New Creating Writing graduate students

Laura Biagi, MFA Fiction
Laura Biagi grew up in small-town Kentucky and earned her BA in Creative Writing and Anthropology from Northwestern University. After college she spent eight years working in New York at a literary agency, where she represented literary fiction, nonfiction, YA, and children’s books. She likes hot weather and the stars.

Theodora Bishop, PhD Poetry
Theodora Bishop’s poetry and short stories have appeared in Glimmer Train, Prairie Schooner, Arts & Letters, and Short Fiction (England), among other journals, anthologies, and exhibits. A Pushcart Prize and Best New Poets nominee, Bishop was the winner of The Cupboard’s 2015 contest for her short story chapbook, Mother Tongues, judged by Matt Bell. Theodora Bishop holds an MFA from the University of Alabama and is pursuing her PhD in Creative Writing and Literature at the University of Houston. Her novella, On the Rocks, is forthcoming from Texas Review Press.

Justin Jannise, PhD Poetry
Justin Jannise grew up in Liberty, Texas, and has lived in Houston since 2015. He studied poetry at Yale and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Justin’s work has appeared in Columbia Journal, the Yale Review and The Awl. He likes flamingos and tastefully executed side-eye.

His poetry and creative research develop the relationship between sight, display, public speech, and spectacle; he is at work on a trans-American project that examines specific art scenes of 1960s-1970s Los Angeles, 1980s-1990s Mexico City, and present-day São Paulo.

Ji yoon Lee, PhD Poetry
Ji yoon Lee is a poet and translator whose most recent publication is Poems of Kim Yideum, Kim Haengsook, and Kim Minjeong, the collection of contemporary Korean poetry, for which she collaborated with Jake Levine, Don mee Choi, and Johannes Göransson (Vagabond Press, 2017). She translated Korean feminist poet Kim Yideum’s poetry with Don mee Choi and Johannes Göransson, the collection of which was published as Cheer Up, Femme Fatale (Action Books, 2015). She is also the author of Foreigner’s Folly (Coconut Books, 2014), Funsize/Bitesize (Birds of Lace, 2013), and IMMA (Radioactive Moat, 2012). She is the winner of the Joanna Cargill prize (2014), and her manuscript was a finalist for the 1913 First Book Prize (2012). She was born in South Korea, and immigrated to a small town in East Texas alone as a teen. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Notre Dame, lived in NYC, and moved back to Texas, the land that keeps pulling her back.

David Nikityn, MFA Fiction
Dave Nikityn was born and raised in rural New Jersey where he grew up playing baseball and basketball. As an undergraduate, he studied radio broadcasting, philosophy, and creative writing. More recently, he has summited Mount Everest twice (once blindfolded), wandered the streets of Bangladesh alongside magician David Blaine in search of ancient snake-charming techniques, and safely landed a critically damaged Boeing 747 jetliner after both pilot and co-pilot had passed out due to shock. He is also the fictitious author of the fictitious bestselling guide to life: Lying: The Fast Track to Impressing Friends and Colleagues Alike.

Paige Quiñones, PhD Poetry
Paige Quiñones received her MFA from the Ohio State University, where she was a poetry editor for The Journal. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Barrow Street, Juked, McSweeney’s, Muzzle Magazine, Quarterly West, and elsewhere. Her poem “Summer, or Daughters I Haven’t Met” was a finalist for Best of the Net 2015. She is currently a graduate fellow with the Center for Mexican American Studies at the University of Houston.

Annie Shepherd, PhD Fiction
Annie Shepherd taught ESL in China for two years before returning to her home state of Texas to obtain an MFA in creative writing from Texas State University. Prior to entering the PhD program in fiction at University of Houston, she taught writing and literature at Texas State University and University of the Incarnate Word. Her fiction and non-fiction have appeared in North American Review, The Greensboro Review, and North Dakota Quarterly.

Brendan Stephens, PhD Fiction
Brendan Stephens received his MFA from the University of Central Florida. His work is forthcoming or published in the Southeast Review, Carolina Quarterly, and elsewhere. Currently, he is a PhD student at the University of Houston.

Kaj Tanaka, PhD Fiction
Kaj Tanaka’s stories have been featured in Longform, selected for Wigleaf’s Best (Very) Short Fictions, and nominated for the Pushcart Prize. He is the nonfiction editor for BULL Magazine.

Richard Thompson, MFA Poetry
Richard Thompson grew up in rural Nova Scotia, Canada. He has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from McGill University in Montreal. He won the 2016 Mary C. Mohr Poetry Award from the Southern Indiana Review, and his poems (some of which do not relate to farming accidents) have also appeared in Empirical Magazine, The Rectangle, and The Avenue.

Glass Mountain

Ayokunle Falomo is: a Nigerian, & a poet – who uses his pen as a shovel to unearth those things that make us human. He is a lover: of almonds, the color blue, hymns, grapes, & conversations. He is a TEDx speaker and an author, of the collection of poems – thread, this wordweaver must! & of kin.DREAD – an upcoming collection of poems and thoughts that seeks to explore the relationship between our fears and those closest to us. He is also a dreamer and an American. He enjoys walking. & talking to himself.

Gerald Smith
grew up in Yokosuka, Japan as well as San Antonio, Texas. He mainly writes absurd short fiction or free verse poetry. Currently, he is studying Creative Writing and French at the University of Houston. He has traveled through much of western Europe on a couple of occasions, but mainly travels to the Netherlands and France when he gets the chance.

Aries Jones is a former Editor of Glass Mountain. In spring of 2016, she graduated from the University of Houston with a BA in English and minors in Marketing and Psychology. Currently, she is the Content Director at Adit, a digital marketing agency in Houston. When she’s not busy typing away at a keyboard, you’ll find her scribbling in a journal instead-or playing Breath of the Wild. Otherwise, you may run into her while she’s got her head in a book.

Mai Tram Nguyen graduated in 2010 with a double major in Education and Psychology. After a few years of teaching, she joined the staff of Glass Mountain as Co-Managing Editor in 2015 and remains an enthusiastic supporter of the magazine. She is currently running a blog, mostly about books, and is part owner of a start-up baking business. She is an avid collector of children’s books and corny jokes.

Shaina Frazier is a half black and Filipino fiction writer based in Houston, Texas who likes to write about supernatural stuff like ghosts, or just regular stuff like “the struggle,” all while trying to incorporate a little humor here and there. She graduated from UH in the spring of 2015 and is a former Co-Managing Editor of Glass Mountain. She was recently laid off from the public accounting firm that botched the Oscars this year, but she’s not tripping on it. Her piece “Ill Will” is forthcoming in the 1st edition of Found Me magazine.

Tony Hoagland & Kevin Prufer

Tony Hoagland‘s fifth and most recent book of poems, Application for Release from the Dream, was published by Graywolf Press in 2015. Other collections include What Narcissism Means to Me, Unincorporated Persons of the Late Honda Dynasty, and Donkey Gospel. He has also published two collections of essays about poetry, Real Sofistakashun, and Twenty Poems That Could Save America. He has received the Mark Twain Award from the Poetry Foundation, the Jackson Poetry Prize, the James Laughlin Prize, fellowships from the NEA and the Guggenheim Foundation, and the O.B. Hardisson Prize. His next collection, Priest Turned Therapist Treats Fear of God, is scheduled for publication by Graywolf in 2018.

Kevin Prufer‘s newest books are Churches (2014), named by The New York Times as one of the ten best poetry books of the year; In a Beautiful Country (2011), a Rilke Prize and a Poets’ Prize finalist; and National Anthem (2008), named one of the best five books of poetry of the year by Publishers Weekly. His newest poems can be found in Poetry, The Paris Review, The Kenyon Review, and The 2017 Pushcart Prize anthology.

Chitra Divakaruni & Peter Turchi

Chitra Divakaruni is an award-winning author, poet, activist and teacher of writing. Her work has been published in over 100 magazines & anthologies, including the Atlantic Monthly, The New Yorker, Best American Short Stories and the O Henry Prize Stories. Her books have been translated into 29 languages, including Dutch, Hebrew, Bengali, Turkish and Japanese, and several have been bestsellers both nationally and internationally. Her awards include an American Book Award, a PEN Josephine Miles award, a Premio Scanno Award, a Light of India award, 2 Pushcart prizes, an Allen Ginsberg poetry award and a Barbara Deming Memorial Award. Two of her books, The Mistress of Spices and Sister of My Heart, have been made into movies. Her short story “The Word Love,” was made into an award-winning bilingual short film. Her novel One Amazing Thing was recently optioned by Hollywood. Her newest book, a novel-in-stories, is Before We Visit the Goddess, a three-generational saga of an immigrant family that begins in Kolkata, India and ends in Houston, Texas. Divakaruni loves using social media–Facebook and Twitter–to connect with her readers.

Peter Turchi is the author of six books of fiction and nonfiction, including Maps of the Imagination: The Writer as Cartographer and, most recently, A Muse and A Maze: Writing as Puzzle, Mystery, and Magic. He has also co-edited three anthologies for writers, including Bringing the Devil to His Knees: The Craft of Fiction and the Writing Life and The Story Behind the Story: 16 Stories by Contemporary Writers and How They Work. He is the recipient of fellowships from the NEA and the Guggenheim Foundation.

New Creative Writing graduate students

Rachel Ballenger was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has a BA in English from UC Berkeley. Before moving to Houston, she lived in a trailer in Sonoma County, homesteading a meadow by trial and error. She is honored to join the writing community at UH.

Barbara Drumheller graduated with a BA in Literature and a BBA in Finance from the University of Texas. She went from there to Texas Tech University in Lubbock where she earned a J.D. She spent quite a few years writing other people’s stories in the form of criminal appellate briefs, first as a prosecutor and later as a defense attorney. Recently, she decided to switch gears and begin writing her own stories. She has an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Jenny Staff Johnson is a lifelong Houstonian. Her fiction and essays have appeared in publications including in Tin House’s Open Bar Blog, Literary Mothers, and New Dead Families. She holds a Master of Public Affairs from the University of Texas at Austin and previously worked in government and journalism.

Joshua Gottlieb-Miller received an MFA in poetry from the University of Houston; after a few cold years up north he has returned for his PhD. Previously he served as Poetry Editor for Gulf Coast and was awarded an Inprint Barthelme Prize in Poetry. Since then his work has appeared in Four Way Review, Pleiades, The Ilanot Review, Radar, Blackbird, and elsewhere.

Niki Herd grew up in Cleveland and earned degrees in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona and Antioch University. Nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize, she is the recipient of fellowships from Cave Canem and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Her work has been supported by the Astraea Foundation and the DC Commission on the Arts, and has appeared in several journals and anthologies including Feminist Formations, North American Review, The Feminist Wire, Split This Rock, and Resisting Arrest: Poems to Stretch the Sky. Her debut collection of poems, The Language of Shedding Skin, was published as part of Main Street Rag’s Editor’s Select Series. She has spent the last five years living in Washington, DC.

Saira Nadeem graduated from the University of Houston in 2013 with her BA in Creative Writing and a minor in sales from the Program for Excellence in Selling. Since then, she has worked with the Stephen Stagner Sales Excellence Institute at UH where she coaches undergraduate students on key account management. Prior to working for the institute, Saira was involved with various nonprofit literary marketing projects with Writers in the Schools and also managed film promotions for a local theater. When she’s not helping her students find jobs, she can be found dragging her husband to her favorite Pakistani restaurants and trying to teach her chocolate lab to sit.

Dallas Saylor just finished his BA in English and Mathematics at Messiah College in Mechanicsburg, PA, and has now returned not only to the south, where he lived until high school, but also to his namesake state, where he attended kindergarten and first grade. In his free time, Dallas enjoys board games, cooking, and swing dancing. He’s getting married this New Year’s Eve in Pennsylvania, where he and his bride will throw their greatest New Year’s party yet at a swing dance club in York.

Novuyo Rosa Tshuma is a writer from Zimbabwe. Her collection, Shadows – a novella and short stories – was published by Kwela (South Africa 2013) and awarded the 2014 Herman Charles Bosman Prize. She earned her MFA at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was a Maytag Fellow and a recipient of a Rydson Award.

Cait Weiss is a Los Angeles native, a New Yorker by heritage, an Ohioan by heart &, finally, a Texan by luck. She has led creative writing workshops at The Ohio State University, Young Writers Workshop, New York Writers Coalition and, starting this fall, WITS. Her work has been or soon will be published in Boston Review, FIELD, Hobart, Tupelo Quarterly, pacific REVIEW, The Notre Dame Review, JUKED, & more.

Charlotte Wyatt Prior to attending the University of Houston, cougars have figured prominently in Charlotte’s past-particularly Kelly, Cleo, and Felix of the Queens Zoo, where she worked as a keeper for the Wildlife Conservation Society. She holds a BA in Philosophy and Theater from Fordham University, and hails most recently from California wine country, where she developed programming for the Boys & Girls Club and poured wine for Balletto Vineyards. She currently serves as Admissions Director for the Napa Valley Writer’s Conference.

Rice University Creative Writing Faculty

Amber Dermont is the author of the novel, The Starboard Sea, and the short story collection, Damage Control. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Dermont received her PhD in literature and creative writing from the University of Houston. Her short fiction has appeared in TriQuarterly, Tin House, Zoetrope: All-Story, and in the anthologies Best New American Voices, Best American Nonrequired Reading, The Worst Years of Your Life, and Home of the Brave. A recipient of fellowships the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and the National Endowment for the Arts, she is an associate professor of creative writing at Rice University.

Lacy M. Johnson is A Houston-based artist, curator, and activist. She is the author of The Other Side and Trespasses: A Memoir. She worked as a cashier at WalMart, sold steaks door-to-door, and puppeteered with a traveling children’s museum before earning a PhD from University of Houston’s Creative Writing Program. She has been awarded grants and fellowships from the Houston Arts Alliance, the Sustainable Arts Foundation, Kansas Arts Commission, the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts, Inprint, and Millay Colony for the Arts. Her work has appeared in Guernica, the Los Angeles Times, Tin House, The Racial Imaginary, Fourth Genre, Literature: The Human Experience, Creative Nonfiction, Sentence, TriQuarterly, Gulf Coast and elsewhere. She is an assistant professor of creative writing at Rice University.

Paul Otremba is the author of two poetry collections, Pax Americana and The Currency. His poems have recently appeared in Kenyon Review, Oversound, and Waxwing. He received his PhD in creative writing and literature from the University of Houston in 2010. He is an assistant professor of creative writing at Rice University.

Ian Schimmel teaches courses on fiction and the personal essay. His short fiction and essays have appeared in publications such as The North American Review, The Sun, The Chicago Tribune, and Glimmer Train. He is the recipient of a Donald Barthelme Award from the University of Houston, a Hobby-Inprint Fellowship, and was named as a finalist for the 2012 Nelson Algren Award. Ian also serves as the faculty advisor for Rice’s literary journal, R2: The Rice Review.