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About the Texas State MFA

A top ranked, funded MFA Program in Creative Writing

Faculty and Alumni News

Raven Leilani wins 2021 Clark Fiction Prize for Luster

Raven Leilani's novel, Luster, has won the 2021 L.D. and LaVerne Harrell Clark Fiction Prize. The prize of $25,000 is one of the largest literary awards in the United States. 

Established at Texas State University in 2016 and administered by the Department of English, the prize is designed to recognize an exceptional, recently-published book-length work of fiction in celebration of the Clarks’ lifelong contributions to, and love for, literature and the arts. 

Téa Obreht, Clark Prize final judge, author of The Tiger's Wife and the Texas State M.F.A. Program’s University Endowed Chair, praised Raven Leilani’s "unique ability to turn a moment, a scene, a sentence on its head, plunging her readers from humor to existential gloaming with incredible skill and speed, so that you don’t always realize you’ve gone from laughing to holding your breath. The effect is disquieting and delightful, the product of her sharp eye and singular voice." 


Cyrus Cassells sits down with Big Ideas TXST Podcast

Cyrus Cassells, acclaimed poet and professor in the Department of English and MFA in Creative Writing program at Texas State, sits down with the Big Ideas TXST podcast for a wide-ranging interview examining his career, family and creative process. Keenly interested in history and world travel, Cassells talks about his hermitage time spent at a Catholic monastery and visit to a Hawaiian leper colony, and how those experiences impacted his writing.

Cassells is the author of six books of poetry: The Mud ActorSoul Make a Path through ShoutingBeautiful SignorMore Than Peace and CypressesThe Crossed-Out Swastika, and The Gospel according to Wild Indigo, which was a finalist for the Helen C. Smith Award for the Best Book of Poetry from the Texas Institute of Letters and a nominee for the NAACP's Image Award for Outstanding Literature in Poetry. In 2019, he was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship.  Among his other honors are a Lannan Literary Award, a William Carlos Williams Award, a Pushcart Prize, two NEA grants, and a Lambda Literary Award.

Listen to Episode 11: Creative Writing with Cyrus Cassells now.


Naomi Shihab Nye honored with lifetime achievement award from National Book Critics Circle


The National Book Critics Circle (NBCC) has named Naomi Shihab Nye, a professor of creative writing in the Department of English at Texas State University, recipient of the Ivan Sandrof Award for Lifetime Achievement.

The Sandrof Award, named after NBCC’s first president, is given to a person or institution — a writer, publisher, critic or editor, among others — who has, over time, made significant contributions to book culture. Previous winners include Margaret Atwood, Toni Morrison, Joyce Carol Oates and Studs Terkel

The Young People's Poet Laureate designation is intended to celebrate a living writer in recognition of their devotion to writing exceptional poetry for young readers. It comes with a $25,000 prize. This two-year-term laureateship promotes poetry to children and their families, teachers and librarians.


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