Student & Alumni News


Every year, we ask our current students and alumni to send us updates on how their writing has been going over the past year. This is just a small sample of what our students do here in the MFA Program! 


Jonathan Alexandratos (Playwrighting, 2011) was one of three playwrights selected for Pipeline Theatre Company’s Playlab, which resulted in the completion and presentation of a new play. They also edited a collection of short plays by nonbinary playwrights for Next Stage Press, due out next year. Jonathan’s work on their book-length cultural study of kids meal toys nears completion, and will be submitted to publisher McFarland in August 2023. The documentary on Cabbage Patch Kids featuring Jonathan as a toy expert, titled Billion Dollar Babies: The True Story of the Cabbage Patch Kids, secured a national theatrical release for fall 2023 after premiering in the Tribeca Film Festival two years ago. Jonathan’s writing appeared in American Theatre, and on 

Michael Alpiner (Poetry, 2010) is a writing professor and travel journalist writing for various publications. His poetry has appeared in print and online journals along with anthologies. He has branched into fiction and is near to completing his first novel which is on a path to being turned into a film.

Jacob M. Appel (Playwriting, 2013) was recently elected Vice President and Treasurer of the National Book Critics Circle.  He continues to practice medicine in New York City with the hope that with enough practice he will someday become good at it.

Sonia Arora (Poetry, 2024) published a hybrid essay in Glint Literary Journal: and a poem entitled “Woman Tingle Ever Ever,” in Shadowplay and she has a poem upcoming Elysium Review: Check our her website at

Sunu P. Chandy (Poetry 2013) (she/her) is wrapping up the book tour for her first collection of poetry, My Dear Comrades, including with West Coast and Toronto events this fall. Dates and other details are available on her website,  Sunu has loved partnering with local writers/social justice activists for each event. Sunu is also teaching virtual poetry workshops in September with both Community Building Art Works and Poets House.

Yves Cloarec (Translation, 2014) is teaching in the European Languages & Literatures Department at QC, where he enjoys designing new courses to expand the content being offered to undergraduates. The latest one, French 250, cross listed with Africana Studies 300, has been approved for Pathways “Creative Expressions” designations starting fall 2023. The course focuses on film and media from and about French-speaking African countries. Yves is proud to report that while in Ecuador to celebrate his daughter’s wedding this summer he completed his highest altitude (around 14,000 feet) trek ever along a pre-Incan trail in the Andes Mountains East of Quito.  The trek included an eerie iron-age man-made tunnel shaped like the Big Dipper. In an intriguing instance of synchronicity, upon his return to NY, he learned from a DNA kit that he had a distant Quichua ancestor.  

Tejas Desai’s (Fiction, 2009) recent novel The Dance Towards Death has won 13 literary honors. He is completing work on his fifth book Bad Americans, an ambitious combined novel & short story collection, which he has been writing for almost 3 years. He is currently looking for beta readers ( He also started The New Wei Literary & Artistic Salon in March 2023, which brings together diverse writers and artists to learn from each other, discuss aesthetics, forge collaborations and create new endeavors. The group is open to all and meets monthly in different boroughs of NYC. He has also continued to lecture and read at public libraries, cultural institutions and reading series. Over the past year, this has included creating and moderating an indie author roundtable at Great Neck Public Library and reading at Phoenix. He toured Europe this spring and in typical fashion documented his vivid adventures on his social media platforms. You’re welcome to contact him if you want to be a beta reader, join the salon or movement, or go on an adventure with him: thenewwei

Nick Earhart (Fiction, 2017) is chipping away at his PhD in English at the University of Southern California. His dissertation presents a cultural history of the Los Angeles River since the 1970s, looking at different artistic genres (muralism, poetry, eco art, and graffiti) and their relationship to this concrete-encased waterway. One of the chapters, on poet-environmentalist Lewis MacAdams, is forthcoming in American Literary History. He has been playing a lot of music lately, too.

Joe Gross (Poetry, 2022) released his debut chapbook, Lest We All Get Clipped, with Ghostbird Press this year. His work has appeared in Killing the Buddha, Twin Pies Literary, VIA, and the tide rises, the tide falls, and is forthcoming in HORNS. Find him on Twitter @komradekapybara and Instragram @joegrosspoet. 

Rob Gunther (Fiction, 2017) writes and edits Slate’s daily news podcast, What Next. He lives in Astoria with his wife and three sons.

Senia Hardwick (Poetry, 2019) has begun teaching as an adjunct instructor and is now an in-house video artist for a club in virtual reality. They have been practicing live collaborations with DJs, musicians, and other visual artists.

Sean Hembrick (Non-Fiction, 2012) is currently a Ph.D. student in Higher Education at Penn State University starting his 3rd year. His research focuses on the graduate socialization experiences of Black men in higher education doctoral programs with resepct to their overall community connection both academically and socially. While he hasn’t wrote in a while he has continued to work on a collection of shorts entitled Cleaning Out My Closet and had continued to perform on campus and around the campus community.

Yvette Heyliger (MFA Playwriting, 2010) is a playwright, producing artist, educator, activist, and author of What a Piece of Work is Man! Full-Length Plays for Leading Women.  She has contributed to many theatrical anthologies, including most recently, On Holy Ground: Plays from the National Black Theatre Festival, The Children of the People: Writings By and About CUNY Students on Race and Social Justice, Performing #MeToo: How Not to Look Away, ARTemis Arts Wisdom Anthology, She Persisted: 30 Ten-Minute Plays by Women Over 40, She Persisted: Monologues from Plays by Women Over 40. She is also a contributing editor for Black Masks: Spotlight on Black Art magazine.  Heyliger has appeared on industry-related podcasts and penned theatre industry-related articles, most recently A Dream Deferred: Black, Indigenous, and Women+ of Color Playwright-Activists | HowlRound Theatre Commons.  A long-time activist for theatre women+, Heyliger most recently received the League of Professional Theatre Women’s Special Award for Meritorious Service, and she was a 2022 Advance Gender Equity in the Arts Legacy Playwright Grant Finalist. Her new play, Carpe Noctem, (which began as just a few short scenes written in Professor Shotter’s playwriting class and then put in a drawer for years!), was recently read in honor of Pride Month 2023 at NYC’s LGBTQ Center. Heyliger is a full-time faculty member at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts where she teaches Script Analysis and Acting (Meisner Technique).  Yvette Heyliger | New Play Exchange

Scott Kapuscinski (Translation, 2017) recently completed his translation of Dino Buzzati’s 1935 quasi-fable, Il Segreto del Bosco Vecchio, and the search for the translation’s home in print is ongoing. He is also eagerly preparing to teach a course on Fairy Tales and Folklore for the first time this coming Fall.

Creative Nonfiction MFA ’23 alumna Catherine LaSota has been busy with the growth of the Resort, a writing community that she founded in 2020 to offer mentorship, workshops, and other forms of support to writers of all genres and experience levels, as well as her Cabana Chats podcast on writing and community, which recently wrapped its third season. Last year, she added one-on-one creativity coaching to her offerings for her fellow writers (you can learn more about that here). She is especially excited to bring back in-person Resort events this Fall, including the Resort’s first in-person retreat for NYC-based writers on October 7-8, 2023, and a workshop with fellow QC MFA alum Eleanor Whitney on October 18, 2023. If you want to catch her IRL before that, swing by her official Brooklyn Book Festival Bookend event with Greg Mania, Denne Michele Norris, and Matt Ortile on September 26, 2023 or catch her on the BKBF festival day moderating a panel called “Echoes of Artistry” with Brendan Slocumb, Catherine Lacey, Idra Novey, and John Wray on October 1, 2023. In other news, Catherine recently returned to Burning Man, taking her young children with her this time, and she wrote about that experience for Memoirland.

Rajiv Mohabir (Poetry 2013) is starting a new position at the University of Colorado Boulder as assistant professor of poetry. His fourth poetry collection Whale Aria is forthcoming in September from Four Way Books. 

Sean O’Connor (Playwriting/2013) He recently wrote, directed and acted in his short film, “Summer of ’70,” based on his award-winning feature script, “Imitate the Sun.” It will soon be released to festivals. “Teenagers in Love” had a great run this past JJune at the Chain Theatre’s Main Stage in Manhattan. “New Truck for Paulie” opens this July at the California Stage in Sacramento, CA. “The Knitting Club” was produced in 2021 in the SOOP Theatre Festival in Pelham N.Y. “Broken Birds” was also produced at the SOOP Theatre Festival, in 2020. “Miss Hollywood” was produced at the Hawk Theatre in Silverado, CA, in 2019. “The Unraveling” was produced in 2018 at the Elia Kazan Festival at the Actor’s Studio. And Manhattan’s Project Rushmore Theatre produced “World of Sinatras” at the Arclight Theatre in 2015. As stated, scores of other plays have been produced in many theatres long before these. His latest play, “Wound,” won the nationally acclaimed Writers Digest Award, and was a Semi-finalist for the O’Neill Playwrights Conference. Sean has just finished a TV pilot, “King Dollar.” And he’s finishing up his first novel, “American Roulette.” He received his B.A. from Columbia University, and his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Queens College.

Anne Posten’s (Translation, Fiction, 2013) most recent translations are Hilma af Klint: A Biography, by Julia Voss, from Chicago University Press, and Transfigured Night, by Libuše Moníková, from Karolinum Press, edited by fellow alum Mike Baugh. An excerpt from a novel by Verena Rossbacher also appeared in Words Without Borders, and Anne’s translation of a biography of Nobel Prize-winning author Ivo Andrić is (hopefully!) forthcoming. 

John Rice (Poetry, 2009) has creative nonfiction appearing or upcoming in Medium and Compound Butter. He really wishes there were more things to write here… Aardvark.  

Jay Boss Rubin (Literary Translation, 2023) has had his translation of the Swahili novel Rosa Mistika, by Euphrase Kezilahabi, accepted for publication by Yale University Press. It will be released in Fall 2024 as part of the press’s Margellos World Republic of Letters series.

Beth Sherman (Fiction, 2014) has had her writing published in Five Fleas, hand picked poetry, Flash Boulevard, 100 Word Story, Red Ogre Review, Bright Flash Literary Review, Tangled Locks Journal, Stone Circle Review, Switch, Full House Literary, JAKE the Magazine and Defuncted. Her story, “Why My Dissertation is Late,” was nominated for the 2023 Best of the Net award. Her article, “Contemplative Pedagogy in the College English Classroom and Online,” also appeared in Modern Language Studies

April Smallwood (Playwriting, 2013) currently lives in Los Angeles. Since her move from NYC she has been contracted to write several screenplays for various independent producers, including the Lifetime Network movie of the week For Love or Murder and the Lionsgate/Grindstone family film R.A.D.A.R.: The Adventures of the Bionic Dog starring Dean Cain. She is also currently writing and producing her ongoing short-series Knawbone Creek

Aly Tadros (Creative Nonfiction, 2024) was featured on the New York Times Modern Love podcast. She also launched a bi-weekly Substack which she is happy to report has spooked her into (mostly) keeping up with that elusive daily writing practice. 

Pete Vanderberg (Poetry, 2009) is the editor of Ghostbird Press, host of the annual QC MFA Birdhouse Prize. His chapbook war / torn is forthcoming this year from Finishing Line Press, which you can buy right now:

Eleanor Whitney (she/her) graduated from the MFA in Creative Nonfiction in 2023. She’s the author of Riot Woman, of feminist essays examining the impact of the Riot Grrrl movement, and Quit Your Day Job, a business workbook for creative people. Her new book, Promote Your Book, will be out in the fall of 2023 on Microcosm and is a guide to help authors navigate building literary community and the book marketing process. Hailing from Maine, she currently leads content marketing at Lively, a health and financial services company, and divides her time between Brooklyn and the Mojave desert. She holds a BA in cultural studies from Eugene Lang College and a Master’s in Public Administration from Baruch College. 


Interested in being part of some fine company? Check out our Admissions page for more info!