MFA News | Master of Fine Arts in Writing

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Alumni News

Susan DeFreitasSusan DeFreitas (Fiction, 2012) 

DeFreitasHot Season won the Gold Independent Publishers Association (IPPY) Award for Best Fiction of the Mountain-West in 2017. An author, editor, and educator, her work has been featured in over 30 magazines, journals, and anthologies. 


L.I. HenleyL.I. Henley (Poetry, 2001)

Henley is the 2017 Perugia Press Prize winner for her collection Starshine Road, her second full-length collection. She is the author of four books, and her fifth collection, Whole Night Through, is forthcoming from What Books Press. She is the recipient of the Academy of American Poets University Award, The Duckabush Prize in Poetry, and two prizes from The Poet's Billow. Henley's work has appeared in WaxwingThe Sonora Review, Rust + Moth, DIAGRAM, A River & Sound ReviewRiver StyxRHINOHayden's Ferry Review, and other places. She is co-founder and editor of Aperçus Quarterly, an online literary and art journal. 

Jaclyn Moyer

Jaclyn Moyer (Nonfiction, 2013)

Moyer was recently selected to be a fellow at the Elizabeth Kostova Foundation's Sozopol Seminar in Bulgaria. She was a finalist for the 2016 PEN/Fusion Emerging Writers Prize for her piece "The Girl Outside My Window." Her work has appeared in The Normal SchooldecemberSalonHippocampusHigh Country News, and other journals. She is currently at work on her first book of nonfiction. 


Sam Roxas-Chua

Sam Roxas-Chua (Poetry, 2016)

Roxas-Chua is a poet and multi-disciplinary artist. He has two collections: Saying Your Name Three Times Underwater (Lithic Press, 2017) and Echolalia In Script - A Collection of Asemic Writing (Orison Books, 2018). His first collection, Fawn Language, was published by Tetbot Bach in 2014. He has received four Pushcart nominations and his poems and visual art folios have appeared in various journals including Narrative and december


What Alumni Are Saying

Rourkes Portrait

Leigh Camacho Rourks (Fiction, 2012)

"Applying to Pacific was one of the best decisions of my life. The gift of the program is the way the saturation of residency builds permanent bonds, not just with the amazing community of writers Pacific attracts, but with the writing life itself. At the center of residency are the craft talks the faculty prepare. Incredible and diverse, these talks set the discussion so that everywhere you go--at workshop, at breakfast, lunch, dinner, out for a stroll, at readings--people are in lively discussion (sometimes even friendly argument) about the elements of craft, about writing. Anywhere else I have studied, lectures are simple moments in time, but at Pacific, they are ongoing things with lives of their own outside the classroom. When you leave residency, those discussions go with you. Even when you graduate and leave the program, they are there for you. They live in the life-long friendships you build with your cohort and professors, they live in your work. I can sit down to write, come across a problem, a puzzle to solve in my project and pull up a memory of one of those lectures to help. Then I can email or call one of my partners from the program--we talk nearly daily--and sort out solutions. I am never alone, no matter how lonely the writing life can seem. That is unique. That is special. That is the gift of Pacific. "

Leigh Camacho Rourks is a Fellow at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, where she teaches Creative Writing and American Literature. She is a recipient of both the Glenna Luschei Prairie Schooner Award and the Robert Watson Literary Review Prize, and her work has been shortlisted for several other awards, including the Katherine Anne Porter Prize in Short Fiction and the Mysterious Press Award. Her writing has appeared in a number of journals, such as Kenyon Review, Prairie Schooner, Pank, TriQuarterly, December Magazine, Greensboro Review, and others.

Bitting Portrait

Michelle Bitting (Poetry, 2009)

"My longing to return to Pacific never goes away. This program’s faculty of exceptional mentors embodies a fierce loyalty to the art of writing as well as an authentic, living connection to the world of published expression today. Yet, it is their passionate love of craft and creation itself, coupled with intense dedication to each student’s growth that succeeds in forging a lasting bond between the Master of Fine Arts experience and developing writer. I will never forget my time there."

Michelle Bitting’s latest collection, Broken Kingdom (C & R Press, 2018), won the first annual Catamaran Poetry prize in Spring 2018. Her second collection, The Couple Who Fell to Earth (C & R Press, 2016), was named to Kirkus Reviews' Best Books of 2016. She has poems published in The American Poetry Review, AJP, Prairie Schooner, Narrative, Diode, The New York Times, Vinyl, Plume, the Paris-American, Fjords, Tupelo Quarterly and others. Her book, Good Friday Kiss (C & R Press, 2008), won the DeNovo First Book Award and Notes to the Beloved (C & R Press, 2017) won the Sacramento Poetry Center Book Award and also earned a starred Kirkus Review. She has won awards from Glimmer Train and the Beyond Baroque Foundation and been a finalist for the Poet's & Writer's Magazine California Exchange, the Rona Jaffe Foundation, the Julia Peterkin, and Rita Dove poetry awards. Her poems have been nominated for Pushcart and Best of the Net prizes, and most recently, The Pablo Neruda, American Literary Review and Tupelo Quarterly Poetry Awards. Photo by Alexis Rhone Fancher.

Ase Edel

Anastasia Edel (Fiction, 2014)

"The best part of Pacific MFA program is its intense focus on teaching the craft of writing. You don’t have to belong to a specific school or philosophy to benefit from the program’s fantastic, dedicated faculty. You set the pace and make it as hard as you want (I made it very hard). Pacific pushed me out of my comfort zone, helped me break out of old patterns and habits, and opened opportunities of working in different forms and genres. It stretched my mind and my imagination. I came to the program a zealous amateur and emerged a professional without losing one bit of my passion for writing."

Anastasia Edel is a Russian-American writer living in California. She is the author of “Russia: Putin’s Playground” (Lightning Guides 2016), a historical and cultural guide to modern-day Russia. Her fiction and essays have appeared in Quartz, World Literature Today, and cream city review. The New York Times recently published three Op-Ed pieces by Edel, one by which was the most emailed piece of the day. She also published several essays in The New York Review of Books. 

Heather Sappenfield

Heather Sappenfield (Fiction, 2011)

"The craft talks, the workshops, the semesters with one-on-one attention from some of the country’s best writers, the camaraderie with fellow students, the sense of community among everyone present—all of this feels like a gift while you’re there. Yet it’s a gift that resonates beyond graduation. Because those things are with you every day, in each word you write. I think the residencies at Seaside are what I miss the most. It all feels mystical and moody and perfect for inspiring writing. I’m a tremendous Lord of the Rings fan, and the Pacific MFA program, especially there at Seaside, is like Minas Tirith, the white city of Gondor, home of learning and noble things that we all aspire and hearken back to."

Heather (H. E.) Sappenfield’s fiction has won numerous awards and finalist positions, most notably the Danahy Fiction Prize, the Writer’s Digest Contest, and the Flannery O’Connor Award. It has also received Pushcart Nominations and appeared in the publications Meridian, Tampa Review, Shenandoah, So To Speak, and Joyland, among many others. Her first novel, The View from Who I Was (Flux, 2015), was nominated for the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, and her second novel, Life at the Speed of Us (Flux, 2016), was a finalist for the Colorado Book Award. Her interviews with Bonnie Jo Campbell and George Saunders have appeared in The Writer’s Chronicle. She lives in Vail, Colorado, with her husband and daughter.

Lisa Allen Ortiz

Lisa Allen Ortiz (Poetry, 2014)

"Pacific MFA is run by writers and attended by writers—people who look and listen and read and make, and then gather to testify about the craft and art of writing. It’s not a careerist program. It’s not a competitive program. Pacific MFA is a supportive and lively program, run with intelligence, compassion and vision. Applying to the program is one of my life’s best decisions, and I will always be grateful for the teachers and community I found in Seaside and Forest Grove."

Lisa Allen Ortiz is author of Guide to the Exhibit (Perugia Press, 2016), winner of the 2016 Perugia Press Prize. She is also the author of two chapbooks: Turns Out (Main Street Rag Press, 2011) and Self Portrait as a Clock (Finishing Line Press, 2013). Her poems and translations have appeared in Best New Poets 2013, Verse Daily, Narrative, The Literary Review and Beloit Poetry Journal. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and awarded two Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg prizes.

Tim O'Leary

Tim O'Leary (Fiction, 2015)

"My Pacific University MFA gave me a new life!  After a long career in advertising, I was creatively and mentally burned-out, and had lost my passion and enthusiasm. The incredible Pacific faculty creatively reinvigorated me, honed my writing skills, and gave me the tools to begin a new life as a writer."

Timothy O'Leary won the 2015 Aestas Short Story Award, was a finalist for the Mississippi Review Prize, the Washington Square Review Prize in fiction, and the Mark Twain Prize for humor writing. He has been a Pushcart Prize nominee, and his work has been published in many magazines and anthologies, including Talking River, Fredericksburg Literary Review, and Pooled Ink. His collection of short stories, Dick Cheney Shot Me in the Face, and Other Tales of Men in Pain, was published by Unsolicited Press in 2017. Born in Billings, Montana, he received his MFA from Pacific University, and resides in the Columbia Gorge, near Portland, Oregon.

Alexandra Lytton

Alexandra Lytton Regalado (Poetry and Fiction, 2014)

"After a decade dedicated to motherhood and publishing other people’s work—my own poetry manuscript gathering dust at the back of a drawer—I came to Pacific’s MFA program ready to reconnect with my writing self. I traveled across the continent and, although I consider myself a shy and reserved person, I felt immediately welcomed into the Pacific community. In my classmates I found lifelong writing partners and dear friends. My faculty advisors took their roles seriously. They were honest and careful readers and their detailed response letters full of keen observations, provocative questions, and specific recommendations provided the right balance of encouragement and critique. The residency presentations focused on unique topics that addressed important craft elements—when I wasn’t laughing or oohing or ahhing, I was frantically trying to write it all down. Most importantly, Pacific taught me to establish routines and become a productive writer. I learned to trust myself as an editor. I left Pacific with a ready-to-publish poetry manuscript, a collection of short stories, and a clearly established personal commitment to reading and writing every day."

Alexandra Lytton Regalado's poetry collection, Matria (Black Lawrence Press, 2017), won the 2015 St. Lawrence Book Award. She is also the winner of the 2015 Coniston Poetry Prize and her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Best New Poets. Her poetry and short stories have appeared in cream city review, Gulf Coast, MiPOesias, Narrative, The Notre Dame Review, OCHO, Phoebe, Puerto del Sol, Radar Poetry and elsewhere. Co-founder of Kalina publishing, Alexandra is author, editor, and/or translator of ten Central American-themed books, most recently the bilingual Salvadoran poetry anthology Theatre Under My Skin (Kalina, 2014). Her ongoing photo-essay project about El Salvador, through_the_bulletproof_glass, is on Instagram. Alexandra has a black belt in Kenpo Karate and currently lives in San Salvador with her husband and three children.

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