The Virginia G. Piper
Center for Creative Writing

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Piper Writers Studio Instructors

Expert writers with a passion for community

Our instructors are at the heart of what we do. 

To meet current instructors for the Piper Writers Studio, select a name from the list below.

For more information, you can meet past instructors or view upcoming classes and workshops

Meet Our Current Instructors

Piper Writers Studio Instructor Luis Avila

Luis Avila es un escritor, dramaturgo, director, actor, productor de radio y organizador comunitario. A los 15 años, Luis fundó una publicación juvenil en Querétaro, México, donde se desempeñaba como editor y colaboraba ​​con más de 20 personas que contribuyeron con las noticias, la poesía, las crónicas y más. Emigrando a los Estados Unidos en 2000, Luis se quedó en Arizona para asistir a la universidad, donde desarrolló una publicación bilingüe que se centró en las artes, la política y la justicia social desde la perspectiva de la juventud bilingüe. Luis tiene una extensa carrera como un periodista y ha sido colaborador de La Voz, Arizona Republic, Phoenix New Times, Hijos de la Malinche, Hispano Post, Mixed Voices y otras publicaciones. También se ha desempeñado como colaborador de CNN en Español, AMC Media, El Nuevo Heraldo, Radio Formula, La Voz de los Vientos y Medios Caminantes. En 2016, Ávila publicó el libro de crónicas, Nomada Temporal, que figuraba en el puesto número 1 en la lista de los más vendidos de la sección de viajes de Amazon. Ávila está trabajando actualmente en una colección de cuentos con sede en Phoenix, Arizona.

Luis Avila is a writer, playwright, director, actor, radio producer and community organizer. At age 15, Avila founded a youth publication in Querétaro, Mexico, where he served as editor, and collaborated with over 20 people who contributed news, poetry, chronicles, and more. Migrating in 2000 to the United States, Avila stayed in Arizona to attend college, where he developed a bilingual publication that focused in the arts, politics and social justice from the perspective of bilingual youth. In 2004, Avila learned about voting rights in Jackson, Mississippi, as part of the American Freedom Summer program, and he decided to make a career as a community organizer. He collaborated with others to advocate for the DREAM Act, fight against SB1070 and challenge Sheriff Joe Arpaio's discriminatory practices in Arizona. Avila has an extensive career as a journalist, and has been a contributor for La Voz, the Arizona Republic, Phoenix New Times, Hijos de la Malinche, Hispano Post, Mixed Voices, and other publications. He has also served as a contributor for CNN en Español, AMC Media, El Nuevo Heraldo, Radio Formula, La Voz de los Vientos, and Medios Caminantes. In 2016, Luis published the book of chronicles, Nomada Temporal, which was featured #1 in the best seller list of Amazon’s travel section. Avila is currently working in a collection of short stories based in Phoenix, Arizona.


Malik Toms was born and raised in Harlem, New York, and is a 20+ year veteran of the pen and keyboard. He did his undergraduate work in Sociology at Iowa State University, working as a drug rehabilitation counselor before returning to college to pursue a graduate degree in Creative Writing. He published his first short story at the age 18 after two years of "No thanks." Since then he has worked as a freelance author, which is a bit like being a freelance mercenary minus all the bullets and moral ambiguity. His work has appeared in over thirty publications including multiple anthologies and a stand-alone novella. A graduate of Iowa State’s Creative Writing MFA program, Toms polished his writing skills crafting cyberpunk and steampunk fantasies on the way to multiple Origin and Ennie award nominations including six Ennie wins. Toms also was part of the Shadowrun Returns video game team which won Diehard gameFan’s PC Game of the year in 2013. He is presently hard at work writing his first fantasy thriller. Toms currently lives in Arizona where he is regularly super-smashed by at least one of his three video game obsessed boys. When he isn’t writing, he’s teaching writing and sociology at community colleges throughout the Arizona desert, and maybe watching a lot of TV.


Photograph of t'ai freedom ford

t’ai freedom ford is a New York City high school English teacher and Cave Canem Fellow. Her poetry, fiction, and essays have appeared in The African American Review, Apogee, Bomb Magazine, Calyx, Drunken Boat, Electric Literature, Gulf Coast, Kweli, Tin House, Obsidian, Poetry, and others. Most recently she has won awards from the Community of Literary Magazines and Presses (CLMP) and is a 2019 Jerome Hill Artist Fellowship inaugural fellow. Winner of the 2015 To the Lighthouse Poetry Prize, her first poetry collection, how to get over is available from Red Hen Press. Her second poetry collection, & more black, is with Augury Books. ford lives and loves in Brooklyn where she is an editor at No, Dear Magazine.


Michael Stackpole

Michael A. Stackpole is an award-winning novelist, game designer, computer game designer, graphic novelist, screenwriter and podcaster. He's had over fifty novels published, including the New York Times Bestselling I, Jedi and Rogue Squadron.


A native of Los Angeles, California, Kirby Kim attended Pomona College and got his JD at UC Hastings College of the Law. Kim got his first job in publishing working for Charlotte Sheedy Literary, at that time an affiliate of Sterling Lord Literistic, then moved to Vigliano Associates and WME before joining Janklow & Nesbit Associates.

Kim represents both literary and commercial authors. He’s most interested in receiving manuscripts that straddle the fence a bit, with upmarket expression combined with a genre element or plot device. When it comes to straight literary work, he’s alternatively drawn to rich, sweeping stories that try to encompass a time or a place or tightly written, narratively innovative stories or voices with award potential. His commercial interests include thrillers and mysteries, speculative fiction, and young adult. He also represents a range of nonfiction working with leaders and journalists in the areas of science, culture and current affairs.

Kim is currently a board member of the Asian American Writers Workshop. He lives in Phoenix, Arizona with his wife and two kids.


Justin Petropoulos is the author of two collections of poetry, Eminent Domain (Marsh Hawk Press 2011), selected by Anne Waldman for the 2010 Marsh Hawk Press Poetry Prize and <legend> </legend> (Jaded Ibis Press 2013), a collaborative work with multimedia artist, Carla Gannis. His poems have appeared in American Letters & Commentary, Columbia Poetry Review, Mandorla, among others, and have been included in the anthologies Devouring the Green: Fear of a Human Planet (Jaded Ibis Press 2015) and The &NOW Awards 3 (Lake Forest College Press 2015). He is currently the program manager for Arizona State University’s Creative Writing Program.


Photograph of Diana Marie Delgado

Diana Marie Delgado’s a graduate of the University of California, Riverside and Columbia University; and a National Endowment for the Arts fellow. The recipient of numerous scholarships and grants, she currently resides in Tucson, where she is the Literary Director of the Poetry Center at the University of Arizona. Her most recent publication, Tracing the Horse, will be published in the Fall of 2019 by BOA Editions.


Photograph of Jake Skeets

Jake Skeets is Black Streak Wood, born for Water's Edge. He is Diné from the Navajo Nation. A graduate of the Low-Rez IAIA MFA program, he currently resides in the Navajo Nation and works at Diné College. He is one of the winners of the 2018 "Discovery"/Boston Review Poetry Prize. His debut poetry collection, Eyes Bottle Dark with a Mouthful of Flowers, was selected by Kathy Fagan as a winner for the 2018 National Poetry Series and is forthcoming from Milkweed in September 2019.


Photograph of Piper J. Daniels

Piper J. Daniels (she/ her) is a Michigan native and queer intersectional feminist currently living in the American Southwest. She received a BA from Columbia College Chicago and an MFA from University of Washington. Her debut essay collection, Ladies Lazarus, won the Tarpaulin Sky Book Award, was longlisted for the PEN Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award For the Art of the Essay, and was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in LGBTQ Nonfiction. Entropy named Ladies Lazarus one of their favorite books of 2018. Daniels’s work appears in Hotel Amerika, The Rumpus, Tarpaulin Sky, Entropy, Longreads, and elsewhere. She works as a full-time writer and manuscript consultant to the curious and the brave.


Photograph of Mary Sojourner

Mary Sojourner's latest short story collection, The Talker, was published by Torrey House Press 2017. She's published three novels: Sisters of the Dream, Going Through Ghosts and 29; the short story collection, Delicate, essay collection, Bonelight: Ruin and Grace in the New Southwest, Bonelight: rituals of loss and desire; two memoirs, She Bets Her Life and Solace. She was chosen as a Distinguished Writer in Residence in 2007 by the Virginia C. Piper Center for Creative Writing at Arizona State University. She teaches at writing conferences throughout the Southwest, including the Desert Nights, Rising Stars Writers Conference; and has taken part in residencies throughout America. Find more about Sojourner at http://www.breakthroughwriting.net.


Tom is the author of seven novels with imprints of Penguin Random House and Simon & Schuster, and two with Abrams and Sky Horse. He has written for the comic book SPAWN with Todd McFarlane, and taught writing at conferences, conventions, schools, and universities around the country for ten years.


Picture of Rosemarie Dombrowski

Rosemarie Dombrowski is the inaugural Poet Laureate of Phoenix, AZ, the founding editor of both rinky dink press and The Revolution (Relaunch), a creative revisioning of the weekly women’s rights newspaper founded by Elizabeth Cady Stanton in 1868. Her collections include The Book of Emergencies (2014), The Philosophy of Unclean Things (2017), and The Cleavage Planes of Southwest Minerals [A Love Story], winner of the 2017 Split Rock Review chapbook competition. She’s the recipient of a 2017 Arts Hero Award, the Carrie McCray Award in Nonfiction (2017), a fellowship from the Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics, five Pushcart nominations, and a Whiting Fellowship nomination (2019). Her poem, “Atypical” was named a finalist for the Brooklyn Poets Whitman Bicentennial Poetry Contest.


Photograph of Piper J. Daniels

Piper J. Daniels (she/ her) is a Michigan native and queer intersectional feminist currently living in the American Southwest. She received a BA from Columbia College Chicago and an MFA from University of Washington. Her debut essay collection, Ladies Lazarus, won the Tarpaulin Sky Book Award, was longlisted for the PEN Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award For the Art of the Essay, and was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in LGBTQ Nonfiction. Entropy named Ladies Lazarus one of their favorite books of 2018. Daniels’s work appears in Hotel Amerika, The Rumpus, Tarpaulin Sky, Entropy, Longreads, and elsewhere. She works as a full-time writer and manuscript consultant to the curious and the brave.


Photograph of Gabby Rivera

Gabby Rivera is an outgoing, outspoken creator invested in fostering better dialogue, inspiring radical creativity, and improving our most vulnerable communities. The author of Juliet Takes a Breath, she’s also the writer of the new Marvel series America—featuring the first queer, Latinx teen-girl superhero, ever—that’s catching headlines from The New York Times, CNN, Vogue, and beyond. Gabby Rivera is a young, charming speaker dedicated to empowering women and improving our marginalized communities. She’s currently making major waves for her new Marvel series starring America Chavez: a queer, Latinx superhero who’s been written and designed, crucially, by a queer Latinx. And while the series is “definitely going to tackle America’s ancestry and ethnicity,” Rivera tells The Washington Post, it’s also a comic book aimed at wide appeal: committed to snappy one-liners, blowing stuff up, and beating up the bad guys, naturally. Rivera is also the author of Juliet Takes a Breath, a YA novel listed by Mic as one of the 25 essential books to read for women’s history month. It’s a critically acclaimed coming-of-age story starring a queer puertorriqueña who leaves her native Bronx behind to intern, over one transformative summer, with one of her literary heroes: the feminist author Harlow Brisbane. “I strongly encourage you to read Juliet Takes a Breath,” writes Roxane Gay. “It’s quite dazzling, funny as hell, poignant, all the things.” Witty, authentic, and humming with the full complexities of modern life and radical politics, the book was called the “dopest LGBTQA YA book ever” by Latina magazine. As an activist, Rivera also gives back. She’s the Youth Programs Manager at GLSEN (pronounced “glisten”): a leading national education organization focused on ensuring safe and affirming schools for LGBTQ students. That means fewer incidents of bullying and harassment, and more students treated with respect. She’s also worked with Autostraddle.com for over five years as the QTPOC Speakeasy editor and A-Camp staff. As a film and multi-media teaching artist, she’s worked with social justice organizations like DreamYard Project, Inc. And she’s appeared as a featured panelist and counselor at the annual Autostraddle Queer Women’s Conference, and has presented at the Allied Media and Digital Media and Learning Conferences.