Creative Writing 2018 Winter Newsletter

George and Judy Marcus

SF State Announces Largest Gift in its History

Gift will help retain students across the liberal and creative arts, recruit and retain the finest faculty

San Francisco State University President Leslie E. Wong announced a $25 million gift from alumni George and Judy Marcus — the George and Judy Marcus Funds for Excellence in the Liberal Arts. This gift, combined with a recent $1.8 million Athletics scholarship fund gift from the couple, represents the largest donation — $26.8 million — in the history of San Francisco State.

The George and Judy Marcus Funds for Excellence in the Liberal Arts will support student and faculty research across the college, as well as four endowed chairs and major programmatic enhancements in the department of Creative Writing and the school of Cinema.  

George (B.A., ’65, Economics) and Judy Otten Marcus (B.A., ’62, Recreation) are lauded Bay Area civic and business leaders. They met growing up in San Francisco’s Potrero Hill neighborhood and attended SF State, launching a lifetime of personal and professional achievement together.

George M. Marcus is a first-generation American. He is the co-founder of Marcus & Millichap Company and has been its co-chairman since 1971. Marcus & Millichap is the parent company of a diversified group of real estate, service, investment and development firms. He is a trustee emeritus of the CSU Board of Trustees, serving from 1981 to 1989, and is a current member of the CSU Foundation’s Board of Governors. In 2012 he concluded a 12-year appointment as a regent of the University of California.

"San Francisco State helped define our future and it is our hope that this gift will do the same for students and faculty in the College of Liberal and Creative Arts now and for many years to come,” said Judy Marcus.

The Marcuses have served faithfully on University boards and advisory committees and have been robust supporters of the creative arts, the humanities and athletics at SF State. They also generously helped inspire other donors to contribute to and expand the Willie L. Brown, Jr. Fellowship Program at SF State aimed at providing more students with professional experience in the public sector.

Message from the Chair

Dear Students, Faculty, Alums and Friends,

Hello from the newly-elected Chair of the Department of Creative Writing, and thank you to Paul Hoover for serving as Acting Chair for the past year-and-a-half. I am happy to serve our students and faculty and am committed to the mission of our department, which includes to “make our writers attentive readers of the literatures of the world and socially aware members of society.”

On behalf of our students and faculty past, present and future, we express heartfelt appreciation and gratitude for the Marcus Foundation Endowment, which recognizes the power of a creative and liberal arts education to enrich and vitalize the individual and society. And thank you to Dean Andrew Harris for his dedication to the College and our creative writing programs. This fall we also received a gift from the Madden-Zibman family, allowing us to offer annually the Elizabeth June Madden-Zibman Scholarship. The endowments will help us grow even stronger an already strong department.

Our students continue to receive inspiration, guidance, and training in craft from nationally and internationally esteemed writers, and many contribute to the community and literary dialogue through publishing, producing, reading series, teaching, editing, running arts organizations and bringing “the pleasure of comprehensible writing to many business enterprises.” (Maxine I could not have said it better).

We are proud of all of our students and alumni.

This semester we feel lucky to welcome the newest member of our faculty, Michael David Lukas, author of the internationally bestselling novel The Oracle of Stamboul. We say goodbye to our Academic Office Coordinator, Barbara Eaton, now serving the School of Arts. A thousand thanks for her effective administration, keen mind and humor. As our new Academic Administrative Office Coordinator, we are pleased to welcome Jenny Jiang.

Under the guidance of Steve Dickison and Elise Ficarra, and the funding from a National Endowment of the Arts fellowship, our Poetry Center Reading Series continues to offer the Bay Area and campus community the voices of authors such as Tatiana Luboviski-Acosta (author of The Easy Body and recipient of the inaugural Mazza Writer in Residence fellowship), M. NourbeSe Philip (author of Zong! and recipient of a Chalmers Fellowship in Poetry) and Lisa “Tiny” Gray-Garcia (author of Criminal of Poverty: Growing Up Homeless in America and the co–founder of POOR Magazine/Prensa POBRE.)

Please read on for more great news, and have a rich and wonderful winter and new year.

“I have decided to wholeheartedly consecrate myself to my art” —Mazza Writer in Residence, Tatiana Luboviski-Acosta


Nona Caspers’ The Fifth Woman novel was released in August 2018, to praise from San Francisco Chronicle, LAMBDA Literary Review and Publisher's Weekly. Stacy D’erasmo selected the book for the Mary McCarthy award and the story, "Frontiers," originally published in Cimarron Review, was selected by Best American Short Stories as a "Distinguished Story of 2016."

Maxine Chernoff read at the DIA Foundation in NY in May 2018. Her Collected Prose Poems: Under the Music is forthcoming in spring 2019, Madhat Press.

Paul Hoover’s book of poetry, The Book of Unnamed Things (MadHat Press) was published in 2018, with book events held in New York City, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Tampa, and San Francisco. His 1988 novel, Saigon, Illinois, was published in Italian translation by Carbonio Editore of Milan, with reviews in La Repubblica, the newspaper of Rome, among other publications. He has signed a contract, offered by Yale University Press, to edit Selected Poems of Maria Baranda, for its Margellos World Republic of Letters series. His poem, “I Am the Size of What I See,” published in Fifth Wednesday, was selected by David Lehman and Dana Gioia for The Best American Poetry of 2018.  He was also a featured poet in Poetico Mundial de Montevideo, November 13-19, 2018.

Donna de la Perriere's new book of poetry, Works of Love & Terror, is forthcoming from Talisman House, Publishers in the spring of 2019.

May-lee Chai’s essay "The Missing Images of Chinese Immigrants" was published in the Paris Review Essay (10-23-2018.) She was interviewed by Bustle (10-23-2018) and Phi Beta Kappa Key Reporter (09-21-2018.) Her new story “Useful Phrases for Immigrants” (10-23-2018) was reviewed by Washington Post and The New York Times and short story "The Body" (excerpt from Useful Phrases for Immigrants) was published in Literary Hub.

Michelle Carter wrote the book and libretto for a musical, Iron Shoes, which premiered at Shotgun Players in the Spring of 2018. She and composer Janet Kutulas are currently finalists for the TBA Award for Best Original Musical.

Andrew Joron An excerpt from his science-fiction novella Ocean Zero​ was recently published in the Canadian literary magazine Dalhousie Review. Also an interview with him appeared in Chicago Review.

Heather June Gibbons' poetry collection Her Mouth as Souvenir, winner of the 2017 Agha Shahid Ali Poetry Prize, was published by the University of Utah Press in June. The book has been reviewed favorably in KQED Arts "The Spine," ZYZZYVA, and Southern Indiana Review, and was listed as a "Must Read" poetry book by The Millions. This fall, she traveled to present her work as a featured author at the Decatur Book Festival in Decatur, GA, the Guest Writers Series at the University of Utah, and at Berl's Poetry Shop in New York City. She also gave several readings in the SF Bay Area, including the Litquake Festival, the Poetry Center, and Poetry Flash. One of her poems was the "Weekly Feature" in The Laurel Review.

Chanan Tigay’s book, the Lost Book of Moses: The Hunt for the World's Oldest Bible, was a finalist for the Sami Rohr Book Prize. The book was translated into Chinese and published in China. He also published a profile of Los Angeles Mayor and possible presidential candidate Eric Garcetti in GQ, an article in The Atlantic about the marijuana industry in California, and an article on about his search for a missing Bible manuscript.

Barbara Tomash’s fourth poetry collection, PRE-, came out from Black Radish Books and has received reviews in journals including Publishers’ Weekly. PRE- was also the subject of an essay by Kristina Marie Darling in Ploughshares Blog. Excerpts from her manuscript in progress Her Scant State have been published in two international journals, Shearsman Magazine and parentheses and online in Connotations Press. In March she published an essay in the series My Small Press Writing Day and in July she was a Visiting Writer for the Lighthouse Writers’ Workshop in Denver where she led a workshop on erasure poetry and gave a presentation on her work. At the New Orleans Poetry Festival she was a member of the Black Radish Books panel, and she gave readings from PRE- and her new work at various venues around the Bay Area and in New Orleans and Denver.

Truong Tran recently published an essay and art portfolio in the Summer issue of The Georgia Review.

Michael David Lukas second novel, The Last Watchman of Old Cairo, came out this March.

Anne Galjour’s new play #GetGandhi received its world  premiere in August at Z Below Theatre in San Francisco.  

Carolina De Robertis’ review of Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen, by Jose Antonio Vargas, was published in the San Francisco Chronicle in September 2018. In November, she was a featured literary artist in The Bathroom Line, a multimedia arts project co-sponsored by SOMArts gallery and Radar Productions. In December, she appeared at the Howard Zinn Book Fair on the panel "Queer Lit(erature): Still Radical After All These Years," which also featured two SF State MFA alumnae, Nancy Au and Juliana Delgado Lopera. Her translation of the novel Surrender, by Ray Loriga, winner of the 2017 Alfaguara Prize (a.k.a. the "Spanish Booker"), is forthcoming from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in early 2019.


Nancy Au’s recent publications are "The Richmond" in Catapult (short fiction) and "The Word for Water" in Michigan Quarterly Review (nonfiction essay.) Her flash fiction piece, "She Is A Battleground," originally published in Lunch Ticket (June 2017), was selected to appear in the Best Small Fictions 2018 anthology, guest edited by Aimee Bender. Her "She Is A Battleground" won the Vestal Review's VERA Short Fiction Prize.

Phillip Barron is in the PhD program in Philosophy at the University of Connecticut, where he works on aesthetics and philosophy of art. His recent publications are an article on philosophy in poetry and a literary memoir: "Who Has Not Wak'd": Mary Robinson and Cartesian Poetry - Philosophy and Literature (Johns Hopkins Press) and "Homeless Shelter" - Chaffey Review.

Pam Benjamin is the owner/ director of Mutiny Radio, a free speech podcast hub and live streaming internet radio station located in the Mission District of San Francisco featuring comedy, spoken word, news, local and world music, LGBTQ friendly programming and more. She hosts and produces 6 weekly podcasts and performs standup comedy all over the US (Little Rock AK over Thanksgiving at the Loony Bin).

Lara Coley is currently Artist-in-Residence for a fellowship with Ruth Asawa School of the Arts. She most recently had two poems published in Red Light Lit's anthology, Love is the Drug & Other Dark Poems, edited by fellow alum, Jennifer Lewis (and Jessie Carver).

Kevin DiPirro Supported by a Vice Provost Undergraduate Education Grant and a Summer Research College Award from Stanford where he teaches in Writing and Rhetoric, he devised, directed, and produced a series of immersive and interactive performances at and around the Nitery Theater at Stanford University in October, 2018.

Dylan Brie Ducey had short stories published in Four Way Review, Minola Review, The Occulum, Split Lip, Sou'wester, and The Tishman Review.

Ariel Fintushel was published in Cholla Needles and The A3 Review, and performed at the Griffith Park Poetry Circus in Los Angeles, produced by poet Nicelle Davis. She co-founded an annual retreat with SF State graduate Sean Negus called, The Joshua Tree Experiential Arts & Writing Retreat, and the affiliated journal, Bad Ken: A Journal of Place. Fintushel also procured grants for and facilitated Films & Poetry, a creative workshop serving disenfranchised youth and adults in transitional housing in Los Angeles, through the non-profit Women's Voices Now.

Nancy Fishman will be a writer in residence at Write On, Door County in Door County, Wisconsin in the summer of 2019.

Alisa Golden’s short stories, poems or erasure collages were published or forthcoming in Chiron Review, Blink Ink, Unlost Journal, Nomadic Press Journal “Wonder,” The Ekphrastic Review, and Litro Magazine. Golden was the 2018 recipient of the Anolic Family Jewish Book Art Award/Grant.

Marcus Gardley was a 2018 recipient for Hewlett 50 Arts Commisions for theater, musical theater and spoken word. His new work has been commissioned by California Shakespeare Theater as part of its New Classics Initiative.

HL Hazuka’s three poems from the manuscript titled The Undying Forest appeared in the Spring issue of DATABLEED #9, which includes Alice Notley and Rosmarie Waldrop, among others.

Sarah Heady is the librettist of Unfinished: An Opera, currently in development with composer Joshua Groffman and producer Vital Opera. In October 2018, the National Opera Center hosted a concert reading of Unfinished, which debuted in 2016 at sold-out engagements in Dutchess County, NY and New York City.

Flavia Ida is a published writer and journalist in two languages, and her fifth book came out in December.

Miah Jeffra was winner of the Atticus Review Nonfiction Prize, winner of the Oregon Writers Colony Nonfiction Prize, finalist for the Prairie Schooner Book Prize (for my master's thesis, The Violence Almanac) and recipient of the Alice Hayes Fellowship and Residency from Ragdale.

Nicole Jost's play Sucia was awarded the Honorable Mention (runner up) for the Jane Chambers Student Playwriting Award, and won third place for the National Partners of the American Theatre Playwriting Award and a Distinguished Achievement for the Rosa Parks Playwriting Award. Her play Intimates was selected for The Custom Made Theatre Co.'s "Undiscovered Works" development series and presented at two staged readings. Her poem "Come over Here with Me" won 2nd place in the Browning Society's 2018 dramatic monologue competition.

Jeff Kaliss’ non-fiction piece and poem were published by Forum magazine in its Spring 2018 edition and in Fall 2018 edition. He continues contributions to San Francisco Classical Voice, has a featured piece in November issues of The Journal of Alta and Classical Guitar, and authored program notes for the Kronos Quartet and liner notes for a Pentatone recording of choral works by Gordon Getty.

Marilyn Kriegel had a staged reading of her Harm’s Way at Sonoma Arts Live directed by Nellie Cravens.

James Christopher Lacek has accepted a residency at the Raleigh Playhouse and Theatre in West Virginia where his full length original musical Frack!! ran last year. He is currently in production on his new play, I'm Don Blankenship (And I Approve This Message), which will debut next spring or early summer. He also signed a deal with Scout Comics, and his graphic novel, Jazz Legend has released to bookstores worldwide.

Joy Lanzendorfer’s essays were published in The New York Times, Ploughshares, Washington Post, Longreads, LA Review of Books, Smithsonian, Poetry Foundation, and others.

Edward Arthur Lebowitz presented a solo performance piece at The Marsh Theater on Valencia Street in San Francisco, which is based on a short story he wrote while a student at SFSU.

John Mancini’s stories and poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in New England Review, SmokeLong Quarterly, New World Writing, Akashic Books online, New Flash Fiction Review, HOOT, FIVE:2:ONE, and elsewhere.

Peter Nachtrieb is at the end of a six year stint as Playwright in Residence at Z Space in San Francisco, a program funded by the Andrew Mellon Foundation. As part of that, he recently hosted a convening of theatrical comedy writers and producers at ArtsEmerson in Boston. His new musical, Fall Springs, is premiering at Barrington Stage Company in Pittsfield, MA in the summer of 2019.

Kelly O'Rourke received the Les Standiford Fellowship to attend the Eckerd College Writers in Paradise Conference. Since January, her work has been published in UC Dublin's HCE Review, Canada Quarterly, Poet's Haven Digest and Snapdragon: A Journal of Art and Healing.

Mary Peelen won the Kithara Book Prize.

Emily Pinkerton published her second chapbook, Bloom, with Alley Cat Press and her third chapbook, Adaptations, with Nomadic Press.

Stephen Rosenshein published a poetry and photography chapbook. (

Dan Schifrin is one of two winners of the 2018 Anne and Robert Cowan Writers Prize, which was presented in April at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco. The award is given for exceptional literary contributions to Bay Area Jewish life.

Dana Suchow Since SFSU, she has used her creative writing skills to become a speaker and educator about body image and diet culture. She won a #GirlHero Award from actor Chrissy Metz at the Girl Up #GirlHero Awards last month for her work.

Nate Waggoner’s short story was published in the Columbia Journal and essay was published in Vol 1 Brooklyn.

Sandra Wassilie received the Pandemonium Press Open Mic Award in February for “Forget Me Not,” first version written in the SFSU program. Her "Little Darlings" was included in the Naked Bulb Anthology 2017 out this year and "Disruptors" was published this summer by Cirque, A Literary Magazine for the North Pacific Rim.

Current Graduate Students

Jennifer S. Cheng’s book, Moon: Letters, Maps, Poems (Tarpaulin Sky) was recently named one of Publishers Weekly “Best Books of 2018.”

Taylor D. Duckett published her fourth book and second collection of Poetry Sex, Love, and Other Emotions (published under Just Dulèa). She has also had work featured in Genre: Urban Arts Print No. 5 as well as Bay Area Generations Number 61.

Asher Marron Earlier’s first book of poetry, “Unbind(ing)” came out through Conviction 2 Change.

Antony Fangary’s poems were published in The Bookends Review, HCE Review, The Paragon Press, Mantra Review, Metonym, The Laurel Review: Fearsome Critters, The Coptic Voice, Anomalous Press and Dragon Poet Review. His chapbook Haram-Poems and Prayers is coming out this year by Etched Press.

Ai Ebashi’s full-length play Janus received a staged-reading at Exit Theater as part of the San Francisco Olympians Festival and short play The Tale of Lady Murasaki was performed at PianoFight as part of the ShortLived Competition. Her five poems were published in New American Writing and four poems and artworks were published in Genre: Urban Arts No. 5.

Kristen La Follette worked in the Emerging Professionals Committee and co-organized Speed Networking for new professionals at the Oral History Association in Montreal.

Jacq Greyja’s first chapbook Greater Grave was published from The Operating System and their poems were published in Linden Avenue and Peach Magazine and exhibited in the "Way Bay Poetry Assembly" at the BAMPFA. They also received a summer residency with RADAR Productions' "Show Us Your Spines," a creative archival residency for LGBTQ people of color at the San Francisco Public Library. They will be presenting at AWP 2019 on the panel "Both, Neither, and Something Else Entirely: Genderqueer Writers & Writing".

Molly Cecil Olis Krost’s short play That Is Not Yours was a part of The FLIPside Festival by MaArte Theater Collective in San Diego. Her play Diktador received a reading at the Ubran x Indigenous Fesitval at SoMarts Center and an excerpt of her play Ube was published in {m}aganda magazine. Her short play After Hubris was performed at Berkeley Rep for Monday Night PlayGround. Currently, her new play is being developed in a workshop by Clutch Productions in New York.

Leticia Hernández-Linares’ two poems were published in the anthology Latinas: Voices of Protest and Struggles in 21st Century USA, Iris Morales, ed. (Red Sugarcane Press.)

Ali Littman’s first novel, Radio Underground, came out in November with Last Syllable Books.

Evelyn Jean Pine won a Sold Out Award at the San Francisco Fringe Festival for her one-person play, A Mermaid's Tears. Her play Mom, this is My Abortion was performed as part of ReProRights at the B8 Theatre in October. A PlayGround Resident Playwright, she also received a Dejerassi Winter Writer's Residency.

Gretchen Stengel Schnitzer’s book-length manuscript Dovecotes was a finalist for the Poetry Foundation's Emily Dickinson First Book Award. He also published poems in New American Writing and Beloit Poetry Journal.