Lisa Locascio Nighthawk

Antioch University
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Lisa Locascio Nighthawk’s debut novel, Open Me, was published by Grove Atlantic in 2018. A New York Times Editor’s Choice, Open Me was a semifinalist for the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award and was reviewed in The New York Times Review of Books, The New Yorker, and on NPR. Lisa is also the editor of an anthology, Golden State 2017: Best New Writing from California, published by Outpost19 Books.

Lisa’s stories, essays, and poems have been published in n+1, The Believer, Bookforum, Electric Literature, Literary Hub, Tin House, and many other places. Her essay “Byzantium,” was selected for inclusion in Best American Experimental Writing 2020, and she was awarded the 2017 Penelope Niven Creative Nonfiction International Literary Award for her essay “Protest,” which later appeared in The Southampton Review. Lisa is editor of the ekphrastic collaboration magazine 7x7LA and Executive Director of the Mendocino Coast Writers’ Conference. She lives in Los Angeles with her partner and their cat, Sybil.

Prior to joining Antioch, Lisa held teaching positions at UCLA (where she was Lecturer of Scandinavian), Wesleyan University, the University of Southern California, Colorado College, and New York University, among other institutions.

Photo of woman in green shirt lisa locascio

Program Chair

MFA in Creative Writing Program

  • PhD in Creative Writing and Literature, University of Southern California
  • MA in English Literature, University of Southern California
  • MFA in Creative Writing in Fiction, New York University
  • BA in Individualized Study, New York University

I love writing and teaching, the creative acts that make me who I am and enrich my experience of the world, and I feel grateful to be able to build my life around these twin pursuits. I’ve worked hard, but I didn’t get here on my own; I was carried forward by the teachers, in and out of the classroom, who believed in me and worked just as hard on my behalf. I’ve been able to pursue my career because they invested their time, energy, and expertise in me. Now it’s my great pleasure to do the same for my students.

I seek to honor my students’ trust in me with a dynamic and individualized path of inquiry through which they can become better writers—more powerful, more confident, more enrapturing and enraptured—and, in the process, gain a greater apprehension of their worlds and themselves. My teaching experience spans a broad array of settings, from traditional undergraduate courses to weekend-format graduate seminars, the breadth and depth of which has shaped my pedagogical philosophy. Having taught in so many different ways to so many different types of students uniquely equips me to engage, challenge, and nurture each student through their individual trajectory to success (and to discovering their personal definition of success, one liberated from capitalist deliverables and riveted to their dreams).

The interdisciplinary nature of my teaching and writing enables me to recognize and connect with students’ needs in and out of the classroom. Students today face manifold obstacles, from financial pressure to familial obligation to the complex hegemonic roots of structural inequality and fraught access to higher education. I endeavor to familiarize myself with each of my students’ backgrounds, difficulties, and triumphs, fostering an intimacy that helps them to understand the importance and meaning of the topics we study within the context of their own lives. I’m enthralled by their voices, expertise, and challenges. I consider it a privilege to help them tell their stories.

The playwright Paula Vogel once said that “we rise in circles,” a primary principle for me as an educator: we need each other. In my view, every education is a collaboration, undertaken in mutual good faith, respect, curiosity, and wonderment. My students have shown me the primacy of wonder in the learning process, an awe I endeavor to reflect back to them in a reciprocal lesson that deepens us all.

Open Me
Golden State 2017: Best New Writing from California

Open Me named a semifinalist for the Virginia Commonwealth University Cabell First Novelist Award, 2017
“Byzantium” selected for Best American Experimental Writing 2020
Penelope Niven Creative Nonfiction International Literary Award for “Protest,” 2017
Caleb G. Winchester Teaching Award, Wesleyan University, 2017
Dr. Fred Robbins Memorial Award for Emerging Writers, Sou’wester, 2014
Dorys Grover Award for Outstanding Paper Presented by a Graduate Student, Western Literature Association, 2014
Residency Fellowship, Djerassi Resident Artists Program, 2014