Twenty Years of Creative Writing at Saint Mary's College

Fiction students celebrating the fall 2015 semester

Saint Mary’s College of California introduced its Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing back in 1995. The M.F.A. combines the support and mentoring components of a studio writing workshop along with an analytical component and offers courses in writing fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction. This year marks the program’s 20th anniversary. Over the course of the last two decades, more than 350 students received their M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Saint Mary’s.

Alumni of the program have collectively published over 60 different books, and have also been published in numerous literary journals. Many have won distinguished literary prizes for their work. Some alumni of the M.F.A. in Creative Writing program have started internationally recognized publications such as the East Bay Review and the press, Omnidawn. Students and alumni are supported by the program’s award-winning faculty as well as the literary and publishing communities in San Francisco and the Bay Area.

In addition to having award-winning alumni, the M.F.A. in Creative Writing program frequently brings distinguished authors to campus as part of its Creative Writing Reading Series. Gregory Pardlo, who won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 2015 for his collection Digest (Four Way Books), visited in December. Pardlo was also a nominee for the 2015 NAACP Image Award in poetry. His poems have appeared in America American Poetry Review, Boston Review, The Nation, Ploughshares, and Tin House.

Upcoming Creative Writing Reading Series

7:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 2, 2016
LeFevre Theater, Saint Mary's College of California, 1928 St. Mary's Road, Moraga, CA 94575

Sarah MangusoSarah Manguso
7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 13, 2016
Soda Center, Saint Mary's College of California, 1928 St. Mary's Road, Moraga, CA 94575

Sarah Manguso is the author of the memoirs OngoingnessThe Guardians, and The Two Kinds of Decay.  Her other books include the poetry collections Siste Viator and The Captain Lands in Paradise, and the story collection Hard to Admit and Harder to Escape. Her prose has appeared in Harper’s, McSweeney’s, and The New York Review of Books. Her poems have won a Pushcart Prize and appeared in four editions of Best American Poetry. She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Rome Prize. Manguso is also a Distinguished Visiting Writer in Residence at Saint Mary’s during the spring term.

Porter Shreve

Porter Shreve
7:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Soda Center, Saint Mary's College of California, 1928 St. Mary's Road, Moraga, CA 94575

Porter Shreve is the author of four novels, including The Obituary Writer,  a New York Times Notable Book, Drives Like A Dream and When the White House Was Ours, both Chicago Tribune Books of the Year. His latest, The End of the Book, published in 2014, was a San Francisco Chronicle Book of the Year. Shreve also writes a column on e-books for the San Francisco Chronicle. Shreve is also a Distinguished Visiting Writer in Residence at Saint Mary’s during the spring term.


Brenda HillmanBrenda Hillman 
7:30 p.m. Wednesday, May 4, 2016
Soda Center, Claeys Lounge, Saint Mary's College of California, 1928 St. Mary's Road, Moraga, CA 94575

Brenda Hillman is the author of nine collections of poetry: White Dress, Fortress, Death Tractates, Bright Existance, Losse Sugar,CascadiaPieces of Air in the EpicPractical Water, for which she won the Los Angeles Times Book Award for Poetry, and Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire, which received the International Griffin Poetry Prize for 2014, the California Book Award Gold Medal in Poetry and the Northern California Book Award. Hillman’s awards include the 2012 Academy of American Poets Fellowship, the 2005 William Carlos Williams Prize, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation.

Andrew KenowerAndrew Kenower
Andrew Kenower (poetry, 2007) curates the online audio archive A Voice Box and is co-curator of the Woolsey Heights Reading Series. He is the principle designer for Trafficker Press.


In keeping with its focus on workshops and the craft of writing, the MFA in Creative Writing Program offers Afternoon Craft Conversations that will feature several authors from the Series, and others, discussing the process and journey of becoming a writer. All Afternoon Craft Conversations are held at Saint Mary’s College in De La Salle Hall, 1928 St. Mary's Road, Moraga, CA 94575


  • Geoffrey G. O’Brien     2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 16 2015       
  • Rachel Howard            2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 7, 2015       
  • Karolina Waclawiak     2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 4, 2015    
  • Porter Shreve              2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb 17, 2016          
  • Sarah Manguso           2:30 p.m. Wednesday, Mar 2, 2016   


The 2015-16 Creative Writing Reading Series is presented by Saint Mary's MFA Program in Creative Writing. Founded in 1995, the Program is a two-year course of study leading to the M.F.A. degree in creative fiction, nonfiction or poetry. More than 350 students have received degrees from the MFA in Creative Writing. Alumni have published over 60 books, have been published in numerous journals and periodicals and won many distinguished literary prizes.

After 20 years the SMC MFA in Creative Writing continues to thrive, distinguishing itself with its award-winning faculty and opportunities for students in the areas of teaching, publishing, and community engagement. It remains a major part of the literary culture in the Bay Area and beyond.

Matthew ZapruderThe Saint Mary's MFA in Creative Writing Program is directed by noted poet and Saint Mary’s English professor Matthew Zapruder. He is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently Come On All You Ghosts, a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and Sun BearWhy Poetry, a book of prose, is forthcoming in 2015. Zapruder has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a William Carlos Williams Award, a May Sarton Award from the Academy of American Arts and Sciences, and a Lannan Foundation Residency Fellowship in Marfa, TX. An Associate Professor in the St. Mary's College of California MFA program and English Department, he is also Editor at Large at Wave Books. He lives in Oakland, CA.

For more information about the Creative Writing Reading Series or about the MFA in Creative Writing Program’s 20th anniversary, contact Sara Mumolo at or 925.631.8556.

The arts are a vibrant part of the Saint Mary’s experience. Support the arts at Saint Mary’s by making a gift today.