MFA Faculty


Jennifer Atkinson

Jennifer Atkinson is the author of five collections of poetry—The Dogwood Tree, The Drowned City, Drift Ice, Canticle of the Night Path, and most recently, The Thinking Eye. Her poetry can be seen in Field, The Cincinnati Review, The Missouri Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Bennington Review, Image, and elsewhere. Both her poetry and her nonfiction have been honored with Pushcart Prizes. She taught in Nepal and Japan and at the University of Iowa and Washington University before joining the faculty of George Mason University, where she usually teaches Creative Writing, Poetry Writing (at the graduate and undergraduate levels), and recent and contemporary American poetry.


Courtney Brkic

Courtney Brkic (MFA, New York University) is the author of The First Rule of Swimming, a 2013 New York Times Editors’ Choice. Stillness, her short fiction collection about the wars in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, was a 2003 Chicago Tribune “Best Book” and a 2003 New York Times “Notable Book.” Her memoir, The Stone Fields, records her work on mass grave sites around Srebrenica, as well as her family’s history during the Second World War in Sarajevo, and was shortlisted for a “Freedom of Expression Award” by the Index on Censorship. She is the recipient of an NEA fellowship, a Fulbright Scholarship, a New York Times Fellowship and a Whiting Writers Award, and her work has appeared in Zoetrope, Harpers & Queen, The New York Times, The Washington Post Magazine, National Geographic, Dissent and The Alaska Quarterly Review, among others.


Tim Denevi

Timothy Denevi (MFA, University of Iowa) is the author of Freak Kingdom: Hunter S. Thompson’s Manic Ten-Year Crusade Against American Fascism (PublicAffairs, 2018) and Hyper: A Personal History of ADHD (Simon & Schuster, 2014). His essays on politics, sport, and religion have recently appeared in The Paris Review, New York Magazine, Salon, The Normal School, and Literary Hub. He’s been awarded fellowships by the MacDowell Colony and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.


Stephen Goodwin

Stephen Goodwin (MA, University of Virginia) is the author of three novels, including The Blood of Paradise and Breaking Her Fall, and two books of nonfiction. His short fiction has appeared in Shenandoah, Sewanee Review, Georgia Review, and Gentleman’s Quarterly; his essays and nonfiction has appeared in the Washington Post, USA Today, Preservation, Poets & Writers Magazine, and several sports magazines. He has received fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the Ingram Merrill Foundation. He is a former director of the literature program at the National Endowment for the Arts, and has twice served as president of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation.


Helon Habila

Helon Habila won a Windham-Campbell prize from Yale University in 2015. He is the author of the novels Waiting for an Angel (2002), Measuring Time (2007), Oil on Water (2010),  and most recently, Travelers (2019), which deals with the migrant crisis in Europe. He edited The Granta Book of The African Short Story (2013), and the British Council’s New Writing 14 (with Lavinia Greenlaw). His book of nonfiction, The Chibok Girls (2016), focuses on the kidnapping of 276 school girls by Boko Haram Islamists in northeastern Nigeria. Habila is a contributing editor to the Virginia Quarterly Review and a regular contributor to the UK Guardian. Habila’s short stories, essays and reviews have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, VQR, Granta, the UK Guardian, Guernica, AGNI, and other journals. Habila has held many fellowships including the Chinua Achebe Fellowship at Bard College in 2005 and the Berlin DAAD Fellowship in 2013-2014.


Tania James

Tania James (MFA, Columbia) is the author of three works of fiction, most recently the novel The Tusk That Did the Damage (Knopf). Tusk was named a Best Book of 2015 by The San Francisco Chronicle, The Guardian, and NPR, and shortlisted for the International Dylan Thomas Prize. Her stories have been published in Granta, One Story, Oxford American, Tin House, and other venues. Her story, “The Liberator,” was published in Freeman’s: The Future of New Writing, and was longlisted for the 2018 Sunday Times Short Story Prize. She received her BA in filmmaking from Harvard University.


Sally Keith

Sally Keith (MFA, University of Iowa) is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently River House (Milkweed Editions) and before that The Fact of the Matter (Milkweed). She has published individual poems in journals and anthologies, including Colorado Review, Conjunctions, New American Writing, and A Public Space. Sally has been awarded fellowships to the Breadloaf Writers’ Conference, a Pushcart Prize, and the Denver Quarterly’s Lynda Hall Award.  Prior to joining Mason’s MFA faculty, she was awarded the year-long Emerging Writer Lectureship at Gettysburg College, after which she taught at the University of Rochester.


Kyoko Mori

Kyoko Mori (MA and PhD, University of Wisconsin) is the author of three nonfiction books, Yarn: Remembering The Way Home, A Memoir; The Dream of Water: A Memoir; and Polite Lies: On Being a Woman Caught Between Two Cultures, and her essays have appeared in numerous publications including The Best American Essays. She has also published three novels, the most recent being Stone Field, True Arrow. She was born in Kobe, Japan, and moved to the United States in 1977. Prior to joining the faculty at Mason, she was a Briggs-Copeland lecturer in Creative Writing at Harvard University.


Eric Pankey

Eric Pankey (MFA, University of Iowa) is the author of twelve collections of poems, most recently Augury (Milkweed Editions 2017). Three new books—The Owl of Minerva, a collection of poems; Alias, a collection of prose poems; and Vestiges: Notes, Responses, & Essays 1988-2018, a collection of essays—are forthcoming in 2019. His poetry, essays, and reviews have appeared widely in such journals as The Iowa Review, The Harvard Review, The Kenyon Review, The New Yorker, The New Republic, and The Yale Review. His work has been honored by awards such as the Walt Whitman Award and the New Measure Poetry Prize, and supported by fellowships from John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, The National Endowment for the Arts, the Ingram Merrill Foundation, and the Brown Foundation. He is the Heritage Chair in Writing at George Mason University.


Susan Shreve

Susan Shreve (MA, University of Virginia) is the author of seventeen novels, most recently More News Tomorrow, as well as a memoir, Warm Springs: Traces of a Childhood at FDR’s Polio Haven, twenty-nine books for children, and she has edited or co-edited five anthologies, including Skin Deep with Marita Golden, and Tales Out of School with Porter Shreve. She has been the Jenny Moore Writer in residence at George Washington University, a Guggenheim Fellow in Fiction, and a recipient of a grant in Fiction from the National Endowment for the Arts. Susan has served as president of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation. Susan started teaching at Mason in 1976 and co-founded the MFA program in 1980. Please note that Susan will retire after the Fall 2019 semester.


Peter Streckfus

Peter Streckfus (MFA, George Mason University) won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award in 2004 with his first book, The Cuckooo. His second book, Errings, came out in February 2014 from Fordham University. His individual poems have won numerous prizes and awards, including grants from the Peter S. Reed Foundation and the Breadloaf Writers Conference. At the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, where he taught as an assistant professor prior to joining the faculty at Mason, Peter won the Barnwell-Sellers Award for Creative Writing plus two research grants. In the 2013-14 academic year, he was selected as a Rome Prize Fellow by the American Academy in Rome and spent the year in Rome studying and writing. He is the editorial director of Poetry Daily, a daily online poetry journal that launched in 1997 and relocated to Mason in 2019 in partnership between the Creative Writing Program, University Libraries, and its founding nonprofit organization.