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English Department

MIU’s Department of English teaches writing from a basis of consciousness and creativity. In all of our courses, we focus on the writer and the creative process alongside the creative product. What is most unique about our programs is that we incorporate Transcendental Meditation as a tool to develop the creative imagination. Transcendental Meditation is an evidence-based technique that reduces stress, enhances clear thinking, and heightens creativity. It helps writers tap the deepest layers of themselves, bringing fresh inspiration to all of their creative work.

Our highly credentialed faculty are working creatives with backgrounds in creative writing or literature. We take mentorship to heart, and it is our passion to bring out the best in our students. We believe that an inclusive and socially aware learning environment is essential to learning. We hold a safe space to help our students discover their authentic writers’ voices. Our classrooms are creative laboratories where students have the freedom to unguardedly experiment with subject matter and craft, to try new approaches without fear of making mistakes. This is how writers break boundaries, discover new frontiers, and get energized with the possibilities and power of creation.

All of our programs strongly emphasize real-world adaptation and professional preparation. We invite local authors and publishers into our classrooms to speak to our students about creativity and the writing life. We offer a course called “Writing to Publish” and help our students break into print. Our students also run a high-quality online literary journal, Metafore.

As faculty members, we want to help our students thrive creatively, professionally, and personally. We do our utmost to support our students to become successful poets and writers. We warmly welcome prospective students to culture their creative abilities within our unique and dynamic literary community.

Degree programs

The Department of English also directs the composition program and provides a Writing Center for those wishing extra writing assistance.

Featured Faculty

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Terry Fairchild

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Terry Fairchild has over twenty years of experience in college administration, curriculum design, and the teaching of literature, literary theory, film, and composition at the university level. His courses range from the classics to post–modernism, with emphasis on the twentieth century. He also has a strong background in such specialized areas as modern drama, Asian literature, media studies, and spiritual literature.

Terry earned his PhD in English from the University of Iowa. He teaches Film, Shakespeare, Medieval, Drama, Modern British, Proseminar (Literary Theory), American Literature II. Research areas include Literature and Literary Criticism of the Twentieth Century, Maharishi Vedic ScienceSM as Literary Theory, Bernard Malamud, T. S. Eliot, Frank Waters, Postmodernism. Curriculum Vitae >

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Nynke Passi

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Nynke Passi started teaching at MIU in 1998, first in professional writing, then in creative writing and literature. One of the University's most popular teachers, Nynke has developed an extensive undergraduate creative writing curriculum with courses such as creative process, graphic narrative, poetry, poetry and transcendence, memoir, personal essay, fiction, and travel writing. A graduate of MIU herself (class of 1986), she went on to get her MA degree in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. Nynke’s writing has been published in literary magazines such as The Gulf Coast Review, The Anthology of New England Writers, Thirteen, and Ink. Her poems have been anthologized in The Dryland Fish, This Enduring Gift, River of Earth and Sky: Poems for the Twenty-First Century, and the Brook Road Literary Anthology.

Her work was also featured on the website of nationally known artist Toc Fetch, and she was commissioned to write a poem for artist Ken Dubin to accompany his painting “Field of All Possibilities.” Her story “The Kiss” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and her essay "Oom Ealse and the Swan" was a finalist in the 2014 Jeffrey E. Smith Editor's Prize of The Missouri Review. Nynke also works as a freelance editor and translator. Together with Rustin Larson and Christine Schrum, she edited the poetry anthology Leaves by Night, Flowers by Day. She is a former member of the board of the New England Writers’ Association and was associate editor of the ’93 and ’94 issues of The Anthology of New England Writers. In the Fall of 2013, Nynke helped organize the 40-year reunion of MIU’s English department, the first event of its kind at MIU. As a result, she was awarded an MIU alumni award. Nynke also received three student appreciation awards during her tenure at MIU.

Leah Waller

Leah Waller

Leah Waller

Leah Waller is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing and the director of the BA and BFA in Creative Writing programs. Leah’s work has been published in literary journals, magazines, newspapers, and anthologies. Her book Under the Cedar Tree had a soaring debut in Amazon’s top ten bestseller list for poetry and continues to be a popular favorite among reading circles. Leah received her bachelor’s degree in literature and a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing at Northern Arizona University. At NAU, Leah worked as the Assistant Managing Editor for Thin Air Magazine and an instructor of composition writing.

dylene cymraes

Dylene Cymraes

dylene cymraes

Dylene Cymraes holds a BFA in Creative & Professional Writing from MIU and an MA in Communication and Storytelling Studies from East Tennessee State University. She is a professional author, writing mentor, editor and a trainer/facilitator. She has worked with writers at every level of expertise, from novices to PhD students. In the course of her professional life, she has edited and contributed to more than 50 screenplays, plus published five novels and two non-fiction books. Her work appears in the American Journal of Poetry and Sink Hollow. Her training and facilitation experience ranges from serving Family Support initiatives with the US Army in Europe to working with at-risk youth in inner city Baltimore and offering communication skills training for students in Iowa, Maryland, and Pennsylvania.

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● Craig Deininger

craig deininger

Before coming to MIU, Craig taught at Naropa University, Lees-McRae College, Studio Film School in Los Angeles, and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, where he earned an MFA in Creative Writing, served as an editor for the Juniper Prize for Poetry, and was Coordinator of the MFA’s Visiting Writers Series. He also earned an MA and PhD in Mythology and Jungian Psychology from Pacifica Graduate Institute in California. His poetry has been published in several literary journals, anthologies, and newspapers, including The Iowa Review, Glyphs, Between, Moab Happenings, and Riverbend. He is a regularly featured writer for the Joseph Campbell Foundation, and his first book of poetry, Leaves from the World Tree, was recently published by Mandorla Books.

Mel McCuin

Melanie McCuin

Mel McCuin

Mel McCuin received her Bachelor of Arts in History from Arizona State University in 2005 and her Master of Fine Art in Creative Writing from Northern Arizona University in 2014. Her writing has appeared in The Salt River Review, The Gila River Review, The Blue Guitar, and Unstrung. Her most recent work can be viewed at howweare.org.

Sasha

Sasha Kamini Parmasad

Sasha

Sasha Kamini Parmasad ​(MFA, Columbia University) is an award-winning poet and fiction writer and author of the poetry collection ​No Poem​ (Yuganta Press). She began publicly and professionally engaging the space of Consciousness and Culture at age six, performing songs and poetry on a national scale in her native Trinidad and Tobago as well as in New Delhi, India. Sasha’s childhood poetry was published in Equality​ ​(All India Democratic Women’s Association Journal) and was awarded first place in national competitions in Trinidad and Tobago. A collection of her childhood poetry, ​Poems of a Girl Child​, will be published in 2020.

As an adult, Sasha continues to engage the space of Consciousness and Culture as an educator, peace activist/meditation teacher, visual artist, and writer. ​Her first novel,​ ​Ink and Sugar​,​ placed third in the United States in the First Words Literary Contest for South Asian Writers, ​while her poetry placed first in the annual Poetry International Competition and has appeared in a variety of online and print publications in the US, India, and the Caribbean, including​ Muse India, Indivisible: An Anthology of Contemporary South Asian American Poetry​,​ ​and ​Modern English Poetry by Younger Indians​. Working as a community activist in Queens, NYC, Sasha co-edited the chapbook Bolo Bahen! Speak Sister!​, which emerged out of an Arts & Empowerment Program co-sponsored by Sakhi for South Asian Women and Jahajee Sisters; this publication gives voice to immigrant experiences of domestic violence in Queens. Sasha’s other projec​ts include screenplays for two short independent films,​ Land of Nothing​ ​(director, Amine Kouider) and ​Navaswan: A Tale of Self, Loss, and Love (director and cowriter, Marc Baraka Strauch), and essays on Consciousness and Culture, which have been published on the Transcendental Meditation for Women website, as well as presented at Matwaala (South Asian Diaspora Poets’ Collective) Festivals in 2015 and 2017, and at the Indenture Abolition Centenary Conference at the University of London in 2017. Over the years, Sasha has designed curricula, taught academic writing, creative writing, and multi-arts courses, and led meditation/personal development projects in programs at Columbia University and UN Women, in leadership/government circles in the US, in underserved communities (NYC, Chicago, Washington DC), and internationally. With more than twenty years of meditation experience, ​she has worked as a Specialist Transcendental Meditation Teacher and a Director of Special Projects with the David Lynch Foundation (NYC) and is currently an Adjunct Professor of Creative Writing at Maharishi International University in Iowa.

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Ben McClendon

ben mcclendon

Ben McClendon earned his PhD in English from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, specializing in Creative Writing (Poetry) and Rhetoric/Composition. He was raised in Arizona, where he earned an MA in Creative Writing (Poetry) and a BSEd in Secondary English Education, both from Northern Arizona University. Ben’s experience in the classroom began with five years teaching high school English before teaching composition, creative writing, and literature at both Northern Arizona University and the University of Tennessee. Ben’s poetry can be found in literary journals such as Rattle, Indiana Review, The Chariton Review, Stirring, and Redivider. He is currently finding a home for a book-length poetry manuscript that explores his deep interest in environment and social engagement.

Rustin Larson

Rustin Larson

Rustin Larson

A graduate of the Vermont College MFA in Creative Writing, Larson was an Iowa Poet at The Des Moines National Poetry Festival, and a featured poet at the Poetry at Round Top Festival. He is a poetry professor and MFA mentor at Maharishi International University, a writing instructor at Kirkwood Community College, and has also been a writing instructor at Indian Hills Community College. His poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, The Iowa Review, and North American Review. He won 1st Editor’s Prize from Rhino and was a prize winner in The National Poet Hunt and The Chester H. Jones Foundation contests. Among his published books are the poetry collections Library Rain (Conestoga Zen Press, 2019), which was named a February 2019 Exemplar by Grace Cavalieri and reviewed in The Washington Independent Review of Books; Howling Enigma (Conestoga Zen Press, 2018); Pavement (Blue Light Press, 2017); The Philosopher Savant (Glass Lyre Press, 2015); Bum Cantos, Winter Jazz, & The Collected Discography of Morning (Blue Light Press, 2013); The Wine-Dark House (Blue Light Press, 2009); and Crazy Star (Loess Hills Books, 2005). His honors and awards also include Pushcart Prize Nominee (seven times, 1988-2010); featured writer, DMACC Celebration of the Literary Arts, 2007, 2008; and finalist, New England Review Narrative Poetry Competition, 1985.

paul morehead jr

Paul Morehead, Jr.

paul morehead jr

Paul Morehead Jr. teaches undergraduate graphic narrative, animation, and cartoon studies in the English and Cinematic Arts & New Media Departments. He will be a visiting faculty in the low-residency MFA in Creative Writing, offering guest seminars on the topic of graphic novels and memoirs. He received an MFA in Comics and Animation from California College of the Arts, and a BA in Media Arts & Animation from MIU. He has extensive experience in 2D animation, comics, and book illustration. He is the founder and creative director of Morehead Media, the creative head and lead storyteller at Nishpatti Foundation and creative director at Naked Moment. He served as TA at California College of the Arts and has been adjunct faculty in the dept. of English, teaching our undergraduate Graphic Narrative course.

Jim Fairchild

James Fairchild

Jim Fairchild

Dr. Jim Fairchild received his BA from Brigham Young University, his MA at the University of Utah, and his PhD from the University of Iowa—all in English. He taught secondary education for two years; in between, he became a teacher of Transcendental Meditation and taught TM full-time in the early and mid-seventies. At MIU, following his PhD in English, Jim wrote for the University publication MIU World and eventually became its editor. He taught Professional Writing at MIU for six years and then moved to the English Department, where he taught literature and creative writing for the next 17 years. Jim has published numerous feature stories and articles on Transcendental Meditation and the TM Movement as well as on various other topics. He likes to write short stories, mostly science fiction. After retiring in 2018, Jim earned an MA in Vedic Science and, starting in September, 2020, will begin his PhD in Maharishi Vedic Science. Jim is a professor Emeritus of Literature.

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