Vanessa Veselka, BA

Affiliated Faculty

Teaching Philosophy

My way of teaching and my philosophy around it comes from my experience as a musician and union organizer. I believe that a writer’s connection to their own artistic instinct is a holy thing; there is nothing wrong with defending it. I got that from Neil Young, Nick Cave, and Nina Simone. I also believe that teaching people to find and trust their own authority, especially those from different class and educational backgrounds, or those socialized to seek permission, builds creative stamina, rigor, and artistic decisiveness. I want to be an artist who develops artists who develop artists. I got that from union organizing.

My pedagogy is simple; people can do difficult things. They can revise novels with young children, they can write brilliant and unspeakable things into the world, they can stand their ground when they’re scared – emotionally, artistically, materially – and build resilient community of writers, original thinkers, and renegades who make art that is capable of transforming lives.

Educational Background

BA, English, Reed College

Areas of Expertise

  • Literary Fiction
  • Journalism and Essay

Pronouns: She/Her



  • 2020, The Great Offshore Grounds, (Knopf); 2021 (Vintage); Longlist 2020 National Book Award; Winner 2021 Oregon Book Award
  • 2011, Zazen, (Red lemonade); 2021 (Vintage); Winner 2012 PEN / Robert W. Bingham Prize, Finalist Oregon Book Award 

Short Stories

  • 2013, Christopher Hitchens, Zyzzvya
  • 2012, Just Before Elena, Tin House Magazine
  • 2007, Zazen, Tin House Magazine
  • 2005, Il Duce, Yeti vol. 4


  • 2015, Fort of Young Saplings, The Atavist
  • 2013, Green Screen: The Lack of Female Road Narratives and Why It Matters, The American Reader
  • 1998, The Collapsible Woman, Bitch Magazine: Feminist Response to Pop Culture Feature Journalism
  • 2022, I’m a Longtime Union Organizer, I had Never Seen Anything Like This, cover, Weekend Review, Sunday edition, The New York Times
  • 2022, The Treasure America Scavenges from the Poor, Opinion, Sunday edition, The New York Times
  • 2012, The Truck Stop Killer, GQ Magazine
  • 2011, In the Wake of Protest: One Woman’s Attempt to Organize Amazon, The Atlantic


  • 2016, Love and Ruin: Tales of Obsession, Danger, and Heartbreak from The Atavist Magazine, Fort of Young Saplings, curated by Susan Orlean, WW Norton
  • 2013, Best American Essays, Highway of Lost Girls, curated by Cheryl Strayed, Harper Collins
  • 2006, BITCHFEST: Ten Years of Cultural Criticism from the Pages of Bitch Magazine, The Collapsible Woman, curated by Andi Zeisler and Lisa Jervis, Farrar Straus and Giroux Website

Affiliation MFA Creative Writing