Melissa Febos

Author of the critically acclaimed memoir Whip Smart (St. Martin’s Press) and the forthcoming essay collection, Abandon Me (Bloomsbury 2017). Her work has been widely anthologized and appears in publications including Tin House, Granta, The Kenyon Review, Prairie Schooner, Glamour, Guernica, Post Road, Salon, New York Times, Hunger Mountain, Portland Review, Dissent, The Chronicle of Higher Education Review, Bitch Magazine, Poets & Writers, The Rumpus, Drunken Boat, and Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York. Her essays have won prizes from Prairie Schooner and Story Quarterly. Recipient of a 2013 Barbara Deming Memorial Fund artist grant, a 2012 Bread Loaf nonfiction fellowship, a 2014 Virginia Center for Creative Arts fellowship, and MacDowell Colony fellowships in 2010, 2011, and 2014. Currently assistant professor of creative writing at Monmouth University and MFA faculty at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA); board member of VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. SLC, 2011– 

Previous Courses

Nonfiction craft -- Breaking Form: Alchemies in Creative Nonfiction


Conventional essay forms offer us familiar containers in which to pour our content. And essays are traditionally driven by content. It is a formula that works. The problem with formula, and the familiar, is that it lulls the imagination and protects the psyche. But what happens when we lead with structure? What happens to our content when it meets an unfamiliar container? In this class, we will generate work using unconventional forms, and find the hidden corners of our content. Appropriating forms from sources diverse as poetry, prayers, scales, bestiaries, lists, and etymologies—and studying texts including those of Eula Biss, Jeannette Winterson, Lia Purpura, and Jorge Luis Borges—we will surprise ourselves.