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Writing, MFA

Reading Series Archive

Our Reading Series presents free literary readings and discussions that are open to the public. Over the years the series has hosted well known authors as Jane Smiley, Diane DiPrima, Paul LaFarge, Wanda Coleman, Gail Tsukiyama, Aaron Shurin, Ron Padgett, and Robert Glück. 


Check out our YouTube channel to see the full appearance by many past participants in the Reading Series.

Justin Torres, Spring 2024

Justin Torres headshot

Justin Torres is the author of Blackouts (FSG, 2023), winner of the 2023 National Book Award in Fiction. He is also the author of We the Animals (Mariner Books, 2012), which won the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award, was translated into fifteen languages, and was adapted into a feature film. He was named a National Book Foundation “5 Under 35,” a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, and a Cullman Center Fellow at the New York Public Library. His short fiction and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, Harper’s, Granta, Tin House, The Washington Post, LA Times Image Magazine, and Best American Essays. He lives in Los Angeles, and teaches at UCLA.

Airea Dee Matthews, Spring 2024

Airea Dee Matthews headshot

Airea D. Matthews’ first collection of poems is the critically acclaimed Simulacra, which received the prestigious 2016 Yale Series of Younger Poets Award. Matthews is also the author of Bread and Circus, a memoir-in-verse that combines poetry, prose, and imagery to explore the realities of economic necessity, marginal poverty, and commodification, through a personal lens. Matthews received a 2020 Pew Fellowship, a 2016 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, and was awarded the Louis Untermeyer Scholarship in Poetry from the 2016 Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. Matthews earned her MFA from the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan. In 2022, she was named Philadelphia’s Poet Laureate. She is an assistant professor at Bryn Mawr College where she directs the poetry program.

Charif Shanahan, Spring 2024

Charif Shanahan headshot

Charif Shanahan is the author of two collections of poetry: Trace Evidence: poems (Tin House, 2023), which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry and longlisted for the National Book Award for Poetry; and Into Each Room We Enter without Knowing (Crab Orchard Series in Poetry/SIU Press, 2017), which was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry and the Publishing Triangle's Thom Gunn Award. He is an Assistant Professor of English at Northwestern University.

MK Chavez, Spring 2024

MK Chavez

MK Chavez is an Afro-Latinx writer, educator, multi-disciplinary artist, and curator. Chavez co-directs Berkeley Poetry Festival and is co-founder of Lyrics & Dirges.

Chavez's writing explores identity, social injustice, environmental degradation, horror cinema, magic and ritual, and has been recognized with a Pen Oakland Josephine Miles award, San Francisco Foundation/Nomadic Press Literary Award, and is a 2023 was named a YBCA 100 fellow. Chavez’s literary offerings include Dear AnimalMothermorphosis, the lyric essay chapbook A Brief History of the Selfie, and Virgin Eyes. Recent work can be found among the trees in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park through the Voices of the Trees Project.

Lauren Markham, Spring 2024

Lauren Markham

Lauren Markham is the author of the 2017 award-winning The Far Away Brothers: Two Young Migrants and the Making of an American Life. Her essays and reportage regularly appears in outlets such as the Atlantic, Harper's, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Magazineand VQR, where she is a contributing editor. She has spent over fifteen years working at the intersection of education and immigration. A Map of Future Ruins: On Borders and Belonging is forthcoming from Riverhead in Spring 2024.

Nina Schuyler, Spring 2024

Nina Schuyler

Nina Schuyler’s novel, Afterword, was published in May 2023 by Clash Books and was named a top book by Alta Journal and Bay City News. Her short story collection, In this Ravishing World, won the W.S. Porter Prize for Short Story Collections and The Prism Prize for Climate Literature and will be published in 2024. Her novel, The Translator, won the Next Generation Indie Book Award for General Fiction and was shortlisted for the William Saroyan International Writing Prize.

Toby Altman, Spring 2024

Toby Altman

Toby Altman is the author of Jewel Box (Essay Press, 2025), Discipline Park (Wendy’s Subway, 2023), and Arcadia, Indiana (Plays  Inverse, 2017). He has held fellowships from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Study in the Fine Arts, MacDowell, and the National Endowment for the Arts, where he was a 2021 Poetry Fellow. He teaches at Beloit College.

Alex Marzano-Lesnevich, Spring 2023

Alex Marzano

Alex Marzano-Lesnevich is the author of The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir, which received a Lambda Literary Award, the Chautauqua Prize, the Grand Prix des Lectrices ELLE, the Prix des libraires du Quebec, and the Prix France Inter-JDD. Named one of the best books of the year by Entertainment Weekly,, Bustle, Book Riot, The Times of LondonThe GuardianParis MatchLireTelerama, and The Sydney Press Herald, it was an Indie Next Pick and a Junior Library Guild selection, long-listed for the Gordon Burn Prize, short-listed for the CWA Gold Dagger, a finalist for a New England Book Award and a Goodreads Choice Award, and has been translated into eleven languages. Their next book, Both and Neither, is gender-bending and genre-bending work of memoir, history, cultural analysis, trans re-imaginings, and international road trip about life beyond the binary. 

Aaron Shurin, Spring 2023

Professor Emeritus Aaron Shurin

Aaron Shurin, former Director and Professor Emeritus in the USF MFA in Writing Program, is the author of fourteen books of poetry and prose. His most recent collection is Unbound: A book of AIDS, first published twenty-five years ago and now released in a new expanded edition from Nightboat Books. Shurin’s work has appeared in over forty national and international anthologies, from The Norton Anthology of Postmodern American Poetry to Italy’s Nuova Poesia Americana: San Francisco, and has been supported by grants from The National Endowment for the Arts, The California Arts Council, The San Francisco Arts Commission, and the Gerbode Foundation. A pioneer in both LGBTQ studies and innovative verse, Shurin has written widely about poetic theory and compositional practice, as well as personal narratives on sexual identity, gender fluidity, and the AIDS epidemic. 

Arisa White & Derek Mong, Spring 2023

Arisa White

Arisa White is an assistant professor of English and Creative Writing at Colby College. She is the author of the recent collections Who’s Your Daddy and You're the Most Beautiful Thing That Happened, co-editor of Home Is Where You Queer Your Heart, and co-author of Biddy Mason Speaks Up, the second book in the Fighting for Justice Series for young readers. Her poetry is widely published and her collections have been nominated for an NAACP Image Award, Lambda Literary Award, and have won the Per Diem Poetry Prize, Maine Literary Award, Nautilus Book Award, Independent Publisher Book Award, and Golden Crown Literary Award.  As the creator of the Beautiful Things Project, Arisa curates poetic collaborations that are rooted in Black queer women’s ways of knowing. She is a Cave Canem fellow and serves on the board of directors for Foglifter and Nomadic Press, as well as the Community Advisory Board for Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance.



Derek Mong

Derek Mong is the author of two poetry collections from Saturnalia Books, Other Romes and The Identity Thief, and a chapbook, The Ego and the Empiricist, from Two Sylvias Press. Individual poems, essays, and translations have appeared widely: the LA Times, the Boston Globe, the Kenyon ReviewBlackbird, Free InquiryPleiadesVerse DailyAt Length, and the New England Review. He and his wife, Anne O. Fisher, received the 2018 Cliff Becker Translation Award for The Joyous Science: Selected Poems of Maxim Amelin (White Pine Press). The recipient of fellowships and awards from Willipa Bay AiR, the University of Louisville, the Missouri Review, and the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, he is currently an Associate Professor of English at Wabash College. He writes for Zócalo Public Square.

Jaime Cortez, Fall 2022


Jaime Cortez is a writer and visual artist based in Watsonville, California, and the San Francisco Bay Area. His fiction, essays, and drawings have appeared in diverse publications that include "Kindergarten: Experimental Writing For Children" (edited 2013 by Dana Teen Lomax for Black Radish Press), "No Straight Lines," a 40-year compendium of LGBT comics (edited 2012 by Justin Hall for Fantagraphics Press), "Street Art San Francisco" (edited 2009 by Annice Jacoby for Abrams Press), and "Infinite Cities," an experimental atlas of San Francisco (edited 2010 by Rebecca Solnit for UC Berkeley Press). He wrote and illustrated the graphic novel "Sexile" for AIDS Project Los Angeles in 2003. His first short story collection, "Gordo," was published to national acclaim in 2021 by Black Cat, an imprint of Grove Atlantic. "Gordo" was shortlisted for the Carnegie Medal of Excellence in Fiction, the Lambda Literary Award, and the Golden Poppy Award. Cortez received his B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania, and his MFA from UC Berkeley. 

Fall Faculty Reading 2022

Ingrid Rojas Contreras, K.M. Soehnlein, Maw Shein Win

Ingrid Rojas Contreras

Ingrid Rojas Contreras was born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia, and is the author of the novel Fruit of the Drunken Tree, a silver medal winner in first fiction from the California Book Awards, and a memoir, The Man Who Could Move Clouds, out this summer from Doubleday. Her essays and short stories have appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Buzzfeed, Nylon, and Guernica, among others. She's received numerous awards and fellowships from Bread Loaf Writer's Conference, VONA, Hedgebrook, The Camargo Foundation, and the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture.

KM Soehnlein

K.M. Soehnlein is the author of the novels The World of Normal Boys, You Can Say You Knew Me When, and Robin and Ruby, along with essays and journalism in numerous publications. He is the recipient of the Lambda Literary Award, Henfield Prize, and SFFILM Rainin Grant in Screenwriting. He studied film and photography at Ithaca College and received an MFA from San Francisco State University in creative writing. Raised in New Jersey, he lived in New York City in the late ’80s and early ’90s, participating in direct action with ACT UP and cofounding Queer Nation. These years were the inspiration for his novel Army of Lovers, released on Oct. 11, 2022.

Maw Shein Win

Maw Shein Win's most recent poetry book is Storage Unit for the Spirit House (Omnidawn) nominated for the Northern California Book Award in Poetry, longlisted for the PEN America Open Book Award, and shortlisted for the California Independent Booksellers Alliance's Golden Poppy Award for Poetry. Win's previous collections include Invisible Gifts (Manic D Press) and chapbooks Ruins of a glittering palace (SPA) and Score and Bone (Nomadic Press). She is the inaugural poet laureate of El Cerrito (2016-2018) and often collaborates with visual artists, musicians, and other writers.

Danielle Evans, Spring 2022

Danielle Evans

Danielle Evans is the author of the story collections Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self, which received the National Book Foundation's "5 under 35" award and a PEN Prize for first book, and The Office of Historical Corrections, which received the Joyce Carol Oates Literary Prize. A graduate of Columbia University and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, she lives in Baltimore and teaches in the John Hopkins creative writing program.

National Poetry Month 2022

Jacques Rancourt

Jacques J. Rancourt

Jacques J. Rancourt is the author of two poetry collections, Brocken Spectre (Alice James Books, 2021) and Novena (Pleiades Press, 2017), as well as a chapbook, In the Time of PrEP(Beloit Poetry Journal, 2018). A recipient of the Halls Emerging Artist Fellowship from the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing and a Wallace Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University, he lives now in San Francisco.

Stella Wong

Stella Wong

Stella Wong is the author of Spooks, winner of the 2020 Saturnalia Books Editors Prize, and American Zero, selected for the 2018 Two Sylvias Press Chapbook Prize by Danez Smith. A graduate of Harvard and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Wong’s poems have appeared in POETRY, Colorado Review, Lana Turner, Bennington Review, the LA Review of Books, and elsewhere.

Aya de León, Spring 2021

Aya de Leon

Professor de León is a Cave Canem fellow, a VONA alumna, and the author of five books, including Side Chick Nation, the first novel published about Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico. Her latest novel is A Spy in the Struggle, about FBI infiltration of a Bay Area movement for climate justice and Black Lives.

A two-time winner of the International Latino Book Award, her novels have won multiple Independent Publisher awards. Her work has appeared in Harper’s Bazaar, Ebony, Essence, Guernica, Ploughshares, and on Def Poetry. In 2022, Candlewick will publish Aya’s first young adult novel in a Black/Latina spy girl series. She is the director of June Jordan's Poetry for the People at UC Berkeley, teaching poetry and spoken word.

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Elissa Washuta, Spring 2021

Elissa Washuta

Elissa Washuta is the author of the nonfiction collections My Body Is a Book of Rules (2014), Starvation Mode (2018), and White Magic (forthcoming, Tin House Books). With Theresa Warburton, she is co-editor of the anthology Shapes of Native Nonfiction: Collected Essays by Contemporary Writers. She is a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship recipient, a Creative Capital awardee, and an assistant professor of creative writing at the Ohio State University. She is a member of the Cowlitz Indian Tribe.

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Amy Woolard, Spring 2021

Amy Woolard

Amy Woolard is a legal aid attorney working on civil rights policy and legislation in Virginia. Her debut poetry collection, Neck of the Woods, received the 2018 Alice James Books Award. Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Poetry, and elsewhere, while her essays and reporting have been featured in publications such as Slate, The Guardian, and Virginia Quarterly Review. She lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.

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Deborah A. Miranda, Spring 2021

Deborah A. Miranda

Deborah A. Miranda is the author of Bad Indians: A Tribal Memoir (2013), recipient of the PEN-Oakland Josephine Miles Literary Award, a Gold Medal from the Independent Publishers Association, and short-listed for the William Saroyan Literary Award; and four poetry collections: Altar for Broken Things (2020), Raised by Humans (2015), The Zen of La Llorona (2005), and Indian Cartography (1999). She is co-editor of Sovereign Erotics: A Collection of Two-Spirit Literature, and her work has appeared in When the Light of the World was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through: An Anthology of Native Nations Poetry (2020). She is an enrolled member of the Ohlone-Costanoan Esselen Nation of the Greater Monterey Bay Area in California.

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Theresa Warburton, Spring 2021

Theresa Warburton

Theresa Warburton is the author of Other Worlds Here: Honoring Native Women’s Literatures in Contemporary Anarchist Movements (forthcoming, Northwestern University Press). With Elissa Washuta, she is co-editor of Shapes of Native Nonfiction: Collected Essays by Contemporary Writers. She is an Associate Professor of English at Western Washington University where she is also affiliate faculty in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Canadian-American Studies. She lives on Lummi, Nooksack, and Coast Salish Territories in Bellingham, WA.

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Eduardo C. Corral, Spring 2021

Eduardo C. Corral

Eduardo C. Corral is the son of Mexican immigrants. Guillotine, his second book, was published by Graywolf Press. He teaches in the MFA program at North Carolina State University.

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Paul Beatty, Spring 2021

Paul Beatty

Paul Beatty is the author of the novels, Tuff, Slumberland, and The White Boy Shuffle, and the poetry collections Big Bank Take Little Bank and Joker, Joker, Deuce. He is the editor of Hokum: An Anthology of African-American Humor. In 2016, he became the first American to win the Man Booker Prize for his novel The Sellout. In 2017, he was the winner of the American Academy of Arts and Letters Literature Award. He lives in New York City.

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Saeed Jones, Fall 2020

Saaed Jones

Saeed Jones is the author of the memoir How We Fight for Our Lives, winner of the 2019 Kirkus Prize for Nonfiction, the 2020 Stonewall Book Award/Israel Fishman Nonfiction Award, a 2020 Publishing Triangle Award, and a 2020 Lambda Literary Award. He is also the author of the poetry collection Prelude to Bruise, winner of the 2015 PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award for Poetry, the 2015 Stonewall Book Award/Barbara Gittings Literature Award, and finalist for the 2015 National Book Critics Circle Award. He lives in Columbus, Ohio with his dog Caesar.

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The Liberation of Her: Reclaiming the Female Narrative, Fall 2020

Judy Granh

Bay Area legends Jewelle Gomez and Judy Grahn have between them written in almost every genre one might imagine: poems, stories, plays, teleplays, essays, libretti, criticism, memoir. Their work has been central to generations of LGBT readers and writers, and their lives in the Bay Area have been focused on art, spirituality, community and the voices of women.

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Jan Beatty, Fall 2020

Jan Beatty

Jan Beatty is the author of Red Sugar, Boneshaker, and Mad River, winner of the Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize, and The Body Wars. She directs creative writing at Carlow University where she runs the Mad women in the Attic writing workshops and is Distinguished Writer in Residence of the MFA program.

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Ayşegül Savaş, Fall 2020

Ayşegül Savaş

Ayşegül Savaş is the author of Walking on the Ceiling. Her second novel White on White is forthcoming from Riverhead Books. Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Granta, and The Guardian. She lives in Paris.

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A Feast of Words, Fall 2020

Rabih Alamaddine

Food writer Anissa Helou and novelist Rabih Alameddine discuss food, friendship, travel, and their beloved Beirut!

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Faculty Reading, Fall 2020: Laleh Khadivi

Laleh Khadivi

Author, Filmmaker, and USF MFA in Writing Assistant Professor, Laleh Khadivi, reads a new piece entitled "What Else Do You Like?"

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Faculty Reading, Fall 2020: Lauren Markham

Lauren Markham

USF MFA in Writing Professor, Lauren Markham, is author of "The Far Away Brothers: Two Young Migrants and the Making of an American Life", which won the Northern California Book Award and the California Book Award Silver Prize, was longlisted for the Pen America Literary Award, and was shortlisted for the LA Times Book Award.

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Faculty Reading, Fall 2020: Alan Chazaro

Alan Chazaro

Alan Chazaro '17, joined the MFA in Writing faculty in 2020 and is the the author of two books of poetry, "This is Not a Frank Ocean Cover Album" and "Piñata Theory." He has also written "Mid 90s Kamakazi," a collection of poems with illustrations by Matt Mitchell.

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Faculty Reading, Fall 2020: Lewis Buzbee

Lewis Buzbee

Lewis Buzbee is the author of novels "Bridge of Time" and "The Haunting of Charles Dickens" which won the Northern California Book Award.

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Past Readers

  • Christina Garcia
  • Jamel Brinkley
  • Patricia Smith
  • Wendy C. Ortiz
  • Kevin Young
  • Aaron Shurin
  • Sam Lipsyte
  • Craig Santos Perez
  • Hadara Bar-Nadav
  • Paisley Rekdal
  • Vivian Gornick
  • Marcelo Hernandez Castillo
  • Javier Zamora
  • Solmaz Sherif
  • Rachel Zucker
  • Maggie Nelson
  • Percival Everett
  • Adam Johnson
  • Mary Karr
  • Louise Glück
  • Abeer Hoque
  • Statistical modeling
  • Lucas Mann
  • Sara Michas-Martin
  • Jill Talbot
  • Mary Karr
  • Adam Johnson
  • Kathryn Ma
  • Hala Alyan
  • Ryan Macdonald
  • Chanan Tigay
  • Paul Lisicky
  • David Wojahn
  • Justin St Germain
  • Adam Peterson
  • Roger Reeves
  • Sandra Lim
  • Melanie Rae Thon
  • Thomas Sayers Ellis
  • Daniel Alarcon
  • Tina Chang
  • Marlon James
  • Elena Passarello
  • Shane McCrae
  • Dana Johnson
  • Jo Ann Beard
  • Robert Grenier
  • Manuel Muñoz
  • Ye Chun
  • Laura Van Den Berg
  • Dave Madden
  • Wayne Miller
  • Deb Olin Unferth
  • Carol Sklenicka
  • Stacey Levine
  • Michelle Tea
  • Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge
  • Ada Limón
  • Jane Smiley
  • Tamin Ansary
  • Bill Guttentag
  • Pam Houston
  • Bob Shacochis
  • Monica Youn
  • Thomas Glave
  • Jacqueline Lyons
  • Allison Hoover Bartlett
  • Anita Amirrezvani
  • Kathryn Ma
  • Barbara Jane Reyes
  • Shawna Yang Ryan
  • David Vann
  • Joshua Mohr
  • Craig Santos Perez
  • Gillian Conoley
  • Gail Scott
  • Yiyun Li
  • C Dale Young
  • Jason Roberts
  • Camille Dungy
  • Anthony Varallo
  • Caille Millner
  • John Casteen
  • Rachel Howard
  • Vyvyane Loh
  • Paul S Flores
  • Maxine Chernoff
  • Paul Hoover
  • Rebecca Brown
  • Firoozeh Dumas
  • Pablo Medina
  • Alexander Chee
  • Sarah Gambito
  • Magdalena Zurawski
  • Alex Lemon
  • Katharine Noel
  • Nona Caspers
  • Cristina Garcia
  • Ben Lerner
  • Claudia Rankine
  • Floyd Skloot
  • Rose Castillo Guilbault
  • Robert Pinksy
  • Sam D'Allesandro
  • David Bezmozgis
  • Kate Braverman
  • Kyoko Mori
  • Stephen Kessler
  • August Kleinzahler
  • Laura Moriarty
  • Eileen Myles
  • George Saunders
  • Bharati Mukherjee
  • Marjorie Sandor
  • Brian Teare
  • ZZ Packer
  • Diane Di Prima
  • Alvin Lu
  • Karen Joy Fowler
  • Ron Padgett
  • Robert Glück
  • Tsering Wangmo Dhompa
  • Nora Strejilevich
  • John Edgar Wideman
  • Sherril Jaffe
  • Millicent Dillon
  • Anthony Swofford
  • Barbara Guest
  • Matthew B Dalton
  • Nelson Eubanks
  • D A Powell
  • Jeffery Renard Allen
  • R Zamora Linmark
  • Joanne Kyger
  • Louise Rafkin
  • Bei Dao
  • Michael Palmer
  • Bill Hayes
  • Lan Samantha Chang
  • Aimee Bender
  • Alice Notley
  • Forrest Hamer
  • Camille Roy
  • Karen Tei Yamashita
  • Paul LaFarge
  • Michael McClure
  • Wanda Coleman
  • Meredith Maran
  • Norman Fisher
  • Gail Tsukiyama