Eight alumni authors from the Fresno State Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing published their first books in 2016, a new record for the program.

The graduate Master of Fine Arts program offers advanced training in the writing of poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction. The heart of the program’s curriculum focuses on the writing workshop model, in which extensive peer and faculty critique fosters collaboration between writers, said Dr. Tim Skeen, an English professor who coordinates the program.

“The extraordinary string of book publications this year by our alumni is validation for our current students that we must be doing something right,” Skeen said. “The success is inspiration for us all, including future students thinking about coming to Fresno to write.”

The previous record number of first books published by Master of Fine Arts program alumni was four in 2014. This year’s first-time book authors are:

  • J.J. Anselmi (class of 2014) — “Heavy: A Memoir of Wyoming, BMX, Drugs and Heavy F—— Music,” a nonfiction book published by Rare Bird Books.
  • Carole Firstman (2013) — “Origins of the Universe and What It All Means: A Memoir,” a nonfiction book published by Dzanc Books.

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.