Alumni | UMSL

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Sally Van Doren

bogardThe Middle Step
Denise P. Bogard

mariaBailar Caribeño
Maria T. Balogh

Cumbia Soul: Poems & Other Writings
Maria T. Balogh

peculiarPeculiar Pilgrims: Stories From the Left Hand of God
edited by Linda Wendling

bramerFixed Stars Govern a Life-Decoding Sylvia Plath
Julia Gordon-Bramer

strategiesStrategies Against Extinction
Michael Nye

Bird in the Machine
Eve Jones

sexatnoontaxesSex At Noon Taxes
Sally Van Doren

Sally Van Doren

Best Road Yet
Ryan Stone

Otherwise Soft White Ash
Kelli Allen

book of sins
The Book of Sins
Angie O'Gorman

Nietzche's Camel Must Die
Rewa Zeinati

Jason Rizos

Catherine Howl studied visual art, creative writing and English Composition at California State University, San Bernandino. Her poetry is published in that region as well as UMSL Lit Mag. Z Publishing House selected Howl as on of "Missouri's Best Emerging Poets." The softcover book and Ebook release date is late November, 2017. 

ryan smith

Ryan Patrick Smith received his BA in English from Transylvania University and MFA in poetry from the University of Missouri—St. Louis. He was a semi-finalist for the 2015 92Y "Discovery" Prize and runner-up in the 2015 Boston Review Poetry Contest. His poems appear in the Kenyon Review, DIAGRAM, Boston Review, and Salt Hill, among others. Currently he lives with his spouse and a dog named Hudson in St. Louis, where he reads poetry submissions for Boulevard.

Ryan has recently published his chapbook, Death Metal Pastorals, with Black Lawrence Press.

Ryan's Website

marite balough

María T. Balogh is a bilingual, bicultural poet, fiction writer, Caribbean folkloric dancer, and educator originally from Colombia. She has a book of poetry in Spanish by a Spanish publisher and a collection of poetry and fiction in English by Cool Way Press. Her fiction & poetry have been published in several different journals from the USA and South America. She has been here and there and done this and that, including a couple of tours in the Peace Corps. She now teaches Spanish, specializing in Latin American literature and creative writing at UMSL.

michael nye "This program gave me the time, support, and confidence to work on my stories and discover my voice. Attending this program was by far the best decision I made to further my writing.

Michael Nye’s debut short story collection is Strategies Against Extinction, published on Queen’s Ferry Press. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in American Literary ReviewCincinnati ReviewCrab Orchard ReviewEpochNew SouthNormal SchoolRed Cedar ReviewSou’wester, and South Dakota Review, among many others. His work has been a finalist for the Katherine Anne Porter Prize in fiction and nominated for the Pushcart Prize. The former managing editor of the Missouri Review, he is currently a contributing editor at Boulevard Magazine. He lives in Washington, DC.

Personal Website

eve jones"The MFA Program at UMSL game me three rewarding years of craft work, pedagogical study, and a place within a supportive and challenging community of writers, all of which led to a first book and my own confidence as a teacher of writing."

Eve Jones's poetry has been published in journals such as AGNI, Blackbird, Hotel Amerika, Natural Bridge, Nimrod, and Poet Lore, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her book of poems, Bird in the Machine, was published by Turning Point Press in March 2010. She is a 2011 nominee for the Pike's Peak Arts Council award in Poetry Excellence. She has been teaching in the Lindenwood University MFA in Writing program since 2007, and now lives with her family in rural England. Writing and photographs can be found at her personal website 

joe betz"UMSL took a chance on me.  Fairly new to poetry and with only one random poem published on an obscure Canadian blog, I was nervous to apply to programs.  Thankfully, UMSL took me in and helped nurture my writing ability.  I look at my success both during and after the program as a reminder that dedication mixed with nurturing and knowledgeable peers (including those much more successful peers called "professors") can help accelerate a writer's development."

Joe Betz earned his MFA, concentrating in poetry, in Spring 2010.  While at UMSL, he won the Goldstein Prize from Michigan Quarterly Review (2009), judged by Paul Muldoon, and the James Russell Grant Poetry Prize (2010).  In 2011, he was a semi-finalist for the Indiana Review Poetry Prize.  After marrying and moving to France to teach English during the 2010/11 school year, he has since returned to the U.S. and teaches English at the colleges and universities that will have him.  He can be reached at

angela mitchell"While here, I've sharpened and expanded my creative skills, but it's the community of writers --both encouraging and congenial -- that has made my experience with the UMSL MFA so positive."

Angela Mitchell has published work in The Colorado Review; New South; Arkansas Review: Journal of Delta Studies; and more. She was the recipient of the Riverfront Times 2011 Mastermind award for Literary Arts, and the 2009 Colorado Review Nelligan Prize. Angela also recieved a special mention in the 2011 Pushcart Anthology for her story "Animal Lovers". She earned her MFA in Fiction from UMSL in 2012

sally van doren"The UMSL MFA program helped me find my voice in a supportive setting."

Sally Van Doren’s book, Sex at Noon Taxes, (Lousiana State University Press 2008) received the Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets, chosen by August Kleinzahler.   Her poetry collection, Possessive, is forthcoming from LSU Press in Fall 2012. Her poems have appeared in many literary journals, among them, American Letters and CommentaryAmerican Poet,Barrow StreetBoulevardCimarron ReviewCincinnati ReviewColorado ReviewLumina, MargieThe New RepublicNo Tell MotelPoetry DailyPoolRiver StyxSouthwest Review2River, and Verse Daily.  Her poem, “Preposition,” is featured as an animated film in the Poetry Foundation’s Poetry Everywhere.  Excerpts from her epic poem, “The Sense Series,” were the text for a multi-media performance at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis. Her newest collection of poem is Promises.

A graduate of Princeton University (BA) and University of Missouri-St. Louis (MFA), she has taught creative writing at Washington University in St. Louis, the St. Louis Public Schools and the St. Louis County Juvenile Detention Center.  She curates the Sunday Poetry Workshops for the St. Louis Poetry Center.

ron austin"Before I attended the MFA program at University of Missouri Saint Louis, I had talent and desire to write, but a limited skill set and knowledge base. The tough but more than fair workshops and insightful lectures that anchor the UMSL MFA program expanded my tastes and allowed me to pick up varied and useful tools so I could create stronger, wiser, and more complex fiction. I left the program satisfied that I was no longer just another talended dreamer, but a diligent craftsman who is aware of his abilities and capable of powerful, moving work."

Ron A. Austin holds an MFA from the University of Missouri St. Louis. His short story, "Do It Yourself", is appearing in an upcoming issue of Black Warrior Review. He teaches composition at Florissant Valley Community College while writing what he hopes will be his first collection of short stories: Avery Cold is a Snake, a Thief, a Liar. He currently resides in his hometown of St. Louis with his dog, Carmen, and his wife, Jennie.

seth raab"UMSL did a great deal for me.  It taught me how hard it is to write, or at least write well.  It taught me how complicated and difficult the structure of a short story can be.  It taught me how to fail gracefully (I hope), and how to (occasionally) succeed.  And it taught me that the only way to get better is to keep writing until you kinda-sorta figure out what you’re doing.  UMSL did all that by surrounding me with other great writers and providing accomplished instructors to teach me.  Any success I’ve had, I owe in large part to the people I met there."

Seth Raab lives in L.A. and is currently writing for the NBC sit-com “Go On.”  Prior to breaking into television, he wrote commercials for Sony PlayStation, Volkswagen, Cisco and other companies.  Seth has been published in Lumina, winning the journal’s essay contest in 2008 with his piece “Heart Failures.”

ryan stone"The UMSL MFA program was a perfect fit. I needed a place to grow as a writer and editor, and the program offered me just the kind of supportive yet challenging environment I required."

Ryan Stone earned his MFA from the University of Missouri - St. Louis. He has taught writing and literature for Missouri State University - West Plains, Drury University, St. Louis Community College, The University of Missouri - St. Louis, and Lewis and Clark Community College. His fiction has appeared widely in literary journals including The South Carolina ReviewThe Madison ReviewNatural Bridge, Whiskey Island MagazineWisconsin Review,  and the anthologies Under the Arch: St. Louis Stories and The 2009 Press 53 Open Awards Anthology. His first collection of stories is Best Road Yet (Press 53). He serves as a Co-Coordinator for the College Student Literary Magazine Conference, a Vice President in the AWP Two-Year College Caucus, and an editor for the new two-year college digest (title forthcoming). He also reviews books for American Book Review and teaches writing and literature for Danville Area Community College.

Kelli Allen"There are many MFA programs in the United States offering writers excellent instruction on craft, solid workshop experiences, and space to develop skill and presence in the larger writing community. Finding a program where professors are exceptional authors and poets, who will spend incredible amounts of time outside the classroom mentoring and championing students--these are the rare qualities within a program which will ultimately make a writer stronger. UMSL's MFA students and professors, and my relationships with those within the department, far exceeded my expectations upon entering the program. UMSL's is a unique program in that it focuses on the writer as an active artist while cultivating the writer's ability to function on both sides of the page-- as reader and creator. Workshops stress the importance of consuming as much literature and poetry as possible in an effort to help shape extremely fine critics as well as authors. Craft courses are designed to promote both appreciation and application of method. It was an honor to serve as Managing Editor of Natural Bridge while in the program and I have yet to work for a journal of higher quality or with as much attention to excellence. I expected a moderate level of outside guidance from my professors and peers, but was absolutely shocked by the intensity of commitment and community within the program. I owe my successes as a poet, editor, and critic to my professors."

Kelli Allen is an award-winning poet, editor, and scholar. Her poetry and fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Puerto del SolEcho Ink ReviewPoetry QuarterlyFjordsAbridgedOther PoetryLyre LyreThe Blue Sofa Review,WomenArts QuarterlyThe Caper ReviewIt Has Come to This: Poets of the Great Mother ConferenceFoliate OakGreatest Lakes ReviewLugh Review(where she was the featured author), Blackmail PressThe Chaffy Review,Euphony and elsewhere. She has been the featured poet for Desperanto Press’s segment “Tea With George” for September 2011.

Her fiction has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and she was a finalist for the 2011 Rebecca Lard Award. She is the author of two chapbooks (Applied Cryptography; Picturing What Breaks) and has served as the Managing Editor of Natural Bridge.  She is also the founder of the Graduate Writers Reading Series for the University of Missouri St. Louis.  She holds an MFA in Poetry from the University of Missouri St. Louis.  She is currently an Adjunct Professor of English at Lindenwood University and Florissant Valley. Allen gives readings and teaches workshops throughout the US. Her full-length poetry collection, Otherwise, Soft White Ash, is forthcoming from John Gosslee Books October of 2012.

linda wendling

"While the caliber of writers was certainly high and competitive, the MFA program at UMSL was small enough to offer an atmosphere of friendship and supportive community as opposed to generating the sort of negative vibes I hear of that can make some MFA programs a terror! We all managed to appreciate the fact that we learned more about our own voices by throwing ourselves whole-heartedly into working together to improve another's story."

Linda Wendling has been a Milton Fellow (Seattle Pacific University), as well as a Starr Novel Fellowship winner and a Writer-in-Residence at Writer's Colony at Dairy Hollow. She's also been a Laity Lodge Writer-in-Residence and is a Best New Stories from the South winner (Algonquin), a William Faulkner Prize for the Novel finalist, a James Jones First Novel Prize finalist, and a Bellwether Prize for the Novel finalist ("Literature for Social Change" - sponsored by Harper/Collins and Barbara Kingsolver). She is a Pushcart Prize nominee for the Essay, a finalist for Scribner's Best of the Fiction Workshops and the AWP Writers Award. She has won the Heartland Fiction Prize (New Letters) and was a recent Pushcart Prize nominee for the Essay Category.

Her essays and fiction have been published in journals such as New Letters; Sundog: The Southeast Review; River Styx; Buffalo Carp; Rhubarb; With; and CMW and in anthologies such as New Stories from the South: The Year's Best; Noron Anthology of Microfiction; and Just Moms (Barclay Press), and she was Guest Editor of the anthology Peculiar Pilgrims - Stories from the Left Hand of God (Hourglass Books). She currently has publication pending in a McSweeney fiction anthology. Linda is a writer's coach for Wordbench, where she coaches writers referred to her by several literary agents - a job she loves almost as much as writing. However she is working on two novels at the moment and continues to publish stories and essays.

Becky pastor"In UMSL’s MFA program, I found a supportive community of dedicated writers and professors who challenged me to push myself beyond my comfort zone. The dialogue gave me honest, insightful and useful feedback that helped me shape not only my stories, but also my voice. Most importantly, in the program I learned how to learn how to learn to write, and that’s a process that continues each time I sit before a keyboard."

Becky Pastor received her MFA in Creative Writing –Fiction from UMSL in 2007.  She has published a variety of work, including fiction, creative nonfiction and magazine articles. Most recently her creative nonfiction was published in Cimarron Review. Becky works full-time as a PR writer for a think tank, teaches writing at Webster University, and takes freelance writing assignments. She is also working toward a Masters in Counseling.  Her favorite writing spot is the backyard. 

reggie poche"I feel very fortunate to have been welcomed into UMSL’s community of writers and consider my three years writing alongside them an invaluable experience. Their advice, praise, and writerly patience when reading and critiquing my work will never be forgotten."

Reggie Poché, a tenth-generation Louisianian, teaches fiction writing, technical writing, freshman composition, and literature at the University of New Orleans. He also serves as faculty co-advisor of Ellipsis, the university’s student-produced literary magazine, which is entering its fortieth year of publication. His short stories have appeared in ZahirMargin, Ginger HillRiver Styx, and other publications. His most recent work has appeared in the anthology Where We Know: New Orleans as Home, published by Chin Music Press, and he has a story forthcoming in the inaugural issue of Gris-Gris, a journal of art and culture published by Nicholls State University. He is currently working on a novel, tentatively titled Grand Terre, and he continues to tinker with Antediluvian Men, a story collection that began with his graduate thesis. 

Lauren wiserLauren Wiser first studied fiction writing at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she earned her BA in English with a minor in Business in 2010. Having graduated from UMSL in 2013, Lauren was the current Managing Editor of Natural Bridge Literary Journal. She was nominated for the AWP Intro Journal Project and the MFA Prize. In her spare time, Lauren works at Left Bank Books in St. Louis' Central West End.

ryan trattlesRyan Trattles is a fiction graduate from the UMSL MFA program. His work appears in the Indiana Review, and has been nominated for the MFA Prize in fiction. Ryan now works as a  front-end web developer. During his MFA, Ryan served as the WITS (Writers in the Schools) coordinator for UMSL, and was an Associate Editor of Natural Bridge and WomenArts Quarterly. Before coming to UMSL, Ryan earned his BS in Secondary Education from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh in 2009. There he served as President of the Oshkosh Boardgaming Society. Ryan is very good at boardgames. He lives and works in Florida.

amy milton

Amy Milton graduated from UMSL's MFA program in 2013.  Before attending UMSL she received her BA in Creative Writing from Butler University in Indianapolis. For her first two years at UMSL, Amy worked in the Writing Lab as a tutor, and now she works at Saint Louis University.

Sara Ross

Sara Ross graduated from UMSL's MFA program in 2013. In addition to her writing and studies, she works full time as executive assistant in the UMSL College of Fine Arts and Communication dean’s office, and leads a book discussion group for writers at Left Bank Books. Her favorite authors include Ann Patchett, Elizabeth Strout, Sarah Dessen, Jacqueline Woodson, and David Foster Wallace. She most often writes literary young adult fiction, but is also interested in creative nonfiction and poetry. Since beginning the MFA program, Sara has won an honorable mention in the AWP Intro Journals Nonfiction Contest and third place in the Margaret Leong Children's Poetry Contest.

Jen TappendenJennifer Tappenden is the founding editor of Architrave Press, 2012 Poet Laureate of the University of Missouri – St. Louis, and a Pushcart nominee. Her poems have appeared in Euphony, The Cape Rock, Limestone and elsewhere. Her interview (with Karen Lewis) of Thom Ward for Traffic East magazine was featured on Poetry Daily. She has founded the poetry press Architrave.

Angie O'GormanAngie O'Gorman's articles and essays have appeared in America MagazineCommonwealNational Catholic Reporter, and Natural Bridge. She compiled and edited a collection of essays entitled,  The Universe Bends Toward Justice: A Reader on Christian Nonviolence in the United States.  Her first novel, The Book of Sins, was published in 2010.  Susan Neville, author of Sailing the Inland Sea: On Writing, Literature, and Land, said of O'Gorman's novel, "She has imagined a future in which capitalism has bought out Christianity....Like all good dystopian novels, The Book of Sins asks us to consider what will happen if present trends continue, and her fully-realized characters cause us to question our own complicity in those trends."  Originally from New York, O'Gorman has lived in Guatemala, Honduras, and the West Bank where she worked with unarmed peacekeeping teams. She now  lives in St. Louis, Missouri and works at Legal Services of Eastern Missouri. She is currently writing a series of linked stories and can be reached at her website or

Ryan Krull began writing fiction the final semester of his undergraduate career. Ryan KrullAfter receiving a BA in communications hespent a year as a freelance journalist/bus boy. He has finished the UMSL MFA program and works in the College of Arts and Sciences as a Lecturer and is also a Mentor in the college’s First Year Experience course. His short story “The Yogini Spinster” is in Whiskey Island, the literary magazine of Cleveland State University’s MFA program. His ficiton has also been published in Hobart and Ryan has contributed several watershed interviews to The Rumpus.

Tina ShenTina Shen learned English at the age of nine by putting her imagination in writing – her favorite composition from this period is an essay entitled “If I Will Win USA $90,000.” When her social studies teacher asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, she replied, “artist,” at which the teacher laughed. The teacher explained that artists starved to death. Tina took this discouragement to heart, for she loved food dearly, and strayed from creative writing for more than a decade. In this lull, she pursued her undergraduate degree in Gender Studies from the University of Chicago, and worked as a receptionist, dog walker, canvasser, building manager, pet sitter, server, personal assistant, and kennel attendant. Her consistent failure to render her employment lucrative convinced her that she had a fair shot at starving to death even if she weren't to become an artist, and, with this in mind, she felt safe to finally embrace her propensity to write. She grows food in her back yard, just in case her social studies teacher was right. She currently teaches at Washington University.

Megan McCormackMegan McCormack is excited to be in an MFA program after a year-long break from school. She graduated from UMKC in 2011 with a Master's in Literature. While at UMKC, she worked with at the Writing Center as well as their Upward Bound Program. In 2009, Megan graduated from Westminster College with a Bachelor's in English (Creative Writing) with a minor in Women and Gender Studies as well as in History. Her poetry and short stories have been published in Westminster College's literary magazine, Janus, in 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2009. She has won 1st place in prose for "Failure in Finality" in the 2008 issue of Janus, as well as 1st place for her short story, "Under Warranty" in the Jefferson County Library Writing Contest in 2011. Megan was also awarded a teaching assistantship through UMSL's English Department. Megan has always loved St. Louis, and she is very happy to be working with a great group of writers and professors.

Kasey PerkinsKasey Perkins earned her BA and MA in English from Truman State University in Kirksville, MO. She spent several years in Kirksville competing in poetry slams for extra cash and ultimately became the person who planned, executed and hosted them. From there she fell even further in love with poetry and the writing community, and decided to eschew a PhD in Composition Studies for an MFA in poetry. Her work has appeared in Oracle, Monkey Puzzle, SLAB, and Lumina magazines, among others. Her ultimate life dream is to teach creative writing, which really implies she doesn't want to "work" for a living. Kasey's poetry is usually grounds to showcase her love of beauty in the mundane; at times, it also allows her to flaunt her rather sick sense of humor.  When she's not trying to write new poems or moonlighting as an adjunct composition instructor at a community college, Kasey is trying to convince people to publish her master's thesis: a book of poems titled The Universe in Bed. She currently teaches at Washington University.

marThe only way someone can improve his or her tennis skills is to compete with more talented tennis players. As a student at Covenant College and Washington University--St. Louis, I sometimes felt like I was one of the best writers in each one my creative writing courses. This was not because I was more talented than they were but because I worked harder than most of my classmates. The majority of them did not desire to become professional writers. However when I enrolled in UMSL's MFA program, I quickly realized that all of my new classmates were far more gifted than I was, and I needed their wisdom to sharpen my skills and to lift my writing to the privileged status of professional, published poetry and prose. Every semester I have been with the program my writing has improved a thousand fold.

I sometimes write Native American Literature, and I worried that my work might be denounced by my professors for not falling in line with the standards of Western Literature. Instead, I discovered that both my professors and my classmates encouraged me to experiment with various writing styles. It is a comforting thought to know that everyone in the MFA program will help me find my voice." - Mark Shaw

jason vasserJason Vasser began writing poetry while attending Visual Performing Arts Middle school at Marquette. While there he performed Paul Lawrence Dunbar’s poem A Negro Love Song, for their Black History program. Preparing for his performance, Jason learned to read and write poetry and the art form became his primary source of self-expression. He began his academic career by serving with AmeriCorps East St. Louis as a mentor to students at Wyvetta Hoover Young Middle School, located in Washington Park Illinois. Upon the completion of two years of service, he earned an education award which he used to enroll at the University of Missouri St. Louis and major in Anthropology. While at UMSL, Jason taught as a student teacher in the Center for Human Origin and Cultural Diversity where the subject matter focused on how concepts of race are societal constructions. Jason graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Anthropology and a certificate in African Diaspora studies in 2012 and finished his MFA at UMSL in 2014.