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Clarissa Adkins

Richmond, VA
Graduated June 2018

CLARISSA ADKINS was a finalist for the 17th Annual Erskine J. Poetry Prize. She’s published in Poems2Go; The Pinch; WhurkMagazineLily Poetry Review; Parentheses Journal; Smartish Pace; River City Poets’ anthology, Lingering in the Marginsand othersShe enjoys reading for Sugar House Review.

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Rex Carey Arrasmith

Lāna’i City, HI (NOV-MAR) Sedona, AZ (APR-OCT)
Graduated June 2020

REX CAREY ARRASMITH was born in a tiny California desert town, Blythe, CA, often credited with having the hottest summer temperatures. The resulting softening of his brain made writing poetry inevitable. After earning his MFA in fiction, he became enamored with Lesley’s poetry faculty and started over. His poetry often serves as a memorial to his friends and lovers lost to the AIDS pandemic. He is a co-founder of Cambridge Common Writers, a Lesley MFA alumni group. His poems have been published on the ugly writers and Spillwords Press, Lily Poetry Review, and Passengers Journal, among others. He is always happy to talk to aspiring poets at

Rex can also be found in our Fiction section!

KB Ballentine

Chattanooga, TN
Graduated June 2007

KB BALLENTINE’s seventh collection, Edge of the Echo, is scheduled to launch in May of 2021 with Iris Press. Her earlier books can be found with Blue Light Press, Middle Creek Publishing, and Celtic Cat Publishing. Published in Crab Orchard Review and Haight-Ashbury Literary Journal, among others, her work also appears in anthologies including In Plein Air (2017) and Carrying the Branch: Poets in Search of Peace (2017).

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Michelle Boland

Los Angeles, CA
Graduated January 2019

MICHELLE BOLAND is a poet and essayist whose work has appeared in Bellevue Literary Review, Cold Mountain Review, The Chaffey Review, Black Fox Literary Magazine, and Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, among others. She holds an MFA from Lesley University and has been a reader for Harvard Review. She’s currently at work on her first full collection of poems.

Shari Caplan

Boston, MA
Graduated June 2014

SHARI CAPLAN (she/her) is the siren behind ‘Advice from a Siren’ (Dancing Girl Press). Her poems have swum into Gulf Coast, Painted Bride Quarterly, Angime, Drunk Monkeys, and elsewhere. Shari’s work has earned her a scholarship to The Home School, a fellowship to The Vermont Studio Center, nominations for a Bettering American Poetry Award, and a Pushcart Prize. She proudly serves as Madam Betty BOOM for The Poetry Brothel in Boston.

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Mollie Chandler

Boston, MA
Graduated June 2017

MOLLIE CHANDLER is a Boston-based poet, editor, and teacher. Her works, including her chapbook The Ghost Poems, explore the cracks where fantasy and imagination leak into lived experience. Her poems and short stories can be found in The Fairy Tale Review, The Charles River Journal, Poems2Go, Paradise in Limbo, Foliate Oak, Hollow, Light: A Journal of Poetry and Photography, The Merrimack Review, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Sediments Literary, Empty Sink Publishing, The Voices Project, Willard and Maple, Best Emerging Poets of Massachusetts 2019, and forthcoming in the Lily Poetry Review.

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Eileen Cleary

Whitman, MA
Graduated June 2016

EILEEN CLEARY is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Lily Poetry Review and Lily Poetry Review Books. She holds two MFA’s in poetry. Recent work is published in The Sugar House Review, The American Journal of Poetry, Fusion, JAMA, West Texas Literary Review, and Solstice: A Magazine for Diverse Voices, among others. Her work is included in a Rainworks poetry installation in Newton, Massachusetts. She co-founded and curates the Lily Poetry Salon. Cleary’s debut full-length collection Child Ward of the Commonwealth was published by Main Street Rag Press in June 2019. Her second,  2 A.M. With Keats is slated for Fall 2020 by Nixes Mate.

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Julie Cyr

Sharon, NH
Graduated January 2017

JULIE CYR has been published by Slipstream, Blood and Thunder Journal, Broad River Review, Smoky Quartz, Surreal Poetics, and Lost Horse Press in the Nasty Women Poets Anthology, among others. She was awarded 2014 Best of Poetry by Blood and Thunder Journal, a finalist in the 2016 Rash Awards for Poetry, awarded a scholarship from Murphy Writing of Stockton University in 2018, and nominated for a 2019 Pushcart Prize. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband and two sons.

Lisa DeSiro

Cambridge, MA
June 2010

LISA DESIRO is both a writer and a pianist. In addition to her MFA from Lesley, she has degrees from Binghamton University, Boston Conservatory, and Longy School of Music. She has worked for both academic and non-profit organizations as an accompanist, teacher, administrator, production assistant, and editor. Lisa is founder/host of the Solidarity Salon, a performance series featuring multi-genre artists who are women, people of color, immigrants, LGBTQ, and/or differently-abled. Her work has been published in Ovunque Siamo, The Orchards Poetry Journal, Indolent Books, Lily Poetry Review, and Mezzo Cammin, among others.

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Frances Donovan

Boston, MA
Graduated June 2019

FRANCES DONOVAN’s chapbook Mad Quick Hand of the Seashore was named a finalist in the 31st Lambda Literary Awards. Publication credits include The Rumpus, Snapdragon, and SWWIM. She holds an MFA in poetry from Lesley University, is a certified Poet Educator with Mass Poetry, and has appeared as a featured reader at numerous venues. She once drove a bulldozer in an LGBTQ+ Pride parade while wearing a bustier. You can find her climbing hills in Boston and online at

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Suzanne E. Edison

Seattle, WA
Graduated July 2016

SUZANNE EDISON writes most often about the intersection of illness, healing, medicine and art.  Her most recent chapbook, The Body Lives Its Undoing, was published in 2018. Poetry can be found in: JAMA; Canadian Medical Association Journal; Michigan Quarterly Review; Whale Road Review; HEAL; Persimmon Tree; SWWIM; Intima: A Journal of Narrative Medicine; Naugatuck River Review; What Rough Beast; The Ekphrastic Review, and in several anthologies. She is a recent Hedgebrook alum and teaches at Richard Hugo House.

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Robbie Gamble

Brookline, MA
Graduated January 2017

ROBBIE GAMBLE grew up in Brookline, MA, moved far away to places like New York City, Ontario, El Salvador, and Jamaica Plain, before returning to the town of his formative years. His poems have been published in The American Journal of Poetry, the Atlanta Review, Carve Magazine, Construction, Indolent Books, the Lily Poetry Review, Naugatuck River Review, Nixes Mate, Pangyrus, Poet Lore, Slipstream, Solstice, RHINO, and Rust + Moth, among others. He was the winner of the 2017 Carve Poetry Prize, and has had poems nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize. He is the assistant poetry editor for Solstice: a Magazine of Diverse Voices.

Robbie can also be found in our Nonfiction section!

Boston Gordon

Philadelphia, PA
Graduated January 2015

BOSTON GORDON (they/he) is a poet from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. They run the You Can’t Kill A Poet reading series – which highlights queer and trans identified writers in Philadelphia (x , x). Boston earned their MFA in Poetry through Lesley University. They received a Leeway Foundation At & Change grant in 2017. They have previously been published in such places as PRISM International, Guernica, and the American Poetry Review.

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Mary Ann Honaker

Beaver, WV
Graduated June 2016

MARY ANN HONAKER is the author of It Will Happen Like This (YesNo Press, 2015) and Becoming Persephone (Third Lung Press, 2019). Her work has appeared in Calamus Journal, Drunk Monkeys, Euphony, Juked, Little Patuxent Review, Off the Coast,, Topology Magazine, Van Gogh’s Ear, and elsewhere, and has been nominated for a Pushcart prize. Mary Ann holds an MFA in creative writing from Lesley University. She currently lives in Beaver, West Virginia.

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Heather Hughes

Somerville, MA (Hometown: Miami, FL)
Graduated June 2015

HEATHER HUGHES is a poet, letterpress printer, and associate acquisitions editor at Harvard University Press. Her most recent poems have been published in ActionSpectacle, Pleiades, Boxcar Poetry Review, Barrow Street, and Painted Bride Quarterly, among others. She has also contributed to several anthologies, and published book reviews and articles online. An interview with her is featured on Mass Poetry.

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Fred Joiner

Carrboro, NC
Graduated June 2015

FRED JOINER is a poet and curator living in Carrboro, NC. Joiner is the Poet Laureate of Carrboro, NC.  He has published and presented his poetry nationally and internationally. As curator of visual art and public programming, Joiner has worked with the Smithsonian, The Phillips Collection, Medina Galerie (Bamako), Belfast Exposed (Belfast) and others. Joiner’s writing is published or is forthcoming in publications by the National Endowment of the Arts, the Academy of American Poets, and the Phillips Collection. Joiner is a 2019 Academy of American Poets Poets Laureate Fellow, the Board Chair of the Orange Country Arts Commission Artists Advisory Board and a Board member of the American Poetry Museum and Arch Development Corporation.

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Christine Jones

Orleans, MA
Graduated January 2014

CHRISTINE JONES is founder/editor-in-chief of Poems2go, an international public poetry project and also a contributing editor to Lily Poetry Review. Her debut poetry book, Girl Without a Shirt, was recently published by Finishing Line Press, 2020. She’s enjoying the satisfaction of holding a tangible product of many years working on craft. A wish come true.

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Kate Kearns

Scarborough, ME
Graduated June 2008

KATE KEARNS is a poet and freelance editor based in Maine. She has published a chapbook called How to Love an Introvert (Finishing Line Press), and while she looks for a home for her first full-length manuscript, poems have appeared in many print and online journals. Kate provides manuscript editing services to authors and poets through her agency, Black Squirrel Workshop.

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Caitlin Krause

San Francisco, CA
Graduated June 2007

CAITLIN KRAUSE’s mission is to empower humanity through connection.In her book Mindful by Design (Corwin Press, 2019) and through her organizational consulting, she helps individuals and groups leverage mindfulness, storytelling, and design principles to connect more deeply with their audiences and communities. As founder of the MindWise consultancy, co-founder of the Center of Wise Leadership, and a virtual reality and AI specialist, Caitlin contributes to building products and experiences that promote creativity, innovation and emotional intelligence as humans learn to collaborate in new environments. She also works as a scriptwriter and VR/AR story designer in digital therapeutics with a focus on mental health XR, using mindfulness, guided imagery, human-centered design, biofeedback, BA and CBT.

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Jennifer LeBlanc

Belmont, MA
Graduated June 2012

JENNIFER LEBLANC earned an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University. Her first full-length book, Descent, was published by Finishing Line Press (2020), and individual poems have been published in journals such as The Adirondack ReviewCAIRNThe Main Street Rag, and Melusine. Jennifer was nominated for a 2013 Pushcart Prize and works in the English Department at Tufts University.

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Jon D. Lee

Boston, MA
Graduated January 2017

JON D. LEE is an award-winning educator, folklorist, poet, and writer. He has served as the poetry editor for Petroglyph, as a national reviewer for poetry and fiction for the National YoungArts Foundation, and as a contributor to NPR’s Cognoscenti and CommonHealth blogs. In 2015 he was a Visiting Professor at Utah State University, and is currently an Instructor at Suffolk University. He is the author of three books and has published poems in The Inflectionist Review (which garnered his first Pushcart nomination), What Rough Beast (x , x), Lyrical Somerville, The Sunday Poet, Lily Poetry Review, One, The Writer’s Chronicle, and more.

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Photo Credit: Jaq Chen

Michelle Lynch

Roswell, GA
Graduated June 2014

MICHELLE LYNCH is a storyteller at heart whose favorite ways to tell stories are through poems, photographs, on the stage and in the kitchen. During the day she tends to her soul career of teaching learning-diverse, elementary-aged children. She’s yet to live in a tiny cabin at the banks of a river at the foot of the mountains filled with Renaissance light, but she’s working on it. Her works have been published in Fried Chicken and Coffee, Heartwood Literary Journal, In Layman’s Terms, Iron Horse Literary Review, Lunch Ticket, Memoryhouse Magazine, NonBinary Review, Postcard Poems and Prose Magazine, and San Pedro River Review.

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Michael W. Mercurio

Northampton, MA
Graduated January 2017

MICHAEL W MERCURIO lives and writes in the Pioneer Valley of Massachusetts, where he serves on the steering committee for the Tell It Slant Poetry Festival (formerly Amherst Poetry Festival) and is the associate editor of the Naugatuck River Review. Michael is also on the Board of Directors for Faraday Publishing, a nonprofit press with the mission of amplifying marginalized voices. His poetry has been published in Rust + Moth, Crab Creek Review, The Indianapolis Review, and Palette Poetry, and is forthcoming in Sugar House Review.

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Aimee Noel

Dayton, OH
Graduated January 2014

AIMEE NOEL’s poems, infused with the lake water and steel of a childhood near Buffalo, have been published in works such as Michigan Quarterly Review, Witness, Slippery Elm Literary Journal, Provincetown Arts, Forklift, Ohio and elsewhere. She earned Ohio Arts Council’s Individual Excellence Award for poetry in 2020 and 2016 and was OAC’s Summer Fellow at Provincetown’s Fine Arts Work Center.  She can also eat her weight in pierogi.

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Lisa Pegram

Washington, DC native, currently living in Curacao
Graduated June 2012

LISA PEGRAM is a writer, educator, literary publicist and author of Cracked Calabash. She has over 20 years of experience in program design for such organizations as the Smithsonian, Corcoran Gallery of Art and National Geographic, and served as DC WritersCorps program director for a decade. Lisa completed an Executive Certification in Arts & Culture Strategies at UPenn in 2018. She writes poetry and creative nonfiction, has eyes for WSS and created the Lesley MFA Posse on Facebook. Her works have been published in Beltway Quarterly Magazine, Carry On Magazine, The Ekphrastic Review, The Independent Magazine, L’Officiel Magazine India, and

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Bonita Lee Penn

Pittsburgh, PA
Graduated January 2015

BONITA LEE PENN says “I am a Black woman poet and I sound like one (Lucille Clifton).” She lives, breathes, and believes it is important that her poems celebrate the voices of Black and Brown women. Her interests include exploration of connections: to the ocean; Africans in America history of religion and its connection to practices of their African ancestors. She is Managing Editor of Soul Pitt Quarterly Magazine and a community creative writing instructor. Her poetry has appeared in The Massachusetts Review, JOINT.Literary Magazine, Hot Metal Bridge Journal, Women Studies Quarterly, Solstice: A Magazine of Diverse Voices and forthcoming in the poetry anthology Our Names Mean Home, from Cherry Castle Publishing. Her poem, “Nina’s Fire: Frantic’s Go-Go,” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

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Andrea Ballou Read

Somerville, MA & Brooks, ME
Graduated June 2015

ANDREA READ works at the intersection of Spanish and Anglophone poetry as well as hybrid and conceptual artforms, including translation, erasure, and handmade artifacts (thought-objects). Her work engages economy, nature, and the intricacies of human relationships across time. She is particularly interested in accounting for the intuitive rigor that poetry and conceptual/hybrid artforms bring to bear on rethinking human systems in light of  the restorative capacities of the natural world. Her current projects include a book-length erasure poem, a critical/creative study of ecopoetics and the inner landscape, and a translation/creative encounter with Spanish poet Luis de Góngora’s longer lyrics. Her work has been published in Barrow Street, Black Rabbit Quarterly, Copper Nickel, FIELD, Plume, Lily Poetry Review, The Ilanot Review, The Missouri Review, and Tupelo Quarterly.

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Enzo Silon Surin

Lynn, MA
Graduated 2012

ENZO SILON SURIN, Haitian-born poet, educator, speaker, publisher and social advocate, is the author of When My Body Was A Clinched Fist (Black Lawrence PressJuly 2020) and two chapbooks, A Letter of Resignation: An American Libretto (2017) and Higher Ground. He is a PEN New England Celebrated New Voice in Poetry, the recipient of a Brother Thomas Fellowship from The Boston Foundation and a 2020 Denis Diderot [A-i-R] Grant as an Artist-in-Residence at Chateau d’Orquevaux in Orquevaux, France. Surin’s work gives voice to experiences that take place in what he calls “broken spaces” and his poems have been featured in numerous publications and exhibits. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Lesley University, teaches creative writing and literature at Bunker Hill Community College and is President and Director of Faraday Publishing.

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Photo Credit: Richard Howard

Olivia Thomes

Boston, MA
Graduated June 2019

OLIVIA THOMES is a poet from Boston, MA who currently serves as the Managing Editor of Solstice Literary Magazine and works as a Farm & Equine Animal Welfare Specialist at the MSPCA, as well as the Farm Education Program Coordinator with Natick Community Organic Farm. Olivia has taught writing at the college and grade school level, is an avid equestrian with 10+ years in the field, and has experience leading service learning trips exploring the literary community of New Orleans where she also volunteered with the St. Bernard Project rebuilding homes affected by Hurricane Katrina. Her publications include The American Journal of Poetry and Solstice Literary Magazine. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing with a focus in Poetry from Lesley University and a BA in Literature with minors in Writing, Communication, and Music History from Wheelock College.

Aaron Wallace

Jacksonville, FL
Graduated June 2019

AARON WALLACE’s work has been published in The American Journal of Poetry,The Wrath-Bearing Tree, The Deadly Writers Patrol, Typehouse Literary Magazine, North DakotaQuarterly, and Solstice Literary Magazine. His poem “The Blue Angels at Naval Air Station Jacksonville” was named as a Honorable Mention in the 2019 edition of Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors. He has recently launched Passengers Journal, an online publication that seeks to feature artists whose work challenges and perhaps offends prevailing sentiment, whether it be artistic or societal.

July Westhale

Oakland, CA
Graduated June 2013

JULY WESTHALE is an essayist, translator, and the award-winning author of five collections of poetry, including Trailer Trash,Occasionally Accurate Science, The Cavalcade, Quantifiable Data, and Via Negativa. Her most recent work can be found in McSweeney’s, The National Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, CALYX, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and The Huffington Post, among others. When she’s not teaching, she works as a co-founding editor of PULP Magazine.

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Natalie Young

Cedar City, UT
Graduated January 2009

NATALIE YOUNG is a founding and managing editor for the poetry magazine Sugar House Review. By day, she works as an art director for an ad agency based out of Salt Lake City. Her poems have been published in Green Mountains Review, Los Angeles Times, Rattle, South Dakota Review, Tampa Review,, Tar River Poetry, and elsewhere. Natalie is half Puerto Rican and half Brigham Young.

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