Creative Writing Program Alumni

Over the years, the Creative Writing Program has attracted talented and hard-working students from all over the country. Its alumni have gone on to teach, work in publishing and entertainment, and distinguish themselves in diverse ways, all while continuing to write and publish their work. A full listing of their accomplishments would be a book in itself; what follows is a very partial sampler of some alumni and their recent accomplishments.

Sarah Dessen taught fiction-writing in the program for many years. She is the New York Times best-selling author of ten young adult novels, including DreamlandThis LullabyeThe Truth about Forever, and Just Listen.

Jill McCorkle, who has published five novels and four collections of stories, most recently Creatures of Habit (2001), taught here for several years and was later Briggs-Copeland Lecturer in (and director of) Creative Writing at Harvard.

Lydia Millet was a finalist for the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in fiction, for a collection of short stories called Love in Infant Monkeys, published by Soft Skull Press. As of 2016, she has authored 11 literary books and three novels for young readers.

Lawrence Naumoff is the author of six novels, including Rootie Kazootie and Silk Hope, N.C., which was made into a television movie. His most recent novel, A Southern Tragedy, won the 2005 Sir Walter Raleigh Award for fiction.

Michael Parker teaches fiction writing in the M.F.A. program at UNC-Greensboro. He has published five novels and two collections of stories, and he won the 1994 Sir Walter Raleigh Award for The Geographical Cure.

Other alumni have also published widely. Among the many successful novelists and short story writers who have studied at UNC are Russell Banks, Paula Bates, Rick Borsten, Ben Fountain, James Grimsley, John Holman, Lily King, Katy Munger, Jenny Offill, David Payne, Leon Rooke, John Russell, Melanie Sumner, Matthew Volmer, and Garret Weyr. Well‑known poets include William Matthews, Robert Morgan, and David Rigsbee; William duBuys, Allan Murray, Ruffin Prevost, and Karen Rosen have done notable work in non‑fiction. Mike Craver, John Foley, Rick Miller, Rebecca Ranson, and Jim Wann have made notable careers in music or theatre, as have Suzanne Bolch, Jeff Leighton, Jebb Stuart, Michael Piller, and Melanie Topp in film and television. Some graduates have done important work in publishing, including Will Blythe (former literary editor of Esquire) and Alane Salierno Mason of William Morrow and Company. And still others have gone on to become—among various professions—lawyers, journalists, and teachers at every level of education.

Some UNC students do continue to study creative writing at the graduate level, and have received fellowships—in fiction writing and in poetry—to some of the country's best M.F.A. programs, including Boston University, Columbia, Cornell, Hollins, Michigan, NYU, Sarah Lawrence, Stanford, the University of California at Irvine, and Virginia. In addition, our graduates have gone on to win Rhodes, Marshall, Mitchell, and Fulbright Scholarships, as well as other graduate and post-graduate awards.