Shonda Buchanan, an award-winning author, editor, scholar, and native of Kalamazoo, will return to her home state to teach in the MFA in Creative Writing program beginning with the winter residency in January 2023. Buchanan will primarily teach fiction in the MFA program.
“What really attracted me to the program is that it’s entrenched in the landscape and the culture of Michigan,” Buchanan said. “I love that it’s a low-residency program, focused intensely on student writing and work, while still highlighting that sense of place. I’m looking forward to working with students to cultivate narratives about and around Michigan.
“I hope students will feel empowered to tell their stories — that their stories are valid and important.”
The author of five books, Buchanan is perhaps most well known as the author of Black Indian, a memoir that explores her family’s legacy of being African-Americans with Native American roots: growing up in southwest Michigan, dealing with society’s ostracization and the consequences of her dual inheritance. Black Indian won the 2020 Indie New Generation Book Award and was chosen by “PBS NewsHour” in its “top 20 books to read” to learn about institutional racism.
Among her other accolades as a writer and an educator, Buchanan has received the Brody Arts Fellowship from the California Community Foundation, a Big Read grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, several Virginia Foundation for the Humanities grants, the Denise L. Scott and Frank Sullivan Awards, and an Eloise Klein-Healy Scholarship.
Buchanan is a Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities Fellow at the University of Southern California, and a Department of Cultural Affairs, City of Los Angeles (COLA) Master Artist Fellow. She has worked as a lecturer and a professor for more than 20 years, most prominently at Hampton University, in Hampton, Va., where she taught English and creative writing and served as an interim department chair in the School of Liberal Arts and Education.
Buchanan is already connected with another Michigan native and MFA faculty member, Jim Daniels. A 1978 graduate of Alma College, Daniels taught Buchanan as a student in the MFA program at Antioch University, in Los Angeles, Calif. Now, the two are colleagues.
“To be honest, I always felt more like Shonda was a colleague than my student — she already was a seasoned teacher and could have led the workshops herself,” Daniels said. “She is a very open person who will have an immediate impact on all of us in the program, both in the workshops, and in informal conversations. She is a perfect fit for the program, and I am excited about having her as a colleague.”
The MFA program, which launched in 2021, offers students the opportunity to enter an artistic community in which they read deeply, study and hone their writing craft, and participate in energetic discussions that help them see their poems, stories, essays, and memoirs in the context of current issues and events. Its low-residency format is designed for students who want to continue working while earning a degree.
The MFA program is set to soon begin its third residency, from June 16-26, at Alma College’s campus. Featured faculty include Daniels, Karen E. Bender, Anna Clark, Matthew Gavin Frank, Leslie Contreras-Schwartz, Benjamin Garcia and Robert Vivian.
To learn more about the MFA program, visit alma.edu/mfa. You can also contact Director Sophfronia Scott at email@example.com or (989) 463-7394.