M.F.A. Faculty

MFA Core Faculty

  • Samuel Maio (poetry)
  • Cathleen Miller (nonfiction)
  • Alan Soldofsky (poetry)
  • Nick Taylor (fiction)

Additional Creative Writing Faculty

  • John Engell (fiction)
  • Persis Karim (poetry)
  • Scott Sublett (screenwriting)


  • Sally Ashton (poetry)
  • Kelly Harrison (fiction)
  • Robert James (fiction)


Sam Maio

Samuel Maio
Professor | Ph.D. University of Southern California
Faculty Offices 223, 408-924-4483

Samuel Maio is the author of a book of poems, The Burning of Los Angeles (1997), a Pulitzer Prize nominee of the Los Angeles Times, and a critical study, Creating Another Self: Voice in Modern American Personal Poetry (1995), a Christian Gauss Award finalist. Both books were published by the Thomas Jefferson University Press. Maio has published well over 100 poems, short stories, essays and reviews in periodicals such as: Antioch Review, Bloomsbury Review, Chariton Review, The Formalist, Northwest Review, The Southern California Anthology, and many others. Several of his poems from The Burning of Los Angeles were featured in the Los Angeles Times Book Review. The book was subsequently reviewed widely and is now in its second printing. His essays on modern poets and poetry appear frequently in The Formalist.

Formally trained in the scholarship of literature, Maio studied under the direction of renowned Americanists Jay Martin and Ronald Gottesman at the University of Southern California (USC), where he earned his Ph.D. in Modern Poetry in 1986. While at USC, he won the Academy of American Poets Prize. He is Professor of English at San Jose State University where he has taught since 1990, having previously been a member of the English faculty at the University of California at Davis. He is currently finishing his second book of criticism, Countermeasures: Metrical Poetry in the Modern Age, scheduled for 2002 publication, and he is at work on new poems and stories as well.


Cathleen Miller

Associate Professor & Reed Magazine Advisor | MFA Penn State
Faculty Offices 125, 408-924-4441

Cathleen Miller's memoir, The Birdhouse Chronicles, describes her move from San Francisco to a ramshackle farmhouse in Pennsylvania's Amish country. Birdhouse was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Miller is the co-author of the international bestseller Desert Flower, published in sixteen countries, with over two million copies in print. Her essays have appeared in the Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Salon.com, Cimarron Review, Old House Journal, and the anthologies Travelers' Tales San Francisco and Wild Writing Women: Stories of World Travel. Currently she's at work on a biography of Dr. Nafis Sadik, an advocate for women's reproductive freedom and the first female director of the United Nations.

Miller was one of the founding members of the popular Bay Area group, the Wild Writing Women, which hosts a literary salon in San Francisco. In 2004 she served as the Distinguished Writer in Residence at St. Mary's College.

Alan Soldofsky

Alan Soldofsky
Professor & Director of Creative Writing Programs | MFA Iowa
Faculty Offices 106, 408-924-4432

Alan Soldofsky is the author of two collections of poetry, Kenora Station and Staying Home, both originally published as limited edition artist's books by Steam Press of Berkeley, intaglio prints by Lyman Piersma, book design by Alistair Johnston.

A graduate of the University of Iowa Writer's Workshop, he joined the San Jose State faculty in 1985 and directed first the San Jose Poetry Center, then the SJSU Center for Literary Arts, before being appointed director of the Creative Writing Program.

His poems have appeared in numerous magazines and quarterlies including: Antioch Review, Blue Mesa Review, The Nation, The North American Review, and Poetry East. A former contributing editor to Poetry Flash, he has also published criticism and reviews in Chelsea, Ironwood, and Quarry West as well as articles and essays on crossings between Modernist and Post-modernist poetry, one of which, "Nature and the Symbolic Order: The Dialogue Between Czeslaw Milosz and Robinson Jeffers," is included as a chapter in Robinson Jeffers: Dimensions of a Poet, edited by Robert Brophy (Fordham University Press, 1995).


Nick Taylor
Associate Professor | MFA Virginia
Faculty Offices 219, 408-924-4458

Nick Taylor is the author of the novel The Disagreement (2008), winner of the 11th Michael Shaara Prize for Excellence in Civil War Fiction. He has received fellowships from the Virginia Commission for the Arts, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the William R. Kenan Endowment for Historic Preservation.

John Engell

John Engell
Professor, Department Chair | Ph.D. Univ. of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Faculty Offices 102, 408-924-4499

John Engell teaches Colonial and Nineteenth-century American literature, Film, and Creative Writing and has served as Chair of the Department of English & Comparative Literature since 2007. Engell has published stories in Appalachee Quarterly, The Chattahoochee Review, The South Carolina Review, and American Fiction: Best Unpublished Stories by American Writers. He has published critical essays in Walt Whitman Quarterly Review, Early American Literature, Studies in American Fiction, Film/Literature Quarterly, and elsewhere.

Persis Karim

Persis Karim
Professor| Ph.D. University of Texas
Faculty Offices 216, 408-924-4476

Persis Karim is the editor of the anthology Let Me Tell You Where I've Been: New Writing by Women of the Iranian Diaspora (2007) and co-editor (with Mahammad Mehdi Khorrami) of A World Between: Poems, Short Stories, Essays by Iranian-Americans. Her poetry has been published in Reed Magazine, Caesura, Alimentum, HeartLodge, and Di-verse-City.

Scott Sublett

Scott Sublett

Associate Professor | MFA UCLA

Hugh Gillis Hall 212, 408-924-4572


Scott Winfield Sublett is writer-director-producer of Bye-Bye Bin Laden, named “Best Feature” at the South Beach International Animation Festival, and writer-director of Generic Thriller, a post-modern farce starring Oscar-winner Shirley Jones. Both features are currently available on DVD, Netflix and streaming.
He wrote the librettos and lyrics for the musical stage plays Die, Die, Diana; Bye-Bye Bin Laden!; and HavanaDiana was mounted at the New York International Fringe Festival in a production noted in The New York Times, The New York Daily News and New York MagazineBye-Bye Bin Laden! was named "one the top five premieres of 2004" by The San Francisco Bay Guardian. Havana (under the title Imperialism: The Musical) received a workshop production at City Lights Theater. The independent feature Pizza Wars: The Movie, which he co-wrote, was screened at the Cinequest Film Festival and received national DVD distribution.
He has numerous independent film producing credits including as executive producer of All About Dad, named one of top ten Asian-American films of 2009 by Asia Pacific Arts, the online publication of the US China Institute at USC. Other indie features he has had a hand in producing include: Glory Boy Days; Cheer Up, Sam; and Cheap Fun.
His screenplay I Was a Teenage Sumo was optioned by Disney, and he has published hundreds of articles, essays and film critiques in The San Francisco Chronicle, The Washington Times, The Washington Blade and United Press International. He was one of two producers of the premiere production of the stage adaptation of Khalid Hosseini’s The Kite Runner. A Professor at San Jose State University, he holds an M.F.A. in screenwriting from UCLA and a B.S. in radio/TV/film from Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.
He is a member of the faculty of the SJSU English Department’s M.F.A. Creative Writing Program, and leads SJSU’s wildly successful screenwriting program. In 2013 he won first place the Fade In Magazine screenwriting competition with his script The Good Coach, and his script Charleston Harbor won second place in the Beverly Hills Screenplay Contest.
In fall 2014 his book Screenwriting for Neurotics was published by the University of Iowa Press.

Sally Ashton

Sally Ashton
Lecturer | MFA Bennington
Faculty Offices 222, 408-924-4491

Sally Ashton is Editor-in-Chief of the DMQ Review, an online journal featuring poetry and art (www.dmqreview.com). She earned her MFA from Bennington Writing Seminars in 2003 and is the recipient of an Artist Fellowship, Poetry, from Arts Council Silicon Valley. She is the author of These Metallic Days. Poetry and reviews have appeared in Sentence: a journal of prose poetics, failbetter.com, Mississippi Review, and in Breathe: 101 Contemporary Odes.


Kelly Harrison
Lecturer | M.F.A. San Jose State
Faculty Offices 222, 408-924-4496

: Rhetoric & Composition, Creative Writing


Robert James
Lecturer | M.F.A. San Jose State
Faculty Offices 106, 408-924-5087


Interests: Creative Writing (fiction, nonfiction)