2021 Creative Writing MFA Final Thesis Reading


Location: Zoom reading



Mfa Thesis Reading 2021

Join us in celebrating the work of our graduating second-year MFA students!  will include Ahmad Aljawad, Marie Burns, Rebecca Gearhart, Elise Houcek, PJ Lombardo, Misael Osorio-Conde, and Valerie Vargas.

Registration for the event must take in advance of the reading.  Registration can be completed here.


Ahmad Aljawad is a Californian and recent UC San Diego graduate.  Ahmad’s hobbies include complaining about having actual seasons and mentioning his study abroad trip to Japan in every conversation. He has yet to find a way to write a story that combines these two elements, so in the meantime he writes humor to laugh at his own jokes. 

Marie Burns is a writer of fiction.

Rebecca Gearhart is a writer from New York's Hudson River Valley currently living in the Midwest. Her work has appeared in or is forthcoming in American Chordata, The Hunger, and the Capra Review.

Elise Houcek is a writer and artist pursuing an MFA in poetry at the University of Notre Dame. Her most recent project, So Neon Was The Rope, explores illness, gendered violence, and humor's liberatory power. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Prelude, Afternoon Visitor, Always Crashing, Guesthouse, and elsewhere.

PJ Lombardo is a poet and essayist from northern New Jersey. He’s an MFA candidate at the University of Notre Dame and has worked as a publishing assistant for Action Books. His work is forthcoming from or has recently appeared in Dream Pop, Protean, Homintern and DREGINALD. Currently he is working on his first full book-length collection, Pusher

Jasmine Ortiz graduated from the University of San Diego in 2017 with a BA in English, a concentration in Creative Writing, and a minor in Spanish. She is interested and most comfortable in the realm of nonfiction, but very recently has rediscovered a love for writing fiction that had been lingering but absent for years. Her interests also include dogs, swimming, and baking. 

Misael Osorio-Conde is a Mexican poet transplanted from Southern California to the Midwest to earn his MFA at the University of Notre Dame. In his work he attempts to capture the passage of language through the threshold of the body. He is also interested in the traumas of crossing borders and how those traumas follow the language; interested in the marks those traumas leave inscribed by their passage, and how memory helps us to reconstruct a more humane vision for the future. In 2019 he participated in the  national “One Poem Festival for Migrant Justice” and conducted an interview with the poet Juan Morales for Letras Latinas’ Oral History Project. Some of his poems have appeared in the online literary journals deLuge and Storyscape.

Valerie Virginia Vargas is a Venezuelan-American poet and printmaker from South Florida. A Letras Latinas Scholar, her work is concerned with femme embodiment and identity, folklore, and nature. Recent work can be found in Jellyfish Magazine, [PANK] Magazine as part of the #LatinxLit celebration, and TYPO Magazine. She is forthcoming in Waterproof, book two of The Miami Trilogy published by Jai-Alai Books.