Introducing the Rumpus Advisory Board

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When we shared our exciting news about The Rumpus’s future last month, I mentioned that we’d create an advisory board to help us guide the site forward. The function of the advisory board is to help when we have questions or need a sounding board for new ideas, to serve as role models for us, and to support us as we try to achieve our goals: a commitment to ongoing resistance of the Trump administration, a commitment to continuing paying writers and to increase those payments to a standard industry rate, a commitment to increase our coverage of small presses and indie authors and to continue giving a platform to new voices who might not otherwise find one.

I am thrilled, humbled, and honored to share that the seven members of the Rumpus Advisory Board are Mary-Kim Arnold, Melissa Febos, Roxane Gay, Kima Jones, Celeste Ng, Cheryl Strayed, and Claire Vaye Watkins. Please read more about these amazing women, to whom I am grateful beyond words for their willingness to participate in this journey with me and with The Rumpus, below.

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Mary-Kim Arnold is the author of Litany for the Long Moment, forthcoming from Essay Press. She writes, sews, and makes small objects. She was born in Seoul, Korea and now lives in Rhode Island.

Melissa Febos is the author of the memoir, Whip Smart (St. Martin’s Press 2010), and the essay collection, Abandon Me (Bloomsbury 2017). Her work has appeared in The Kenyon Review, Tin House, Granta, Prairie Schooner, Glamour, Salon, New York Times, Guernica, Dissent, Poets & Writers, Lenny Letter, and elsewhere. Her essays have won prizes from Prairie Schooner, Story Quarterly, and The Center for Women Writers and she has been featured on NPR’s Fresh Air, CNN, and Anderson Cooper Live. She is a three-time MacDowell Colony fellow and has also received fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, Virginia Center for Creative Arts, Vermont Studio Center, The Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, Ragdale, and Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. The recipient of an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College, she is currently Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Monmouth University and MFA faculty at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA). She serves on the Board of Directors for VIDA: Women in Literary Arts and lives in Brooklyn.

Roxane Gay‘s writing appears in Best American Mystery Stories 2014, Best American Short Stories 2012, Best Sex Writing 2012, A Public Space, McSweeney’s, Tin House, Oxford American, American Short Fiction, Virginia Quarterly Review, and many others. She is a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times. She is the author of the books Ayiti, An Untamed State, the New York Times bestselling Bad Feminist, and Difficult Women and Hunger forthcoming in 2017. She is also the author of World of Wakanda for Marvel.

Kima Jones has been published at GQ, Guernica and NPR among others and in the anthologies Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History and the New York Times bestseller, The Fire this Time, edited by Jesmyn Ward. She is an MFA candidate in fiction and Rodney Jack Scholar in the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. Kima lives in Los Angeles where she operates Jack Jones Literary Arts, a book publicity company.

Celeste Ng is the author of the novel Everything I Never Told You, which was a New York Times bestseller, a New York Times Notable Book of 2014, Amazon’s #1 Best Book of 2014, and named a best book of the year by over a dozen publications.  Everything I Never Told You was also the winner of the Massachusetts Book Award, the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, the ALA’s Alex Award, and the Medici Book Club Prize, and was a finalist for numerous awards, including the Ohioana Award, the John Creasey (New Blood) Dagger Award, and the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award. Celeste grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Shaker Heights, Ohio, in a family of scientists. Celeste attended Harvard University and earned an MFA from the University of Michigan (now the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan), where she won the Hopwood Award.  Her fiction and essays have appeared in One Story, TriQuarterly, Bellevue Literary Review, the Kenyon Review Online, and elsewhere, and she is a recipient of the Pushcart Prize. Currently, she lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Her second novel, Little Fires Everywhere, will be published by Penguin Press in fall 2017.

Cheryl Strayed is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling memoir Wild, the New York Times bestsellers Tiny Beautiful Things and Brave Enough, and the novel Torch. Her books have been translated into forty languages around the world. Wild was chosen by Oprah Winfrey as her first selection for Oprah’s Book Club 2.0. The Oscar-nominated movie adaptation of Wild stars Reese Witherspoon as Cheryl and Laura Dern as Cheryl’s mother, Bobbi. The film was directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, with a screenplay by Nick Hornby. Strayed’s essays have been published in The Best American Essays, the New York Times, the Washington Post Magazine, Vogue, Salon, The Sun, Tin House, the New York Times Book Review, and elsewhere. Strayed is the co-host, along with Steve Almond, of WBUR’s hit podcast Dear Sugar Radio, which originated with her popular Dear Sugar advice column on The Rumpus. Strayed holds an MFA in fiction writing from Syracuse University and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Minnesota. She lives in Portland, Oregon.

Claire Vaye Watkins was born in Bishop, California in 1984. She was raised in the Mojave Desert, in Tecopa, California and across the state line in Pahrump, Nevada. A graduate of the University of Nevada Reno, Claire earned her MFA from the Ohio State University, where she was a Presidential Fellow. Her stories and essays have appeared in Granta, Tin House, Freeman’s, the Paris Review, Story Quaterly, New American Stories, Best of the West, The New Republic, the New York Times, and many others. A recipient of fellowships from the Sewanee and Bread Loaf Writers’ Conferences, Claire was also one of the National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35.” She is the author of Gold Fame Citrus and Battleborn, which won the Story Prize, the Dylan Thomas Prize, New York Public Library’s Young Lions Fiction Award, the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and a Silver Pen Award from the Nevada Writers Hall of Fame. A Guggenheim Fellow, Claire is on the faculty of the low residency MFA at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She is also the co-director, with Derek Palacio, of the Mojave School, a free creative writing workshop for teenagers in rural Nevada.

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Photograph credits: Roxane Gay © Jay Grabiec; Kima Jones © Rachel Eliza Griffiths; Celeste Ng © Kevin Day Photography; Cheryl Strayed © Joni Kabana, Claire Vaye Watkins © Heike Steinweg.


Marisa Siegel currently lives, writes, and edits near NYC but thinks twenty times a day about heading back west. She is Editor-in-Chief and owner of The Rumpus. Find her on Twitter at @marisasaystweet. More from this author →