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Distinguished Faculty Join Creative Writing Department


By Laila Rashid, CHASS Dean’s Office Student Intern
February 9, 2015

This year, UCR welcomed five new faculty members, including one Pulitzer Prize winner, to augment its world-renowned creative writing department.

Allison Benis White, assistant professor of creative writing, received her MFA in poetry from UC Irvine and is the recipient of several notable awards. She is the author of Self Portrait with Crayon, winner of the 2008 Cleveland State University Poetry Center First Book Prize, and Small Porcelain Head, selected for the Levis Prize in Poetry and named a Library Journal Best Book of 2013.

Jane Smiley, distinguished professor of creative writing, received an M.A., M.F.A., and Ph.D. at the University of Iowa, and is the author of a collection of short stories, a television script, and two dozen novels and nonfiction works. Some of her most notable achievements include winning the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award for her novel A Thousand Acres in 1992, receiving the Spur Award for Best Novel of the West for The All True Travels and Adventures of Lidie Newton in 1999, receiving the PEN USA Lifetime Achievement Award for Literature in 2006, and serving as lead judge for the Mann Booker International Prize in 2009.

Katie Ford, associate professor of creative writing, received her M.F.A. from Iowa Writers’ Workshop and M.Div. (Master of Divinity) from Harvard University, and is the author of Colosseum, Deposition, and Blood Lyrics. She is the recipient of a Lannan Literary Fellowship and the Larry Levis Prize, and Colosseum was named one of the Best Books of 2008 by Publishers Weekly and the Virginia Quarterly Review.

Steve Erickson, assistant professor of creative writing, earned his M.A. from UCLA and has authored nine novels and two books about American politics and popular culture. He has received the American Academy of Arts and Letters award in literature and a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation. Erickson is the editor of the literary journal Black Clock, and twice has been nominated for the National Magazine Award for criticism and commentary.

Josh Emmons, assistant professor of creative writing, received his M.F.A. from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and authored two novels, The Loss of Leon Meed and Prescription for a Superior Existence. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, ZYZZYVA, Esquire, The American Scholar, and The San Francisco Chronicle. When asked about his impression of UCR, he stated “I’m impressed by the rigor, size and internal harmony of UCR’s Creative Writing Department, an incredible trifecta for any humanities program anywhere. I find the graduate students to be as adventurous as they are talented—their willingness to work outside of their chosen genre speaks to this, as does the remarkable quality of their writing—and I’m equally excited by the imaginative, industrious undergraduates.”

He expressed gratitude over working alongside some of the best in the field. “My colleagues are a dream cohort,” he said. “Having taught in several universities before coming to UCR, I can say that there isn’t a more genial, brilliant group of teacher-writers in the country. I think these new additions will help UCR to continue its incredible success in attracting, retaining and training creative writing majors, and to keep rising in national prominence as a school where the literary arts are both valued and forged.”

While each bring a unique background and perspective, Allison Benis White, Jane Smiley, Katie Ford, Steve Erickson, and Josh Emmons all come to UCR with a surfeit of talent and enthusiasm, and several recently participated in Writers Week. For more information about the department, please visit http://creativewriting.ucr.edu/.


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