Hamline News

Four CWP Alumni Named Loft Mentor Series Fellows

Hamline the loft collaboration

The Loft Literary Center announced the recipients of the 2019-20 Loft Mentor Series Fellowships and four out of the 12 emerging writers chosen are recent graduates from Hamline's MFA in creative writing program. 

Gen Del Raye (MFA '19) was selected for the year-long fellowship in fiction and will work with authors Jennine Capó Crucet and Junauda Petrus. Jennifer Hildebrandt (MFA '18) and Nicola Koh (MFA '17) were selected for the nonfiction track and will work with Melissa Febos and Douglas Kearney. Halee Kirkwood (MFA '18) was selected as a poetry fellow and will work with poets Ross Gay and Gretchen Marquette. 

The Loft Mentor Series offers twelve emerging Minnesota writers the opportunity to work intensively with six nationally acclaimed writers of prose and poetry. The fellows work throughout the year with the six mentors, and all participants and mentors give public readings at the Loft. Dates for those readings will be announced in spring.

Four more Hamline MFA alumni were named as finalists: Laura McQuiston (MFA '19), Anne Piper (MFA '08) Sam Stokely (MFA '18) in poetry; and Abigail Anderson (MFA '17) in fiction. 

Artist bios for Hamline MFA Mentor Series Fellows:

Gen Del Raye is half Japanese and was born and raised in Kyoto, Japan. He received an MFA from Hamline University and his work has appeared in The Best Small Fictions 2017, The Monarch Review, and others. He is the winner of the 2018 Force Majeure Flash Contest, the 2018 Up North Poetry Prize, and the 2018 Great Midwest Poetry Contest.

In 2009, Jennifer Hildebrandt began a blog when her husband, Bob, was diagnosed with a rare bone tumor at age 42. The blog was simply to serve as a one-stop place for family and friends to stay informed about Bob's condition as he quickly became critically ill for nearly two years. In the wake of Bob's unexpected death in 2011, eyeballs-deep in grief, Jennifer sent a sample of this raw, unedited online journal with her application to Hamline University's MFA in Creative Writing program. Upon acceptance to Hamline, she dug in deep and began spinning rough blog posts into polished, heartbreaking (and sometimes unabashedly, unexpectedly wry) essays about her experience as wife, caregiver, then widow, treading into such unchartered waters as the realities of what "fight cancer" really means, and caregiver PTSD. One of her essays, Jacket, received Honorable Mention in Bellevue Literary Review’s 2017 prize for nonfiction, and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. In 2018, Jennifer graduated from Hamline; that same year, she was awarded a Minnesota State Arts Board Artist Initiative grant to complete the first draft of a hybrid memoir based on her blog and subsequent essays. While at Hamline, Jennifer also completed training to become a Pilates teacher and Restorative Exercise Specialist. Currently, she entwines her two passions—writing and movement—into essays that explore the relationships between health, wellness, disease, movement, modern medicine, the natural (and unnatural) world, death and how all is connected. As difficult as it is to write about her experience with her husband, Jennifer acknowledges the immense power of art in the healing process, as well as its power to connect and transcend an intensely personal experience to a larger audience and purpose. Even now, eight years after her husband's death, she continually mines life-altering insights and other gifts from the experience.

Halee Kirkwood is a descendant of the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Ojibwe and earned their MFA from Hamline University. Formerly a corporate mascot, janitor, and small-town library assistant, their work has been published in Up The Staircase Quarterly, Muzzle Magazine, ctrl+v, Cream City Review, and others. Kirkwood is a writing mentor and bubblegum poetry wrangler for the Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop, and was an inaugural teaching fellow for the 2019 Desert Nights, Rising Stars writing conference at Arizona State University. Their mini-chapbook, Exorcising The Catalogue, was published in Fall 2018 with Rinky Dink Press. 

Nicola Koh is a Malaysian Eurasian twelve years in the American Midwest, a Christian apostate with degrees from a Calvinist seminary, and a minor god of Tetris. They hold an MFA from Hamline University and were a 2018 VONA/Voices fellow in fiction. Their work has appeared in Crab Orchard Review, Sweet: A Literary Confection, Minnesota Women's Press, Southwest Review, the Brown Orient, and others. Their hobbies include taking too many pictures of their cat and dog frenemies, crafting puns, and fixing things. See nicolakoh.com for more.