News and Achievements

“….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.”

Recent News

  • 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 Publishers Weekly 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:’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: 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:
  • 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 Bread Loaf 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
  • Holly Hughes’ anthology, Beyond Forgetting: Poetry and Prose about Alzheimer’s Disease, was selected for a 2010 Independent Publisher Book Award.

Recent Accomplishments

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 Foreword 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
  • Bread Loaf Rona Jaffe Fellowship to the Bread Loaf 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.