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Teaching Assistant Professor / Diversity Liaison

2015, MFA, University of Iowa, Nonfiction Writing Program


Matt Randal O’Wain teaches both fiction and creative nonfiction in the creative writing program at Carolina where his former students have gone on to enroll at prestigious MFA programs, such as UNC Wilmington, NC STATE, UNC Greensboro, George Mason University. Others now work for various publishing houses in New York. He is the faculty advisor for the Asian American Creative Writing Collective and The Shakespeare Society.

About his first book, Meander Belt: Family, Loss, and Coming of Age in the Working Class South, LA Review of Books wrote, “Although the memoir is full of sex, drugs, and rock and roll, it never feels frivolous. A love letter to Memphis, it is also a send off. In sentence after taut sentence, O’Wain aims for the heart while also deploying humor.” The Literary Review of London said his second book, the short story collection, Hallelujah Station, was “impressive…disarming. O’Wain’s writing is energised and confident without tipping into sententiousness.” The Commercial Appeal wrote about Hallelujah Station: “His characters linger at forks in their roads. In another writer’s hands these lost souls would feel familiar, but O’Wain cores out the humanity beneath the violence, with a keen eye for the quirky, revelatory detail.”

O’Wain has finished a novel, Lesser Nighthawks, about a family in a small town caught in the crossfires of a failed plan set in play by a powerful Senator and his son. The Narrows is a novel that untangles the relationships between those with power who see people and place as commodities and the addicts, wounded, impoverished, religious, strong willed citizens that are inseparable from the landscape where they were raised.

He has finally begun, after six years of research, a nonfiction book about bioluminescence and human desire to be witnessed by and witness transcendence.

To read more, visit my website


M. Randal O’Wain, Gary F. Fisher, David Robinson, Travel Writing in an Age of Global Quarantine, Anthem, 2021 

M. Randal O’Wain, Hallelujah Station, Autumn House, 2020

M. Randal O’Wain, Meander Belt: Family, Loss, and Coming of Age in the Working Class South, University of Nebraska, 2019

“Mirrored Mezzanine,” Oxford American (October 08, 2019)

“Barking Hours,” Hotel Amerika (Spring 2019)

“Dear Brother,” StorySouth (Spring 2018)

“Like a One-Eyed Cat,” The Oxford American, (Summer 2015)

“Superman Dam Fool,” The Pinch (Winter 2015)

“The Junk Trade,” Guernica Magazine (Fall, 2014)

“Arrow of Light” in The Oxford American (Winter, 2013)

Teaching Awards

2014 Recipient of the W.R. Irwin Award for Excellence in Teaching at The University of Iowa

2014-2015 Recipient of a University of Iowa Teaching Fellowship at the Frank N. Magid Center for Undergraduate Writing

2012-2015 Recipient of a University of Iowa Teaching Fellowship in General Education Literature

2012 Recipient of a University of Iowa Teaching Fellowship in Creative Nonfiction


2018 Zone 3 Fiction Award for the short story Hallelujah Station

2018 National Endowment of the Arts, Teaching Fellow in Creative Writing, FCI Beckley

2017 Audience Choice Award UNO Film Festival, Arrow of Light

2017 Official Selection at Oxford Film Festival, Arrow of Light

2016 Official Selection at Pontchatrain Film Festival, Arrow of Light

2016 Official Selection at Memphis Indie Film Festival, Arrow of Light

2012 Departmental Distinction, English, University of North Carolina at Asheville

2012 Distinction as Undergraduate Research Scholar, University of North Carolina at Asheville

2012 Recipient of The University of North Carolina Outstanding Community Service Award, University of North Carolina at Asheville

2012 Winner of Carl Sandburg Award for Poetry

2011 Recipient of a Summer Travel Grant from the UNC Asheville Undergraduate Research Committee

2011 Recipient of The University of North Carolina William Comfort Scholarship for Excellence in Creative Writing

2010 Winner of the Oculus Award for Screenwriting

2009 Winner of the Thomas Wolfe Award for Fiction

Courses Taught:

  • ENG 138 Intro to Creative Nonfiction
  • ENG 208 21st Century Essay
  • ENG 404 Advanced Creative Nonfiction
  • ENG 693 Honors Thesis
  • ENG 130 Intro to Fiction
  • ENG 206 Intermediate Fiction

Curriculum Vitae / Resume


Email   |   (731) 441-2959
Office: Greenlaw 427
Professional Website

Research Interests:

Aesthetics | Creative Writing | Travel Writing