Our mentors in the Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing write, teach and publish across genre; engage in interdisciplinary projects; take care of the communities of which they are a part; and, most of all, approach the twenty-first century writing life with invention, pragmatism and creativity. With like-minded faculty to aid them, students at OSU-Cascades are encouraged to cultivate the spontaneity, innovation, courage and commitment the writing life demands.

Program Lead

Jenna Goldsmith

Jenna Goldsmith is the interim program lead for the MFA in creative writing. Her writing has been featured in Utterance, Rabbit Catastrophe Review, What Rough Beast, New Delta Review, The Waggle, disClosure: A Journal of Social Theory, and ISLE: Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and Environment. She is a Story Catcher Festival Mari Sandoz Emerging Writer and was the inaugural winner of the Kentucky Writers Fellowship from the Baltic Writing Residency. Her poetry chapbook, Genesis near the river was published in 2019 with blush books, and she is ¼ of Portland-based artist collective Danger Punch, which published The Landscape in 2019 (Publication Studio Hudson). Her website is jennalgoldsmith.com.

Core Faculty

T. Geronimo Johnson

T. Geronimo Johnson’s debut novel "Hold it ‘Til it Hurts" was a 2013 PEN/Faulkner finalist. "Welcome to Braggsville," a dark, socially provocative comedic novel about four liberal college kids who attempt to stage a lynching during a Civil War reenactment, was released in the US and UK in early 2015 by William Morrow. "Welcome to Braggsville" was on the 2015 National Book Awards Longlist for Fiction and won the Gaines Book Award for 2015. His short fiction and poetry have appeared in Best New American Voices, the LA Review, and Illuminations, among others. He has taught writing and held fellowships—including a Stegner Fellowship and an Iowa Arts Fellowship—at ASU, Iowa, Berkeley, Stanford and WMU. Geronimo’s academic interests include new media, creative writing pedagog, and the film essay. He believe that, as a writer, it is his duty to tell a compelling story of human interest, one that diverges from the strained optimism animating the artificial inosculation of literacy (read: knowledge of self) and liberty (read: transcendence). Of course that often means avoiding half the words in the previous sentence: writers must be both in the world and of it. T. Geronimo received his MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop and his M.A. in Language, Literacy, and Culture from UC Berkeley. He is a Niroga-certified yoga instructor and trained rally driver. His website is geronimo1.com.

T. Geronimo's teaching and research specialties include new media art, trans-media narrative, curriculum design, creative writing depagogy, urban education, transformative life skills, social justice and the arts, arts intervention, digital and community publishing, digital composition, rendering the dramatic as didactic, writing as a collaborative practice, representing vs. recreating oppressions, writing for hostile audiences, and difficulty vs. accountability.

TC Tolbert

TC Tolbert often identifies as a trans and genderqueer feminist, collaborator, dancer, and poet but really s/he’s just a human in love with humans doing human things. The author of "Gephyromania" (Ahsahta Press 2014), and five chapbooks, TC is also co-editor of "Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics" (Nightboat Books 2013), the first anthology of its kind.

Second only to writing, TC loves teaching and being in the wilderness (wherever that may be). In addition to working with OSU-Cascades, s/he teaches for University of Arizona, is a certified Wilderness EMT, and spends his summers leading wilderness trips for Outward Bound.

TC is Tucson’s Poet Laureate. Thanks to Movement Salon and the Architects, TC keeps showing up and paying attention. His favorite thing in the world is Compositional Improvisation (which is another way of saying being alive). Gloria Anzaldúa said, Voyager, there are no bridges, one builds them as one walks. John Cage said, it’s lighter than you think. Visit TC's website.

Christopher Boucher

Christopher Boucher is the author of the novels "How to Keep Your Volkswagen Alive" (Melville House, 2011) and "Golden Delicious" (Melville House, 2016). Chris received his MFA in Fiction from Syracuse University in 2002, and he currently teaches in the English Department at Boston College; he’s also the managing editor of "Post Road Magazine." Chris’s academic interests include postmodern and contemporary fiction, hybrid texts and digital humanities. Chris lives in Watertown, Massachusetts with his wife and two children. In his free time, he plays the five-string banjo.

As a writing teacher, Chris emphasizes the intrinsic value of a regular writing practice; he sees it as a mode of inquiry – a way of listening in the world. He looks forward to working with writers at OSU to cultivate an artistic practice that is rigorous, sustainable, ever-evolving and always surprising.

Beth Alvarado
Creative Nonfiction and Fiction

Beth's third book, "Anxious Attachments," is forthcoming from Autumn House Press in spring 2019. Taken together as a larger narrative, these essays are about the power of love to revise who we are, what we believe, and what our story is. Her second book, "Anthropologies: A Family Memoir" (University of Iowa Press, 2011), is a vivid archive of memories that layers scenes, oral histories, portraits, and dreams in a dynamic cross-cultural mosaic. Her short story collection, "Not a Matter of Love" (New Rivers Press, 2006), won the Many Voices Project Prize for work that is “aesthetically challenging and has a social consciousness.” Her essays and stories have been published in many fine journals including The Sun, The Southern Review, and Ploughshares. Read more at bethalvarado.com.

The best piece of advice she ever heard came from Toni Morrison, who was then working on "Beloved": “Never look away from the story.” Beth has an MFA in Fiction from the University of Arizona, an M.A. in Literature from Stanford University, and she studied creative nonfiction on a fellowship in Prague, Czech Republic.

At the University of Arizona in Tucson, she taught for the Honors College and the English Department. In 2011, she founded a Writers’ Salon in Tucson for nontraditional students; she has also taught Blended Genre classes for the University of Arizona Poetry Center and book-arts courses to Hispanic and Native American high school students.

Ru Freeman

Three things drive my teaching: keeping sight of each others humanity; how we interact with each other because of the personal landscapes — historical, cultural, physical, emotional, spiritual, and economic — that have shaped us; and how we might work toward a collective good. These same concerns inform my writing, and I choose my vehicle (fiction, essays, poetry, political journalism), based on the form that would best serve the emotional truth I wish to convey.

I grew up in Sri Lanka, a country where girls and women are honored both for their grace and for not taking any bull; where opinions are stated clearly and in the open, most specially when we disagree, but where the argument is kept separate from the relationship; and where friendship is assumed before it has to be proved. These things tend to differentiate me from my American peers. Serendip was the name, in Arabic, for my country in 361 AD, whose essence was captured in the invention of the word serendipity in the 18th century. As such, I’ve learned to stay wide open to the beauty that chance happenings afford us, and thrive in environments where people love without boundaries, give freely of their wealth and of themselves, enjoy the pleasure of food and drink and dance, and find humor in pretty much everything. Even the darkest things. Particularly those.

Visiting Core Faculty

Jennifer Tseng
Poetry and Fiction

Jennifer Tseng was born in Indiana and raised in California by a first generation Chinese engineer and a third generation German American microbiologist. Her first book The Man With My Face (AAWW 2005) won the 2005 Asian American Writers' Workshop's National Poetry Manuscript Competition and a 2006 PEN American Center Open Book Award. Her second book Red Flower, White Flower (Marick Press 2013), winner of the Marick Press Poetry Prize, features Chinese translations by Mengying Han and Aaron Crippen, and her novel Mayumi and the Sea of Happiness (Europa Editions 2015) was a finalist for the PEN Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction and for the New England Book Award. MAYUMI is available in English and Italian and is forthcoming in Danish.

Tseng earned an MA in Asian American Studies at UCLA, an MA in Fiction at University of Houston, and she was twice a Fiction Fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. She has taught Asian American Studies and Creative Writing at UCLA and Hampshire College respectively and was the 2015 Jack Kerouac Writer-in-Residence at University of Massachusetts, Lowell.

Distinguished Visiting Writers

mia susan amirmia susan amir
Nonfiction and Poetry

mia susan amir is a community-embedded writer, interdisciplinary performer, and educator. Born in Israel/Occupied Palestine, she has lived most of her life in Vancouver, BC, Unceded Coast Salish Territories. mia is the current creative director of The Story We Be, a Vancouver-based community writing institute which offers intergenerational intensives in the craft of creative writing, and performance, across genre. mia teaches creative nonfiction, and creative-political praxis through The Story We Be, and at Langara College, Vancouver.

mia received her MFA in Creative Writing from Mills College, Oakland, California, traditional Ohlone Territories, and is currently a student of somatics and trauma. She has performed her work across Canada and the United States, and is currently touring "Transmissions: Bodies/Echoes/Ash: An Audience-Engaged Grief Ritual." mia’s work has been published as part of Lemon Hound’s New Vancouver Poets Folio and on Digging Through the Fat.

Geraldine Brooks

Australian-born journalist and author Geraldine Brooks was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in fiction in 2006 for her novel "March." Though she originally planned on composing a great Australian novel, instead she has produced a large body of international bestsellers whose characters and themes transcend geographic boundaries. In her keynotes, Brooks shares her insights into “The Writing Life” and explains that in order to write about—or simply understand—one’s native country or culture, one must approach it like a foreigner in order to reap all of its richness. Learn more at geraldinebrooks.com



CAConrad is the author of seven books including "ECODEVIANCE: (Soma)tics for the Future Wilderness" (Wave Books, 2014), "A BEAUTIFUL MARSUPIAL AFTERNOON" (Wave Books, 2012) and "The Book of Frank" (Wave Books, 2010). A 2014 Lannan Fellow, a 2013 MacDowell Fellow, and a 2011 Pew Fellow, he also conducts workshops on (Soma)tic poetry and Ecopoetics. Visit him online.




Karen Finneyfrock
Poetry and Fiction

Karen Finneyfrock has published two full-length collections of poetry and one novel for young adults. Her debut novel, "The Sweet Revenge of Celia Door," (Viking Children’s Books, 2013) was selected for inclusion in the Junior Library Guild. Her most recent book of poems, "Ceremony for the Choking Ghost," was released on Write Bloody Publishing in 2010. Karen is a former Writer-in-Residence at Richard Hugo House and an alumna of Hedgebrook Writer’s Retreat. She is a previous member of five National Poetry Slam Teams, representing Seattle, WA and Washington, DC. In 2010, Karen was selected by the US State Department as a Cultural Envoy to Nepal, where she taught workshops and performed poems in a program called, “A Poetry Slam Fortnight in Nepal.” She has done national and international reading tours, including a tour of Germany in 2010.

Rising through the tradition of spoken word and poetry slam, Karen’s poetry seeks out the place where the accessibility of performance poetry meets the succinct self-awareness of the page. Her work is primarily concerned with narrative, as well as the personal as political. Karen’s fiction pairs lyrical voice and story. She earned a B.A. from James Madison University. Her website is karenfinneyfrock.com.

Kristiana KahakauwilaKristiana Kahakauwila
Fiction and Nonfiction

Kristiana Kahakauwila, a native Hawaiian, was born in Southern California. Her first book, "This is Paradise," a collection of short stories set in and about contemporary Hawai`i, was published in 2013 by Hogarth Press (an imprint of Random House’s Crown division). Kristiana earned her BA in Comparative Literature from Princeton University and her MFA in Fiction from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She has worked as an editor at Wine Spectator, Cigar Aficionado, and Highlights for Children. At present she teaches fiction, nonfiction, Pacific literature, and editing & publishing at Western Washington University in Bellingham, WA.

As a writer and teacher, Kristiana is driven by inquiry. She writes in order to better understand the world and her place in it, and she encourages her students to inhabit their curiosities, fears, bold endeavors, and hesitancies in order to create complex, honest prose that blazes on the page. In her free time, she runs, surfs, attempts to play the `ukulele, and plans her next trip to her heart’s home, Hawai`i. You can learn more at kristianakahakauwila.com.

Kristinana's teaching and research specialties include short story, Pacific/Oceanic studies, editing & publishing, new journalism, creative nonfiction, novel, global indigenous issues, food & wine writing, research in writing, historical fiction, decolonizing pedagogy, Hawaiiana, and translation studies.

kinder-colleenColleen Kinder
Creative Nonfiction

Colleen Kinder has written essays and articles for The New Republic, Salon, National Geographic Traveler, The New York Times, Gadling, the Atlantic.com, The Wall Street Journal, Ninth Letter, A Public Space, The New York Times Magazine and Creative Nonfiction. She is the author of "Delaying the Real World" (Running Press). Her essays have been anthologized in "The Best American Travel Writing" (Houghton Mifflin), "Readings for Writers" (The Kenyon Review), "20-something Essays by 20-something Writers" (Random House) and "Best Women's Travel Writing" (Travelers' Tales). Colleen's photography has been published by The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Fodor's.

Colleen earned her MFA from the Nonfiction Writing Program at the University of Iowa. She has received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, the Constance Saltonstall Foundation, Jentel, Yaddo and the Fulbright. She teaches essay writing and travel writing at Yale, and leads workshops at the Gotham Writers' Workshop in Manhattan. Her website is colleenkinder.com.

Deborah MirandaDeborah A. Miranda
Nonfiction and Poetry

A Native American writer and poet, Deborah writes poetry, creative nonfiction, and hybrid texts informed by her mixed-blood ancestry and knowledge of the natural world. Deborah A. Miranda’s primary teaching and research topics include American Literature that is off the canonical map - in other words, contemporary American Lit by authors from the margins of US culture. This literature typically approaches America culture from directions previously unconsidered, as we see the world through the eyes of Native Americans, Chicanos and Chicanas, African Americans, Japanese Americans, Chinese Americans, Appalachians, Southern Americans, and more. Contexts such as environmental issues, economic limitations, linguistic barriers/advantages, and historical trauma are all explored in voices typically not heard in mainstream literature.


James Prosek
Creative Nonfiction

Artist, writer, naturalist, and Yale graduate James Prosek made his authorial debut at nineteen years of age with "Trout: an Illustrated History" (Alfred A. Knopf, 1996), which featured seventy of his watercolor paintings of the trout of North America. His latest book "Ocean Fishes," Rizzoli, 2012 is a collection of paintings of 35 Atlantic fishes, all of which were painted life size based on individual specimens he traveled to see. In autumn of 2012 Prosek was awarded the Gold Medal for Distinction in Natural History Art from the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. He has upcoming shows at the Addison Gallery of American Art and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. He is currently working on a book, as well as an article for National Geographic, about how we name and order the natural world. For more information, visit troutsite.com.