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 Molly Schaeffer

    Molly Schaeffer

  • Headshot of Molly Schaeffer

    Molly Schaeffer

  • Headshot of Laura Lampton Scott

    Laura Lampton Scott

  • Headshot of Heidi Seaborn

    Heidi Seaborn

  • Headshot of Stacy Selby

    Stacy Selby

  • Hugo House logo

    Angela Sells

  • Headshot of Kascha Semonovitch

    Kascha Semonovitch

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    Kascha Semonovitch and Roger Gilman

  • Headshot of Maria Semple

    Maria Semple

  • Headshot of Monika Sengul-Jones

    Monika Sengul-Jones

  • Headshot of Monika Sengul-Jones

    Monika Sengul-Jones

  • 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

  • Hugo House logo

    Daemond Arrindell & Shelby Handler

  • Hugo House logo

    Karen Finneyfrock & Shelby Handler

  • Hugo House logo

    Samar Abulhassan and Shelby Handler

  • Hugo House logo

    David Shields

  • Headshot of Michael Shilling

    Michael Shilling

  • Headshot of Martha Silano

    Martha Silano

  • Hugo House logo

    Leah Silvieus

  • Headshot of Michele L. Simms-Burton

    Michele L. Simms-Burton

Headshot of Molly Schaeffer

Molly Schaeffer

Molly Schaeffer’s writing has appeared in The Poetry Project Newsletter, Tagvverk, and the anthology Text Means Tissue. A founding editor of Big Big Wednesday, an annual print journal, she works in writing and visual art. She holds an MFA from Brown University.

Headshot of Molly Schaeffer

Molly Schaeffer

Molly Schaeffer’s writing has appeared in The Poetry Project Newsletter, Tagvverk, and the anthology Text Means Tissue. A founding editor of Big Big Wednesday, an annual print journal, she works in writing and visual art. She holds an MFA from Brown University.

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, 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 Stacy Selby

Stacy Selby

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Angela Sells

Headshot of Kascha Semonovitch

Kascha Semonovitch

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.

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Kascha Semonovitch and Roger Gilman

Headshot of Maria Semple

Maria Semple

Maria Semple is the author of the best-selling novels Today Will Be Different and Where’d You Go, Bernadette. She wrote for the TV shows Arrested Development, Mad About You, and Ellen. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times and the New Yorker. Where’d You Go, Bernadette has been translated into 30 languages. It spent over a year on the New York Times bestseller list and made over a dozen yearend best lists. It was shortlisted for the Women’s Prize and received the Alex Award from the American Library Association. The film version of the book, starring Cate Blanchett, Kristen Wiig, and Billy Crudup, will premiere in March 2019. Today Will Be Different was featured on the cover of the New York Times book review. It made over a dozen year-end best lists and is currently in development as a limited TV series.

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 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 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. www.emilysernaker.com

Headshot of Zain Shamoon

Zain Shamoon

Dr. Zain Shamoon completed his PhD in Human Development and Family Studies in Fall 2017 at Michigan State University. He also completed a Master’s degree in Couple and Family therapy in 2011. He is dedicated to the creation of spaces where people can tell their personal stories on route to their own wellness. In his clinical work, he has served a range of clients, including those wrestling with high anxiety, relational conflict, and severe depression.

In March 2015, he helped launch the Narratives of Pain project, which is a group emotional outlet of personal narrative and catharsis based in Metro Detroit, and now Seattle. Currently, Zain is a professor of Couple and Family Therapy at Antioch University Seattle.

Headshot of Sanjukta Shams

Sanjukta Shams

Pronouns: she/her

Shama 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 hold a Master’s in Religion with 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 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

Multiple award-winning author Nisi Shawl wrote the Nebula finalist Everfair, and co-wrote Writing the Other: A Practical Approach, a standard text on inclusive representation. They co-edited the anthologies Stories for Chip: A Tribute to Samuel R. Delany; and Strange Matings: Science Fiction, Feminism, African American Voices, and Octavia E. Butler.

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Daemond Arrindell & Shelby Handler

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Karen Finneyfrock & Shelby Handler

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Samar Abulhassan and Shelby Handler

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David Shields

Headshot of Michael Shilling

Michael Shilling

Pronouns: he/him/his

Michael Shilling is the author of Rock Bottom, a novel published by Little, Brown. The musical adaptation of the book was staged in 2014 by the Landless Theater Company. His stories have appeared in The Sun, Fugue, and Other Voices.

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.

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Leah Silvieus

Headshot of Michele L. Simms-Burton

Michele L. Simms-Burton

Pronouns: she/her