Emerson Whitney, MFA

Core Faculty

Emerson Whitney is the author of Ghost Box (Timeless Infinite Light, 2014) and Heaven (forthcoming). Emerson’s work has recently appeared in Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics, Bombay Gin, Jupiter 88, ENTER>text: 3 years, &NOW AWARDS 3: The Best Innovative Writing, Drunken Boat, Cream City Review, Agápē Journal, and Hold: A Journal. Emerson was a reporter for The New York Observer, The Mount Desert Islander, The Huffington Post, and other publications before receiving an MFA in Creative Writing at California Institute of the Arts. Emerson is an editor at Them, a first-of-its-kind trans literary journal, and has been named a kari edwards fellow, PLAYA fellow, REEF resident. Emerson is also a PhD candidate at the European Graduate School.


MFA in Creative Writing, California Institute of the Arts, 2014
BA in Independent Studies, Goddard College, 2011

Areas of Expertise

  • Creative Nonfiction
  • Poetry
  • Autobiography
  • Theory
  • Mixed/Hybrid Genre
  • Multidisciplinary Art Practices

Personal Statement

I am committed to experimentation, hybridity, and criticality. I am invested in rich, wild learning, and the starriness of all this. Much of my work deals with identity and intersectionality, selfhood and emergence, theories of alterity and “the other,” as well as documentary practices, multidisciplinary strategies, durational projects, and autobiographical inquiry.

I am dedicated to challenging, unique creative nonfiction and poetics. I deeply value my role as an educator, grateful to give back what I’ve gotten from those generous writers who’ve worked with me. Here’s a list:

Peter Kaplan at the New York Observer nurtured my long-form writing and encouraged me to return to college and get a degree. Before I met him, I was a dropout working as a building manager in Soho with a ring of heavy keys. He hired me to work for the paper and I ended up at Goddard.

At Goddard, I learned how to engage poetry with activist teeth, poetics as lifeblood and as documentary. I learned the concept of literary citizenship and a responsibility to the writing community and those most vulnerable within it.

At CalArts, the foundation of poetics I’d built housed me long enough that I could turn the reporter, the documentarian lens on myself. Maggie Nelson tugged an autobiography out of me, taught me that if a project feels hot, it’s time to work on it, nothing else matters. She was right. The book I finished is called Heaven and is forthcoming, under representation by the Levine Greenberg Rostan Agency.

Now, at European Graduate School, all this work is wrapped with theory—autobiography and theory with a poetic lens. I’ve undertaken a project that deals with trans anti-assimilationist politics, Romani ethnicity, and the work of Emmanuel Levinas with the help of Hélène Cixous.

I am part of an expanse of writers engaging in complexity. As an educator, I see myself as responsible to the ecosystem of writing. My commitment is to nurturing students toward sustainable, enlivening writing practices. I aim to cultivate, conjure, ritualize, invent, challenge, uphold. I want to love this craft with you, its importance, its breadth.

Website: emersonwhitney.com


Affiliation BFA Creative Writing
Individualized Bachelor of Arts
Undergraduate Studies Program

Location Plainfield, Vermont