Melissa Valentine

Nov 6, 2020

Getting an MFA and Memoir Writing

A Discussion with Melissa Valentine

New Books Network 2020

Welcome to The Academic Life. You are smart and capable, but you aren’t an island, and neither are we. So we reached across our mentor network to bring you podcasts on everything from how to finish that project, to how to take care of your beautiful mind. Wish we’d bring in an expert about something? Email us at or Find us on Twitter : The Academic Life @AcademicLifeNBN.

In this episode you’ll hear: about putting your personal story onto the page, choosing between fiction and memoir to find your story’s true voice, getting an MFA, the importance of having a good mentor, navigating the stories of others that intersect yours, creating beauty out of trauma, grief, BLM, and a discussion of the book The Names of All the Flowers.

Our guest is: Melissa Valentine, author of The Names of All the Flowers. She is a writer from Oakland, CA. She earned her BA from Sarah Lawrence College and her MFA in creative writing from Mills College. She has been a fellow at the San Francisco Writers' Grotto, and her work has appeared in Jezebel, Guernica, Apogee Journal, and others. Her writing has received honorable mention from Glimmer Train, and the Ardella Mills Non-fiction Award. She works as an editor, and currently lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Your host is: Dr. Christina Gessler, a historian of women, gender, and sexuality.

Listeners to this episode might be interested in:

  • The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander
  • The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
  • Between the World and Me by Ta Nehisi Coates
  • Create Dangerously by Edwidge Danticat
  • The Purpose of Power by Alicia Garza
  • Dust Tracks On a Road by Zora Neale Hurston
  • Soldier by June Jordan
  • Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde
  • The Source of Self-Regard by Toni Morrison
  • Men We Reaped by Jesmyn Ward
  • "How Racism Makes Us Sick" [TedTalk]
  • "How Childhood Trauma Affects Health Across A Lifetime" [TedTalk]

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Your Host

Christina Gessler

Dr. Christina Gessler holds a PhD in U.S. history.
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Also Hosted By Christina Gessler