MFA Alumni Speak at annual "Life After the MFA" Event


On Wednesday May 26th, Woogee Bae (2019), Travis Sharp (2015), and Natalie Singer (2016) joined current MFA students and alumni on Zoom to speak about their paths to and through the MFA. They spoke about how they came to graduate study in creative writing and poetics, how their time in the program shifted the course of their writing and careers, how they have sustained their practice since graduation, and what publishing and community-building have meant to them as artists.

This year's event, co-hosted with the Seattle campus MFA in Creative Writing, brought together students from both programs to build greater cross-campus community and address the pressing questions that concern our cohorts: establishing an independent writing practice, finding literary community, publishing work, and pursuing meaningful careers and further graduate study. Our UWB panelists were joined by UWS alumni Emma Aylor (2019), Gabrielle Bates (2016), and Deven Philbrick (2018). The event was moderated by Amaranth Borsuk, Associate Director of the MFA in Creative Writing and Poetics and David Crouse, Director of the MFA in Creative Writing at UW Seattle.

Learn more about the panelists below!

Emma Aylor, Woogee Bae, Gabrielle Bates, Deven Philbrick, Travis Sharp, and Natalie Singer

Emma Aylor’s poems have appeared in 32 PoemsThe Cincinnati Review, Pleiades, Northwest Review, and Fairy Tale Review, among other journals. The winner of Shenandoah’s 2020 Graybeal-Gowen Prize for Virginia Poets and a finalist for Narrative’s Twelfth Annual Poetry Contest, she holds a BA from the College of William & Mary and an MFA from the University of Washington–Seattle. She grew up in Bedford County, Virginia, and lives in Lubbock, Texas, where she is a PhD student in creative writing at Texas Tech University. Find her at

Woogee Bae writes poems and edits at Snail Trail Press. She received her MFA from the University of Washington Bothell, where she co-founded the GAMUT reading series, which brings together current MFA students, alumni, and faculty at Open Books: A Poem Emporium. An MFA alumni ambassador, she helped coordinate the 2019 &Now Festival of Innovative Writing: Points of Convergence. She is currently Donor Relations Associate with Seattle Arts and Lectures. Writing can be found in P-QUEUE, Poetry Northwest, Tagvverk, and elsewhere.

Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, Gabrielle Bates (she/her) currently lives in Seattle, where she works for Open Books: A Poem Emporium and co-hosts the podcast The Poet Salon. In the past, she’s served on the editorial staff of the Seattle Review, Poetry Northwest, Broadsided Press, and Bull City Press, and her poems and poetry comics have appeared or are forthcoming in the New Yorker, POETRY Magazine, American Poetry Review, The Offing, and the Best American Experimental Writing anthology, among other venues. She’s at work on her first book(s) and can be found online at or on Twitter (@GabrielleBates).

Deven Philbrick is a fiction writer, poet, and scholar. His writing has appeared in Another Chicago Magazine and he previously served as prose editor of The Seattle Review. He is currently pursuing a PhD in English at the University of Michigan, focusing on the intersections between 20th century poetry and philosophy.

Travis Sharp is the author of a poetry collection, Yes, I am a corpse flower (KFB 2021), and the chapbooks Sinister Queer Agenda (above/ground 2018) and one plus one is two ones (Recreational Resources 2018). With Aimee Harrison and Maria Anderson, he co-curated Radio: 11.8.16 (Essay Press 2017). He has an MFA in Creative Writing and Poetics from the University of Washington Bothell, is a PhD candidate in the University at Buffalo Poetics Program, and since 2019 is Executive Editor at Essay Press. He can be found at or on Twitter @corpseflowered. 

Natalie Singer is the author of the memoir California Calling: A Self-Interrogation (Hawthorne Books, 2018) and her writing has appeared in Proximity, Hypertext, Literary Mama, Largehearted Boy, The Nervous Breakdown, Full Grown People, the anthology Love and Profanity (2015), and elsewhere. Her awards include the Pacific Northwest Writers Association nonfiction prize and the Alligator Juniper nonfiction prize. She is currently Sr. Communications Manager of Global Diversity & Inclusion at Microsoft. She can be found online at

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