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Faculty and Staff

Writing means revealing oneself to excess; that utmost of self-revelation and surrender, in which a human being, when involved with others, would feel he was losing himself, and from which, therefore, he will always shrink as long as he is in his right mind ... This is why one can never be alone enough when one writes, why there can never be enough silence around when one writes, why even night is not night enough.

—Franz Kafka, Letters to Felice

The most important element of an education in writing is the quality of the program’s faculty and staff. Students attending the College of Charleston’s Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing program* benefit from the wisdom, expertise, and love of the word and its teaching by nationally and internationally acclaimed writers who have long been practicing and professing the art. Though the program is an intimate one with a small core faculty, the following numbers attest to the vast experience they bring to their art and classrooms:

  • A combined 75 years of teaching
  • A combined 23 books published
  • Over 150 published stories
  • Over 200 published poems
  • Over 60 published essays

In addition, faculty and staff have through the years served in various capacities, from first readers to editors, with such journals as The Missouri Review, The Southern Review, Ploughshares, Epoch, Cimarron Review, The Journal, Writers Forum, Ironhorse Literary Review, Blue Mesa Review, Denver Quarterly, Ninth Letter, Review of Contemporary Fiction and of course Crazyhorse, bringing to our students a deep knowledge of the writing and publishing process.

Bret Lott, Program Director

Photo - Bret LottBret Lott is the bestselling author of fourteen books, most recently the nonfiction collection Letters and Life: On Being a Writer, On Being a Christian (Crossway 2013) and the novel Dead Low Tide (Random House 2012). Other books include the story collection The Difference Between Women and Men, the nonfiction book Before We Get Started: A Practical Memoir of the Writer’s Life, and the novels Jewel, an Oprah Book Club pick, and A Song I Knew by Heart. His work has appeared in, among other places, The Yale Review, The New York Times, The Georgia Review, Vanity Fair Online and in dozens of anthologies.

Born in Los Angeles, he received his BA in English from Cal State Long Beach in 1981, and his MFA in fiction from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, in 1984, where he studied under James Baldwin. From 1986 to 2004 he was writer-in-residence and professor of English at The College of Charleston, leaving to take the position of editor and director of the journal The Southern Review at Louisiana State University. Three years later, in the fall of 2007, he returned to The College of Charleston and the job he most loves: teaching.

His honors include being named Fulbright Senior American Scholar and writer-in-residence to Bar-Ilan University in Tel Aviv, speaking on Flannery O’Connor at The White House, and having served as a member of the National Council on the Arts from 2006 to 2012. He is nonfiction editor of the journal Crazyhorse.


  • Letters and Life: On Being a Writer, On Being a Christian (nonfiction), Crossway, 2013
  • Dead Low Tide (novel), Random House, 2012
  • Ancient Highway (novel), Random House, 2008
  • The Difference Between Women and Men (stories), Random House, 2005
  • Before We Get Started: A Practical Memoir of the Writer’s Life (nonfiction), Ballantine Books, 2005
  • A Song I Knew By Heart (novel), Random House, 2004
  • The Hunt Club (novel), Villard Books of Random House, 1998
  • Fathers, Sons and Brothers (nonfiction), 1997
  • How To Get Home (stories), John F. Blair, Publisher, 1996
  • Reed’s Beach (novel), Simon and Schuster, 1993
  • Jewel (novel), Simon and Schuster, 1991
  • A Dream of Old Leaves (stories), Viking, 1989
  • A Stranger’s House (novel), Viking, 1988
  • The Man Who Owned Vermont (novel), Viking, 1987
Despite the fact we are as human beings pattern makers, beings who find it necessary to believe that there are right and wrong ways to do things, quicker and easier paths through the world jungle we all inhabit, it just ain’t so. Learning to write—how-to—is a desperately idiosyncratic, eccentric, single-souled life-long quest, a journey you have to make alone. Anyone who pretends otherwise is a crock.

—Bret Lott

Anthony Varallo

Photo - Anthony VaralloAnthony Varallo’s fourth story collection, Everyone Was There, winner of the Elixir Press 2016 Fiction Award, is forthcoming from Elixir Press in 2017.  He is the author of three previous collections: This Day in History (University of Iowa Press), winner of the 2005 John Simmons Short Fiction Award and finalist for the Paterson Fiction Prize; Out Loud (University of Pittsburgh Press), winner of the 2008 Drue Heinz Literature Prize; and Think of Me and I’ll Know (TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press), finalist for the 2013 Balcones Fiction Prize. He has received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Literature, the Journal Short Story Award, the Crazyhorse Fiction Prize, an AWP Intro Journals award, and other awards. His short stories have appeared in AGNI, Gettysburg Review, New England Review, Epoch, Harvard Review, American Short Fiction, and elsewhere.

He received his PhD in English and Creative Writing from the University of Missouri-Columbia in 2005, where he was a Senior Advisor in Fiction and Contest Coordinator for the Missouri Review. He received his MFA from the University of Iowa/Iowa Writers’ Workshop in 1997, where he studied under Marilynne Robinson, and was the recipient of a prestigious Iowa Arts Fellowship, the highest fellowship awarded by the program.

He joined the Department of English at the College of Charleston in 2005 and serves as Fiction Editor of Crazyhorse.


  • Everyone Was There (stories), Elixir Press, 2017
  • Think of Me and I’ll Know (stories), TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press, 2013
  • Out Loud (stories), University of Pittsburgh Press, 2008
  • This Day in History (stories), University of Iowa Press, 2005
I like a story that isn’t afraid to show a little good taste, if that doesn’t sound too much like something somebody wearing a monocle and a foulard might say. As a reader, I like to sense the writer’s presence in the story, without actually feeling their hand. I like a story that isn’t afraid to put real pressure on each and every line, in the manner of a poem. That’s elegance to me, something akin to care, thoughtfulness, and generosity, too. Taking care with words.

—Anthony Varallo

Emily Rosko

Photo - Emily RoskoEmily Rosko is the author of two award-winning poetry collections: Prop Rockery, (University of Akron Press, 2012), and Raw Goods Inventory (University of Iowa Press, 2006), which also received the 2007 Glasgow Prize for Emerging Writers from Shenandoah. Her honors also include: the Wallace Stegner Fellowship at Stanford, a Ruth Lily Fellowship from Poetry magazine, and a Jacob K. Javits Fellowship. Her poems have been included in a variety of literary journals, such as Antioch Review, AGNI, The Beloit Poetry Journal, The Denver Quarterly, New American Writing, and Pleiades, and her pedagogical essays on poetic craft have been anthologized in Poets on Teaching: A Sourcebook and The Working Poet II. She is the editor of A Broken Thing: Poets on the Line (University of Iowa Press 2011), and poetry editor for Crazyhorse.


  • Prop Rockery, University of Akron Press, 2012
  • A Broken Thing: Poets on the Line, coedited and introduced with Anton Vander Zee, University of Iowa Press, 2011.
  • Raw Goods Inventory, University of Iowa Press, 2006
Poetry—no matter how many naysayers have popped up in our history and in our recent times—has endured. At its best, the poem provides a poignant model for the principles of attention and acknowledgement. Lyric poetry is not simply an overheard voice, or a solitary singer addressing oneself. Lyric, as Paul Celan says, is like a handshake. It announces a presence; it makes a presence felt. Its power lies in how it registers a mind receiving the world and makes that complex work available to others. This is true perhaps of all literature, and literature classrooms ideally provide an open opportunity for thinking through that complex relationship of mind and world, form and content, art and history. The creative writing workshop in particular reminds us what a shared and living activity this is, and invites us to join in that act of poiesis, that act of making and imagining a possible world even as we reflect upon our own.

—Emily Rosko

Gary Jackson

Photo - Gary JacksonBorn and raised in Topeka, Kansas, Gary Jackson is the author of the poetry collection Missing You, Metropolis, which received the 2009 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. He is featured on 2013’s New American Poets by the Poetry Society of America, and his poems have appeared in Callaloo, Tin House, 32 Poems, Crab Orchard Review, and elsewhere. He’s also published in Shattered: The Asian-American Comics Anthology, and is the recipient of both a Cave Canem and Bread Loaf fellowship. He currently teaches as an Assistant Professor at the College of Charleston. He’s taught everywhere from Albuquerque, New Mexico to Anyang, South Korea. And he has been a fierce lover of comics for over twenty-five years.

He has been teaching at the College of Charleston since 2012 and serves as Associate Poetry Editor of Crazyhorse.


  • Missing You, Metropolis, Graywolf Press, 2009
When it works, I stick with it, even if the end result—the finished poem—doesn’t have a trace of the original moment that propelled me to write it. I’m not talking about withholding; I’m talking about starting one place and then ending somewhere else. That’s poetry. You just move with it.

—Gary Jackson

Lindsey Drager

Photo - Lindsey Drager

Lindsey Drager is the author of the novel The Sorrow Proper (Dzanc, 2015), winner of the 2016 Binghamton University John Gardner Fiction Prize and recipient of Silver in the 2015 INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award in Literary Fiction. She has been a Tennessee Williams Scholar at the Sewanee Writers Conference and received fully funded residencies from the Vermont Studio Center and the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts. Recent work has appeared in Mid-American Review, Black Warrior Review, Gulf Coast, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Post Road, Modern Language Studies, The Huffington Post, and the anthology Best Small Fictions 2015. She has also served on the masthead of Review of Contemporary Fiction, Ninth Letter, Los Angeles Review, Green Mountains Review, and, most recently, Denver Quarterly. A new novel, The Lost Daughter Collective, is forthcoming in 2017.

She holds a PhD from the University of Denver and an MFA from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she was an intern for Dalkey Archive Press. She joined the faculty at the College of Charleston in 2016.


  • The Sorrow Proper (novel), Dzanc Books, 2015
  • The Lost Daughter Collective (novel), Dzanc Books, 2017

As writers of prose, we face a complex set of questions each time we venture into the territory of story: What forces govern our narratives, consciously or unconsciously? How does the construction of our narratives make arguments, whether explicit or implied? How do we craft stories that speak to a diverse and varied readership? We must contend with these questions and negotiate their fluid answers every time the pen hits the page. I write for the same reason I teach: to estrange us to our own world so that we may more critically examine the covert systems by which it operates. To expose how histories and institutions and bodies are authored and read. To put into practice James Baldwin’s claim that, “the purpose of art is to lay bare the questions hidden by the answers.”

-Lindsey Drager

Jonathan Bohr Heinen, Managing Editor, Crazyhorse

Photo - Jonathan Bohr HeinenJonathan Bohr Heinen began working on literary magazines as an assistant for Cimarron Review He has since served as managing editor for Blue Mesa Review, senior managing editor for Iron Horse Literary Review, associate fiction editor for Q Avenue Press, and has worked as a publishing consultant for the Lighthouse Writers’ Workshop’s Lit Fest and the Tomales Bay Workshops Writers Conference. Currently, he is the managing editor for Crazyhorse at the College of Charleston. His writing has appeared in The Florida Review, Arroyo, Cimarron Review, The Boiler, among others, and has received special mention in the Pushcart Prize anthology. Beyond his writing and editing, he is a staff member at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference.

The literary magazine is the front line of American Literature. What you read in the pages of Crazyhorse today is the writing you’ll find on bookstore shelves next year.

—Jonathan Bohr Heinen