Megan Paonessa

Megan Paonessa
Megan PaonessaMarquette University

Marquette Hall, 241

MilwaukeeWI53201United States of America
(414) 288-3996

Teaching Assistant Professor


I teach creative writing because I love witnessing the moment when a student falls in love with the power of language. To trick them down the English rabbit hole, I force them into reading contemporary, new voices who are experimenting with form and subject matter, hoping by pushing them outside their comfort zones I can introduce students to new ways of looking at story. My favorite stories to teach cross genres or use fabulist, surreal, or oddly ordinary lives to connect to personal truths. In mimicking what we read, I encourage students to push the boundaries of a typical story arc and find what interests them about language – a description full of weighted images and implications, Woody Allen-type dialogue, full of wit, unexpected or unreliable endings, suspense that builds and intensifies before a fantastic payoff. These outsider fictions help students let down their walls and locate the stories hiding inside them. Oftentimes, they fail. But we learn best when we learn from our failures.

My fiction also uses fabulist elements. I like to explore ways in which our mental health and imagination affect our physical and natural world, asking readers to question the way we judge one another and the history we’ve created. My recent work earned Honorable Mention in the 2020 NYC Midnight Short Story Contest and has appeared in The Adirondack Review, PANK, fwriction : review, Camera Obscura, and my chapbook “The Great Reimaging of Greenletter Avenue” is forthcoming. In addition to fiction, I’m a big fan of the personal narrative. My creative nonfiction has won the Hayden’s Ferry Review 25th Anniversary Award, has been published in Scary Mommy, and is forthcoming in The Journal for Research and Practice in College Teaching, Special Edition. I earned my MFA from the University of Alabama, and a double BA in English and Fine Art from the University of Notre Dame.

Courses Taught

  • Foundations in Rhetoric
  • Creative Writing – Fiction


Textbook:, co-written with editor Robin Behn, University of Alabama Press, 2020


“The Great Reimagining of Greenletter Avenue,” winner of Moving Words chapbook contest, forthcoming

My Mother, the Psychic,” ARZONO Press 2021 Annual Anthology, June 2021

Cloudspire,” finalist in Reedsy’s post-apocalyptic climate change contest, April 2021

A Condition Known as Solitary Disassociation and Privation,” Adirondack Review, Winter 2020

Color Wheel,” Flying House, October 2013

“Catch & Release,” Picayune Literary Magazine, May 2013

“Alcohol Memory,” Liver of Dixie – Stories from Egan’s, May 2013

Paper Bag Dragon,” fwriction : review, April 2013

“PARKING $20––EZ OUT,” Specter Literary Magazine, September 2012

“Two Years in Tuscaloosa,” Tuscaloosa Runs This, May 2011 eBook, on PANK, and in print   

     February 2012, Broken Futon Press

“Paper Cutouts,” Red Lightbulbs, May 2011

“Vacancies,” Camera Obscura, April 2011

“Overexposed, Mending into White,” 5923 Quarterly, March 2011

Release,” Flying House, Winter 2010

Creative Nonfiction:

“Reading and Writing with the Times: What Covid-19 taught me about my creative writing

Classroom,” Journal for Research and Practice in College Teaching, forthcoming

Postpartum Depression: How I Finally Came Up for Air, Scary Mommy, May 2016

Why SAHMs Get Depressed, Scary Mommy, March 2016

The baby that didn’t make it,” Hayden’s Ferry Review 25th Anniversary Award Winner, May


Honors and Awards

  • Finalist in Reedsy’s post-apocalyptic climate change contest, 2021
  • Honorable Mention in the NYC Midnight Short Story Contest, 2020
  • Faculty Excellence Award, North Central College, 2019
  • Hayden’s Ferry Review 25th Anniversary Award Winner, 2012
  • Poets & Writers Grants, 2013, 2010
  • Capstone International Travel Grant, 2010, University of Alabama
  • Graduate Council Travel Grants 2010, 2009, University of Alabama
  • Graduate Council Fellowship, 2008, University of Alabama

Additional Information

Office Hours

Fall 2024

  • TuTh 2:00-3:15

Teaching Schedule

Spring 2024

  • 1001/132 TuTh 9:30-10:45 Lalumiere Hall 262
    • Foundations in Rhetoric
  • 1001/133 TuTh 11:00-12:15 Lalumiere Hall 262
    • Foundations in Rhetoric
  • 1001/134 TuTh 12:30-1:45 Lalumiere Hall 262
    • Foundations in Rhetoric
  • 3241/101 TuTh 3:30-4:45 O'Brien Hall 436A
    • Crafting the Short Story

Faculty & Staff Directory


Department of English
Marquette Hall, 115
1217 W. Wisconsin Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53233
(414) 288-7179

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