Summer Community of Writers | Bios | Chatham University, Pittsburgh, PA

Chatham University

MFA in Creative Writing Program presents
Summer Community of Writers

Christopher Barzak

Christopher Barzak is the author of the Crawford Fantasy Award winning novel, One for Sorrow, which was made into the major motion picture, Jamie Marks is Dead. His second novel, The Love We Share Without Knowing, was a finalist for the Nebula and James Tiptree Jr. Awards. He is also the author of two collections: Birds and Birthdays, and Before and Afterlives, which won the 2013 Shirley Jackson Award for Best Collection. Christopher grew up in rural Ohio, has lived in a southern California beach town, the capital of Michigan, and has taught English outside of Tokyo, Japan, where he lived for two years. His next novel, Wonders of the Invisible World, will be published by Knopf in 2015. Currently he teaches fiction writing in the Northeast Ohio MFA program at Youngstown State University. Learn more about Chris at

Sherrie Flick

Sherrie Flick is author of the novel Reconsidering Happiness, the flash fiction chapbook I Call This Flirting, and the story collection Whiskey, Etc. She serves as fiction editor at Burnside Review and co-director of the Chautauqua Writers' Festival. She works as a freelance editor, writer, and adjunct professor in the Food Studies and MFA programs at Chatham University.

Jeff Oaks

Jeff Oaks is the author of four poetry chapbooks, including Mistakes with Strangers (Seven Kitchens Press, 2014), Shift (Seven Kitchens Press, 2010), The Moon of Books (Ultima Obscura Press, 2000), and The Unknown Country (State Street Press, 1992). The recipient of three Pennsylvania Council of the Arts fellowships, he has published poems most recently in Assaracus, Field, Mid-American Review, Prairie Schooner, Superstition Review, and Tupelo Quarterly. His essays have appeared in At Length, Creative Nonfiction, Kenyon Review Online, and in the anthologies My Diva: 65 Gay Men on the Women Who Inspire Them and Brief Encounters: A Collection of Contemporary Nonfiction. He teaches writing at the University of Pittsburgh.

Lori Jakiela

Lori Jakiela is the author of the memoirs Belief Is Its Own Kind of Truth, Maybe (Atticus Books, 2015); The Bridge to Take When Things Get Serious (C&R Press, 2013; WPA Press 2015); and Miss New York Has Everything (Hatchette, 2006). She is also the author of Spot the Terrorist! (Turning Point), a collection of mostly narrative poems about the years she spent working as a flight attendant. Her essays and poems have been widely published in newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Chicago Tribune, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Creative Nonfiction, Brevity, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Hobart and more. She received the 2015 City of Asylum/Pittsburgh award, a Golden Quill award from the Press Club of Western Pennsylvania, and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize many times. She teaches in the writing programs at The University of Pittsburgh-Greensburg and Chatham University, and co-directs the summer writers festival at Chautauqua Institution. She lives outside Pittsburgh with her husband, the writer Dave Newman, and their children. Her website is

Richard St. John

Richard St. John is a nationally-published poet whose books include Each Perfected Name (Truman State University Press, 2015), The Pure Inconstancy of Grace (published in 2005 by Truman State University Press, as first runner-up for the T. S. Eliot Prize for Poetry), and Shrine (a long poem released as a chapbook in 2011).

He received degrees in English from Princeton University and the University of Virginia. In 2002, he completed a mid-career Loeb Fellowship at Harvard University.

Rick worked for many years in the field of community development and nonprofit management. He now facilitates "Conversations That Matter" -- small group gatherings that support reflection, connection, and shared meaning-making. Rick lives -- for real -- in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and, virtually, at the website

Rachel Ekstrom Courage

Rachel Ekstrom Courage is a literary agent at the Irene Goodman Literary Agency and a publishing professional with over a decade of experience working in the publicity departments at St. Martin’s Press, Minotaur Books, and Penguin's Dutton and Gotham imprints. Rachel is also the co-founder of Littsburgh, which showcases Pittsburgh's vibrant literary scene. More information at and

Nick Courage

Nick Courage is an author, publishing professional, and co-founder of Littsburgh ("Celebrating Literary Pittsburgh") whose essays, stories, and poems have appeared in The Paris Review Daily, Story, Full Stop, and elsewhere. Having spent over a decade promoting authors for New York publishing houses like Picador and Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, Nick now works as a publishing and book marketing consultant. His most recent novel, The Loudness, is available where books are sold!

Dave Housley

Dave Housley’s fourth collection of short fiction, "Massive, Cleansing Fire," a collection of linked stories that all end in a massive, cleansing fire, will be published in Spring 2017 by Outpost 19. He is the author of "If I Knew the Way, I Would Take You Home," (Dzanc Books), "Commercial Fiction" (Outpost 19) and "Ryan Seacrest is Famous" (Impetus Press, Dzanc Books eBook Reprint). He is one of the founding editors of Barrelhouse magazine, and a co-founder of the Conversations and Connections writer’s conference. Sometimes he drinks boxed wine and tweets about the things on his television at @housleydave.