Virtual Master’s Class in Fiction

Faculty & Guest Speakers

  • Meakin Armstrong
    Meakin Armstrong has been the senior fiction editor at Guernica since 2006. For eight years, he worked at The New Yorker, and his writing has appeared in LitHub, The Atlantic, and many other magazines and journals. He is also a contributor to four nonfiction books and two fiction anthologies. Among his awards, he has received a Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference work-study scholarship for fiction. Meakin is a frequent member of various nominating committees for top literary awards. He works as a ghostwriter and lives in New York City. 
  • Polina Barskova
    Polina Barskova is a poet and a scholar. An author of twelve collections of poems and two books of prose in Russian, she’s also an editor of an anthology Written in the Dark (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2016) and has three collections of poetry published in English translation: This Lamentable City (Tupelo Press), The Zoo in Winter (Melville House), and Relocations (Zephyr Press). Beginning in fall 2021, she will be teaching Russian Literature at the University of California at Berkeley; prior to that she taught at Hampshire College, Amherst College and Smith College. Her collection of creative non-fiction prose Living Pictures received the Andrey Bely Prize in 2015 and is coming out in German with Suhrkamp Verlag in 2020 and in English with NYRB in 2022. Barskova taught a course on urban imagination and translation for SLS in Tbilisi in 2019--and it was one of her wildest urban literary adventures ever.
  • W. Paul Coates is the founder of Black Classic Press and BCP Digital Printing. Black Classic Press, founded in 1978, specializes in republishing obscure and significant works by and about people of African descent. BCP Digital Printing was founded in 1996 as a parallel entity of the Press. The printing company uses state-of-the-art digital technology to produce books and documents On Demand. As a former African American Studies reference and acquisition librarian at Howard University's Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Mr. Coates was responsible for collection development of African American books and related materials. He is a graduate of Atlanta University's School of Library and Information Studies (1980) and SDC/Antioch University (1979). Mr. Coates is co-editor of Black Bibliophiles and Collectors: Preservers of Black History (1990, Howard Univ. Press). He is a founding member and chair of the National Association of Black Book Publishers. In addition, he served as adjunct instructor of African American Studies at Sojourner-Douglass College, Baltimore, MD. He formerly owned and operated The Black Book (1972-1978), a Baltimore-based bookstore. His experience with the purchase, sale, and collection of books by and about Blacks is a love affair that has lasted for decades.
  • Masha Gessen
    Masha Gessen is a Russian-American journalist, author, translator and activist who has been an outspoken critic of the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, and the President of the United States, Donald Trump. Gessen is nonbinary and trans and uses they/them pronouns. Gessen has written extensively on LGBT rights.
  • Alex Halberstadt
    Alex Halberstadt is the author the family memoir Young Heroes of the Soviet Union, a New York Times Critics’ Top Book of 2020, as well as Lonely Avenue: the Unlikely Life and Times of Doc Pomus. He’s a regular contributor to The New York Times Magazine, and his writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times Book Review, Saveur, Travel + Leisure, GQ, Food & Wine, MoMA Magazine and The Paris Review. Nominated twice for the James Beard Award for Excellence in Journalism, his essays have been anthologized in Best Food Writing 2014 and The Best American Food Writing 2018. Halberstadt is a recipient of fellowships from the MacDowell Colony and Yaddo, and lives and works in New York.
  • Dawn Raffel
    Dawn Raffel is the author of five books, including The Strange Case of Dr. Couney (a Christopher Award winner), and a memoir, The Secret Life of Objects. She served for many years as a senior-level magazine editor, most notably at O, The Oprah Magazine.
    On Dawn Raffel's The Strange Case of Dr. Couney (2018):
    “Existing on the cusp of the fantastical and scientific breakthrough, stories like this are the backbone of our American lore, legend, and history. ”— Leah Angstman, The Coil
  • Kevin Sessums
    Kevin Sessums has served as executive editor of Interview and as a contributing editor of Vanity Fair, Allure, and Parade. His work has also appeared in Travel+Leisure, Elle, Out, Marie Claire, Playboy, and He was the founding Editor-in-Chief of FourTwoNine magazine and the Editor at Large of the Curran Theatre in San Francisco. Currently, he is the Editor in Chief of which he founded in October 2017.

    In 2007, he published a memoir titled Mississippi Sissy, which is about the conflicted life of a self-aware gay boy growing up in Forest, Mississippi. It made the New York Times Bestseller list and won the 2008 Lambda Literary Award for Best Male Memoir. His audio recording of Mississippi Sissy was nominated for a 2007 Quill Award. In 2015, he published his second memoir, I Left It on the Mountain, which made the New York Times Celebrity Bestseller List.
  • Dawn Raffel
    Dawn Raffel is the author of five books, most recently The Strange Case of Dr. Couney: How a Mysterious European Showman Saved Thousands of American Babies. Previous books include a memoir, The Secret Life of Objects, a novel, and two critically acclaimed story collections. Her work has been published in O, The Oprah Magazine, BOMBNew Philosopher, Conjunctions, NOONThe Anchor Book of New American Short Stories, and many other anthologies. She served for many years as a senior-level magazine editor, most notably at O, The Oprah Magazine. She now works as an independent book editor and teaches at the Center for Fiction in New York.
  • Laurie Stone
    Laurie Stone is the author of five books of fiction, nonfiction, and hybrid writing, most recently Everything is Personal, Notes on Now (2020). She was a longtime writer for the Village Voice, and theater critic for The Nation.
    Writing in The New Yorker, Masha Gessen has this to say about Stone's writing: "I started reading Laurie Stone’s Everything Is Personal, which began as a series of Facebook posts, a couple of weeks before the lockdown. Stone’s writing is perfect for this state, in which thinking is, on the one hand, self-referential and labored, and on the other hand, a lifeline. The reader gets to be immersed in Stone’s remarkable mind. The title of the book references one of the central arguments of nineteen-sixties feminism, from which Stone hails intellectually: 'The personal is political.' It also describes our current predicament—everything that is not personal has vanished—and suggests a way of thinking sharply, imaginatively, beautifully, from right here."
  • Meg Storey
    Meg Storey began working as a freelance copy editor and proofreader in 2004. Her first clients included the academic journal Literature and Medicine and the literary magazine Tin House. In 2005, she became an assistant editor at Tin House Books and quickly moved on to acquisitions and developmental editing. She taught developmental editing in Portland State University’s masters in publishing program. She was a faculty member of Summer Literary Seminars (SLS) Saint Petersburg in 2007 and 2008 and SLS Montreal 2011. And she mentored participants of the Tin House Summer and Winters Workshops, providing detailed feedback on a novel, memoir, or short story collection. During her time at Tin House, books she edited won the Giller Prize, the Goldberg Prize for Debut Fiction, and the Oregon Book Award for Fiction. In 2017 she returned to freelance work. Her clients include both individual authors and independent publishers such as Tin House Books and Book*hug. Over her career she has edited novels and short story collections and copy edited novels, short stories, articles, essays, and poetry. In her free time, she volunteers with programs serving immigrant and refugee populations in Athens, Greece, and Portland, Oregon.