The Department of Creative Writing welcomes Dr. Zelda Lockhart and Melody Moezzi as visiting associate professors of creative nonfiction, each for a three-year term.
Moezzi, who holds degrees from Wesleyan University, the Emory University School of Law, and the Emory University Rollins School of Public Health, is an author, activist, and speaker on issues that include mental health, Islam, Iran, and more. She’s a United Nations Global Expert and an Opinion leader for the British Council’s Our Shared Future Initiative and has appeared on CNN, BBC, and NPR. Prior to beginning her teaching career, she worked as an attorney, an investigator with the US Department of Homeland Security reporting to the US Congressional Commission on International Religious Freedom, and as an intern covering health and human rights for The Carter Center.
Moezzi's writing has appeared in the Washington Post, the Guardian, the Daily Beast, Al Arabiya, and the Yale Journal for Humanities in Medicine. In her recent New York Times article, “How a Persian Mystic Poet Changed My Life,” Moezzi reflects on sharing her father’s love of Rumi’s poetry and the solace it brings in the face of an increasingly divided political landscape:
It may seem counterintuitive, but true community demands originality, not conformity. I know this firsthand, because every time I write something new it helps me feel less alone, reminding me that we are all inextricably linked to and through a sacred spark within each of us.
Kirkus calls Moezzi’s latest book, The Rumi Prescription: How an Ancient Mystic Poet Changed My Modern Manic Life, “a heartening narrative of family, transformation, and courage” that “could shatter a variety of prejudices and stereotypes.” She is also the author of Haldol and Hyacinths: A Bipolar Life and War on Error: Real Stories of American Muslims, which earned a Georgia Author of the Year Award and a Gustavus Myers Center for the Study of Bigotry and Human Rights Honorable Mention in 2007.
Moezzi’s passion for art as activism is showcased not only in her writing but also in her commitment to her students, as she encourages them to research widely and acknowledge what is inherently political within one’s perspective and therefore one’s work. David Gessner says of Moezzi, "It has been such a pleasure to have Melody as a colleague and a thrill to announce that she will be joining us as Visiting Associate Professor. She has become a key part of this department and we value and admire her as a writer, teacher, and human being."
Zelda Lockhart is a registered expressive arts consultant and educator (REACE) credentialed by the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association. She holds a PhD in Expressive Art Therapies, an MA in Literature, and a certificate in writing, directing, and editing from the New York Film Academy. Her latest books include Diamond Doris: The True Story of the World’s Most Notorious Jewel Thief (with Doris Payne) and The Soul of the Full-Length Manuscript, which takes readers on the emotional, psychological, and spiritual journey of utilizing personals stories to transform their lives.
Lockhart is the author of novels Fifth Born, a Barnes & Noble Discovery selection and a Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Award finalist, Cold Running Creek, a Black Caucus of the American Library Association Honor Fiction awardee, and Fifth Born II: The Hundredth Turtle, a 2011 Lambda Literary Award finalist. Her fiction, poetry, and essays have appeared in Chautauqua, Obsidian II, and USAToday.com, among other outlets.
Lockhart serves as director of Her Story Garden Studios, which offers writing workshops designed to inspire in Black women and girls self-definition, healing, and liberation. She is also publisher of LaVenson Press, an imprint devoted to helping women and girls of color to take ownership of their stories through publication. Lockhart facilitates writing workshops across the U.S. on issues specific to the human struggle and on ways that consuming and creating literature are good for what ails us.
Of Lockhart, Department Chair David Gessner says, "Zelda brings a rare combination to the department. She is a daring and accomplished writer, an inspiring teacher, and a professional in the areas of diversity, empowerment, and inclusion."
When asked how she hopes to contribute to the program, Moezzi states, “I’m delighted to be a part of the creative writing department at UNCW, and I hope to diversify our community while helping to expand the curriculum around writing as a powerful tool for social change.”
Lockhart reflects on her first days teaching at UNCW during a pandemic, emphasizing the vulnerability of her students, as well as their courage to go deep and share their stories. “They revived themselves and certainly made my heart beat more vibrantly,” Lockhart states. “In the past days we have all lost someone, helped others who are sick, dealt with social and political mayhem, and been worn down by everyday life. We all wrote together and all shared, and if ever there was a time for art to do what it does (connect us across identity barriers), now is the time.”
She continues, “In both my classes, there was a loving pause before getting off the Zoom call. That kind of connectedness is what I hope to cultivate every single time I encounter my students. It requires my continued vulnerability, yes, but it requires so much trust from them. Week two, and we are building the kind of community we want to live in.”
Moezzi’s passion for art as activism is showcased not only in her writing but also in her commitment to her students, as she encourages them to research widely and acknowledge what is inherently political within one’s perspective and therefore one’s work.