Photograph of Professor Mitra.

Keya Mitra, PhD

Professor & Creative Writing Program Director
(503) 352-2989
UC Box 
Abigail Scott Duniway House 102

Keya Mitra is a Professor of English at Pacific University, where she teaches creative writing and literature, with an emphasis on fiction and postcolonial literatures. Mira has held numerous accolades, including a Fulbright Fellowship to India and a Distinguished Story citation in Best American Short Stories 2017. Her current book projects include two novels, a short story collection, and memoir. Mitra's fiction has appeared in or is forthcoming from the Bennington Review, The Kenyon Review, Arts and Letters, The Bellevue Literary Review, The Southwest Review, Slush Pile, Best New American Voices, Ontario Review, Orchid, Event, Fourteen Hills, Torpedo, Confrontation, Aster(ix) and the Journal of Commonwealth and Postcolonial Studies. Her nonfiction has been published in Gulf Coast and the American Literary Review. Mitra holds a PhD and MFA from the University of Houston.


I often show my students a brief TED talk by acclaimed Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, entitled “The Danger of the Single Story,” in which she speaks beautifully to the power of stories to strengthen human ties as well as destroy them: “Stories matter. Many stories matter. Stories have been used to dispossess and to malign, but stories can also be used to empower, and humanize.” I am passionate about the exploration and creation of diverse narratives to strengthen human connections across class, cultures, gender, race, and global divides to promote understanding.  We all have narratives to share, and the narrative we chose to share and preserve—and how we choose to tell these stories—are critical. 

I encourage students to question why, with the multitude of narratives playing out at every moment, we are compelled to preserve certain stories and downplay others.  I also believe that investigating how a narrative is told is as critical as exploring why it has been preserved.  I firmly believe that the way a story is shaped and communicated can lead to empowerment for both the audience and author.

Finally, I teach students to view stories as living entities, present not just in classic novels or short stories, but also in everyday dialogue, news stories, social media, and nonverbal communication.  At every moment we witness, develop, and dismiss narratives.

I am delighted to teach at Pacific University, an institution that allows students and faculty to work closely alongside one another both in the classroom and in one-on-one mentoring relationships to build skills that students go on to develop at national and international conferences, internships, and ultimately in the workplace and their day-to-day lives.  Our department’s Editing and Publishing program offers students valuable hands-on experience as well when it comes to editing, revising, and publishing manuscripts and book design.  I am thrilled to work alongside faculty members who are committed to offering opportunities for mentorship, publication, and creative growth inside and outside the classroom. 

In addition to my work at the university I also mentor for the Afghan Women’s Project and was lucky enough to spend ten months in India in 2008 on a Fulbright Grant in Creative Writing. For seven years I taught for Writers in the Schools in Houston, Texas and had a blast teaching creative writing in lower-income schools, art museums, and summer camps.



Ph.D. in Creative Writing and Literature (Fiction), May 2010

Masters in Fine Arts, Creative Writing Program in Fiction, May 2005

Bachelor of Arts in English and History, English Honors and Liberal Arts Honors, August 2002
Phi Beta Kappa graduate


Associate Professor, Pacific University, English Department, 2016 - current

Assistant Professor, Pacific University, English Department, 2013 - 2016

  • ENGL 342:Studies in Fiction
  • ENGW 304: Book Design
  • ENGL 202: Monsters Within and Without: Demons in Literature
  • ENGL 208: Fiction Writing
  • ENGL 203: Professional Writing and Editing 
  • ENGL 425: Studies in 20th Century Literature

Assistant Professor, Gonzaga University, English Department, 2010 - 2013


  • Bellevue Literary Review, “The Magnificent Purr” (Fall 2014)
  • Southwest Review, “Antiques Anonymous” (Summer 2014)
  • Arts & Letters, “Majormama” (Forthcoming 2015)
  • Slush Pile, “The Unmourned” (Summer 2014)
  • The Kenyon Review, “The Sacred Gifts of Cows and Cheetahs” (Summer 2015)
  • The Kenyon Review’s Weekend Reads, reprint of “A Family Matter” from 2011 print edition of The Kenyon Review (2014).
  • The Kenyon Review, “A Family Matter” (2011)
  • Best New American Voices 2007, “Pompeii Recreated”
  • Torpedo, “A Man of Many Possibilities” (2008)
  • Event, “Operation Saving Suma” (2006)
  • Fourteen Hills, “An Elegy to Road Kill” (2006)
  • Confrontation, “The Outage” (2006)
  • Ontario Review, “Pompeii Recreated” (2005)
  • Orchid, “Tips on Pulling off the Graceful Death” (2005)
  • The Afghan Women’s Project Newsletter, “AWWP and the Power of One Woman’s Voice” (Summer 2014)
  • Charter Magazine, “A Classless Haven” (2013)
  • Unity Multicultural Education Center Newsletter, “A Subtle but Critical Diversity” (2012)
  • Writers in the Schools Newsletter, “A Child’s Voice in India” (2009)
  • American Book Review, Review: Christina Milletti’s The Religious and Other Fictions. (2008)
  • American Book Review, Review: Haruki Murakami’s After Dark (2008)
  • Gulf Coast, “This is Where I Falter, This is Where I Lose Myself” (2005)
  • Gulf Coast, “Interview with Alicia Erian” (2006) 


  • Fulbright Scholar in Creative Writing in India (10 months), 2008                                                                                                                                                       
  • Participant Tin House Summer Writers’ Workshop, 2014
  • Story in The Kenyon Review reprinted as part of “Weekend Reads” series, 2014
  • “A Family Matter” in The Kenyon Review featured in newsletter under “Why We Chose It,” 2011                                              
  • Named a “Positive Influence in a Student’s Life” by annual College Senior Survey, Gonzaga, 2012                        
  • Visiting Writer in Fiction, Boldface Conference for Creative Writers in Houston, TX, 2012
  • Finalist, Flannery O’Connor Prize in Short Fiction Book Award, 2011
  • Finalist, Bakeless Prize in Short Fiction, 2011
  • Semifinalist, Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest, 2010
  • Semifinalist, Book Award, Iowa Short Fiction Award, 2008
  • Finalist, Book Award, Mary McCarthy Prize in Fiction, 2006
  • Featured in Fulbright Newsletter for Volunteer Service in India, 2008
  • Nominated for Pushcart Prize in Fiction, 2007
  • Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference Work-study Tuition Scholarship, 2005
  • Atlantic Monthly Student Writing Competition Honorable Mention in Fiction, 2004-2005
  • Barthelme Memorial Fellowship in Fiction, Alternate for Michener Fellowship, 2004-2005
  • C. Glen Cambor/Inprint Fellowship, 2002, 2005
  • Phi Beta Kappa Graduate, University of Texas at Austin, 2002


  • “Fiction Craft Talks: Using The Gifts of the Region in an Era of Modernization.” Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Conference, Seattle, Washington, February 2014.  Moderator, Organizer, and Panelist.
  • “Reports and Readings from The Afghan Women’s Project.” Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Conference, Seattle, Washington, February 2014. Solicited Reader.
  • “The Magnificent Purr”: A Reading. Burnt Tongue Reading Series, Portland, Oregon, May 2014.
  • “First Person Plural Reading.” Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Conference, Boston, Massachusetts, March 2013.
  • “Landing the Tenure-Track Job Without a Book: What to Expect on the Job Market.” Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Conference, Boston, Massachusetts, March 2013.
  • Individual Presentation/Workshop for Diversity Monologues (in conjunction with the Unity Multicultural Education Center). Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA, February 2013.
  • “Teaching Creative Writing in High Schools: Service Learning.” Individual Presentation/Workshop. Gonzaga University, Spokane WA, January 2013.
  • Interview with Gonzaga Student Life on the Diversity Monologues. Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA, December 2012.
  • “So You Want to Go to Graduate School?” Panel on Graduate Programs.  Gonzaga University, Spokane, WA, November 2012.
  • “’I Am’: Constructing Poetry, Lyrics, and Narratives about Identity.” (With Joe Albert).  Gonzaga University BRIDGE Session, Spokane, WA, August 2012.
  • Featured Reading from Ghost Weddings.  Boldface Conference for Writers in Houston, TX, May 2012.
  • “From the Ordinary to the Extraordinary: Transgressing Boundaries in Fiction.” Craft Talk at the Boldface Conference for Writers in Houston, TX, May 2012.
  • “Launching a Career as a Writer.” Panel Presentation at the Boldface Conference for Writers in Houston, TX, May 2012.
  • “I Am an Artist.” Panel for Artist Trust Professional Development Workshop, Spokane, WA, May 2012.
  • “Radical Displacement and Home-Seeking in African-American and Indian Narratives.” Multi-ethnic Literature of the United States (MELUS), Santa Clara, CA, April 2012.


Anis Mojgani Leaning Against Wall, Wearing Winter Coat

Anis Mojgani, the 10th poet laureate of Oregon, brings his dynamic combination of poetry and visual art to Pacific University's Forest Grove Campus for the 2024 Whiteley Distinguished Lecture on Thursday, Feb. 15.

Cover of Map-Maker by Kwame Dawes

Shella Parcarey MFA '24 Awarded Spring 2024 Mapmakers Teaching Assistantship

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.