MFA Creative & Professional Writing

Faculty

Permanent Faculty

Anthony D’Aries is the author of The Language of Men: A Memoir (Hudson Whitman Press, 2012), which received the PEN/New England Discovery Prize and Foreword’s Memoir-of-the-Year Award. His essays have appeared in Boston magazine, Solstice, The Good Men Project, Shelf Awareness, The Literary Review, and have been finalists for Fourth Genre’s Michael Steinberg Essay Prize and the Diana Wood’s Memorial Creative Nonfiction Award. In 2011, Anthony was selected as Randolph College’s Emerging Writer-in-Residence. He has served on the board of PEN/New England as a member of the Freedom-to-Write Committee, leading writing workshops in prisons, shelters, hospitals, and residential care facilities, and co-chairing the inaugural PEN Writing and Trauma Conference. Anthony received the 2014-15 Writers’ Room of Boston’s fellowship in nonfiction. In 2016, he was selected as the Lighthouse Writers Workshop’s Fort Lyon writer in residence, where he taught writing workshops for homeless veterans. He currently directs the low-residency MFA in Creative and Professional Writing at Western Connecticut State University.

 

 

 

 

Brian Clements is the founding Coordinator of the MFA program and Professor of Writing, Linguistics, and Creative Writing.  He is author or editor of over a dozen books of poetry, including A Book of Common Rituals (Quale Press), Disappointed Psalms (Meritage Press), and the anthologies An Introduction to the Prose Poem(Firewheel Editions) and the forthcoming Bullets into Bells: Poets and Citizens Respond to Gun Violence.  Prof. Clements also has worked professionally in technical communications, corporate communications, grant-writing, and non-profit administration.

 

 

 

 

Oscar de los Santos is Professor and Chair of the Department of Writing, Linguistics, and Creative Process.  Professor de los Santos is the author of Hard Boiled Egg (Fine Tooth Press, 2004) and Infinite Wonderlands (Fine Tooth Press, 2006.)

 

Edward Hagan is a Professor in the Department of Writing, Linguistics, and Creative Process. His teaching grows out of his primary scholarly focuses on Irish Studies and on war literature. He teaches all levels of writing courses. His latest book is Goodbye Yeats and O’Neill: Farce in Contemporary Irish and Irish-American Narratives (Editions Rodopi, 2010).

 

John Roche has been an award-winning newspaper journalist for twenty years. In addition to stints as an actor and stand-up comedian, he has taught journalism, media studies, English composition and writing at several colleges in the tri-state region, and was recognized as Adjunct Faculty Member of the Year in 2008 by Marist College. He writes fiction in addition to teaching and his work as a journalist.

 

Patrick Ryan is current Chair of the Writing Department. He joined the Department in Fall 2007. Before that, he taught college writing in Minnesota and Malaysia, Vermont and Texas, where he directed the East Texas Writing Project for four years. He writes about Elizabethan drama and rhetoric. He and his wife enjoy watching plays, attending concerts, and walking the family dogs. Write him at ryanp@wcsu.edu.

 

Mentors 

 

Michael Agresta has published fiction and non-fiction in The Atlantic, Slate, Wall Street Journal, Boston Review, Conjunctions, DIAGRAM, and others. He contributes regularly on art, technology, and culture to both Texas Monthly and Texas Observer. He has received residencies from the MacDowell Colony, Blue Mountain Center, and VCCA. He won the Calvino Prize for innovative short fiction from Louisville University.  His MFA is from the Michener Center for Writers in Austin, Texas.

 

Joe Ahearn is a successful professional writer with more than 20 years experience in writing for Fortune 100 companies.  Mr. Ahearn has written hundreds of technical and commercial publications, and produced a wide range of marketing materials.  More recently, he has been heavily involved with web-based communications, producing a wide variety of commercial websites. In addition to his professional work,  Mr. Ahearn has published poetry, translations, and essays in leading magazines and journals around the country, including his most recent book of poetry, Five Fictions (Sulphur River Review Press, 2003).

 

Holly Azevedo has been a writer, editor, instructor and manager for nearly thirty years.  Much of her career was as a project manager for a major information technology corporation, where she wrote and managed the development of communications and technical publications. She has designed and delivered courses to writers, and to technology developers and users. Her non-corporate publications include articles on collectibles and the arts. She holds an MBA from the University of Chicago and an MFA in Creative and Professional Writing from Western Connecticut State University. Her current work is in creative nonfiction, with special interests in history and culture.

 

Sandra Rodriguez Barron is the author of two novels published by HarperCollins: The Heiress of Water, winner of the 2007 International Latino Book Award for Debut Fiction, and Stay With Me. She is the recipient of a Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference Fellowship, a Greater Hartford Arts Council grant, a National Association of Latino Arts and Culture grant, and an artist fellowship grant from the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism.

 

Louisa Burns-Bisogno is an “O’Neill Playwright” and a winner at the National Playwrights Conference. She is an award-winning screenwriter, director, author, and international media consultant with over 100 on-screen credits. Her movies have been produced on cable TV and on all the major U.S. networks, as well as distributed internationally.  Among these are:My Body, My Child with Vanessa Redgrave, Sarah Jessica Parker and Cynthia Nixon; Bridge to Silence, with Marlee Matlin; Mary Silliman’s War,  and Nobody’s Child, which netted an Emmy for Marlo Thomas. Louisa has trained professional writers in dramatic series techniques in Moscow, Dublin, and more recently in Rome where she is Head-Writer on a TV series in development. She has written story and scripts for popular American daytime series such as The Young and the Restless, One Life to Live and As the World Turns. She has had numerous plays produced including Angels and Infidels which she also directed. Seven of Louisa’s plays were selected by the New York Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for staged readings. She has produced and directed many of her students’ plays in this prestigious venue.

 

Jane K. Cleland writes the multiple award-winning and IMBA bestselling and long-running Josie Prescott Antiques Mystery series, all published by St. Martin’s Minotaur and Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine.  Jane’s bestseller about the craft of writing, Mastering Suspense, Structure & Plot, from Writer’s Digest Books, won the Agatha Award for Best Nonfiction 2016. Next up is Mastering Plot Twists, also from Writer’s Digest Books. She also writes articles for Writer’s Digest Magazine. She is a member of the fulltime faculty at Lehman College, where she is also the director of the Program for Professional Communications. More information is available at http://janecleland.com

Jane Cleland specializes in crime fiction, popular fiction, cozies/traditional mysteries, nonfiction, proposal writing, professional communications, technical writing, and corporate communications.

 

 

 

 

 

Libby Cudmore is the author of the critically-acclaimed debut novel The Big Rewind, which received a starred review from Kirkus and praise from USA Today, Booklist, Library Journal and Publisher’s Weekly.  Her short fiction has been published in PANKThe Stoneslide Corrective, The Big Click, Beat To a Pulp, as well as the Locus-award nominated anthology Hanzai Japan.  As a music journalist, she is a frequent contributor to the blogs at Vinyl Me Please and Yacht Rock, as well as essays in Pop Matters, Classic Album Sundays andThe Collapsar.  She writes for the Hometown Oneonta/the Freeman’s Journal newspaper.

 

Laura B. Hayden writes for Crain Communications. She is the 2016 recipient of the BMI Woody Guthrie Foundation Fellowship. Laura’s memoir Staying Alive: A Love Story(Signalman, 2011) has been recommended by the American Institute of Health Care Professionals. Follow her work at lhayden.blogspot.com.

Laura Hayden specializes in creative nonfiction, business and medical writing.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gwen Jones is an Associate Professor of English at Mercer County College in West Windsor, NJ, and since 2009, a mentor in WCSU’s MFA in Creative and Professional Writing program. Her work has appeared in Writer’s Digest, The Kelsey Review, and The Connecticut River Review, and is the author of three books for HarperCollins Avon, the latest, The Laws of Seduction. A member of the Romance Writers of America (RWA), she is the current vice-president of Liberty State Fiction Writers. A staunch supporter of the Oxford Comma, she lives with her husband, Frank, in New Egypt, NJ. Visit her at www.gwenjoneswrites.com

Gwen Jones specializes in fiction, women’s fiction and romance, humor, literary fiction, and grant writing.

 

 

 

Kateri Kosek graduated from the MFA program at Western Connecticut State University in the genre of creative nonfiction. Her poetry and personal essays, which lean toward environmentally-conscious, place-oriented writing inspired by the natural world, have appeared in OrionCreative NonfictionTerrain.orgSouth Dakota ReviewCrab Orchard Review, and other journals. She reports for the Winsted Journal and writes a birding column for the Poughkeepsie Journal, and has taught English and writing at Marist College and Northwestern Connecticut Community College, among others. Last summer she was the recipient of a writing residency at the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts in Nebraska.

Sarah Darer Littman is an award-winning author of over 16 books for young people. She also wrote political opinion for fourteen years, with Hearst Newspapers and CTNewsJunkie.com. Her first novel, Confessions of a Closet Catholic, won the 2006 Sydney Taylor Book Award for Older Readers. Her novel Backlash won the Iowa Teen Book Award.  Up next: Anything But Okay, coming from Scholastic in October 2018.   Sarah also teaches at the Yale Writers’ Workshop. Visit her online at http://sarahdarerlittman.com, and on twitter @sarahdarerlitt

 

Nick Mamatas is the author of several novels, including I Am Providence and Hexen Sabbath. His short fiction has appeared in Best American Mystery Stories, Year’s Best Science Fiction & FantasyNew Haven Review, and his essays and reportage in In These TimesVillage VoiceThe Smart Set and other venues. As an anthologist, Nick co-edited Haunted Legends with Ellen Datlow, The Future is Japanese and Hanzai Japan with Masumi Washington, and the hybrid cocktail/fiction book Mixed Up with Molly Tanzer. His work has been nominated for the Hugo, World Fantasy, Bram Stoker, and Locus Awards.

Nick Mamatas specializes in popular fiction (science fiction/fantasy, crime), creative nonfiction (personal essay, narrative journalism), and book proposals.

 

 

 

 

Mark Misercola is a corporate communications strategist who specializes in connecting business audiences with strategic goals and objectives. Mark has served in senior communications roles at Credit Suisse, Pfizer, Lehman Brothers, Deutsche Bank and Deloitte. A former speechwriter, Mark has written for senior executives at Pricewaterhouse-Coopers, Avon, IBM, NYNEX, Union Carbide and PepsiCo.  He began his career as a business reporter with the Buffalo News and former Courier-Express. Mark also teaches advertising, business communications, marketing communications and public relations as an adjunct professor at Baruch College, New York University and Manhattanville College.  He serves as a mentor in the MFA program at Western Connecticut State University.

 

Sonja Mongar is a 10-year MFA mentor and recently retired University of Puerto Rico Associate Professor. She is a journalist and managing editor of the bilingual – Esta Vida Boricua: A Digital Life Narrative Installation, Spoken Story Archive & Public Art Space.

Interests include digital and performance story work, film production, ancestral narratives, indie publishing, and social justice and advocacy.

Works in progress include an indie novel, Two Spoons of Bitter (2018,) and Love in a Field of Wheat: Dreaming Cora Paul, based on her great-grandmother’s 1907 diary.

She is a car auction driver, closet street poet, and songwriter-blues harmonica player living in the Pacific Northwest.

Sonja Mongar specializes in creative nonfiction, journalism and blog writing, writing for nonprofits, and documentary film

 

 

 

Matthew Quinn Martin was born in Allentown, Pennsylvania and raised in New Haven, Connecticut. It wasn’t until he moved to Manhattan that he realized he was a writer. He is the author of the Nightlife series (Pocket Star/Simon & Schuster) as well as the writer of the original script for Slingshot (Bold/Weinstein Co.)…and some other stuff. He lives on a small island off the North Atlantic coast of the United States where it gets quiet in the winter…perhaps too quiet.

 

Erik Ofgang is the senior writer at Connecticut Magazine, author of “Buzzed: Where to Enjoy the Best Craft Beverages in New England,” and “Gillette Castle: A History.” His next book is under contract with Penguin Random House. In addition he has written for the Associated Press, Thrillist and Tablet Magazine. A graduate of this MFA program, he was Poor Yorick’s first editor.

Erik Ofgang specializes in journalism, literary nonfiction, literary journalism, and PR writing.

 

 

 

 

Josh Pahigian is the author of several baseball travel guides, including The Ultimate Baseball Road Trip101 Baseball Places to See Before You Strike Out, and The Amazing Baseball Adventure. He has also written about baseball travel for ESPN.com and other print and online periodicals. Josh writes fiction, as well, having penned the Maine mystery novel Strangers on the Beach. A mentor is the WCSU program since 2012, Josh also teaches undergraduate writing and global humanities at the University of New England and writes for that university’s Office of Communications. He lives in Southern Maine.

Josh Pahigian specializes in travel writing, fiction, and speech writing.

 

 

 

Dan Pope is the author of the novels In the Cherry Tree (Picador, 2003) and Housebreak (Simon& Schuster, 2015).  His short stories have appeared in such journals as McSweeney’s, Harvard Review, Crazyhorse, Shenandoah, Greensboro Review, Iowa Review, and Best American New Voices 2007.  He is a 2002 graduate of the Iowa Writers Workshop, where he was awarded the Glen Schaeffer Award from the International Institute of Modern Letters and the John Leggett Prize in Fiction.

Dan Pope specializes in fiction and creative non fiction.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

David Rich wrote the feature film Renegades, starring Kiefer Sutherland and Lou Diamond Philips.  He worked on other film scripts, for which he received a multitude of pats on the back in lieu of credit.  Rich wrote television episodes for MacGyverLegend and StarGate – SG1 and he has written three playsHe sat on the other side of the desk as Vice President of Development for George Englund Productions, based at Warner Brothers. Rich’s first novel Caravan of Thieves received advance praise from Kirkus Review and Publisher’s Weekly. www.davidrichbooks.com

 

Daniel Asa Rose is a former Writer in Residence in the MFA program and current MFA mentor. He is the author, most recently, of the world’s first (dark) comedy about medical tourism, “LARRY’S KIDNEY: Being the True Story of How I Found Myself in China With my Black Sheep Cousin and his Mail-Order Bride, Skirting the Law to Get Him a Transplant … and Save His Life.” An NEA Literary Fellow, Daniel’s first short story was accepted by The New Yorker when he was 27, and he won an O. Henry Prize and two Pen Fiction Awards for the other stories in his first collection, “SMALL FAMILY WITH ROOSTER.” His first novel, “FLIPPING FOR IT,” a black comedy about divorce from the man’s point of view, was a New York Times New and Noteworthy Paperback. In 2002 he published “HIDING PLACES: A Father and his Sons Retrace Their Family’s Escape From the Holocaust” – a saga that intermingles a taut current-day search for the hiding places that saved his family in World War II with memories of the author’s own hiding places growing up in WASP 1950s Connecticut. He has served as editor for The Reading Room, arts & culture editor of the Forward newspaper, travel columnist for Esquire magazine, humor writer for GQ, essayist for The New York Times Magazine, book reviewer for The New York Observer and New York Magazine, and food critic for the past 20 pounds.

 

Onnesha Roychoudhuri is an editor, journalist, and fiction writer. Her writing has appeared in a number of outlets, including The Nation, Boston Review, The American Prospect, Salon, Mother Jones, n+1, McSweeney’s, Opium, and Wag’s Review. Most recently, she worked as an editor for the Investigative Fund at the Nation Institute, helping to fund, edit, and place investigative journalism in a range of outlets, from Harper’s and GQ to Orion and the Oxford American. She has also contributed to a number of books, including Women’s Lives (McGraw-Hill, May 2006), Send Yourself Roses (Springboard Press, February 2008), 109 Forgotten American Heroes (DK Press, October 2009), How to Rule the World (Klutz, January 2011), Hope Deferred: Narratives of Zimbabwean Lives (McSweeney’s, March 2011), and Junk-box Jewelry (Zest Books, June 2012).

 

Ron Samul  is a college educator, writer, and mentor. His work has appeared in Liturgical Credo,Outside In Magazine, SNReview, Inquiring News, Library JournalDiveIN and other online media. He writes about politics, boxing, social commentary, books, and higher education. His short story Paper Thin won the 2005 Connecticut AWP Award in Fiction. His novel The Staff was shortlisted in 2017 Del Sol Press First Novel Press. He has presented at various conference and writing events including the Northeast Popular Culture Association Conference (2016) andHollihock Writers Conference in 2017.

Ron Samul specializes in short stories, novel-length fiction, and journalism.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lisa L. Siedlarz is the author of, I Dream My Brother Plays Baseball (Clemson University Digital Press 2009) and What We Sign Up For (Pecan Grove Press 2011). Her poetry has appeared in The MacGuffin, Calyx, Rattle, War, Literature & the Arts, Louisiana Literature and many others. Her work is included in the anthologies, Warsaw Tales, and Battle Runes: Writings on War. Ms. Siedlarz facilitated a 16 week writing workshop with Vietnam veterans and edited a collection of their work called A Season of Now.

 Lisa Siedlarz specializes in poetry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don J. Snyder was a fellow at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and received a James Michener Fellowship for his first novel. He has had ten novels and nonfiction books published by Little Brown, Random House, Doubleday, Alfred A. Knopf, and Simon & Schuster. His essays have appeared as cover stories for Harper’s and The New York Times Sunday Magazine. He wrote the 2003 Hallmark Hall of Fame movie, “Fallen Angel” that starred Gary Sinise and Joely Richardson Redgrave, and the original screenplay to “The Lost Soldier,” a true story about the first American soldier ever to be imprisoned for murder without firing his weapon. He has also written an original screenplay based on his memoir, Of Time and Memory, published by Alfred A. Knopf. He is presently writing a TV series for a producer in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and an original screenplay with his former West Conn. student, Rudolph Okonkwo, about the life and death of the Nigerian poet, Ken Saro Wiwa.

 

Paul Steinmetz is Director of WCSU University Relations and an adjunct faculty member of the Writing, Linguistics and Creative Writing department. He was editor of The News-Times, the daily newspaper that covers the region, for 10 years. He writes a blog, WCSU in the Age of Reason, for Hearst Connecticut Newspapers and lectures and provides written commentary on the news and public relations industries. He is a contributing editor for Tribuna Newspaper and wrote a chapter in the PRNews Media Training Guidebook. Paul holds an M.B.A. from WCSU and a B.A. in journalism from San Francisco State University.

 

Brian Thiem is a 2013 graduate of the WCSU MFA Program and the author of the Detective Matt Sinclair Mystery series (Red Line 2015, Thrill Kill 2016, and Shallow Grave2017), published by Crooked Lane Books. He retired as a Lieutenant from the Oakland Police Department, with years of experience as a homicide detective and commander of the homicide unit. He is also an Iraqi War veteran and retired from the U.S. Army as a Lieutenant Colonel. He’s a member of the Mystery Writers of America and International Thriller Writers. He lives and writes in Hilton Head, South Carolina.

 

Tim Weed’s debut novel, Will Poole’s Island (Namelos 2014), was named one of the Bank Street College of Education’s Best Books of the Year. His short fiction has appeared in Colorado ReviewGulf CoastLITnIMAGE, and numerous other literary journals and anthologies. Tim’s short fiction and essays have won Writer’s Digest Popular Fiction and Solas Best Travel Writing awards, and have appeared or are forthcoming in national magazines includingSaranac Review, Bloom, Talking Points Memo, The Morning NewsCross Country SkierBackcountryEmpirical, and Writer’s Chronicle, and his essay on Cuba garnered a 2012 Best Travel Writing Award from Traveler’s Tales. His writing interests include short fiction, literary-historical fiction, travel writing, writing about adventure, nature, and the outdoors, and novels for young adult and middle grade readers. His blog, Storycraft, is dedicated to the writing craft:http://weedlit.blogspot.com  In addition to WCSU, Tim teaches at Grub Street in Boston and serves as a featured expert for National Geographic Expeditions in Cuba, Spain, and Patagonia.

 

A. B. (Anne Bryan) Westrick is the author of Brotherhood (Viking/Penguin Random House 2013), a YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults pick, and winner of the Jefferson Cup, Housatonic, Jane Addams Honor, and NCSS Notable Trade Book Awards. Westrick has been a teacher, paralegal, literacy volunteer, administrator, and coach for teams from Odyssey of the Mind to the Reading Olympics. A graduate of Stanford University and Yale Divinity School, she holds an MFA in writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts and blogs monthly about the craft of writing. She and her family live near Richmond, VA. http://abwestrick.com/

Anne Westrick specializes in many areas of fiction such as YA, children’s, historical, literary, and thriller.

 

 

 

Anne Witkavitch is a communications expert, transition specialist, published author and sought after speaker. Her award-winning anthology, Press Pause Moments: Essays about Life Transitions by Women Writers, is a collection of stories about change, adversity and celebration. The book received a 2011 Clarion award. Anne is a contributing writer and blogger for MariaShriver.com, TravelingMom.com, CreatedbyChicks.com and her blog, The Eclectic Writer; her work has also appeared in Connecticut Muse, Miranda Literary Magazine, and the Journal of Employee Communications. She has ghost written numerous articles and edited technical guidebooks and nonfiction books. She also served as managing editor of several Thin Threads special editions and the 2010 anthology. Anne’s work appears in the anthology Women Writing on Family: Tips on Writing, Teaching and Publishing. As principal of Anne W Associates, Anne consults with clients on strategic communications and change management. She also teaches managerial and professional writing at Western Connecticut State University and received her M.F.A. in Professional Writing from that school in 2007. She is a former corporate communications executive for GE and The Hartford.

 

Karen Romano Young is a science writer, children’s author and illustrator. She has been involved with books and writing for as long as she can remember. The author of more than twenty books, including novels, nonfiction, and graphic novels, Karen has taken her work to the top of the world — the Arctic Ocean — and the bottom of the ocean — in a submarine. Recent work includes writing and drawing aboard an icebreaker, creating Humanimal Doodles — a science comic, and the children’s book Doodlebug: A Novel in Doodles.