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Meet Our Alumni

The MFA Program in fiction and poetry was founded in 1989. Its poets and prose writers have excelled by publishing award-winning collections of poetry, prose and translations. They have received prestigious awards and fellowships, including the American Book Award, the Newbery Medal, the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, Stanford’s Stegner, University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Institute for Creative Writing, and Lannan Residency Fellowships. Graduates have gone on to receive university and community college teaching positions and Fulbright scholarships, as well as to establish important presses and organizations that further the cause of their disciplines.

Chris Baron

Chris Baron

Chris Baron is the award-winning author of novels for young readers including the novels in verse, All of Me, an NCTE Notable Book, and The Magical Imperfect, a Sydney Taylor Book Award Notable Book, a School Library Journal Best Book of 2021 & the forthcoming novels, The Gray (2023) Forest Heart (2024) from Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan. He's a contributor to the Young Adult Anthology, Every Body Shines (2021) from Bloomsbury, and the author of Lantern Tree: (2012 CityWorks Press), winner of San Diego Book Award. He is a Professor of English at San Diego City College and the director of the Writing Center. He has an MFA in Poetry from SDSU. Originally from New York City, he now lives in San Diego with his family. More at

I'd always imagined writing to be a lonely business, but the MFA in Poetry changed my life.  My path was shaped by mentor writers who honored my identity, challenged my writing, and gave me every opportunity to study, to work hard, and to discover more about writing that I had even hoped for.   I found a rich and diverse community, abundant with friendships and a variety of experiences working in the writing community through conferences, programs, and performances. One of the most crucial opportunities for me was the chance to teach Literature, Rhetoric, and Creative Writing.  I found my love for teaching during my time in the MFA program, and I am fortunate to say that I have stayed on this path where I get to write and teach full time to this day! 


Dan Waldman

Dan Waldman

D.S. (Dan) Waldman is a 2022-2024 Wallace Stegner fellow at Stanford University. His work has appeared in such publications as Kenyon Review, Poetry Northwest, Narrative, Georgia Review, Gettysburg Review, and Gulf Coast.  At SDSU Dan taught ENG280 and currently directs the organization Poetic Youth, which brings MFA creative writing students into under-resourced high school classrooms to facilitate creative writing workshops. He has received other fellowships, support and awards from Middlebury College, SDSU, Claremont Graduate University, and Georgia Review.


Arthur KayzakianArthur Kayzakian

Arthur Kayzakian is the winner of the 2021 Black Lawrence Immigrant Writing Series award for his collection, The Book of Redacted Paintings, which was also selected as a finalist for the 2021 Philip Levine Prize for Poetry. He is the winner of the Finishing Line Press Open Chapbook Competition for his chapbook, My Burning City.  He is a contributing editor at Poetry International and a recipient of the Minas Savvas Fellowship. He serves as the Poetry Chair for the International Armenian Literary Alliance (IALA). His work has appeared in or is forthcoming from several publications, including Taos Journal of International Poetry & Art, Portland Review, Chicago Review, Nat. Brut, Michigan Quarterly Review, Witness Magazine, and Prairie Schooner.

Brent AmeneyroBrent Ameneyro

Brent Ameneyro’s poetry has been published or is forthcoming in Alaska Quarterly Review, Ninth Letter, The Journal, Qu, Azahares, Hispanic Culture Review, and elsewhere. He has been the recipient of the 2019 Sarah B. Marsh Rebelo Excellence in Poetry Scholarship, the 2020 San Miguel Poetry Week Fellowship, the Masters Research Scholarship and the 2021 SRS Research Award for Diversity, Inclusion and Social Justice. He serves as Digital Humanities E-Lit Programs Assistant, submissions editor for Poetry International, book review editor for Los Angeles Review, and he is launching the debut of Electronic Literature at Los Angeles Review in summer 2022.  More at

Michael MarkMichael Mark

Michael Mark is the author of Visiting Her in Queens is More Enlightening than a Month in a Monastery in Tibet which won the 2022 Rattle Chapbook prize. His poetry has been published in Alaska Quarterly Review, Copper Nickel, Michigan Quarterly Review, Pleiades, Ploughshares, Poetry Northwest, The Southern Review, The New York Times, The Sun, The Poetry Foundation’s American Life in Poetry and other places. He was the recipient of the Anthony Hecht Scholarship at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. He’s the author of two books of stories, Toba and At the Hands of a Thief (Atheneum). He lives with his wife, Lois, a journalist, in San Diego. More at:


McKenna ThemmMcKenna Themm

McKenna Themm, a recipient of a Marsh-Rebelo scholarship,completed a collection of poetry, Ever Yours, Vincent - about the life and art of Vincent van Gogh – and published it with dancing girl press. Her poems have been published in several journals, including The Poet, Ekphrastic Review, Bryant Literary Review, pacificREVIEW, and The Headlight Review, among others. She is the founder and editor-in-chief of the online poetry magazine boats against the current and the managing editor at The Los Angeles Review


More Alumni Bios

Hari AlluriHari Alluri is the author of The Flayed City (Kaya Press, 2017) and the chapbook The Promise of Rust (Mouthfeel Press, 2016). An award-winning poet, educator, and teaching artist, his work appears widely in anthologies, journals and online venues, including Chautauqua, Poemeleon and Split This Rock. He is a founding editor at Locked Horn Press, where he has co-edited two anthologies, Gendered & Written: Forums on Poetics and Read America(s): An Anthology. Along with the Federico Moramarco Poetry International Teaching Prize, he has received VONA/Voices and Las Dos Brujas fellowships and a National Film Board of Canada grant. Hari immigrated to Vancouver, Coast Salish territory, at age twelve and currently serves as editor of pacific Review in San Diego, Kumeyaay land.

Here is what Hari has to say about our program:

At the book launch for The Flayed City in March 2017, I was surrounded by community members who shared my joy, smiles beaming from faces—many of whom I first encountered during my time at the San Diego State University MFA Program. To say that I could not have written this book if it was not for the generous mentorship of SDSU professors who supported my craft would be an understatement: experimentation and rigor, creativity and craft, the feeling-thinking that poetry requires, all these were honed during my time at SDSU. From workshop to manuscript development, through form, theory and literature, not to mention the opportunities to work with Poetry International and Poetic Youth as well as to experience the visiting poets that the program supported in bringing to the school, all of these have been crucial to my personal and professional growth. As a writer and a scholar, I will always carry—gratefully—my time SDSU with me.

Susan ConleySusan Conley is the award-winning author of five books, including her most recent novel Landslide. Her previous novel, Elsey Come Home, was a Most Anticipated/Best Book at Oprah MagazineMarie Claire Magazine, Amazon Books, Pop SugarHuffington PostSouthern Living Magazine, FodorsThe Library JournalMaine Women’s Magazine, and others. She has received multiple MacDowell Colony Fellowships, a Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference Fellowship, a Maine Arts Commission Literary Fellowship, and a Massachusetts Art Commission Fellowship. She has been the winner of the Maine Literary Award, and the Maine Award for Publishing Excellence, and her poetry collection was a finalist for the Walt Whitman Award. Her Tedx talk on “The Power of Story” has been widely viewed, and her writing has appeared in places like The New York Times MagazineThe Paris ReviewThe Virginia Quarterly ReviewThe New York TimesThe Harvard ReviewThe New England Review, and Ploughshares. She is a founder of the Telling Room, a creative writing lab for youth. She grew up in Maine and teaches on the faculty of the Stonecoast Writing Program.

Here is what Susan has to say about our program:

I arrived at SDSU as a Mainer who wanted to write poems. I left as a fledgling teacher and a writer who was as hooked on non-fiction and fiction as stanzas. I am indebted to the program for allowing me to take classes across genres. I am indebted for the rigor of the literature seminars and for throwing me into the fire as a second year grad student teaching a room full of freshman comp students. I learned about the power of story to change lives in those classrooms. I've kept so much of what I took from SDSU and San Diego close to my heart. 

Karla CorderoKarla Cordero is the editor of SpitJournal an online literary review for poetry and social justice and founder of Voice 4 Change a reading and writing workshop series promoting diversity and cultural competency. She is the CFO and Social Justice Equity Coordinator for the non-profit Glassless Minds, an open mic art space in Oceanside, CA, serving historically underserved youth. Karla is the author of the chapbook, Grasshoppers Before Gods (Dancing Girl Press 2016) and her first full length collection titled, How To Pull Apart The Earth (NOT A CULT. 2018) is a 2019 San Diego Book Award winner, an award-winning finalist for the 2019 International Book Awards and a finalist for the 2020 International Latino Book Awards. She currently serves as a Professor of Creative Writing and English at MiraCosta and San Diego City College.

Here is what Karla has to say about our program:

I'm grateful to SDSU for teaching me the importance of community as an essential value to my life as a writer. The relationships I've established with my professors, colleagues, and mentors has taught me that language is truly magic and transformative the moment it is shared beyond yourself. I cannot begin to thank the program for seeing the potential locked inside this shy quiet person I once was. I thank you for giving me the space to create, the mentorship to be reckless and free with art, the platform to find my voice when I needed it the most.

Matt de la Peña

Matt de la Peña Matt de la Peña is the New York Times Bestselling, Newbery Medal-winning author of seven young adult novels (including Mexican WhiteBoy, We Were Here, and Superman: Dawnbreaker) and six picture books (including Milo Imagines the World and Last Stop on Market Street). In 2016 he was awarded the NCTE Intellectual Freedom Award. Matt received his MFA in creative writing from San Diego State University and his BA from the University of the Pacific where he attended school on a full basketball scholarship. In 2019 Matt was given an honorary doctorate from UOP. He currently lives in Southern California. He teaches creative writing and visits schools and colleges throughout the country.

Here is what Matt has to say about our program:

I will say, SDSU holds a special place in my heart. I showed up a scrubby kid with a literary dream and a lot of heart. And I left campus as a real writer. I realized that writing is hard work, and if there was one thing I knew I could bring to the table it was discipline. The extra year, dedicated to literature classes, was the part of the program I feared the most, but it turned out to be vital to my growth. I also have to credit the faculty. I carry SDSU with me everywhere I go these days. 

Kevin DublinKevin Dublin recently celebrated the second year of a literary arts organization he founded named "The Living Room SF," being a featured reader at the Kistrech International Poetry Festival in Kenya, and the publication of his second chapbook Eulogy (Raven & Wren Press, 2023). He has poems forthcoming in Ploughshares, Lit Stack, Apocrypha Magazine, and in a world poetry anthology series representing San Francisco to be published in France. In 2024, Kevin will be awarded $50,000 from the San Francisco Arts Commission to support the production of a hybrid critical and personal essay examining the work of Bob Kaufman and other Black poets as well as what it means to write in that tradition, a reading & interview series, and a literary mini-documentary all titled: “To Be a Black Poet in San Francisco.” He will soon sit still and work on revising a full-length manuscript.

Here is what Kevin has to say about our program:

The cohort I met, the creative practice I was taught, the professors I was blessed to learn craft from as a part of the MFA program at SDSU are unmatched and the reason I have been able to develop into the poet, educator, and advocate that I am. I've taken those skills and been able to transfer them into funds to live a full-time literary life where I get to teach creative writing in the community, publish my work, and build platforms for others. And to be able to learn what you learn in the most beautiful city in the United States, just across the border from a vibrant international poetry scene in Tijuana was a gift. My heart is filled with gratitude. And anyone considering applying to the program, should just decide to do it. I moved across the country not fully knowing what to expect, mid-divorce, with only two suitcases, and admiration for the professors who I only knew through their amazing work printed on pages. It's a decision I would make a thousand times over. You will fall in love in San Diego.

Photo credit LexMexArt at Mechanics Institute SF 

Keith EnteranteKeith Enterante is a writing teacher and tutor from Los Angeles, where he lives with his wife, Sofia, and their beloved dachshund, Bun. You can find him connecting Stephen King’s literary universe on TikTok (@k.enterante). Let Them Whimper is his first novel.

Here is what Keith has to say about our program:

The MFA program at SDSU was the best experience of my writing life to date, and it’s not even close. I miss everyone every day. 

Jamie Asaye FitzgeraldJamie Aysae Fitzgerald has poems published in The American Poetry Review, Works & Days, Poetry Daily, Mom Egg Review, and elsewhere. For over a decade, she has worked for Poets & Writers, where she now directs the California office. She holds an MFA in poetry from San Diego State University and BA in English with a creative writing emphasis from the University of Southern California. Originally from Hawaii, she lives in Los Angeles.

Here is what Jamie has to say about our program:

The MFA program afforded me the freedom to write, study, and teach in a supportive environment, while providing me with a foundation from which to build a literary life and community. I am thankful to have studied with such a variety of incredible writers and teachers—Sandra Alcosser, Marilyn Chin, Glover Davis, Wanda Coleman, Sharon Bryan, Jerry Farber, Joanne Meschery, David Matlin, and Hal Jaffe to name a few—each of whom has shaped my work and perspective in some way. The program also prepared me professionally as a teacher, an experience that I have treasured and take great pride in. Going for an MFA in poetry felt like a big risk, but it has been invaluable in my career as a nonprofit arts administrator and writer.

Piotr FlorczykPiotr Florczyk is an award-winning poet, translator, and scholar. Educated at the University of the Pacific, San Diego State, and University of Southern California, he teaches global literary studies at the University of Washington, Seattle. 

Here is what Piotr has to say about our program:

When I entered the MFA Program at SDSU in the fall of 2004, I did not know how to write a poem, though I tried to convince myself otherwise, nor could I talk about how poems work. I was as green as they come. What I did have going for me was the discipline, gained from years of being a competitive swimmer, and belief that poetry mattered and that if I worked very hard I could at least hope to become a part of the literary community. The two years I spent in the Program, working under the tutelage of its distinguished faculty, especially Sandra Alcosser, were a crash course in poetry reading and critiquing and writing, activities that continue to shape who I am as a writing artist and teacher. More importantly, however, I learned during my time at SDSU that poetry is an art form whose roots and traditions are indispensable if we hope to understand the world and our place in it.

Diana GarciaFollowing completion of her MFA, Diana García taught one year at San Diego State. The next four years she taught at Central Connecticut State University, the first year as a visiting professor in creative writing and then in a tenure track position. While in Connecticut, she was a member of the New England Artists Trust and founded the Central Connecticut Poets in the School program. In 1998 she was hired by California State University Monterey Bay where she taught for 19 years. Diana's first collection of poetry, When Living Was a Labor Camp, was published by the University of Arizona Press and was awarded an American Book Award. She also co-edited the anthology Fire and Ink, a collection of social action writings. She had the honor of being videotaped for the Hispanic literature holdings at the Library of Congress. She also was invited to write and read poems for a special exhibit titled Cosecha Amarga, Cosecha Dulce, Bracero Program, at the Smithsonian’s American History Museum. Also, along with then U.S. Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera, Diana wrote and read poems on the life of Dolores Huerta, co-founder of the United Farmworkers (UFW), for the Smithsonian’s special exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery.

Here is what Diana has to say about our program:

My three years in the MFA program were some of the most challenging and gratifying of my life. My mentors in the program taught me new ways of seeing the world and my place in it. One of the greatest benefits of SDSU's program is the opportunity to learn from different professors, finding the grain of wisdom in each of their aesthetics and using those to build up your own art. 

Erica Lowe KarlinErica Lowe Karlin is a writer and editor. The moment she completed her graduate degree at SDSU in English/Creative Writing she donned a backpack and headed to Paris where she lived and worked as an au pair and a bookseller -- the latter at famed Shakespeare & Company bookshop on the Right Bank. She published a magazine feature about her time there, and an excerpt from the piece recently appeared alongside Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Ethan Hawke and Anais Nin in Shakespeare and Company, Paris: A History of the Rag & Bone Shop of the Heart, a collection of writings about the beloved bookstore.  She was Senior Editor at Arete: A Forum for Thought in San Diego where she secured original work from Charles Bukowski, Charles Simic, David Mamet, Joyce Carol Oates, John Fowles, Donald Hall, Philip Levine, Rita Mae Brown, Terry Southern, David Leavitt, Erica Jong and Tom Wolfe.  Her favorite literary moment came in 1988 when (with the author’s blessing) she edited an Oates short story to half its length for publication and received word from the author herself that she had not, indeed, ruined the piece but had actually somehow “made it better.” During her graduate work at SDSU she was Associate Editor of The Pacific Review.

Carlos Gabriel Kelly González Carlos Gabriel Kelly González was born and raised on the border between Tijuana, Baja California and San Diego, California. In his poetry, Kelly weaves Spanish and English in ways that highlight the music of his life. His main concern in poetry has always been centered around love and loss, and how these human experiences can inspire empathy in audiences. His identity as a Mexican American played a central role in developing the edits that would become his debut collection Wounds Fragments Derelict. Currently, Kelly is a PhD candidate at Ohio State University where he is focused on exploring the relationality between performance, Latinx studies, and Video Game studies.

Breeann Kyte KirbyWith a Master’s in English from the University of West Florida, a Master’s in Molecular Biology from San Diego State University, and an MFA in creative writing also from SDSU, Breeann Kyte Kirby is officially a master of all trades and doctor of none. Firmly grounded in both science and literature, she works in both fields, facilitating collaborations between scientists, writers, and artists. She is currently an assistant professor in creative writing at Point Loma Nazarene University. Breeann writes in all genres and her creative and scientific work has been published both in print and online in places such as Sunshine Noir II (Cityworks Press 2015), The Scientist, City Creatures, and The Eeel. Her current project is a popular science book that is forthcoming from MIT press during summer 2019. You can get updates by following #thepredatorswithin on Instagram and Twitter.

Here is what Breeann has to say about our program:

After years of being the only creative writer among scientists, I came to SDSU for the literary community, connections, and creative stimuli. With the support of the faculty here as well as my fellow students, I found these things. During my time here, I have made life-long writing companions who provide important dialogue and feedback, champion my work and encourage me to be brave. 

Ron Lauderbach

Ron Lauderbach started his professional career as  truck driver and retired forty-two years later as a high school English and journalism teacher. He has always enjoyed poetry but became serious about writing it when he attended a weekly poetry workshop at San Diego Writers, Ink, Creative Writing program. He earned his MFA in 2019. Ron has been published in several Journals and is 2022 finalist in the Steve Kowit Poetry Contest. He has a book out from Kelsay Books, entitled, Snapshots.

Here is what Ron has to say about our program:

The SDSU Creative Writing MFA requires 54 graduate credits. The school allows five years for a student to complete the course, but I did it in two and one half. Sandra Alcosser, founder and head of the department, helped me design my curriculum. I was fortunate to have Professor Ilya Kaminsky for my first 750P class. I accidentally enrolled in a final manuscript class normally taken by final semester students. Professor Alcosser insisted I stay in the class. I grew an academic foot taller. The program requires students study diverse subjects, and this allowed me to take a short stories class with Stephen-Paul Martin. I came out of Professor Martin’s class with a broader perspective and request for prose writers and  skills.  Professor Megan Marshall’s Living Writers series is instrumental in the MFA. Students are exposed monthly to successful writers, many emanating from SDSU.I took three 750P classes with Professor Blas Falconer, and grew a lot. The classes were run as a poetry workshop, where Professor Falconer and our peers gave feedback on our poems. I was back with Sandra Alcosser, in my final manuscript class but this time she expected more from me and got it, as she supported and cajoled. I should mention the department staff. Mary Garcia is always around to cheerfully give students sage advice on whatever we ask. I left the MFA program confident and enthusiastic because I now had the skills I needed to pursue my writing goals.

William LuvaasWilliam Luvaas has published four novels, Welcome to Saint Angel, The Seductions of Natalie Bach, Going Under, and Beneath The Coyote Hills, and two story collections, A Working Man’s Apocrypha and Ashes Rain Down: A Story Cycle, The Huffington Post’s 2013 Book of the Year and a finalist for the Next Generation Indie Book Awards.  His honors include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, first place in Glimmer Train’s Fiction Open Contest, The Ledge Magazine’s Fiction Contest, and Fiction Network’s 2nd National Fiction Competition.  His work has appeared in dozens of publications, including Antioch Review, The American Fiction Anthology, ­Glimmer Train, Grain Mag., North American Review, The Sun, Texas Review, The Village Voice and The Washington Post Book World.  He has taught writing at San Diego State University, U.C. Riverside, and The Writers Voice in New York, and is Online Fiction Editor for Cutthroat: A Journal of the Arts.  Luvaas lives in Los Angeles with his wife Lucinda, an artist and film maker.

Here is what Bill has to say about our program:

Above all, when I think about the MFA program at SDSU I think of the people I came to know there, fellow students and faculty members, many of whom remain friends over 20 years later: Jay Blinn, Jennifer Ball, Jerry Bumpus, Joe Milosch, Leilani Higley, Eric Madeen, Victoria Featherstone, Glover Davis, Sandra Alcosser and others.  It was a close-knit and supportive  community of writers.  We spent many evenings hanging out at Jerry Bumpus’s place in Escondido, discussing books, writing, and politics.  One of the highlights was a novel workshop wherein eight of us read and critiqued each other’s entire novels, three of which were published by major houses, including my own Going Under.  I had a chance to teach courses in writing and literature as a GTA which proved invaluable to me as I continued teaching at SDSU and other universities.

Carolann MaddenCarolann Madden is a poet, translator, and Navy brat. She holds a Master’s in English from Boston College, is an alumna of the Seamus Heaney Centre’s poetry summer school at Queen’s University Belfast, and is a recent graduate of the MFA program in Poetry at San Diego State University.  She was inducted into the SDSU chapter of Phi Kappa Phi in 2014, and is a co-founding editor for Locked Horn Press, a press invested in publishing poetry and critical work that engages with social conflicts. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Town Creek Poetry, Cactus Heart, Women in Clothes (Penguin, 2014), Souvenir, Yalobusha Review, and elsewhere.

Here is what Carolann has to say about our program:

Before I came to SDSU, not only had I never workshopped a poem, I had hardly ever shown my poetry to anyone. I entered the MFA program incredibly shy, and barely confident in my work and my ability to edit a poem; however, the wonderfully patient, dedicated, and creative faculty at SDSU fostered an environment in which I could comfortably share my poetry, and grow in my craft. And I did grow. Immensely. Now, thanks to the genuine support of professors like Sandra Alcosser and Ilya Kaminsky, I will be embarking on a PhD with an emphasis in poetry this fall. Ultimately, I feel so lucky to have spent the past three years at SDSU, among people who truly understand the value of human expression, and I can honestly say that I have never felt more encouraged, inspired, stimulated, or understood than I have during my time in this program. 

Eric MadeenEric Madeen is a senior associate professor of modern literature at Tokyo City University and an adjunct
professor at Keio University. He's an award-winning, unclassifiable author whose writing has been
published widely -- in Time, Asia Week, The East, The Daily Yomiuri, Tokyo Journal, Kyoto Journal,
Metropolis, Mississippi Review, ANA's inflight magazine Wingspan, Peace Corps Worldwide,
Japanophile, Yomimono, The Pretentious Idea, Tombstone Epitaph, several anthologies and academic
journals including his seminal essay "Under Western and Eastern Eyes" jointly published by the Ministry
of Education of the Western Federation, Russia, and the Joseph Conrad Foundation, USA. His sixth book
entitled Tokyo-ing! Three Novellas was just released and his travelogue Asian Trail Mix: True Tales from
Borneo to Japan is currently ranked 9th for Southeast Asian travel books. He resides in Yokohama with
his wife and two children.

Here's what Eric has to say about our program:

Before entering the MFA program I was writing in isolation and, alas, without much community and growth. Once in the MFA program at SDSU I had immediate support and with it the feedback from putting my work under fire with those of kindred writers. My worldview expanded exponentially, and since I had discerning readers and pals in workshops I was motivated to hump the bejesus out of the muse which resulted in my first novel "Water Drumming in the Soul" -- nominated by faculty twice for entry in LA Arts Council and AWP competitions. It was a heady time and so highly recommended. 

Sarah Brenda Marsh RebeloSarah Brenda Marsh Rebelo has loved the music of words all her life. Raised by a mother who quoted poetry daily, Sarah devoured books from an early age. She grew up in London, kept a diary from the age of five. At twenty one Sarah immigrated to the United States. She worked as a stewardess for Pan American and travelled the world. After three years and in love, she moved to Hawaii where her son was born. He was riding tandem on her surf board from the age of two. Seven years later she began life anew in California. Sarah pursued her dream of returning to college. She obtained her B.A. in Anthropology from U.C.S.D. a Gemological Degree from the Gemological Institute of America and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from S.D.S.U. She is trained as an instructor in the Amherst Writers Method and has studied Yoga from the age of seventeen. Sarah presently resides in California and Cornwall, England with her husband John, two cats, Leopold Bloom and Tse Wa (Tibetan for compassion). 

Her poems have been published in Avocet, California Anthology of Poets, the San Diego Review, The New Jersey Times, The Foundation for Women Celebration, Anthology of Creative Writing San Diego State University, Perigee Magazine, San Diego Poetry Annual, Foothill Journal of Poetry, 27 rue de fleures and other journals. Her first book pf poetry, Over My Shoulder, was published in 2013 and is dedicated to her family.

Here is what Sarah has to say about our program:

With pleasure I offer my thoughts about the MFA program in Creative Writing at San Diego State University. I was honored to study there as a mature student from 2007 until 2012. Constantly encouraged and challenged by the younger students I was privileged to push myself and grow. The result was my first book of poetry, Over My Shoulder. Words are always floating in my mind, the second book en route as I write. The encouragement and talent of the faculty are second to none. It was an honor to be accepted into this program and to study with the erudite and committed professors who opened the windows of my mind and stoked the fire in my belly.

David Tomas MartinezDavid Tomas Martinez is the author of two collections of poetry, Hustle and Post Traumatic Hood Disorder, both from Sarabande Books. Martinez is a Pushcart winner, CantoMundo fellow, a Breadloaf Stanley P. Young Fellow, NEA poetry fellow, and NEA Big Read author. Martinez lives in Brooklyn. He recently judged The World in Verse for Words without Borders and the Academy of American Poets and served as moderator for a multilingual poetry reading that can be found here: World in Verse: A Multilingual Poetry Reading - YouTube.

Here is what David has to say about our program:

SDSU is where I learned I wanted to be a writer, where I first learned how to be a writer, and where I met some of the most important people in my life. I owe so much of my trajectory as a writer to being an Aztec. The quality of the faculty, familial atmosphere among the students, and and the constant supply of some the best Mexican food in this country are all reasons that make our program stellar. I am proud to be a graduate of SDSU, and I am proud to stand with all of you. 


Carly Joy MillerCarly Joy Miller is the author of Ceremonial (Orison Books, 2018), selected by Carl Phillips as the winner of the 2017 Orison Prize for Poetry, and the chapbook Like a Beast (Anhinga Press, 2017), winner of the 2016 Rick Campbell Prize. Her work has appeared in The Adroit Journal, Blackbird, Boston Review, Gulf Coast, West Branch and elsewhere. She is a contributing editor for Poetry International and a founding editor of Locked Horn Press.

Here is what Carly Joy has to say about our program:

My time at San Diego State University as an MFA candidate in Poetry (2011-2014) was everything I could ever dream possible. My undergraduate professors emphasized that you should discover your community as soon as possible and keep in touch with them, and I found plenty of support from my professors and peers during and post getting my MFA. Workshops were vibrant, with everyone invested in what the possibilities of one’s poems could be. I received feedback, reading recommendations, and countless perspectives toward flipping a poem on its head to bring out its true nature. San Diego State also emphasized delving into literature courses in order to deepen our creative work. As the creative act is also a critical act, professors allowed our essays to form into lyric, for us to bring our writing style and analysis to their classes in ways that could reflect into our creative work.

San Diego State provides many opportunities for professional development as well. I taught classes alongside gaining editorial experience as Poetry International’s lead copy editor, which allowed me to strengthen my skillset for the eventual job market. Poetry International and the Living Writers Series hosted readings and events that not only offered opportunities to interact with living translators and writers, but serve as a way to celebrate our community and discover worlds and languages beyond our community.

My first readers are still friends I met at San Diego State, and the first people I send any news regarding writing to as well. I am so delighted to continue to celebrate San Diego State’s successes, and for the vibrant community in sunny San Diego that continues to encourage wildness and diversity.

Jim Miller and wifeAs a young man, (fiction alum) James Miller was a bouncer, a factory worker, a warehouseman, and a laborer in his late father’s home repair business. In addition to his MFA in Fiction, Miller has a Ph.D. in American Culture Studies from Bowling Green State University. He is a founding member of the San Diego Writers Collective and a co-founder, with his wife Kelly Mehew, of San Diego City Works Press. Miller teaches English and Labor Studies at San Diego City College. Miller is the author of Flash (AK Press) and Drift (U of Oklahoma Press), both novels. He is also co-author of the radical history of San Diego Under the Perfect Sun: The San Diego Tourists Never See (with Mike Davis and Kelly Mayhew) and a cultural studies book on working class sports fandom, Better to Reign in Hell: Inside the Raiders Fan Empire (with Kelly Mayhew--both on the New Press). Miller is also the editor of Sunshine/ Noir: Writing from San Diego and Tijuana and Democracy in Education; Sunshine/Noir II (with Kelly Mayhew); Education for Democracy: An Oral History of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 1931 (all on SD City Works Press).

Here is what Jim has to say about our program:

The MFA program at SDSU with its balance of literature courses, theory, and intensive writing workshops where I was able to write poetry and fiction did a lot to give me both intellectual depth and range as a writer.  The fact that I was also able to teach writing and work in an editorial capacity with Fiction International while honing my craft was also immensely valuable in that it gave me the opportunity to learn new skills that opened doors for me professionally.

Jennifer Minniti- ShippeyJennifer Minniti- Shippey is the Director of Development for CIACLA and Director of the Coyote Creek Writer’s Residency. She served as the Managing Editor of Poetry International literary journal and the Director of Poetic Youth programs in San Diego from 2009-2019. She is the author of 2018 San Diego Book Award finalist, After the Tour, from Calypso Editions; Done Dating DJs, winner of the 2009 Fool for Poetry Chapbook Competition, presented by the Munster Literature Centre; and Earth’s Horses & Boys, from Finishing Line Press. Her writing has appeared in Salamander, Spillway, Cider Press Review, Tar River Poetry, and others.  Stay connected at

Here is what Jenny has to say about our program:

The MFA in Creative Writing at SDSU was both a launch point for my career, as well as a doorway to relationships with writers that continue to sustain my creative life. I'm grateful for the opportunities the MFA provided, and I loved SDSU and San Diego so much that I stuck around for another ten years! 

Body Turn to Rain: New & Selected Poems coverRichard Robbins has published six books of poems, most recently Body Turn to Rain: New & Selected Poems, which Lynx House Press released in 2017. He has received awards from The Loft, the Minnesota State Arts Board, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Poetry Society of America. From 1986-2014, Robbins directed the Good Thunder Reading Series at Minnesota State University Mankato, where he continues to direct the creative writing program.

Kayla RodneyKayla Rodney has been writing poetry for the last fifteen years. She’s a graduate of Xavier University of Louisiana, San Diego State University, and recently received her Ph.D. from the University of Florida. After being displaced due to Katrina, and then later migrating to different cities for her education, she felt a pull to write about home and the tremendous power of community, landscape, family, and water. Her first book is Swimming Home (Unlikely Books, 2020). She teaches at Clayton State University, Morrow Georgia.

Here is what Kayla has to say about our program:

My time at the MFA was both exciting and terrifying at the same time. Terrifying because it was my first time away from home, but exciting because I got to work almost exclusively on my craft. In this time I learned what it means to actually create a collection of poetry which, after you’ve learned how to write something good, is the most important step in my opinion. Having a collection of connected poems that flow from one to the next and beginning to end makes something not only readable, but enjoyable. This also helped me as a scholar because now, as I examine texts, I am able to better see what makes a well written book. I can better see the connections between the chapters, themes, characters, etc. (most of the focus now is the novel, alas). It also helps me better see purposeful actions taken by the author because being at SDSU, I myself was formed into an author and can relate to the texts I read at both creative and scholarly levels, a big advantage in the classroom. 

Erin RodoniErin Rodoni is the author of two poetry collections: Body, in Good Light (Sixteen Rivers Press, 2017) and A Landscape for Loss (NFSPS Press, 2017, winner of the Stevens Award). Her third collection, And if the Woods Carry You, won the 2020 Southern Indiana Review Michael Waters Poetry Prize and is forthcoming in fall 2021. Her poems have appeared in Poetry NorthwestBlackbirdColorado Review, Best New Poets, and The Adroit Journal, among others. Her honors include The Montreal International Poetry Prize, the Ninth Letter Literary Award, and an AWP Intro Journals Award. She teaches at the Writing Salon in San Francisco, and lives with her husband and two young daughters in San Rafael, CA.  

V. RuizV. Ruiz is a Queer Xicana Bruja, artist, and writer fascinated by language and the magic it evokes. They live in Las Vegas with their partner, little one, snaggletoothed cutie, and underworld roaming gato. Their writing has appeared in Fugue, Black Warrior Review, Hayden's Ferry Review, and Carve Magazine among other places. In Stories We Thunder is their first book. You can find them on Instagram under @PoetaVRuiz. 

Here is what V. has to say about our program:

Attending SDSU's MFA program helped me connect with people who had similar dreams for their writing, people who were driven and inspired, people who had visions for what the world could become. I've made so many close friendships that not even distance or time could break and I'm thankful for them and for all the work and care they put into my words. Without SDSU, I wouldn't have found them. For that reason, I'm superbly grateful.

Stephen SilkeStephen Silke holds a Master of Professional Writing from the University of Southern California (2009) and a Master of Fine Arts from San Diego State University (2018). His fiction has been featured in pacificREVIEW, Fiction International, decomP magazinE, Le Scat Noir, Portland Review, and Furniture: Poems and Stories

Ephraim Scott SommersA singer-songwriter, poet, and essayist, Ephraim Scott Sommers is the author of Someone You Love Is Still Alive (2019), winner of the 2019 Jacar Press Book Award, and The Night We Set the Dead Kid on Fire (2017), winner of the 2016 Patricia Bibby First Book Award from Tebot Bach Press. He is currently an Assistant Professor of English at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, South Carolina.  For music, poems, and essays, please visit:

Renee SwindleRenee Swindle's first novel, Please Please Please, was an Essence Magazine/Blackboard bestseller and published in Japan and Germany.  Her novels Shake Down The Stars and A Pinch Of Ooh La La were published by Penguin/NAL. She is currently working on her fourth novel. Renee earned her BA in English from University of California, Irvine and her MFA in Creative Writing from San Diego State University.

Brenda TaulbeeBrenda Taulbee is a poet and creative nonfiction writer living in Portland, Oregon. Her first full-length poetry collection, The Art of Waking Up, was nominated for a 2016 Oregon Book Award. She was the 2016-2017 Sarah Brenda March Rebelo Fellow and a recipient of the Dr. Minas Savvas Endowed Fellowship. Brenda holds a BA from University of Montana and an MFA from San Diego State University. She was also the recipient of a 2018 Intro Journals Award from the Association of Writers and Writing Programs. Her writing has appeared in Grist, LAR, Crabfat Magazine, and the San Diego Poetry Annual, among others. 

Here is what Brenda has to say about our program:

My three years in the MFA program were some of the most challenging and gratifying of my life. My mentors in the program taught me new ways of seeing the world and my place in it. One of the greatest benefits of SDSU's program is the opportunity to learn from different professors, finding the grain of wisdom in each of their aesthetics and using those to build up your own art. 

Kimball TaylorKimball Taylor is the author of The Coyote's Bicycle: The Untold Story of Seven Thousand Bicycles and the Rise of a Borderland Empire published by Tin House and Return by Water.
He’s a long-time contributor to Surfer Magazine. His work has also appeared in Vice media, ESPN the magazine, and The Los Angeles Times. He is a graduate of San Diego State University's MFA in writing program and an alumni of The Squaw Valley Community of Writers.

Watch an interview with him on CNN

Tana Jean WelchTana Jean Welch  is the author of the poetry collections In Parachutes Descending (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2024) and Latest Volcano (Marsh Hawk Press, 2016). Her poetry has appeared in The New York Times, and in journals including The Southern Review, The Gettysburg Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Prairie Schooner, and The Colorado Review. Her scholarship on contemporary American poetry is forthcoming or has been published in Literature and Medicine, MELUS, The Journal of Ecocriticism, and elsewhere.  She earned her MFA in Poetry from San Diego State University and her Ph.D. in Literature from Florida State University. She currently lives in Tallahassee where she is Assistant Professor of Medical Humanities at the Florida State University College of Medicine.

Here is what Tanya has to say about our program:

It was a very important, transformative time in my life as a person and a writer. I learned what it means to dedicate one's self to the craft of writing, and what it means to be a poet. SDSU is special to me because the program focused on art and craft, not on publishing and recognition. 

Timothy Daniel WelchTimothy Daniel Welch is the winner of the 2016 Iowa Poetry Prize. His first book of poetry, Odd Bloom Seen From Space, was published by the University of Iowa Press in April, 2017. He received his MFA in Poetry from San Diego State University and his PhD in English from Florida State University, and was the 2013-2014 Jay C. and Ruth Halls Poetry Fellow for the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Institute for Creative Writing. Originally from Orange County, California, he lives in Tallahassee, Florida. His poetry may be found in journals such as RattleArts & LettersBest New Poets,Green Mountains Review Online, and elsewhere. 

Here is what Timothy has to say about our program:

I wanted to write, and get good at it. I wanted to call upon my betters as they called on me, bettering myself along the way. I wanted to enlarge my creative and critical interests with stimulating subjects and communities, and to find within each that space cleared for the poem, what John Donne called that “little world made cunningly.” At San Diego State I found more than a University or Masters program, I found a world that enriched my spirit, broadened my literary perspectives, and provided a model that I continue to follow these ten years since I left. I also met my wife there, in a poetry workshop.

Renée WestbrookRenée Westbrook earned her B.A. in Drama from San Diego State University.  Her one-woman show, Shelter premiered at the 2017 San Diego International Fringe Festival.  In 2019 Shelter was KPBS's SD Fringe Top Pick, a San Diego Union-Tribune's Critic's Choice, and Westbrook won the "Outstanding Solo Performance" award along with a spot in the San Diego International Fringe Festival Exchange Program in Sweden.  She is also working on her first novel titled The Book Of Mary.  Westbrook is a member of the Dramatists Guild of America, SAG-AFTRA and the Toni Morrison Society.  In December of 2019 she graduated with her MFA in Creative Writing Fiction.

Carla M. WilsonCarla M. Wilson has been involved with art, design, writing, languages, music, and media since the 1980s. She received a B.A. in Communications from UCSD in 1995, where she minored in Lit/Writing and Visual Arts, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing in 2013 from SDSU after completing M.A. coursework in art history from 2006 - 2009.  

Her art and writing have appeared in print and online journals including Fiction International, Poetry International, and Talking Writing. Her first book, Impossible Conversations: Imaginary Interviews with World-Famous Artists, was published in 2015 by Black Scat Books. Her second volume, Curious Impossibilities: Ten Cinematic Riffs, was released in 2017 and features ten creative responses to ten classic films and addresses the nature of dreams vs. reality, memory and love.  Her ongoing list of publications can be found at:

Here is what Carla has to say about our program:

The MFA program in Creative Writing at SDSU literally changed my life. I am still in contact with many of my MFA colleagues, some with whom I have formed life-long friendships and/or professional relationships. The curriculum is rigorous, engaging, and inspiring; the staff and faculty are always available and attentive, the environment is supportive, collaborative, and creative. I received critical and useful feedback, made important connections within the literary community, learned tricks and tools of the trade, and had hands-on experience interning for a literary journal. The work does not create itself, but if writing and creating is what you love, I can’t think of a better place to hone one’s skills and open one’s mind.

Martin WoodsideMartin Woodside is a writer, translator, and a founding member of Calypso Editions. He's published five books for children, two books of Romanian poetry in translation, and a full-length collection of poetry, This River Goes Both Ways (Wordtech). His poems and translations have appeared in numerous books and journals, including Asymptote, Guernica, The Cimarron Review, The Hazmat Review, Brooklyn Rail, Poetry International, The Naugatuck River Review, and Kenyon Review Online.  He is an interdisciplinary scholar who earned his MFA and a certificate of specialization in Children’s Literature from San Diego State University and his Ph.D. in Childhood Studies from Rutgers-Camden in 2015.