Breakwater Reading: September Edition

old-1130742_960_720School’s back in session and so is Breakwater!  Join us Friday, September 16, at 7 pm in the basement of the Brookline Booksmith for the first Breakwater Reading of the school year. Listen to the wonderful fiction and poetry of MFA students from Boston University, Emerson, and UMass Boston.

Here are the readers!


A Native to Los Angeles and now early-retired New Yorker, Alanna Bailey has been writing poetry since she was 16.

First studying the written word by accident, she has followed it’s mysterious wonder from Los Angeles’ divine UCLA Young Writers Retreat’s to the classrooms of Eugene Lang College, The New School University in New York City, where she graduated taking her Bachelor’s Degree and the Senior Academic Award of Excellence in Writing from the Writing Department (by unanimous vote). She has just arrived in Boston where she is pursuing her MFA at Boston University.

Her poetry can be found on the pages of Armchair/Shotgun No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 as well as in Yale’s SAGE Magazine.

She firmly believes that every single persons story is their strength; and is worth being told– and heard.


Sally Burnette once puked discreetly into an infinity scarf, and is now asst. poetry editor at Redivider. Recent work is out in theEEEL, decomP, and Queen Mob’s Teahouse and is forthcoming in Spectator & Spooks and The Fem.


Annie Diamond is a poet born and raised in Connecticut. Her poems have appeared in The Lyric, The Fem, The Columbia Review, Misadventures, and other publications. Her writing has been supported by The MacDowell Colony and Boston University, where she is completing her MFA.

Her first chapbook, entitled Nostos, was published in August 2016 by Turtledove Press, a new small press based in New York City.


Jose F. Diaz is a writer, philosopher, and Navy veteran who earned his undergraduate degrees in English and philosophy at Towson University. He is attending UMass Boston for an MFA in creative writing. He has been to war, traveled around the world, reads when he feels like it, writes when he doesn’t, is an assistant editor for BrickHouse Books, ESL tutor, and will be working for Consequence Magazine. He enjoys unrequited love, sitting in the rain, and hearing about people who keep trying despite having failed. And on some days, he enjoys his depression. He has even gone so far as to think, “Maybe it’s okay to love myself.”


Paul Haney is both a two-sport champion and a two-cat guy. His work has appeared in some places you’ve probably heard of, and more you probably haven’t. He’s entering his third and final year in the Emerson MFA program in Nonfiction, where he serves as Editor-in-Chief at Redivider


August Smith’s work has been published in the Newer York, Reality Beach, Voicemail Poems, Spy Kids Review, Alien Mouth, and other places. He runs an independent poetry press called Cool Skull Press which publishes video game and pop culture-related poetry, and he attends UMass Boston. He’s really nice and I like him very much. 

Breakwater Reading: May Edition

Join us for the final Breakwater Reading before our summer hiatus. MFA students from BU, Emerson, and UMass Boston will read fiction and poetry as we celebrate the end of another school year and the launch of Breakwater Review Issue XV!


Here are the readers!


A.J.’s poetry has appeared in a number of strange and wonderful publications, including Sybil’s GarageMythic Delirium, Not One of UsDreams & NightmaresStrange HorizonsStone TellingFarrago’s WainscotThrough the GateLiminality,Battersea Review, and SWAMP (just to name a few). Her début collection, Lost Books,with Flipped Eye Publishing, was nominated for the 2010 London New Poetry Award, for the 2011 Forward Prize, and was also a finalist for the 2011 People’s Book Prize. Her second collection, The Dishonesty of Dreams, was released in 2014.  She has been serving as Senior Poetry Editor at Strange Horizons magazine since 2012.

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Annette Frost was born and resides in Boston, but houses a big part of her heart in Vermont. She loves the intersection of science and poetry, and believes in the importance of acknowledging both feelings and Climate Change. Annette is currently a poetry MFA candidate at Boston University.


Justin Spaller is an MFA candidate at UMass Boston and the fiction editor at Breakwater Review. He lives in Dorchester with his wife, Anna.


Mary Coons is an Illinois native and an MFA candidate at UMass Boston. She is currently working to set up creative writing workshops in Boston-area domestic violence shelters.



Vassiliki Rapti was born and grew up in Greece and studied Comparative Literature in Greece, France and the United States. She is the author of six books, including the monograph Ludics in Surrealist Theatre and Beyond (Ashgate, 2013) and the poetry collection Transitorium (Somerset Hall Press, 2015). Her poetry and translations have been published in various journals including Taos Journal of Poetry and Art, Eliot Review, Levure littéraire, Poeticanet and Poetix. Her poetry is animated by the ludic spirit and is imbued by surrealist imagery in an attempt to capture the intrusion of the marvelous in everyday life, yet it strives for simplicity in diction. She further explores the ludic element as Chair of the Ludics Seminar of the Mahindra Humanities Center at Harvard University, where she also runs the Advanced Training in Greek Poetry Translation and Performance Workshop. Besides her innovative teaching at Harvard, she also teaches literature and literary theory at Emerson College. 

Anthony Martinez hails from Bakersfield, California. His jobs have included: the guy that makes your sandwich, the guy that makes your photocopies, the guy that makes your skinny non-fat caramel macchiato, the guy that teaches your kids algebra & SAT prep during summer school, the guy that re-racks your beer, the guy that copyedits your computer science textbook, &, most recently, the guy that poses naked for your figure drawing classes. He is a graduate student at Emerson College, studying fiction.

Breakwater Reading: April Edition

5476508793_0651f22b2c_bJoin us Friday, April 15 at 7 pm in the basement of the Brookline Booksmith for the April edition of the Breakwater Reading Series. Listen to the wonderful fiction and poetry of MFA students from Boston University, Emerson, and UMass Boston.

Here are the readers!


Zyanya Dickey loves three things most in the whole world-her loved ones, equal rights for women, and soul-nurturing pizza. She hails from El Paso where she learned how to create the most delicious Mexican recipes from her family (Zee makes the best enchiladas around!).  In 2013, Zee ventured to Boston to pursue her MFA in Fiction from Emerson College, a degree she will officially earn in May. Besides writing kick-ass fiction, you can find Zee teaching composition, dancing, reading Jhumpa Lahiri, and being altogether fierce.

Suzi E-Z

Suzi Ehtesham-Zadeh is a bit of a cultural chameleon. The product of a mixed-marriage between a high-profile Iranian father and a small-town American mother, she was born in Washington, D.C., came of age in Iran during the Shah’s era, and later spent large chunks of her life in Spain. She is well acquainted with the phenomenon of “culture-straddling” that her characters feel. It is a bit of a paradox that she has lived for most of the past two decades on a mini-farm in Woodstock, Georgia, where she has an organic farm and keeps a small menagerie of animals. A career English teacher, Suzi has dabbled in writing on the side for a long time. Her work has appeared in Quiddity Literary Journal, Mobius Magazine, Foundling Review, Narrative Northeast, and Skin to Skin Press.

Oyster Farm

Jordan Escobar has been many things in many places: a grape grower, an almond rancher,  a goat wrangler, a steer wrestler, a wrestling coach, a phlebotomist, a hod carrier, a concrete mixer, a pipe layer, a ditch digger, a longshoreman, a chicken farmer, a quail farmer, an oyster farmer, a hog breeder, a stableboy, an assisted reproduction technologist, a collector of horse semen, a collector of dog semen, a collector of cattle semen, a collector of crane semen, a collector of hippo semen, an aquarium docent, a zoo employee, a hunter, a hiker, a horseback rider, and perhaps strangest of all, an MFA candidate in Poetry at Emerson College.


Bob Sykora

Bob Sykora is a former high school teacher originally from Los Angeles. He is currently an MFA candidate at UMass Boston and the poetry editor for Breakwater Review.

Alleliah Nuguid

Alleliah Nuguid is a Boston University MFA candidate from Fremont, California. Her poems have appeared in The New York Times Learning Blog, Permafrost Magazine, the Poets 11 anthology, and, anonymously, an unauthorized mayoral biography. She holds a BA in English from Northwestern University.

Julia Rubin

Julia Rubin is an MFA candidate at UMass Boston. She writes short stories, personal essays, and poems. As an educator, she uses creative writing as a tool for literacy and empowerment. Other hobbies include exploring new and familiar cities, cooking, chilling out on lakes, and getting really excited for karaoke and then chickening out. Also, she thinks the people in her life are pretty great.

James N Stone

James N. Stone, with a B. A. from Brandeis University and Doctor of Psychology from the William James College of Professional Psychology, is the recipient of the Robert Fitzgerald Translation Prize from the University Professor’s Program at Boston University, The Greek Translation Award from the Translation Center at Columbia University, and a fellowship from the National Endowment of the Humanities to the Literary Translation Institute at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He is an active member of the Advanced Greek Translation Workshop at Harvard University and the Paros Translation Symposium. His poems have been published in Poeticanet, and translated in Modern Greek by the distinguished port and translator, Katerina Anghelaki Rooke. His translations into English of Ancient and Modern Greek poetry are widely published.

Breakwater Reading: March Edition

downloadJoin us this Friday, March 25 at 7pm sharp in the basement of the Brookline Booksmith for the March edition of the Breakwater Reading Series. Hear some great work from local MFA candidates at Boston University, Emerson College, and UMass Boston.

Here are the readers!


Elysia Smith is a poet currently living in Cambridge, MA. She has too many pets and too many hobbies. Sometimes, she performs as an aerialist. She also runs the Dorchester based series, Write on the Dot. Hit her up if you’re a writer that lives/works in Dorchester and want to check it out.


Chris Poole is from Harrison, Tennessee, and is completing an MFA in fiction at Emerson College. He has had stories published by Apt, Flavorwire, and Waccamaw as well as one forthcoming in the Gettysburg Review.

Karina van Berkum

Karina van Berkum is a New England based poet and teacher whose poems have appeared in publications such as Curio Poetry, Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and Eunoia Review.  She is currently a Teaching Fellow at Boston University and an editor for Spoke, a Poetry Annual. She lives in Cambridge, where she is usually walking a sheepdog or spontaneously dancing. 


Maija Mäkinen is a bilingual Finnish writer and translator who also speaks a little bit of Texan. She writes about solitude, old women, immigration, and the cacophony of living with two cultures. The first chapter of the novel-in-progress from which she is reading tonight won the 2012 University of Cambridge Lucy Cavendish College Fiction Prize. She commutes to BU from Brooklyn and is currently testing all the new entrees on Amtrak’s café car menu.

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Madison Bakalar hails from the eastern shores of North Carolina, where she graduated from UNC-Chapel Hill with degrees in English and dramatic arts. While there, she was published twice in their student-run literary journal Cellar Door and earned an honors in creative writing. Madison is in her final year at Emerson College as an MFA fiction candidate, and when she’s not a school, you’ll find her shelving books at Brattle Book Shop. Most recently, she won first place in the WLP Writing Award for Fiction at Emerson. Post-graduation plans involve getting more sleep and figuring out how to be a human after being a student for 18+ years.

Breakwater Reading: February Edition

photo-710456_960_720Join us this Friday, February 19 at 7pm sharp in the basement of the Brookline Booksmith for the February edition of the Breakwater Reading Series. Hear some great work from local MFA candidates at Boston University, Emerson College, and UMass Boston.

Here are the readers!


Amy Cain is an MFA fiction candidate at Boston University. She is from Maine.


Ryan Kim is an MFA candidate in fiction at UMass Boston. He hails from Seattle. Originally, Ryan wanted to be a musician, but realized during high school it was a very bad look bringing your acoustic guitar everywhere you go. Still, he loves a good show and is enjoying getting to know Boston’s music scene.

He studied English and American Lit at NYU and his work has been published in The Seismic Thread.
Juliana Kruis is a graduate of College of Charleston, a  third year Nonfiction student at Emerson College, and Nonfiction Editor of Redivider literary magazine. She claims stake to South Carolina, Colorado, and the Commonwealth thanks to a childhood with parents in the Air Force and a continuing desire to travel and live in new places.  When she isn’t working on her memoir titled Good Pity, she is stirring, shaking, and slinging drinks on the weekends.  Juliana has poetry published, but is still too chicken to send our her nonfiction, since most of it tends to be on the longer and heavier side.
AJ Odasso
A.J. Odasso‘s poetry has appeared in a number of strange and wonderful publications, including Sybil’s GarageMythic DeliriumJabberwockyCabinet des FéesMidnight EchoNot One of UsDreams & NightmaresGoblin FruitStrange HorizonsStone TellingFarrago’s WainscotThrough the GateLiminalityinkscrawlBattersea Review, and SWAMP (just to name a few). Her début collection, Lost Books (Flipped Eye Publishing, 2010), was nominated for the 2010 London New Poetry Award and for the 2011 Forward Prize, and was also a finalist for the 2011 People’s Book Prize. Her second collection with Flipped Eye, The Dishonesty of Dreams, was released in August of 2014. Her two chapbooks, Devil’s Road Down and Wanderlust, are available from Maverick Duck Press.  She has been serving as Senior Poetry Editor at Strange Horizons magazine since 2012.  She holds degrees from Wellesley College and the University of York (UK), and she is currently an MFA candidate and Teaching Fellow in Poetry at BU.

Dean Shaban

Here are some things Mitch Hedberg once said:

Every book is a children’s book if the kid can read.

I bought a house. It’s a two-bedroom house. But I think it’s up to me how many bedrooms there are, don’t you?

I wrote a letter to my dad. I wrote, “I really enjoyed being here,” but I accidentally wrote rarely instead of really. But I still wanted to use it, so I crossed it out and wrote, “I rarely drive steamboats, Dad. There’s a lot of shit you don’t know about me. Quit trying to act like I’m a steamboat operator.” This letter took a really harsh turn right away.

I saw a lady on TV, she was born without arms. Literally. She was born with her hands attached to her shoulders. And that was sad. But then they said, “Lola does not know the meaning of the word can’t.” And that to me was actually kind of worse, in a way. Not only does she not have arms, but she doesn’t understand simple contractions.


LZ photo
Lori Zimmermann is a third-year MFA candidate in poetry at UMass Boston, hard at work on her thesis. She is also the Tumblr Editor for small publisher/guerrilla art project Broadsided Press. Publication credits are listed on her website (; her favorite publishing experience involved shouting obscenities into the voice recorder app on her phone to make an audio version of her poem “MBTA Chorale.” She enjoys poetry because it is honest about its pointlessness, unlike so much of the rest of life.

Breakwater Reading: January Edition

12471695_733941746708040_2247109100844645237_oNew year, new readings!

Join us Friday, January 15 at 7pm sharp in the basement of the Brookline Booksmith for the January edition of the Breakwater Reading Series. Hear some great work from local MFA candidates at Boston University, Emerson College, and UMass Boston.

Here are the readers!


Matthew Porto is an MFA candidate and teaching fellow at Boston University. After earning a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Scranton in 2012, he taught ESL in Tainan, Taiwan for one year and currently lives in Boston. He has privately printed two poetry collections, Flora and Fauna (winter 2014) and DignityAstray (spring 2015). 


Jason Villemez is an MFA candidate in fiction at Boston University, and co-coordinates the Black Box Reading Series at Boston Playwrights’ Theater. He has worked at the PBS NewsHour, Comcast NBCUniversal, and the Philadelphia Gay News. Before coming to BU he worked on a multimedia project on the Civil Rights Movement called His Dream, Our Stories, traveling around the country and producing interviews with Civil Rights Leaders and Participants. Jason also spent two years in Japan teaching English, traveling and talking to as many people as possible. He tries to write a short story a week and sometimes he succeeds.


Michelle Betters works at Ploughshares literary journal and teaches at Emerson College, where she’s in her second year of grad school.  Her poems have been published in a few small journals as well as an anthology of Brooklyn, NY poets called All Stars. Her most important project has been the perfection of her vegan chili recipe. 


Oscar Mancinas, aka Mob-lo Neruda, aka Woke-tavio Paz, aka E.B. Brown, aka Oscar Wildin’ isn’t so much a person as he is a nightmarish thought, held simultaneously by every Republican presidential candidate. Oscar is an MFA fiction candidate at Emerson College, and he wants all of you to know that he ain’t scared of you.

My face

The cinematographer on an award-winning short documentary, The Seer of Poughkeepsie, Zachary Bond was also the recipient of the Beatrice Daw Brown Prize for Poetry in 2014. His work has appeared both in print and online, most recently in Repurposed Mag. He is an MFA candidate at UMass-Boston.



Breakwater Reading: December Edition

12360263_721631627939052_2174954030111069789_nIt sure doesn’t feel like it, but December is here! Join us Friday December 18 at the Brookline Booksmith for the December edition of the Breakwater Reading Series and help us celebrate the launch of Breakwater Review‘s latest issue. In addition to readings from six poets and fiction writers from local MFA programs, poet Richard Hoffman, whose work can be found in the new Breakwater issue, will be featured.

Join us and make sure to check out this Friday to read our new issue!


Lisa Rosinsky is a poet and young adult novelist. Her poetry has recently appeared in Prairie Schooner, Measure, and Hunger Mountain. Before moving to Boston, she worked at Highlights for Children and taught yoga in rural Pennsylvania. Originally she hails from Bawlmer, Murrilyn (known to some as Baltimore, Maryland), and is now pursuing her MFA at Boston University.


Neha Chaudhary-Kamdar is an MFA candidate at the Creative Writing Program at Boston University. She was born and raised in India and has since lived in various parts of the United States. Aside from being a writer, Neha is an armchair film theorist, an occasional runner, a former editor of children’s textbooks, and an aspiring polyglot.


John Allen Taylor’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Booth, Dialogist, Devil’s Lake, and The Boiler, among others. He serves as Redivider‘s poetry editor and makes strong, bitter kombucha.


Lindsay Haber teaches in Emerson’s First Year Writing Program while obtaining her MFA in fiction. She is currently working towards publishing her first novel and writing her second. In addition to writing, she loves animals (with an emphasis on dogs and whales), eggplant parm, nineties grunge. and getting lost in the woods.

August + Jellyfish

August Smith was asked to write this bio in the third person. He runs Cool Skull Press, attends UMass Boston, has published five chapbooks, and drives a donut van on Sundays. His work has been featured in theNewerYork, Space Cadet Baby Time, Banango Street, Chrimbus Dingo, Electric Cereal, A Boy’s Adventure, and Time is an Illusion Perpetuated by Our Wristwatches. Half of those journals don’t exist but he won’t tell you which ones.

Jen Murphy + Statue

Jennifer Murphy is a third year MFA candidate in UMass Boston’s Fiction program. Her fiction, poetry, and personal essays have been published in various literary journals and magazines, none of which you’ve heard of. When not writing fiction she plays the world’s smallest violin, tortures her cats, sketches charcoal, pretends to write poetry and avoids the oxford comma. Her most recent artistic endeavor is learning to selfie more than half of her face. But mostly she teaches creative writing and works on her collection of short stories titled, Copper State


Richard Hoffman is the author of three poetry collections: Without Paradise; Gold Star Road, winner of the 2006 Barrow Street Press Poetry Prize and the New England Poetry Club’s Sheila Motton Book Award; and his latest, Emblem. His prose works include the celebrated Half the House: a Memoir, published in a 20th Anniversary Edition this year; Interference & Other Stories; and his new memoir, Love & Fury. He is Senior Writer-in-Residence at Emerson College.