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The Mochila Review is an annual international undergraduate journal published with support from the English and Modern Languages department at Missouri Western State University. Our goal is to publish the best short stories, poems, and essays from the next generation of important authors: student writers. Our staff, comprised primarily of undergraduate students, understands the publishing challenges that emerging writers face and is committed to helping talented students gain wider audiences in the pages of The Mochila Review and on our website.

Started in 2002, The Mochila Review is currently edited by Dr. Marianne Kunkel. Its namesake, “mochila,” is a Spanish word for the saddlebag. Pony Express riders carried letters in a mochila on their horses from our city, St. Joseph, Missouri, to California. Our journal continues this tradition of adventure and delivery, exploring fine writing across the country and globe and bringing it directly to your mailbox or computer screen.

Please contact mochila@missouriwestern.edu with any questions.


Photograph of Marianne Kunkel

Marianne Kunkel, Ph.D., MFA, Editor in Chief

Marianne Kunkel is the author of Hillary, Made Up (Stephen F. Austin State University Press) and The Laughing Game (Finishing Line Press), as well as poems that have appeared in The Missouri Review, The Notre Dame Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Rattle, and elsewhere. She is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing and Publishing at Missouri Western State University, where she directs the creative writing program. She holds an MFA in poetry from the University of Florida and a Ph.D. in English from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. While earning her Ph.D. at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, she was the managing editor of Prairie Schooner and the African Poetry Book Fund. She currently is the editor-in-chief of Missouri Western State University’s national literary journal, The Mochila Review, and advisor of its campus literary journal, Reach.

Lora Kroush, Managing Editor

Lora Kroush is a senior working toward a degree in creative writing and publishing. She is an emerging poet and science fiction writer. She is the editor-in-chief for Reach and managing editor for The Mochila Review. Publications include two poems and a creative non-fiction piece in Canvas. The majority of her poetry and non-fiction reflect her life as hard-working mother and wife. After finishing her degree, she plans to continue writing while possibly working towards her master’s. During her free time, she enjoys watching cheesy horror films with her husband and daughter.

Caitlin Dillon, Assistant Editor/Mochila Chat Podcast Director

Caitlin is a senior at Missouri Western State University. She is majoring in creative writing and publishing and hopes to become a well-established writer in the future. Caitlin has been writing since she was a little girl, creating picture books and adventurous stories featuring her beloved pets. Now, she continues to follow her dreams of becoming a writer by working for The Mochila Review and Reach.

Janae Boykins, Flavor Zine Creator

Janae Boykins is a junior at Missouri Western State University majoring in creative writing with a passion for poetry. She is an advocate for Black Lives Matter.

Writing is a spiritual outlet, and her goal is to write what needs to be read by a diverse crowd.

Jilian Whitehead, Blogger

Jilian Whitehead is a senior at Missouri Western State University majoring in creative writing and publishing and minoring in psychology. She’s currently working on a five-book young adult fantasy series that she hopes to be her debut story. In her free time, she enjoys snuggling with her cat, reading, and watching anime.

Clarissa BlakelyClarissa Blakely, Open Mic Coordinator

Clarissa Blakely is a creative writing and publishing major, and she is the Reach for the Mic coordinator. She enjoys listening to all kinds of music and podcasts, her favorite one being Very Really Good. She loves Watsky and met him once. She likes T.V. Shows like Game of Thrones, Shameless, Orange is the New Black, and Stranger Things, to name a few. Her favorite movies are the Harry Potter series and Step Brothers. Her favorite books are Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, How to Ruin Everything, and Feed. She is a proud supporter of the LGBTQ+. “Stand in your truth and love who you are.”

Brenda Martin, Social Media

Brenda is a junior majoring in creative writing and publishing and is a social media coordinator of Reach and The Mochila Review. Writing short fiction has been a creative outlet for her since childhood. As the oldest of seven siblings, she enjoyed entertaining and scaring the little ones with creepy impromptu stories. Although they begged for more, she was told to tone it down at their mother’s insistence. She enjoys reading fiction and memoirs.

Gwen Lack, Bulletin Board Designer

Gwen is a senior minoring in creative writing (for now). She is the bulletin board designer for Mochila. When she is not remodeling houses or chasing squirrels, she enjoys flash fiction and short stories.

Her favorite authors are, H.P. Lovecraft, Issac Asimov, Kip S. Thorne, Cixin Liu, and Deb Olin Unferth. Her favorite graphic novel to date is, “The Fountain,” by Darren Aronofsky and Kent Williams. In her spare time, she loves to write dystopian, surrealist, and science fiction short stories.

Headshot of Jay FudeJay Fude, Webmaster

Jay is a senior, non-trad majoring in English/Technical Communications, and he is the webmaster of the sites for both Mochila Review and Reach. He has broken computers as far back as the Apple II — and claims that is how he became good at fixing them. His personal website is located here.

He is a Veteran of the United States Air Force, where he was a Communications/Computer System Specialist.

He is an avid reader of Science Fiction, Fantasy and LitRPG. His favorite authors include Piers Anthony, Douglas Adams, Frank Herbert, David and Leah Eddings, Vernor and Joan Vinge, Neil Gaiman, Terry Pratchett and Michael Anderle.

He still doesn’t know what he wants to be when he grows up.

Brianna Wieberg, Outreach Coordinator

Brianna is sophomore who is majoring in creative writing and publishing. She loves to read, write, and craft! She hopes to travel the world and write about her discoveries.

Brittany Venneberg, Designer

Brittany Venneberg is a sophomore at Missouri Western State University working towards a creative writing and publishing degree. When she’s not reading or playing video games, she enjoys spending time with her 10+ cats and annoying her little sister.

Dylan Grable: Social Media

Dylan is a junior majoring in creative writing and publishing. He is part of the social media department, mostly focusing on the Facebook page. He’s just an average guy trying to live a quiet life. He likes to read, and lay around watching Youtube. He’s here to help keep the ball rolling.

Adrian Dodson: Podcast Coordinator

Adrian is from Novinger, a small town in Northeast Missouri. His major is in history and his minor is in creative writing. His areas of interest are the American Revolution, and Ancient and Medieval history. He hopes to become an archivist who writes historical fiction on the side.

His hobbies are: reading, listening to music, swimming, walking, making bonfires, and barbequing.

His favorite book is Last Dog on Earth, by Daniel Ehrenhaft.

Heather Daugherty: Copyeditor

Heather is pursuing an English Major, with a concentration in Creative Writing and Publishing. She’s been on the Mochila Review for two years, co-host of Mochila Chat for two years and producer of Mochila Chat for one year.