Four alumni authors from Fresno State’s Master of Fine Arts Program in creative writing published their first books in 2019 and 2020, including National Book Award for Poetry finalist Anthony Cody.

In total, 19 alumni from the program — which offers advanced training in the writing of poetry, fiction and creative nonfiction — have now published their first books in the past five years, which is “a truly astonishing accomplishment,” said Steven Church, professor of English.

Anthony Cody

Anthony Cody

Founded in 1995-96, the University’s Master of Fine Arts program celebrates its 25th anniversary this academic year. In those 25 years, a total of 38 alumni from the program have published their first books.

“With 19 first books published by MFA alumni in the past five years, we’ve matched the total number published in the first 20 years of the program,” Church said. “And that number doesn’t even reflect the number of second, third and fourth books that some have published in that same time frame.”

The acceleration of professional publishing success from Fresno State alumni authors is “a testament to the hard work and important voices of our students, the mentoring they’ve received and the deep support of the larger Fresno writing community,” he said.

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; four published in 2018; one published in 2019; and three published in 2020.

Ashley Wells

Ashley Wells

Alumni who can this year count themselves as first-time book authors are:

Monique Quintana (2016) — “Cenote City,” a novella published in 2019 by Clash Books.

Anthony Cody (2020) — “Borderland Apocrypha,” a poetry collection published in 2020 by Omnidawn Publishing.

Ashley Wells (2012) — “The Cowgirl and the Racehorse: A Recovery,” a memoir published in 2020 by Lantern Publishing & Media.

Erik Wilbur

Erik Wilbur (2018) — “What I Can Do,” a poetry chapbook published in 2020 by Chestnut Review Press.

Extended interviews with many of the program’s published authors can be read as part of the Fresno State Master of Fine Arts blog’s occasional On the Books series.