MFA Faculty

Creative Writing & Environment Graduate Faculty Members

K.L. Cook
Associate Professor (Warren Wilson College, 1991)

kl_cook2K. L. Cook is the author of three award-winning books of fiction. His first book, Last Call (Univ. of Nebraska Press, 2004), a collection of linked stories chronicling three decades in the life of a West Texas family, won the inaugural Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction. The Girl from Charnelle (William Morrow/Harper Perennial, 2006-2007), a novel, won the Willa Award for Best Contemporary Fiction and was an Editor’s Choice selection of the Historical Novel Society, a Southwest Book of the Year, and a finalist for the James Jones First Novel Award. His most recent book, Love Songs for the Quarantined (Willow Springs Editions, 2011), a thematically linked story cycle, won the Spokane Prize for Short Fiction and was a Longlist Finalist for the Frank O’Connor International Story Prize.

Cook’s stories and essays have appeared in such journals and magazines as Glimmer Train, One Story, Harvard Review, The Writer’s Chronicle, Poets & Writers, Threepenny Review, Brevity, Louisville Review, Shenandoah, and American Short Fiction. His work has also been anthologized in Best American Mystery Stories 2012, Best of the West 2011, The Prairie Schooner Book Prize: Tenth Anniversary Reader, Teachable Moments: Essays on Experiential Education, Now Write: Fiction Exercises from Today’s Best Writers and Teachers, and When I Was a Loser. Other honors include the 2011 Western Writers of America Spur Award for Best Short Story about the American West, the Grand Prize from the Santa Fe Writers Project, an Arizona Commission on the Arts fellowship and grant, and residency fellowships to the MacDowell Colony, Yaddo, Ucross, and Blue Mountain Center.

Before coming to Iowa State, Cook was a Professor of Creative Writing and Literature at Prescott College—a private liberal arts college with an environmental and social justice mission—where he also served as the Chair of the Arts & Letters Department and Associate Dean of Academic Affairs. He has also taught, as a Distinguished Visiting Professor, at St. Lawrence University, University of Oklahoma, Wichita State University, and Our Lady of the Lake University. Since 2004, he has been a member of the graduate faculty of Spalding University’s Brief-Residency MFA in Writing Program.


Barbara Haas
Associate Professor (University of California-Irvine, 1982)

In my CNF essays I coax from raw facts and empirical data the kind of nonfiction narrative that is at once grounded in information but also emotionally evocative.  Instead of discovering and advancing original science about an eco-issue, or conducting research on it, my CNF involves aggregating and synthesizing existing knowledge with historical data, cultural happenings and contemporary events (ecological hazards, natural disasters, food issues, climate change and the like) in order to probe mysteries, illustrate basic truths and tell a good story.

This approach allows me to search out odd pockets of meaning, forge creative links, make connections between disparate elements and ultimately examine the social and cultural implications of the human drama beneath the sheer weight of numbers, facts and information.

A Moscow That Knows No Rest
Social Zakuski
A Pretender to Immortality

My purpose is to contribute to an ongoing global debate or conversation about nature, ecology and culture.  I have traveled extensively in service of this aim.  Post-Soviet environmental issues in Russia are an enduring passion.

Russia Is Not Like Us
Liquid Church
Crucible at Kronshtadt

Creating new media CNF essays for handheld devices allows me to indulge a guilty pleasure:

Haas Visual Essays

My short stories have appeared in such journals as Glimmer Train, The Antioch Review, Georgia Review, Quarterly West, Western Humanities Review and others. I am a repeat contributor of fiction to The North American Review, Virginia Quarterly Review and the Hudson Review. The U.S. government has endorsed my work in the form of a National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship in Fiction.

My short story collection is When California Was an Island.



Christiana Louisa Langenberg
Adviser IV, Adjunct Lecturer (University of Minnesota, 1986)

Christiana Louisa Langenberg is the author of the bilingual collection of stories Half of What I Know. “Half of What I Know shows that even the small episodes of life leave their mark. Christiana Langenberg’s talent and imagination are so powerful in Half of What I Know, it is impossible to overlook the vision and meticulous craft she inscribes in each of these stories,” said Deborah Marie Poe, fiction editor of Drunken Boat Online Journal of Art and Literature. “Langenberg keeps us teetering at the edge of some crash, ultimately demonstrating that life’s treasures eclipse the wrecks.”

Christiana’s second collection of stories, Here is What You’ll Do, was a finalist in the 2010 Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. She is the recipient of the Drunken Boat Panliterary Award for Fiction, the Chelsea Award for Short Fiction, the Great River Writers’ Retreat, the Louisville Literary Arts Prose Prize and a multiple Pushcart Prize nominee. Her stories have been published in The Huffington Post, Passages North, Glimmer Train, Dogwood, New South, Lumina, Storyglossia, Drunken Boat, So To Speak, Literary Salt, Carve, Chelsea, Green Mountains Review, American Literary Review, and a variety of literary formats.

Christiana is the Advising Coordinator for undergraduate English majors and the Advising Coordinator for the Women’s and Gender Studies program. She teaches primarily undergraduate Creative Writing classes, such as the Write Like a Woman course she created in 1998 and has been teaching writing for nearly 30 years. She has taught in residential treatment centers for emotionally disturbed adolescents, a maximum security prison and at universities in Minnesota and Colorado, as well as the Midwest Writing Center’s annual writing conference. In June 2013, as the David R. Collins invited speaker, she delivered a keynote address, “Between Word Greed and Abandonment: Learning to Love the Process,” at the Midwest Writing Center conference. At ISU she has graduate faculty status and has taught the Graduate Fiction Workshop.

Christiana is currently working on two separate book projects: one a collection of essays about the differences between Italian and American women’s perceptions of body image, confidence, swagger and self-esteem; the other a series of nonfiction pieces (in experimental narrative forms) about the issues of “otherness” that children with multiple disabilities must navigate as they invariably fight the K-12 education system. The Winter 2014 issue of Passages North included her award-winning lyric essay “Foiled,” a braided narrative about the tragic death of a Vietnamese immigrant and the complexities of raising a child with multiple disabilities. She also writes the food blog for Luke’s Organic at


Debra Marquart
Professor (Moorhead State University, 1990)

Debra Marquart is a professor of English and serves as the Senior Editor of Flyway: Journal of Writing and Environment.

Marquart is the author of five books, including three poetry collections—Small Buried Things, Everything’s a Verb, and From Sweetness—and a short story collection, The Hunger Bone: Rock & Roll Stories, which draws on her experiences as a female road musician.  Narrative Magazine selected Marquart’s poem, “Door-to-Door,” as one of the top five poems to appear in Narrative Magazine in 2013. Her memoir, The Horizontal World: Growing up Wild in the Middle of Nowhere, received the “Elle Lettres” award from Elle Magazine, a New York Times Editors’ Choice commendation, and the 2007 PEN USA Creative Nonfiction Award.

Marquart’s work has been featured on three NPR programs: “All Things Considered,” “The Writer’s Almanac,” and “Tom Ashbrook’s On Point.” She has received numerous awards including the John Guyon Nonfiction Award, the Shelby Foote Prize for the Essay from the Faulkner Society, a Pushcart Prize, and a 2008 NEA Creative Writing Prose Fellowship among others. Her work has appeared in numerous journals including The North American Review, Three Penny Review, New Letters, River City, Crab Orchard Review, Narrative Magazine, The Sun, The Normal School, River Styx, Orion, and Witness.

More recently, Marquart has been awarded the 2013 Wachtmeister Award for Excellence in the Arts from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts; the Normal Poetry Prize from The Normal School; the 2014 Paumanok Poetry Award from Farmingdale State College in New York; and the 2015 Creative Nonfiction Award from Alligator Juniper.

A co-editor of Nothing to Declare: A Guide to the Prose Sequence (forthcoming from White Pine Press in 2016), Marquart is currently at work on a nonfiction book, “Schizophonia: Notes on a Life in Music,” which is an acoustic ecology on the art of listening, an autobiography of dreaming and catastrophe, and a meditation on the pleasures of making and performing music.


Charissa Menefee
Associate Professor (Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, 1992)

menefeeCharissa Menefee is an award-winning playwright whose scripts have been honored by the Julie Harris Playwright Awards, Utah Shakespeare Festival’s New American Playwrights Project, Pandora Festival of New Plays, Arizona Theatre Conference, American College Theatre Festival, and City of Charleston Literary Arts Awards. Her plays have recently been produced by Phoenix’s Herberger Theatre, Theatrics’ ThrifTheatre and Pet Plays festivals, and Stage Door Productions’ Original One-Act Play Festival.

Menefee was previously a professor of Performing Arts and Writing & Literature at Prescott College, where she also served as the Chair of the Arts & Letters Department and Director of Theatre. She was the artistic director and producer of the annual One Day Plays, as well as co-founder of Tomorrow’s Theatre Tonight, a new play reading series. She has also directed many productions, including Oedipus the King, The American Dream, A Lie of the Mind, and The Skin of Our Teeth, as well as children’s theatre productions of Androcles and the Lion and The Phantom Tollbooth. Her work as an actor includes musicals, improvisational comedy, and roles in Agnes of God, To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday, Bells are Ringing, The Guys, and The Importance of Being Earnest.


David Zimmerman
Associate Professor (University of Alabama, 1995)

DavidZimmerman170David Zimmerman attended Emerson College for film studies and then went on to earn an MFA in creative writing at the University of Alabama. He has worked as a publicist at St. Martin’s Press in NYC and taught writing at Georgia Southern University, Dilla University College in Ethiopia, South College in Savannah and the University of Wisconsin, where he was also a fiction fellow at the Wisconsin Institute of Creative Writing. His books include a novella, Socket, published by Anvil Press, and two novels published by Soho Press—The Sandbox, published in 2010, and Caring is Creepy, published in 2012.