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YWW: Faculty Bios

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Yale Writers' Workshop Faculty 2019

Our faculty are accessible teachers as well as accomplished writers and editors. Along with classroom and conference time, they will be available to writers in the dining hall during meals and around the college throughout the day.

.Visiting Faculty

Jill Lepore

Jill Lepore is a Professor of American History at Harvard University, and a staff writer at The New Yorker. She received her Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale in 1995. Her first book, The Name of War, won the Bancroft Prize; New York Burning, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. Her latest book is These Truths: A History of the United States is a New York Times bestseller.

Maaza Mengiste

Maaza Mengiste's debut novel, Beneath the Lion's Gaze, was selected by the Guardian as one of the 10 best contemporary African books and named one of the best books of 2010 by Christian Science Monitor, Boston Globe and other publications. A recipient of a 2018 fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, she is also a Fulbright Scholar, a Puterbaugh Fellow, and a Runner-up for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. Her work can be found in The New Yorker, New York Review of Books, Granta, the Guardian, the New York Times, Rolling Stone, and BBC, among other places. She was a writer on the documentary projects, GIRL RISING and THE INVISIBLE CITY: KAKUMA. Her second novel, The Shadow King, will be published in late 2019. Photo Credit: Simon Hurst


Sybil Baker

Sybil Baker’s latest novel is While You Were Gone. 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, is 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 for VCFA’s international low-residency MFA program. 

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's currently at work on various literary projects, is an editor-at-large for the literary journal Origins, teaches at the Hudson Valley Writers' Center, and has been a member of the resident faculty at the Yale Summer Conference since it began.

Jotham Burrello

Jotham Burrello is the director of the Yale Writers’ Workshop. He is the publisher of the award-winning Elephant Rock Books, professor of English at Central Connecticut State University, and curator of the Roar Reading Series. 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, and Submit! The Unofficial Guide to Submitting Short Prose. 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. His debut novel, Spindle City is forthcoming in 2020. When away from his desk, Jotham raises boys and flowers on Muddy Feet Flower farm, the Nutmeg state’s premier cut flower farm located in lovely, Ashford, Connecticut.

Trey Ellis

Trey Ellis is a novelist, screenwriter, playwright, essayist and professor at Columbia University. He is the author of Bedtime Stories: Adventures in the Land of Single-Fatherhood. His books include Platitudes, Home Repairs and Right Here, Right Now which was a recipient of the American Book Award. His work for the screen includes the Peabody winning and Emmy nominated Tuskegee Airmen, and Good Fences, which was shortlisted for the PEN award for Best Teleplay of the year. His essays have appeared in The New York Times, Playboy, GQ, Vanity Fair and, among others, and NPR’s All Things Considered. His play, Fly, was commissioned by the Lincoln Center Institute and continues to be performed around the country.

Lisa Page

Lisa Page is co-editor of the anthology, We Wear The Mask: 15 True Stories of Passing in America, published by Beacon Press.  Her work has appeared in Virginia Quarterly Review, American Short Fiction, Playboy, Playbill, Phoebe, The Crisis, the Washington Post Book World and other publications. She directs Creative Writing at the George Washington University. She is also Interim Director of Africana Studies. 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 interviewed writers for television, magazines and public forums. She has also coached writers, individually, and edited a literary magazine. She lives outside Washington, DC.

Sergio Troncoso

Sergio Troncoso is author of From This Wicked Patch of Dust, which Kirkus Reviews named one of the best books of 2012 in a starred review. The novel also won the Southwest Book Award. Troncoso also wrote Crossing Borders: Personal Essays, winner of the Bronze Award for Essays from Foreword Reviews. He 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.” He is currently vice president of the Texas Institute of Letters. He has served as a judge for the PEN/Faulkner Award and the New Letters Prize. His work has recently appeared in The Yale Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, and Texas Monthly.

Non Fiction

Colleen Kinder

Colleen Kinder is an essayist and travel journalist loosely based in too many places. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, VQR, A Public Space, The Atlantic, Salon, and elsewhere. Her work has been anthologized in The Best American Travel Writing and shortlisted for The Best American Essays. Kinder graduated from Yale College and received her MFA in nonfiction from the University of Iowa. She is a former Fulbright Scholar, a Breadloaf Conference Tuition Scholar, and a two-time fellow at Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony. Kinder co-founded the reading series and literary magazine Off Assignment. Currently, Kinder splits her time between Egypt, Canada, and France, where she teaches a writing course for wanderlusting Yale students.

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.

Steve Almond

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.

Historical Fiction

Emily Barton

Emily Barton is the author of the novels The Book of Esther, Brookland, and The Testament of Yves Gundron as well as numerous stories, essays, and reviews; she has been writing for The New York Times Book Review for twenty years. A recipient of a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Michener/Copernicus Society of America, and the Sustainable Arts Foundation, she has taught undergraduate creative writing at Yale and Princeton, among other institutions. She currently teaches in the graduate creative writing program at New York University.

Mystery and Crime Fiction

Frankie Y. Bailey

Frankie Y. Bailey is a professor in the School of Criminal Justice, University at Albany.  Nominated for Edgar, Agatha, and Anthony awards for non-fiction, she has won a Macavity. Her amateur sleuth series features crime historian Lizzie Stuart. Her police procedural novels feature Detective Hannah McCabe. Two of Bailey’s short stories have appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. She is a past EVP of Mystery Writers of America and past president of Sisters in Crime.

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).

Mary Collins

Mary Collins’s most recent book, At the Broken Places: A Mother and Trans Son Pick Up the Pieces, won the 2018 Best Memoir of the Year Award from the American Society of Journalists and Authors. Kate Borstein calls the book, which Mary co-authored with her trans son Donald, the “best, most thorough narrative of trans experience I’ve read: mind, body and soul.” A former writer and editor for National Geographic and Smithsonian, Mary taught part-time for twelve years at the Johns Hopkins MA in Writing Program and is currently the program coordinator for the writing minor at Central Connecticut State University. At the Broken Places is her fifth book.

Short Stories

David Burr Gerrard

David Burr Gerrard is the author of the novels Short Century and The Epiphany Machine, the latter of which Publishers Weekly called a “wildly charming, morally serious bildungsroman with the rare potential to change the way readers think.” His work has appeared in Playboy, Guernica, BOMB, NY Tyrant, LitHub, Joyland, The Awl, and elsewhere. A graduate of Columbia University’s MFA program, he teaches fiction writing at The New School, Manhattanville College, the 92nd St. Y, Catapult, and the Sackett Street Writers' Workshop. He lives in New York with his wife and daughter. 

Marian Thurm

Marian Thurm is the author of seven novels and four short story collections, including the most recent, Today Is Not Your Day, a New York Times Editors’ Choice. Her novel The Clairvoyant was a New York Times Notable Book. Her short stories have appeared in the New Yorker, the Atlantic, the Michigan Quarterly, the Southampton Review, and many other magazines, and have been included in The Best American Short Stories, and numerous other anthologies. Her books have been translated into Japanese, Swedish, Dutch, German, and Italian. In addition to teaching at the YWC since 2013, she has taught creative writing at Yale and Barnard, and in the MFA programs at Columbia University and Brooklyn College.

Writing the Novel: The First Ten Pages

Julie Buntin

Julie Buntin's debut novel Marlena was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle's John Leonard Prize; longlisted for The Center for Fiction's First Novel Prize; and named a best book of 2017 by over a dozen outlets, including The Washington Post, NPR, and Kirkus Reviews. Her writing has appeared in The AtlanticVogueThe New York Times Book Review, Guernica, and other publications. She has taught creative writing at New York University, Columbia University, and Marymount Manhattan College; she is now the director of writing programs at Catapult

Session II

Chaya Bhuvaneswar

Session I

Lauren Bieker

Mark Gottlieb

Mark Gottlieb attended Emerson College and was President of its Publishing Club, establishing the Wilde Press. After graduating with a degree in writing, literature & publishing, he began his career with Penguin’s VP. Mark’s first position at Publishers Marketplace’s #1-ranked literary agency, Trident Media Group, was in foreign rights. Mark was EA to Trident’s Chairman and ran the Audio Department. Mark is currently working with his own client list, helping to manage and grow author careers with the unique resources available to Trident. He has ranked #1 among Literary Agents on in Overall Deals and other categories. Agent Panel June 5th 3 pm - 3:45 pm.