Faculty

thomas-photo-3Laura Thomas
Lecturer and Head, Creative Writing Program
B530 East Quad
lcthomas@umich.edu

Laura Thomas is the program head for the Residential College’s creative writing program. She is the major advisor, and is also an RC academic advisor. States of Motion, a collection of eight stories, is forthcoming from Wayne State University Press (May 2017). Thomas’ short fiction and essays have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, including The Cimarron Review, Nimrod International Journal, Epiphany, Witness, Wake, and Midwestern Gothic. She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and received an honorable mention in the 2009 Nimrod Literary Awards. Thomas is also a contributor to Ghost Writers: Us Haunting Them, an award-winning collection of stories by noted Michigan authors published by Wayne State University Press. Thomas, an RC graduate, holds an MA in Slavic Languages and Literature from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an MFA from the Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. She is the recipient of U-M’s Individual Award for Outstanding Contributions to Undergraduate Education, as well as a number of University grants for her creative work and professional activities. She was the co-founder and co-organizer of “Voices of the Middle West: A Celebration of Writers and Independent Presses,” an annual conference and book fair that showcased the best of Midwestern writing. The conference was held in East Quad for three years, from 2014-16.
Of her creative work and her teaching, Thomas says, “Newton’s Law holds that only an unbalanced force can change a state of motion. My fiction explores how imbalance is a way of life. I’m particularly interested in how social or economic turmoil collides with a character’s own choices and temperament, and how this collision will shape her after the crisis is past. As my characters struggle with trouble, what lies do they tell themselves and others, and what truths emerge from deception? What replenishes faith after a crisis dashes all hope? In all of my fiction, characters balance loss and love, revenge and mercy, as they navigate the trade-offs between resisting change and moving on. I like to bring this exploration to my workshop and tutorial teaching. I encourage students to create trouble for their characters and then write the character through their crisis, see what happens. How does trouble change a character from the person they hoped they would be? How can the writer bring to life different experiences of the world? I’m lucky to teach in the RC, where our bold, super-smart students are asking these questions both inside and outside the classroom every day.”

KasischkeLaura Kasischke
Professor
B518 East Quad
laurakk@umich.edu

Laura Kasischke teaches creative writing in the Residential College and the MFA Program and is the Allan Seager Collegiate Professor of English at U-M, where she has won numerous teaching awards as well as a Distinguished Faculty Achievement Award.  Laura has published eight collections of poetry and eight novels. Her novels include Suspicious River (1996), White Bird in a Blizzard (1999), and The Life Before Her Eyes (2002), which have been made into feature films. Her work has been translated widely, and she has been the recipient of the National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry, a Guggenheim Fellowship, two creative writing fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the DiCastagnola Award from the Poetry Society of America, several Pushcart Prizes, the Bobst Award for Emerging Writers, and the Beatrice Hawley Award. Her collections of poetry include The Infinitesimals, Lilies Without, Gardening in the Dark, Wild BridesHousekeeping in a DreamFire & Flower and What It Wasn’t. Her poems and stories have been published in Ploughshares, The American Poetry Review, The New Republic, The Kenyon Review, Poetry, The Iowa Review and elsewhere.
Of teaching at U-M, she says, “My favorite classes to teach are undergraduate creative writing workshops. With each new semester, I fantasize that I’m greeting a whole new generation of important writers.  As it turns out, this isn’t a fantasy. I’ve had the astonishing privilege of seeing a huge number of my undergraduate students go on to success with their writing. I don’t take credit for this, but I do have faith in certain teaching techniques, and in community and support and the encouragement of passion.” Laura is a graduate of the Residential College, where she studied creative writing.

Christopher Matthews
Lecturer, Creative Writing
B526 East Quad
cmatt@umich.edu

Christopher Matthews is a poet, fiction writer, and sometime scholar of nineteenth-century literature with an MFA from Warren Wilson College and a PhD from U-M. Raised in California and schooled in Michigan, he has taught at Kalamazoo College, Washington & Lee University in Virginia, and now the Residential College. His creative, scholarly, and teaching interests include lyrical and discursive poetry, storytelling and narrative theory, film, monsters, ghosts, studies in race/class/gender/sexuality, and more.
Recent courses include: Creative Writing Tutorials on fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction; the First-Year Seminar “How the Dead Speak: Hauntings and Hauntedness”; “The Writing of Poetry”; and “Reading Multicultural London, Inside & Out” (offered abroad through the Center for Global & Intercultural Study). Matthews’ creative work has appeared widely in such journals as The Massachusetts Review, Indiana Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, and The Cortland Review, and has been recognized with three Pushcart nominations and two features in Ted Kooser’s syndicated American Life in Poetry project. His scholarship has appeared in Nineteenth-Century Studies and Victorian Studies, among others.

SMessSarah Messer
Lecturer, Creative Writing
sarahmesser24@gmail.com and  bliss@umich.edu

Poet and nonfiction writer Sarah Messer has received fellowships and grants from the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, the NEA, the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, and the Mellon Foundation. In 2008-2009 she was a fellow in poetry at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study (Bunting) at Harvard. She is the author of four books: a hybrid history/memoir, Red House (Viking), a book of translations, Having Once Paused: Poems of Zen Master Ikkyu (University of Michigan Press) and two poetry books, Bandit Letters (New Issues), and Dress Made of Mice (Black Lawrence Press). Her work has appeared in the Paris Review, the Kenyon Review, Gulf Coast, and Ploughshares, among others. For many years she taught as an Associate Professor in the MFA/BFA program at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Her teaching interests include lyric essay, memoir, poetry, prose poetry, experimental fiction and poetry, the long poem and series poems, found poetry, women and autobiography. She has also taught special topics courses like the lyric essay, first books, the elegy, devotional/Buddhist writing, the history of the memoir in America, the manifesto, the broadside, procedural poetics and non-traditional forms.  In 2010, Messer co-founded One Pause Poetry, an on-line audio archive and reading series in Ann Arbor. Currently she teaches for the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown’s on-line writing program, 24 Pearl Street, and is a cheese maker at White Lotus Farms in Ann Arbor.

RosegrantSusan Rosegrant
Lecturer, Creative Writing
B429 East Quad
rosegran@umich.edu

Susan Rosegrant has spent the last 30 years as a researcher and writer, focusing on topics of general public interest. She has worked for the Associated Press in Los Angeles, Business Week in Boston, and as a freelance writer. From 1993 until 2007, she worked as a case writer at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, where she wrote cases on such topics as international negotiation, emergency response, and the evolving world of international trade. She has co-authored two books: one on high-tech economic development in the Boston area, the other on international negotiation.
 Since moving to Ann Arbor in 2007, Rosegrant has taught creative writing, non-fiction writing, and narrative journalism at the RC. In addition, she contributes profiles and other narrative pieces at the U-M Institute for Social Research. Recent Courses: First Year Seminar in Narrative Journalism
, Creative Writing Tutorials.  Selected Articles: A selection of case studies published by the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University: “Wal-Mart’s Response to Hurricane Katrina: Striving for a Public-Private Partnership,” 2007, “Reclaiming Land from Hong Kong’s Victoria Harbor: The Public Demands a Voice,” 2006, “Reforming Prague City Hall: The Efforts of Jan Kasl to Increase Transparency and Fight Corruption,” 2005, “Listening to the City: Rebuilding at New York’s World Trade Center Site,” 2003, “Standing Up for Steel: The US Government Response to Steel Industry and Union Efforts to Win Protection from Imports,” 2002.
“The Shootings at Columbine High School: Responding to a New Kind of Terrorism,” 2001. Books Published
: Breakthrough International Negotiation: How Great Negotiators Transformed the World’s Toughest Post-Cold War Conflicts (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2001), Route 128: Lessons from Boston’s High-Tech Community (New York: Basic Books, 1993).

A. Van Jordan
Robert Hayden Collegiate Professor, English Language and Literature
1712 East Quad
avjordan@umich.edu

Van Jordan’s classes focus not only on Creative Writing but also on the ways in which engaging with film and using historical research can influence the writing. Jordan is the author of four collections: Rise, which won the PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles Award (Tia Chucha Press, 2001); M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A, (2005), which was listed as one the Best Books of 2005 by The London Times; Quantum Lyrics, (2007); and The Cineaste, (2013), W.W. Norton & Co. Jordan has been awarded a Whiting Writers Award, an Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, and a Pushcart Prize. He is also a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship (2007), a United States Artists Fellowship (2009)and aLannan Literary Award in Poetry (2015). He has taught at a number of institutions including, The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, The University of Texas at Austin, where he was tenured as an Associate Professor, Rutgers University-Newark where he served as the Henry Rutgers Presidential Professor, and at the University of Michigan, where he currently serves as the Robert Hayden Collegiate Professor of English Language & Literature, as Director of the Helen Zell Writers MFA Program, and on faculty in the Residential College.

Aisha Sabatini Sloan
Assistant Professor, Creative Writing and Literature and English Language and Literature
grendala@umich.edu

Aisha Sabatini Sloan has taught in a variety of non-traditional learning environments, ranging from the University of Michigan’s New England Literature Program in the woods of New Hampshire, to “creativity labs” with elementary and middle school students in Tucson. Her major objective in any teaching situation is to bring the spirit of experiential learning into her assignments and lesson plans—favoring experimentation and play over perfection. She will often incorporate multi-media approaches to expression into the writing process. What might happen to a personal essay if it is transformed into an episode of This American Life? What would it be like to translate a family archive into a film? Before earning an MFA in Creative Nonfiction at the University of Arizona, she earned an MA in Cultural Studies and Studio Art at NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. She is the author of The Fluency of Light: Coming of Age in a Theater of Black and White (2013) and Dreaming of Ramadi in Detroit (2017); the latter was chosen by Maggie Nelson as the winner of the 1913 Open Prose award. Forthcoming titles include the book-length essay, Borealis, and a collaboration with her father, Captioning the Archives, both due out in 2021. She is the winner of a CLMP Firecracker award for Creative Nonfiction, and a recipient of a 2020 Creative Writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.

 

Emeritus Faculty

Warren Hecht
Lecturer Emeritus, Creative Writing
whecht@umich.edu

Hecht is interested in creative activities ranging from the writing and editing of short fiction, painting and the writing and preaching of homilies.  Recent Courses: Narration and Creative Writing Tutorials. Published Work: Edited The Periodical Lunch and Street Fiction Press’s Softcover Original Series. Warren retired in December 2016.

MikolowskiKen Mikolowski
Lecturer Emeritus, Creative Writing
mikolows@umich.edu

Mikolowski teaches poetry, he writes poetry and he is an editor/publisher of poetry. Someone save him before it’s too late. See this article about Ken’s Alternative Press. Recent Courses: Writing Poetry, 
Advanced Poetry Writing, 
Creative Writing Tutorials. Books Published: That That, Thank You Call Again, 
little mysteries, 
Big Enigmas. Ken retired in April 2016.

Lolita Hernandez
Lecturer Emeritus (pending), Creative Writing
llthrnndz@gmail.com

After 12 years as an RC Creative Writing lecturer, Lolita Hernandez has retired. A native Detroiter, she has moved to Las Vegas to be closer to family. Lolita has an MFA in creative writing from the Vermont College of Norwich University, a BA in journalism from Wayne State University, and a BA in psychology from U-M. She was a General Motors UAW worker for more than 33 years, and her poetry and fiction draw from the rhythms and language of her Trinidad and St. Vincent heritage.  She is the author of two collections of short stories: Making Callaloo in Detroit (Wayne State University Press, 2014), which is a 2015 Michigan Notable Book, and Autopsy of an Engine and Other Stories from the Cadillac Plant (Coffee House Press, 2004), winner of a 2005 PEN Beyond Margins Award. She also is the author of two chapbook collections of poems: Quiet Battles and snakecrossing. She was a 2012 Kresge Literary Arts fellow.  For more about Lolita, visit her website: lolitahernandez.com

Program History

A brief history of the Program.

Writing Alums Working in the RC

Logan Corey
Director of RC Admissions

RC Creative Writing alumna Logan Corey (2013) was promoted last July to Director of RC Admissions, replacing Lana Kanitz, who retired. Among other things, Logan has been visiting Metro Detroit high schools and refining RC information pieces to broaden the RC’s presence to prospective U-M students. From South Haven, Logan heard about the RC while in high school, liking the small-college environment within a much larger university. She planned to major in Drama, perhaps with a focus on Shakespeare, but began to segue toward Creative Writing after a poetry class and then tutorials with Ken Mikolowski. Logan worked as an ESL tutor after graduation; she did peer, Sweetland, and other tutoring while in school at the RC. Logan continues to write, mostly poetry but also fiction and creative non-fiction. Several of her poems (from RC Review and from her senior thesis) were reprinted in the first RC Alumni Journal, October 2017.