Carrie JerrellCarrie Jerrell: Program Director
Carrie Jerrell is the author of the poetry collection After the Revival, 2008 winner of the Anthony Hecht Poetry Prize and published in the United States and Great Britain by Waywiser Press. Her poems have appeared in publications such as  ImageSubtropics,  UnsplendidBirmingham Poetry ReviewExit 7,  Zone 3, and Poem Memoir Story. Carrie received her M.A. from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins University, and her Ph.D. in English from Texas Tech University, where she was honored as a Chancellor's Fellow.  She is an associate professor at Murray State University.


Blas FalconerBlas Falconer is the author of The Perfect Hour and A Question of Gravity and Light, and most recently, The Foundling Wheel; listen to a live reading of the title poem "The Foundling Wheel" on the Poets & Writers magazine website. He is also the co-editor for The Other Latin@: Writing Against a Singular Identity and Mentor & Muse: Essays from Poets to Poets. Falconer's awards include the Maureen Egen Literary Award from Poets & Writers, the New Delta Review Eyster Prize for Poetry, the Barthelme Fellowship and a 2011 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. He currently lives in Los Angeles with his family and serves as a poetry editor for the Los Angeles Review. 

Gary JacksonGary Jackson was born and raised in Topeka, Kansas, and is the author of the poetry collection Missing You, Metropolis, which received the 2009 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. His poems have appeared in Fugue, Callaloo, Tin House, Phoebe and elsewhere. An MFA graduate from the University of New Mexico, Jackson currently teaches full-time at Central New Mexico Community College in Albuquerque, and is a contributing editor at Catch Up: A journal of comics and literature. He has been a fierce lover of comics for more than twenty years.

"This first collection of poems is gauged by a sophisticated heart. Pathos breathes slightly underneath the visual comedy, and this quality is the true genius of Missing You, Metropolis." – Yusef Komunyakaa 

Karen Salyer McElmurrayKaren Salyer McElmurray is the author of Surrendered Child: A Birth Mother’s Journey, an AWP Award Winner for Creative Nonfiction. Her novels are The Motel of the Stars, Editor's Pick by Oxford American, and Strange Birds in the Tree of Heaven, winner of the Chaffin Award for Appalachian Writing. Other stories and essays have appeared in Iron Horse, Kenyon Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, and Riverteeth, and in the anthologies An Angle of Vision; To Tell the Truth; Fearles Confessions; Listen Here; Dirt; Family Trouble; RedHoller; Women and Their Machines. Her writing has been supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the North Carolina Arts Council, and the Kentucky Foundation for Women. She has been named Distinguished Alumna at Berea College and her essay, "Strange Tongues," was the recipient of the Annie Dillard Award from The Bellingham Review. Most recently, she was Lewis Rubin Writer-in-Residence at Hollins University. With poet Adrian Blevins, she co-edited a collection of essays titled Walk Till the Dogs Get Mean: Meditations on the Forbidden from Contemporary Appalachia, released by Ohio University Press.


Christina Olson PhotoChristina Olson is the author of the full-length poetry collections Terminal Human Velocity and Before I Came Home Naked, as well as the chapbooks Weird Science and Rook & The M.E. Her poetry and creative nonfiction have appeared in magazines and journals including The Atlantic, Arts & Letters, Alaska Quarterly Review, Black Warrior Review, Brevity, Broadsided Press, CutBank, Gulf Coast, Virginia Quarterly Review, and others. She is the poetry editor of Midwestern Gothic and the recipient of full fellowships to the Vermont Studio Center and Willapa Bay Artist in Residency. Christina lives in Statesboro, Georgia, where she is an assistant professor at Georgia Southern University.  

Dale Ray PhillipsDale Ray Phillips is the author of the book My People's Waltz, nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. His short stories have appeared in Best American Short Stories, Best Stories from the South, The Atlantic Monthly, Harper's, GQ, Zoetrope, and other publications. He earned an MFA from the University of Arkansas and has taught at a variety of universities, most recently at Murray State University, where he is currently an assistant professor. 

"Phillips's prose flashes powerful unpredictability with every delicious little shock." - Publishers Weekly

Lynn Pruett is the author of the novel Ruby River. Her stories and essays have appeared in the Michigan Quarterly Review, Border Crossing, scissors and spackle, Louisville Review, Arts and Letters, American Voice, Southern Exposure, and Black Warrior Review. She has earned fellowships from Yaddo, Sewanee, Squaw Valley, and the Kentucky Arts Council, and has led fiction and creative nonfiction workshops at Vanderbilt University, the University of Kentucky, the University of Alabama, and North Carolina State University. She teaches at the Carnegie Center for Literacy and Learning in Lexington, Kentucky, and raises sheep in Salvisa. Her mother's family has lived in Calloway County since the Jackson Purchase.


skinnerJeffrey Skinner's  most recent collections of poetry are I Offer This Container: New and Selected Poems (Salmon Poetry, 2017), and Chance Divine, winner of the 2016 Field Poetry Prize. Other of his seven collections of poetry have been winners in the Crab Orchard Poetry Open Award and the National Poetry Series. For more than forty years, his poems have been appearing in such publications as The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Poetry, the Yale Review and the Paris Review. His awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship, and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship.  His prose “self help/memoir,” The 6.5 Practices of Moderately Successful Poets, was called by Katy Lederer of the New York Times Sunday Book Review a "winning coming-of-age narrative." He also writes for the theater, and his full length play Down Range had a successful limited run at Theatre 3 in New York City in 2009 and was produced again in Chicago in 2013.  He lives in Louisville, Kentucky, and helps run Sarabande Books, a literary publishing house he founded with his wife, Sarah Gorham.

Julia WattsJulia Watts is a native of Southeastern Kentucky and the author of nine novels, including the Lambda Literary Award-winning VOYA-recommended young-adult novel Finding H.F.. Her 2007 novel The Kind of Girl I Amwas a Lambda Literary Award finalist, and her 2008 novel Kindred Spiritsis the first in a series of middle-grade novels featuring an unlikely trio of friends: a telepathic girl, a tech-savvy boy, and a ghost. Watts has received grants from the Kentucky Foundation for Women, and her essays and fiction have appeared in a variety of publications, including The American Voice, Brain/Child, The Journal of Kentucky Studies, and Now and Then. She holds an MFA in Writing from Spalding University and an M.A. in English from the University of Louisville. She teaches at South College in Knoxville, where she lives with her family and numerous pets. She loves to write.


Allen Wier PhotoAllen Wier is the author of four novels: Blanco, Departing as Air, A Place for Outlaws, and Tehano; and two collections of of short stories: Things about to Disappear and, most recently,  Late Night, Early Morning. (University of Tennessee Press, 2017). His work has appeared in The Southern Review, The Georgia Review, Ploughshares, and the New York Times.  Wier is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant, a Guggenheim Fellowship, the Paisano Fellowship from the University of Texas and the Texas Institute of Letters,  the John Dos Passos Prize for literature, and the Robert Penn Warren Award from the Fellowship of Southern Writers. Past Chancellor of the Fellowship of Southern Writers, Wier has taught writing at Carnegie-Mellon University, Hollins University, the University of Alabama, and the University of Edinburgh's New Orleans Workshop. He is professor emeritus of the University of Tennessee, where he held the Hodges' Chair for Distinguished Teaching. Currently, Wier is the Watkins Endowed Chair of Creative Writing at Murray State University.  


Contact MFA Program Director Carrie Jerrell at 270-809-4723 or msu.mfa@murraystate.edu to learn more about your future professors.