MFA in Creative Writing

Writers At Newark Reading Series

The Rutgers University - Newark MFA Creative Writing Program is interested in the real world experience our students bring to the classroom, as well as to creative exchange beyond the university campus. Our most visible bridge to the University and to Newark is The Writers at Newark Reading Series, which brings nationally prominent writers of fiction, poetry, and nonfiction to campus. The Reading Series provides the opportunity for a diverse audience of students, faculty, staff and the public to hear and interact with these writers in an intimate and dynamic setting. It is also the centerpiece for our community outreach programs, such as our Writers at Newark Mentors Program, where the Rutgers University - Newark Chancellor's Office and the MFA Program partners with local Newark high schools. For more information on our community outreach, please contact us at (973) 353-1107 or at

Click here for the 2014-2015 series poster.


FALL 2014

September 30, 2014
A. Van Jordan & Kamilah Aisha Moon


A. Van Jordan

Poet A. Van Jordan is The Henry Rutgers Presidential Professor. He is the author of four collections of poems: The Cineaste, (2013, W.W. Norton) a finalist for the 2013 NAACP Image Award; Quantum Lyrics, (2007, W. W. Norton); M-A-C-N-O-L-I-A, (2005, W. W. Norton), voted one of the Best Books of 2005 by the London Times (TLS), and winner of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award; and Rise, (2001, Tia Chucha Press), winner of the PEN/Oakland Josephine Miles Award. His awards include a Whiting Writers Award, a Pushcart Prize, and inclusion in The Best American Poetry Anthology of 2013. He is the recipient of a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, and a United States Artists Williams Fellowship. Jordan teaches courses in African American literature and Film Studies, as well as workshops and courses in Creative Writing.  He has taught at a wide range of institutions, including Prince Georges Community College, The College of New Rochelle, The MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College, The University of Texas, Austin, and The University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He joins the faculty of the Rutgers University-Newark MFA Program/ English Department in Fall, 2014.


Kamilah Aisha Moon

Kamilahis the author of a critically acclaimed first book of poems, She Has a Name (Four Way Books).  She is the recipient of fellowships to the Prague Summer Writing Institute, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA, Cave Canem and the Vermont Studio Center.  Her poems have been featured in the Harvard Review, jubilat, Sou’wester, Oxford American, Lumina, Callaloo, Bloom, Superstition Review, Villanelles, The Ringing Ear and Gathering Ground.  Her poems and prose have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. A teacher of English and creative writing at various institutions, Moon holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College.


October 14, 2014
Adrian Matejka & Chris Abani 

Adrian Matejka

Adrian Matejka is the author of three books of poems. His first collection, The Devil’s Garden, won the 2002 New York / New England Award from Alice James Books. His second, Mixology (Penguin, 2009), was a winner of the 2008 National Poetry Series, and a finalist for a NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literature. His most recent book, The Big Smoke, (Penguin, 2013) was a Finalist for both the 2013 National Book Award and the 2013 National Book Critic’s Circle Award in Poetry.  He teaches at Indiana University in Bloomington and is currently working on a new collection of poems and a graphic novel.


Chris Abani

Chris Abani is a novelist, poet, essayist, screenwriter and playwright. His prose includes The Secret History of Las Vegas (Penguin 2014), Song For Night (Akashic, 2007), The Virgin of Flames (Penguin, 2007), Becoming Abigail (Akashic, 2006), GraceLand (FSG, 2004), and Masters of the Board (Delta, 1985).  His poetry collections are Sanctificum (Copper Canyon Press, 2010), There Are No Names for Red (Red Hen Press, 2010), Feed Me The Sun - Collected Long Poems (Peepal Tree Press, 2010), Hands Washing Water (Copper Canyon, 2006), Dog Woman (Red Hen, 2004), Daphne's Lot (Red Hen, 2003) and Kalakuta Republic (Saqi, 2001).  Born in Nigeria to an Igbo father and English mother, he grew up in Afikpo, Nigeria, received a BA in English from Imo State University, Nigeria, an MA in English, Gender and Culture from Birkbeck College, University of London and a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Southern California. Abani is the recipient of the PEN USA Freedom-to-Write Award, the Prince Claus Award, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, a California Book Award, a Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, a PEN Beyond the Margins Award, the PEN Hemingway Book Prize and a Guggenheim Fellowship. He His work has been translated into French, Italian, Spanish, German, Swedish, Romanian, Hebrew, Macedonian, Ukrainian, Portuguese, Dutch, Bosnian and Serbian. He has resided in the United States since 2001 and is always at work on multiple projects.



November 18, 2014
David Finkel & Roxana Robinson

David Finkel

David Finkel, winner of a Pulitzer Prize in Journalism, is a three-time Pulitzer finalist, journalist, and author. His most recent book, the critically acclaimed Thank You For Your Service, chronicles the challenges faced by American soldiers and their families in the aftermath of war. His previous book, The Good Soldiers, was the bestselling account of a U.S. infantry battalion during the Iraq War “surge.” An editor and writer for The Washington Post, Finkel has reported from Africa, Asia, Central America, Europe, and across the United States, and has covered wars in Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Among his honors are a Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award in 2001, a Pulitzer Prize in 2006, and a MacArthur Foundation “genius” grant in 2012. He lives in the Washington, D.C. area.


Roxana Robinson

Roxana Robinson is the author of five novels: Sparta (2013), Cost (2009), Sweetwater (2003), This is My Daughter (1998), and Summer Light (1987). Cost, a National Book Critics Circle Recommended Reads and a New York Times Editors' Choice, and The Washington Post Five Best Fiction Books of the Year. In her recent novel Sparta, Robinson explores the fissures between military experience and civilian life through a portrait of a returning veteran, and the costs of war.  Her three collections of short stories include A Perfect Stranger and Other Stories (2006), Asking for Love (1996), A Glimpse of Scarlet and Other Stories (1991; she is also the author of an award-winning biography, Georgia O’Keeffe: A Life (1989). Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Harper’s, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, Vogue, One Story, Best American Short Stories, and elsewhere. She has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and The MacDowell Colony.



December 2, 2014
Ada Limón & Susan Choi

Photo Credit: Adrian Kinloch

Ada Limón

Ada Limón is the author of three books of poetry, Lucky Wreck (2010), This Big Fake World (2005), and Sharks in the Rivers (2005). She received her Master of Fine Arts in Poetry from New York University. Limón has received fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, and is one of the judges for the 2013 National Book Award in Poetry. She works as a freelance writer and splits her time between Lexington, Kentucky, Sonoma, California, and New York. Her new book of poems, Bright Dead Things, is forthcoming from Milkweed Editions in 2015.

Susan Choi

Susan Choi is the author of three widely acclaimed novels.  Her first, The Foreign Student, won the Asian-American Literary Award for fiction; her second, American Woman, was a finalist for the 2004 Pulitzer Prize. With David Remnick, she co-edited the anthology Wonderful Town: New York Stories from The New Yorker.  Her third novel, A Person of Interest, was a finalist for the 2009 PEN/Faulkner Award.  In 2010 she was named the inaugural recipient of the PEN/W.G. Sebald Award.  Choi is a recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation.




January 27, 2015
Jayne Anne Phillips & Jan Heller Levi

Photo Credit: Elena Seibert

Photo Credit: Jonathan Santlofer

Jayne Anne Phillips

Jayne Anne Phillips is the author of five novels, Quiet Dell (2013) Lark And Termite (2009), MotherKind (2000), Shelter (1994), and Machine Dreams (1984), and two widely anthologized collections of stories, Fast Lanes, (1987) and Black Tickets (1979). Quiet Dell was a Wall Street Journal Best Fiction of 2013 selection and a Kirkus Reviews Best of 2013 selection. Lark And Termite, winner of the Heartland Prize, was a Finalist for the 2009 National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the Prix de Medici Etranger. A New York Times best seller, Machine Dreams, Phillips’ first novel, was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award and chosen by the New York Times Book Review as one of Twelve Best Books Of The Year.  She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, a Bunting Fellowship, a Howard Foundation Fellowship, the Sue Kaufman Prize (1980) and an Academy Award in Literature (1997) from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. She is currently Professor of English and Director of the MFA Program at Rutgers-Newark, the State University of New Jersey (


Jan Heller Levi

Jan Heller Levi is the author of three books of poems.  Her most recent, Orphan (2014), was published by Alice James Books; her second collection, Skyspeak, won the Emily Dickinson Award of the Poetry Society of America. Her first collection of poems, Once I Gazed at You in Wonder, won the Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets. She is the editor of A Muriel Rukeyser Reader, served as consulting editor for the new edition of The Collected Poems of Muriel Rukeyser, and is currently writing the biography of Rukeyser. She is also coeditor, with Sara Miles, of Directed by Desire: The Collected Poems of June Jordan. She lives in New York City with her husband, the Swiss novelist and playwright, Christoph Keller.



February 3, 2015
Hilton Als & Roger Reeves

Hilton Als

Hilton Als is the author of two books of nonfiction.  His first book, The Women (1998) was a meditation on gender, race, and personal identity; his second, White Girls (2013), includes essays on real and fictional characters, investigating cultural “twinship” across racial and sexual barriers.  A staff writer and theater critic at The New Yorker since 1989, Als was a staff writer for the Village Voice and an editor-at-large at Vibe. He has also written articles for The Nation and collaborated on film scripts for “Swoon” and “Looking for Langston.”  He edited the catalogue for the Whitney Museum of American Art exhibition entitled “Black Male: Representations of Masculinity in Contemporary American Art”.  In 1997, the New York Association of Black Journalists awarded Als first prize in both Magazine Critique/Review and Magazine Arts and Entertainment. He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism, and the Berlin Prize of the American Academy in Berlin. Als has taught at Yale University, Wesleyan, and Smith College.


Roger Reeves

Roger Reeves first book, King Me (2013), was published by Copper Canyon Press. His poems have appeared in Poetry, Ploughshares, American Poetry Review, Boston Review, Tin House, and 2014 Pushcart Prize. Awarded a 2013 National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship and 2008 Ruth Lilly Fellowship, he is an assistant professor of poetry at the University of Illinois at Chicago and a 2014 Hodder Fellow at Princeton.



March 10, 2015
Robert Olen Butler & Hilma Wolitzer

Robert Olen Butler

Robert Olen Butler has published fifteen novels, including The Alleys of Eden, The Deuce, Mr. Spaceman, A Small Hotel, and The Hot Country, and six volumes of short fiction, including Tabloid Dreams, Severance, Intercourse, Hell, and A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain, which won the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.  He has also published a volume of his lectures on the creative process, From Where You Dream.  He was the 2013 recipient of the F. Scott Fitzgerald Award for Outstanding Achievement in American Literature.  Among his many other accolades are the Richard and Hinda Rosenthal Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Guggenheim Fellowship in fiction, and two National Magazine Awards in Fiction. He teaches creative writing at Florida State University.


Hilma Wolitzer

Hilma Wolitzer is the author of five novels, including An Available Man, Summer Reading, The Doctor’s Daughter, Hearts, and Ending, as well as a writing guide, The Company of Writers.  She is a recipient of Guggenheim and NEA Fellowships, an Award in Literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and the Barnes and Noble Writer for Writers Award.  She has taught in the writing programs at the University of Iowa, New York University, and Columbia University. 



April 7, 2015
Carmen Giménez Smith  & Ernesto Quiñonez

Photo Credit: Joyce Ravid

Carmen Giménez Smith

Carmen Giménez Smith is the author of a memoir, Bring Down the Little Birds (University of Arizona, 2010), three poetry collections, Goodbye, Flicker (2012), The City She Was (2011), and Odalisque in Pieces (2009), and three poetry chapbooks, Reason's Monsters (2011), Can We Talk Here (2011,) and Glitch (2009). She co-editor of a fiction anthology, My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me (Penguin, 2010). Recipient of a 2011 American Book Award, the 2011 Juniper Prize for Poetry, and a 2011-2012 fellowship in creative nonfiction from the Howard Foundation, she teaches in the creative writing programs at New Mexico State University and Ashland University. She is the publisher of Noemi Press and editor-in-chief of the literary journal, Puerto del Sol.


Ernesto Quiñonez

Ernesto Quiñonez is the author of two novels, Bodega Dreams (2000) and Chango’s Fire (2004). Bodega Dreams, set in Spanish Harlem and heralded as a “New Immigrant Classic” by the New York Times, was chosen as a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers title and named a “Best Book” by the New York Times and the Los Angeles TimesChango’s Fire solidified his reputation as a voice for a new generation of Latinos.  He has written numerous articles for the New York Times Magazine and has performed in The Moth story hour; he teaches at Cornell University.