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Remembering a Program Benefactor

Meet the New Editors!

Hi! I’m Elizabeth Cunningham and I’m very excited to be one of the editors for Revise This! and The Writer’s Life! I started my graduate journey in June 2023 straight out of undergrad and I’m currently working on my M.A. capstone project in fiction. When I’m not reading and writing, I can be found gaming on my Nintendo Switch or hammering puzzles together.

Hello, I am Zyen Smoot and I am also very happy to be one of the editors for Revise This! as well as Writer’s Life. I began my graduate journey this year, so I am currently in my foundation’s courses, but I plan to receive my M.F.A. in poetry. When I am not processing the world’s emotions through metaphors and double-consciousness, I am figuring out the best way to better the institutionalization of our school systems at a junior high school. Nice to meet you all!

Please contact us at or if you have any story suggestions, interview opportunities, or want to contribute!

Remembering Richard Maslow
On March 20, 2024 Richard Maslow passed away in his home in Naples, Florida. Maslow served on the Board of Trustees at Wilkes University from 1975 to 1987. In 2017, Maslow donated to enhance the creative writing program and was renamed in his family’s honor. J. Michael Lennon and Bonnie Culver worked closely with Maslow. Mike generously shared a story with his relationship with Maslow:

Years ago, when I was working in administration at Wilkes, I met Dick Maslow at a gathering of Wilkes people. He knew I’d taught American literature, and written about Norman Mailer and other writers of that generation. He was extremely well-read, and asked me sharp questions about various books and writers. Saul Bellow was one of his favorites, I recall. When Bonnie Culver and I began planning a creative writing program, we reached out to Dick via Board Chair Gene Roth, who told us about the Maslow Foundation. Every year, for over a decade, the Foundation made generous grants to support the cost of bringing in writers to meet with Program students and faculty, and other expenses. These gifts were crucial.

During the last Capital Campaign, we worked with the President’s Office on a proposal to create a million-dollar endowment for the Program. With the support of Dick’s daughter Melanie, a Wilkes Board member, and the approval of President Leahy, the proposal was submitted and it was subsequently approved by the Maslow Foundation. In recognition of the gift, the program was renamed the Maslow Family Graduate Creative Writing Program. Wilkes will never forget this generous donation, and what it has done for the Program, which is now approaching its 20th anniversary.

Wilkes Student’s Work Included in an Orchestral Project
Christian Curet started the Creative Writing Program in June 2023 and is currently working
on his MA thesis in fiction. In January, performer Kellen Dunlap reached out to Christian to
use his poem “The Bookshelf in My Classroom” as a part of a series of poems focusing on
mass shootings and the different perspectives the pieces provide. Dunlap plans to set each
poem to music and perform the orchestrated pieces around the United States.

“The poem was a response to the Uvalde School Shooting on May 29, 2022,” Christian shared. “I wrote the first draft three days afterward as a response to seeing the police standing outside for an hour. This piece culminated my fears as a teacher and my mental preparation for if something like Uvalde happens to my school.”

“The poem was a response to the Uvalde School Shooting on May 29, 2022,” Christian
shared. “I wrote the first draft three days afterward as a response to seeing the police
standing outside for an hour. This piece culminated my fears as a teacher and my mental preparation for if something like Uvalde happens to my school.”

Christian published his poem on to his own website and was picked up by Medium and the Good Man Project. Kellen Dunlap and his team were searching for poems that could be set to composition. Dunlap and his team recently received grant money from the Presser Foundation Graduate Music Award and the plan is to start touring as early as December 2024.
“This is just another part of the long strange trip of how I got here,” Christian said. “It’s very much enjoyable, but at 47, I’m still trying to find my footing.”

The Beautiful and Banned Podcast Launches
“We are in record-breaking territory,” says “Jess,” one of the two podcasters for The Beautiful and Banned. With the first episode being aired in February of 2024, program faculty members Jessica Goudeau and Christine Renee Miller have been exploring, researching, and analyzing banned books, plays, and films in an informative and entertaining digital medium.

The history of banned books has spanned several decades. However, in recent years it has become increasingly more institutionalized in places like Texas and Florida. Christine says, “It’s not the first time we’ve been here before as a nation so obviously as we know it has nothing to do with the art itself. It’s more about like, you know, control and power and we’re in a specific election cycle this year, so things are getting even more contested and a little hot out there—that is why we started the podcast and that’s what it’s about.”

Jessica Goudeau’s first book After the Last Border was challenged in
some libraries due to its topic of refugees and war. While researching the history of her own family in her second book, We Were Illegal, she found herself writing about the history of information suppression in Texas.

“There are many tactics that are very similar, but from kind of different subject matters the way that we think about it. So, we don’t often associate Juneteenth and the idea of the enslaved people in Texas not knowing about their freedom; the Gettysburg Address, and Abraham Lincoln—the information that was kept from them for two years was through the process of information suppression.” She then went on to say, “And I noticed that many times that tactic of not telling people information has been used as if that will eradicate something that someone doesn’t want. I have always been fascinated with banned books. With the research of my own book…it made me want to talk about this [topic] in particular because it feels like freedom of speech and excellent literature are things that are really threatened right now in a way that they have not been.”

In each podcast episode Christine or Jess begins by addressing a banned book, film, or play one of them has recently read or watched, followed by the background information of the author, writer, or director who created the work. One of them then reads criticism of why the piece is or was banned along with why people think it should be banned. These commentaries lead to a discussion of language, characterization, themes, and plot of the work that transcends into how art expression can become a controversial tool of liberation and control—each of the women with their own takes and understanding as writers.

Episodes are pre-recorded and aired every Tuesday morning. Their current season will have 18 episodes and in August they will be returning for a second season. This week they discussed Sherman Alexi’s book The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian and soon they will discuss the French writer Moliere who had banned pieces his entire career. Their past episodes have discussed Morrison’s The Bluest Eye, William Friedkin’s film version of The Exorcist, Maia Kobabe’s Gender Queer, and Fitzgerald’s The Beautiful and Damned.

Christine states, “Telling stories can either unite or divide each other…it’s certainly not a brand-new concept but it’s made me be even more appreciative of what I’m really doing—and it makes me realize the power of these stories, I mean, it really gets to people…it’s changing people’s lives and it’s shaping minds. There is a real purpose to the work that I am doing,”

Jessica Goudeau’s new book We Were Illegal comes out in June. She notes that this book may also be challenged. Here is the link to their podcast:

Kao Kalia Yang releases four books this year
Kalia Yang is getting ready for a busy year! She is releasing four books this year ranging in different age groups. The picture books, The Rock in My Throat comes out on March 5 and Caged comes out May 28. Where Rivers Part, a memoir, comes out March 19 and her debut middle-grade fiction novel, The Diamond Explorer comes out September 17.

Kalia has written seven children’s books and four memoirs as part of an anthology chronicling her family’s inspiring journey from Vietnam to the United States. Caged, The Rock in My Throat, and The Diamond Explorer are a blend of Kalia’s experiences, inspired by real events and fiction.

Kalia shared some of her writing processes and struggles with her books. “The experience of writing was completely different for each book. I started Where Rivers Part in 2020 but some of my other memoirs took eight years to be published.”

The Diamond Explorer is Kalia’s first middle-grade novel. “I try new things
and experiment with new things to grow and develop as a writer. I hope to
write more middle-grade novels and make The Diamond Explorer into a series.
I’m working on a YA memoir titled Story of Our Own and hope to have that published too.”

Both The Rock in My Throat and Where Rivers Part have received recognition and reviews from San Francisco Chronicle, New York Times, and the Junior Library Guild as well as starred reviews.

Kalia has been busy with events launching Rock in My Throat and Where the Rivers Part. “I had a launch party at the Mall of America Rotunda on the day of release for The Rock in My Throat. There was a sold-out event at the Parkway Theater on March 19 for Where the Rivers Part.” Two upcoming events are coming up in April: Kalia is participating in “Readings by Writers” at the University Club in the Twin Cities on April 16th and at the Content Book Store on April 17th. If you want to follow all the releases and events, head over to Yang’s website:

Maslow Family Graduate Creative Writing Program Updates

LitFest 2024!
The 2024 residency will feature more readings and more fun than ever before, from our opening night Juneteenth Celebration of Black Writers (on Friday June 21) to the Closing Banquet keynote address by Michelle Dotter, publisher of Dzanc Books. In between, we’ll present our “Journey of the Book” interview featuring three faculty mentors with new book releases; Film Night with Susan Cartsonis and director Amanda Shumer; faculty readings by Jessica Goudeau, Ursula Villarreal-Moura, Alexis Paige, Kaylie Jones, Jeff Talarigo, Bonnie Culver, Robert Mooney, Christine Gelineau, Billie Tadros, Phil Brady, and Angelique Palmer; original plays by Nicole Pandolfo and alumna Rachel Strayer; and featured readings by visiting writers Megha Majumdar, Matt Bell. and Rev. Shawn Amos, along with program alumna, Barb Taylor. We’ll also have a visit from TV show creators Andrew Marlowe and Terri Edda Miller, along with guest talks by Maureen Corrigan of “Fresh Air” and New Yorker writer Margaret Talbot. And of course over a dozen craft lessons, two happy hours, and lots of music–all outside under the big tent!

The “Writing for Television” Track is Launched
We launched our “Writing for Television” Track in January, and it has already produced two new applications (from writers who wish to learn how to write for TV). Meanwhile, Alice O’Neill (“Billions”), who joined our faculty in January, is already mentoring students!

The “4+1” (BA/MA) Program is Officially Launched
Our “pilot” student, Jessica Van Orden, aced her foundations courses while finishing her undergraduate degree last semester, and now this semester she is fully enrolled in our graduate program. (Congratulations, Jess!) Meanwhile, the university’s Curriculum Committee has given the program its full approval, and we’ve welcomed our next 4+1 student, undergraduate Finance major Eli Gordon. And two more undergraduates plan to enroll next year!

Faculty Updates

Kao Kalia Yang has four new books coming out this year! The picture books, The Rock in My Throat comes out on March 5 and Caged comes out May 28. Where Rivers Part, a memoir, comes out March 19 and her debut middle grade fiction novel, The Diamond Explorer comes out September 17.

Nancy McKinley and Suzanne Ohlmann read at the Genesis Gallery, in Denver, on February 9. Mckinley read from St. Christopher on Pluto while Ohlmann read new work and from Shadow Migration: Mapping A Life, which began as her Capstone Project.
Nancy McKinley is part of a focus group for a Ken Burns Documentary on Colorado.

J. Michael Lennon wrote a review of The Fine Art of Literary Fist-Fighting by Lee Gutkind. The book focuses on Creative Nonfiction and its origins. The article was published by Yale University Press and can be found here!

David Hicks is now a children’s author! His first children’s book, The Magic Ticket, will be published in July by Fulcrum Books. And his second novel, The Gospel According to Danny, is being published by Vine Leaves Press in Spring 2025. Learn more at

Student and Alumni Updates

To The Poets!

From Christine Hamm (M.A. in progress):
My poem “Self Portrait as Ambien” was selected for the 2024 issue of the Santa Fe Literary Review, and I just got another message: Many thanks for sending us your work! We would be honored to feature “The Persistence of Vision, II” in La Piccioletta Barca. For the sake of transparency, we would like to note that our current acceptance rate for La Piccioletta Barca is between 10-15%, so congratulations once again!

From Gil Rosado (M.A 2020):
I’m happy to announce that I just published my first poetry collection entitled, The Names We Wear. It’s available exclusively on link

I also recently became a columnist for, the largest English-language religion & spirituality blog site in the world. I am very grateful for this opportunity to navigate through topics that greatly influence much of my writing. Here is the link to my column.

After a sold-out first pressing with EMP Books, Andrea Janov (M.F.A 2006)’s first poetry collection Mix Tapes and Photo Albums has gone into a second pressing with Earth Island Books. Mix Tapes and Photo Albums is a coming-of-age poetry collection about a small-town punk rock scene where each poem assumes the title of a song creating the soundtrack to a group of teenagers who push the boundaries of their small town, test where they fit, and find solace in their local punk rock scene.

Kait Burrier Walser (M.F.A 2014) received a Pushcart Prize nomination for “Before the Blood Drive, April 2020,” one of two poems she published in G.I. Days: An Anthology of Military Life (Milltown Press, 2023) edited by Mary Senter. Kait also recently partnered with a local shelter in her NYC neighborhood to offer free writing workshops. Visit for more updates.

Amazing Projects!

On March 13th, Executive Director of WomenNC, Danie Watson-Goetz (M.F.A. 2019), along with UNC Public Policy Capstone students, presented research on human trafficking in North Carolina at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women Conference. On March 14th, Danie was also featured on a panel highlighting WomenNC’s Cities for CEDAW initiative.

Donna Talarico (M.F.A. 2009), alumna and residency faculty, presented at the higher education marketing conference CUPRAP on best practices for how colleges can partner with freelancers and work smarter, not harder. In April, in her role as publisher of “Hippocampus Magazine & Books”, she is taking part in the agent-editor pitch sessions at The Write Stuff conference presented by the Greater Lehigh Valley Writers Group. She also had a feature story published in “Games Magazine” about her rookie experience at the PAX Unplugged board game convention.

From Dahlia Fisher (M.F.A in progress):
My project, Rebel Readers Cleveland, launched as a community book club this winter. We meet, read, and discuss diverse authors each month, and explore stories of intersecting identities. We are considering the possibility of going online in the future. To learn more, visit:

Also this winter, I was invited to teach GETTING INTO CHARACTER: Using Acting Techniques to Write Believable Characters at a one-day writing camp hosted by Literary Youngstown.
Additionally, in the summer I will teach a six-week course called ADVENTURE WRITING with Literary Cleveland. We will meet at unique venues around town, discuss the location’s history, and generate new writing using a setting-related prompt.

From Ann Miller (M.F.A 2018):
After teaching on ground for Grand Canyon University in Phoenix since 2016, I moved to Oregon and transitioned into teaching synchronous online GCU classes in 2023. This year I’ve taught fully online classes, including English Composition and Introductory Creative Writing.

Brian Fanelli (M.F.A 2010) along with Joe Kraus—a professor of English at the University of Scranton—recently co-edited the anthology Currents in the Electric City: A Scranton Anthology. It will be published in July via Belt Publishing. The anthology is now available for pre-order through the press website here!


Mandy Pennington (M.A. 2023) will appear in the upcoming anthology, Currents in the Electric City: A Scranton Anthology edited by Wilkes CW alum Brian Fanelli and Joe Kraus. Now available for pre-order through Belt Publishing (release date July 2024) here!

Jon Pyatt (M.A. 2023) recently published “DOWN UNDER,” a personal essay about an underwater shark encounter, in The Milk House electronic journal and Rural Writing Collective. Working together with writing coach and Wilkes alum Dawn Leas, Jon developed the essay from his work in Dr. Michael J. Lennon’s foundation’s course in Creative Nonfiction. Jon links to the piece from his website:

Coming to the stage!

Terrence Dwyer (M.A. in progress)’s play in progress, Cheat: A Noir Romance, had a reading at the NY Dramatist Guild Playwright Slam in Ossining, NY on March 9th with Obie Award-winning actress Carole Monferdini in one of the lead roles! His essay/monologue “Shout Out Your Dead!” will be performed on April 20th at the Glimmer Globe Theater’s Write Out Loud event. His short play Apophenia is again scheduled for performance by the New Deal Creative Arts Center 10×10 Fest on September 27th and 28th in Hyde Park.

Cindy Dlugolecki’s (M.A. 2011) QUILL-ADELPHIA, a musical about the 1787 Constitutional Convention, was one of 20 scripts accepted into the 2024 New Works Festival organized by Theatre on the Verge, outside Philadelphia. Selected QUILL-ADELPHIA songs will be showcased in a cabaret scheduled for Sunday, March 24, in Jenkintown.

More Stories, Prose, and Poetry

Cassandra O’Sullivan Sachar, an up-and-coming 2024 MFA graduate!
Cassandra O’Sullivan Sachar’s suspense novel, DARKNESS THERE BUT SOMETHING MORE, about an Edgar Allan Poe scholar forced to revisit the secrets of her past was released from Wicked House Publishing on March 1, 2024. She will be reading an excerpt from the novel as part of the Big Dog Reading Series at Bloomsburg University’s Carver Hall on April 10 at 5:00 pm!

Margaret McCaffrey’s (M.A 2015) story A Pocket Handkerchief at the Edge of the World was published in the Australian Magazine 20 Artists. She began the story during her Creative Writing MA at Wilkes University. Link here:

Thomas Strunk (M.F.A in progress) has had several recent publications: a nonfiction piece Walking with Thich Nhat Hanh in “Pensive: A Global Journal of Spirituality and the Arts”, and a poem “The Coin” in Woven Tale Press. He has also been named to the board of directors for WordPlay Cincy, which creates spaces for young people to discover their voices through writing, performance, and visual arts!