Eric Wasserman,
MFA '02

Author, professor

Why did you decide to come to Emerson?

I went to a huge public high school. For my undergrad, I went to Lewis & Clark College, a small private liberal arts college in Portland, Oregon. I knew I didn’t want to go to a big university for graduate school: I wanted to keep that direct interaction with my professors that I had as an undergraduate. It also didn’t hurt that Emerson had such a stellar reputation or that I wanted to reach out of my comfort zone. At Emerson, I was able to move to a new place and meet some new people who all took the arts seriously. And of course, the final factor was that I would finally be living in a city with professional baseball.

How is Emerson a part of your life today?

It’s a constant pulse, sometimes stronger than other times, but it’s always there. When I lived in Los Angeles, I was always running into Emerson grads and the alumni reps would take us out to dinner when they flew in from Boston. But mostly, as a writer, my Emerson friendships mean the world to me. When I was having trouble with a draft of my recently published novel, Celluloid Strangers, my Emerson pal John Zamparelli gave the manuscript a hard critical read and we had some lengthy phone conversations about where I should take the revision. That’s just one example, but it speaks to the fact that you may leave the Emerson classroom, but that classroom isn’t going to abandon you. I see Emerson friends every year at the Association of Writers & Writing Programs conference, and I’m hoping we can plan an MFA alumni reading together when the conference comes to Boston in 2013.

What is your title and how would you describe what you do to a current Emersonian?

I’m an assistant professor of English at The University of Akron and also serve as our campus coordinator for the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts (NEOMFA) program in creative writing. I basically do what I was once blessed with receiving. I had some professors who really looked out for me and never quit on me even when I was falling short. I’m now returning the favor to today’s students.

Describe a notable achievement in your career.

Where I come from, it’s considered a little arrogant to brag about myself. But you can visit my website and see what I’ve been up to professionally and creatively since I departed Emerson a decade ago.

What are you currently working on?

Other than hopelessly continuing to try to train my adorable yet stubborn St. Bernard mix, I’m at work on another novel. I have about a 500-page draft that is a complete mess, but the prologue was just published in Matter Journal and has received positive response, so I’m pushing along. I’m also continuing to save my 90-year-old house, so I think there’s another paint job in my near future.

Describe a favorite Emerson memory.

That’s a no-brainer: Meeting my wife for the first time in the photocopy room of the Learning Assistance Center where we were both tutors. The first thing she asked me after introducing herself was what my favorite book was. That’s Emerson for you: a place where everyone has the arts running in their blood.

Is there an example of how a faculty member aided you with your career?

Teachers have always been instrumental in my life, starting with my mother, who was a teacher. I had several Emerson faculty members leave their mark on me. But I have to say that the continual support of Frederick Reiken in my professional life has been invaluable. He believed in my work when I was his student, and since I left Emerson, he has always been willing to lend his advice. Last year, the NEOMFA wanted to bring in a visiting fiction writer for a week and it was my honor for us to host Professor Reiken. Our program director said it was the most successful and highly attended event we have ever held.

What’s the single most important piece of advice you’d like to give to Emerson students?

There is a good deal of truth in the importance of networking when it comes to your working life once you leave the corner of Tremont and Boylston, and when somebody give you a little help, always try to return the favor. But in the end, no inside connection is going to help you land unless you can deliver the goods. Remember to continually rededicate yourself to what you’ve chosen as your life’s passion. Sometimes it can be frustrating when you see your classmates succeeding when you are still struggling. But be happy for them and be steadfast in your own dedication, because your time will come and you will want those peers to be happy for you when it does.

Describe Emerson in 3 sentences or less.

How about three words? It may be a cliché, but it’s completely true. DARE TO DREAM!

Back to list

MFA News Highlights

Cherly Buchanan Recent MFA alum Cheryl Buchanan ('15) compiled and edited the book Writers Without, a collection featuring the writing of clients at Boston's St. Francis House day shelter.

Read more»

Janaka Stucky Poet Janaka Stucky (BFA '00) reads at the 50th anniversary of the international poetry reincarnation.

Read more»

Emerson College Emerson College is the highest ranked local school in College Magazine's "Top Ten Best Schools for English Majors" list.

Read more»

Sara Novic BFA Alum Sara Novic's first novel Girl at War receives rave reviews in the New York Times Book Review.

Read more»

Brionne Thompson Congratulations to our Graduate Award Winners: Brionne Thompson (Best Thesis), Stephen Shane (WLP Thesis Award), Mary Nolan (Outstanding Publishing Project and Bookbuilders), Mireidys Garcia (Bookbuilders) Madison Bakalar (Fiction), Caitlin McGill (Nonfiction and President's Award), and Cheryl Buchanan (Poetry).

Asako Serizawa Asako Serizawa (MFA '01) is the recipient of a fiction writing fellowship at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center.

Senior Lecturer Mary Kovaleski Senior Lecturer Mary Kovaleski is the recipient of the inaugural Emerson College Alumni Award for Teaching Innovation, presented by the Alumni Association to a faculty member who demonstrates excellence in innovation by engaging students in active learning in and out of the classroom.

Christina Pugh Poet Christina Pugh (MFA '00) was recently awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Read more»

Fulbright ScholarshipSarah Chaves (BFA '11) was awarded a Fulbright 2015-2016 Grant. Chaves will spend one year, fully-funded, in Portugal working on her memoir.

Read more»

The Wilderness of RuinRoxane Gay visited campus on March 19 for a question-and-answer session with students followed by a reading of some of her essays. Both events are part of the Writing, Literature & Publishing Reading Series.

Read more»

The Wilderness of RuinMFA '98 Roseanne Montillo's article about 14-year old serial killer Jesse Pomeroy appeared on CBS News Crimsider. Montillo's latest book The Wilderness of Ruin explores the hunt for the child killer during Boston's Gilded Age and the Great Fire of 1872.

Read the article»

All the Old KnivesMFA '99 Olen Steinhauer's new book, All the Old Knives was recently reviewed by The New York Times.

Lacy EyeProfessor Jessica Treadway is featured in the Boston Globe for her new novel “Lacy Eye.” In the Q&A with the Globe, Treadway discusses her writing habits, including writing drafts in longhand.

Read the Globe piece»

Columbian ArtistsA group of nine young, emerging artists from the Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Medellín recently presented their artwork at Emerson College Los Angeles and are visiting Emerson College in Boston this month.

Read more »

Stephen ShaneCreative Writing MFA Stephen Shane (2015) and his colleague David Knight created a short documentary on Boston busing called Desegregated, Yet Unequal, and it was recently named an Editors' Pick by The Atlantic.

Read more and watch the video »

Steve YarbroughProfessor Steve Yarbrough has been elected to the Fellowship of Southern Writers, and, in addition, will receive the 2015 Robert Penn Warren Award for Fiction this spring from the same organization.

Read more »

Thomas McBeeWLP alum and writer Thomas Page McBee's memoir Man Alive: A True Story of Violence, Forgiveness and Becoming a Man was named on Publisher's Weekly's "Best Books of 2014."

Read more »

Ladette RandolphLadette Randolph's new memoir Leaving the Pink House was featured on as a suggested memoir. Randolph teaches in WLP and is Editor-in-Chief of Ploughshares literary magazine.

Read more »

Greg NicholsGreg Nichols (MFA '11) released his first book, Striking Gridiron, A Town's Pride and a Team's Shot at Glory During the Biggest Strike in American History. The book was named a Junior Library Guild Fall 2014 Selection.

Read more »

Marko TameraLecturer Tamera Marko's writing collective with Emerson maintenance workers from Latin America and undergraduates presented a bilingual presentation: "Proyecto Carrito II: When the Student Receives an 'A' and the Worker Gets Fired: Driving our Own Narrative" at the Conference on Rhetoric and Composition.

Read more »

Megan MarshallRecent MA in Publishing & Writing alumni collaborated to launch a new literary genre journal called Strangelet. Alumni include Executive Editor Casey Brown (MA ’13), Managing Editor Leah Thompson (MA ’12), Production Editor Franco Alvarado (MA ’13), and Creative Director Chandra Asar (MA ’12).

Read more »

Megan MarshallWLP Professor Megan Marshall and the emersonWRITES program participate in the launch and unveiling of Boston as the country's first Literary Cultural District.

Read more »

Michelle Bailat JonesMichelle Bailat-Jones (MFA '05) won the inaugral Christopher Doheny award for her novel Fog Island Mountains. The award recognizes a book-lenth work exploring the experience of serious illness and includes a $10,000 prize and publication and promotion of the book.

Read more »