To enhance our strong program in creative writing, the Department of English established the Olive B. O’Connor Fellowship in Creative Writing.

 

This annual fellowship is designed to support writers completing their first books. It provides a generous stipend, office space, and an intellectual community for the recipients, who spend one academic year at Colgate. In return, each fellow teaches one creative writing workshop per semester and gives a public reading of their work.

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2019–2020 Olive B. O’Connor Fellows

Gbenga Adesina

Gbenga Adesina

Gbenga Adesina is a Nigerian poet. He writes, among other things, about memory, grief, joy, complex joy, the minutiae of love, of home, the sea as archive, the sea as history, migration, and the intimacy and violence of journeys. Other poems have appeared in Narrative, Prairie Schooner, Washington Square Review, Vinyl, Brittle Paper and Ploughshares. He has received fellowships and scholarships from the Poets House, the Norman Mailer Center, the Fine Arts Work Centre, Provincetown, the Open Society Foundation in Goree Island, off the coast of Senegal, Callaloo at Oxford and New York University where he received his MFA and held the Starworks and Goldwater Fellowships. He was a joint winner of the 2016 Brunel International Poetry Prize, the 2017 Hugh J. Luke Award from Prairie Schooner, and the 2019 Palette Poetry Spotlight Award.

Creative Writer Annie Vitalsey

Annie Vitalsey

Annie Vitalsey is a fiction writer whose stories have appeared in Reed MagazineBennington Review, Pacifica Literary ReviewMenacing Hedge, Spilled Milk Magazine, Watershed Review, and elsewhere. In 2018, she was a Virginia G. Piper Global Residency Fellow and received her first Pushcart nomination. In 2019, she was also awarded a Desert Nights Teaching Fellowship. Vitalsey has an MFA from Arizona State University, and is currently working on her first novel. 

Past Fellows

Ndinda Kioko

Ndinda Kioko is a Kenyan writer whose works have appeared on several platforms and publications including The Trans-African, BBC Radio 4, Wasafiri Magazine, Africa39, and Jalada Africa. She has also produced a TV show for M-net Africa. Ndinda was a Miles Morland Scholar for 2014. She was awarded the 2017 Wasafiri New Writing Prize and the Richard & Juliette Logsdon Award for Creative Writing. She has an MFA in Creative Writing (Fiction) from the University of Oregon.

Emily Strasser

Emily Strasser received her MFA in nonfiction from the University of Minnesota. Her essays have appeared in Catapult, Ploughshares, Guernica, Colorado Review, The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, and Tricycle, and twice listed as notable by Best American Essays. She was a winner of the 2015 Ploughshares Emerging Writer’s Contest, and a 2016 AWP Intro Award. Her writing and research have been supported by the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Jerome Foundation, and the W.K. Rose Fellowship from Vassar College.

Rachel M. Hanson

Rachel M. Hanson holds an MFA from the University of Utah and a PhD in literature and nonfiction from the University of Missouri. Her essays and poems can be found in The Iowa ReviewBest New Poets 2016Best of the Net Anthology 2015Creative NonfictionThe South Dakota ReviewAmerican Literary ReviewThe Minnesota ReviewEntropy MagazineNinth Letter, and elsewhere. She is a former nonfiction editor for Quarterly West and currently reads for The Masters Review. In the summers she runs the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, which is the inspiration for her newest collection of essays.

Emily Jaeger

Emily Jaeger is the author of the chapbook The Evolution of Parasites(Sibling Rivalry Press) illustrated by Robin Levine. Her poems have appeared in Four Way ReviewTriQuarterly, and The Offing among others. Emily received her MFA from the University of Massachusetts Boston and she has also received fellowships from Literary Lambda, TENT, the New York State Summer Writers Institute, and an Academy of American Poet's Prize.

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah is from Spring Valley, Rockland County, New York. He is a graduate of the Syracuse MFA program in fiction. His stories have appeared or are forthcoming in Broken Pencil Magazine, Pembroke, Compose, Printer's Row, and others. He was a 2016 finalist for the Nelson Algren Literary Award and he is working on his first collection of short fiction.

Erin J. Mullikin

Erin J. Mullikin hails from the deepest earth in South Carolina and has an MFA from Syracuse University, where she edited Salt Hill Journal. She is the author of the chapbooks, When You Approach Me at the Lake of Tomorrow (Slash Pine Press) and Strategies for the Bromidic (dancing girl press), and her poems and short fiction have appeared in elsewhere, Ghost Ocean, Sprung Formal, alice blue review, Phantom, Arts & Letters, and Best New Poets 2014, among others. She is a founding editor for NightBlock and Midnight City Books.

Thomas Mira y Lopez

Thomas Mira y Lopez is from New York. He has an MFA in creative nonfiction from the University of Arizona, where he worked as nonfiction editor for Sonora Review and managing editor for Fairy Tale Review. His essays appear or are forthcoming in Seneca Review, The Pinch, Hotel Amerika, CutBank and other journals. He has received scholarships from Bread Loaf and the New York State Summer Writers Institute. He is at work on a book of personal essays about cemeteries and burial grounds that explores where we place and how we remember the dead.

D.J. Thielke

D.J. Thielke received her MFA in fiction from Vanderbilt University. Her stories have appeared in Arts&Letters, The Cincinnati Review, Indiana Review, Mid-American Review, Bat City Review, and Crazyhorse, among others. She was the 2013-2014 James C. McCreight Fiction Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, the inaugural fall 2014 Stone Court Writer-in-Residence, and was most recently a summer fellow at the Island Institute in Sitka, Alaska.

Chelsea Biondolillo

Chelsea Biondolillo has a dual MFA in creative writing and environmental studies from the University of Wyoming. In 2012, she was an NSF-funded Think Write Publish communication fellow, and in 2014 she was awarded the Carter Prize for the Essay from Shenandoah. Her prose has appeared or is forthcoming in Orion, Sonora Review, Guernica, River TeethHayden's Ferry Review and others. She has written on the art of essay for Essay DailyBrevityPassages North, and Creative Nonfiction. Her journalism has appeared in NautilusScience, and on state and national public radio. She is currently working on a book about vultures that combines travel, memoir, ecology, and natural history.

Javier Zamora

Javier Zamora was born in El Salvador in 1990. When he was nine, he migrated to the United States. He is a CantoMundo fellow and has received scholarships from Breadloaf, Napa Valley, Squaw Valley, and VONA writer's conferences. Zamora’s poems appear in Best New Poets 2013, Narrative Magazine, Ploughshares, Poetry, and elsewhere. He is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, Meridian’sEditor’s Poetry Prize, and CONSEQUENCE’s poetry prize.

Caitlin Hayes

Caitlin Hayes has an M.A. in English Literature from the University of New Hampshire and an M.F.A in fiction from Syracuse University, where she served as fiction editor for Salt Hill Journal. Her honors include a Joyce Carol Oates Award for short fiction and a scholarship to Bread Loaf. She has stories forthcoming in the New England Review and The Southern Review.

Dong Li

Dong Li’s honors include DAAD (twice), Vermont Studio Center and Henry Luce Foundation fellowships. Born and raised in the People’s Republic of China, Li has degrees from Deep Springs College and Brown University. His work has appeared in Conjunctions and comma, poetry.

Amy Butcher

Amy Butcher is a graduate of Gettysburg College and the Nonfiction Writing Program at the University of Iowa. Her essays and short stories have appeared or are forthcoming in The Indiana Review, The Colorado Review, Brevity, The Rumpus, and Hobart, among others, and she is a recent recipient of a Stanley Grant for International Research. She is the managing editor of Defunct and a former intern for theGettysburg Review, and is currently at work on a book-length essay that meditates on the historic battlefield town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and a murder that recently occurred there. The book considers the nature of friendship and the parameters inherent in the relationships we seek.

Chinelo Okparanta

Chinelo received her BS from Penn State University, her MA from Rutgers University, and her MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Her works have appeared or are forthcoming in Granta, The Kenyon Review, The Iowa Review, The Southern Review, The Coffin Factory, Conjunctions, Subtropics, and elsewhere. She has taught at the University of Iowa, where she served as a Dean's Fellow and subsequently as the Provost Postgraduate Visiting Writer for Fiction. Her short story collection will be published in 2013, followed shortly by her debut novel, tentatively entitled Under The Udara Trees.

Molly Beer

Molly Beer is a graduate of Duke University, the Bread Loaf School of English, and the University of New Mexico MFA program, where she served as nonfiction editor for Blue Mesa Review. In addition to the American Southwest, she has lived in El Salvador, Ecuador, and Mexico, and her subsequent essays grapple with the politics of place. Her most recent work appears in Salon, Guernica, Glimpse, Copper Nickel, and Room Magazine, and she is co-author of Singing Out, an oral history published by Oxford University Press (2010).

George David Clark

George David Clark's honors include a Henry Hoyns Fellowship from the University of Virginia and the Provost's Doctoral Fellowship at Texas Tech. His poems appear in such journals as The Cimarron Review, The North American Review, Quarterly West, Shenandoah, Smartish Pace, Southern Poetry Review, Willow Springs and elsewhere, and can be found reprinted online at Verse Daily and Poetry Daily. He also serves as editor of the journal, 32 Poems.

Jasmine Bailey

Jasmine Bailey graduated from Colgate in 2005 and the University of Virginia MFA program in 2010. There, she worked as poetry editor for the semi-annual literary journal, Meridian. Her chapbook of poems, Sleep and What Precedes It, won the Longleaf Press 2009 Chapbook Prize and her book-length collection of poetry, Alexandria, will be published by Carnegie Mellon. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in the minnesota review, Poet Lore, 32 Poems, The Carolina Quarterly, The Portland Review, and the Birmingham Poetry Review, among others.

Marjorie Celona

Marjorie Celona studied writing at the University of Victoria and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was an Iowa Arts Fellow and recipient of the Ailene Barger Barnes Prize for Excellence in the Short Story. Her stories have appeared in The Best American Nonrequired Reading (2008), Glimmer Train, Crazyhorse, Best Canadian Stories (2007, 2010, 2012), The Fiddlehead, Indiana Review, and elsewhere. In May, she will be writer-in-residence at Hawthornden Castle in Scotland, where she plans to finish her novel.

Sarah Beth Childers

Sarah finds much of her writing inspiration in the creeks, hills, and train tracks around where she grew up in Huntington, West Virginia. She has a bachelor of arts in history from Marshall University and a master of fine arts in creative nonfiction from West Virginia University. She has taught writing at West Virginia University and medieval literature and history at Duke University’s Talent Identification Program. Her work has appeared in SNReview and Paddlefish, and her short story “Red Ribbon” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2009

Anthony Eleftherion

Anthony Eleftherion’s stories have appeared in the Madison Review and Epoch. He holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Rutgers University and a master of fine arts degree from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he was a Maytag fellow. A short film he co-wrote received a student academy award, the HBO short film award, the grand jury awards at South by Southwest and Palm Springs Film Festivals, and was an official selection of the Sundance film festival. He is completing a collection of stories about Brooklyn, NY.