Chatham News

Chatham MFA in Creative Writing to Host “Writers on Disability & Access in the Literary Community” on April 4

PITTSBURGH:  On Wednesday, April 4th, at 7 p.m. in the Welker Room of James Laughlin Music Hall, on Chatham University’s Shadyside campus, the Chatham University MFA in Creative Writing Program will host Dialogues: Writers on Disability and Access in the Literary Community. Sonya Huber, Sally Alexander, and Christopher Heuer will read from their work and discuss their experiences as writers with disabilities, as well as the responsibility of academic and publishing institutions to be more inclusive of marginalized populations.

The event is free and open to the public. Contact MFA Program Assistant, Kelly Kepner, at for more information.

About Sonya Huber:
Sonya Huber’s new essay collection is called Pain Woman Takes Your Keys and Other Essays from a Nervous System. Her other books include Opa Nobody, Cover Me: A Health Insurance Memoir, The Evolution of Hillary Rodham Clinton and a textbook, The Backwards Research Guide for Writers. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Creative Nonfiction, Brevity, Fourth Genre, and other journals. She received the 2012 Creative Nonfiction Award from Terrain, and her essays were named notable in Best American Essays 2014, 2015, and 2017. She teaches at Fairfield University and directs Fairfield’s Low-Residency MFA Program.

About Sally Alexander:
While teaching elementary school in southern California, Sally Alexander became blind at the age of 26. She found a rehab program for newly-blinded adults in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and stayed on to teach there for a year. Afterwards, she went to grad school in social work and became a therapist to teens and their parents. At this time, she also began to experience hearing loss. After her children were born, she turned to writing. She is the author of 8 books for kids and teens and numerous articles. Six of her books are Junior Library Guild selections, and one, Taking Hold: My Journey into Blindness, won a national Christopher Medal for artistic excellence and affirming the highest values of the human spirit. Sally says of her Deaf-Blindness, “I risk absurdity, more often than injury. Frankly, I’d prefer the injury.”

About Christopher Jon Heuer:
Christopher Jon Heuer is the author of All Your Parts Intact: Poems and Bug: Deaf Identity and Internal Revolution. He is the editor of the recently released Tripping the Tale Fantastic: Weird Fiction by Deaf and Hard of Hearing Writers, an anthology of science fiction, horror, and and fantasy. His writing has additionally appeared in numerous anthologies, periodicals, and online forums. Heuer is a professor of English at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. He lives in Alexandria, VA with his wife Amy and their son Jack.

About Chatham’s MFA in Creative Writing Program:
Chatham’s MFA in Creative Writing program consists of both an on-the-ground full-residency program and a low-residency, online program with concentrations in travel writing, teaching, publishing, or nature writing in addition to a primary genre focus (poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, or children’s writing).  The program offers innovative field seminars that include travel to such places as Costa Rica, Ecuador, India, and Germany. The Words Without Walls program, in which MFA students go into the Allegheny County Jail to teach inmates creative writing, is one of several social outreach programs developed and run by Chatham MFA students that offer transformative experiences for both students and an underserved population. In 2007 Poets & Writers named the MFA one of “Nine Distinctive Programs” and The Atlantic Monthly named it one of five innovative/unique programs in the country in its “Best of the Best” graduate program listings. In 2009, The Writer named it one of ten programs that offer a specialty focus. For more information, visit