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Mount Saint Mary's Doheny Campus is home to the University's MFA in Creative Writing program, led by new director Johnny Payne, PhD.

Payne named new director of Creative Writing MFA program at Mount Saint Mary's University

Los Angeles, Sept. 15, 2015— To be well read is a requirement for any writer. To be life-experienced, even better. Johnny Payne brings both prerequisites to his new L.A.-based role as full-time director of Mount Saint Mary University’s MFA in Creative Writing program.

In his varied career, Payne has published novels in Spanish and English, and books of poetry. He has served as an opera librettist in New York City and Chicago. And he is the founder and past director of a one-of-a-kind bilingual MFA in Creative Writing program at the University of Texas at El Paso. He previously taught at Northwestern University and Florida Atlantic University.

Payne’s own education took him across the country. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Spanish at Indiana University, followed by an MFA in creative writing at the University of Alabama and a PhD in comparative literature from Stanford University.

An immersive artist, Payne’s earliest academic experience was Quechua field work in the Peruvian Andes Mountains, compiling folk literature. As a National Endowment for the Humanities fellow, he studied Latin American theater in Buenos Aires. And in the year before joining Mount Saint Mary’s, he lived in a yurt in the Alaskan wilds with his wife and three dogs, learning about central Alaska’s indigenous Yup’ik people.

“Most of my creation is historical in nature and involves intensive research,” Payne says. “I have also spent many years experimenting with the integration of bilingualism and biculturalism into the classroom, and the cognitive and linguistic challenges they present for students.”

Mount Saint Mary’s poses new opportunities for him to educate well-rounded writers against the vibrancy of Los Angeles. Payne plans to teach bilingual Spanish/English creative writing courses in the near future, and will guide the MFA program to offer courses in a hybrid online/traditional format to encourage daily writing by students.

“We’re going to produce writers at the highest level,” he says. “It’s a program for serious writers who plan to publish professionally and work writing into their everyday life.”

The University’s MFA in Creative Writing program launched in 2014 with an interim director. The co-ed graduate program is based at Mount Saint Mary’s Doheny Campus in downtown Los Angeles, and is designed as a two-year weekend residency that culminates in the submission of a creative thesis such as a screenplay, novel, collection of stories or book of poetry.

About Mount Saint Mary’s University
Mount Saint Mary’s is the only women’s university in Los Angeles and one of the most diverse in the nation. The University is known nationally for its research on gender equity, its innovative health and science programs, and its commitment to community service. As a leading liberal arts institution, Mount Saint Mary’s provides year-round, flexible and online programs at the undergraduate and graduate level. Weekend, evening and graduate programs are offered to both women and men. Mount alums are engaged, active global citizens who use their knowledge and skills to better themselves, their communities and the world.

About the MFA in Creative Writing at Mount Saint Mary’s University
Mount Saint Mary’s MFA in Creative Writing Program seeks to train passionate and talented writers who will commit to the daily practice of writing and who aspire to crafting work of publishable quality. Students are encouraged to participate actively in a rich campus environment of creative dialogue through student readings, thesis-writing groups, the Mount literary journal Dry River Review, and other campus and Los Angeles events. The MFA program is structured to allow graduate student writers maximum time for creative and intellectual exploration.

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