Cynthia Cruz, MFA

Affiliated Faculty

Teaching Philosophy

My role as a teacher and mentor is to help each student try to “get it right.” By “getting it right,” what I mean is that since each writer arrives with a desire to make writing that originates in the rich mix of who they are: their background, their internal language, their ideologies, beliefs, fears, desires, and so on, their strongest work will naturally arise as the result of constructing one’s work from their own voice and their own lived experience. As a mixed-race, working class writer, my experience has been complex and does not fit into any one rubric of class, race, or gender. Coming to terms with my own inherent complexity has informed my teaching and mentoring. I don’t make any assumptions about my students’ lives, experiences or backgrounds. To do so would be reductive. Instead, my job is to listen to each student and try to understand how I can best nourish them: to see how they might make their poems more what they are meant to be. These suggestions take the form of craft suggestions as well as suggestions of nonfiction and literary texts, films or artworks that share a kinship with the work. Each work of writing is its own strange creature—often requiring entirely new craft choices in order to become the strange and beautiful writing it intends to be. As a result, there can be no one rule for all writing.

Educational Background

  • MFA in Creative Writing (Poetry), Sarah Lawrence College
  • MFA in Art Writing and Criticism, School of Visual Arts
  • MA, German Language and Literature, Rutgers University
  • BA in English Literature, Mills College

I am currently at work on a dissertation at the European Graduate School where my project focuses on Hegel, Marx, and madness.

Areas of Expertise

  • Creative Writing: Fiction, Poetry, Non-fiction
  • Contemporary German Language, Literature, and Art
  • Continental Philosophy
  • Psychoanalysis (Lacan/Freud)
  • Contemporary U.S. Art and Literature
  • Marxism

Meaningful Action in the World

My thinking forms who I am. And what I think, I write about in order to think more deeply about it. And, in turn, this thinking and working through directly forms my behavior in the world. There is, in other words, no separation between my academic world and my work in the world.



  • Back to the Woods, Four Way Books, forthcoming 2023
  • Hotel Oblivion, Four Way Books, 2022
  • Guidebooks for the Dead, Four Way Books 2020
  • Dregs, Four Way Books, 2018
  • How the End Begins, Four Way Books, 2016
  • Wunderkammer, Four Way Books, 2014
  • The Glimmering Room, Four Way Books, 2012
  • Ruin, Alice James Books, 2006


  • Melanconia de classe, Edizioni di Atlantide, 2022 (Italian translation of The Melancholia of Class)
  • The Melancholia of Class, Repeater Books, 2021
  • Disquieting: Essays on Silence, Book*hug, 2019


Steady Diet of Nothing, Four Way Books, forthcoming 2023

Individual poems, essays, works of fiction and articles have been published in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, The Boston Review, Kenyon Review, Texte zur Kunst and Crisis & Critique.

Professional Awards & Fellowships

  • Recipient, National Book Critic Circle Award for Poetry, 2023
  • Finalist, Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, 2023
  • Visiting Writer, University of Massachusetts, Amherst Fall 2020-Spring 2022
  • Fellowship, Yaddo 2009, 2004, 2000
  • Fellowship, The MacDowell Colony 2006-7, 2004-5, 2002-3, 1999 Website

Affiliation MFA Creative Writing