MFA Careers and Writing Futures event features journeys of local writers

On May 17, four MFA-trained writers met with students and alumni of the MFA in Creative Writing & Poetics program to discuss their career paths. Hosted at  McMenamins Anderson School, conversation centered on the diverse ways writers grow and sustain their creative practices.  Special guests included: MFA alumni Scott Brown (’15), Talena Lachelle Queen (’14) and Natalie Singer-Velush (’16), and local artist Sierra Nelson.

Scott BrownScott Brown is a writer and graphic designer in Seattle, WA. He holds an MFA from University of Washington Bothell and a BA in English from Whitworth University.  Scott is interested in writing that explores complications and contradictions with his MFA thesis focused on the tensions between what we think, what we feel, what we want to think, and what we want to feel.  Scott has written one (never-to-be-sold) novel and is currently working on expanding his MFA thesis into a full-length novel.

Natalie Singer-VelushNatalie Singer-Velush is a journalist, essayist, poet, editor and teacher. She is a former courts and crime newspaper reporter and chronic nostalgic obsessed with interrogating identities and cross-examining her own stories over and over. Natalie’ Master’s thesis memoir, California Calling, is forthcoming from Hawthorne Books (March 2018). She is an invited 2016/2017 Writer Ambassador for On the Boards, a contemporary performing arts collective in Seattle; her critical responses to the season’s performances create a bridge of dialogue between artists and the community. She has taught poetry with Pongo Teen Writing to youth inside King County’s juvenile detention and at the state's psychiatric facility for youth. Natalie is also a communications manager at Microsoft. As a mother/artist, Natalie is concerned with the experiences of, and access granted to, parent artists and mothers in particular. In a culture where mothers navigate near-constant tension and marginalization around their identities as women and caregivers, mother/artists often struggle to access the resources available to other artists and which are critical to sustain a creative self. Through her creative and community work, Natalie is committed to supporting mother/artists so that their voices may be heard and their work elevated. Natalie's website.

Sierra NelsonSierra Nelson is a Seattle-based poet, performer, installation artist, and teacher. Her books include forthcoming The Lachrymose Report (Poetry Northwest Editions), chapbook In Case of Loss (Toadlily Press), and lyrical choose-your-own-adventure I Take Back the Sponge Cake (Rose Metal Press) made with visual artist Loren Erdrich and winner of NYU’s Washington Square Review Collaboration Award selected by Anne Carson. Her poems have appeared inside Seattle Metro buses and at the Seattle Aquarium, with Nordic runes on lava stones in Reykjavik, Iceland (debuting at SIM Gallery in Iceland and remounted at Seattle’s The Project Room), checked out with keys from the lobby of the Bridge Motel (R.I.P.), in sound boxes on Denny Avenue for All Rise, on the historic Wave Books Poetry Bus Tour and subsequent music+poetry anthology Pink Thunder (Black Ocean), and in journals and anthologies such as Alive at the Center, Crazyhorse, Tin House, Pleiades, The Seattle Review of Books, and Poetry Northwest. Earning her B.A. in English Literature from Vassar College and her M.F.A. in Poetry from University of Washington, she is a MacDowell Colony Fellow, Pushcart Prize nominee, recipient of a Seattle Office of Arts & Culture CityArtist Grant, and winner of the Carolyn Kizer Prize. She teaches creative writing at the Richard Hugo House, Centrum, Seattle Children’s Hospital through Writers in the Schools (WITS) (for which she forged the collaboration between young WITS poets at Children’s Hospital and artists at the School of Visual Concepts for the annual Letterpress Broadside Project), and through University of Washington’s Friday Harbor Marine Labs and Summer Creative Writing in Rome programs. Nelson is also a founding poet-scientist of the performing collaboration Vis-à-Vis Society, an original Typing Explosion-ist, former Words’ Worth Poetry Program curator, and president of Seattle’s Cephalopod Appreciation Society. Sierra's website.

Talena Lachelle QueenTalena Lachelle Queen is a poet and graduate of the University of Washington Bothell’s (2014) inaugural MFA in Creative Writing & Poetics program where she authored Fourteen for her thesis project.  She is a Paterson, NJ native whose poetry has an international audience.  Queen the founder of Her Best Self (a program of the National Black United Fund) which fosters leadership qualities in young women. She is president of  NuFamily Foundation, Inc.  She is passionate about history, African-American culture and social justice issues. She is often inspired by current events and is known to infuse music into her highly emotive poetry. She is a certified and licensed elementary school teacher specializing in Middle Level Humanities in both New Jersey and Washington states. Among her alma mater are Rosa Parks School of Fine & Performing Arts High School where she earned her diploma in Creative Writing, Montclair State University where she earned her Bachelor of Arts in Broadcasting, University of Washington where earned both her teaching certification, and her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing & Poetics, and University of Notre Dame where she earned an Executive Certification in Transformational Nonprofit Management at the Mendoza Business School. Some of her recent publications include: Language- Free as in Free INCA PRESS in collaboration with Publication Studio of Portland  (2017) as part of the 11th Gwangju, Korea Biennial, and Red - Red May exhibit in Seattle, WA and Helsinki,Finland (2017), and To Be A Woman, Poets Unite LiTFUSE Anthology (2016), and Flavor of Hope, Pahto’s Shadow Heritage University Press (2017), and Brighter Than Ever, City of Paterson (2017), and How Do I Tell Them, Clamor Magazine University of Washington Press (2014).