Students & Alumni

SAIC Writing Program students and alumni are published widely in publications that range from innovative online journals to international imprints. Our students and alumni also cultivate the literary landscape with the creation of small presses, storefront galleries, and theater and performance groups. They serve as directors, editors, and educators at literary organizations, publishing houses, and schools.

SAIC alum Emil Ferris was named a 2021 John Simon Guggenheim Foundation Fellow. Watch our interview with Emil Ferris:

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You’ll find our students and alumni in publications such as: African American Review, The Believer, Best New American Voices, Bloom, BOMB, Chicago Review, The Denver Quarterly, Fence, The Guardian, Iowa Review, McSweeney’s, New England Review, Norton Anthology of New Sudden Fiction, Paris Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, Tin House, Tri-Quarterly, and Verse.

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Graduate Accomplishments

Erica Stern (MFAW 2017) sold her genre-bending nonfiction book Frontier to Barrelhouse. (Deal announced in September 8, 2023 Publishers Marketplace.)

Sam Heaps (MFAW 2019) published a nonfiction book titled Proximity (CLASH Books, 2023). 

Lindsay Hunter (MFAW 2007) releases her newest novel this November. Hot Springs Drive is the third title in Roxane Gay's new imprint. The novel received a starred review in Publishers Weekly: "[A] thrilling and addictive story . . . Hunter’s masterwork hits all the right notes." 

Daniel Borzutzky’s (MFAW 2000) book, The Performance of Being Human (Brooklyn Arts Press), won the 2016 National Book Award in Poetry. Other books include The Book of Interfering Bodies (2011); The Ecstasy of Capitulation (2007); Arbitrary Tales (2005). Borzutzky has translated Raúl Zurita's Song for his Disappeared Love (2010); Jaime Luis Huenún's Port Trakl (2008) and appears in the anthologies: La Alteracion del Silencio: Poesia Norteamericana Reciente; Malditos Latinos, Malditos Sudacas: Poesia Iberoamericana Made in USA; Seriously Funny; A Best of Fence; The City Visible: Chicago Poetry for the New Century.

Vida Cross’s (MFAW 1995) book, Bronzeville at Night: 1949, an “interplay between poetry, music, humor and culture,” has been published by Awst Press (Austin, TX). Elizabeth Alexander named her the Honorable Mention recipient for Cave Canem’s 2010 Poetry Book Award. Her work has appeared in The Literary Review, Reed Magazine, Reverie Journal, and The Journal of Film and Television.

Patrick Cottrell (MFAW 2012) is a 2018 Whiting Award Winner in Fiction. Their novel, Sorry to Disrupt the Peace (McSweeney’s, San Francisco), was long-listed for the Times Literary Supplement’s Republic of Consciousness Prize, and is the winner of the Best First Book – Fiction 2017 National Medal from the Independent Publisher Book Awards and Barnes & Noble’s 2017 Discover Award for Fiction. Patrick's work has appeared or is forthcoming in Guernica, BOMB, Gulf Coast, and Black Warrior Review

Danielle Dutton’s (MFAW 2002) novel, Margaret the First, has been published by Catapult (New York, 2017). In 2015, Siglio published Here Comes Kitty: A Comic Opera, with texts by Dutton and images by Richard Kraft. Her book S P R A W L (Siglio Press, 2010) was shortlisted for the Believer Book Award, and Attempts at a Life (Tarpaulin Sky, 2007) was chosen as one of the Ten Great Titles from Underground Presses in Time Out New York. Her work has appeared in Harper’s, BOMB, NOON, and Fence. After getting her MFAW at SAIC, Dutton earned a Ph.D. in English from the University of Denver, where she also served as Associate Editor for the Denver Quarterly. She is now an Assistant Professor at Washington University in St. Louis.

Emil Ferris (MFAW 2010) recently released her debut graphic novel, My Favorite Thing is Monsters, to critical acclaim, and is finding herself in the spotlight with profiles in The New Yorker, New York Times, and Chicago magazine. The New York Times documents Ferris’ journey from a debilitating infection of West Nile Virus that nearly took away her ability to draw to her novel being “arrested” at sea. Ferris also recently reflected on her latest graphic novel in a comic published with Chicago magazine. Senior Editor Elly Fishman introduced "The Bite That Changed My Life," describing how the artist's childhood spent in Chicago's Uptown neighborhood informed her “haunting, ambitious, and altogether remarkable” work. In the vibrant sequence, Ferris describes how her education introduced her to the formidable Art Spiegelman and “emboldened” her to begin her own graphic novel after pursuing illustration jobs. (Courtesy Fantagraphics)

Tsehaye Hebert’s (MFAW 2014) play and MFAW thesis project, Elegy for Miss Lucy, was selected for the Cultural DC 2017 Source Festival. It is slated to be read this spring in May as a collaborative project between two Chicago theatre companies and as part of a 2018 Humanities course initiative in Atlanta.

Deepak Unnikrishnan’s (MFAW 2013) book, Temporary People (Restless Books, Brooklyn), won the publisher’s inaugural Restless Books Prize for New Immigrant Writing. It also won the Hindu Prize (India) and the Moore Prize (UK). The book was also shortlisted for the Believer Book Award, the Shakti Bhatt First Book Prize, the Crossword Book Award (Jury Shortlist, Fiction), and appeared on the longlist for the Center for Fiction's First Novel Prize, the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature, and the International Dublin Literary Award. He currently teaches at New York University Abu Dhabi.