First year


Alonso Chism
is an MFA fiction candidate at the University of Maryland, College Park. He graduated from Penn State in 2015 with a BA and MA in English. This past year he taught college composition and creative writing in the Philadelphia area, where he also helped found the Frontyard Writer’s Workshop. His first fiction publication is forthcoming in Reservoir.


Shakarean Hutchinson is a MFA fiction candidate at Cornell University. After taking an eight-year hiatus from college she finally graduated Magna Cum Laude from the College of Charleston with a BA in English. She has spent her entire life in South Carolina and is trying to reconcile the idea of being a proud black southerner. She mostly writes about black womanhood and the southern homes that both harm and nourish them. You can follow her on Twitter @sambria where she mostly retweets articles and posts of interest and talks way too much about tennis and sports in general.

Natalie Lima
is a 2016 Pen Center USA Emerging Voices Fellow. She is a first-generation college graduate of Northwestern University, where she received her BA in Radio/Television/Film and International Studies. In the fall of 2016, she will begin her MFA in Creative Writing at the The University of Alabama as a McNair Graduate Fellow. Her writing has been awarded a Voices of Our Nation Arts Foundation (VONA) Fellowship, a UCLA Extension Kirkwood Literary Prize Nomination, and a PEN Center USA Fellowship. Her fiction has been published or is forthcoming in Word Riot, Reservoir Lit, and Paper Darts. Natalie can be found on Twitter @NatalieLima09.

Molly Montgomery
is a fiction writer and part-time Francophile who is pursuing a Masters of Arts in Creative Writing from the University of California, Davis. Originally from Oakland, she received a B.A. in English and French from UCLA. A city girl at heart, she spent a year teaching abroad in rural France and now is embracing what California’s Central Valley has to offer. She draws inspiration from her surroundings, whether rural or urban, and she likes to weave her family history and multicultural identity into her writing. Her fiction has been published in Westwind and the Blue Lake Review.

Gionni Ponce is an MFA candidate at Indiana University. She is, first and foremost, a recreator. She likes to take old things (fabric, furniture, charcoal, memories) and make them new (jewelry, prettier furniture, drawings, stories). As a child, she thought she wanted to study astronomy until she realized she likes the mythology of the stars more than the science. When she takes accent quizzes, her results come back mixed Detroit and Phoenix, because her childhood vocabulary confuses the test. She’s expressed herself (through visual art and writing) using speech contests, small mags, literary websites, a photography studio, juried exhibitions, and a couple of modestly well-read travel blogs; but it’s nothing you would have heard of. Check out her Twitter or email her with questions.

 Jess Silfa is an MFA Candidate at Brooklyn College. She graduated with a BA in psychology from Columbia University. She writes about Latinx folks in the South Bronx and binges on Korean dramas. You can follow Jess on Twitter @jesilfa.



Tafisha A. Edwards is an MFA candidate at Southern Illinois University Carbondale. She is the author of THE BLOODLET, winner of Phantom Books’ 2016 Breitling Chapbook Prize. Her work has appeared in The Offing, PHANTOMBodega Magazine, The Atlas ReviewThe Little Patuxent Review, and other print and online publications. She is the Assistant Poetry Editor for Gigantic Sequins, a graduate of the University of Maryland’s Jiminéz-Porter Writers’ House, a Cave Canem Graduate fellow, and a former educator with the American Poetry Museum. She is the recipient of a Zoland Poetry Fellowship from the Vermont Studio Center and has received scholarships to The Juniper Summer Writing Institute, The Minnesota Northwoods Writers’ Conference and other writing workshops and conferences. She is currently writing her first collection of poetry, Confusing the Wind.

Raquel Gutiérrez is a poet and essayist pursuing her MFA degree in poetry at the University of Arizona. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she writes about space and institutionality and publishes chapbooks by queers of color with the tiny press Econo Textual Objects, established in 2014. Her work has found homes in Huizache, The Portland Review, Los Angeles Weekly, GLQ: Gay and Lesbian Quarterly and Entropy. She received an MA in Performance Studies from New York University and a BA in Journalism and Central American Studies from California State University at Northridge.

Craig Knox
is a New Jersey native who stumbled into poetry at community college in 2009, when he read Etheridge Knight’s “Hard Rock Returns to Prison from the Hospital for the Criminal Insane” aloud as an assignment for a required English composition class. By the time he attended the biannual Dodge Poetry Festival in Newark for the first time, he was hooked on poems, though he was never hukt on foniks. Two degrees later, he is now an MFA candidate at Rutgers-Camden. A former deliveryman, flooring salesman and peripatetic pizza pitchman, Craig enjoys cooking, music, garage sales and candlelit dinners with his crafty wife Lori (who makes the candles and lights them) and Chloe, their beloved poodle.

Devin Koch
is a lover of campy reality television, former Disney stars, and above all literary works of art. He is a graduate from University Nebraska Lincoln where he received the Vreeland and Marjorie Stover Award in both poetry and fiction and is now a MFA candidate in poetry at Virginia Tech. His work focuses on gender, popular culture, religion, and rural life. You can find him at local zoos, perhaps a winery, but if all else fails check him out on ­­his website

Julian Randall
is a Living Queer Black poet from Chicago. He is a 2016 Callaloo fellow, Lois Morrell Poetry Prize winner and the 2015 National College Slam (CUPSI) Best Poet. He is also a cofounder of the Afrolatinx poetry collective Piel Cafe. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Offing, Winter Tangerine Review, Vinyl, Puerto del Sol and African Voices. He is a candidate for his MFA in Poetry at Ole Miss.

Stephanie Lane Sutton
is a creative writing MFA candidate at the University of Miami. Her poems have appeared in Moonsick Magazine, THRUSH, The Fem and Tinderbox, among others. In 2011, she graduated from Columbia College Chicago, where she majored in Poetry and minored in Television Writing. She is the Poetry Editor for |tap| magazine and the Web Editor for HEArt Online. She can be found at


Sienna Golden Malik is an MFA candidate at the University of Central Florida. She earned her B.A. from Washington University in St. Louis. She is studying creative nonfiction, but also has a feature screenplay, By The Dashboard Light, in production in her native Pennsylvania. She draws inspiration from her offbeat hometown, her record collection, and an article she once read about a seal who swam 1,000 miles down the Atlantic coast to escape the harsh Northeastern winter. She couldn’t be more excited to follow that little seal’s lead.

Alexandra McLaughlin is an MFA candidate at Georgia College & State University. In 2016, she graduated from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota with a major in creative writing. In her free time, she enjoys antique shopping, running, and trying new tofu recipes. You can follow her on Twitter or check out her blog.


Cara Summerfield is an MFA student at Regis University. Her focus is creative nonfiction. She was born in New Orleans and has lived out West for most of her life. Recently, she decided to move back to the South to Charlotte, NC from Denver, CO. She will be working part-time as an Instructional Designer. Over the past years, she has worked as a Freshman Composition Instructor and a Writing Coach. In addition, she self-published her memoir (it is currently being rewritten). Her MFA program thesis is a spiritual memoir based upon PTSD she experienced while growing up. Her love for animals has motivated her to own a cabin in either the Blue Ridge Mountains or Smokey Mountains so she can fill it up with animals while she continues to write.


Daria Miyeko Marinelli is an MFA candidate at the University of Texas at Austin. Her plays include The One You Feed, We Are Samurai, Untameable, and After You. He work has been developed and performed at The Flea, Jimmy’s No 43, Access Theatre, Alchemical Theatre Laboratory, WOW Café Theatre, Standard Toy Kraft, St. Paul’s Hall, 133rd Street Art Center, Venus Theatre (DC), Espacio Arévalo (Buenos Aires), The Arts Center (Carborro, NC), Production Workshop (PVD), and Rites and Reason Theatre (PVD). She has been a finalist with Sanguine Theatre Company’s Project Playwright and has been published in various literary magazines including Bare Fiction, Fourth Wall Review, The Round, and Clerestory. She is the Founder and Artistic Director of THTR. Ms. Marinelli was born and raised in New York and now lives in Austin. You can find her website here.


ericEric Wong
is a former high school speech and debate coach, aspiring comics scholar, and general ne’er-do-well. He graduated in 2010 from the Johnston Center of Integrative Studies at the University of Redlands with an emphasis in creative writing and sequential art. He is currently pursuing an MFA in comics at California College of the Arts.  If you’re interested in his crazed ramblings, check out his comics podcast Sequential Smarter and his comic theory articles