Fall 2021 Incoming MFA Class
August 18, 2021
Erin Bragg (PY/CNF) was born and raised just outside Richmond, VA. She graduated from Hollins University in 2018 with a degree in English with a Creative Writing concentration. She enjoys seeking truth, objective or otherwise, in the natural world and the past. In questioning memory and perspective, she parses the space between facts and feelings. She is a papermaker, bookbinder, page-filler, and multicolor pen enthusiast. When she isn’t working at Cabell Library to provide for her tabby cats, she can be found weeding her garden-to-be or roller skating in empty parking lots. She’s always ready to discuss library resources, Richmond food destinations, and the inevitable rupture of the Cascadia Subduction Zone.
Paul Brennan (PY) is from northern New Jersey. Before attending VCU he studied literature at Ramapo College of New Jersey, followed by several years of work as a public librarian while earning a Masters of Information from Rutgers University. He is also an assistant editor at Small Orange. His poetic interests include how pre-enlightenment thought can point to alternative ways of seeing.
Jack Brisson (FC) spent three years at Middlebury College thinking about being a professor of Comparative Literature and one year realizing he wanted to write made-up stuff instead. From a small cow-town in Vermont, he enjoys writing stories that are both rural and multicultural. While procrastinating, he's driven cross-country, worked as a fencing coach, and seen Taika Waititi twice on the street. He also has cinematic aspirations and is at work on a screenplay.
Nolan Capps grew up in Red Bank, South Carolina. After seeking vocations in construction, fast food, petty crime, and the Marines, he has settled down to write about his misadventures—in comfort. He believes in comedy, fireworks, and a bit of well-placed gore. His writing explores the secret romantic spaces between comrades-in-arms. When away from his desk, Nolan occupies himself with homemade tortillas, Otis Redding, and long walks through his temporary home of Harlem, New York.
Celia Cummiskey (DG) grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, where she received her B.A. in English from Boston College and drank a lot of Dunkin' Donuts coffee. She writes literary nonfiction and fiction, and is interested in essays about places, the tangible things we can build with our bodies, and the intangible connections that pull us together and apart. When she isn't writing you can find her knitting, and training for her first marathon.
Jay Fowler (FC) was born and raised in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He earned a B.A. in English from Old Dominion University in May 2021. His writing explores the chaos and dysfunction in family relationships, queer identity, and adolescent struggles in the vein of southern literature. In his stories, he breaks down the idea of the nuclear family and examines the harmful effects of toxic masculinity. When he’s not toiling away at his writing, or has his nose buried in books, Jay spends his time drinking too much coffee and playing video games cuddled up with his two dogs, Maddy and Finnegan. He lives with his fiancé in Richmond, Virginia.
Danny Kraft (PY) holds a B.A. from St John's College in Annapolis, Maryland, and an MTS from Harvard Divinity School. He has worked as a public school special education teacher and, for the past several years, as a synagogue-based educator. He is interested in the intersections of modernist literature and religion, and particularly interested in Jewish thought, history, and mysticism; his poems and reviews on these themes have been published in print and online. Danny has held residencies and fellowships from institutions including the Harvard Center for the Study of World Religions and the National Yiddish Book Center. He will be moving to Richmond with his wife, Brittany, and when he is not reading and writing he enjoys spending time outdoors.
Gabrielle Nigmond (FC) was born in Long Island but raised on a family compound farm in Barboursville. At age four, she spent three forced months in speech therapy to remove any trace of a southern drawl because the New York farmers couldn’t take it. Most of her childhood was spent barefoot and feral on rolling hills to escape her radical Evangelical family. Although the soles of her feet are still stained orange with Virginia red clay, she managed to graduate with a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies, with a concentration of writing, at the University of Virginia. Her prescription for glasses increased recently, so she doesn’t have to squint while reading work documents and simultaneously cooking for her nine-year-old son. To summarize, she’s old, working hard, and a Mother.
Garrett Vesely (PY) was raised in Maryland and earned their M.A. in Poetry from the University of North Texas in 2020, where they were also employed as a teaching fellow. Their poetry, which is often ekphrastic in nature, is concerned with ethics, human relationships, identity, gender and sexuality, and reflections on the psychological aftershocks of trauma, both individual and communal. Their poem "Reflection," originally published by Grub Street Literary Journal in 2018, has been transcribed into a symphonic and choral piece by Darren Schmidt, a Baltimore-based composer, in 2021. They are currently writing two book-length manuscripts of poetry. In addition to poetry, they write scholarship on European Modernist authors with a focus on James Joyce, and they have received numerous grants and fellowships to present their scholarly research internationally. When not buried in the act of reading or writing, Garrett can be found drinking copious (probably dangerous) amounts of coffee, cycling, analyzing artwork, visiting museums, dancing in ballrooms, and listening to, or playing, classical music.
Jamie Walters (DG) has worked as an editor for Washington Square Review, a creative writing instructor at NYU, and a construction worker among a crew of a-holes. She holds an M.F.A. from New York University.