Poetry Students

Marissa Ahmadkhani


Marissa Ahmadkhani is a 27 year old Bay Area native, who holds an M.A. in English Literature from Cal Poly State University in San Luis Obispo. Her writing can be found in Radar Poetry, Cosmonauts Avenue, Southern Indiana Review, The West Review, The Journal, and poets.org, where she received the Academy of American Poets Prize in 2015 and 2017. In her free time, she enjoys writing, sleeping, owning too many plants, and hanging out with her cat. 

Brendan Bense


Brendan Bense is a Pennsylvania native with a degree in Creative Writing and Religious Studies from American University in D.C. His work can be found in Columbia Journal, The Crab Orchard Review, and Press 53. Before joining the MFA cohort at UCI, he’s worked as a writer and editor in New York and Philadelphia.

Marcus Gabbert


Marcus Gabbert is from Northern California. He studied English at UC Davis before coming to UC Irvine. 

Somi Jun


Somi Jun was born in Korea and raised in/near Los Angeles.

Marisa Lainson


Marisa grew up in Southern California. She studied English and Spanish at Biola University and graduated from the Torrey Honors Institute. Before coming to UCI, she sold T-shirts at metal concerts and tutored ESL. Her work has recently appeared in Frontier Poetry and Foothill Poetry Journal, where she was nominated for the 2021 Foothill Editor's Prize. She currently serves as the Poetry Editor of FAULTLINE Journal of Arts & Letters and spends her free time playing D&D and singing to her cats.

Helena Li


Helena split her childhood between China, Maryland, and California. She studied Applied Math and Philosophy at Berkeley before moving to Madison. She loves Gabe, her friend’s cat, and bread.

Asusena Lopez


Asusena Lopez is a native Angeleno who dreams of living in an enchanted forest but doesn’t want to abandon the grime and glamour of the city. She holds a B.A. in music education and creative writing from California State University, Northridge where she received the Academy of American Poets George Dillon Memorial Award in 2021. When not lost in her latest lyrical labyrinth or living in the surreal realm of an art house film, she loves gardening, hiking, playing guitar, visiting museums, and draping herself in velvet.

Nicholas Martino


Nick Martino grew up in Milwaukee along the ocean of Lake Michigan. He attended Wesleyan University and taught first grade for two years before landing in Irvine.

Luan Nguyen


Luan came to the US at 11 and lived in Sacramento, CA, for 18 years before moving to Irvine. He attended college and grad school at UC Davis, studying computer science; then worked as a reading and writing tutor at Sacramento City College for two years (during which time he reported feature stories for the school’s student news publication).

Harriet Weaver


Harriet Weaver graduated from Yale University with a B.A. in Theater Studies, and for several years pursued a career as an actor and producer before allowing herself to write. She lived in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, and New York before relocating to the pleasant culture shock that is Los Angeles. She owes much of her love of poetry to her late great teachers, Harold Bloom and Wynn Handman.

Lizabeth Yandel


Lizabeth Yandel is a writer and musician based in San Diego, CA and originally from Chicago. She is currently a poetry reader for The Adroit Journal. Her work can be found in Rattle Magazine, Lumina Journal, Popshot Magazine, Nashville Review, The Los Angeles Review, and was chosen as the 1st runner up for the 2018 Sandy Crimmins National Prize for Poetry. Her original music, somewhere in the Jazz/Neo-soul realm, can be found on all the streaming platforms. She definitely likes plants and music and words and she probably likes you too.