Central Penn College - Maria Thiaw

Central Penn College


Faculty Who Care

Maria Thiaw, MFA
Professor, English

Academic Bio

I began my teaching career at Central Penn College shortly after earning my Masters Degree in Communications from Shippensburg University. At that time, I was a part-time professor in the Corporate Communications department. After one term I was hired full-time in general studies, where the corporate communications program was housed. In 2007, I became chair over the communications associates degree program. In 2011, two years after earning my degree in Creative Writing, I was able to pursue my passion for writing and diversity by moving into what is now the School of Humanities and Sciences. My hopes are to pursue a Ph.D. in creative writing or american studies in the future. 

Personal Bio

Originally from Seattle, I moved to Pa with my family as a teenager. I never thought I would stay but here I am. The big move revived my love of poetry, which I had as a little kid. I actually wrote my first poetry collection at the age of seven and won an award from Seattle Pacific University, but after awhile I dropped it for important interests like Barbie dolls and Saturday morning cartoons. Well, teen angst brought it back, and thanks to encouragement from family and teachers I got pretty good at it. For more than 20 years I have been publishing poems and poetry collections, performing, competing in poetry slams and teaching poetry workshops. I have performed throughout the United States and even in Auvillar, France where I received a scholarship to study poetry with the great Pulitzer Prize nominated poet/professor, Marilyn Kallet, director of creative writing at the University of Tennessee. The VCCA sponsored that poetry workshop and I received a scholarship to go in both 2011 and 2015. They were life changing experiences! In addition to poetry, I specialize in journalism and public relations writing and I won an award for technical marketing in 2001. It is my hope that I can show future students how they can turn their artistic talents into careers. My passion for writing is supported by my loving husband and two beautiful little boys.

Teaching Philosophy

As a teacher of creative writing, I attempt to help students reach their own writing goals by introducing them to the works of a diverse array of fascinating, award winning, published writers, such as U.S. Poet Laureate, Juan Felipe Herrera, Harlem Renaissance novelist, Zora Neale Hurston and the "Father of Free Verse," Walt Whitman. Creative writing workshops, prompts and activities allow students to play with language, while portfolio building and academic assignments help them think critically about and articulate their own writing process. In addition to creation and composition, I hold on to the firm belief that we should be working artists, not starving ones, so I introduce them to the business of writing as well. Bios, query letters, press releases and blogs are all practical tools that help writers thrive as entrepreneurs and professionals.

• 2013 Talking “White”, published by postDada Press
• 2003 Rising Waters, published by Shippensburg University Press
• 1999 Windows to the Soul, published by Shippensburg University Press

Individual Poems
• 2014 “Tasting Cherries” & “Performing in Auvillar,” O Taste & See: Auvillar Edition, 
One Trick Pony Review
“Protests” & “Those People,” The Spirit Speaks Anthology
• 2013 “Keeping It Real” Poetry Ink, Moonstone Press
• 2011 “Double Whammy” and “Addict” 
Love Your Rebellion Literary Magazine
• 2011 “Big Mamma Blue” (revised), “The Blind,” “Nigrescent,” “Café On 
Market” (revised) Black Magnolias Literary 
Journal, Summer 2011 issue
• 2010 “Big Mamma Blue” Poetry Ink, Moonstone Press 
• 2010 “Virginia Slims” The Sylvan, Pennsylvania Poetry Society 
• 2009 “Aunt Rosie’s Gift” The Pitkin Review, Goddard College
• 2007 “Café on Market” The Parlor Journal, Rosemont College 
• 2006 “These Word’s Move” Poet’s Tour of Harrisburg 
• 2006 “The Poem Speaks,” published in Fledgling Rag , Iris G. Press 
• 2006 “Generation Gap” published in Poetry Ink, Moonstone Press

News & Reviews
• 2014 – New Letters, BKMK Press – Review of The Love That Moves Me by Marilyn Kallet
• 2013 – The Central Pen Literary E-zine – Review of Passing Bi, Joslin “Soul Cry” Kearse
• 2013 – Blog: The Saturday Nighters, http://mariathepoet.wordpress.com 
• 2011 – The Saturday Nighters: Reflections on the Writing Life (blog)
• 2010 – “Self Respect Is Your Key To Success” Student Central
• 2000 – 2002 Content Writer on www.campusdoor.com
• 1999 – 2000 Correspondent for The Public Opinion newspaper.

Editing Experience
• 2012 to present The Central Pen Literary E-zine – Co - editor
• 2009 Cross Genre editor for The Pitkin Review, Goddard College.
• 2008 Poetry Editor for The Pitkin Review, Goddard College.
• 2007 Editor in Chief of The Central Pen Literary Magazine
• 1994 – 1998 Editor in Chief of The Voice, Office of Multicultural Student 
Affairs, Shippensburg University


  • Bachelor of Arts in Communication/Journalism - Public Relations Concentration, Ethnic Studies Minor; Shippensburg University, 1996
  • Master of Science in Communication Studies, Shippensburg University, 2003
  • Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing - Poetry Concentration, Goddard College, 2009

Courses & Subjects

  • ENG300 Creative Writing
  • ENG330 Contemporary American Writers of Color
  • ENG110 Oral Communication
  • IDS400 Topics in Multiculturalism (Poetry and Protest)
  • ENG310 Selected Topics in Literature (Poetry Writing Workshop)
  • ENG200 English Composition II (Literature)
  • ENG305 Modern Short Story

Awards Recieved

2015 and 2011
• Partial scholarship from Virginia Center of the Creative Arts (VCCA) to attend “O Taste And See: Writing the Senses in Deep France,” in Auvillar, France. Taught by Marilyn Kallet, author & Director of Creative Writing at University of Tennessee.
• Harrisburg Regional Chamber of Commerce 2014 Catalyst Award Winner: Business Diversity Champion of the Year 
• National Black Authors’ Tour Certificate for” 20 Years of Poetic Excellence”
• Accepted as a Fellow in Penn State’s Capital Area Writing Project
• Nominated for “Best Poet” by the Central PA Hip Hop Awards
• D.I.V.A. Award, Shippensburg University Office of Multicultural Affairs, for inspiring young women to achieve their goals and dreams.
• Nominated for “Best Poet” by the Central PA Hip Hop Awards
• Spot Award, Central Pennsylvania College, for adding culture and poetry to the campus. I brought in several published poets and spoken word artists for campus events and created the first African American History celebrations ever held on Central Penn’s campus. I also published a literary magazine featuring student work entitled The Central Pen.
• National Black Authors Tour Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Arts and Humanities, presented at University of Pennsylvania.
• “Get Caught Reading” campaign, Dauphin County Library System; Chosen as a local celebrity to be used on posters promoting literacy to patrons. 
• First Place, HACC Poetry Slam, Harrisburg Area Community College
• Shabazz Award, Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, Shippensburg
2001 – 2005
• Top 5 finalist in Annual Heavyword Poetry Slam
• PMC Society for Technical Communication Award for my writing on www.campusdoor.com
• Listed in Outstanding Black College Students for leadership activities at Shippensburg University.
1981 – 1984
• Young Writer’s Conference Book Award for "Little Poems for Little People," Seattle Pacific University


  • 2014 Teaching Artist, Jumpstreet
  • 2013 Certification for Online Teaching, Central Penn College