Seven alumni authors from the Fresno State Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing published their first books in 2017 and 2018, following a record publishing year in 2016. In total, 15 of the program’s alumni have now published their first books in the past three years.
The graduate program offers advanced training in the writing of poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction. This rate of professional success confirms what many people around the country already know: Creative writing students coming out of Fresno State are “smart, talented, hardworking and prepared to publish,” said Steven Church, a professor of English who coordinates the program.
“My hope is that these books will be a shout to the world,” Church said, “an announcement of these writers’ arrival on both the local and national writing scene. They serve as ambassadors to readers and writers everywhere who are considering applying to MFA programs.”
“There are few places in the country that celebrate writers like Fresno,” Church said, “and we’re happy to celebrate these first-book authors with Fresno State roots.”
The record number of first books published in one year by Fresno State Master of Fine Arts program alumni was eight in 2016. There were three published in 2017. There were four published in 2018, tying the 2014 mark for second-highest in one year.
Alumni who can this year now count themselves as first-time book authors are:
Kenneth Robert Chacón (MFA Creative Writing, 2004) — “The Cholo Who Said Nothing,” a poetry collection published in 2017 by Turning Point Books.
Brian Dunlap (2013) — “Concrete Paradise,” a poetry chapbook published in 2018 by Finishing Line Press.
Ronald Dzerigian (2016) — “Rough Fire,” a poetry collection published in 2018 by Finishing Line Press.
Cynthia Guardado (2012) — “Endeavor,” a poetry collection published in 2017 by World Stage Press.
Feroz Rather (2010) — “The Night of Broken Glass,” a novel published in 2018 by HarperCollins India.
Emily Jo Scalzo (2010) — “The Politics of Division,” a poetry chapbook published in 2017 by Five Oaks Press.
Elizabeth Schulte Martin (2009) — “Everything You Came to See,” a novel published in 2018 by Skyhorse Publishing.
Extended interviews with the authors can be read as part of the Fresno State Master of Fine Arts blog’s occasional On the Books series.