Skip to main content

Gayle Brandeis, MFA

Antioch University Los Angeles

Gayle Brandeis is the author, most recently, of Drawing Breath: Essays on Writing, the Body, and Grief (Overcup Books). Previous books include the memoir The Art of Misdiagnosis (Beacon Press); the novel in poems, Many Restless Concerns (Black Lawrence Press), shortlisted for the Shirley Jackson Prize; the craft book Fruitflesh: Seeds of Inspiration for Women Who Write (HarperOne); the poetry collections The Selfless Bliss of the Body (Finishing Line Press) and Dictionary Poems (Pudding House); the novels The Book of Dead Birds (HarperCollins), which won the PEN/Bellwether Prize judged by Barbara Kingsolver, Toni Morrison, and Maxine Hong Kingston, Self Storage (Ballantine), a Target Breakout Book, Delta Girls (Ballantine), and her first novel for young readers, My Life with the Lincolns, a statewide read in Wisconsin. Her poetry, fiction, and essays have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Salon, Longreads, The Rumpus, The Nation, and O, The Oprah Magazine, and have received several awards, including the Columbia Journal Creative Nonfiction Prize, the QPB/Story Magazine Short Story Award, a Barbara Mandigo Kelly Peace Poetry Award, grants from the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund and the Sierra Arts Foundation, and Notable Essays in The Best American Essays 2016, 2019, and 2020. Gayle was named the 2018 Multi-Genre Maverick Writer by the Willamette Writers. Her essay on the meaning of liberty was one of three included in the Statue of Liberty’s Centennial time capsule in 1986, and in 2004, The Writer magazine named Gayle a Writer Who Makes a Difference.

Gayle holds a BA in Poetry and Movement: Arts of Expression, Meditation and Healing from the University of Redlands and an MFA in Creative Writing / Fiction from Antioch University. She served as Inlandia Literary Laureate from 2012- 2014 and currently lives in Highland Park, IL.

Teaching Statement

E.L. Doctorow once said that writing fiction “is like driving a car at night. You never see further than your own headlights but you can make the whole trip that way.” My function as a mentor is to help shed a bit of extra light as you travel those mysterious highways. You always hold your own map, of course, but I can keep you from running off the road and make sure you don’t miss some important scenery on the route. I also hope to help you surprise yourself on your travels by taking creative risks and playing with language in fresh, unexpected ways.

When I was a student at Antioch, I learned something different from each of my mentors—some helped me understand specific aspects of craft, while others led me to deepen my vision of my novel and coax out its truest voice. I am grateful for what each mentor brought to the table, and hope to bring a synthesis of their teachings to my own students—a mix of heart and head, rigor and dream. I offer extensive line edits as well as larger questions and suggestions to help your work move toward wholeness.

I expect 10-20 pages of writing from you per month. I welcome final manuscripts and critical papers, and am happy to look at manuscripts-to-date. As a mentor group, we’ll read and discuss five books in common, and I’ll help you choose at least five individual books to read over the project period. We’ll also have a separate discussion forum open to discuss issues of craft and the writing life.

It’s a true pleasure to be back at Antioch, on this side of the table. I feel very lucky to be part of this nurturing and vibrant literary community, and privileged to work with passionate, creative students deeply committed to the whole writing journey.

  • The Art of Misdiagnosis: Surviving My Mother’s Suicide
  • The Selfless Bliss of the Body
  • Fruitflesh: Seeds of Inspiration for Women Who Write
  • The Book of Dead Birds
  • Self Storage
  • Delta Girls
  • My Life with the Lincolns
Gayle Brandeis

Affiliate Faculty,

MFA in Creative Writing Program


Skip to content