I will be thinking about [Cunningham's] course for the rest of my writing life. -Portland State University student, 2019
I’ve been devoted to the discipline of creative writing for twenty-two years, and my path as a writer has been an unusual one, including the release of my first novel The Green Age of Asher Witherow in 2004, when I was 26. Though my background is firmly rooted in literature, which I have studied for twenty-five years, I came of age as a writer mostly in solitude, without the benefits of direct mentorships or publishing industry affiliations, and received an MFA degree late in my second decade of writing and publishing. Consequently, my teaching is profoundly influenced by the desire to provide developing writers with the help I never had when starting out. Over the last seventeen years I’ve taught extensively in college-level courses, workshops, seminars, lectures, and presentations. I offer my students energetic, rigorous, and empathetic instruction couched in unusually personal perspectives from a life of reading and many years of publishing.
I have published nine books of fiction and nonfiction, including the novels The Green Age of Asher Witherow (selected by the American Booksellers Association as a #1 Indie Next Pick) and Lost Son, an experimental biographical novel about Rainer Maria Rilke which was named a Top Ten Book of the Northwest by The Oregonian and was added to the official Rilke bibliography in Europe. My latest novel Perpetua's Kin was named one the most anticipated books of the season in New York Magazine and a favorite summer read in The Oregonian. January 2021 brought the release of my new hybrid book Q&A from Regal House Publishing. My work appears widely in magazines and literary journals. I am the recipient of numerous grants and fellowships, as well as residencies at Yaddo, and I've served on the Yaddo Literature Panel. I am a Contributing Editor for the Northwest literary journal Moss and the founder of the independent literary press Atelier26 Books, where I recently edited and published debut author Woody Skinner's A Thousand Distant Radios, which became a Semi-finalist for the 2018 PEN/Bingham Prize, and Margaret Malone’s People Like You, which became a Finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award, received the Balcones Fiction Prize, and was named among the best books of the year by The Oregonian, The Portland Mercury, and Powell’s Books. To find out more about my own publications, please see the full bio on my "About" page.
I hold a degree from Cedar Crest College's Pan-European Master of Fine Arts Program in Creative Writing, which took me to Vienna, Dublin, and Barcelona over three consecutive summers of intensive cross-cultural study. I'm an Adjunct Assistant Professor of English at Portland State University, where I teach advanced fiction courses, as well as the summer interdisciplinary creative writing intensive in Vienna, which I developed. I'm also a creative writing instructor for UC Berkeley's Academic Talent Development Program, and I teach documentary film and American film appreciation in Clackamas Community College's Advanced College Credit Program. I facilitate the multi-genre MFA-format Atelier26 Creative Writing Workshops, design and teach new courses at Portland's honored nonprofit Literary Arts, and serve as lecturer and thesis advisor in the Pan-European MFA Program. I guest lecture regularly in various academic settings and conferences. For four years I traveled all around Oregon as a public scholar, facilitating intensive seminars in more than 25 communities for the Oregon Humanities Council Conversation Project.
This section of my website is a record of some of my work as a teacher, and a reflection of my commitment to sharing and instilling the principles of creative writing as a discipline whose applications are profoundly relevant in many areas of life and citizenship far beyond the classroom or publishing arena.
Thank you for taking the time to learn more about what I offer as a teacher.
-Mark Allen Cunningham
MY TEACHING PORTFOLIO
Recent & Upcoming
Portland State University: Interdisciplinary Creative Writing Abroad in Vienna (WR 407), Portland State University, Summer 2022 (Join me in Vienna! Open to all PSU students, graduate & undergrad, and even non-PSU students!)
Catamaran Writing Conference, Pebble Beach CA: Fiction Workshop - July 31-Aug4, 2022
Clackamas Community College: Introduction to Film (ENG 194); American Film (ENG 195); Documentary Film (ENG 230); WR 121; WR 122
UC Berkeley: Advanced Creative Writing, Academic Talent Development Program
Portland State University: Advanced Fiction Workshop (WR 412); Advanced Fiction Seminar (407); Intermediate Fiction (WR 312)
Catamaran Writing Conference, Pebble Beach CA: Featured Craft Lecture, 2019
Pan-European MFA Program: Thesis Advisor, 2018-
Portland State University Write to Publish Conference: Featured Craft Lecture 2018
Literary Arts, honored nonprofit in Portland, Oregon: "Writing Fiction with Lin-Manuel Miranda's 'Hamilton," a custom-designed 4-week course
Literary Arts, honored nonprofit in Portland, Oregon: Custom-designed and taught 20 hours of new curricula for sold-out courses:
"Beginning the Novel"
"Plotting the Novel"
"Characters in Novels"
"Starting the Novel" (Portland Book Festival)
"Editing for Writers" (Portland Book Festival)
Pan-European MFA Program: Guest lecture: "Writing Beyond Genre." See a video HERE.
Atelier26 Creative Writing Workshops: MFA-level workshops & seminars
(Fall 2016 to present)
Lecture: "Depictions of Time in Literature," Barcelona, Spain.
Literary Arts, honored nonprofit in Portland, Oregon: "Finding Form: Shaping Your Novel or Memoir," a custom-designed 6-week course
Oregon State University: Guest Lecture, "The Flickering Page"
(also delivered in 30+ venues statewide) Listen HERE.