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 Darina Sikmashvili

    Darina Sikmashvili

  • Headshot of Martha Silano

    Martha Silano

  • Headshot of Michele Simms-Burton

    Michele Simms-Burton

  • Headshot of Leonora Simonovis

    Leonora Simonovis

  • Hugo House logo

    Imani Sims

  • Hugo House logo

    Anjali Singh

  • Headshot of Elsa Sjunneson

    Elsa Sjunneson

  • Headshot of Judith Skillman

    Judith Skillman

  • Headshot of Ed Skoog

    Ed Skoog

  • Headshot of Beth Slattery

    Beth Slattery

  • Headshot of Danez Smith

    Danez Smith

  • Headshot of Rachel Sobel

    Rachel Sobel

  • Headshot of Jen Soriano

    Jen Soriano

  • Headshot of Hailey Spencer

    Hailey Spencer

  • Headshot of Katherine E. Standefer

    Katherine E. Standefer

  • Hugo House logo

    Dianna Stockdale

  • Headshot of Cara Stoddard

    Cara Stoddard

  • Headshot of Ray Stoeve

    Ray Stoeve

  • Headshot of J. Ryan Stradal

    J. Ryan Stradal

  • Headshot of Greg Stump

    Greg Stump

  • Headshot of Leigh Sugar

    Leigh Sugar

  • Headshot of Kirsten Sundberg Lunstrum

    Kirsten Sundberg Lunstrum

  • Headshot of Aimee Suzara

    Aimee Suzara

  • Headshot of Mathias Svalina

    Mathias Svalina

Headshot of Darina Sikmashvili

Darina Sikmashvili

Pronouns: she/her

Darina (Dasha) Sikmashvili was born in Lubny, Ukraine, and raised in Brooklyn, New York. She received her MFA in fiction from the University of Michigan and has been working in film production for over a decade.

Headshot of Martha Silano

Martha Silano

Pronouns: she/her

Martha Silano is the author of five poetry books, including Gravity Assist, Reckless Lovely, and The Little Office of the Immaculate Conception, all from Saturnalia Books. Her poems have appeared in Poetry, New England Review, American Poetry Review, and Paris Review, among others, and in four dozen print anthologies, including American Poetry: The Next Generation and ?Best American Poetry 2009. She also co-authored, with Kelli Russell Agodon, The Daily Poet: Day-By-Day Prompts for Your Writing Practice. Martha received Yaddo's 2017 Martha Walsh Pulver Residency. She teaches at Bellevue College.

Headshot of Michele Simms-Burton

Michele Simms-Burton

Pronouns: She/her

Michele L. Simms-Burton is a writer and a retired university professor living in metro DC. Her recent writings appear in DownBeat, DCMTA, Auburn Avenue, and the Crisis Magazine.

Headshot of Leonora Simonovis

Leonora Simonovis

Pronouns: she/her/ella

Leonora Simonovis is the author of Study of the Raft, winner of the 2021 Colorado Prize for Poetry. Her work has appeared in Gargoyle, Kweli Journal, Diode Poetry Journal, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and The Rumpus, among others. Her poems have also been featured in Verse Daily, Sims Library of Poetry, and CIACLA (Contemporary Irish Center, Los Angeles). She has been the recipient of fellowships from Women Who Submit (WWS), VONA, and the Poetry Foundation. A Venezuelan American poet, Leonora grew up in Caracas, Venezuela, and currently lives in San Diego, CA, where she teaches Latin American literature and creative writing in Spanish at the University of San Diego. Website: leonorasimonovis.com Instagram: @leosimonovis Twitter: @lsimonovis

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Imani Sims

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Anjali Singh

Headshot of Elsa Sjunneson

Elsa Sjunneson

Elsa Sjunneson is a Deafblind author and editor living in Seattle, Washington. Her fiction and nonfiction writing has been praised as "eloquence and activism in lockstep" and has been published in dozens of venues around the world. She has been a Hugo Award finalist seven times and has won Hugo, Aurora, and BFA awards for her editorial work. When she isn't writing, Sjunneson works to dismantle structural ableism and rebuild community support for disabled people everywhere. Her debut memoir, Being Seen: One Deafblind Woman's Fight to End Ableism, released in October of 2021 from Tiller Press.

Headshot of Judith Skillman

Judith Skillman

Pronouns: she/her

Judith Skillman’s Oscar the Misanthropist, won the Floating Bridge Press Chapbook Award, 2021. Her work has appeared in Cimarron Review, Threepenny Review, Zyzzyva, and other literary journals. She is the recipient of awards from Academy of American Poets and Artist Trust, and lead editor of When Home Is Not Safe, Writings on Domestic Verbal, Emotional, and Physical Abuse, McFarland. Skillman’s new book is Subterranean Address, New & Selected Poems 2014-2022, Deerbrook Editions. Visit www.judithskillman.com for more information.

Headshot of Ed Skoog

Ed Skoog

Pronouns: He/him

Ed Skoog is the author of four books of poems, most recently Travelers Leaving for the City (Copper Canyon Press, 2020). His poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Paris Review, The New Republic, American Poetry Review, Poetry Northwest and elsewhere. He has received fellowships from The Lannan Foundation and George Washington University, and has served as writer-in-residence at the Richard Hugo House. He lives in Portland, Oregon. 

Headshot of Beth Slattery

Beth Slattery

Pronouns: she/her/hers

Beth Slattery moved to Seattle after eighteen years of teaching creative writing and literature at Indiana University East. Since her relocation, she has been writing and editing. Beth is currently working on a collection of personal essays about her mid-life marriage to a Zimbabwean, a move from the Midwest to the Pacific Northwest, and a reluctant acceptance of the call to adventure. Her most recent publications appear in Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies and Southern Women’s Review. Beth’s recent editing work includes being a “beta” reader for an author with a multi-book publishing contract, content and copy editing of a personal essay collection, and providing comprehensive editing services on an edited academic volume that was later published by Oxford University Press. She has an M.A. in fiction writing from Miami University and an M.F.A. in creative nonfiction from the University of Southern Maine—Stonecoast.

Headshot of Danez Smith

Danez Smith

Danez Smith is a Black, Queer, Poz writer & performer from St. Paul, MN. Danez is the author of Homie, (Graywolf Press, 2020), winner of the Minnesota Book Award, the Heartland Bookseller Award, and a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; Don’t Call Us Dead (Graywolf Press, 2017), winner of the Forward Prize for Best Collection, the Midwest Booksellers Choice Award, and a finalist for the National Book Award; and [insert] boy (YesYes Books, 2014), winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry. Danez is a member of the Dark Noise Collective and is the co-host of VS with Franny Choi, a podcast sponsored by the Poetry Foundation and Postloudness.

Headshot of Rachel Sobel

Rachel Sobel

Rachel Sobel is a writer of speculative and literary fiction about dykes and other queer people. A graduate of the Hunter MFA in Fiction, she has lived in NYC and Seattle.

Headshot of Jen Soriano

Jen Soriano

Pronouns: she/they

Jen Soriano (she~they) is a Filipinx writer and movement builder who has long worked at the intersection of grassroots organizing, narrative strategy, and art-driven social change. Jen has won the International Literary Award for Creative Nonfiction, the Fugue Prose Prize, and fellowships from Hugo House, Vermont Studio Center, Artist Trust, and the Jack Jones Literary Arts Retreat. Jen is also an independent scholar and performer, and has served as poet in residence with Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility. Jen is author of the chapbook “Making the Tongue Dry,” and co-editor of Closer to Liberation: A Pina/xy Activist Anthology. She received a BA in History and Science from Harvard and an MFA in fiction and nonfiction from the Rainier Writing Workshop. Originally from a landlocked part of the Chicago area, Jen now lives with her family in Seattle, near the Duwamish River and the Salish Sea. Her debut book, Nervous: Essays on Heritage and Healing, is now available from Amistad/HarperCollins.

Headshot of Hailey Spencer

Hailey Spencer

Pronouns: She/Her/Hers

Hailey Spencer is, in the words of her wife Elizabeth, an absolute cloud of a girl. She is the author of the poetry collection Stories for When the Wolves Arrive. She lives and writes in Seattle, Washington.

Headshot of Katherine E. Standefer

Katherine E. Standefer

Pronouns: she/her

Katherine E. Standefer is the author of Lightning Flowers: My Journey to Uncover the Cost of Saving a Life (Little, Brown Spark 2020), which was a finalist for the Kirkus Prize in Nonfiction, an NYT Book Review Editor’s Choice, and shortlisted for the J. Anthony Lukas Work-in-Progress Prize from Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. Lightning Flowers was featured on NPR’s Fresh Air, on the goop podcast, and in O, The Oprah Magazine, and People Magazine. Standefer earned her MFA at the University of Arizona. Her writing appeared in The Best American Essays 2016 and won the 2015 Iowa Review Award in Nonfiction. Standefer was a 2018 Logan Nonfiction Fellow at the Carey Institute for Global Good and a 2017 Marion Weber Healing Arts Fellow at the Mesa Refuge. She currently lives in the Tetons. 

Website: www.KatherineStandefer.com

Social Media: @girlmakesfire

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Dianna Stockdale

Pronouns: She/Her
Headshot of Cara Stoddard

Cara Stoddard

Pronouns: she/they

Cara Stoddard holds an MFA from the University of Idaho and a BA from the College of Wooster. Their work has appeared in The Gettysburg Review, Terrain, and Ninth Letter, among others, and has been nominated for Pushcart. Learn more at Cara's website.

Headshot of Ray Stoeve

Ray Stoeve

Ray Stoeve is the author of the young adult novels Between Perfect and Real (2021) and Arden Grey (2022), both Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selections. They also contributed to the young adult anthology Take The Mic: Fictional Stories of Everyday Resistance. They received a 2016-2017 Made at Hugo House Fellowship and created the YA/MG Trans and Nonbinary Voices Masterlist, a database that tracks all books in those age categories written by trans authors about trans characters. When they’re not writing, they can be found gardening, making art in other mediums, or hiking their beloved Pacific Northwest.

 

They enjoy fiction of all age categories and genres, especially historical and contemporary realist works about queer and trans characters. They are best equipped to provide sensitivity reads and consult on young adult novels. In addition to being a full-time writer, they also work with authors and publishers seeking sensitivity reads for queer and trans characters.

Headshot of J. Ryan Stradal

J. Ryan Stradal

Pronouns: he/him

J. Ryan Stradal is the author of the New York Times bestseller Kitchens of the Great Midwest, the national bestseller The Lager Queen of Minnesota, and the forthcoming novel Saturday Night at the Lakeside Supper Club. He lives in California. 

Headshot of Greg Stump

Greg Stump

Pronouns: he/him

Greg Stump has been a regular contributor to The Stranger for more than a decade. He is the co-creator of the comic book series Urban Hipster, a former writer and editor for The Comics Journal, and the creator of the weekly alternative-newspaper comic Dwarf Attack. He teaches comics through a variety of schools and organizations in the Seattle area and recently completed his first graphic novel, Disillusioned Illusions.

Headshot of Leigh Sugar

Leigh Sugar

Pronouns: she/her

Leigh Sugar is a multidisciplinary artist from Michigan. She currently teaches writing at the Institute for Justice and Opportunity at John Jay College in New York City, and holds an MFA in Poetry from New York University, where she studied on fellowship. Poems appear in POETRY, jubilat, Pigeon Pages, and more. Leigh has taught in a variety of settings to folks ages 0 through older adulthood, including undergraduate creative writing at NYU, facilitating writing workshops in state prisons through the Prison Creative Arts Project, and teaching academic and professional writing to justice-system involved individuals. A disabled and chronically ill artist, Leigh aims to foster accessible arts spaces and invites active feedback from participants in order to make workshop as safe and supportive as possible. We are all responsible to ourselves and each other, and poetry workshops are such a sacred place to practice this system of community care. Find out more (and say hello!) at www.leighksugar.com.

Social Media: @lekasugar

Headshot of Kirsten Sundberg Lunstrum

Kirsten Sundberg Lunstrum

Pronouns: she/her

Kirsten Sundberg Lunstrum is the author of three collections of short fiction, most recently What We Do With the Wreckage, which won the 2017 Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction and was published by UGA Press in 2018. Her earlier collections are Swimming With Strangers (Chronicle, 2008) and This Life She's Chosen (Chronicle, 2005). Her short fiction has been published in Ploughshares, McSweeney's, One Story, and North American Review, among other journals, and she has been the recipient of a PEN/O. Henry Prize. Kirsten teaches fiction writing at Hugo House and 9th–12th grade English at a small independent school near Seattle.

Headshot of Aimee Suzara

Aimee Suzara

Pronouns: she/her

Aimee Suzara is a Filipino-American poet, playwright, and performer based in Oakland, CA whose mission is to create, and help others create, poetic and theatrical writing about race, gender, and the body to provoke dialogue and social change. Her debut poetry book, Souvenir (WordTech Editions 2014) was a finalist for the WILLA Award 2015, and her plays A History of the Body and Tiny Fires were finalist for the Bay Area Playwrights Festival 2015 and 2016. A YBCAway awardee and Spirited Woman Fellow (AROHO), her theater and performance work has been presented nationally and staged at Berkeley Repertory Theater, CounterPULSE, the World Theater, and Bindlestiff Studio and selected for PlayGround, United States of Asian America Festival, Emerging Performance Festival, The National One-Minute Play Festival, Utah Arts Festival, and APAture; she collaborated as a writer-performer with Deep Waters Dance Theater in 2007–2011 and with other groups such as the San Francisco State University University Dance Theater. She is a 4th season member of the Playground SF Writer's Pool at Berkeley Repertory Theater. An advocate for arts education, she has taught composition at Bay Area Colleges and Universities since 2006 and has offered workshops and coaching in creative writing since 2003. Visit www.aimeesuzara.net for more information.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aimeesuzarapoet/

Instagram: @aimeesuzara.artist

Headshot of Mathias Svalina

Mathias Svalina

Mathias Svalina is the author of seven books, most recently America at Play, a collection of absurdist instructions for children's games published by Trident Books. His latest poetry collection, Thank You Terror, is forthcoming in winter of 2024, & his first short story collection, Comedy, will be published later in 2024. Svalina was a founding editor of Octopus Books & has led writing workshops in universities, libraries, community spaces, & in prison. Since 2014 he has run a dream delivery service, traveling around the country to write & deliver dreams to subscribers. With the Dream Delivery Service, he has worked with the Denver Museum of Contemporary Art, the Poetry Foundation, & the University of Arizona Poetry Center, & has been featured on NPR's Morning Edition & the BBC World News.