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Visiting Writers

2017 Visiting Writers

The Ashland University MFA Program has welcomed a long list of talented writers since its inception. Most of our past readings and craft sessions are available through our Video Archive. We're thrilled to share this year's visiting writers:

Dexter L. Booth 2017 Visiting Writer

Dexter L. Booth, Visiting Writer in Poetry

Dexter L. Booth is the author of Scratching the Ghost (Graywolf Press, 2013). His poems have been included in the anthology The Best American Poetry 2015 (edited by Sherman Alexie), as well as Blackbird, The Southeast Review, Ostrich Review, Grist, Willow Springs, Bat City Review, Virginia Quarterly, and other publications. Booth is currently a Contributing Editor for Waxwing, and a Ph.D. candidate and Provost Fellow at the University of Southern California.  

2017 Visiting Writer, Rebecca Makkai. Photo by Phillipe Matsas, Opale

Rebecca Makkai, Visiting Writer in Fiction

Rebecca Makkai is the Chicago-based author of the short story collection Music for Wartime, which appeared in 2015, and of the novels The Hundred-Year House, winner of the Chicago Writers Association award, and The Borrower, a Booklist Top Ten Debut which has been translated into eight languages. Her short fiction won a 2017 Pushcart Prize, and was chosen for The Best American Short Stories for four consecutive years (2008-2011). The recipient of a 2014 NEA fellowship, Makkai is on the MFA faculty at Sierra Nevada college and has taught at the Iowa Writers Workshop, Tin House, and Northwestern University.

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2017 Visiting Writer Terry Tempest Williams (c)2014 Zoe Rodriguez Photography

Terry Tempest Williams, Visiting Writer in Creative Nonfiction

Known for her impassioned and lyrical prose, Terry Tempest Williams is the author of several books including the environmental literature classic, Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place. Williams has received the Robert Marshall Award from The Wilderness Society, their highest honor given to an American citizen, as well as the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Western American Literature Association and the Wallace Stegner Award given by The Center for the American West. She is the recipient of a Lannan Literary Fellowship and a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in creative nonfiction. In 2009, Ms. Williams was featured in Ken Burns' PBS series on the national parks. In 2014, on the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act, she received the Sierra Club’s John Muir Award honoring a distinguished record of leadership in American conservation. Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, Orion Magazine, and numerous anthologies worldwide as a crucial voice for ecological consciousness and social change.

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Additional 2017 Guests

Marilyn Bousquin, Ashland MFA alumni speaker

Marilyn Bousquin, creative nonfiction

Marilyn Bousquin is founder of Writing Women’s Lives™ Academy. Known as an integrative writing coach, her holistic approach to writing integrates the craft skills essential to writing memoir with the consciousness work necessary for women to claim their voice and their story from the cultural shame and silencing that keep so many women’s stories untold. Her mentoring clients have gone on to publish in literary magazines, and they enjoy personal transformation in their writing and in their lives. A certified Amherst Writers and Artists group writing coach, Marilyn is 2011 graduate of the Ashland University MFA program. Her writing appears in River Teeth, Superstition Review, Literary Mama, Under the Gum Tree, Pithead Chapel, and elsewhere. Her memoir essay “Against Memory” was a finalist for AROHO’s Orlando Prize. She’s working on a memoir titled Searching for Salt: One Woman’s Quest to Recover Her Voice from Generations of Silence. Visit her at

Sarah Freligh

Sarah Freligh, poetry

Sarah Freligh is the author of Sad Math, winner of the 2014 Moon City Press Poetry Prize and the 2015 Whirling Prize from the University of Indianapolis. Other books include A Brief Natural History of an American Girl, winner of the Editor’s Choice award from Accents Publishing, and Sort of Gone. Her work has appeared in Sun Magazine, Hotel Amerika, BOAAT Journal, Rattle, on Writer’s Almanac, and anthologized in the 2011 anthology Good Poems: American Places. Among her awards are a 2009 poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and a grant from the Constance Saltonstall Foundation in 2006.

Jon Kerstetter, alumni presenter

Jon Kerstetter, creative nonfiction

Jon Kerstetter received his medical degree from the Mayo Medical School in Rochester, Minnesota and his MFA degree from Ashland University in Ohio. He practiced emergency medicine and military medicine, serving as a combat physician and flight surgeon for the US Army and completing three combat tours in Iraq. He has also taught disaster relief and practiced emergency medicine in Kosovo, Bosnia, Rwanda, and Honduras. His memoir, Crossings: A Doctor-Soldier's Story, is forthcoming in September 2017 from Crown Publishing, a division of Penguin Random House. His essay "Triage" was published in River Teeth, reprinted in Best American Essays 2013 and in the anthology, Red, White and True, by Potomac Press. He was the winner of the 2014 Normal School prize for Nonfiction.

Jon Parrish Peede

Jon Parrish Peede, visiting editor

Jon Parrish Peede is Senior Advisor to the Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities in Washington, DC. His previous positions include Publisher of the Virginia Quarterly Review at the University of Virginia, Literature Grants Director at the National Endowment for the Arts, Counselor to NEA Chairman Dana Gioia, Director of the NEA Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience program, Director of the NEA Big Read program, Director of Communications at Millsaps College, and Editor at Mercer University Press. Peede is the editor of a bilingual anthology of contemporary American fiction and co-editor of a collection of essays on Flannery O'Connor. He completed his B.S. at Vanderbilt University and M.A. at the University of Mississippi.

Kirsten Reach, visiting editor Ashland MFA

Kirsten Reach, visiting editor

Kirsten Reach is an Associate Editor for the Kenyon Review. Before her work in literary magazines, she worked in book publishing—as Editor at Melville House, Grand Central Publishing, and Henry Holt and Company—acquiring and editing a mix of literary fiction and narrative nonfiction. Before that, she worked with MacArthur fellow Bob Stein at the Institute for the Future of the Book, studying the way reading changes from page to screen; and with the Gaea Foundation, providing space and time for artists, writers and activists. She is an alumna of Kenyon College and the Columbia Publishing Course.

Nicole Robinson, MFA alumni presenter

Nicole Robinson, poetry

Nicole Robinson is the assistant director for the Wick Poetry Center at Kent State University where she also teaches. In 2016 she received an Individual Excellence Award in poetry from the Ohio Arts Council. Her recent poems have appeared in Artful DodgeCALYXGreat River ReviewThe Louisville ReviewSpillway, and elsewhere.

Marci Vogel, Ashland MFA alumni and poet

Marci Vogel, poetry

Marci Vogel is the author of At the Border of Wilshire & Nobody, winner of the 2015 Howling Bird Press Poetry Prize. Her poetry, translations essays, and fictions appear in a number of journals including Jacket2FIELDVIDAQuarter After EightWaxwing, The Critical Flame, and The Account. She is the recipient of a Willis Barnstone Translation Prize, the Hillary Gravendyk Memorial Scholarship, and a writer-in-residence grant from the Fondation Ténot. A former Provost's Fellow in the PhD Program in Creative Writing and Literature at the University of Southern California, she is currently a Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow at USC.

Previous Visiting Writers

Steve Almond | Jennifer Atkinson | Kim Barnes | Mira Bartok | Marilyn Chin | Jim Daniels | J.D. Dolan | Brian Doyle | Andre Dubus III | Gretel Ehrlich | Rhina Espaillat | Thomas French | Alice Fulton | Linda Gregerson | Patricia Hampl | Patricia Henley | Aurora Harris | William Heyen | Garrett Hongo | Kristin Iverson | Richard Jackson | Laura Kasischke | Judith Kitchen | William Kittredge | Thomas Larson | M.L. Liebler | Phillip Lopate | Debra Marquart | Lee Martin | Brenda Miller | Celeste Ng | Kathleen Norris | Alicia Ostriker | Eric Pankey | Leslie Reese | J. Allyn Rosser | David St. John | Scott Russell Sanders | Enid Shomer | Floyd Skloot | Patricia Smith | Cheryl Strayed | Natasha Trethewey | Rosanna Warren | C.K. Williams | David Wojahn | Tobias Wolff | Al Young | Kevin Young