Division of HumanitiesMFA in Creative Writing - Low Residency

Rainier Writing Workshop


"....an experience I'll carry with me through my entire writing life and it's shaped me in ways I'm only beginning to understand."   


  • December, 2013: '13 RWW graduate Carrie Mesrobian's book, Sex and Violence was honored in Publishers Weekly's "Best Books 2013".  For the full list, visit Best Children's Fiction of 2013.  The novel was her MFA thesis.
  • November, 2013: '09 RWW graduate Julie Riddle is interviewed in this month's Georgia Review, "The Forest Was Loaded with Untold Stories: An Interview with Julie Riddle."
  • July, 2013:  Washington State Poet Laureate Kathleen Flenniken (MFA '07) was featured on National Public Radio with a 30-minute interview in The Story with Dick Gordon.  You can access the interview at:  http://www.thestory.org/stories/2013-07/poetry-atomic-city.

    Kathleen's poetry has inspired artists in both film and music.  Lou Karsen produced a 5-minute documentary for the Documentary Challenge in March 2013 which includes original music and interpretations of two poems from Plume.  Plume is Kathleen's second published collection of poetry and started out as her Outside Experience for the PLU MFA.  Here is a link to the documentary https://vimeo.com/69287016.

    Composer Reginald Unterseher has set four poems from Plume to music with string quartet and soprano and called it “Hanford Songs.  You can hear the songs at: http://reginaldunterseher.com/four-poems-of-kathleen-flenniken/.
  • March, 2013:  RWW Faculty Member, David Huddle,  has won the 2013 PEN New England award for best work of poetry.  The award was presented at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum on Sunday, March 24, 2013.
  • January, 2013:  Kelli Agodon (MFA 07) Her third book of poems, Hourglass Museum, was just accepted for publication by White Pine Press
  • The 2012-2014 Washington State Poet Laureate is Kathleen Flenniken, an MFA graduate class of 2007
  • In the June 10th, 2012 article by LA Times book critic David Ulin, two out of the "Five Books that Grab Attention," are written by PLU MFA faculty:  Judith Kitchen and Lia Purpura.
  • December 2012:  Reversal, a new memoir written by PLU MFA faculty Judith Kitchen.
  • '08 MFA graduate April Lawson was awarded the George Plimpton Prize by Paris Review, 2011
  • Current student, Natalie Haney Tilghman,  won first place for Fiction in The Atlantic Monthly Student Writing Contest, 2011
  • Current student, Mandy Clark, appeared on Good Morning America Friday, June 17, 2011, because of her writing project.
  • Three of the finalists in the prestigious National Poetry Series are Rainier Writing Workshop participants:  one current student, one graduate, and one faculty member.
  • '07 MFA graduate Kelli Agodon has won the Gold Medal Book of the Year award, 2010
  • Amy Andrews has won the 2010 New Millennium Writings Award for Nonfiction for her essay, "hide and seek." 
  • Natalie Tilghman, just back from her stint as visiting artist at the American Academy in Rome, has had a story selected for a young adult anthology from Persea Books. 
  • Erin Hollowell received the Rona Jaffe Foundation Scholarship in Poetry to the Breadloaf Writers Conference for Summer, 2010. 
  • Casey Fuller has been awarded the 2010 Jeanne Lohmann Poetry Prize, a statewide prize for Washington State poets. (NB: Boyd Benson was the winner in 2009.) 
  •  Rick Dakan's new novel, The Cthulhu Cult: A Novel of Lovecraftian Obsession, is now out and available at Amazon.com. 
  •  Holly Hughes' anthology, Beyond Forgetting: Poetry and Prose about Alzheimer's Disease, was selected for a 2010 Independent Publisher Book Award.


Recent graduates have distinguished themselves in the following ways:

Selected Participant Awards and Honors

Washington State Poet Laureate

White Pine Press Poetry Award

Winner: Iron Horse Literary Review “Discovered Voices Award” in Nonfiction

First Place: The Atlantic Monthly Student’s Prize in Poetry

First Place: The Atlantic Monthly Student’s Prize in Fiction

Winner: Iron Horse Literary Review “Discovered Voices Award” in Fiction

Rona Jaffee Foundation Fellowship

Independent Publisher Book Award

The American Poet Prize

Story Quarterly Annual

The George Plimpton Prize from The Paris Review

Washington State Artist Trust Fellowship

Individual Fellowship from 4Culture

Second place, Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators’ Magazine Merit Awards

Finalist, Washington State Book Award in Poetry

Finalist, Northwest Book Awards

Winner of Foreward Magazine‘s Book of the Year Prize in Poetry

Gulf Stream Poetry Prize

Winner: Floating Bridge Chapbook Contest

NEH Summer Fellowship

Director, Fishtrap Arts Organization

Reviewer for Rain Taxi

Craft-Essays Editor, Brevity

Contributing Editor, AWP Writer’s Chronicle

Tacoma Poet Laureate

New Millennium Nonfiction Award

Fellowship, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts

Breadloaf Rona Jaffe Fellowship to the Breadloaf Writers Conference

Books and Chapbooks

Within Reach, Cherry Grove Publishers, 2007—M.J. Iuppa

A Final Arc of Sky, Beacon Press, 2010—Jennifer Culkin

Letters from the Emily Dickinson Room, White Pine Press, 2010—Kelli Russell Agodon

A Long Forgotten Truth, Rozlyn Press, 2010—Rachel Ballard

The Cthulhu Cult, PM Press, Amazon, 2010—Rick Dakan

As If, Parlor City Press, 2010—Tina Schumann

Found: A Memoir, Seal Press, 2011—Jennifer Lauck

Plume, University of Washington Press, 2012—Kathleen Flenniken

This is What It Smells Like, New Libri Press, 2012—Cathy Adams

Even the Stones, Caritas Communications, 2010—Kay Mullen

The Fifth Season: A Daughter-in-Law’s Memoir of Arriving, Texas Tech University, forthcoming 2013—Lisa Ohlen Harris

Body Geographic, University of Nebraska Press, forthcoming 2013—Barrie Jean Borich

Pause Traveler, Boreal Books, forthcoming 2013—Erin Hollowell

Virgin and Other Stories, Granta, forthcoming in 2013—April Ayers Lawson

Trying Home: The Rise and Fall of an Anarchist Utopia on Puget Sound, Oregon State UP, forthcoming in 2014—Justin Wadland

Additional graduate anthologies/collaborations

Beyond Forgetting: Poetry and Prose about Alzheimer's Disease, Holly J. Hughes, Kent State University Press, 2009.

Fire On Her Tongue: An eBook Anthology of Contemporary Women's Poetry, edited by Kelli Russell Agodon & Annette Spaulding-Convy, Two Sylvias Press, 2012.

The Pen and the Bell: Mindful Writing in a Busy World, Brenda Miller and Holly J. Hughes, Skinner Press Books, 2012.

Becoming: What Makes a Woman, Jill McCabe Johnson, University of Nebraska Gender Programs, 2012.