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Creative Writing

The MFA in Creative Writing at ASU has always been an unswervingly student-first program. Through small classes, intimate workshops, and one-to-one mentoring, the centuries-old apprenticeship model thrives within the New American University.

Poets and fiction writers work with an outstanding faculty-- Sally Ball, Matt Bell, Natalie Diaz, Jenny Irish, Tara Ison, T.M. McNally, Mitchell Jackson, Alberto Rios, Solmaz Sharif, and Safiya Sinclair--that has published more than 80 books and has garnered national and international attention through awards that include: National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, the Pulitzer Prize, the International Griffin Poetry Prize, the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, and two Medals of Achievement from the National Society of Arts and Letters.

The program's alumni are equally impressive, having won the Iowa Short Fiction Award, the Pen Southwest Book Award, the Prairie Schooner Book Prize, the May Swenson Poetry Award, the Hurston/Wright Foundation Legacy Award, and numerous Pushcart Prizes. They are the recipients of grants from the NEA and Fulbright and Stegner Fellowships.

Currently, all students admitted to the MFA program who submit a complete and approved teaching assistantship application are awarded a TAship by the Department of English. Each teaching assistantship carries a three course per year load and includes a tuition waiver and health insurance in addition to the TA stipend ($19,172 per year).

Via the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing students have additional opportunities including:

We also offer the Swarthout Prize, one of the largest Creative Writing Awards in the nation.

Sally Ball
Director of Creative Writing, Professor

Ross Blakley Hall, 355

Please contact Program Manager, Justin Petropoulos, with questions regarding the  MFA Program

Justin Petropoulos
Ross Blakley Hall, 152
(480) 727-9130




Sally Ball
Director of Creative Writing, Professor

Ball is the author of three collections of poems: "Hold Sway," "Wreck Me" and "Annus Mirabilis," all from Barrow Street Press. She's an associate director of Four Way Books.

Ross-Blakley Hall 355 PO Box 871401
Matt Bell
Associate Professor

Matt Bell’s next novel, Appleseed, is forthcoming from Custom House/William Morrow in 2021. He is the author of seven other books, including the novels Scrapper and In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods.

Ross-Blakley Hall 214 PO Box 871401
Jonathan Danielson
Instructor; Affiliate Faculty, Creative Writing

Jonathan Danielson is a Writer-at-Large (“Desert Correspondent”) for Feathertale Review, and his work has appeared in Gulf Coast, Juked, Superstition Review, Gravel, Able Muse, The Saturday Evening Post, and elsewhere.

Ross-Blakley Hall 202AC PO Box 871401
Natalie Diaz
Maxine and Jonathan Marshall Chair in Modern and Contemporary Poetry, Associate Professor

Diaz was born and raised in the Fort Mojave Indian Village in Needles, California. She is Mojave and an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Tribe. Her first poetry collection was "When My Brother Was an Aztec."

Ross-Blakley Hall 341 PO Box 871401
Norman Dubie
Regents Professor Emeritus

Dubie is the author of more than 20 books. His work has been translated into more than 50 languages. His collection, "The Quotations of Bone," won the 2016 International Griffin Poetry Prize.

Ross-Blakley Hall 218 PO Box 871401
Jennifer Irish
Assistant Professor

Jenny Irish is the author of the collections Common Ancestor, I Am Faithful, and Tooth Box.

Ross-Blakley Hall 122 PO Box 871401
Tara Ison

Ison is the author of three novels ("The List," "A Child out of Alcatraz," and "Rockaway"), Ball, a short story collection, and a collection of essays, Reeling Through Life: How I Learned to Live, Love, and Die at the Movies.

Ross-Blakley Hall 216 PO Box 871401
Mitchell Jackson

Recipient of a 2021 Guggenheim fellowship, Jackson won the 2021 Pulitzer Prize in Feature Writing for his article about the killing of Ahmaud Arbery.

T. McNally

T. M. McNally is the author of six works of fiction. His most recent book, finalist for the Pen/Faulkner Award for Fiction, is a collection of stories—"The Gateway."

Ross-Blakley Hall 157 PO Box 871401
Professor of Practice
Alberto Rios
Piper Center Director and University Professor

Ríos’s latest collection of poems is Not Go Away Is My Name, along with a novel, A Good Map of All Things. He is Arizona’s inaugural poet laureate and a recent chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

Virginia G Piper Center for Creative Writing PO Box 875002
Assoc Professor

Sinclair has received a Whiting Award, the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Metcalf Award and the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry, among other honors.

Sarah Viren
Asst Professor

Viren is a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and is author of the essay collection Mine. She holds a PhD from Texas Tech University and an MFA from the University of Iowa.

Christopher Burawa

Christopher Burawa (2004) is a poet and translator. His translation Flying Night Train: Selected Poems of Jóhann Hjálmarsson was published by Green Integer Books in 2009. His book of poems, The Small Mystery of Lapses, was published by Cleveland State University Press in 2006. His translations of contemporary Icelandic poet Jóhann Hjálmarsson won the 2005 Toad Press International Chapbook Competition. He was awarded a 2008 American-Scandinavian Foundation Creative Writing Fellowship, a 2007 Literature Fellowship for Translation from the National Endowment for the Arts, a 2006 Witter Bynner Translation Residency at the Santa Fe Art Institute, and a MacDowell Colony fellowship in 2003. He is the Director of the Center of Excellence for the Creative Arts at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee.


Kevin Vaughan-Brubaker

Kevin Vaughan-Brubaker (2001) is a public art project manager with the City of Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture. He is secretary of the board for Nightboat Books, an independent literary press based in New York City, and teaches arts and humanities classes for the University of Phoenix Online. He also plays bass and keys in the band Mondegreen and collaborates with artists on public art projects and gallery installations. He lives in Phoenix.


Jennifer Chapis

Jennifer Chapis (2000) has published poems in magazines and anthologies including The Iowa Review, Colorado Review, McSweeney's online, Best New Poets, and Online Writing: Best of the First Ten Years.  She received the Florida Review Editor's Prize, the GSU Review Poetry Prize, and the Backwards City Poetry Series Prize for her chapbook, The Beekeeper's Departure.  Her book-length manuscript has been a finalist for the Colorado Prize, the New Issues Poetry Prize, the Dorset Prize, and the Benjamin Saltman Award, among others.  In 2008, her poetry was showcased for a full year as part of a creative marketing project hosted by the world’s largest flavor and scent manufacturer.  Her Poem as Salad was chosen by the Center for Book Arts limited-edition broadside series.  A full-time faculty member at New York University, she has received NYU's Outstanding Teaching Award, and was recently a guest lecturer of creative writing at the Königin-Olga-Stift School in Stuttgart, Germany.  Founding Editor of Nightboat Books, Jennifer lives in New York City with her husband, fiction writer Josh Goldfaden.


Caitlin Horrocks

Caitlin Horrocks' (2007) first short story collection, This Is Not Your City, won the 2008 Spokane Prize for Short Fiction and is forthcoming from Eastern Washington University Press. Stories from the collection have appeared in The PEN/O. Henry Prize Stories 2009The Paris ReviewPrairie SchoonerEpoch and other journals.  Her work has been short-listed in Best American Short Stories and has won awards from the Bread Loaf and Sewanee Writers' conferences and the Atlantic Monthly. She was the 2006-2007 Theresa A. Wilhoit Fellow at Arizona State University and is currently an assistant professor of writing at Grand Valley State University, teaching fiction and creative nonfiction. She lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan with fellow writer and ASU MFA alum W. Todd Kaneko.


Chris Hutchinson

Chris Hutchinson (2009) has published poems in literary journals and anthologies in Canada and the US. He is the author three collections of poetry, Jonas in Frames: An Epic (Goose Lane Editions, 2014), Unfamiliar Weather (Muses’ Company, 2005), and Other People’s Lives (Brick Books, 2009). During his studies at ASU he taught creative writing to undergraduate students for the English Department, and to high school and elementary school students for ASU’s Young Writer’s program. He lives in Vancouver, BC.



Tayari Jones

Tayari Jones (2000) named the 2008 Collins Fellow by the United States Artists Foundation, has published three novels. Silver Sparrow, released by Algonquin Books in 2011, earned praise from Library JournalO Magazine,Slate, and SalonThe Untelling was awarded the Lillian C. Smith Award for New Voices by the Southern Regional Council and the University of Georgia Libraries. Leaving Atlanta received numerous awards and accolades, including the Hurston/Wright Award for Debut Fiction. It was named “Novel of the Year” by Atlanta Magazine, “Best Southern Novel of the Year,” by Creative Loafing Atlanta, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Washington Post both listed it as one of the best of 2002. Essence has called Jones, "a writer to watch," and the Atlanta Journal Constitution proclaimed her "one of the best writers of her generation." She has received fellowships from the Illinois Arts Council, the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, the Corporation of Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, the Arizona Commission on the Arts, and Le Chateau de Lavigny. A graduate of Spelman College and the University of Iowa, she has taught at Prairie View A&M University, East Tennessee State University, the University of Illinois, and George Washington University. Currently, she is an Assistant Professor in the MFA program at Rutgers-Newark University.


Bill Konigsberg

Bill Konigsberg (2005) is the winner of the 2009 Lambda Literary Award for young adult/children's books for Out of the Pocket. The novel made the Indie Next list for the fall of 2008, and was chosen for the ALA’s 2009 Rainbow List, and by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center as one of their 2009 Choices for teen novels. The New York Public Library included Out of the Pocket on their Stuff for the Teen Age list for 2009. His second novel, Openly Straight, was released in 2013 and praised by the New York Times and Booklist. His first adult literary novel, Father, Son and Holy Buddha, is in circulation. Konigsberg has been a sports writer for the Associated Press and ESPN.com. In 2002, he won a GLAAD Media Award for his ESPN.com article “Sports World Still a Struggle for Gays.”


Hugh Martin (2012), who spent six years in the Army National Guard and eleven months in Iraq, is the author of the poetry collection The Stick Solders, which won the 2011 A. Poulin Jr. Poetry Prize from BOA Editions, Ltd. Named the 2014-15 Emerging Writer Lecturer at Gettysburg College, Martin is the recipient of a Wallace Stegner Fellowship and the Jeff Sharlet Memorial Award from The Iowa Review. His poems have appeared in numerous journals, including The Kenyon ReviewThe American Poetry ReviewCrazyhorse, and The New Republic. Kent State UP published his chapbook, So, How Was the War?, in 2010.  


Gary Short

Gary Short (1990) is the author three full-length volumes of poetry: 10 Moons and 13 Horses (University of Nevada Press); Flying Over Sonny Liston (University of Nevada Press), winner of the Western States Book Award; and Theory of Twilight (Ahsahta Press). Winner of a 2008 Pushcart Prize, he has also published three chapbooks. A fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and a Stegner Fellow at Stanford, he has received the Writers at Work Award from Quarterly West. He has taught at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks, Old Dominion University, and the University of California, Davis. He currently directs the creative writing program at the University of Mississippi. 


Sarah Vap

Sarah Vap (2005) is the author of four collections of poetry: End of the Sentimental Journey, published by Noemi Press in 2013; Faulkner’s Rosary, from Saturnalia Books in 2010; Dummy Fire, which won the 2006 Saturnalia Poetry Prize; and American Spikenard, which won the 2006 Iowa Poetry Prize. The recipient of an NEA Fellowship for Poetry, she is co-editor of poetry for the online journal 42 Opus, and lives with her husband and their two sons in Santa Monica, California.

The tradition of outreach at ASU dates back to its days as the Arizona Territorial Normal School, when producing original literary work was encouraged in student and faculty publications. From the 1906 journal known as The Tempe Normal Student to the weekly 1932 Phoenix radio program that featured original poetry and prose from the college, through the 60s and 80s with the publication of The Prospector and Catalyst, and today through Channel 8’s Books & Co. and the award-winning Hayden’s Ferry Review, ASU creative writers have been reaching out to the community. Since the MFA program was established in 1984, our faculty, staff and students have been involved in projects in valley elementary schools, high schools, reservations, libraries, detention centers, Alzheimer’s units, and hospitals. More recently, through Piper Global Initiatives, students and faculty have been involved in exchanges with institutions and writing communities around the globe. In this way, the Creative Writing Program has opened the “classroom” to include the world.

The Young Writers at Work Program

Young Writers at Work projects are found in primary and secondary classrooms, libraries and community centers in our immediate community and beyond. These workshops are often one- or two-week residencies, wherein our graduate students teach in settings where the participants are not likely themselves to become writers. The program sends our MFA candidates from their own classrooms to the classrooms of others, where an understanding of writing is not based on theory or privilege, but on the real world, with the real considerations of age, ability, interest, and life experience. The program began in 1985 in the Phoenix Public Libraries, and our first partners were The Friends of the Library. Many venues have followed, with community partners never hard to find. Some partners provide funds for the graduate students.

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