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MFA Program for Poets & Writers

MFA Program for Poets & Writers

The MFA Program for Poets & Writers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst is a graduate creative writing program.


The MFA Program for Poets & Writers was founded in the 1960s by Joseph Langland and is part of the English Department at the University of Massachusetts Amherst .


The program sponsors regular readings by creative writers and poets through ict Visiting Writers Series . MFA Program for Poets & Writers include Russell Edson , George Saunders , Tomaž Šalamun , Eleni Sikelianos , Thomas Sayers Ellis , William H. Gass and David Ohle . MFA students in the graduate creative writing program-have the opportunity to Participate in Both the Mohawk Trail Writers in the Schools program and the Literary Arts and Outreach Internship Program .


  • The Juniper Summer Writing Institute and The Institute for Young Writers . Recent summer institute participants include Grace Paley , Dean Young , Matthew Zapruder , Padgett Powell , Mark Doty , James Tate , Dara Wier, Amy Hempel , Christine Schutt , Kelly Link , Brian Evenson , Kate Bernheimer , Srikanth Reddy and Matthea Harvey .


  • The program has recently been awarded by the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts .

Current faculty and staff

  • Noy Holland ‘ s first book, The Spectacle of the Body (Knopf), Was Nominated for the National Book Award . She is also the author of the book, What Begins With Bird (FC2). Her short stories have appeared in Story Quarterly , Glimmer Train , Conjunctions , Noon , B Warrior Review , Open City and The Quarterly . Noy Holland is the recipient of the fellowships of the MacDowell Colony , the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and the National Endowment for the Arts. In addition to being an Associate Professor in the MFA Program for Poets & Writers, she is the director of the Writers in the Schools Project and co-directs the University of Massachusetts’ Juniper Initiative for Literary Arts and Action. She is married to fellow writer Sam Michel, who also teaches in the MFA Program for Poets & Writers. Padgett Powell on Noy Holland: “If you could breed a writer out of Faulkner by John Hawkes , and you could have a female frame, you could have Noy Holland.”
  • Sabina Murray is the author of Slow Burn (Ballantine, 1990), A Carnivore’s Inquiry (Grove / Atlantic, 2004) and The Caprices (Houghton Mifflin, 2002), which won the 2003 PEN / Faulkner Award for Fiction . She has held several important fellowships, including the Michener Fellowship at The University of Texas and the Bunting Fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute of Harvard University. Her stories have appeared in The New England Review, Ontario Review, and Plowshares. Sabina Murray is the author of the screenplay The Beautiful Country , which stars Nick Nolte . Terrence Malick commissioned The Beautiful Countryproject. She is married to John Hennessey.
  • James Tate ‘s books of poetry include Return to the City of White Donkeys (Harper Collins, 2004); Memoir of the Hawk (Ecco Press, 2001); Shroud of the Gnome (1997); Worshipful Company of Fletchers (1994); Selected Poems (1991); Distance from Loved Ones (1990); Reckoner (1986); Constant Defender (1983); R iven Doggeries (1979); Viper Jazz (1976); Absences (1972); Hints to Pilgrims (1971); The Oblivion Ha-Ha (1970); and his first book, The Lost Pilot(1967), which was selected by Dudley Fitts for the Yale Series of Younger Poets. He is also the author of prose works: Lucky Darryl (1977), Hottentot Ossuary (1974), Dreams of a Dancing Bee Robot (2001) and The Road as Briefed (1999). He has received the National Book Award , the Pulitzer Prize , the National Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Poetry, the Wallace Stevens Award , and the Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship and Fellowship of the National Endowment for the Arts . James Tate edited The Best American Poetry 1997 and is a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets .
  • Dara Wier is the author of several books of poetry, including Reverse Rapture (2005), Blue for the Plow (1992), Hat on a Pond (2002) , Travel in English (2001), Our Master Plan (1998), The Book of Knowledge , (1988), All You Have in Common (1984), The 8-Step Grapevine (1980) and Blood, Hook & Eye (1977). Her tenth book of poetry, Remnants of Hannah , is forthcoming (2006). She is the recipient of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. She has received the Jerome Shestack Prize, the Pushcart Prize and was a Phi Beta Kappa award finalist. Her work has been anthologized in The Best American Poetry and The Pushcart Anthology Prize . Dara Wier is the director of the MFA Program for Poets & Writers and co-directs The University of Massachusetts’ Juniper Initiative for Literary Arts and Action. John Vernon on Dara Wier: “A Sappho of Decomposition, Dara Wier will not provide the floor for the most original female poets since Sylvia Plath.” John Ashbery On Dara Wier: “It may not be for the most intense experiences of aren’t-but those who will stay with us in the future.” will never be the same again. “
  • Chris Bachelder is the author of Bear v. Shark: The Novel and US! (Bloomsbury Press). He is a contributor to McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern and The Believer . His e-book, Lessons in Large Market Freelance Virtual Tour Photography , was published by McSweeney’s Books, the business and technology publication of Future Profits Now. Michael ChabonChris Bachelder: “Like the wonderful Bear vs. Shark, US! is a contraption of a novel, an encyclopedia of all our rich American armamentarium of bullshit, cant, ad copy and hyperbole (including the blurbs on book jackets). this one carries secret reserves of heartbreak and ruefulness that propel it farther and deeper into the reader’s imagination We need novelists like Chris Bachelder who can, with a microfine sense of humor and a tragic sense of history, almost make it all make sense. ‘re lucky to have him. ” Chris Bachelder will join the creative writing faculty at The University of Massachusetts Fall 2006.
  • Peter Gizzi is the author of Some Values ​​of Landscape and Weather , Artificial Heart , and Periplum and Other Poems 1987-92. He has published several limited-edition chapbooks, folios, and artist books. His work has been translated into several languages. Peter Gizzi’s honors include the Lavan Younger Poet Award from the American Poets Academy (1994) and the Howard Foundation’s Fellowships, The Foundation for Contemporary Performance Arts, and The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. He has held residencies at The MacDowell Colony, The Foundation of French Literature at Royaumont, An Atlantic Office, and the International Center of Poetry Marseille (CIPM). His editing projects have included o • wheat: A Journal of Language Arts , The Exact Change Yearbook , and The House That Jack Built: The Collected Lectures of Jack Spicer .
  • Anthony Giardina is the author of Men With Debts , A Boy’s Pretensions and The Country of Marriage . His plays have been produced at the Manhattan Theater Club in New York, the Long Wharf Theater in New Haven and the Arena Stage in Washington DC He is a regular contributor to Harper’s , Esquire , GQ and The New York Times Magazine . Giardina’s latest novel, White Guys , was recently published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux . He is currently on tour . He has-been reviewed and Interviewed by, Among Others, Beatrice ,Robert Birnbaum , and The New York Times .
  • Sam Michel
  • Brad Leithauser is a visiting writer and professor from Mount Holyoke College . He is the author of numerous books of fiction, poetry and essays. He is also a frequent contributor to the New York Times and the New York Review of Books and is a former Time magazine writer. He is also the recipient of numerous awards, including the MacArthur Fellowship and the Guggenheim Fellowship .

Faculty awards

The Pulitzer Prize , the National Book Award , the PEN / Faulkner Award for Fiction , the Pushcart Prize , and the Lavan Younger Poet Award from the Academy of American Poets . MFA faculty have also received many fellowships from organizations such as the National Endowment for the Arts and the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation.


  • Robert H. Abel
  • Sascha Akhtar
  • Floyce Alexander
  • Rick Alley
  • Benjamin Balthaser
  • Dorothy Barresi
  • Grace Bauer
  • Eric Baus
  • Steven Lee Beeber
  • Ben Bennani
  • David Berman
  • Jedediah Berry
  • Lisa Beskin
  • Noah Blaustein
  • Marianne Boruch
  • Kathryn Burak
  • Debra Carney
  • Robert Casper
  • Dan Chelotti
  • Heather Christle
  • Carson Cistulli
  • Carrie St. George Comer
  • Marcia Cohee
  • Gillian Conoley
  • Michael Earl Craig
  • Leslie Dauer
  • Carol Ann Davis
  • Mike Dockins
  • Molly Dorozenski
  • Frances Driscoll
  • Briar Edenwood
  • Kelly Everding
  • Dennis Finnell
  • Mary Fister
  • Michelle Fogus
  • James Foley
  • Melissa S. Ford
  • Chris Gompert
  • Kevin Goodan
  • Noah Eli Gordon
  • Robbie Gordon
  • David Graham
  • James Grinwis
  • Christian Hawkey
  • Aaron Hellem
  • Brian Henry
  • Amy Hoffman
  • Chris Hosea
  • Christopher Howell
  • Christopher Janke
  • Jessica Jopp
  • Tom Kealey
  • Mary Koncel
  • Laurie Kutchins
  • Dorothea Lasky
  • Kelly Le Fave
  • Sueyeun Juliette Lee
  • Susannah Lee
  • Lesle Lewis
  • Eric Lorberer
  • Valerie Martin
  • David Milofsky
  • Nicholas Montemarano
  • Erin Murphy
  • Ethan Paquin
  • Peg Peoples
  • Joe Pernice
  • Mike Perrow
  • Alex Phillips
  • Carol Potter
  • John Richard Reed
  • Nancy Reisman
  • Andrew Michael Roberts
  • David Roderick
  • Pat Schneider
  • Kamila Shamsie
  • Sejal Shah
  • Gerald Shapiro
  • Alex Shishin
  • Karen Skolfield
  • Judith Slater
  • Susan Steinberg
  • Susan Straight
  • Michael Teig
  • Carl Tillona
  • William Tremblay
  • Natasha Trethewey
  • Wayne Ude
  • Lee Upton
  • Sara Veglahn
  • Diane Wald
  • Ellen Doré Watson
  • Kami Westhoff
  • Timothy A. Westmoreland
  • Douglas Whynott
  • Mark Wisniewski
  • David Wright
  • Xu Xi
  • Matthew Zapruder

Periodical publications

  • Jubilat
  • The Massachusetts Review
  • Nine Road
  • Crate

UMass MFA Program-related projects

Literary Magazines, Journals and websites

  • Glitter Pony Magazine
  • Audio Blog
  • verse
  • Kulture Vulture
  • mustachioed
  • Slope
  • Slope Editions
  • pipe
  • Wave Poetry
  • Brain Case Press
  • The Chuckwagon
  • The Creative Writing Handbook by MFA alum Tom Kealey .
  • Corollary Press