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Department of English Language and Literature

Alumni and Current Students

Jacob Walhout is from the Chicago suburbs, where he worked as an ophthalmic technician for three years before joining South Carolina's MFA program for poetry. In addition to studying and teaching, he serves as the current poetry editor for Yemassee Journal. Jacob's work has appeared in Great Lakes Review, Ekstasis, The Cresset, Headway Quarterly, and elsewhere. 

Daniel Adler (MFA 2021) is a doctoral student in English literature at University of Nevada, Reno. His essays have recently appeared in 3AM Magazine, Identity Theory and J Journal, and he has a peer-reviewed article on Socratic irony in CLCWeb: Comparative Literature and Culture. His short fiction can be found in Bull, New World Writing, The Molotov Cocktail and elsewhere. He tweets @anieldadler. 

Andrew Green is a 2019-2020 recipient of the SPARC research grant from the University of South Carolina, supporting a research trip across the continental US to study sites related to the Works Progress Administration, a 1930s federal jobs program, which is the subject of his senior thesis in fiction. He is a former senior editor of Yemassee Journal and his writing has appeared in the Chicago Maroon and Encyclopaedia Britannica, and has been awarded the Olga and Paul Menn Prize in Fiction Writing from the University of Chicago. 

Destiny Hemphill (MFA 2020) (she/her) is a ritual worker and poet based in Durham, NC. A recipient of fellowships from Naropa University’s Summer Writing Program, Callaloo, Tin House, and Kenyon’s Writers Workshop, she is the author of the poetry chapbook Oracle: a Cosmology (Honeysuckle Press, 2018). She was a member of the inaugural cohort of the Poetry Coalition Fellowship, during which time she served at Split This Rock from 2020-2021. Her debut poetry manuscript motherworld: a devotional for the alter-life, which was a finalist for the National Poetry Series Award in 2020 and 2021, is forthcoming in 2023 from Action Books. 

Marcus Jamison (MFA 2020), a poet, short fiction writer, and essayist, hails from the small town of Hamlet, North Carolina. He holds an MFA from the University of South Carolina. A fellow of the Watering Hole, his work has appeared or is forthcoming in Obsidian, Zone 3, the Raleigh Review, Quarterly West (where he was a 2017 AWP Intro Journals award winner), and Barely South Review, as well as on the Academy of American Poets website. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate at Howard University, specializing in African American Literature and Poetics. 

Katarina Merlini (MFA 2021) is a Samminarinese-American poet born and raised outside Detroit, Michigan. She earned distinction from both the University of Michigan as well as the University of South Carolina, where she earned an MFA in Poetry and a certificate in Women and Gender Studies.  

Arianna Miller (MFA 2021) is a poet and educator from Bellmore, New York. Her poetry often intermingles nature, sexuality, and femininity. Her work has been featured in Gandy Dancer and Anti-Heroin Chic's Online Literary Blog and first print anthology, What Keeps Us Here: Songs from the Other Side of Trauma. Ari attended the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference as a poetry contributor in 2022. She teaches AP Literature & Composition and English Language Arts on Long Island. 

Andrew Green (MFA 2020) is a 2019-2020 recipient of the SPARC research grant from the University of South Carolina, supporting a research trip across the continental US to study sites related to the Works Progress Administration, a 1930s federal jobs program, which is the subject of his senior thesis in fiction. He is a former senior editor of Yemassee Journal and his writing has appeared in the Chicago Maroon and Encyclopaedia Britannica, and has been awarded the Olga and Paul Menn Prize in Fiction Writing from the University of Chicago.  

Hannah Ford (MFA 2019) was the 2019 Roadrunner Nonfiction Prize winner and the 2017 Amuse-Bouche winner for her nonfiction and fiction, respectively. Her other work has appeared in Sawpalm, The 3288 Review, Jonah Magazine, and Lipstickparty Mag. She is working on a linked collection titled Imaginary Music.

Joy Priest (MFA 2019) is the author of Horsepower (Pitt Poetry Series 2020), winner of the Donald Hall Prize for Poetry, and the editor of Once a City Said: A Louisville Poets' Anthology, forthcoming from Sarabande Books, Spring 2023. She is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Fine Arts Work Center, and the winner of the Stanley Kunitz Memorial Prize from the American Poetry Review. Her work has appeared in the Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day series, and The Atlantic, among others, as well as in commissions for the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) and the Los Angeles County Museum of Arts (LACMA). She is currently an MD Anderson Foundation Fellow in Literature & Creative Writing at the University of Houston. 

Maya Marshall (MFA 2018) is author of the poetry collection All the Blood Involved in Love (2022) and the chapbook Secondhand (2016). She cofounded underbelly, the journal on the practical magic of poetic revision, and has served as faculty at Northwestern University and Loyola University Chicago. She holds fellowships from MacDowell and Cave Canem among others. Marshall is the current poetry fellow at Emory University. Marshall's writing is published in Boston ReviewCrazyhorseBest New Poets, and elsewhere. She is an editor for Haymarket Books and an Assistant Professor of English at Adelphi University.  

Scott Chalupa (MFA 2017) is currently an adjunct professor at the University of South Carolina. Quarantine, his debut collection of poetry, was released by PANK Books in 2019. He was awarded the inaugural Graduate Student Award for Poetry by the South Atlantic MLA. His work has appeared in Beloit Poetry ReviewTupelo QuarterlyThe South Atlantic ReviewNimrodPANK, and other venues. 

Tracie Dawson (MFA 2017) is a writer and editor based in Columbia, SC. She holds an MA in English from the University of Southern Mississippi's Center for Writers and an MFA in Fiction from the University of South Carolina, where she served as editor of Yemassee Journal.  Her work has appeared in New World Writing, Rabbit Catastrophe Review, Word Riot, and elsewhere.

Jennifer Renee Blevins (MFA 2017) is a PhD candidate in American Literature at the University of South Carolina. Her first book, Limited By Body Habitus: An American Fat Story (which began as her MFA thesis), received the 2018 Autumn House Press Nonfiction Award and will be published by the press in September 2019. Her work has been recognized by a 2016 Breakthrough Graduate Scholar Award from the USC Office of Research and a 2019-2020 Russell J. and Dorothy S. Bilinski Dissertation Fellowship. Her article titled “‘I Ain’t You’: Fat and the Female Body in Flannery O’Connor” is forthcoming in Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature.

Justin Brouckaert (MFA 2016) is the author of the short story collection Love Stories & Other Love Stories (2021), and his work has appeared in such publications as The Rumpus, Passages North, Catapult, DIAGRAM, and Bat City Review. Based in Detroit, he is a literary agent at Aevitas Creative Management, representing novelists, journalists, humorists, thought leaders and academics. 

Amanda Mitchell Dutton’s (MFA 2016) poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Journal, The Classical Outlook, Damselfly Press, and other publications.

Chris Koslowski (MFA 2016) has stories recently published in Front Porch Journal and Day One. He is working on a novel about professional wrestling.

Rebecca Landau (MFA 2016) spent summer 2015 as a Writer-in-Residence at Art Farm in Nebraska. A winner of the 2013 Havilah Babcock Short Story Contest, she is working on a short story collection titled Dirt.

Josh English (MFA 2015) originally hails from northwest New Jersey. He received his MFA from the University of South Carolina and has taught writing and literature at USC and at the South Carolina Department for Juvenile Justice. He is the co-founding editor of the poetry outfit Oxidant|Engine and his work has appeared in Cutbank, Denver Quarterly, Prelude, Sixth Finch, Third Coast, and elsewhere. He is currently a PhD student in Creative Writing Poetry at the University of Houston.

Matthew Fogarty’s (MFA 2015) debut collection of stories and a novella, Maybe Mermaids and Robots are Lonely (George Mason University’s Stillhouse Press, 2016), was named by Kirkus as one of the best books of 2016. The title story was awarded a Pushcart Prize. His fiction has appeared in Passages North, Fourteen Hills, PANK, Smokelong Quarterly, and Midwestern Gothic, among others. He currently lives and writes in Detroit.

Brandon Rushton’s (MFA 2015) poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Journal, CutBank, Passages North, THRUSH, The Adroit Journal, and others. He was chosen as the runner-up for the 2015 Pinch Literary Award for Poetry by Ada Limon and was a finalist for the 2014 Indiana Review Poetry Prize.

Andrew Valencia's (MFA 2015) debut novel Lord of California was released in 2018 and received positive reviews from Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, and The Believer. He currently teaches writing and literature on the island of Taiwan.

Jennifer Bartell’s (MFA 2014) poetry has been published in CallalooPLUCK!, Blackberry: a magazine, decomP, As/UsFall Lines, The Raleigh Review, the museum americana, and Kakalak, among others. She is a Callaloo and The Watering Hole Fellow who lives in Columbia, SC and teaches at Spring Valley High School, where she was named the 2019-20 Teacher of the Year.

Ajit Dhillon's (MFA 2014) story "Marshmallow Man" has recently been published in The Doctor T.J. Eckleburg Review. His story "Coffee with Mr. Dao" was published in Used Gravitrons.

Brandi Perry (MFA 2014) recently co-edited an anthology, The Art of Medicine in Metaphors: A Collection of Poems and Narratives (Copernicus, 2013). She has been awarded an inaugural SPARC Fellowship to conduct research in Virginia Beach, VA, toward her memoir. She is joining the board of the Association of Carolina Emerging Scholars.

Lauren Eyler (MFA 2013) has received two Pushcart nominations in fiction: one for "Kingsport, Tennessee," which appeared in Crack the Spine, and one for "Green Car Crash," which appeared in Steel Toe Review. She has also recently published stories in the Saint Anne's Review, Waccamaw, Bluestem, and Paper Nautilus. She has pieces forthcoming in The Meadow and The Rumpus.

Robbie Baden (MFA 2012) is an Assistant Professor at the College of San Mateo.

Jackson Culpepper's (MFA 2012) fiction has appeared in Armchair Shotgun, Rock & Sling, Steel Toe Review, and is forthcoming in Real South Magazine. One of his stories also appeared in The Drum Literary Magazine as an audio reading. He currently lives in east Tennessee with his wife, Margaret, two dogs, and two horses.

Zach Mueller (MFA 2012) was the 2012 Summer Writer-in-Residence with the Hub City Writer's Project, and is now visiting assistant professor of creative writing at Franklin College in Indiana. He has poems published in Gulf Coast, Prairie Schooner, Timber, and other journals.

Chad Rhoad (MFA 2012) is a commissioning editor for The History Press in Charleston, SC. He has completed his first novel, From L.A. to Breakfast, about love and life in small Southern towns. He won the Havilah Babcock Prize for Poetry in 2007, and his work was one of several featured in Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris, a musical revue, which featured both Brel's work and original poems, and raised thousands of dollars for Hope for Haiti. Chad has also presented at the New Voices Conference at Georgia State University. Chad served as editor of The Messenger in Hartsville, SC for two years. He is currently working on his second novel, a story about war, obsession, and the chupacabra.

Lisa Lopez Snyder (MFA 2012) won The Chattahoochee Review 2011 Lamar York Prize for Nonfiction with her essay "In Transit." She was also named a Short Story Finalist in the 2010 Faulkner-Wisdom Competition and received a full tuition scholarship for the 2010 NY State Summer Writers Institute at Skidmore College. Her short stories and essays have been featured in The Raleigh Review, The Scrambler, Birmingham Arts Journal, and Quill & Parchment. She is Lecturer in the Institute for Writing and Rhetoric at Dartmouth College.

Alexis Stratton (MFA 2012) is a freelance writer and editor living in Denver, CO. Their fiction and creative nonfiction have appeared in storySouthHayden’s Ferry ReviewBlue Mesa Review, and Oyez Review, among other publications, and their short films have been screened at festivals across the country, including Indie Grits, Seattle Queer Film Festival, and North Carolina Gay and Lesbian Film Festival.

Ashley Strosnider (MFA 2012) is the managing editor at Prairie Schooner in Lincoln, NE, and the fiction editor at Pithead Chapel. Her work appears in Fifth Wednesday, Potomac Review, Word Riot, Smokelong Quarterly, and Nashville Review, among others, and her reviews appear in Publishers Weekly.

Candace Wiley (MFA 2012) is co-founding director of The Watering Hole, a nonprofit that creates Harlem Renaissance-style spaces in the contemporary South, and she often writes in the mode of Afrofuturism, covering topics from black aliens, to mutants, to mermaids. She is a Vermont Studio Center Fellow, Lighthouse Works Center Fellow, Fine Arts Work Center Fellow, Callaloo Fellow and former Fulbright Fellow to San Basilio de Palenque, Colombia, a town that was founded by West Africans who had escaped from Cartagena slavery. (The people have their own language and customs that trace back to the Bantu and Kikongo in West Africa.) She is currently completing the Tulsa Artist Fellowship and is now living, writing, and running The Watering Hole from Tulsa, OK.

Elizabeth Daniel (2011) works as a copywriter in Los Angeles.

Leslie Haynsworth's (MFA 2011) debut story collection, Philanthropy, is forthcoming from Aqueous Press. Her work has recently appeared in Barrelhouse and JMWW, and her story "When I Pulled Her Out of the Water" was nominated for storySouth's 2012 Million Writers Award. She teaches English in USC's Opportunity Scholars program.

Heidi Nobles (MFA 2011), who also holds a PhD in Rhetoric and Composition from Texas Christian University, is Assistant Professor of English and Assistant Director of Writing Across the Curriculum at the University of Virginia. She has published creative and academic pieces in Relief, Welter, the South Atlantic Review, Advances in the History of Rhetoric, Computers and Composition Online, Scholarly Editing, and WLN Journal. She has worked for the editorial groups of Hachette Book Group USA, Baylor University Press, Abilene Christian University Press, and Manning Publications, and she is currently researching the social functions and theories of editorial interventions in texts-in-progress.

Zack O'Neill (MFA 2011) published the novella The Blue Stoop (2019) and the short story collection Zen Creoles (2017) at Spuyten-Duyvil Press. He was a visiting assistant professor and writing fellow at the University of Houston after earning his MFA in 2011, and now works as a professor of English at Yuba College in California. 

Matthew Boedy (MFA 2010, PhD 2015) is a professor of rhetoric and composition at the University of North Georgia in Gainesville. His non-fiction essay “Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander: MLK and Dixie” appeared in Grand Central Review in 2017. His short story “Merton in Alaska” appeared in Fathom in 2018. He self-published the novel Murder Creek in 2018. 

Phil Christman (MFA 2010) teaches in the English department at North Carolina Central University. Since 2009 he has served as Writing Coordinator at MURAP, a summer program that prepares outstanding minority undergrads for graduate school in the humanities. His stories, essays, and book reviews have appeared in Paste, Annalemma, Books & Culture, Identity Theory, The Christian Century, The Mercy Review, NWSA Journal, and other places.

Robin Caine (MFA 2009) is currently a full-time Lecturer at Montclair State University. In 2013 she directed the "Live Literature Series" at MSU, and heads the Creative Writing Committee for First-Year Writing. Robin has published stories in literary journals, most recently in 34th Parallel.

Julia Koets (MFA 2009) is the author of Hold Like Owls, which was selected by Nikky Finney as the seventh annual winner of the South Carolina Poetry Book Prize. Julia has also published numerous poems in journals including Euphony and Cutthroat. A former AmeriCorps Fellow, she has recently run poetry workshops for low-income youth at Cal Poly Pomona's Academy for Literacy through the Arts. She is currently a graduate student in the University of Cincinnati's PhD in creative writing program.

Brian Ray (MFA 2007) is Assistant Professor of English at the University of Nebraska at Kearney. His fiction publications include two novels, Through the Pale Door and Unknown Female, and stories in such journals as Green Mountains Review, Louisiana Review, and New South. His academic publications include articles for Composition Studies, Journal of Basic Writing, and Computers and Composition. He holds a PhD from the University of North Carolina-Greensboro.

Rachel Luria (MFA 2006) is Assistant Professor at Florida Atlantic University's Wilkes Honors College. She is a two-time winner of the South Carolina Fiction Project, and her stories and essays have been published in Florida Review and elsewhere. She is co-editor of Neil Gaiman and Philosophy.

Forrest Anderson's (MFA 2005) fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in BULL: Men's Fiction, Blackbird, The Louisville Review, The South Carolina Review, The North Carolina Literary Review, and elsewhere, and his nonfiction has appeared in Fiction Writers Review, The Southeast Review, and Pembroke Magazine. Anderson holds a PhD in creative writing from Florida State University, where he worked for two years as an archivist and assistant for Robert Olen Butler. He is an associate professor of English at Catawba College.

David Axe (MFA 2004) has published several books, most recently the nonfiction graphic novels MACHETE SQUAD and THE 'STAN, both published by the U.S. Naval Institute Press in 2018. He writes and directs independent movies and reports for The Daily Beast.

Matthew Boyleston (MFA 2003) is the Dean of the School of Fine Arts at Houston Baptist University. His poems and essays have appeared widely in such journals as Confrontation, the Spoon River Poetry Review, Blackwell's Companion to Creative Writing, and Puerto del Sol. His manuscript, Viewed from the Keel of a Canoe, was a finalist for the Tampa Review Prize for Poetry, the Melissa Lanitis Gregory Poetry Prize and a semi-finalist for the St. Lawrence Book Award, the Able Muse Book Award, the Miller Williams Arkansas Poetry Prize, and the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry Prize. He lives in Houston with his wife and daughter.

KC Culver (MFA 2003) teaches at the University of Miami, where she is Assistant Director of the Writing Center and Managing Editor of the undergraduate literary journal Mangrove. Her poetry has been published in numerous journals, including wordriver, Gulf Stream, Flint Hills Review, Sendero, and Peregrine.

Charlene Spearen (MFA 2003) published a volume of poetry titled A Book of Exquisite Disasters (University of South Carolina Press). She is also the author of the poetry chapbook Without Possessions (Stepping Stone Press, 2006). Her poems have appeared in a variety of journals, including Country Dog Review and The SC Anthology of Poets. She is Associate Professor of English and Chair in Humanities at Allen University.

Mark Powell's (MFA 2001) third novel, The Dark Corner was published by the University of Tennessee Press. The winter 2012 issue of Appalachian Heritage was devoted to his work and included critical appraisals by Ron Rash, Casey Clabough, and Pete Duval. He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, the Prague Summer Seminar, and the Collegeville Center for Ecumenical Research. He is an Assistant Professor at Stetson University and teaches a fiction workshop at Lawtey Correctional Institute, a Level II prison.

Ray McManus (MFA 2000) is the author of four collections: Driving through the Country before You Are Born (winner of the SC Book Prize, USC Press 2007), Left Behind (winner of the SC Poetry Initiative Chapbook Competition, Stepping Stones Press 2008), Red Dirt Jesus (winner of the 2010 Marick Press Poetry Prize, Marick Press), and Punch (Hub City Press 2014). His poetry has appeared in numerous journals, most recently The Asheville Poetry Review, Borderlands, and The SC Anthology of Poets. He is Professor of English at USC Sumter and also directs the creative writing program at the Tri-district Arts Consortium.

Joey R. Poole (MFA 2000) has published short stories in various literary journals, including The Adirondack Review, The Southeast Review, and Clapboard House. He also writes regularly for SC Wildlife magazine.

Julie E. (Payne) Bloemeke (MFA 1998) also holds MA in American Literature from USC and an MFA from Bennington. Her poetry has appeared in Pebble Lake Review, Ouroboros Review, and Mason's Road as well as the anthologies Lavanderia: A Mixed Load of Women, Wash, and Word, Obama-Mentum, and The List Anthology. She was a finalist in the 2001 Arts & Letters poetry competition and was awarded first place in the spring 2010 Atlanta Writer's Club poetry contest.

Gary Leising (MFA 1998) has published poetry in journals including Connecticut Review, Cincinnati Review, River Styx, South Carolina Review, and Mid-American Review. His work was chosen by Russell Edson for the 2008 1/2K Prize from Indiana Review, and he is Associate Professor of English at Utica College.

Ivan Young (MFA 1998) teaches creative writing at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, where he serves as the Coordinator of the Center for Faculty Excellence.  His poetry collection, Smell of Salt, Ghost of Rain was published in 2015 by Brick House Books.  He was the 2013 winner of the Norton Girault Literary Prize for poetry and a recipient of a Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award in 2011.  His work has been published in Passages North, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Crab Orchard Review,North American Review, London Magazine, Cream City Review, and Fourteen Hills, among others. He is currently working on his PhD in Creative Writing at University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Melissa Johnson (MFA 1996) is the author of the poetry chapbook Looking Twice at the World, and her poetry has recently appeared in Waccamaw, Kakalak: An Anthology of Carolina Poets, The Potomac Review, and The Cortland Review. Also a literary scholar, she has published numerous articles and co-authored the textbook Uncommon Threads: Reading and Writing about Contemporary America. She serves as the Curriculum Coordinator for the Focused Inquiry program at Virginia Commonwealth University, where she is Assistant Professor in the University College.

Dan Albergotti (PhD 1995) is the author of The Boatloads (BOA Editions, 2008) and Millennial Teeth (Southern Illinois University Press, 2014), as well as a limited-edition chapbook, The Use of the World (Unicorn Press, 2013). His poems have appeared in The Cincinnati Review, Five Points, The Southern Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, and two editions of Pushcart Prize, as well as many other journals and anthologies. He has received scholarships and fellowships from the South Carolina Arts Commission, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Hambidge Center for Creative Arts and Sciences, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. Former poetry editor of The Greensboro Review, he is Professor of English at Coastal Carolina University.

Melanie Carter (MA 1993) has published poems in The Gettysburg Review, Antioch Review, Shenandoah, Spoon River Poetry Review, and other journals. Her book-length manuscript has been a finalist for the Yale Series of Younger Poets award and a semi-finalist for the Brittingham prize. She teaches at the American University in Cairo.

Andrew Geyer (MFA 1992) published his fourth book, a novel entitled Dixie Fish (Ink Brush Press 2011). His other books are Siren Songs from the Heart of Austin, a story cycle; Meeting the Dead, a novel; and Whispers in Dust and Bone, a story cycle that won the silver medal for short fiction in the Foreword Magazine book of the year awards and a Spur Award from the Western Writers of America. His award-winning stories have appeared in dozens of literary magazines and anthologies, and been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. A member of the Texas Institute of Letters, and recently recognized as a Breakthrough Rising Star by the USC system, he currently serves as Professor of English at the University of South Carolina Aiken.

Brett Cox’s (MA 1984) collection The End of All Our Exploring: Storieswas published in 2018 by Fairwood Press.  In addition to the fiction collected in this book, his poetry, plays, essays, and reviews have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies.  With USC undergrad alum Andy Duncan, he co-edited the anthology Crossroads: Tales of the Southern Literary Fantastic (Tor, 2004), and is a co-founder and current member of the Board of Directors of the Shirley Jackson Awards.  He is an undergrad alum of USC-Coastal Carolina College (now Coastal Carolina University) and holds the Ph.D. in English from Duke.  A native of North Carolina, Brett is Charles A. Dana Professor of English at Norwich University in Northfield, Vermont.  He lives in Vermont with his wife, playwright Jeanne Beckwith.

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