Spring Festival

On this page: 2024 Spring Festival | Festival Schedule | Candidate Bios | Guest Artists | Previous Spring Festival Candidates

The annual Spring Festival for the MFA in Creative Writing & Poetics program features readings and performances by graduating MFA candidates and a guest writer or artist. MFA candidates showcase selections from their MFA thesis projects.

2024 MFA Spring Festival

Saturday, June 1, 2024   |   12:00 PM – 6:00 PM
University of Washington Bothell   |   North Creek Events Center (NCEC)

This event is free and open to the public. Registration is requested.
Register to Attend

Festival Schedule

12:00 PM – 12:15 PMGreetings and Opening Remarks
Led by Amaranth Borsuk, MFA Director
12:15 PM – 1:30 PMPanel Readings #1
Elisa Balabram, The Lighter Way
Mae Barbee, Playgod: Entertainment for Fools
Pria Dalrymple, Greetings from the Meat Aisle
Phoenix Kai, Trans Universe Theory
Lindsey Keefer, Propagation
1:30 PM – 2:00 PMLunch
Catering from Bothell Dining
2:00 PM – 3:15 PMPanel Readings #2
Farron Knechtel, The Internet Sad Boi Journals
Melissa M. Knopp, Little Sufferings
Emma McVeigh, We Might Have Been a River
Korede Oluwaseyi Oseni, Fractured Personifications
Felicia Madrid Payomo, T R I N K E T
3:15 PM – 3:30 PMBreak and Light Refreshments
3:30 PM – 4:30 PMPanel Readings #3
Parker Dean Smith, Bird Boy: Evolution at Lightspeed
Kathryn M. Tran, Fragmentary Mother
Candace Whitney-Morris, Variable Proximities: calculations of closeness | diagrams of distance
Gradon Wong, Borrowed Mysteries: Lines Composed on Tantalus
4:30 PM – 4:35 PMBreak
4:35 PM – 5:15 PMBenedictory Speaker, Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore
5:15 PM – 5:45 PMToast and Reception

with Guest Artist, Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore

Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore (mattildabernsteinsycamore.com) is the award-winning author of three novels and three nonfiction titles, and the editor of six nonfiction anthologies. Her book The Freezer Door was a New York Times Editors’ Choice and a finalist for the PEN/Jean Stein Book Award in 2021. Her memoir The End of San Francisco won a Lambda Literary Award, and her novel Sketchtasy was one of NPR’s Best Books of 2018. Her most recent anthology is Between Certain Death and a Possible Future: Queer Writing on Growing Up with the AIDS Crisis, and her new book, Touching the Art, was just released in November.

Featured Readings by MFA Candidates

  • Elisa Balabram, The Lighter Way
  • Mae Barbee, Playgod: Entertainment for Fools
  • Pria Dalrymple, Greetings from the Meat Aisle
  • Phoenix Kai, Trans Universe Theory
  • Lindsey Keefer, Propagation
  • Farron Knechtel, The Internet Sad Boi Journals
  • Melissa M. Knopp, Little Sufferings
  • Emma McVeigh, We Might Have Been a River
  • Korede Oluwaseyi Oseni, Fractured Personifications
  • Felicia Madrid Payomo, T R I N K E T
  • Parker Dean Smith, Bird Boy: Evolution at Lightspeed
  • Kathryn M. Tran, Fragmentary Mother
  • Candace Whitney-Morris, Variable Proximities: calculations of closeness | diagrams of distance
  • Gradon Wong, Borrowed Mysteries: Lines Composed on Tantalus

MFA Candidate Bios

Elisa Balabram is an artist, lecturer, entrepreneur, and author of Ask Others, Trust Yourself: The Entrepreneurial Woman’s Key to Success and of Mending a Broken Heart: Lili’s Magic Journey. She authored a case study in Family Businesses on a Mission – Attaining the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal of Decent Work and Economic Growth (Emerald Publishing) and coauthored Concise Introduction to the Family Firm (Edward Elgar Publishing). Her thesis for the MFA in Creative Writing and Poetics at UWB, The Lighter Way, is a transmedia novel that features the Lighter Web – a web created to serve as a safe and loving space for people to interact with each other with empathy, kindness, and support, instead of with hate, disrespect, and greed. Elisa’s blog about self-love, business, and creative writing can be found at askotherstrustyourself.com.

Mae Ellen Barbee is a writer based out of Tacoma where she lives with her husband and cat. Her favorite topics are women’s rights and women’s wrongs, especially through a horror lens. She also likes writing weird and surreal stories focusing on the cage of femininity. When not writing, she can be found learning new things, trying to learn how to crochet, stuck in traffic, or attempting to teach a cat how to go on walks.

Pria Dalrymple is a second-year MFA candidate in UW Bothell’s Creative Writing & Poetics program. She explores the existential of being young and full of angst through the character of the Meat Aisle. Pria’s thesis, Greetings from the Meat Aisle does just that— through silliness, sadness, and similarity. Her visual expression throughout Greetings from the Meat Aisle includes stuffed creatures made from meat-patterned fabric. Pria also holds a BDes in Design from Eastern Washington University.

Phoenix Kai (they/them) is a queer poet, writer, and multimedia artist located on the unceded Indigenous lands of the Coast Salish peoples in Seattle, WA. their work has appeared in the Henry Art Gallery Interpretive Guide, Bullshit Lit, Beyond Queer Words, and elsewhere. they are currently fascinated by speculative futures, quantum physics, queer belonging, and mythological retellings. In their free time they enjoy reading YA novels, watching cartoons, and playing videogames.

Lindsey Keefer writes fiction and poetry with a focus on science and the natural world. Born and raised in Portland, Oregon, she’s a big fan of the rain. She received her Bachelor’s in English from the University of Portland in 2020. Lindsey believes deeply in the power of friendship, and she likes to think she’s best friends with the fish she evolved from. In her fiction, she aims to interrogate the sociology of dystopia, the embodiment of grief, and the relationship between nature and machine. You can find her blog at lindseykwrites.com.

Farron Knechtel is a genderqueer, multiracial writer and poet from the Seattle area. They are fascinated by the strange, often absurd intersections of identity in the digital and physical world. Farron blends poetry, prose, and online ephemera to create eclectic, darkly humorous work. Farron received their Bachelor of Arts in Creative and Professional Writing from Central Washington University in 2021. While at CWU, Farron presented poetry for Healing Spaces: Poems and Prose on Social, Racial, and Environmental Justice and served as an editor and contributor to The Observer, the student newspaper. Farron is a current candidate for Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing and Poetics at University Washington Bothell, graduating in spring 2024. From autumn 2023 to spring 2024, Farron served as a curator for Gamut: A Literary Series. Farron joins with their fellow students in demanding University of Washington divest from Israel and cut ties with Boeing.

Melissa M. Knopp is a writer and hobby photographer originally from Kennewick, Washington. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing from La Sierra University, where she also studied French language and vocal performance. Her work is deeply rooted in themes of place, relationship, and self. Her work has been featured in Roadrunner Review, The River, and Spectrum Magazine. Her photography has appeared in stay mag. Upon completion of this program, Melissa hopes to spend many hours drinking coffee in sunshine and cuddling her cat, Gandalf.

Emma McVeigh (she/her) is a poet, sound artist, and musician living in Seattle. Her work explores embodiment and liberation through a combination of ritual and the investigation of systems through language and sound. Originally from Anchorage, Alaska, she finds her home between the mountains and the sea, water being her first teacher. Her poetry and prose have been published in Clamor Literary Journal, Silly Goose Press, and CAM News. She is the co-host of the House Reading, a bi-monthly poetry series in Seattle centered around community and home.

Korede Oseni is from Nigeria and earned a Bachelor of Law degree from Lagos State University. She specializes in poetry, prose, and multimedia, and her recent work explores the intersections of people, places, and objects. Korede uses Lagos and Washington State as points of activation for these conversations. She is interested in spotlighting African and Nigerian stories.

Felicia Payomo is a Filipino-American artist who began writing poetry ten years ago. Originally from Oakland, California, Felicia has been pursuing the arts in various modalities since an early age. She received her undergraduate degree in English and Creative writing at Mills College. In the past, she was awarded the Mary Merrit Henry Prize for a collection of poems in 2020 and was selected to represent Mills College in the Glascock Intercollegiate Poetry Contest in 2021. Throughout her studies, Felicia has encouraged herself to bend poetry to break the monotony of writing. Besides experimentation, at the forefront of her creation is writing to illustrate color into the small moments in life that go overlooked. Her love for the strength of words, romanticizing the mundane, and building connection with the reader through honest storytelling is what continues to inspire her writing to this day.

Parker Dean was born in the High Desert of SoCal, and moved to Seattle three years ago to enjoy the rain. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Creative Writing and English Literature from the University of Redlands, and he is the Co-Founder of Silly Goose Press, an online literary magazine he started with his best friends which focuses on whimsy and fabulism. His work explores the self, the connection between human and animal, and LGBTQ+ storytelling. He is a bird lover, a nature enjoyer, and a believer in the Oxford comma. Please approach with caution, he will share bird facts with you.

Kathryn Tran is a multi-media artist. She brings her passion for storytelling into each medium she works with. She is a Marine Corps veteran whose work often reflects themes of her military experience. Beyond creative writing, Kathryn works with audio, video, and visual art. She primarily writes creative nonfiction and essay. Often her subject matter discusses the human experience, family, and nature. Kathryn is a mom to a newborn baby and her current work focuses on motherhood and all of the profound moments that come with it.

Candace Whitney Morris is an archivist artist and writer compelled by the forgotten or quieted voice of what remains. Working in interdisciplinary/hybrid form and within the poetic school of documentary and erasure, Candace is currently pursuing an MFA in Creative Nonfiction and Poetics at the University of Washington Bothell. Her work explores liminal spaces, seeks to give form to hidden abstraction, and interrogates humanity’s social structures of belonging, grief, and relational hierarchies. This fascination with the epistemology of human connection drives Candace into forensic investigations of the past, and she uses its remnants to recodify and reimagine what it means to be a human bound by time. Candace also uses her decades-long corporate communication and marketing skills to help artists find their voice and promote their work through publishing author interviews and book reviews. Connect with Candace at candacewhitneymorris.writer@gmail.com.

Gradon Wong spent most of his time in Hawaiʻi before coming to Washington. He writes mostly poetry about things he does not understand. He is not sure whether poetry helps with understanding, but that at the very least it makes something of misunderstanding. Probably the kind of poet that you should not let into your ideal city.

Guest Artists

Every year, our graduating cohort nominates a guest artist to serve as a benedictory reader at Spring Festival. These guests are nominated from among those visitors they have interacted with during their time in the program.

Previous Spring Festival MFA Candidates

Congratulations to our previous graduating cohorts!


Featured Guest Artist: Robert Farid Karimi

  • Alexandria SimmonsFantasy and Folklore: The Education of Half-Orc Scarlette Urrug
  • Alysa Levi-D’AnconaMist Manifesto
  • Amy EldridgeThe Panther
  • Bujinlkham Erdenebaatar, Veiled Street
  • Connor James, The Carolyne Project: A Speculative Experiment of Narrative Structure
  • Marwah M. Shebl, The Last of Our Days
  • Matt Livezey Whitehurst, Anti-Parietal Epithalamus
  • Raelynne Woo, Beyond the Curtain


Featured Guest Artist: Selah Saterstrom

  • Amy Hirayama, Japanese Blood in the Heart of the Gothic: An Anthology of Gothic Stories from the Japanese Diaspora.
  • Meta LeCompte, Life Could Be What It Is Right Now.
  • Emily J. Mundy, What Blooms in the Dark.
  • Tricia Goetschius Fuentes, Sabotage of the Sunflowers.
  • Carson Thomas, Suspension.
  • Madison Nikfard, It’s Still You: An Intimate Glimpse into Girlhood and Growth.
  • Sky O’Brien, Beginners.
  • Maria Delgado Stevens, He Died in the House, A Performance.
  • Harrison Lee, PLEASE.


Featured Guest Artist: Diana Khoi Nguyen

  • Yuan Zhuang, Feather Coat.
  • Scott Bentley, Bwai \ Remapping.
  • Gregory Buck, … S& W8.
  • Annika G. Rundberg Bunney, Long Exposure.
  • Alec Gabin, The Son.
  • Troy Landrum Jr., Dreaming of the Great Migration.
  • Chris Ryan Lauer, La Fin du Monde.
  • Sanika Nalgirkar, Memories- A Grief Journal.
  • Joseph Niduaza, Chimera.
  • Rose K. O’Connor, Dutch Boats.
  • Julie Voss, A Woman’s Mutation.
  • Cliff Watson, 6-foot pine.
  • Simon Wolf, Charging.


Featured Guest Artist: Don Mee Choi

  • Eric Acosta, Virgo.
  • Marina Burandt, A Tiny Miniature World Where the Proportions Are Slightly Off.
  • Nicolas Hauser, Ask the Doctor, He Might Know!.
  • Sabina Livadariu, Behind the Curtain.
  • Abigail Mandlin, Muses.
  • Ashley Noelle, Asymptomatic.
  • Matt Porter, A Soft-Boiled Potato.
  • Stephanie Segura, Open Door Behind You.
  • Nicholas Sweeney, Bed of Leaves.


Featured Guest Artist: Dao Strom

  • Woogee Bae, Mung.
  • Aya Bram BonnLuders, North of Nothing.
  • Peter Buller, Pterratactile.
  • Amy Jones, AOTA: all of the above.
  • Reed Lowell, The Summer Years.
  • dana middleton, the corridor closes at both ends.
  • Virginia Soileau, Versus Jane Doe.


Featured Guest Artist: Suzanne Morrison

  • Jacq Marie Babb, WEYOUI.
  • Michael Warren Bagby, Weighing Words.
  • Cristina Cortez, Unbound.
  • Jessica Hagy, Watermarks.
  • Dylan Hogan, The Streets Around Here Tell You Exactly Where You Are.
  • Mitchell Kopitch, Din’s Grimoire: Of Games, Gender, Memories, and Self Acceptance.
  • Amanda Lybeck, Black Lake.
  • Tomm McCarthy, Selections from Dakopeta.
  • Subha Nair, To the Moon I Go and Other Stories.
  • Katelyn Oppegard, Near Before and After.


Featured Guest Artist: Renee Gladman

  • Corbin Louis, No Way Out But Through.
  • Yohandra Cabello, The Anatomical Grip.
  • Brent Cox, The River Twice.
  • Terrell Fox, This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things.
  • Liezel Moraleja Hackett, Matindi.
  • Amanda Hurtado, POST.
  • Nicole McCarthy, The Blueprints of Memory. 
  • Denise Calvetti Michaels, The Things Downriver.
  • Allison Morton, The Missing Hour.
  • Joshua Osborn, Mother, Memory, Monotony.
  • September Thorlin, A Nursery Rhyme from Another Summer.
  • Cora Walker, Hindsight 2050.


Featured Guest Artist: Nathaniel Mackey

  • Ben Burland, The Tuck.
  • Andrew Carson, Self Taut.
  • Ellen Donnelly, Bag of Flesh.
  • Tracy Jane Gregory, Helene.
  • Andy Hoffman, Black Medicine.
  • Anthony Johnson, Beastiarium.
  • Greg S. Prichard, Stand-To.
  • Dave Sanders, County.
  • Carol Anderson Shaw, On My Mind.
  • David Shrauger, Images of a Broken World.
  • Natalie Singer-Velush, California Calling.
  • Jack Wyss, Divine Immolation.
  • Kaitlin Young, We/Me.


Featured Guest Artist: Julie Carr

  • Sarah Baker, Water’s Work.
  • Breka Blakeslee, Probably It Will Not Be Okay.
  • Scott Brown, Private Browsing.
  • Laura Burgher, The Researcher’s Book of Her/mes.
  • Samuel Iniguez, HisJazzRaptoMe: Hip Hop Vignettes & Quarter Waters.
  • Denise Coville, Chairs.
  • Lynarra Featherly, The Feminology of Spirit.
  • Colin MacArthur, The Boatman of Hades.
  • Megan McGinnis, Newness and Nowness.
  • Penny Quinteros, Toeing the Line: A Short Story Collection.
  • Travis Sharp, Love Poems to the Poet’s Body.
  • Todd Simmons, Still We Rise.
  • Christine Smith, The Spirit Cabinet.


Featured Guest Artist: CAConrad

  • Ellen Bauer, Ordinary Saints and Monsters.
  • Marcus Bingham, Restless.
  • John Boucher, The Chirurgeon.
  • Susan Marie Brown, Love & Courage: Historic Fiction.
  • Chelsea Carter, Read Without Listening.
  • Margaret Chiavetta, Untitled Collection of Essays.
  • Sandy D’Entremont, The Beauty of Molokai’i.
  • Kelle Grace Gaddis, Polishing A Gem On The Surface Of The Sea.
  • Aimee Harrison, Autoorthography: identity poetics with poetry.
  • Andrew Huskamp, Tales from Here and There.
  • Lauren Light, Dieter.
  • Jay Loomis, Blade Against the Heart.
  • Rev.Tiare L. Mathison, A~Mash~Up: A Poetics of Defiance in the Age of the Internet of Everything.
  • Michael Paschall, phrases of the moon.
  • Billy Phillips, Fractured Poetics.
  • Talena Lachelle Queen, Fourteen.
  • J.D. Satlin, A Poetics of Miscommunication.
  • Diana Savora, Quivering Tongues.


Featured Guest Artist: Bhanu Kapil

Addidtional Featurings:

Roundtable on “Hybrid Forms, Organisms, Biologies,” with Bhanu Kapil, Jennifer Calkins and Sarah Dowling and Reading & Conversation Workshop with Robert Glück 


Margaret Chiavetta, John Boucher, Sandy D’Entremont, Kat Seidemann, Susan Brown, Kelle Gaddis, Marcus Bingham, Lauren Light, Michael Paschall, Chelsea Carter, Talena Kettrell, Jay Loomis, Tiare Mathison, Ellen Bauer, Andrew Huskamp, Billy Phillips, J.D. Satlin, Aimee Harrison, Diana Savora.