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Skidmore College
Summer Writers Institute
Faculty Henri Cole & Rick Moody
Faculty Henri Cole & Rick Moody – photo by Jim McLaughlin



 2020 Faculty 

Elizabeth Benedict is the author of Almost, a novel described by Edmund White as “a fast-paced, funny, and splendidly intelligent drama [with] a varied, unforgettable cast of characters.” Her earlier books include Slow Dancing (a finalist for the National Book Award), The Beginner’s Book of Dreams, Safe Conduct, and The Joy of  Writing Sex (“Read it because it will teach you everything you need   to know about writing good fiction,’’ suggests Peter Carey). Benedict has taught at Princeton University, Swarthmore College, and the Iowa Writers Workshop. Her latest novel is The Practice of Deceit.

Adam Braver is author of several historical novels including Divine Sarah, Mr. Lincoln’s Wars and Crows Over The Wheatfield. (“Brilliant and inventive work,” wrote a reviewer for the Los Angeles Times Book Review. “A novelist whose works are richly imagined,” says   the Washington Post.) Braver’s most recent novels are NOV 22, 1963, which revolves around the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and Misfit. (“Amazing...a book about identity, privacy and intimacy that both exposes and conceals its subject – Marilyn Monroe,” writes Ann Beattie).

Mary Gaitskill is the author of three novels, three books of stories and a collection of essays called SOMEONE WITH A LITTLE HAMMER. Her controversial new novella, “This Is Pleasure,” appeared last summer in THE NEW YORKER and is now available in a book edition. She is widely regarded as one of the most original and edgy writers in the country, and her works of fiction include Veronica, The Mare, and Bad Behavior. She has taught fiction at the NY State Summer Writers Institute for fifteen years.

Garth Greenwell is an American poet, author, literary critic, and educator. His debut novel, What Belongs to You, has been called the “first great novel of 2016” by Publishers Weekly. James Wood wrote of this book in The New Yorker that it is “a work of originality and power,” “consummate in its mastery of pacing,” and with “a rare delicacy.” The reviewer for The NY Times wrote of it as “a masterly debut novel” and “an instant classic…on a gay man’s endeavor to fathom his own heart.” Edmund White describes the novel as “simply a masterpiece.” In 2013, Greenwell returned to the United States after living in Bulgaria to attend the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop as an Arts Fellow. He has published stories in The Paris Review and A Public Space and writes criticism for The New Yorker and The Atlantic. Greenwell studied at the Eastman School of Music and received a BA in Literature with a minor in Lesbian and Gay Studies from the State University of New York at Purchase in 2001, where he received the 2000 Grolier Poetry Prize. He received his MFA from Washington University in St. Louis, and an MA in English and American Literature from Harvard University. He has taught at several programs in this country and in Europe. Greenwell’s first novella, Mitko, won the Miami University Press Novella Prize and was a finalist for the Edmund White Debut Fiction Award as well as the Lambda Award. His work has appeared in Yale Review, Boston Review, Salmagundi, Michigan Quarterly Review, and Poetry International, among others.

James Hannaham is the author of the novels Delicious Foods (Little, Brown 2015), a New York Times and Washington Post Notable Book of 2015 and winner of the 2016 PEN/Faulkner Award, Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and Morton Dauwen Zabel Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and God Says No (McSweeney’s 2009), a finalist for the Green Carnation Prize and an American Library Association Honoree. He has published stories in One Story, Fence, Story Quarterly, and BOMB, and one in Gigantic for which he won a Pushcart Prize. As a conceptual artist, he has exhibited at The Center for Emerging Visual Artists, 490 Atlantic Gallery, Kimberly-Klark Gallery, and James Cohan. Once upon a time, he wrote arts criticism for the Village Voice and co-founded the performance group Elevator Repair Service. Now he only writes arts criticism for the online journal 4Columns and performs in very limited capacities. He teaches in the Department of Writing at the Pratt Institute.

Paul Harding won the Pulitzer Prize for his debut novel Tinkers in 2010, and his recent 2013 novel Enon has inspired comparable praise. In the New York Times Mark Slouka wrote: “One might have to go as far back as Marilynne Robinson’s Housekeeping to find a first novel that declared itself with such authority. Harding’s associative flights—his twisting, turning lyricism—were stunning, his ability to stress the physical world into extended metaphor downright Melvillean…In Enon, Harding’s gifts are again everywhere on display.” Tinkers also won the PEN Bingham Prize, and inspired the following citation: “An exquisite novel, at once fresh and hauntingly familiar, simple and profound.” More recently, the New Yorker reviewer said of Enon: “An extraordinary follow-up to Tinkers…a darkly intoxicating read.” Harding was a student at the New York State Summer Writers Institute and received an MFA from Iowa. In recent years he has taught at Harvard University and in the MFA program at Iowa.

Amy Hempel is the author of several acclaimed volumes of short fiction, including Reasons To Live, At The Gates of the Animal Kingdom, Tumble Home, The Dog of the Marriage, and The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel, the last of which was described in the Village Voice as “the literary event of the year.” The Atlantic Monthly noted that “few fiction writers are as intensely admired by her peers,” while a reviewer for the Chicago Tribune described her “word by word virtuosity” as “off the charts.” In his “Introduction” to Hempel’s Collected Stories Rick Moody speaks of her “bladelike” prose and her “besieged consciousness.” Until recently she directed the creative writing program at Brooklyn College and taught for several years at Harvard.

Dana Johnson is the author of the short story collection In the Not Quite Dark. She is also the author of Break Any Woman Down, winner of the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, and the novel Elsewhere, California. Both books were nominees for the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. Her work has appeared in ZyzzyvaThe Paris ReviewCallaloo,The Iowa Reviewand Huizache, among others, and anthologized in Watchlist: 32 Stories by Persons of InterestShaking the Tree: A Collection of New Fiction and Memoir by Black Women, and California Uncovered: Stories for the 21st Century. Her fiction received a Notable from Best American Short Stories 2018. Born and raised in and around Los Angeles, she is a professor of English at the University of Southern California where she serves as director of the PhD in Creative Writing and Literature Program. 

Madeline Miller author of The Song of Achilles (2011) winner of the 2012 Orange Prize for Fiction and was a New York Times Bestseller.  Her second novel, Circe (2018), was an instant number 1 New York Times bestseller, and won the Indies Choice Best Adult Fiction of the Year Award and the Indies Choice Best Audiobook of the Year Award. Circe also won The Red Tentacle Award, an American Library Association Alex Award (adult books of special interest to teen readers), and the 2018 Elle Big Book Award.  It is currently being adapted for a series with HBO Max.

Rick Moody is author of several novels including The Ice Storm, Purple America, and Garden State. He has also written two acclaimed volumes of short fiction, Demonology and The Ring of Brightest Angels Around Heaven. Newsday describes him as “our anthropologist of desolate landscapes,” John Hawkes as “a writer of meticulous originality.” He received the Academy of Arts and Letters Addison Metcalf Award. His memoir is The Black Veil (“Moody’s writing rants and raves and roars,” writes a reviewer for The New York Times. “He is an unrepressed quester after meaning,” writes Robert Boyers). Moody’s latest novels are The Diviners (2005) and The Four Fingers of Death (2010), and his latest collection of short fiction is Right Livelihoods (2007). “One of our best writers,” said a reviewer for the Washington Post. Moody’s acclaimed recent novel is Hotels Of North America (2016).

Daniel Torday is the author of the novel The Last Flight of Poxl WestNew York Times chief critic Michiko Kakutani said the novel "announces Torday's emergence as a writer deserving of attention," and in a cover review, The New York Times Book Review called the book, “Expertly crafted... full of lyrical prose, superb Rothian sentences that glide over the page as smoothly as a Spitfire across a cloudless sky… utterly accomplished." According to George Saunders, "Torday is a prodigiously talented writer, with a huge heart," and John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars, says "Poxl [is] a lovely novel sentence-to-sentence, and it gets at something deep about how we're all frauds, and all worthy of love."Torday's novella,The Sensualist, won the National Jewish Book Award for debut fiction. His fiction, essays and criticism have appeared in Esquire MagazineThe Paris Review Dailyn+1Harvard Review and The New York Times. Torday holds a B.A. from Kenyon College and an M.F.A. from Syracuse University, where he taught literature and writing.

Phillip Lopate is a central figure in the recent revival of interest in memoir writing and what has come to be called “the personal essay.” Lopate is the author of Portrait of My Body, Confessions of Summer,Against Joie de Vivre, The Rug Merchant, Being with Children, and Totally Tenderly Tragically. He is also the editor of The Art of thePersonal Essay and was the series editor of The Anchor Essay Annual. Lopate’s work has been included in The Best American Essays and The Pushcart Prize Series. His most recent books are To Show and Tell,Portrait Inside My Head, Waterfront, Getting Personal: SelectedWritings and Notes On Sontag. In 2008 he published a volume of fiction entitled Two Marriages. He directs the non-fiction MFA program at Columbia University. “He is our Montaigne,” writes Robert Boyers.

Thomas Chatterton Williams is the author of a best-selling new book called Self-Portrait in Black and White, reviewed in a front-page NY Times Book Review article in October of 2019 by Andrew Solomon. Williams’ previous book is Losing My Cool. He is a Contributing Writer for the New York Times Magazine, a regular contributor to The New Yorker and the London Review of Books and a 2019 New American Fellow. The recipient of a Berlin prize, he has written several articles about the work of Ta-Nehisi Coates and his recent work is committed to the idea of “Unlearning Race.”


Peg Boyers is the author of three volumes of poems, all published by the University of Chicago Press. The first, Hard Bread (2002),   was described by Richard Howard as “the most original debut in my experience of contemporary American poetry.” With poems spoken in the invented voice of the late Italian writer Natalia Ginzburg, the book, says Robert Pinsky, “not only surpasses the notion of a merely good first book” but “soars beyond the conventional expectations of ‘persona’ and dramatic monologue.” “The creation of the voice in this book,” wrote Frank Bidart, “stoic, passionate, resigned, insistent on truth—is a brilliant achievement.” Boyers’ second book, Honey With Tobacco (2007), “has a rare power,” wrote George Steiner; “a beautiful book,” wrote Henri Cole. Peg Boyers is executive editor of the quarterly Salmagundi and teaches creative writing at Skidmore College. Her latest book, entitled To Forget Venice, came out in October of 2014 and was hailed for its “disarming flights of imagination” and “inspired ventriloquism.”

Henri Cole is the author of seven books of poems, including The Look of Things, The Marble Queen, The Visible Man and Middle Earth. (“Henri Cole has become a master poet, with few peers,” writes Harold Bloom. “Middle Earth is [his] epiphany, his Whitmanesque sunrise… [These] are the poems of our climate.”) Of his earlier books, Wayne Koestenbaum wrote in the New Yorker: “a poet not content to remain in the realm of the merely lapidary, the self-consciously coloratura…he produces lines of natural and nonchalant brio…in stanzas as shapely as topiary…; he can write about the soul stumbling against quotidian impediments… [approaching] a variety of subjects, from first love… to family history.” Cole has taught at the Summer Writers Institute since 2004. His most recent books are Blackbird & Wolf and Pierce The Skin, a volume of Selected Poems: 1982-2007.

Campbell McGrath teaches creative writing at Florida International University and has taught at the Summer Writers Institute since 2007. The winner of a MacArthur “Genius” Award, he is the author of many books of poetry, including American Noise, Pax Atomica, Spring Comes To Chicago, Seven Notebooks, Florida Poems and Capitalism. “A poet of formal eloquence and rhetorical power,” writes the reviewer for Publishers Weekly, “of vision and engagement….he descends into the maelstrom of American culture and emerges singing.” “He is our Whitman,” writes the reviewer for American Review. McGrath’s latest book XX: Poems For The 20thCentury has been celebrated as a “tour de force” and “an improbable feat of the imagination.”

Gregory Pardlo's ​collection​ Digest (Four Way Books) won the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. His other honors​ include fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts; his first collection Totem was selected by Brenda Hillman for the APR/Honickman Prize in 2007. He is Poetry Editor of Virginia Quarterly Review and currently teaches in the graduate writing program at Rutgers-Camden University. Air Traffic, a memoir in essays, was released by Knopf in April. 

Vijay Seshadri is a Brooklyn, New York–based Pulitzer Prize–winning poet who won the 2014 Pulitzer in poetry for Three Sections. He has been an editor at The New Yorker, and for many years a professor and chair in the undergraduate writing and MFA program at Sarah Lawrence College. Seshadri’s poem The Disappearances came to prominence after the The New Yorker published it on their back cover following the September 11 attacks in 2001. The New Yorker poetry editor, Alice Quinn, said that the poem “...summoned up, with acute poignance, a typical American household and scene...The combination of epic sweep (including the quoted allusion to one of Emily Dickinson’s Civil War masterpieces, from 1862) and piercing, evocative detail is characteristic of the contribution Seshadri has made to the American canon.” Author of several volumes of poems, Seshadri has been praised for the “electric energy and gravitas” of his work by Frank Bidart, and for his “musicality and wit” by Eavan Boland. Campbell McGrath has written that Seshadri is “grave and witty, classical and contemporary, casually brilliant….a writer of subtle, elastic and brilliant intelligence.”

Rosanna Warren has won the Lamont Poetry Prize and many other awards for her poetry. She is the author of five books of poems, including Departure, Stained Glass, Each Leaf Shines Separate and Ghost In A Red Hat. Harold Bloom writes: “Warren is an important poet, beyond the achievement of all but a handful of living American poets.” And Charles Simic writes in The NY Review of Books: “Her work has become stronger and stronger… The new book explores intimacy and separation in poems of difficult love….masterful and ambitious.” Until recently Rosanna Warren was University Professor at Boston University and is now a Professor in the Committee on Social Thought at University of Chicago.


Amy Meyerson is the bestselling author of The Bookshop of Yesterdays, which has been translated into 9 languages. She has been published in numerous literary magazines and teaches in the writing department at the University of Southern California, where she completed her graduate work in creative writing. She also received her BA from Wesleyan University. Her new novel, The Imperfects, will be published in summer 2020 by HarperCollins/Park Row Books. Originally from Philadelphia, she currently lives in Los Angeles.

Helen Klein Ross is the author of three novels: The Latecomers from Little, Brown (2018), What Was Mine (2016) and Making It: A Novel Of Madison Avenue (2013) from Simon & Schuster. She is the editor and creator of The Traveler's Vade Mecum (2016) from Red Hen Press, an anthology of new poems titled by old telegrams from contributors including Frank Bidart and veterans of his New York State Summer Writers workshop. Her poetry and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal. Helen has lectured on social storytelling at SXSWi, Columbia and Duke Universities. She lives in New York.

Barry Goldensohn is the author of several books of poetry including The Marrano, St. Venus Eve, Uncaring the Block, and Dance Music. His work appears in such publications as The New York Review of Books and Yale Review. He was Dean at Hampshire College for some years and later Director of Creative Writing at Skidmore College.

Lorrie Goldensohn is the author of Dismantling Glory and Elizabeth Bishop: The Biography of Poetry. She has published memoirs in a wide range of magazines, including Yale Review and Salmagundi. A book of her poems is entitled The Tether. She taught for many years at Vassar College.