Passion for Justice

MFA Program Welcomes Author Laleh Khadivi as Assistant Prof.

by Melissa Brooks

Fiction writer Laleh Khadivi will be joining the MFA in Writing Program’s full-time faculty as an Assistant Professor in January 2017; however, she is not new to the USF program, having taught as an adjunct faculty member in Fall 2015. During this experience, she was impressed by the program’s and its students’ dedication to the development and success of creative writing projects.

“The students have a serious attitude toward both the study of literature and the process of their own development as writers,” Khadivi said. “The MFA encourages students to think about writing as craft and profession; within this I found it refreshing that students were guided toward their own voices.”

Having been both a student and teacher in MFA programs, Khadivi has fostered a deep appreciation for the time and support the MFA offers burgeoning writers to help them grow.

A Unique Perspective

Having been born in Iran and raised all over the world, the early years of Khadivi’s childhood were spent largely in transit as her family sought visas and, eventually, an American green card. One of the reasons she was drawn to USF was that she found it to be a welcoming place for the diversity of human narratives.

“We live in a time of great human shifts and I think my experience as a migrant, immigrant, emigrant will be valuable to the USF community. Narratives of movement have always been a part of the literary canon, and I look forward to opening students up to the new ones as well the ones they themselves have lived and are living,” she said.

Teaching Philosophy

Khadivi earned her MFA from Mills College and has taught creative writing at several prestigious universities, including the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Emory University, Santa Clara University, Goddard, and Mills.

“The MFA is one of the few spaces where a person is encouraged to take themselves seriously as a writer. There are classrooms of people to discuss your work, lists of books that will make your brain and soul expand in new directions, and often a thesis that will encourage writers to dedicate themselves so they may endure the struggles of doubt and dry imaginations that challenge any creative process. After the MFA, this combination of influence, support, and inspiration is hard to find,” Khadivi said.

Khadivi cannot imagine writing without teaching or teaching without writing.

The two feed each other. Teaching is a natural extension of myself as a writer. It allows curiosity to continue, and encourages me to pass it on to other lovers of storytelling and literature.

In addition to teaching at MFA programs, Khadivi has taught creative writing at the San Francisco County Jail, Rikers Island Juvenile Jail, Angola State Penitentiary, and various high schools and senior centers throughout the Bay Area. She is the author of The Kurdish Trilogy, which includes The Age of Orphans (2009), The Walking (2013), and A Good Country (forthcoming, 2017). Her fiction and non-fiction have appeared in the LA Times, San Francisco Chronicle, VQR, and The Sun. She is the winner of numerous awards, including the National Endowment for the Arts, Barnes and Noble Discover New Writer Award, the Whiting Award, the Pushcart Prize, the Emory Fiction Fellowship, and the Wisconsin Fiction Fellowship. Learn more about Laleh Khadivi at her website.