Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing

Faith Adiele

Creative Nonfiction

Office Location

Stonecoast MFA Office - 98 Bedford Street, Portland, ME 04102


Stonecoast MFA Office: 207-780-4423

Academic Degrees

  • MFA Fiction, Iowa Writers Workshop
  • MFA Creative Nonfiction, Iowa Nonfiction Program
  • MA Creative Writing, Lesley University
  • BA Southeast Asian Studies, Harvard University


Faith Adiele was born to a Nigerian father and a Nordic-American mother, and the PBS film My Journey Home documents her travels abroad to find her father and siblings, while the audio and e-book, The Nigerian-Nordic Girl's Guide to Lady Problems, establishes her tri-cultural POV. Her account of flunking out of Harvard and ordaining as the first black Buddhist nun of Thailand, Meeting Faith (W.W. Norton), received the PEN Open Book Award for Memoir. A popular speaker, storyteller, teacher/mentor and emcee, Adiele has presented at universities, churches and community centers around the world; worked as a diversity trainer and community activist; and taught memoir and travel writing in Bali, Chautauqua, Finland, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, and Switzerland. Her writings on travel and culture have been widely anthologized.

Named as one of Marie Claire Magazine’s “5 Women to Learn From,” Adiele has been featured on Morning Edition (NPR) with Lynn Neary; in the Huffington Post’s Black History Month celebration; in a television pilot for a reality program and an ad for a national insurance company; on The Tavis Smiley Show; and in a 2-page center spread in Pink Magazine called “A Day in the Life of Faith Adiele”.

A contributor to O: The Oprah MagazineYes!Essence, and Transition, Adiele is co-editor of Coming of Age Around the World: A Multicultural Anthology (The New Press). Other projects include a live PowerPoint story; a signed, limited edition chapbook with a Kenyan graphic artist; The Student Body: A Novel (Random House), a multicultural thriller co-written with 3 college classmates; and 2 middle-school readers on urban Africa (Time Warner). 

Adiele is Associate Professor of Creative Nonfiction at California College of the Arts in the Bay Area and teaches classes through the San Francisco Writers Grotto, VONA/Voices, where she founded the nation's first workshop for travel writers of color, Esalen, Hedgebrook/Vortex, Left Margin Lit, and others. She serves as a Senior Editor for Panorama: The Journal of Intelligent Travel, and is the founder of African Book Club, a free monthly club promoting contemporary African literature.

Working with Nutopia, a London-based production company, she recently wrote two episodes for A World of Calm, the HBO Max-Calm series designed for relaxation (Mahershala Ali and Kate Winslet, narrators), and turned her trip to the country of Lesotho into a Calm Sleep Story, which Idris Elba narrates.

Areas of Scholarship

Writing for Social Change

Cultural Memoir

Hybrid Identities & Narratives

Decolonizing Travel Writing

Contemporary African Literature


Adiele has delivered 200+ invited readings, lectures and keynotes around the globe. Recent community offerings: Writing in the Time of Trump (Bookshop Santa Cruz), Being the Wrong Person in the Story: Fear & Writing in Troubled Times (CCA Dean’s Lecture), and Biafra’s Children: A Survivors’ Gathering (Documenta 14, Athens).

She presents annually at AWP (this year heading 2 panels, Decolonize This: The New Global Travel Writing Canon and Growing Up Mixed/Multiracial in the Pacific NW) and Bay Area literary fest LitQuake (San Francisco Writers’ Grotto reading and You Can’t Write That: Writers on Cultural Appropriation).

On campus, she recently led Ways of Seeing, a daylong Retreat for the MFA program at Headlands Center for the Arts, and offered a Master Class on Applying for Residencies.

Creative Activity

While researching in Finland, Adiele began to work with immigrant and mixed-race Finns. She now leads writing workshops, facilitates diversity dialogues and is designing a curriculum using her PBS documentary.

Through VONA/Voices, she founded the nation's first workshop for travel writers of color. Besides teaching, she edits a column for Panorama Journal showcasing VONA graduates and negotiates partnerships, most recently a reading showcase hosted by Don George (Lonely Planet) and an episode of Ethical Traveler Podcast.

She founded African Book Club, a free monthly club promoting contemporary African lit, and is asked to interview African authors, recently appearing onstage with Wayétu Moore (East Bay Booksellers), Zinzi Clemmons (Palo Alto JCC) and Chimamanda Adichie (LA Public Library).

Awards and Recognition

Faith was awarded the PEN Open Book Award, while reprinted excerpts received The Millennium Award from Creative Nonfiction; The Best Women’s Travel Writing; The Best Buddhist Writing; Travelers’ Tales Best Travel Books of 2004; Publisher’s Weekly Starred review; Shortlisted, Best American Essays; and Barbara Deming Memorial Fund/Money for Women.

Adiele’s current project, an intergenerational family history, has received distinction as an International Laureate, UNESCO Bursaries for Artists (Italy); CNF & Cultural Journalism Programme, Banff Centre for the Arts (Canada); Second Prize, Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation Award; Shortlisted, Best American Essays; John Guyon Literary Nonfiction Prize, Crab Orchard Review.

She has held almost 2 dozen Writing Residencies around the world, including the Yaddo Corporation; MacDowell Colony; Civitella Ranieri (Italy); Sacatar Foundation (Brazil); Djerassi (Mildred Sherrod Bissinger Memorial Endowed Fellowship); Hedgebrook; The Betsy Hotel Writers’ Room; Virginia Center for the Creative Arts; Ragdale Foundation; Mokulē‘ia Writers Retreat; Anderson Center for Interdisciplinary Studies; Writing Between the Vines: Wente Vineyards; Orchard House, Reno; and Willard R. Espy Literary Foundation. Outstanding Black Faculty Member, Mills College