The faculty of the Creative Writing Program represent a diverse range of writing and teaching styles and interests and are actively working in various genres and media, including poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, theater, and film.

Faculty members have received numerous awards and fellowships. A small selection of these includes the Yale Series of Younger Poets, the Native Writers' Circle Award of the Americas Lifetime Achievement Award, the American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Fiction, the FC2 National Fiction Competition, a Whiting Award, the A. Poulin Jr. Poetry Prize, the Kate Tufts Discovery Prize, the William Peden Prize, the Academy of American Poets Award, the Bakeless Prize, and fellowships from the NEA, Yaddo, MacDowell, Bread Loaf, Sewanee, and many others.

Creative Writing Faculty

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Steve Davenport
Steve Davenport (PhD, University of Illinois) has served the Creative Writing Program as Associate Director since the position was created in 2004. While his role in the program is primarily administrative, he served as Nonfiction Editor of Ninth Letter for, fittingly, nine issues and continues to teach one undergraduate Creative Writing class a semester. He’s the author of two books of poetry: Uncontainable Noise (2006) and Overpass (2012). His poems, stories, and essays have been anthologized, reprinted, and published in dozens of literary magazines. Read more at
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Janice Harrington
Janice N. Harrington writes poetry and children's books. She has published several collections of poetry, beginning with Even the Hollow My Body Made Is Gone, winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Prize. Her latest collection is Primitive: The Art and Life of Horace H. Pippin. Her latest children's book is Catching a Storyfish, a novel in verse. Harrington's picturebooks include Busy-Busy Little Chick, The Chicken-Chasing Queen of Lamar County (included on Time Magazine's list of the Top 10 children's books of the year and winner of the Cybils Award for the best picturebook of the year), Going North (all from Farrar, Straus and Giroux), and Roberto Walks Home (Viking/Penguin). Harrington's poetry appears regularly in American literary magazines and has led to a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship and appearances on Poetry Daily and Verse Daily. She also curates a blog on poetic imagery: A Space for Image. Harrington's work in progress includes new collections of poetry and a biography for children. For more information, see her website.

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Michael Madonick
Michael Madonick was born and raised in New York City and received a BA (1972) and MBA (1974) from Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. After several years in commercial real estate development, he returned to college and received an MFA (1981) from the University of Oregon. He is a recipient of the Academy of American Poets' Prize, the New Jersey Council on the Arts Distinguished Artist Award, an Illinois Arts Council Grant, and an Illinois Arts Council Literary Award. His work has appeared in a variety of literary journals including Boulevard, American Literary Review, New England Review, Epoch, Chicago Review, Southern Humanities Review, Cimarron Review, Black Warrior Review, Florida Review, Tar River Poetry, Cream City Review, Mid-American Review, Hayden's Ferry Review, and many others. His first collection of poetry, Waking the Deaf Dog, was published by Avocet Press, New York (2000), and his second book, Bulrushes, is forthcoming from The Backwaters Press.
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Julie Price
Julie Price has been teaching Creative Writing (fiction, nonfiction, poetry) and Rhetoric at the University of Illinois since 1998. She received her undergraduate degree in Advertising from the University of Evansville, and her MFA from Purdue University, where she worked on the editorial staff of the Sycamore Review.

Julie's poems and essays have appeared most recently in Rattle, McSweeney's Internet Tendency,and Literal Latte, and are forthcoming in The James Dickey Review and Timberline Review. Her poetry has been nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize and was included in the 2014 anthology The Burden of Light: Poems on Illness and Loss and in Rattle's Poets of Faith issue. Her poem “Veins” was the winner of the 2016 Rattle Poetry Prize.

Julie has received multiple teaching awards at the department, college, and university levels, including the University of Illinois College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. She is a two-time recipient of the UIUC Campus Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. Before coming to the U. of I., Julie worked as managing editor of the Indianapolis New Times and later owned a bookstore on Green Street near campus. She also spent time in France where she wrote a monthly column about Parisian pop culture for the now-defunct Octopus. Her cat, Hankie, accompanied her, though he preferred American cat food.
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John Rubins
John Rubins grew up on Long Island but has since lived in the Midwest and New England for many years. As an undergraduate at Washington University he studied earth and planetary science and architecture but turned more seriously toward writing after graduation and completed an MFA at Emerson College in Boston. He has worked for some of the country's top literary magazines and also founded (and for many years edited) one of the first online journals of literary quality work. Writing over the years has appeared in Bluestem, Seattle Weekly, The Southeast Review, New Genre, Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, Electric Velocipede, and Seven Days. He attended the Sewanee Writers' Conference as a Susannah McCorkle Scholar and has given talks at the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference on publishing and the Web. In 2011 the University of Illinois awarded John the Campus Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. He was also awarded the University of Illinois College of Liberal Arts and Sciences Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching. John is a steering committee member of The Bike Project, a co-operative bicycle repair, bike education, and advocacy space where he is also a volunteer wrench.

He has a story online here at

And he has the podcast of a nonfiction piece here at Middleliterate.
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Ted Sanders
Ted Sanders is the author of the short story collection No Animals We Could Name (Graywolf 2012), winner of the 2011 Bakeless Prize for Fiction. A recipient of a 2012 National Endowment for the Arts literature fellowship, he has published stories and essays in many publications, including the Southern Review, Cincinnati Review, Confrontation, Georgia Review, Gettysburg Review, Indiana Review, and the O. Henry Prize Stories anthology. His 4-book middle-grade series The Keepers premiered in March 2015 with The Box and the Dragonfly; the third book in the series, The Portal and the Veil, is forthcoming in Fall 2017. His website is
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Alex Shakar
In Alex Shakar's latest novel, Luminarium (Soho), Fred Brounian, a thirtysomething game designer, signs up for a scientific study in which "peak" experiences typically associated with spirituality are given him via an electromagnetic helmet, falls for his experimenter, and starts receiving mysterious emails and other messages from his comatose twin brother. Called "an intricately structured, imaginative, epistemological, and wildly eventful tale of illusion and longing" by the Chicago Tribune, and "a strikingly metaphysical novel that never dematerializes into misty clichés" by the Washington Post, Luminarium was the winner of the 2011 Los Angeles Times Book Prize in Fiction. It was also named an Editor's Choice by The New York Times, a Notable Book of the year by The Washington Post, and a best book of the year by Publishers Weekly, Booklist, the Austin Chronicle, and the Kansas City Star.
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Jodee Stanley
Jodee Stanley is Director of the Creative Writing Program and Editor of Ninth Letter, the award-winning literary/arts journal published by UIUC's MFA in Creative Writing Program in collaboration with the School of Art and Design. She has worked in literary publishing for twenty years, and has been a speaker and panelist at various conferences and festivals, including Bread Loaf, AWP, MLA, and the Kenyon Review Literary Festival. In 2009, she was awarded an Academic Professional Award from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at UIUC, and she received a 2007 Faculty Fellowship from the University of Illinois Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership.

Her fiction, essays, and book reviews have appeared in journals including Crab Orchard Review, Hobart, 580 Split, Cincinnati Review, Future Fire, BkMk Quarterly, The Smoking Poet, Sycamore Review, Sou'wester, and Electric Velocipede. Her essay on literary publishing, which originally appeared in the Mississippi Review, was reprinted in the anthology Paper Dreams: Writers and Editors on the American Literary Magazine (Atticus Books, 2013), and her fiction has received special mention in the Pushcart Prize and Year's Best Fantasy and Horror anthologies and named to the Wigleaf Top 50 Very Short Stories.
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Nafissa Thompson-Spires
Nafissa Thompson-Spires earned a PhD from Vanderbilt University and an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her work has appeared in Lunch Ticket, East Bay Review, Compose, Blinders, FLOW, The Feminist Wire, and other publications. Her short story "Heads of the Colored People: Four Fancy Sketches, Two Chalk Outlines, and No Apology" won Story Quarterly's 2016 Fiction Prize, judged by Mat Johnson.

Affiliated Faculty, Fall 2016

Michael Don
Roya Khatiblou
Scott Ricketts


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