Darlene Pagán, PhD

(503) 352-2748
UC Box 
Bates House 13

Website: www.darlenepagan.com

Darlene Pagán is a Professor of Arts and Humanities at Pacific University, where she teaches creative nonfiction, research and writing, poetry, first-year seminar, and twentieth-century literature including courses such as Native American Literature and World Literature. She is an Associate Editor with Airlie Press in Portland, Oregon, and offers workshops in creative writing to the public including elementary schools, libraries, and community centers. Pagán's creative work includes a chapbook, Blue Ghosts (2011), and a book of poems, Setting the Fires (2015)

Of her work and teaching, Pagán says:                                             

Listen to children on a playground and it’s obvious how much of their lives are steeped in story. The stories are full of beauty and heroism and trouble of the highest order, and they persist into adulthood, perhaps in less obvious ways. We’re drawn to music that tells the story of heartbreak and love. We spend hours on end lost in a world of daydreams and fantasy, and at night, our dreams our vivid and strange. 

Stories aren’t all play. They have tremendous power. They can tell us who we are, where we come from, and what we’re capable of. In his book, The Truth About Stories, Thomas King refers to stories as medicine, and says, “a story told one way could cure…told another way could injure”. Whether in the classroom or in my own writing, I want students to recognize the power that their own storytelling can have to shape their lives and the world for the better. That often begins with recognizing and studying how literature has created change throughout history by challenging existing narratives.

In my classes, we read widely and write across multiple impulses and genres to develop our own analytical skills, but also hone our creative muscles. We learn through trial and error, writing and rewriting, and ultimately, through play.


Engl 223 Native American Literature
Engl 227 World Literature: Magical Realism
Engw 206 Poetry Writing
Engw 209 and 309 Creative Nonfiction
Engw 180 Research and Writing
Hum 100 Storytelling
YA Literature

Selected Publications:


Setting the Fires. Airlie Press, 2015


“After the Parade.” Brevity: A Journal of Concise Literary Nonfiction 37 (2011).
“Where Muscle Connects to Bone.” Montana Mouthful 4.2 (2021).


Hiram Poetry Review
Hayden’s Ferry Review
Valparaiso Poetry Review
Calyx: A Journal of Art and Literature by Women
Cold Mountain Review
Hawai'i Pacific Review
Poet Lore
Apple Valley Review


Have you written anything for class you're proud of in 2023? Submit your writing to the Pacific Literary Undergraduate Magazine (PLUM) by Dec. 15, for a chance to win up to $125! This contest is open to all students.

Sanjiv Bhattacharya, Angela Wang, & Bernard Cooper

On Oct. 25, the Master of Fine Arts in Writing presented the fall Mapmakers Alumni Institute, "The Human in Humor," featuring Sanjiv Bhattacharya, Bernard Cooper, and Kwame Dawes Mapmakers Scholar Angela Wang MFA '23 (Nonfiction). 

The Pacific University MFA in Writing welcomes Kimberly King Parsons to the January residency.

map-maker cover

Melissa Johnson MFA '24 has been awarded the Fall 2023 Mapmakers Teaching Assistantship, a competitive opportunity co-sponsored by the Master of Fine Arts and English programs.

Book cover for "Smoking the Bible"

The Pacific MFA in Writing is thrilled to toast faculty writer Chris Abani on the selection of his collection Smoking the Bible as the 2023 UNT Rilke Poetry Prize winner, which recognizes a book written by a mid-career poet that demonstrates exceptional artistry and vision.