Creative Writing Currently: SDSU Adds New Faculty; Shares Student & Alumni Highlights

Blas Falconer | August 2023

Wrapping up the spring semester, we want to take a moment to celebrate what we’ve accomplished this year and what we have in place for 2023–24. We’re excited to welcome Matt de la Peña and Lashon Daley to the MFA faculty at San Diego State University. Matt de la Peña is the #1 New York Times Bestselling, Newbery Medal-winning author of seven young adult novels and five picture books. Lashon Daley is the author of Mr. Okra Sells Fresh Fruits and Vegetables and the director of the National Center for the Study of Children's Literature at San Diego State University.

We will also be joined by visiting writers Maya Tevet Dayan and Uri Bar-on. Maya Tevet Dayan is the recipient of the Israeli Prime Minister Award for Literature for 2018, and an honorable mention from the Kugel Poetry Prize for 2016. Poems from her two critically acclaimed poetry collections have been translated into English, Spanish, and German. Uri Bar-on has continuously created worldwide acclaimed shorts, documentaries, and fiction. His debut feature film 10% My Child won the Israeli Academy Award for the best indie film and was nominated for Best Israeli Film of the Year.  His documentary series Iron Dome was nominated for three Israeli T.V. academy awards, including best series and best director.

                            Three MFA students smiling for a photo and holding their diplomas.

Congratulations to faculty as well as former and current students for recent accomplishments:

Sandra Alcosser and her editorial team published the tweny-fifth anniversary edition of Poetry International with poems and portfolios by Eavan Boland, Mahmoud Darwish, Seamus Heaney, Dunya Mikhail, Warsan Shire, Derek Walcott, as well as Kevin Prufer, Jane Hirshfield, Kwame Dawes, Ellen Bass and others. Her own recent work appears in PloughsharesCopper NickelFrom the Inside: NYC through the eyes of the poets who live here; About Place JournalDark Matter, Women Witnessing; The Polaris Trilogy; and Campfire Stories: Tales from America’s National Parks and Trails. She is at work on an essay about epic imagination to accompany her translations of Portuguese poet Pedro Eiras’ (contemporary) Divine Comedy.

Brent Ameneyro was awarded a 2022-2023 Letras Latinas Poetry Coalition Fellowship. His chapbook Puebla was selected for the 2023 Summer Micro-Chapbook Series with Ghost City Press. His full-length book A Face Out of Clay was selected for the Mountain/West Poetry Series with The Center for Literary Publishing.

Matt de la Peña’s book Patchwork (Penguin) was a New York Times Best Children’s Book of the Year, a Kirkus Best Book of the Year, a Kids' Indie Next List Pick, and an NCTE Notable Poetry Book. He also had a story in the anthology Hope Wins: A Collection of Inspiring Stories for Young Readers in 2022 (Penguin).

Lashon Daley presented at various conferences, including the Southwest Popular/American Culture Association Conference (SWPACA) and the “Human Is as Human Does” symposium. She was the keynote speaker at the Sixteenth Annual Armistead Colloquium at UC Davis, where she presented a chapter draft from her book project, “Coming of (R)age: Charting Black Girl Lit Studies.” She has also been awarded a CAL IRC (Interdisciplinary Research Cluster) grant for her year-long project, “Global Renderings of Childhood and Its Literature.” 

Poems from Blas Falconer’s fourth poetry collection, Rara Avis (forthcoming Four Way Books 2024) were featured in Kenyon ReviewPrairie Schooner, and The Georgia Review, among other literary journals.

This year Piotr Florczyk earned his PhD at USC and began a tenure track job at University of Washington, Seattle as an assistant professor of global literary studies. Last summer he published Granice, a collection of poems in Poland; in January he co-edited Polish Literature as World Literature, a collection of scholarly articles (with Kevin A. Wisniewski) for Bloomsbury, and later this year he'll publish two more books: Landless Boys: Selected Poems by Jerzy Jarniewicz and a collection of essays. 

Cheyenne Huang published her first short story in the upcoming “Refugee” issue of Fiction International

Arthur Kayzakian is the winner of the 2021 inaugural Black Lawrence Immigrant Writing Series for his collection, The Book of Redacted Paintings, which was also selected as a finalist for the 2021 Philip Levine Prize for Poetry. He is the recipient of a 2023 creative writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Recent work has appeared in Cincinnati Review, The Southern ReviewMichigan Quarterly ReviewWitness Magazine, and Prairie Schooner.

Stephen Paul Martin’s tenth collection, Twentytwenty, was published in early May.

Arnisha Royston’s poems were recently published in Michigan Quarterly ReviewNorth American Review, and Hayden’s Ferry Review. She is also the recipient of the Community of Writers Lucille Clifton Memorial Scholarship and a scholarship from Kenyon Review’s Writers Workshop. She has also been awarded the prestigious Tickner Fellowship at Gilman School. The two-year fellowship will give her the opportunity to teach creative writing and complete her first full-length collection of poems.

Andrew Kelly Stewart, a former SDSU MFA fiction student, published And We Shall Sing a Song Into the Deep, his first novel, in December 2022.

DS Waldman earned a Wallace Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University, where he is at work on manuscripts of poetry and prose. He was awarded the Lucille Medwick Memorial Prize by Poetry Society of America for his poem “Calder,” written with support of SFMOMA. 

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