Creative Writing Department

Trans Brilliance, Trans Futures: Leading Writers Speak Out

Join us for Trans Brilliance, Trans Futures: Leading Writers Speak Out, an SFSU Creative Writing Department Virtual Panel.

Julián Delgado Lopera
Jo Livingstone
Denne Michele Norris

Moderated by Carolina (Caro) De Robertis, Associate Professor, Creative Writing Department.

Co-hosted by May-lee Chai, Acting Chair of the Creative Writing Department and the Queer and Trans Resource Center.

Supported by the George and Judy Marcus Funds for Excellence in the Liberal Arts.

Take Place Open Mic

Creative Writing Graduate student run, the Take Place reading series invites you to our first event of the semester. Join us in the Poetry Center and listen to fellow writers, connect with the community, and read your work. Sign-ups begin at 6:45. We look forward to seeing you!

2023 Michael Rubin Book Award Winner Release Party

14 Hills Magazine will be celebrating the official release Her Daughters by TreVaugh Malik Roach-Carter, the 2023 winner of their Michael Rubin Book Award. Featured readers will include London Pickney and Lillian Giles. 

TreVaughn Malik Roach-Carter is a Queer Black writer born in Modesto, California. He is a novelist and Fiction Editor with The Ana Literary Magazine. He holds a MFA in creative writing from San Francisco State University. His work has been featured in Ramblr Magazine, Tayo Magazine’s special issue: SOFT, Transfer Magazine, BAD EGG Magazine, Borderless Magazine, The Ana Magazine, Stellium Magazine, and Querencia Press. He is a recipient of the Leo Litwalk Literature Award and a Browning Society Award. He is the author of the Young Adult novel The Aziza Chronicles: Awakening.

London Pinkney is a writer, editor, and educator. She received an MFA from San Francisco State University. Pinkney is the founder and editor-in-chief of The Ana. Her work can be read in various places, including The Fem, Black Warrior Review, and in the anthology NonWhite & Woman.  She’s from the Los Angeles area.

Lillian Giles is a Black Queer writer and educator living in Oakland, California. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University where she was the hood recipient for the college of liberal arts and a keynote commencement speaker. Lillian is finishing a novel that is based on her great grandmother’s life as a midwife and defender of the 1940s Black Queer community. It is fiction but all of those stated parts are true. Her work has been published in The Rumpus, The Shenandoah, and is forthcoming in The Washington Square Review. She’s been awarded the Joe Brainard writing fellowship in fiction, was a finalist for the Audre Lorde award in poetry, and won the Nomadic Press Literary award for fiction. You can reach or follow her on instagram at Lillian Giles (@bsidereading) • Instagram photos and videos.


Campus community pays tribute to women of Iran through music, poetry

San Francisco State University students, faculty and alumni are coming together for several events this month supporting women’s rights in Iran. Admission is free. 

Professor Persis Karim, director of the San Francisco State Center for Iranian Diaspora Studies, organized the events with Music Professor Hafez Modirzadeh. Karim says the events are a tribute to the “brave women, girls and youth of Iran and, more importantly, students, who continue to fight for their rights even in the midst of severe state violence.”

Read the full article.

Writing into the unknown: a conversation with Marcus Endowed Chair Tonya M. Foster

The acclaimed poet joined SF State’s Creative Writing faculty last fall

Tonya M. Foster uses all types of words in her poetry: big and small, beautiful and vulgar. It is a key tactic of the San Francisco State University Creative Writing assistant professor’s ongoing study of language.

Publisher’s Weekly praised her 2017 book-length poem “A Swarm of Bees in High Court” as “the rare debut collection that displays a marvelous understanding of how to merge form and content … sonically rich, complex in its formal elements and constraints and haunting in its examination of dislocation.”

“AHotB,” the title of Foster’s forthcoming poetry book, is an acronym for “A History of the B---h.” Adopting Fanny Lou Hamer’s idea that “a Black woman’s body is never hers alone,” Foster completed it last year during a fellowship at Harvard University.

Foster joined San Francisco State last fall as one of four Marcus Endowed Chairs, tenure-track positions established with a $25 million donation from alumni George and Judy Marcus. Now, SF State students work closely with the New Orleans-raised poet known for electric lyricism and expansive interpretations of language.

What inspired you to pursue poetry and academia for a career?

For a long time, I think that I considered myself a reluctant poet — someone who wrote poetry but thought, OK, there were all these other things I did, and teaching was one of those things.

Teaching was, for me, a space where you could be in community around learning something, discovering something. I’ve never been particularly interested in mastery. I’m much more interested in ideas of expertise and being open to discovering.

What made you choose to come to San Francisco State?

SF State has an incredible history in terms of Black Studies. To be at an institution that’s important for ethnic studies, I thought that’s a wonderful place for me. What I hope to learn is how these questions of justice — and where Black students are concerned — are energized and more animated, and how can I be a part of that.

Tell us about your new project, “AHotB.”

It’s poetry and prose. There are autobiographical elements in it, but it’s certainly a meditation on and about Black women. An interrogation of the [fictitiousness] of Black womanhood is what it is. I’m very interested in multiple registers of language.

And where does the “b-word” fit in? What does it represent in this project and the meaning behind it?

Well, it’s the word I would never say to people I care about, right? But it is the word, it’s the vision of Black womanhood that has been pervasive in many ways. I’ve been trying to track both uses of the term and also the ways that women have tried to reclaim that term and make it mean its opposite. That kind of intervention is rarely successful, and yet I think it’s a mode. It’s an attempt to do something else.

I’m just trying to sit with it, think through it, imagine through it. When are the moments when women are being called out of their name? By this name? What are the actions, what are the engagements that are being disapproved of and remarked upon?

I don’t just want to describe it, actually. I guess I want to interrogate it. I want to see where it leads. I don’t know yet how the dots connect. I’m curious about that.

It goes to this point I’m often talking to students about: writing into the unknown. If you’ve already decided what the conclusion is, why write it? Somehow, you write into the unknown — you write into the discovery of something that you didn’t otherwise know.

Read Foster’s poem “Testimonial Testify,” excerpted from “AHotB,” in The A-Line: A Journal of Progressive Thought.

Learn more about the Creative Writing Department at SF State.