Melissa Faliveno

BA, University of Wisconsin. MFA, Sarah Lawrence College. Author of the essay collection TOMBOYLAND, forthcoming in August 2020 from Topple Books. An editor with more than 15 years of experience in magazine and book publishing, most recently as the senior editor of Poets & Writers Magazine. Previously, she was an editor at an independent nonfiction press and a features writer and columnist for Isthmus, Madison, Wisconsin’s alternative weekly. Her essays, interviews, profiles, and reviews have appeared in Poets & Writers, Bitch Magazine, Prairie Schooner, DIAGRAM, Essay Daily, Midwestern Gothic, and Green Mountains Review, among others, and have received a notable selection in Best American Essays 2016. Faliveno has led talks, panels, workshops, and interviews on writing and publishing throughout the country and abroad, including at AWP, Grub Street, BinderCon, Poets & Writers Live, Voices of the Middle West, the Finnish Literary Exchange, and more. SLC, 2020–

Previous Courses

Nonfiction Craft: Magazine Writing


Whether you’re a poet, fiction writer, or nonfiction writer, writing for magazines can be a great way to launch and sustain your writing career. In this class, we’ll discuss a broad range of magazine writing—from personal essays, features, profiles, and interviews to arts and culture pieces, criticism, and more. We’ll explore ways to combine elements of genre and form, such as personal narrative with cultural or political reportage; how to turn your interests and obsessions into timely articles; and possibilities for adapting book projects into individual pieces. We’ll read and discuss a broad range of works, both classic and contemporary, from James Baldwin, Joan Didion, and E. B. White to Hanif Abdurraqib, Hilton Als, Jo Ann Beard, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Leslie Jamison, George Saunders, Zadie Smith, Rebecca Solnit, and Jia Tolentino. We’ll do a number of writing assignments to develop narrative and journalistic techniques—such as interview and reportage, dialogue, research, and scene-building—which we’ll employ in a final piece to be workshopped in class. We’ll also cover the basics of pitching and publishing, including: how to identify the right outlets for your work, from glossies and trade publications to newspapers and cultural websites; how to craft a targeted pitch letter; best practices for working with editors; and resources for freelance writers. We’ll identify a few possible outlets for each workshop piece and, together, craft and workshop a targeted pitch letter for those pieces.