Yellow Rain: A reckoning and re-investigation into the dismissing of Hmong allegations” for Entropy magazine. Her poem “Declassified” was featured on The Slowdown podcast, hosted by the author Ada Limón.

Tony Vang (MFA student) — Published the poem “Corpus Poetica – Instinct” in Small Press Traffic.

Brenda Venezia (alumni) — Published the poem “Painting: The Great Arvin Dust Storm of 1977” in Yes Poetry, as the magazine’s November 2021 poet of the month.

Sally Vogl (alumni) — Won an essay contest on Reddit for the nonfiction piece “Should I Join the Peace Corps.” 

Erik Wilbur (alumni) — Published the poem “At the Mandatory Active-Shooter Training” in the Jabberwock Review.

M.L. Williams (alumni) — Published his latest poetry collection, “Game,” from What Books Press. Published the poems “Kite” and “Escalante” in the Western Humanities Review; and “Roast” and “Quiet Night” in Hubbub journal.

Tara Mae Williams (alumni) — Awarded a January 2022 Standiford Fellowship to attend the Eckerd College Writers Conference: Writers in Paradise in St. Petersburg, Florida. Nominated for a Pushcart Prize for the story “In the Forest,” published in Fatal Flaw magazine. Won second place in the Deanna Tulley Multimedia Contest 2021 for the audio fiction “My Beautiful Corpse.”

Jer Xiong (alumni) — Accepted a new job as an editorial assistant for Zócalo Public Square. Nominated for a Best of the Net award for the essay “So What Now With the House Gone?” previously published in Glassworks.

Gaoyong Yang-Vang (MFA student) — Published the poem “Escaping” in Small Press Traffic. Appeared on the DogPod podcast, talking about “un-Modeling the Minority” for Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month.

Special recognition to author Christopher Buckley, who published the new anthology “Naming the Lost: The Fresno Poets” with Stephen F. Austin University Press. The book collects lost interviews, essays, and photographs of dozens of writers and artists who are Fresno State alumni and emeriti faculty, as well as community friends.

The anthology features: Philip Levine, Peter Everwine, C.G. Hanzlicek, Lawson Fusao Inada, Sherley Anne Williams, C.W. Moulton, Michael Clifton, James Baloian, Thomas Emery, Glover Davis, Dennis Saleh, DeWayne Rail, Sam Pereira, Larry Levis, David St. John, Robert Mezey, B.H. Boston, Luis Omar Salinas, David Oliveira, Roberta Spear, Greg Pape, Suzanne Lummis, Sandra Hoben, Ernesto Trejo, Gary Soto, Jon Veinberg, Christopher Buckley, Jean Janzen, Kathy Fagan, Corrinne Clegg Hales, Dixie Salazar, M.L. Williams, Juan Felipe Herrera, and Lee Herrick.

Did we miss your accomplishment? Submit this short “Keep in Touch” form or contact staff Jefferson Beavers by email or at 559.278.1569.

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The College of Arts and Humanities provides a diverse student population with the communication skills, humanistic values and cultural awareness that form the foundation of scholarship. The college offers intellectual and artistic programs that engage students and faculty and the community in collaboration, dialog and discovery. These programs help preserve, illuminate and nourish the arts and humanities for the campus and for the wider community.

One thought on “Kudos to Fresno Writers — Fall 2021

  1. Thank you for this resource, it is an awesome collection of talent. In s time of bubble wrapped progression I am inspired to read the success stories of our campus family.
    Kudos to your stories & Thank you for inspiration.


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