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Core Creative Writing Faculty

Core Creative Writing Faculty

Our accomplished faculty writers have earned some of the most prestigious writing awards and honors, including National Endowment for the Arts, Pennsylvania Arts Council, Stegner, Dobie-Paisano, D.H. Lawrence, Bunting and Fulbright Senior Scholar Fellowships; Lambda Literary, Whiting Writers and O. Henry Awards, as well as numerous Pushcart Prizes. They have been in residence at places like Breadloaf, Yaddo, Djerassi, Millay and MacDowell Colonies and have had their work published in journals such as The American Poetry Review, Antioch Review, Epoch, Guernica, New Letters, The New York Times, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Poetry, TriQuarterly, Vanity Fair, The Village Voice, and many, many other journals.

Current graduate faculty include prose writers Elizabeth Kadetsky, Samuel Kọ́láwọlé, and Toby Thompson, and poets Shara McCallum and Julia Spicher Kasdorf. Their bios follow.

Julia Spicher Kasdorf’s third collection of poems, Poetry in America, was published by the University of Pittsburgh Press in 2011.  With Michael Tyrell, she co-edited the anthology Broken Land: Poems of Brooklyn, published by NYU Press in 2007.  She has received a Pushcart Prize and an NEA fellowship, and her poems have been widely anthologized.  She has also published a collection of personal essays, a biography, and worked on new editions of two local color novels set in central Pennsylvania.

Elizabeth Kadetsky

Elizabeth Nicole Kadetsky is author of a memoir (First There Is a Mountain, Little Brown), a story collection (The Poison that Purifies You, C&R Press) and a novella (On the Island at the Center of the Center of the World, Nouvella Books). Her fiction has been included in the Pushcart Prizes, Best New American Voices, and the Best American Short Stories notable citations, and her personal essays have appeared in the New York Times and elsewhere. Recent work can be found in Glimmer Train, New England Review, and Antioch Review, and, forthcoming, in Love Stories for Turbulent Times: a best of the previous 25 years of the Pushcart Prize. She has received residency fellowships to the Camargo Foundation, MacDowell Colony, Vermont Studio Center, and elsewhere, and was a Margaret Bridgman scholar at the Breadloaf writers conference. She is associate professor of creative writing at Penn State, and can be found at

Samuel Samuel Kọ́láwọlé

Samuel Kọ́láwọlé was born and raised in Ibadan, Nigeria. His work has appeared in AGNI, Georgia Review, The Hopkins Review, Gulf Coast, The Evergreen Review, Washington Square Review, Harvard Review, and elsewhere. His fiction has been supported with fellowships, residencies, and scholarships from the Norman Mailer Center, International Writing Program at the University of Iowa, Columbus State University’s Carson McCullers Center for Writers and Musicians, Clarion West Writers Workshop, Wellstone Center in the Redwoods, California, and Island Institute in Sitka, Alaska. He was a finalist for the Graywolf Press Africa Prize, shortlisted for UK’s The First Novel Prize in 2019, and won a 2019 Editor-Writer Mentorship Program for Diverse Writers. Samuel has taught creative writing in Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda, South Africa, Sweden, and the United States. Kọ́láwọlé studied at the University of Ibadan and holds a Master of Arts degree in Creative Writing with distinction from Rhodes University, South Africa. A graduate of the MFA in Writing and Publishing at Vermont College of Fine Arts, he returned to VCFA to join the Faculty of the low-residency MFA program. His novel is forthcoming from Harper Collins. Links: Personal website & Penn State page.

Shara McCallum

Originally from Jamaica, Shara McCallum is the author of five books of poetry, published in the US and UK: MadwomanThe Face of Water: New and Selected PoemsThis Strange LandSong of Thieves, and The Water Between Us. Her poems have appeared in literary magazines, anthologies, and textbooks in the US, UK and other parts of Europe, the Caribbean, Latin America, and Israel and have been translated into Spanish, French, Italian, Romanian, Dutch, and Turkish. Her personal essays appear regularly in print and online. Recognition for her writing includes a Witter Bynner Fellowship from the Library of Congress, a National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellowship, the Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize for Poetry, and other awards. From 2003-2017 she was the Director of the Stadler Center for Poetry at Bucknell University, and is now a Liberal Arts Research Professor at Penn State.

Toby Thompson

Toby Thompson is the author of five books of nonfiction: Metroliner, Riding the Rough String: Some Reflections on the American West, Positively Main Street: Bob Dylan’s MinnesotaSaloon; and The ’60s Report. He has written for publications as diverse as Vanity Fair, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Gray’s Sporting Journal, GQ, Men’s Journal, Sports Afield, Playboy, Outside, Big Sky Journal, Western Art & Architecture, The New York Times, The Washington Post.