MFA Program News
Over the years, UAF graduates have published countless books and won widespread recognition.
Their awards include NEA fellowships, the Whiting Award, a New York Times notable book of the year, The Flannery O’Connor Award, and a Yale Younger Poets Prize.
In addition, two of our graduates have served as Alaska Writer Laureate. Below is
a sampling of recent awards, honors, and publications from our students, faculty,
and alumni. To share your own creative writing news, please submit this form.
Caitlin Scarano (MFA, '14) was named winner of a 2023 Pacific Northwest Book Award. Of her collection The Necessity of Wildfire: Poems, the awards committee wrote: "These poems burn slowly but searing, as readers are lulled into a sense of comfort in the exploration of the minutiae of everyday life only to be suddenly startled into a higher clarity." … Split/Lip Press announced that it will publish Holy American Burnout, the debut essay collection from Sean Enfield (MFA, '21), in December 2023. Enfield's nonfiction "attempts to find connection through music and words as reclamation of labor, as community care, and as resistance to the many forces of white supremacy working against marginalized bodies," states Split/Lip Press.… Heather Aruffo (MFA, '19) was awarded the Oran Robert Perry Burke Prize in Nonfiction from The Southern Review for her essay “At the Women’s Only Handgun Class in Fairbanks, Alaska.” Aruffo also has work is forthcoming in Alaska Quarterly Review.
Student & Faculty News
Fiction writer Aaron Salzman took first place in UAF's Three Minute Thesis competition. He also has two story publications this year: "The Fox and the Crow Cross a Shallow Bowl" in Quagmire Literary Magazine, and "Your Home of Theirs" in the print journal Artful Dodge.… Assistant Professor Sara Eliza Johnson released her second poetry collection, Vapor, with Milkweed Editions. Johnson's essay "Unspeakable" (originally published in Alaska Quarterly Review) was also recognized as a notable essay in The Best American Essays 2022.… Professor Gerri Brightwell released her third novel, Turnback Ridge, with Torrey House Press. Brightwell's story "Ocean City, 1949" was also published in Bayou Magazine, and her flash fiction "Necessary Measures" appeared in Litro Magazine (UK).… Two University of Alaska Fairbanks MFA students were named as winners of 2022 AWP Intro Journals Project Awards. Liz Bolton received a nonfiction award for her essay “Starfish: A Paean to Those Who Cannot Breathe,” which was published in Puerto Del Sol. KJ Janeshek received a poetry award for their poem "I Dream of Dressing Your Altar with Slaughtered Meat," which appeared in Mid-American Review; KJ’s poem "A Cabin in the Forest" was also named as an honorable mention.… Assistant Professor Joseph Holt had an essay titled "Ten Years Sober" appear in The Sun.
John Messick (MFA, '13) received Rasmuson Foundation Project Award to help with the completion and promotion of his debut essay collection Compass Lines, which is is forthcoming with the Alaska-based Porphyry Press in Spring 2023.… Sean Enfield (MFA, '21) also received received an Rasmuson Foundation Project Award, which will help as he completes his debut essay collection Who Be Our Teacher – Essays on Race, Education and Identity. Also, Enfield's essay "The Revolution will be Revised" was recognized as a notable essay in The Best American Essays 2022. This marks the second time Enfield's work has been recognized by BAE; his essay "South of the South, Reprise" was listed as notable in the 2020 edition.
Student & Faculty News
Fiction writer Alison Miller recently had two publications: her essay "Room for Troubled Dogs" appears at Hippocampus Magazine, and the story "Too Much to Ask" appears at Free Library of the Internet Void.… Poet and nonfiction writer Keely O’Connell recently published four essays: "New Love Letter" in Hippocampus Magazine, "In Wayward Water" in Northwest Review, "Antediluvian Animals" in CRAFT, and "Bird’s Eye View," which received an honorable mention in the 2021 Waterman Fund Essay Contest.… Fiction writer Rebecca Wood received a honorable mention for her story "Ain’t No Glory for Billy" in the 2021 AWP Intro Journals Project Awards. "Ain't No Glory for Billy" was published in Concho River Review and nominated for a Pushcart Prize.… MFA/MA student Courtney Skaggs recently published two poems: "Business Insider Interviews MGMT's Lyricist: An Erasure" in Ghost City Review, and "The Little Death After the Apocalypse," in Strange Horizons.… Nonfiction writer Susan Sugai published an essay titled "Sibling Flying Lessons in the 1950s" in the Asian American Solidarity issue of SweetLit.… Joseph Holt released his debut story collection, Golden Heart Parade, with Santa Fe Writers Project. Around the book release, Holt contributed an "If My Book" essay to Monkeybicycle and a "Research Notes" essay to Necessary Fiction.… The story "Inversion" by Associate Professor Daryl Farmer recently appeared in Terrain.org, an online journal dedicated to writing about place.… Poet KJ Janeshek had a prose poem titled "The Sharper Edges of Tongues" appear in The Swamp.… Gerri Brightwell has a ghost story titled "Huldremose" in the new issue of Copper Nickel. Brightwell also has recent work appearing in The Waking: Ruminate Online, Mslexia, The Real Story, 101 Words, and JMWW.… MFA/MA student Michael Kay was selected as a 2021 resident of Theater Alaska’s Alaska Writer's Workshop. The program is a year-long residency that offers professional development for emerging playwrights.
The poem "김장," written by Eddie Kim (MFA, '11), was nominated by Heavy Feather Review for Best of the Net 2021. The Korean letters 김장 translate to "Kimchi." … Ken Waldman (MFA, '88) has published eight new books in the past two years: the poetry collection Sports Page, the hybrid craft book The Writing Party; the poetry collection Leftovers and Gravy; and five new volumes of his Trump Sonnets series.… "Force, Mass, Acceleration" by Heather Aruffo (MFA, '19) was selected for the PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers and appeared in the anthology Best Debut Short Stories: The PEN America Dau Prize. The story was first published in the Summer 2020 issue of Southern Review.
Student & Faculty News
Fiction writer Ryan Shek was named as winner of the Michigan Writers Cooperative Press 2020 chapbook contest. His manuscript, Bluetongue and Other Michigan Stories, will be published by MWCP.… MFA/MA student Courtney Skaggs recently had two lyric essays published: "Lines on the Road: A Map of My Fears" in Rejection Letters, and "Ode to an Acorn" in Longleaf Review.… Essayist Sean Enfield won the 2020 Fourth Genre Michael Steinberg Memorial Essay Contest. Enfield's essay, "The Revolution Will Be Revised," was published in Fourth Genre‘s Spring 2021 issue. Enfield's nonfiction also recently appeared in The Rumpus.… Joseph Holt had a couple essays appear in summer 2020: "Highway to Hades" in Valley Voices and "Smoky Water Elegy" in J Journal: New Writing on Justice. Last year, Holt's essay "Love Running" was featured on a "Breakup Reading List" at Longreads.… Daryl Farmer published a story titled "Once a River" in Ploughshares. Farmer also had an essay—"The Chapel of Man and All That Endures"—in the new edition of After the Art.… Several UAF English community members had works nominated for the Pushcart Prize: essayist Sean Enfield for the poem "Birthday" in Thimble Literary Magazine and for the essay "Where Were You When Frank Ocean Returned" in COUNTERCLOCK; essayist Brandi Jo Nyberg for "Vultures" in Border Crossing; and professor Eric Heyne for the poem "Candle Ice" in Shark Reef.… Sara Eliza Johnson had several creative works published in spring 2020: the poem "Vapor" in The Cincinnati Review, the essay "Thanatophilia: A Travelogue" in AGNI, and the essay "Xenomorph" in Bright Wall/Dark Room.
Patrice Melnick (MFA, '97) published her debut poetry collection, City of Hey Baby, with Finishing Line Press. The collection draws on Melnick's experience living in New Orleans in the years following Hurricane Katrina.… Dr. Jenni Moody (MFA, '12) accepted a position as Assistant Professor at Mount Mary University in Milwaukee. After graduating from UAF, Moody received her PhD at the University Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she was awarded a Distinguished Dissertator Fellowship and served as a Junior Writing Program Administrator.… Qaggun "Chelsey" Zibell (MFA/MA, '16) was profiled on the front page of the April 13, 2020, edition of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. Zibell now teaches the Inupiaq language at UAF, where she also compiles an evolving website of Inupiaq vocabulary and grammar.
Student & Faculty News
Fiction writer Heather Aruffo was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to Mongolia, where she will teach university-level English and assist the US embassy in Ulaanbaator with outreach and community projects.… Fiction writer David Aubuchon received a fiction honorable mention for his story "Finding Lula" in the 2019 AWP Intro Journals Project Awards.
Armor & Ornament, the debut poetry collection from Christopher Miles (MFA, '12), is now available from the University of Alaska Press. The press states that the collection "melds deep-rooted spirituality with contemporary tensions, offering modern psalms for a tumultuous and uncertain age." … Jill Osier (MFA, '00) received the prestigious Yale Younger Poets Prize for her collection The Solace Is Not the Lullaby. Osier has also received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and has served as the George Bennett Fellow at Philips Exeter Academy.
Fobbit, the debut novel from David Abrams (MFA), was named a New York Times Notable Book of 2012. Abrams is also author of the novel Brave Deeds (2017).… David Nikki Crouse (MFA) is the author of Copy Cats (2005), winner of the Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction, and The Man Back There (2008), winner of the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction.… Novelist Ian C. Esselmont (MFA) has constructed two successful fantasy franchises: Novels of the Malazan Empire and the Path to Ascendancy series.… Nonfiction writer Natalie Kusz (MFA) received a 1989 Whiting Award and a 1995 fellowship from the National Endowment from the Arts. Her memoir is titled Road Song (1990).… Eva Saulitis (MFA) authored five books of poetry and nonfiction and in 2013 received the Alaska Governor's Award for the Arts and Humanities.