Creative/Critical PhD Students

(please refer to the Literature Ph.D. Program overview for more information on the program)



    Cathy Thomas

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    Cathy Thomas is from the Boogie Down. She worked in television and film in NYC and LA but then decided working in a Drosophila lab was even hotter. She has an MFA in Creative Writing and is working on her PhD at UCSC where her academic interests are Caribbean literature, carnival and—curiously related—comics & cosplay. She is curating two special exhibitions and is an editor of a mutli-platform journal. She recalls that on her 10th birthday, she received a microscope and a journal. Years later, she is still not sure if she’s a scientist writing poems or a poet doing science. But, likely neither or both is what is happening in her fiction. 

    Excerpt from “The Logic of My Logic is My Friend” :

    In the office, Miriam brought me the accounting books but my stomach was too knotty to think.  Miriam offered a mouth massage as I worried about my promotion.

    When the transport returned with 152 pieces of estimable, calculable cargo missing, Sharp & Granville called the actuary.  They sent their very best.  B. Carew was a ferocious calculator. She had worked in the errornormous world of Control Banks where researchers took bribes to jump blastomeres into nurture wombs of prostitutes just so some lobbyist could make the overpopulation argument to some Senator who’d take that hollow flight to Washington to get more Birth Rights for their state to compete.  Then, those additional Birth Rights would be sold Inside™ while summarily issuing programmed cell deaths for the original fetus in the nurture wombs of prostitutes or afueras.  The usual drag. Rumor has it that B. created a way to amortize programmed cell-death. Quite ironic, really. Sharp & Granville killed the killing by depreciating the value of rich wombs by the same amount as placeholder prostitutes. It was a blow to egos, not to the practice. Amortize. It comes from Vulgar Latin admortire: to kill, from Anglo-French amorteser; it has the same meaning from the Middle English amortisen: to kill, to alienate as in the legal term mortmain which isn’t relevant these days since any and everything can be transferred.  B. taught me that. She taught me many things when I was under her.  Twelve years ago, B. used to be in my position and I used to be in Miriam’s.

    Miriam finished her mouth massage as I finished this thought. She carefully placed my penis back in my pants and zipped me back up but I was still tense.

  • Nicholas James Whittington

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    I'm interested in poetry, with an emphasis on 20th and 21st Century US American poetry, translation, and the materiality of language. I edit an annual magazine called Amerarcana (, along with the occasional small book under the auspices of Bird & Beckett Books in San Francisco, and do letterpress printing and book design at Impart Ink, an errant studio ( Two chapbooks of my own poems are available from Bird & Beckett: Slough ( and Scoria (, with a third, as yet untitled, forthcoming from Gas Meter Books. My work has appeared in various magazines, mostly in print, with the only online mags, I think, being a few poems in Dusie #15 ( and a book review in Galatea Resurrects #22 ( 

  • Whitney DeVos

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    Whitney DeVos studies lyric poetry, documentary poetics, and forms of experimental historiography in twentieth and twenty-first century texts drawn from the United States, Caribbean, and Latin America.

    Here are some links to her work:

    and 2 interviews: w/ Jen Denrow & Jynne Dilling Martin 

    And an excerpt from her work:

    I did not know him well

    for Chris

    only that he was 

    in the meadow 

    & in the streets, aglow—


    that just weeks ago, around a table 

    I was taken 


    with his voice in the café, like a sail

    he was one who chose love ; that’s all there is

    to say

    & earlier today a student gave me a piece 

    of paper

    on it written : my heart is now entangled 

    I did not see ; I did not intuit ; I did not perceive ; I did not know 

    him well, only that I am 

    ravined with grief—

    what other way is there to be

    in this inhospitable world, viperous all

    of us

    raw, delicate : eroding 

  • Matthew Gervase

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    I like to read and think about the 1930's, particularly in France. How are politics and art related? Or written language versus oral speech? How do you translate sound and affect across time and space and into print? Is there a political valence inherent to this act at different historical moments? 


     Excerpt of my work:

    My peccatum africanus (a.k.a. To Kaédi Then I Came)

    When I was little, I liked stories about wicked people. The Bible’s full of them, but they usually end up getting their fair share of hell for their evil deeds. Not always though. I’ve still yet to meet anyone for instance who can tell me why the prodigal son, the bad one, got the fatted calf killed for him when he did nothing but sin and wallow with the pigs all day. Saul’s another one—wicked as all hell until Jesus blinded him and he had the good sense to go and change his name to Paul. The rest is history I guess you could say. Don’t know how I got started on all this. Spend a few months in the Sahara and you start thinking of the damnedest things...

  • Gabriela Ramirez-Chavez

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    Gabriela Ramirez-Chavez is a Guatemalan-American poet. She holds a B.A. in English Literature and Creative Writing from CSU Long Beach, where she studied the poetry of Sylvia Plath. Her most recent work centers around her maternal uncle’s disappearance from Guatemala in the early 1980s, and is situated at the intersection of migration, archive, and memory. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Acentos ReviewKweliPlath Profiles, Third Woman Press 3’s Inaugural Anthology, and elsewhere. Her website is

    selected publications:

    Excerpt from her work:

    Arnoldo must’ve disappeared like that. // Or maybe it was like when I felt so small I wanted to disappear. Like when Ms. H asked me what Mamá does for a living and I told her I didn’t know. She looked down at me through her brown oval glasses, blinking her little eyes, and said, “Well, don’t you want to know what your mom does?” She waited a million and two years for a reply, and all I felt was the river running up inside, pressing behind my eyeballs, because I didn’t want to say, “My mom cleans houses, big houses, not like the one-bedroom we share, where Papi was this close to being hurt by the cholos. She scrubs bathrooms and toilets on her knees, like a holy prayer, not like the other moms that stay home.” I wanted to tell her I love Mamá, and I felt ashamed for feeling ashamed, but didn’t say nothing because it was too late.

  • Jose Villaran

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    Jose Antonio Villarán (Perú-México-Estados Unidos) is the author of "la distancia es siempre la misma" (Matalamanga, 2006) and "el cerrajero" (Album del Universo Bakterial, 2012). In 2008 he created the AMLT project (, which seeks to explore hypertext literature and alternative media for writing through collective authorship. The project was sponsored by Puma from 2011-2014. His third book, titled “open pit”, is forthcoming from AUB in 2016. He holds an MFA in Writing from the University of California in San Diego. 

     Current academic interests:


    Critical University Studies / Contemporary Writing / Poetics / Critical Race and Ethnic Studies / Performance Studies / Literary Translation / Cross-Genre Writing

  • Jared Harvey

  • No alternative textJared is interested in: 

    Translation Theory, Abrahamic Literatures, Southern Cone Literatures, Contemporary American Poetry

    A link to his publications:

    And an excerpt of his work:

    make a poetry

                            as power            full as the state, allegoric windmilled ally, occluding her a serpent,

                            I took some pictures.  With my red tongue                        I licked her and I covered

                            her and how to counteract art.  And what its role?  To commit-Art and : small ruin brawn men brained inhabit

                            this country, commit this country then            to violence, and to cure violence but you see

                            in the photography, it cannot mend cure.  Art can

                            only pig cure, pickle, preserve, severe, serene, Severin-tranquil, as if 

    we were happy then.

  • Eric Sneathen

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    Recent studies have focused on 20th and 21st century North American poetry, especially AIDS and its literatures, GLQ writing and aesthetics, and historiography. 

    Published poems in various literary journals, including Mondo Bummer, The Equalizer 2.0, littletell, and Gay Annals of Sexuality. A chapbook, Snail Poems, is forthcoming.

    In addition, edits the Bay Area-based DIY literary zine Macaroni Necklace, which publishes (mostly) poets, text-wielding visual artists, and storytellers who have yet to publish a full-length manuscript.

  • Kendall Grady

  • Courtney Kersten

  • Kersten Portrait

    Courtney Kersten’s essays can be seen or are forthcoming from River Teeth, Hotel Amerika, DIAGRAM, The Sonora Review, Black Warrior Review, The Master’s Review, and elsewhere.

    Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, an AWP Intro Award, and she was the 2016 Writer-In-Residence at the Great Basin Writer’s Residency in Baker, Nevada. She has been awarded the University of Idaho's Grace/Nixon Fellowship, the Writing in the Wild Fellowship, and was a Fulbright Fellow to Riga, Latvia, where she studied Baltic performing arts and literature.

    At UCSC, she’s working on a hybrid biography-memoir about the late 1970s astrology superstar: Linda Goodman. Her research interests include: creative nonfiction, memoir, the essay, hybrid works; feminist theory and literature; and Baltic literature and cultures. 

  • Kirstin Wagner

  • Conner Bassett