2018 Postgraduate Writers' Conference Faculty

VCFA is pleased to present the following faculty for the August 2018 Postgraduate Writers' Conference:


Richard McCannRICHARD MCCANN is the author, most recently, of Mother of Sorrows, a collection of linked stories Michael Cunningham has described as "almost unbearably beautiful," and which was named a 2006 ALA Stonewall Honor Book. He is also the author of Ghost Letters, a collection of poems (1994 Beatrice Hawley Award, 1993 Capricorn Poetry Award) and the editor (with Michael Klein) of Things Shaped in Passing: More 'Poets for Life' Writing from the AIDS Pandemic. His creative nonfiction, fiction and poetry have appeared in such magazines as The Atlantic, Ms., Esquire, Ploughshares, Tin House, and the Washington Post Magazine, and in numerous anthologies, including Best American Essays and The O. Henry Prize Stories. For his work, he has received grants and awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Christopher Isherwood Foundation, the Fulbright Foundation, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. A member of the Board of Directors of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation and the Corporation of Yaddo, he recently retired from teaching in the graduate creative program at American University, where he was named the 2005 Scholar-Teacher of the Year. He is a long-time member of VCFA’s low-residency MFA in Writing faculty. He is currently working on a memoir, The Resurrectionist, which explores the meanings of illness and mortality through a narrative of his experience as a liver transplant recipient.

On the web: richardmccann.net

Sue SilvermanSUE WILLIAM SILVERMAN’s most recent memoir, The Pat Boone Fan Club: My Life as a White Anglo-Saxon Jew, was a finalist in Foreword Reviews’ IndieFab Book of the Year Award. Sue’s first book, Because I Remember Terror, Father, I Remember You, won the Association of Writers and Writing Programs award in creative nonfiction, and her other memoir, Love Sick: One Woman’s Journey through Sexual Addiction (W. W. Norton) was also made into a Lifetime television original movie nominated for two PRISM Awards. She is also the author of Fearless Confessions: A Writer’s Guide to Memoir and a poetry collection, Hieroglyphics in Neon. One of Sue’s personal essays appears in The Touchstone Anthology of Contemporary Nonfiction: Work from 1970 to the Present (Simon & Schuster), while four others won contests with Hotel Amerika, Mid-American Review, Water~Stone Review, and Blue Mesa Review. A flash essay is featured in brevity.com’s 20th Anniversary Special Issue. Other essays and poems have appeared in such places as The Rumpus, Bellingham Review, Prairie Schooner, The Chicago Tribune, The Detroit Free Press, Arts & Letters, Creative Nonfiction, and River Teeth. Sue was featured in an interview in The Writer’s Chronicle and has been the subject of several documentaries including for the Discovery Channel and WE-TV. As a professional speaker, she has appeared on national radio and television programs such as “The View,” “Anderson Cooper-360” and “CNN-Headline News.” She holds an honorary doctorate from Aquinas College for her work in literature and child abuse victim advocacy. She teaches in the MFA in Writing Program at Vermont College of Fine Arts, and is a regular member of the Conference faculty.

On the web: suewilliamsilverman.com

Kyoko MoriKYOKO MORI’s books of nonfiction are Yarn: Remembering the Way Home; Polite Lies: On Being a Woman Caught Between Cultures; and The Dream of Water: a memoir. Yarn’s title essay selected for The Best American Essays 2004, and Polite Lies was short-listed for PEN’s Martha Albrand Nonfiction Award. Mori’s essays have appeared in journals such as Ploughshares, The American Scholar, The Missouri Review, Harvard Review and Fourth Genre, and been widely anthologized, most recently in Waveform: Twenty-First-Century Essays by Women. She is also the author of the award-winning young-adult novels Shizuko’s Daughter and One Bird, and two novels for adults, Stone Field True Arrow and Barn Cat. Mori has taught nonfiction writing at Harvard as a Briggs-Copeland Lecturer. She currently serves on the creative writing faculties of George Mason University and Lesley University’s Low-Residency MFA Program. She lives in Washington, DC. 

On the web: kyokomori.com

Anthony SwoffordANTHONY SWOFFORD served in a U.S. Marine Corps Surveillance and Target Acquisition/Scout-Sniper platoon during the Gulf War. His debut memoir, Jarhead: A Marine’s Chronicle of the Gulf War and Other Battles (2003), was a New York Times and international bestseller, received the Martha Albrand Art of Memoir Award from PEN, and was adapted into a 2005 film directed by Sam Mendes and starring Jake Gyllenhaal. A second memoir, Hotels, Hospitals and Jails (2012), follows Swofford’s search for identity, meaning, and reconciliation with his dying father in the years after his Marine service. He is also the author of the 2007 novel, Exit A. His biography of Carlos Arredondo, a Gold Star father and hero of the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing, is due from Knopf in 2018. He’s adapting that book for HBO Films. Other projects include a book-length essay, No One Loves the Fat Man; a time-travel novel, Sixty Diamond Minutes; and a prose poem cycle about right-wing extremism, Right Wing Radio Flyer. His nonfiction and fiction have appeared in Harper's, Men's Journal, The New York Times Magazine, Slate, The Guardian, The Iowa Review, and elsewhere. He is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and the recipient of a Michener-Copernicus Fellowship. He has taught at Iowa and is currently on faculty in the MFA program at West Virginia University. He is also serving as Visiting Faculty at VCFA for the 2018 winter-spring semester, and has taught at two previous Conferences.

On the web: anthonyhswofford.com


Andre Dubus IIIANDRE DUBUS III’s latest release is the quartet of loosely linked novellas, Dirty Love, which earned editors’-pick designations from The New York Times, The Washington Post, Kirkus and AudioFile Magazine. He is the author of the novel House of Sand and Fog, a finalist for The National Book Award, an Oprah Book Club pick, #1 New York Times bestseller and basis for the Oscar-nominated motion picture starring Ben Kingsley and Jennifer Connelly. His best-selling memoir, Townie, was named a New York Times "Editors’ Choice," placed on numerous 2011 Best Books lists by periodicals as well as booksellers, and selected as Adult Non-Fiction Book of the Year for the 2012 Indie Choice Awards. Andre’s other fiction titles are The Garden of Last Days and Bluesman, both novels, and The Cage Keeper and Other Stories. He has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, The National Magazine Award for fiction and a Pushcart Prize, named a Finalist for the Rome Prize Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and is a 2012 recipient of an American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature. Andre has served as a panelist for The National Book Foundation and The National Endowment for the Arts, and taught writing at Harvard University, Tufts University, Emerson College, and the University of Massachusetts Lowell, where he is a full-time faculty member.

On the web: andredubus.com

Connie May FowlerCONNIE MAY FOWLER is the author of eight books of fiction and nonfiction, including the novels How Clarissa Burden Learned to Fly, The Problem with Murmur Lee, Remembering Blue, Before Women Had Wings (recipient of the 1996 Southern Book Critics Circle Award and the Francis Buck Award from the League of American PEN Women), River of Hidden Dreams, and Sugar Cage. Three of these were Dublin International Literary Award nominees. As a screenwriter, Connie adapted Before Women Had Wings for Oprah Winfrey, resulting in an Emmy Award-winning film. On the nonfiction side, her 2017 release, A Million Fragile Bones, joins a previous memoir, When Katie Wakes. Her essays have been published in The New York Times, London Times, International Herald Tribune, Japan Times, The Sun Magazine, Oxford American, Best Life, and elsewhere. She has written extensively about the environment, family violence, multi-cultural identity, poverty and women’s issues, with essays and stories widely anthologized in the U.S. and abroad, and is a dedicated social-justice advocate. From 2003 through 2007 she served as the Irving Bacheller Professor of Creative Writing at Rollins College and directed their award-winning visiting author series, Winter with the Writers. She is a Core Faculty member of the MFA in Writing Program at Vermont College of Fine Arts, where she has pioneered special workshop models for novelists, and directs the annual VCFA Novel Retreat. She is the founder of Below Sea Level: Full Immersion Workshops for Serious Writers, The St. Augustine Writers Conference and The Yucatan Writing Conference. She lives with her husband and pet menagerie on Isla Cozumel, Mexico.

On the web: conniemayfowler.com

Lee MartinLEE MARTIN is the author of five novels: Late One Night (2016); The Bright Forever, a finalist for the 2006 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction; River of Heaven; Quakertown; and Break the Skin. He has also published three memoirs, From Our House, Turning Bones, and Such a Life. His first book was the short story collection, The Least You Need to Know; a new collection, The Mutual UFO Network, is forthcoming. He is the co-editor of Passing the Word: Writers on Their Mentors, and has a craft book, Telling Stories: The Craft of Narrative and the Writing Life, due out in spring, 2017. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in such places as Harper's, Ms., Creative Nonfiction, The Georgia Review, The Kenyon Review, Fourth Genre, River Teeth, The Southern Review, Prairie Schooner, Glimmer Train, and Best American annual volumes for both Mystery Stories and Essays. He is the winner of the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Ohio Arts Council. He teaches in the MFA Program at The Ohio State University, where he is a College of Arts and Sciences Distinguished Professor of English and a past winner of the Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching.

On the web: leemartinauthor.com

ana menendezANA MENÉNDEZ was born in Los Angeles, the daughter of Cuban exiles. She is the author of four books of fiction: In Cuba I Was a German Shepherd, which was a 2001 New York Times Notable book of the year and whose title story won a Pushcart Prize; Loving Che (2004); The Last War (2009), chosen by Publishers Weekly as one of the top 100 books of the year; and most recently Adios, Happy Homeland! Since 1991, she has worked as a journalist in the United States and abroad, lastly as a prize-winning columnist for The Miami Herald. As a reporter, Menéndez has written about Cuba, Haiti, Kashmir, Afghanistan and India, where she was based for three years. Her work has appeared in a variety of publications including Vogue, Bomb Magazine, The New York Times, Tin House and Poets & Writers, and has been included in several anthologies, including The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature, Cubanisimo! and American Food Writing. She has an M.F.A. from New York University. A former Fulbright Scholar in Egypt, she now lives in Surfside, Florida.

On the web: anamenendezonline.com


Steve AlmondSTEVE ALMOND’s most recent short fiction collection, God Bless America (2011), includes “Donkey Greedy, Donkey Get Punched,” selected for The Best American Short Stories 2010 by Richard Russo. Almond is the author of two previous collections, My Life in Heavy Metal and The Evil B.B. Chow, and Which Brings Me to You: A Novel in Confessions, co-authored with Julianna Baggott. His nonfiction books are Against Football: One Fan’s Reluctant Manifesto (2015); the memoir Rock and Roll Will Save Your Life; (Not That You Asked): Rants, Exploits, and Obsessions; and the New York Times-bestselling Candyfreak, which won awards from the American Library Association, Booksense, amazon.com and Barnes & Noble. Bad Stories: Toward a Unified Theory of How It All Came Apart is forthcoming from Red Hen Press in April 2018. Almond’s stories and essays have been widely anthologized, including in two Pushcart Prize, three Best American Erotica and two Best American Food Writing annuals. His short fiction has appeared in Tin House, Playboy, Ploughshares, Zoetrope, Georgia Review, New England Review and many other magazines. Steve has been a regular instructor at PWC as well as at the Tin House and Sanibel Island Writers’ Conferences, and has served on the faculty at Emerson and Boston Colleges, Wesleyan University and the University North Carolina Wilmington MFA Program. He teaches narrative writing at Harvard’s Nieman Fellowship for Journalism, and with Cheryl Strayed co-hosts the “Dear Sugars” podcast for The New York Times, which also publishes their “radically empathic” advice column, “The Sweet Spot.”

On the web: stevealmondjoy.com 

Ellen LesserELLEN LESSER’s current project is a linked collection of short stories about mothers and teenage daughters in crisis. Stories from the cycle have appeared in The Iowa Review, The Antioch Review, North American Review, upstreet and Brain, Child magazine’s special 2015 issue on parenting teenagers. She was awarded a 2017 Vermont Arts Council Creation Grant to support the project’s completion. Her previous story collection is The Shoplifter's Apprentice (Simon & Schuster). Work from that volume has been performed in the “Selected Shorts” series on National Public Radio, anthologized in Houghton Mifflin's Images of Women in Literature and in Contemporary Vermont Fiction, and originally published in journals including The Missouri Review, Epoch, and Mississippi Review. She is also the author of two novels, The Other Woman (Simon & Schuster) and The Blue Streak (Grove). Ellen’s essays on fictional craft have been featured in The Writer’s Chronicle and in craft anthologies including Words Overflown by Stars (edited by David Jauss). A long-time member of the Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA in Writing faculty, she is currently the program’s Faculty Chair, as well as Postgraduate Writers’ Conference Director. She grew up outside New York City but is a proud Vermont transplant. 


Matthew DickmanMATTHEW DICKMAN’s newest collection of poems is Wonderland, due from W.W. Norton in March 2018. He is the author of All-American Poem (American Poetry Review/Copper Canyon Press, 2008), 50 American Plays (co-written with his twin brother Michael Dickman, Copper Canyon Press, 2012), Mayakovsky’s Revolver (W.W. Norton, 2012), Wish You Were Here (Spork Press, 2013), 24 HOURS (One Star Press, Paris, France, 2014) and Brother (Faber & Faber UK, 2016.) He is the recipient of The Honickman First Book Prize, The May Sarton Award from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Kate Tufts Award from Claremont College, and a 2015 Guggenheim. His poems have appeared in McSweeny’s, The Believer, The London Review of Books, Esquire, Best American Poetry and The New Yorker, among other places. Matthew is the Poetry Editor of Tin House magazine and a core faculty member of the MFA in Writing Program at VCFA. 

On the web: matthewdickmanpoetry.com


Kathleen GraberKATHLEEN GRABER was a New Jersey middle-school English teacher when Student Day at the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival inspired her, at age 35, to take up a life in poetry. Her debut collection, Correspondence, was chosen in 2005 by poet Bob Hicok to receive the Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize, and also earned her a Writer’s Award from the Rona Jaffe Foundation. In 2007, Graber was awarded the Hodder Fellowship at Princeton University, followed by the Amy Lowell Traveling Scholarship. She spent that travel time working on her second book, The Eternal City, which was selected by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon to re-launch the prestigious Princeton Series of Contemporary Poets under his editorship in 2010. The Eternal City was named a finalist for the 2010 National Book Award, the 2010 National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry and the 2011 William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America; it won the 2011 Literary Award for Poetry from the Library of Virginia. Graber’s poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The New Republic, American Poetry Review, The Georgia Review, The Kenyon Review and AGNI, among other magazines. She has received grants from the NEA and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and was the winner of a 2012 Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship. She teaches in the creative writing program at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Jamaal MayJAMAAL MAY is the author of Hum (Alice James Books, 2013) and The Big Book of Exit Strategies (Alice James Books, 2016). The debut collection received a Lannan Foundation Grant, the American Library Association’s Notable Book Award, the Beatrice Hawle Award from Alice James Books and Foreword Review’s Book of the Year Silver Medal. Hum was also named one of The Boston Globe’s Best Books of 2013 and a finalist for the Tufts Discovery Award and an NAACP Image Award. Jamaal’s other honors include a Spirit of Detroit Award, the Wood Prize from Poetry, an Indiana Review Prize, and fellowships from The Stadler Center, Cave Canem, The Kenyon Review, and the Civitella Ranieri Foundation in Italy. His poems have appeared in such publications as The New Republic, The Believer, Poetry, Ploughshares, and NYTimes.com, and been anthologized in Please Excuse this Poem: 100 Poems for the Next Generation (Penguin), 2015 Pushcart Prize Anthology (Pushcart Press), Best American Poetry 2014 (Scribner), and elsewhere. A graduate of Warren Wilson’s MFA, Jamaal has taught in VCFA’s low-res program, and co-directs Organic Weapon Arts Chapbook and Video Series with Tarfia Faizullah. He led the Poetry workshop at the 2015 Conference.

On the web: jamaalmay.com

patricia smithPATRICIA SMITH is the author of eight books of poetry, including Incendiary Art; Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah, winner of the Lenore Marshall Prize from the Academy of American Poets; Blood Dazzler, a National Book Award finalist; and Gotta Go, Gotta Flow, a collaboration with award-winning Chicago photographer Michael Abramson. Her other books include the poetry volumes Teahouse of the Almighty, Close to Death, Big Towns Big Talk, and Life According to Motown; the children's book Janna and the Kings; and the history Africans in America, a companion book to the award-winning PBS series. Her work has appeared in Poetry, The Paris Review, The Baffler, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Tin House and in Best American Poetry and Best American Essays. She co-edited The Golden Shovel Anthology—New Poems Honoring Gwendolyn Brooks and edited the crime fiction anthology Staten Island Noir. Her contribution to that anthology won the Robert L. Fish Award from the Mystery Writers of America for the best debut story of the year and was featured in the anthology Best American Mystery Stories. She is a Guggenheim fellow, a Civitellian, a National Endowment for the Arts grant recipient, a two-time winner of the Pushcart Prize, a former fellow at both Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony, and a four-time individual champion of the National Poetry Slam, the most successful poet in the competition’s history. Patricia is a professor at the College of Staten Island and in the MFA program at Sierra Nevada College, as well as a regular instructor at the annual VONA residency and VCFA Postgrad Conference.

On the web: wordwoman.ws

David WojahnDAVID WOJAHN’s ninth collection of poetry, For the Scribe, was published by the University of Pittsburgh press in 2017. World Tree, his previous collection, was selected as the winner of the Academy of American Poets’ Lenore Marshall Prize for the most outstanding collection of verse published in 2011. Pittsburgh also released Mystery Train (1990), Late Empire (1994), The Falling Hour (1997), and Spirit Cabinet (2002). The 2006 volume, Interrogation Palace: New and Selected Poems 1982–2004, was one of three finalists for the Pulitzer Prize and winner of the O. B. Hardison Award from the Folger Shakespeare Library. David is also the author of a collection of essays on contemporary poetry, Strange Good Fortune (Univ. of Arkansas Press, 2001), and From the Valley of Making (Univ. of Michigan Press, 2015), and editor of two posthumous collections of Lynda Hull’s poetry, The Only World (HarperCollins, 1995) and Collected Poems (Graywolf, 2006). He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Virginia, Illinois and Indiana Councils for the Arts, and was an Amy Lowell Traveling Poetry Scholar. He is presently Professor of English at Virginia Commonwealth University and a longtime faculty member of the MFA in Writing Program of Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Conference Dates

  • 23rd Annual Postgraduate Writers' Conference: August 13-19, 2018


Ellen Lesser

Conference Director
[email protected]