Creative Writing Program

MFA Faculty

Robin Behn

Education

  • MFA, Creative Writing, University of Iowa, 1984
  • MA, English, University of Missouri, 1982
  • BA, Creative Writing, Oberlin College, 1979

Bio

Robin Behn is Professor of English and teaches in the MFA Program in Creative Writing. Her books of poetry are Paper Bird (Texas Tech University Press), winner of the Associated Writing Programs Award Series in Poetry; The Red Hour (HarperCollins), Horizon Note (University of Wisconsin Press), winner of the Brittingham Prize; Naked Writing (DoubleCross Press), The Yellow House (Spuyten Duyvil), and Quarry Cross (Plume Editions).

She is co-editor of The Practice of Poetry: Writing Exercises from Poets Who Teach (HarperCollins), and editor of Once Upon a Time in the 21st Century: Unexpected Exercises in Creative Writing (University of Alabama Press). A recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the state arts councils of Illinois and Alabama, and the New England Review narrative poetry prize, her work appears in the Pushcart Prize anthology, Best American Poetry, and many literary journals.

Behn is a graduate of Oberlin College, the University of Missouri-Columbia, and The University of Iowa. At The University of Alabama, she has been the recipient of the Burnum Distinguished Faculty Award and an Arts and Sciences Leadership Board Fellowship, as well as a Community Service Engagement Award for her direction of the Creative Writing Club for high school writers.

An active collaborator, she has exhibited poems/paintings with visual artist Mirjana Ugrinov and played flute and penny whistle in Waxwing Band, with whom she performed her “fiddle tune poems.” She has taught courses on Creativity and Cognition with psychology professor Beverly Roskos, and on Artistic Collaboration with dance professor Sarah Barry and printmaker Sarah Marshall.  Recently, Behn wrote the libretto for a new opera, “Freedom and Fire: a Civil War Story,” composed by Amir Zaheri and directed by Paul Houghtaling.

Books Authored

  • Quarry Cross (poems). Plume Editions, 2018.
  • The Yellow House (poems). New York: Spuyten Duyvil Press, 2012.
  • Naked Writing (poems). Tuscaloosa: DoubleCross Press, 2008.
  • Horizon Note (poems). Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2001.
  • The Red Hour (poems). New York: HarperCollins, 1993.
  • Paper Bird (poems). Lubbock: Texas Tech UP, 1988.

Books Edited

  • Once Upon a Time in the Twenty-first Century: Unexpected Exercises in Creative Writing. University of Alabama Press and GFT Books, 2018.
  • The Practice of Poetry: Writing Exercises from Poets Who Teach. With Chase Twichell. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.

(see Robin’s faculty profile here)

 

John Estes

Education

  • PhD, Creative Writing, University of Missouri, 2009

Bio

John Estes joined the faculty in 2016 and directs the Undergraduate Creative Writing Program. He studied poetics and ecological literature at the Univeristy of Missouri, and is author of three books of poetry—Kingdom Come (C&R Press, 2011), Stop Motion Still Life (Wordfarm, forthcoming) and Sure Extinction which won the 2015 Antivenom Award from Elixir Press—as well as two chapbooks: Breakfast with Blake at the Laocoön (Finishing Line Press, 2007) and Swerve, which won a 2008 National Chapbook Fellowship from the Poetry Society of America. Works-in-progress include a collection of short fictions, a book-length poem, and at least one overdue essay. A few research interests include Eastern thought, film studies, and critical theory. Links to poems, prose, and translations online can be found at his website.

Books Authored

  • Kingdom Come. C&R Press, 2011.
  • Sure Extinction. Elixir Press, 2017.
  • Swerve. Poetry Society of America, 2009.

(see John’s faculty profile here)

 

Kwoya Fagin Maples

Education

  • MFA, Creative Writing, University of Alabama, 2008
  • BS, Human Environmental Sciences, University of Alabama, 2005

Bio

Kwoya Fagin Maples is a poet from Charleston, S.C. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Alabama.  Maples has received fellowships from Cave Canem and the Alabama State Council on the Arts.   She is the author of Mend (University Press of Kentucky, 2018) which was named a 2019 Finalist for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Poetry and a 2019 Finalist for the Housatonic Book Award for Poetry. In addition to a chapbook entitled Something of Yours, (Finishing Line Press 2010) her work is published in several journals and anthologies including pluck!, Blackbird Literary Journal, Tin House Review Online, Obsidian, Puerto del Sol, The Langston Hughes Review, Berkeley Poetry Review, The Summerset Review and Cave Canem Anthology XIII. Her most recent poetry collection, Mend, received a grant from the Rockefeller Brothers Foundation and was finalist for the Association of Writers and Writing Program’s Donald Hall Prize for Poetry. A collection of historical persona poetry, Mend tells the story of the birth of obstetrics and gynecology in America and the role enslaved black women played in that process.

Maples is devoted to teaching as it is integral to her writing. Since 2007 she has taught a diverse group of students with divergent needs. Whether teaching composition, developmental writing, argumentation, literature, or advanced creative writing, she has valued her role as facilitator.  For seven years she taught poetry, fiction and non-fiction at the Alabama School of Fine Arts, a magnet high school in Birmingham, Alabama. In addition to poetics and process, her writing interests include creative writing and research, historical persona, speculative writing, visual art and poetry collaboration and magical realism.

Books Authored

  • MEND. University Press of Kentucky, 2018.
  • Something of Yours. Finishing Line Press, 2010.

(see Kwoya’s faculty profile here)

 

Nana Nkweti

Education

  • MFA, Creative Writing, University of Iowa, 2014
  • BA, Political Science, Rutgers University, 1999

Bio

Nana Nkweti is a Cameroonian-American writer, Caine Prize finalist, and Iowa Writers’ Workshop alumna. Nana served as the fall 2017 Phillip Roth Writer-in-Residence at the Stadler Center for Poetry, Bucknell University, fall 2016 Hub City Writer-in-Residence and additionally received fellowships from MacDowell, Vermont Studio Center, Ucross, Kimbilio, the Wurlitzer Foundation, Byrdcliffe, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and Clarion West Writers Workshop.

Nana’s writing has been published in journals and magazines such as Brittle Paper, New Orleans Review, and The Baffler, amongst others. Her short story collection, Walking on Cowrie Shells, is forthcoming from Graywolf on June 1, 2021. The book focuses on the lives of hyphenated-Americans who share her multi-cultural heritage in the United States and Africa. It spans genres – literary realism, horror, mystery, YA, science fiction – and features complex, fully-embodied characters: tongue-tied linguistic anthropologists, comic book enthusiasts and even rebellious African orphan Annie’s. She hopes her stories entertain readers while also offering them a counterpoint to prevalent “heart of darkness” writing that too often depicts a singular “African” experience plagued by locusts, hunger, and tribal in-fighting.

As a Professor of English, her pedagogy explores her eclectic literary interests including sci-fi poetry, graphic novels, speculative fiction, medical humanities, the African diasporic experience, and works by female authors in genres such as horror, western, Afrofuturism, and mystery.

Select Publications

  • “Marginalia” Hunger Mountain Review: Everyday Chimeras: Issue 22. March 2018.
  • “The Devil is a Liar” Masters Review: Fall 2017, *winner, Master Review Short Story Award for New Writers, 2nd Prize.
  • “It Takes a Village Some Say” The Baffler: No. 36. Fall 2017, *finalist, 2019 Caine Prize for African Writing.
  • “It Just Kills You Inside” The New Orleans Review: The African Literary Hustle: Issue 43 //2017.
  • “Schoolyard Cannibal” Brittle Paper: Summer 2017, *short-listed for the Anniversary Awards – honoring works that represent a “vision of the dynamism of literature.”
  • “My Own Flesh and Blood” Killens Review of Arts & Letters. Fall/Winter 2012: 64-74.
  • “Petty Thefts” Two Lines: World Writing in Translation. Landmarks: No. 20. Fall 2013.

(see Nana’s faculty profile here)

 

Wendy Rawlings

Education

  • PhD, Creative Writing, University of Utah, 2000
  • MFA, Creative Writing, Colorado State University, 1996

Bio

Professor Wendy Rawlings grew up in New York and received her PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Utah in 2000. She also completed an MFA in Creative Writing at Colorado State University in 1996. The recipient of residency fellowships from The MacDowell Colony, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and Yaddo, Rawlings was awarded the John Farrar Fellowship in Fiction at the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference. Rawlings’ teaching interests include: form and theory of fiction, short fiction by women, narrative voice in the American short story, and the comic novel. A collection of her short stories, Come Back Irish, won the 2000 Sandstone Prize for Short Fiction and was published in December 2001 by Ohio State University Press. Her novel, The Agnostics, won the Michigan Literary Award from the University of Michigan Press.

Books Authored

  • Time for Bed. Louisiana State University Press. 2019.
  • The Agnostics. University of Michigan Press, 2007.
  • Come Back Irish. Columbus, OH: Ohio State UP, 2001.

(See Wendy’s faculty profile here)

 

Heidi Staples

Education

  • PhD, University of Georgia
  • MFA, Syracuse University

Bio

Heidi Lynn Staples’ debut collection, Guess Can Gallop, was selected by Brenda Hillman as a winner of the New Issues Poetry Prize. She is the author of three other collections, including Noise Event (Ahsahta, 2013), and her poetry has appeared in American Poetry Review, Best American Poetry, Chicago Review, Denver Quarterly, Ecotone, Ploughshares, Women’s Studies Quarterly and elsewhere. With the poet Amy King, she is editor and founder of Poets for Living Waters, begun as an international response to the BP oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico and of Big Energy Poets: When Ecopoetry Thinks Climate Change, forthcoming from BlazeVOX.

Staples was raised by gopher tortoises in the Southeastern temperate forests of North America, both on and off the Gulf Coastal Plain — aka The Sticks — and she has spent several years of her adult life residing in Europe. She holds the MFA from Syracuse University and the PhD from the University of Georgia.

Books Authored

  • Guess Can Gallop. 2004.
  • Noise Event. Ahsahta 2013.
  • Dog Girl. Ahsahta 2007.
  • A**A*A*A. Ahsahta 2018.

Books Edited

  • Big Energy Poets: When Ecopoetry Thinks Climate Change. BlazeVox, 2017.

(see Heidi’s faculty profile here)

 

Kellie Wells

 

Bio

Kellie Wells was awarded the Flannery O’Connor Award and the Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award for Compression Scars, a collection of short fiction. She’s also a recipient of the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award for emerging women writers and the Baltic Writing Residency.

Her novel Skin was published in the Flyover Fiction Series, by the University of Nebraska Press, edited by Ron Hansen. Her work has appeared in The Kenyon ReviewNinth LetterThe Fairy Tale Review, and was selected by Kevin Brockmeier for inclusion in the 2010 Best American Fantasy. Her second novel, Fat Girl, Terrestrial, was published by FC2 and was a finalist for the Paterson Prize in Fiction. Her second collection of short fiction, God, the Moon, and Other Megafauna, is the recipient of the Sullivan Prize, and is out from the University of Notre Dame Press.

She’s a graduate of the writing programs at the University of Montana, the University of Pittsburgh, and Western Michigan University.

 

(See Kellie’s faculty profile here)