Teachers

Meet Our Teachers

Hugo House teachers are at the core of our goal to help writers become better writers. Our teachers are writers; they are selected on the basis of their active engagement in the literary world as well as their love of teaching.

  • Headshot of Lilliam Rivera

    Lilliam Rivera

  • Headshot of Patrick Rosal

    Patrick Rosal

  • Headshot of Bonnie Rough

    Bonnie Rough

  • Headshot of Melinda Ruth

    Melinda Ruth

  • Headshot of Jed Sabin

    Jed Sabin

  • Headshot of Matthew Salesses

    Matthew Salesses

  • Headshot of Edward Sambrano III

    Edward Sambrano III

  • Headshot of Rana San

    Rana San

  • Headshot of Rakesh Satyal

    Rakesh Satyal

  • Headshot of Caitlin Scarano

    Caitlin Scarano

  • Headshot of Molly Schaeffer

    Molly Schaeffer

  • Headshot of Hannah Schoettmer

    Hannah Schoettmer

  • Headshot of Laura Lampton Scott

    Laura Lampton Scott

  • Headshot of Heidi Seaborn

    Heidi Seaborn

  • Headshot of Nicole Sealey

    Nicole Sealey

  • Headshot of Stacy Selby

    Stacy Selby

  • Headshot of Kascha Semonovitch

    Kascha Semonovitch

  • Headshot of Monika Sengul-Jones

    Monika Sengul-Jones

  • Headshot of Natalie Serianni

    Natalie Serianni

  • Headshot of Emily Sernaker

    Emily Sernaker

  • Headshot of Zain Shamoon

    Zain Shamoon

  • Headshot of Sanjukta Shams

    Sanjukta Shams

  • Headshot of Radhika Sharma

    Radhika Sharma

  • Headshot of Nisi Shawl

    Nisi Shawl

Headshot of Lilliam Rivera

Lilliam Rivera

Lilliam Rivera is an award-winning writer and author of young adult and middle grade novels, most recently the YA novel Never Look Back (Bloomsbury YA, 2020), which BookPage called “a revelation” in a starred review, and the middle grade novel Goldie Vance: The Hotel Whodunit (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2020), which Kirkus praised as a “winner of a series opener.” She has two books forthcoming in Fall 2021; in September, Rivera’s first comic for DC Comics, Unearthed, and in October, We Light Up the Sky from Bloomsbury YA. Previous YA novels include Dealing in Dreams (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2019), which was featured in Teen Vogue, PBS Books, Los Angeles Times, and Bustle, among other outlets, and has received starred reviews from School Library Journal and Booklist; and The Education of Margot Sanchez (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2017), nominated for a 2017 Best Fiction for Young Adults by the Young Adult Library Services Association and was featured on NPR, New York Times Book Review, New York magazine, MTV.com, and Teen Vogue, among others. Rivera’s work has appeared in The Washington Post, The New York Times, Elle, Tin House, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, to name a few. 

She is a 2016 Pushcart Prize winner and a 2015 Clarion alumni with a Leonard Pung Memorial Scholarship. Rivera has also been awarded fellowships from PEN Center USA, A Room Of Her Own Foundation, and received a grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation and the Speculative Literature Foundation. Her short story "Death Defiant Bomba" received honorable mention in Bellevue Literary Review's 2014 Goldenberg Prize for Fiction, selected by author Nathan Englander. She recently received honorable mention in the 2018 James Tiptree, Jr. Literary Award.

Rivera was interviewed by Lightspeed in 2019 and was asked about a comment she made in an NPR interview about The Education of Margot Sanchez in which she explained her belief in “firsts’ in YA novels: “In young adult fiction, I believe a lot of the characters must go through a discovery of “firsts.” The first kiss. The first sense of shame. I love those moments in young adult literature when the protagonist discovers how their parents or adults are completely flawed and full of unrealized desires or dreams.”

Born in the Bronx and currently living in Los Angeles, Rivera has been a featured speaker in countless schools and book festivals throughout the United States and teaches creative writing workshops.

Headshot of Patrick Rosal

Patrick Rosal

PATRICK ROSAL currently serves as inaugural Codirector of the Mellon-funded Institute for the Study of Global Racial Justice at Rutgers-Camden, where he is a Professor of English. He is the author of five full-length poetry collections including the forthcoming The Last Thing: New and Selected Poems.

He has received fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Fulbright Research Scholar program. Residencies include Civitella Ranieri, a Lannan Residency in Marfa, TX, and the Atlantic Center for the Arts. He is co-founding editor of Some Call It Ballin’, a literary sports magazine.

Brooklyn Antediluvian (2016), won the Academy of American Poets Lenore Marshall Prize for best book of poetry and was a finalist for the Kingsley Tufts Award for Poetry. Previously, Boneshepherds (2011) was named a small press highlight by the National Book Critics Circle and a notable book by the Academy of American Poets. He is also the author of My American Kundiman (2006), and Uprock Headspin Scramble and Dive (2003). His collections have also been honored with the Association of Asian American Studies Book Award, Global Filipino Literary Award and the Asian American Writers Workshop Members' Choice Award.

He has received teaching appointments at Princeton University, Penn State Altoona, Centre College, and the University of Texas, Austin, Drew University's Low-Residency MFA program and Sarah Lawrence College. He taught creative writing for several years at Bloomfield College where he previously earned his B.A. and twice served on the faculty of Kundiman’s Summer Retreat for Asian American Poets. In addition to conducting workshops in Alabama prisons through Auburn University, he has taught high school workshops through the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, Sarah Lawrence College's Summer Writing Conference for High School Students, Urban Word NYC, and the Volume workshops in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He is Professor of Creative Writing at Rutgers University-Camden's MFA program, where he teaches courses on poetry, performance, improvisation, collaboration, and community art.

His poems and essays have been published widely in journals and anthologies including The New York TimesTin House, Drunken Boat, Poetry, New England Review, American Poetry Review, Harvard Review, Grantland, Brevity, Breakbeat Poets, and The Best American Poetry. His work has been recognized by the annual Allen Ginsberg Awards, the James Hearst Poetry Prize, the Arts and Letters Prize, Best of the Net among others. His chapbook Uncommon Denominators won the Palanquin Poetry Series Award from the University of South Carolina, Aiken.

His poems and voiceovers were included in the Argentine feature-length film Anhua: Amanecer which screened at the Mar del Plata International Film Festival. He has also appeared on the Leonard Lopate Show and the BBC Radio's World Today.

His invited readings and performances include several appearances at the Dodge Poetry Festival, the Stadler Center for Poetry, WordFest in Asheville, the poetry reading series at Georgia Tech, Poetry @ MIT, the Carr Reading Series at the University of Illinois, the Whitney Museum, Lincoln Center, Sarah Lawrence College, where he earned his MFA, and hundreds of other venues that span the United States, London, Buenos Aires, South Africa and the Philippines. 

Headshot of Bonnie Rough

Bonnie Rough

Bonnie J. Rough is an award-wining author, essayist, and journalist who loves the writing classroom, whether as student, mentor, or both at once. Her latest book is Beyond Birds and Bees: Bringing Home a New Message to Our Kids about Sex, Love, and Equality (Seal Press 2018). She has written recently for the New York Times, The Atlantic, The Cut, Washington Post, Slate, and many other outlets. Her previous two books, Carrier: Untangling the Danger in My DNA (winner of a Minnesota Book Award) and The Girls, Alone: Six Days in Estonia (named one of Amazon's Best Kindle Singles), are literary memoirs. Rough earned her MFA from the University of Iowa in 2005. She has taught in various writing programs including the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis and as faculty for the Ashland University low-residency MFA program. She has been the recipient of numerous grants, fellowships, and awards, with her creative work appearing in anthologies and publications including the Best American series, Modern Love, The Sun magazine, Brain, Child, the Seattle Review of Books, and dozens of other literary journals and magazines.

Headshot of Melinda Ruth

Melinda Ruth

Pronouns: she/they

Mel Ruth is a poet, a professor, a mentor, and a student. Mel is currently a PhD candidate at Georgia State University where they major in Creative Writing with a Concentration in Poetry. Mel obtained their MFA from University of Central Arkansas, and their BFA from Salisbury University. Mel has numerous years of teaching experience, in including, but not limited to, First Year Writing, Dual College Enrollment Composition, Introduction to Creative Writing, Forms & Theory of Poetry, and American Literature. Mel’s chapbook, “A Name Among Bone,” was selected as the winner of the 2021 Cow Creek Chapbook prize, and is forthcoming from Emerald City Press in early 2022. Their chapbook was also listed as a semi-finalist in the Spring 2020 Black River Chapbook Contest through Black Lawrence Press. Mel was the 2018-2019 Oxford American Magazine Editorial Assistant Fellow, and their work has been selected as a finalist for the Slice Literary’s Bridging the Gap Award. Mel has poems featured in, in forthcoming from, Hawai’i Pacific Review, The Emerson Review, Red Earth Review, Sierra Nevada Review and more. Their reviews have been featured in Pleiades, New Pages, Entropy, and The Rumpus. On top of being a poet, Mel is also seeking representation for their LGBTQ+ Young Adult Novel, “Good Intentions.” For more information go to melruth.com or follow Mel on Twitter @_Mel_Ruth_.

Headshot of Jed Sabin

Jed Sabin

Co-owner of Speculatively Queer, Jed Sabin is a jack-of-all-trades with professional experience as an editor, writer, scientist, project coordinator, and logistics manager. They were editor-in-chief of their college student newspaper, and they worked as an editor on the Maze of Games puzzle novel. Their writing has been published by Daily Science Fiction and Wired Magazine. Their hobbies include playing hockey, inventing weird cocktails, and maintaining a spreadsheet of over 600 queer movies.

Headshot of Matthew Salesses

Matthew Salesses

MATTHEW SALESSES is the author of the bestsellers The Hundred-Year Flood, an Adoptive Families Best Book of 2015 and Amazon.com Best Book of September, and Craft in the Real World, a Best Book of 2021 at NPR, Esquire, Library Journal, Independent Book Review, Chicago Tribune, Electric Literature, and others. His latest novel is the PEN/Faulkner Finalist Disappear Doppelgänger Disappear, a Thrillist.com and Entropy Best Book of 2020. Previous books include I’m Not Saying, I’m Just Saying; Different Racisms: On Stereotypes, the Individual, and Asian American Masculinity; and The Last Repatriate. Two more books are forthcoming: a novel, The Sense of Wonder, and a memoir-in-essays, To Grieve Is to Carry Another Time.

Matthew was adopted from Korea. In 2015 Buzzfeed named him one of 32 Essential Asian American Writers. His essays can be found in Best American Essays 2020, NPR Code Switch, The New York Times Motherlode, The Guardian, and other venues. His short fiction has appeared in Glimmer Train, American Short Fiction, PEN/Guernica, and Witness, among others. He has received awards and fellowships from Bread Loaf, Glimmer Train, Mid-American Review, [PANK], HTMLGIANT, IMPAC, Inprint, and elsewhere.

Matthew is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing in the MFA/PhD program at Oklahoma State University. He earned a Ph.D. in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Houston and an M.F.A. in Fiction from Emerson College. He serves on the editorial boards of Green Mountains Review and Machete (an imprint of The Ohio State University Press), and has held editorial positions at Pleiades, The Good Men Project, Gulf Coast, and Redivider. He has read and lectured widely at conferences and universities and on TV and radio, including PBS, NPR, Al Jazeera America, various MFA programs, and the Tin House, Kundiman, and One Story writing conferences.

Headshot of Edward Sambrano III

Edward Sambrano III

Pronouns: he/they

Edward Sambrano III is a Latinx poet, critic, and educator from San Antonio, Texas. They received their MFA from the University of Florida, and have received scholarships from the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference and the New York State Summer Writers Institute. Their writing has appeared in Pleiades, Waxwing, The American Journal of Poetry, and elsewhere. They can be found on Twitter @SambranoPoet

Headshot of Rana San

Rana San

Rana San is an intermedia artist, film festival curator, and video poetry educator with an interest in experimental modes of storytelling using analog media, stop motion, and direct animation. Rana co-directs Cadence Video Poetry Festival, an annual showcase of literary works presented as visual media. She is the Artistic Director at Northwest Film Forum and has recently presented work at SIFF (WA), Eugene Contemporary Art (OR), NYC Indie Theatre Film Festival (NY), and Experiments in Cinema (NM). ranasan.art

Headshot of Rakesh Satyal

Rakesh Satyal

RAKESH SATYAL is an Executive Editor who specializes in serious narrative nonfiction, as well as literary fiction and fiction in translation. He acquires across all the HarperOne lists — HarperOne, Amistad, HarperVia, and HarperCollins Español. He held previous editorial positions at Atria/Simon & Schuster, Harper/HarperCollins, and Doubleday/Random House. He has acquired and edited many New York Times bestsellers, including Let Love Have the Last Word by Common, Resistance by Tori Amos, I Have Something to Tell You by Chasten Buttigieg, the Children of Eden series by Joey Graceffa, I Can't Date Jesus by Michael Arceneaux, Holding by Graham Norton, and Furious Love by Sam Kashner and Nancy Schoenberger. Other authors with whom he has worked include Michael Ausiello, Guy Branum, Terry Castle, Paolo Cognetti, Marcia Gay Harden, Daniel Lavery, Armistead Maupin, Janet Mock, and Jake Shears.

An award-winning novelist (No One Can Pronounce my Name and Blue Boy), Rakesh has taught in the publishing program at New York University and currently serves as Vice President of the board of Lambda Literary, the world's leading LGBTQ+ literary organization. He is based in New York.

Headshot of Caitlin Scarano

Caitlin Scarano

Pronouns: she/they

Originally from Southside Virginia, Caitlin Scarano is a writer based in Bellingham, Washington. She holds a PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and an MFA from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Her second full length collection of poems, The Necessity of Wildfire, was selected by Ada Limón as the winner of the Wren Poetry Prize. Find her at caitlinscarano.com

Headshot of Molly Schaeffer

Molly Schaeffer

Pronouns: she/her

Molly Schaeffer’s writing has appeared in The Recluse, Tagvverk, Prelude, and The Poetry Project Newsletter; her chapbook STATE ZAP* is published by MO(0)ON/IO. She works in writing and visual art, and teaches in Bard College's Language and Thinking Program and the Summer @Brown Pre-College Program. She holds an MFA in poetry from Brown University. For more information go to mollyschaeffer.com.

Headshot of Hannah Schoettmer

Hannah Schoettmer

Pronouns: she/her

Hannah Schoettmer's poetry has appeared in venues like The Louisville Review, SOFTBLOW, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, ONE ART, and elsewhere. She's received a fellowship from Brooklyn Poets. Her debut chapbook, Body Panopticon (Bottlecap Features), was released in 2022.

Headshot of Laura Lampton Scott

Laura Lampton Scott

Laura Lampton Scott’s work has appeared publications including Michigan Quarterly ReviewTin House online, and Notre Dame Review. She served as senior associate editor for the oral history Lavil: Life, Love and Death in Port-au-Prince. She’s a MacDowell Colony fellow.

Headshot of Heidi Seaborn

Heidi Seaborn

Pronouns: she/her

Heidi Seaborn thought she’d grow up to be a writer. And eventually, she did. But first, she had a long global business career, raised three children, divorced, remarried, and then finally, in her late 50’s took a class at the Hugo House that helped launch her second act as a poet, essayist, and editor. Since 2016, Heidi’s authored two full-length collections of poetry, including PANK Books 2020 Poetry Award winner An Insomniac’s Slumber Party with Marilyn Monroe (2021), Give a Girl Chaos (C&R Press, 2019), and three chapbooks of poetry including the 2020 Comstock Review Prize Chapbook, Bite Marks (2021), as well as Finding My Way Home (Finishing Line Press, 2018) and Once a Diva (dancing girl press, 2021), as well as a poetic political pamphlet Body Politic (Mount Analogue Press, 2017). She’s won or been shortlisted for over two dozen awards. Her poetry and essays have recently appeared in American Poetry Journal, Beloit Poetry Journal, Best American Poetry, Brevity, Copper Nickel, The Cortland Review, The Financial Times, The Greensboro Review, The Missouri Review, The Slowdown, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, The Washington Post, and elsewhere. She is Executive Editor of The Adroit Journal and holds an MFA in Poetry from NYU and a BA from Stanford University. After living all over the world, she now resides in her hometown of Seattle.

Headshot of Nicole Sealey

Nicole Sealey

Nicole Sealey was born in St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands, and raised in Apopka, Florida. She earned an MLA in Africana studies from the University of South Florida and an MFA in creative writing from New York University. Sealey is the author of the collections Ordinary Beast (2017), a finalist for the PEN Open Book and Hurston/Wright Legacy Awards, and The Animal After Whom Other Animals Are Named (2016), winner of the Drinking Gourd Chapbook Poetry Prize. Her other honors and awards include a 2019 Rome Prize, an Elizabeth George Foundation Grant, a Stanley Kunitz Memorial Prize, a Daniel Varoujan Award, and a Poetry International Prize. She has been a fellow at Cave Canem, the Poetry Project, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, CantoMundo, and the MacDowell Colony. She is currently the executive director at Cave Canem, the 2018-2019 Doris Lippman Visiting Poet at The City College of New York, a visiting professor at Boston University, and a 2019-2020 Hodder Fellow at Princeton University.

Headshot of Stacy Selby

Stacy Selby

Headshot of Kascha Semonovitch

Kascha Semonovitch

Pronouns: she/her

Kascha Semonovitch’s poems and essays have appeared in journals including Quarterly West, The Bellingham Review, Zyzzyva, The Kenyon Review and others, and in the chapbook Genesis by Dancing Girl Press. She has a PhD in philosophy from Boston College, an MFA in poetry from Warren Wilson College. She has fellowships at the MacDowell Colony and the Ucross Foundation, and her creative nonfiction was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Kascha has edited two collections of philosophical essays on early twentieth century European thought, and published academic essays, mostly recently Attention and Expression in Simone Weil. She has taught philosophy at Boston College, Seattle University, and Hugo House in Seattle. She runs an art gallery in Seattle. Teaching Philosophy: I believe that we learn by reading – whether the work of our classmates, contemporary authors or canonical works. The work of a teacher lies in asking –and re-asking –questions that motivate us to pay attention to these texts. In class, we think together by articulating our interpretations. When we reach a conflict of interpretation – “Oh, I thought Robert Hass was talking about beauty” or “I thought Descartes meant his elbow”– then we inquire into the reasons for the conflict. After such careful reading, we are ready to re-read our own writing. We are better at paying attention to what is happening in syntax and semantics. As a faculty member at Seattle University for over seven years, I taught the history of philosophy, critical thinking, and ethics. Philosophers pay attention to the history and internal consistency of systems and concepts. This type of paying attention is also invaluable to writers. For example, we might ask whether poet thought through the connections between the terms in a text and the deep history of texts that precede it? Does a fictional or poetic world hold together consistently? I love learning by reading with students.

Website: kaschasemonovitch.com

Headshot of Monika Sengul-Jones

Monika Sengul-Jones

Pronouns: she/her, they/them

Monika Sengul-Jones (she/her), PhD, is an independent writer and scholar based in Seattle, WA, the traditional territories of the Coast Salish people. She has a doctorate in Communication and Science & Technology Studies and an MA in Gender Studies. She has taught at University of Washington, UC San Diego, and Central European University; she was the inaugural co-managing editor of Catalyst, a feminist technoscience journal. Her research and original reporting on technologies, civic media, and intersectional feminism have been supported by Art+Feminism, European Journalism Centre, OCLC, Knight Foundation, WikiCred, and Wikimedia Foundation. She is at work on a debut novel that takes on the geographies of pollution and inheritance of trauma. As an instructor, she encourages students to take risks by listening, following ideas, and naming the extraordinary in the ordinary.

Headshot of Natalie Serianni

Natalie Serianni

Pronouns: she/her

Natalie Serianni is a Seattle-based writer and instructor with work at HuffPost, Insider, Motherwell, MSN/SheKnows, The Manifest-Station, Seattle's ParentMap, Today's Parent, and MuthaMagazine, among others. Her essay, "Subtle Shifts," was included in the 2021 anthology, "The Pandemic Midlife Crisis: Gen X Women on the Brink." She writes about grief and parenting (sometimes together), and has taught college writing for over twenty years. Connect with her on instagram @natserianni or at natalieserianni.com

Headshot of Emily Sernaker

Emily Sernaker

Pronouns: She/her

Emily Sernaker is a writer and human-rights professional based in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in the Sun, New York Times, Ms. Magazine, McSweeney’s, Los Angeles Review of Books, San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, Rumpus, New Ohio Review and more. Over the last few years she has teamed up with Brooklyn Public Library to organize free, intergenerational, human-rights poetry programming, including Holding Space for Grief events, an Interfaith Poetry Reading, and Global Citizen poetry classes. She has worked as a staff member at the International Rescue Committee and New York Peace Institute and is currently an adjunct professor at the New School. Go to www.emilysernaker.com for more information or follow on social media @Emilysernaker.

Headshot of Zain Shamoon

Zain Shamoon

Pronouns: he/him

Zain Shamoon is a professor of couple and family therapy at Antioch University Seattle. He hold his PhD in Human Development and Family Studies. He is the host and founder of the Narratives of Pain storytelling showcase.

Headshot of Sanjukta Shams

Sanjukta Shams

Pronouns: she/her

Shama Shams (Sanjukta) (is an author who lives in Dallas and Seattle. She plans to fully relocate to Seattle in May 2022 after her daughter graduates from High School. She holds a Master’s in Religion with an emphasis on Islam from Florida State University. Excerpts of her memoir were published in Palooka, A Journal of Underdog Excellence; Transformation, A Journal of Literature, Ideas & the Arts; Fiction Fix; and Mandala Literary Journal. She was a finalist for Black Warrior Review and her book proposal, as well as four of her essays, were selected by Mayborn Literary Nonfiction Conference hosted by University of North Texas. In front of a live sold-out audience at the Dallas Museum of Arts and the AT&T Performing Arts Center, she read excerpts from her memoir which can be found on the YouTube channel titled: Oral Fixation (An Obsession with True Life Tales)’s Lost in Translation, Elephant in the Room, and Old School. In addition, she read excerpts from her memoir at Truth in Comedy, a show featuring nonfiction writers. Shama works as the Director of Philanthropy and Marketing for Real Escape from the Sex Trade (REST), a Seattle-based nonprofit serving victims and survivors of sex trade and sex trafficking. During her spare time, she loves to write, paint, hike, and travel.

Headshot of Radhika Sharma

Radhika Sharma

Pronouns: she/her

Radhika Sharma is the author of Parikrama: A Collection of Short Stories and Mangoes for Monkeys: A Novel. Radhika received her MFA from the San Francisco State University. Her byline has appeared in several newspapers and magazines including The San Francisco Chronicle, The San Jose Mercury News, India Currents, Tri City Voice, and others. She is currently at work on a novel and a collection of essays.

Headshot of Nisi Shawl

Nisi Shawl

Pronouns: they/them

Nisi Shawl (they/them) is the multiple award-winning author and editor of over a dozen books of speculative fiction and related nonfiction, including the Nebula Award finalist novel Everfair; the standard text on inclusive representation, Writing the Other; and the first two volumes of the New Suns anthology series. Their most recent publication is the middle grade historical fantasy novel Speculation, which Lee & Low published in January 2023. They’ve taught and spoken at Duke University, Spelman College, Stanford University, Sarah Lawrence College, and many other institutions. Once upon a time, they conducted a filmed, onstage interview with Octavia E. Butler.