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Yale Writers' Workshop Faculty Bios

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Yale Writers' Workshop Faculty 2021

Our faculty are accomplished writers and editors.

Fiction

Jotham Burrello

Jotham Burrello is the director of the Yale Writers’ Workshop. His novel, Spindle City was longlisted for the 2021 PEN/Hemingway Debut Novel Award. He is the founder of the Connecticut Literary Festival and curator of the Lit Talks! Series. He’s the publisher of the award-winning Elephant Rock Books, and teaches writing at Central Connecticut State University. He’s written and produced multimedia on the craft of writing, and edited The Craft, essays on writing from the YWW faculty. With Janet Burroway, he produced the instructional DVD, So, Is It Done? Navigating the Revision Process. His writing has appeared in literary journals, The Hartford Courant, the Christian Science Monitor, and he’s a proud winner of the New Yorker Caption Contest. When away from his desk, Jotham raises boys and flowers on Muddy Feet Flower farm, the Nutmeg state’s premier cut flower farm.

Lisa Page

Lisa Page is co-editor of the anthology, We Wear The Mask: 15 True Stories of Passing in America (Beacon Press). Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, Virginia Quarterly Review, LitHub, American Short Fiction, Playboy, Playbill, The Crisis, the Washington Post Book World and other publications. She directs Creative Writing at the George Washington University. She has taught writing workshops in a Maryland correctional facility as well as in universities in Chicago, Washington, DC, Virginia, and New Haven, CT. She has also interviewed writers for television, magazines and public forums and coached writers, individually. She lives outside Washington, DC.

Intensive

Kirsten Bakis

Kirsten Bakis's novel Lives of the Monster Dogs was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, won a Bram Stoker Award, was shortlisted for Britain's prestigious Baily's Prize, and has a band named after it. A special 20th anniversary edition was released in 2017 from Farrar, Straus & Giroux, with an introduction by Jeff VanderMeer. Bakis is the recipient of a Whiting Award, a Michener/Copernicus Society of America grant, and a Teaching/Writing Fellowship from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She teaches at the Hudson Valley Writers' Center, and has been a member of the resident faculty at the Yale Summer Conference since it began.

Non Fiction

Mary Collins

Mary Collins is the author of four adult nonfiction books, most recently At the Broken Places: A Mother and Trans Son Pick Up the Pieces (Beacon Press), which won the 2018 Best Memoir of the Year Award from the American Society of Journalists and Authors. In 2021, she launched www.TheBronzedProject.com, a collection of personal essays centered on her cross-country trip to visit bronzed statues in public squares that honor her maternal relatives. Along the way, she spoke with other Americans about race, class, politics and the decline in our public discourse. After working for 30 years in Washington, DC, at National Geographic and the Smithsonian, and teaching part-time for Johns Hopkins MA in Writing program, Mary returned to her native Connecticut in 2007 and is now the Program Coordinator for Central Connecticut State University’s Writing Minors.

Mishka Shubaly

Mishka Shubaly is a songwriter, comedian, storyteller, and author. He was awarded the Dean’s Fellowship for Fiction by Columbia University. His six Kindle Singles for Amazon have all been bestsellers. His work has been praised by artists as diverse as Doug Stanhope, Caitlin Flanagan, Joe Perry, Ron White, and Rob Sheffield. He tours around the world and has shared the stage with everyone from Yeah Yeah Yeahs to Richard Price. I Swear I’ll Make It Up to You, his first hardcover memoir, was released in 2016. When We Were Animals, his fourth album, was released in 2018.

Children and Young Adult

Sarah Darer Littman

Sarah Darer Littman is the critically acclaimed author of sixteen middle grade and young adult novels, including Anything But Okay, Backlash, In Case You Missed It, Confessions of a Closet Catholic, Charmed, I’m Sure, and Fairest of Them All. She’s particularly fascinated by the gray areas at the intersection of adolescent development with technology. When she’s not writing young people, Sarah is an adjunct professor in the MFA program at Western Connecticut State University and a freelance political journalist, which keeps her life balanced with an interesting mix of fan mail and hate mail.

First Ten Pages: Fiction and Memoir

Sybil Baker

Sybil Baker’s latest novel is While You Were Gone (IPPY Silver Award winner). She is also the author of The Life Plan; Talismans; and Into This World, which received an Eric Hoffer Award honorable mention and was a finalist for one of Foreword’s INDIES Book of the Year Awards. Immigration Essays, her book of nonfiction, was the 2018-2019 Read2Achieve book at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. A UC Foundation Professor at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, Sybil was awarded two MakeWork Grants and a 2017 Individual Artist's Fellowship from the Tennessee Arts Commission. She is also a faculty member of VCFA’s international low-residency MFA program.

Personal Essay/Memoir

Lary Bloom

During 30 years as a magazine editor, Lary Bloom published hundreds of personal essays by prominent and unknown writers. Among his discoveries: the Pulitzer Prize winners Dave Barry and Madeleine Blais, and best-selling novelist Wally Lamb. His books include The Writer Within, Lary Bloom’s Connecticut Notebook, and the spring 2019 release, Sol LeWitt: A Life of Ideas, a biography. He is coauthor of the memoirs The Test of Our Times. The Ignorant Maestro, and Letters From Nuremberg. As a freelance editor, he brought many books to publication. He is cofounder of Writing at the Mark Twain House, the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival and a writing retreat in Italy. His plays include Worth Avenue, Wild Black Yonder and A Woman of a Certain Age (lyricist).

Short Stories

Jacquelyn Mitchard

Jacquelyn Mitchard is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of 22 books of fiction and non-fiction for adults and children. These include The Deep End of the Ocean, the inaugural selection of the Oprah Winfrey Book Club. With more than 3 million books in print worldwide, in 33 languages, Mitchard has won or been a finalist for the Women’s Prize for Fiction, the Bram Stoker Award, The Heartland Prize for Fiction, The Shirley Jackson Award, and others. She has served on the Fiction Jury for the National Book Awards, and is a professor of Creative Writing at Miami University of Ohio and Western New England University. Her articles frequently appear in O Magazine, Harpers and Real Simple and her novels, essays and short stories have been widely anthologized and used in curricula. Her newest book, My Only, will appear in October 2021 from Mira/HarperCollins. A Chicago native, Mitchard now lives on Cape Cod with her family. 

Write Here, Write Now

Patricia Ann McNair

Patricia Ann McNair writes fiction and nonfiction. Her collection of short stories, Responsible Adults was released at the end of 2020, and has been nominated for a number of awards. The Temple of Air (stories), won Southern Illinois University Devil’s Kitchen Readers Award, Chicago Writers Association Book of the Year, and was a finalist for Society of Midland Authors Adult Fiction Award. And These Are The Good Times (essays), was a Montaigne Medal finalist.  She is the director of undergraduate creative writing programs at Columbia College Chicago, and is on the graduate faculty there. McNair was nominated for the Carnegie Foundation’s U.S. Professor of the Year.  

Guest Speakers

Jennifer Acker

Jennifer Acker is founder and editor in chief of The Common, and author of the debut novel The Limits of the World. Her memoir Fatigue is a #1 Amazon bestseller, and her short stories, essays, translations, and reviews have appeared in the Washington Post, Literary Hub, n+1, among other places. Acker has an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars and teaches writing and editing at Amherst College, where she directs the Literary Publishing Internship and LitFest.  Lit Journal Panel June 26, 1 pm - 2 pm.

Sonali Chanchani

Sonali Chanchani is an  agent at Folio Literary Management, where she represents character-driven literary fiction, upmarket women’s fiction, and narrative nonfiction. In fiction, she’s particularly interested in smart, funny novels about identity and coming of age; braided narratives of friendship and family; nuanced psychological suspense; and elevated crime fiction. In nonfiction, she’s looking for reported narratives that speak to larger social, cultural, and political issues. Sonali earned her degree in English and Narrative Studies from the University of Southern California and began her career in publishing at Kaya Press. A fierce advocate of authors from marginalized communities, she’s keen to represent a diversity of voices. Agent Panel June 23 @ 1 pm.

Susan Choi

Susan Choi’s first novel, The Foreign Student, won the Asian-American Literary Award for fiction. Her second novel, American Woman, was a finalist for the 2004 Pulitzer Prize. Her third novel, A Person of Interest, was a finalist for the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Award. In 2010 she was named the inaugural recipient of the PEN/W.G. Sebald Award. Her fourth novel, My Education, received a 2014 Lammy Award. Her fifth novel is Trust Exercise (April 2019) and her first book for children is Camp Tiger (May 2019). A recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, she teaches fiction writing at Yale and lives in Brooklyn. Guest Author June 22 @ 7 pm

Kristina Marie Darling

Kristina Marie Darling is the author of thirty-four books, which include DIFFICULT:  Essays on Contemporary Feminist Poetry (Black Ocean); Look to Your Left:  A Feminist Poetics of Spectacle (Akron Poetry Series); Angel of the North (Salmon Poetry); and a critical study on silence and experimental poetry forthcoming from Clemson University Press. Kristina currently serves as Editor-in-Chief of Tupelo Press and Tupelo Quarterly, an opinion columnist at The Los Angeles Review of Books, a contributing writer at Publishers Weekly, a staff blogger at The Kenyon Review, and a freelance book critic at The New York Times Book Review.  In 2019, she was granted a three-year tenure as an expert consultant with the U.S. Fulbright Commission. Lit Journal Panel June 26, 1 pm - 2 pm.

Kelli Jo Ford

Kelli Jo Ford’s debut novel-in-stories Crooked Hallelujah  was longlisted for the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Novel, the Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, and The Center for Fiction's First Novel Prize. She is the recipient of The Paris Review’s 2019 Plimpton Prize, the Everett Southwest Literary Award, and a Native Arts & Cultures Foundation National Artist Fellowship. She teaches writing at the Institute of American Indian Arts. She is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation. Debut Book Panel June 19 @ 3pm

Diane Goettel

Diane Goettel, Executive Editor of Black Lawrence Press, has degrees in writing and literature from Sarah Lawrence College and Brooklyn College. She co-edited the anthologies Feast: Poetry & Recipes for a Full Seating at Dinner and Art & Understanding: Literature from the First Twenty Years of A&U. Her writing has recently appeared in Border Crossing, Ethel, Grimoire and The Laurel Review. She lives in Mount Vernon, New York with her husband and daughter.  Indie Press Panel June 19 @ 1 pm.

Mark Gottlieb

Mark Gottlieb is a highly ranked literary agent both in overall deals and other individual categories. Using that same initiative and insight for identifying talented writers, he is actively building his own client list of authors. Mark Gottlieb is excited to work directly with authors, helping to manage and grow their careers with all of the unique resources that are available at book publishing’s leading literary agency, Trident Media Group. During his time at Trident Media Group, Mark Gottlieb has represented numerous New York Times bestselling authors, as well as award-winning authors, and has optioned and sold books to film and TV production companies. He previously ran the agency’s audiobook department, in addition to working in foreign rights. Mark Gottlieb is actively seeking submissions in all categories and genres and looking forward to bringing new and established authors to the curious minds of their future readers. Agent Panel June 23 @ 1 pm.

LaTanya McQueen

LaTanya McQueen is the author of the novel When the Reckoning Comes, forthcoming with HarperPerennial, and the essay collection And It Begins Like This, published with Black Lawrence Press. She has an MFA from Emerson College and a PhD from the University of Missouri. She is an Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing at Coe College. Craft Talk June 21 @ 7 pm.

Okey Ndibe

Okey Ndibe is the author of Foreign Gods, Inc. and Arrows of Rain (novels) and a memoir, Never Look an American in the Eye. He earned MFA and PhD degrees from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and has taught at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York; Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island; Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut; Simon’s Rock College in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, and the University of Lagos (as a Fulbright scholar). He was a 2015 Shearing Fellow of the Black Mountain Institute (BMI) at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. His editorial pieces have appeared in numerous publications, including the New York Times, Hartford Courant, BBC online, The Guardian (UK), Financial Times, and D La Repubblica (Italy). Guest Author June 16 @ 7 pm

Alec Shane

Alec Shane majored in English at Brown University, a degree he put to immediate use by moving to Los Angeles after graduation to become a professional stunt man. Realizing that he prefers books to breakaway glass, he moved to New York City in 2008 to pursue a career in publishing, where he quickly found a home at Writers House Literary Agency. He has been there ever since. On the nonfiction side, Alec would love to see humor, biography, history (particularly military history), true crime, “guy” reads, and all things sports. In fiction, Alec is looking for mystery, thrillers (though he’s experiencing terrorist fatigue at the moment), suspense, horror, historical fiction, literary fiction, and middle grade and young adult fiction. He doesn’t want romance, straight sci-fi, high fantasy, picture books, self-help, women’s fiction, food, or travel memoir. Agent Panel June 23 @ 1 pm.

Kawai Strong Washburn

Kawai Strong Washburn was born and raised on the Hamakua coast of Hawai’i. His short fiction has appeared in Mcsweeney’s, Electric Literature, and Best American Nonrequired Reading, among others. He has also received scholarships from the Tin House and Bread Loaf writer’s workshops. His debut novel, Sharks in the Time of Saviors, was published by MCD Books/FSG. Debut Book Panel June 19 @ 3pm

Sergio Troncoso

Sergio Troncoso is author of A Peculiar Kind of Immigrant’s Son, a collection of linked short stories on immigration which Junot Díaz called “a masterwork.” Troncoso also wrote From This Wicked Patch of Dust, which Kirkus Reviews named one of the best books of the year in a starred review. The novel also won the Southwest Book Award. He wrote Crossing Borders: Personal Essays, winner of the Bronze Award for Essays from Foreword Reviews. Troncoso is also the author of The Nature of Truth, hailed by the Chicago Tribune as “impressively lucid.” Publishers Weekly called his first book, The Last Tortilla and Other Stories, “Richly satisfying.” A Fulbright scholar, he is currently president of the Texas Institute of Letters. Troncoso has served as a judge for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and the New Letters Prize for Essays. His work has recently appeared in the Houston Chronicle, CNN Opinion, Yale Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, and Texas Monthly.   Reading and Conversation with Sergio Troncoso discussing his new novel "Nobody's Pilgrims".  June 25 @ 7 pm

Maria Whelan

Maria graduated from University College Dublin with a BA in English and Drama then obtained her Masters in Modern Literature from the University of Edinburgh. Since moving in New York from Ireland, Maria worked as a Foreign Rights Assistant at Janklow & Nesbit and interned at Akashic Books. She is now a literary agent at InkWell Management where she has had the privilege of working with a kaleidoscopic array of writers. Maria enjoys literary fiction and upmarket women’s fiction, as well as non-fiction, revolving around peculiar or overlooked facets of society. Agent Panel June 23 @ 1 pm.