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Students

Rachel Ballenger

Rachel Ballenger

Rachel Ballenger (MFA, Fiction) was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has a BA in English from UC Berkeley. Before moving to Houston, she lived in Sonoma county, where she homesteaded a meadow by trial and error.

Laura Biagi

Laura Biagi

Laura Biagi (MFA, Fiction) grew up in small-town Kentucky and earned her BA in Creative Writing and Anthropology from Northwestern University. After college she spent eight years working in New York at a literary agency, where she sold New York Times bestselling authors. She is Fiction Editor for Gulf Coast and is at work on a novel. She likes hot weather and the stars.

Theodora Bishop

Theodora Bishop

Theodora Bishop’s (PhD, Poetry) is the author of the novella On the Rocks, winner of a 2018 Next Generation Indie Book Award. She is also the author of the chapbook Mother Tongues, winner of The Cupboard’s 2015 contest. Her poetry and short stories have appeared in Glimmer Train, Prairie Schooner, Short Fiction (England), and elsewhere. A Best New Poets and four-time Pushcart Prize nominee, Theodora Bishop holds an MFA from the University of Alabama. She has served as Poet- ry Editor for Gulf Coast and Fiction Editor for Big Fiction.

Despy Boutris

Despy Boutris

A Berkeley, California native, Despy Boutris (MFA, Poetry) has work published or forthcoming in Palette Poetry, Third Coast, Prairie Schooner, Gulf Coast Online, and more. Cur- rently, she serves as Assistant Poetry Editor for Gulf Coast.

Erik Brown

Erik Brown

Erik Brown (MFA, poetry) received a BA in English and Creative Writing at University of Wisconsin-Madison. Erik comes to Houston from a seven-year career in fundraising and has helped raise millions of dollars for research into psychedelic-assisted therapies.

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Michelle Dominique Burk

Michelle Dominique Burk (PhD, Poetry) is a poet and a native Northern Virginian. She received her MFA in Poetry from Columbia University, and her work has appeared most recently in Contrary Magazine and Cooper Street.

LeeAnne Carlson

LeeAnne Carlson

LeeAnne Carlson (MFA, Fiction) is a native Houstonian although  her formative years were spent being shuffled from one Southeast Asian country to another. After returning to Houston she embarked on a wide-ranging series of professions, careers, and escapades, from caretaking a cougar to delivering babies as a midwife to owning a goat farm and making goat cheese. Although she has been labeled a fiction writer, she does not embrace firm demarcations of her work and her writing includes personal essays and memoir on goat farming and fam- ily as well as poetry which draws parallels between the female body and the environment. She is nonfiction editor for Gulf Coast.

Rohan Chhertri

Rohan Chhetri

Rohan Chhetri (PhD, Poetry) is a Nepali-Indian poet. He received his MFA from Syracuse University. His book, Slow Startle (Emerging Poets Prize 2015) was published by The (Great) Indian Poetry Collective. His chapbook, Jurassic Desire (Per Diem Poetry Prize 2017) is slated to be published later this year. His poems have appeared in Prelude, Wild- ness, Rattle, Vinyl, EVENT, Literary Hub. and was recently translated into French for Europe Revue. A former editor of fiction and poetry at the Indian arm of Hachette Book Publishing in New Delhi, he was a 2016 Norman Mailer Poetry Fellow and recently won the Joyce Carol Oates Award and The Leonard Brown Prize in Poetry.


Brittny R. Crowell

Brittny Ray Crowell

Brittny Ray Crowell,(PhD, Poetry), a native of Texarkana, TX, received her BA in English from Spelman College followed by an MA in English from Texas A&M-Texarkana. Her work focus- es on the hidden mythologies, dreams, traumas, and sensualities of the black contemporary south. In addition to poetry and cre- ative writing, her interests also include studying the intersections between religion and hip hop.

Barbara Drumheller

Barbara Drumheller

Barbara Drumheller (PhD, Fiction) graduated with a BA in Lit- erature and a BBA in Finance from the University of Texas. She went from there to Texas Tech University in Lubbock where she earned a J.D. She spent quite a few years writing other people’s stories in the form of criminal appellate briefs, first as a prose- cutor and later as a defense attorney. Recently, she decided to switch gears and begin writing her own stories. She has an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts.

Blaine Ely

Blaine Ely

Blaine Ely (PhD, Fiction) received a BA from Western Kentucky University, an MA from Auburn University, and an MFA from the University of Oregon. He has worked in both retail and agriculture, as well as in the oil and gas industry, and his fiction has appeared in Ninth Letter and Shenandoah. He is from Kentucky.

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Josh English

Josh English (PhD, Poetry) originally hails from northwest New Jersey. He received his MFA from the University of South Carolina and has taught writing and literature at U of SC and at the South Carolina Department for Juvenile Justice. His work has appeared in Cutbank, Denver Quarterly, Prelude, Sixth Finch, Third Coast and elsewhere. He is the co-founding editor of the poetry outfit Oxidant|Engine.

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Christopher Flakus (MFA, Poetry)

Christopher Miguel Flakus is a poet and writer living in Houston, Texas. He has published work in The Huffington Post, Akashic Books: Mondays are Murder Noir Series, Indietroni- ca, Outlaw Poetry, Glass Mountain Magazine, In Recovery Magazine, Glass Poetry, Black Heart Magazine, and elsewhere. In 2017 he was awarded the Fabian Worsham Prize for fiction. He has been a featured reader for Glass Mountain Magazine and Public Poetry’s library reading series. In addition, he was one of the editors responsible for The University of Houston-Downtown’s literary magazine, The Bayou Review, during their special prison issue which focused on the writings of authors serving sentences in Texas prisons. He is currently co-editor of Defunkt Magazine, a literary and arts magazine based in Houston. Christopher is the author of the chapbooks Bear Down Into Hell With Me (As Only a True Friend Would), and Thirst, and Other Poems through Iron Lung Press, and the chapbook Christiana, and Dialogos: Mexico City Poems from Analog Submission Press. He grew up in Mexico City and writes in both English and Spanish. He is currently working on his first novel.

Devereux Fortuna

Devereux Fortuna

Devereux Fortuna (PhD, Poetry) is from Arizona. She received an MFA in Poetry from New York University, and is a candidate for a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Houston.

Hunter Gilson

Hunter Gilson

Hunter Gilson (MFA, Fiction) was born and raised in the Kansas City suburbs. He received a BA and MA in English from Kansas State University. After graduating from his master’s program, he worked as an instructor at K-State and spent the intermediate three summers working as a farm hand, then a marketing intern, and finally a city pool worker.

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Joshua Gottlieb-Miller

Joshua Gottlieb-Miller (PhD, Poetry) holds an MFA in poetry from the University of Houston, where he returned to pursue his PhD. Over the last few years Joshua has received a fellowship to attend Tent: Creative Writing, at the Yiddish Book Center, served as Gulf Coast’s Digital Nonfiction Editor, and collabo- rated with other academics for the inaugural Post-Harvey Think Tank, hosted by Rice University’s Humanities Research Center.

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Josh Gregory

Josh Gregory (MFA, Poetry) is from Philadelphia, PA and is a recent graduate of Harvard Divinity School where he studied theology and ethics. He has been awarded scholarships from the Colgate Writers’ Conference and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA and currently serves as a poetry editor for Periphery journal. Most recently, his work has appeared in the Colorado Review and Denver Quarterly.

Emelie Griffin

Emelie Griffin

Emelie Griffin (PhD, Poetry) was born in the Florida panhandle. She holds an MFA from Syracuse University, where she served as Art Editor and Poetry Editor for Salt Hill.

Sonia Hamer

Sonia Hamer

Born and raised in Greater Houston, Sonia Hamer (MFA, Fiction) earned her BA in English from Rice University. When  she is not reading or sitting in traffic, she is travelling, tutoring, composting, running marathons, and doing pretty much anything else she thinks would be interesting to write about. She has been the recipient of the Marion Barthelme Prize in Creative Writing at Rice University, the Larry McMurty Prize in Fiction, and the George Williams Prize in Non-Fiction. Her work has also been published in in The Passed Note, plain china, and R2.

Niki Herd

Niki Herd

Niki Herd (PhD, Poetry) grew up in Cleveland and earned degrees in Creative Writing from the University of Arizona and Antioch University. Nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize, she is the recipient of fellowships from Cave Canem and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Her work has been supported by the Astraea Foundation and the DC Commission on the Arts, and has appeared in several journals and an- thologies including Feminist Formations, North American Review, The Feminist Wire, Split This Rock, and Resisting Arrest: Poems to Stretch the Sky. Her debut collection of poems, The Language of Shedding Skin, was published as part of Main Street Rag’s Editor’s Select Series.

Rob howell

Rob Howell

Rob Howell (PhD, Fiction) earned his MFA from Louisiana State University. His fiction has appeared in Crab Orchard Review, Kenyon Review, and elsewhere. He’s the Digital Editor for Gulf Coast.

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Dan Hunt

Dan Hunt (MFA, Fiction) grew up outside of Philadelphia. His work has most recently appeared in Portland Review. He holds degrees from the University of Delaware and Villanova University School of Law. From time to time, he can be found reviewing and revising legal contracts without any recollection of how such activity began.

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Gabriella Adriana Iacono

Gabriella Adriana Iacono (MFA, Poetry) grew up in Staten Island, New York, where she earned her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing from the College of Staten Island CUNY. She has worked in public education since 2014, and has served as an editor for NYSAI Press. Iacono is currently working on her first collection of poems.

Onyinye Ihezukwu

Onyinye Ihezukwu

Onyinye Ihezukwu (PhD, Fiction) was born in Nigeria where she has worked as a broadcaster. Her work largely explores changing socio-spiritual themes in the urban Nigerian setting. Her fiction has appeared in The Virginia Quarterly Review, The American Scholar, The St. Petersburg Review, among others. She’s working on a novel.

Justin Jannise

Justin Jannise

Justin Jannise (PhD, Poetry) studied poetry at Yale and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His work has appeared in The Y ale Review, North American Review, Zocalo Public Square, The Awl, New Haven Review and other journals. He won the 2009 Albert Stanburrough Cook Prize for Poetry from Yale University and received both a Teaching-Writing Fellowship and the Provost’s Visiting Writer Fellowship from the University of Iowa. He grew up in southeast Texas.

Jenny Staff Johnson

Jenny Staff Johnson

Jenny Staff Johnson (MFA, Fiction) is a third-year MFA candidate in fiction. Her fiction has been published in Tin House online and New Dead Families, and her journalism and features have been published in The Houston Chronicle, The Houston Press, and Houstonia Magazine, among others. She is a native Texan and an assistant fiction editor of Gulf Coast.

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Dan Kennedy

Dan Kennedy (PhD, Fiction) holds an MFA from Virginia Tech, where he won the 2017 Emily Morrison Prize in fiction. He grew up in rural Pennsylvania and graduated from Boston University with a BA in English; he was also a member of BU’s Division 1 wrestling team. His stories have appeared in BULL, Ghost Parachute, and Typehouse Literary Magazine. He’s currently at work on his first novel.

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Aris Kian

Aris Kian (MFA, Poetry) is an inaugural member of CoogSlam, the 4th in the nation collegiate slam team. She has work pub- lished in Underground Journal. She was a blogger for AfroVibes Media and co-hosted poetry workshops for Writers in the Schools. She has been a featured reader for Write About Now Poetry (w/ CoogSlam), The Vibe Experience, and Glass Mountain.

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Matthew Krajniak

Matthew (PhD, Fiction) is a 4th-year candidate in fiction. He earned an MFA from the University of Memphis and is currently at work on his first novel.

Cameron Lehman

Cameron Lehman

After studying civil engineering and history at Stanford, Cameron (MFA, Fiction) worked at Anheuser-Busch, where he managed the Budweiser brand and produced three years of Clydesdale Super Bowl commercials. He then opened a medical cannabis dispensary, Harbory, in southern Illinois, before returning to Stanford’s business school.

Carolann Madden

Carolann Madden

Carolann Caviglia Madden (PhD, Poetry) is a poet, translator, weaver, and Navy brat whose work has appeared, or is forthcoming, in World Literature Today, Yalobusha Review, Witch Craft Magazine, Public Poetry, Nimrod International Journal, The Southwest Anthology: The Best from the Writing Programs (Texas Review Press), and elsewhere. She is also the online poetry editor for Gulf Coast, a founding editor of Locked Horn Press, and the recent recipient of a Fulbright to Galway, Ireland, where she will be researching connections between Irish folklore and creative writing.

Madeleine Maillet

Madeleine Maillet

Madeleine Maillet (PhD, Fiction) is a writer, translator and French Canadian. Her stories have been published in Prism International, THIS Magazine, No Tokens, Joyland, Matrix, and anthologized in The Journey Prize Stories 27 (M & S). She is the Fiction Editor of Cosmonauts Avenue. She holds a BA from the University of Toronto in English Literature and an MA from Concordia University in Montréal in English Literature and Creative Writing. In Texas, she will miss the snow.

Rosario Margate

Rosario Margate

Rosario Margate (MFA, Fiction) was born in the Philippines, raised in the Northern Marianas, and is from Houston.

Alex McElroy

Alex McElroy

Alex McElroy’s (PhD, Fiction) work appears in Tin House, The Atlantic, Black Warrior Review, New England Review, Kenyon Review Online, and he is the author of the chapbook Daddy Issues. He received the 2018 Inprint Donald Barthelme Prize for Nonfiction and has been awarded fellowships from The Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, The Elizabeth George Foundation, and The National Parks Service.

Kristjan Meikop

Kristjan Meikop

Kristjan L. Meikop (MFA, Poetry) grew up in Helsinki, Finland. After some years of traveling and working in South America he returned to Finland where he earned a BA in English and literature at Åbo Akademi. Though his mother tongue is Swedish,  he reads and writes mostly in English and likes to practice his Spanish if the opportunity arises. Always in search of duende in music, art and literature, he is currently working on his first book of poems.

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Katie Milligan

Katie Milligan (MFA, Fiction) grew up in Maine and earned her BA in English and Psychology from Dartmouth College. She has recently lived in Boston and New Hampshire, where she worked by day on the health innovation team at an HR consul- tancy and by night/weekend as a fiction student at GrubStreet, a Boston writing center. She spent her early years perpetuating Maine stereotypes by waitressing at a lobster restaurant, and she worked during and after college at various community mental health organizations. She loves dogs a little too much.

David Nikityn

David Nikityn

Hailing from Blairstown, New Jersey, David Nikityn (MFA, Fiction) earned a BA in Communication from Monmouth University, concentrating in radio and television broadcasting. He has since studied an eclectic mixture of physics, philosophy, literature and creative writing at Columbia University.

Colby Ornell

Colby Ornell

Colby Ornell (PhD, Fiction) is originally from a small town in central Massachusetts. She has a BA in English Literature from Wheaton College (MA) and an MFA in Fiction from Butler University. Her work has appeared in The Cobalt Review and Curbside Splendor.

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Kim Philley

Kim Philley (PhD, Fiction) was born in Singapore and grew up in Indonesia, Thailand, and Northern Virginia. She holds an MFA in Poetry from the University of Virginia but now hews to prose. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, The Best American Nonrequired Reading, and on the BBC.

Paige Quinones

Paige Quiñones

Paige Quiñones (PhD, Poetry) earned a BA from the University of Florida and an MFA in poetry from the Ohio State University, where she was a poetry editor for The Journal. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Birdfeast, Juked, McSweeney’s, Muzzle Magazine, Quarterly West, and elsewhere. Her poem “Summer, or Daughters I Haven’t Met” was a finalist for Best of the Net 2015.

Nick Rattner

Nick Rattner

Nick Rattner (PhD, Poetry) has taught at Holyoke Community College and at Smith College. He has published translations from the Spanish of poets Yvan Yauri and Czar Gutierrez and is currently translating Spanish poet Juan Andres Garcia Roman. He served for many years as an editor at Ugly Duckling Presse and for two years as an assistant basketball coach.

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Kaitlin Rizzo

Kaitlin Rizzo (MFA, Poetry) grew up in a small town on the Florida coast. In 2016, she received a series of grants to trace the life of the Italian painter Artemisia Gentileschi (1593-1653) in Florence, Rome, and London. After, she just couldn’t quit Italy. Most recently, she worked as the Program Assistant for an archaeological field school in Tuscany. Kaitlin is the recipient of the Fred L. Stanley Award and the Cody Harris Allen Award from Florida State University.

Sarah Robinson

Sarah Robinson

Sarah Robinson (MFA, Fiction) has bounced back and forth between Albuquerque and Houston since childhood, with a brief and ill-advised stint in the cold cold land of rural New York. She received a BA in English and Studio Arts from the University of New Mexico and has spent the last several years working in museum publishing.

Annie Shepherd

Annie Shepherd

Annie Shepherd (PhD, Fiction) taught ESL in China for two years before returning to her home state of Texas to obtain an MFA in creative writing from Texas State University. Prior to entering the PhD program in fiction at University of Houston, she taught writing and literature at Texas State University and University of the Incarnate Word. Her fiction and non-fiction have appeared in North American Review, The Greensboro Re- view, and North Dakota Quarterly.

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Giovanni Singleton

giovanni singleton (PhD, Poetry) holds an MFA from the New College of California and is the author of Ascension (Counterpath Press, 2011), which won the California Book Award Gold Medal, and of the poetry/art collection AMERICAN LETTERS: works on paper (Canarium Books, 2018). She received the African American Literature and Culture Society’s 2018 Stephen E. Henderson Award  for literary achievement and served as the 2017-18 Holloway Lecturer in Poetry and Poetics at the University of California, Berkeley. Her work has appeared in Poem-a-Day, Poetry, What I Say: Innovative Poetry by Black Writers in America, Best American Experimental Writing, Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology, The Ecopoetry Anthology, and elsewhere. Her writing has also been exhibited in the Smithsonian Institute’s American Jazz Museum and on the building of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. She is founding editor of nocturnes (re)view of the literary arts, a journal dedicated to experimental work of the African Diaspora and other contested spaces.

Brendan Stephens

Brendan Stephens

Brendan Stephens (PhD, Fiction) is a second-year PhD candidate. Originally from the mountains of Western Maryland, he received his MFA from the University of Central Florida. His work has appeared in or is forthcoming from Epoch, the Southeast Review, Notre Dame Review, Carolina Quarterly, Phoebe, and elsewhere. Before he focused on writing, he was the guitarist and vocalist for numerous bands that toured extensively and released records.

Kaj Tanaka

Kaj Tanaka

Kaj Tanaka’s fiction has appeared in New South, The New Ohio Review, Joyland and T in House. His stories have been selected for Best Small Fictions of 2018, Best Microfiction of 2019, and Wigleaf ’s top 50 stories of 2019. Kaj teaches creative writing classes at the Harris County Jail, and he is a fiction editor for Gulf Coast.

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Daniel Tompkins

Daniel Tompkins (MFA, Poetry) is a poet and writer originally from Virginia. His work has appeared in Rattle, Chaleur, Twyckenham Notes, and The Visible Poetry Project, and his first Chapbook, You Are No Phoenix, You Are Merely Aflame, is set to be published by Finishing Line Press.

Novuyo Tshuma

Novuyo Tshuma

Novuyo Rosa Tshuma (PhD, Fiction) from Zimbabwe, is the au- thor of the collection Shadows, which was published by Kwela Books in South Africa in 2013. She earned her MFA at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Visit her online at www.novuyotshuma.com.

Obi Calvin Umeozor

Obi Calvin Umeozor

Obi Calvin Umeozor (PhD, Fiction) received his B.A. in English from the University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria and taught English Literature before moving to the States in 2015, where he obtained an MFA in Creative Writing from Florida State University. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in the New Orleans Review, Southeast Review, Shift and others. He was shortlisted for the 2018 Commonwealth Short Story Prize.

Stalina Emmanuelle Villareal

Stalina Emmanuelle Villareal

Stalina Emmanuelle Villarreal (PhD, Poetry) lives as a rhyming-slogan creative activist. She is a Generation 1.5 poet (mexicana and Chicana), a translator, a sonic-improv collaborator, and an instructor of English. Her MFA is from CCA. She coauthored an article in ¡Chicana Movidas!: Mapping Technologies of Resistance in the Movimiento Era. Her poetry can be found in the Rio Grande Review and the Texas Review. She has published translations of poetry, including Enigmas, by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz, but she mostly translates regiomontana poet Minerva Reynosa (Mandorla, 2012); their most recent publication is a chapbook called Photograms of My Conceptual Heart, Absolutely Blind (Cardboard House Press, 2016).

Grace Wagner

Grace Wagner

Grace Wagner (MFA, Poetry) grew up in Southeast Arkansas and Northern Louisiana. She completed a BA in Creative Writing Poetry from the University of Colorado Denver. During her time at UCD, she worked as Assistant Poetry Editor for Copper Nickel for three years. She attended the New York Summer Writers Institute for two consecutive summers, studying with Carolyn Forché, Robert Pinsky, Campbell McGrath, Henri Cole, and Rosanna Warren. Her work can be found in Salmagundi Magazine. She spends her free time fighting for social justice and petting cats.

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Ernie Wang

Ernie Wang (PhD, Fiction) grew up overseas as a military brat, then studied engineering and worked as a trader for Goldman Sachs and various hedge funds. He holds an MFA from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, and his fiction and nonfiction appear in McSweeney’s Quarterly, Threepenny Review, and elsewhere.

Cait Weiss

Cait Weiss

Cait Weiss Orcutt’s (PhD, Poetry) work has been published or is forthcoming in Boston Review, Chautauqua, FIELD, Tupelo Quarterly & more. Online Editor of The Journal, founder of the Writers Guild Community Creative Workshops in Columbus, Ohio, Cait now teaches at the UH Writing Lab, Duke Scholar Weekend, Inprint and WITS Digital, Creative and Performance workshops. She is the recipient of an Inprint C. Glenn Cambor/ MD Anderson Foundation Fellowship. Cait’s manuscript VAL LEYSPEAK recently won the Zone 3 Press First Book Award.