Meet the MFA Students
Nicole Calande is a Bay Area writer and poet whose work has been featured by Catapult and F(r)iction. In 2021, she was an American Short Story Halifax Prize Semifinalist and a Virginia de Araujo Poetry Prize runner-up. She current works as a City Editor at SJtoday, and is completing her MFA at San José State University.
Rita Cameron grew up in Philadelphia, PA. She studied English at Columbia University and earned her J.D. at the University of Pennsylvania, where she was a Levy Scholar. She practiced law in New York before moving to San Jose, CA, with her family. She is the author of two novels, The House Party (William Morrow/HarperCollins, 2022) and Ophelia's Muse (Kensington, 2015). When she's not writing or revising, she loves to cook, travel, and throw overly-ambitious theme parties.
Anne Cheilek is a writer and editor living in the heart of Silicon Valley—if Silicon Valley can be said to have a heart. Cheilek's poems and stories have appeared in RHINO Poetry, Catamaran Literary Reader, Gone Lawn, Juked, The Shore, and many other literary journals. They are currently a poetry editor for DMQ Review, and was poetry editor for Reed Magazine issues 153 and 154, garnering that journal their very first (but not last!) Pushcart Prize. They are raising three great kids, and their hobbies include hiking, arguing, and playing violin in the Saratoga Symphony.
Samantha Denny was born and raised in San Jose and graduated with a BA in English Creative Writing from San José State University. Denny has published stories with SJSU's Poets and Writers Coalition and Meatspace Magazine, with a forthcoming story in the latter. When not writing, she is coaching the youth swim team or playing Pokémon.
Matty Heimgartner is a California artist and writer whose surreal paintings and personal essays tend toward the introspective and reflective. Heimgartner often participates in art shows around the San Francisco Bay Area, and their art has been featured in the magazines CreativPaper, Beyond Words, Content, and Artist Portfolio. Their nonfiction appears in Reed Magazine, Thanks Hun, The Romp, and Beyond Queer Words. Matty holds a BA in art and is currently earning an MFA in creative writing. MattyHeimgartner.com / @fabulousmatty
Jessica Irish is an alumna of the Lit Camp Literary Conference, a former bookseller, and a current MFA candidate in Creative Writing from San José State University. Her work has been featured in Free Association Press, From Arthur’s Seat, and elsewhere. She is always excited to talk with you about romantic comedies and The Bachelor franchise, but only in the context of intersectional feminism and the cost of living in a capitalist society. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @frondslikethese
Ryan H. Smith
Bay Area native Ryan H. Smith [he/him] is an MFA candidate in creative writing with a concentration in screenwriting. During his stewardship as managing editor of Reed Magazine, Issues 154 and 155, the literary magazine was awarded their first ever back-to-back Pushcart Prizes, and received an official Commendation from the Mayor of San José. A Teaching Associate at SJSU, Ryan has also been a part-time adjudicator for Cinequest Film Festival and NYC Midnight. He will be launching his own literary journal with some friends in early 2023.
Ching Ching Tan
Ching Ching Tan was born and raised in Guangzhou, China. BA in Linguistics in UCSD; MA in Communication Studies in SJSU prior to MFA. Tan's primary focus is nonfiction. A WIP is a memoir called NATURALIZED. Tan's work has appeared in CNN, HuffPost, SFWP, Visible Magazine, Canyon Voices Magazine, among others.