Brian Oliu

Brian Oliu

Senior Instructor
Assistant Director, First-Year Writing Program


  • MFA, Creative Writing, The University of Alabama, 2009
  • BA, English, Loyola University-Maryland, 2004


Brian Oliu (he/him) is originally from New Jersey & has taught at the University of Alabama since receiving his MFA in 2009. He has a BA in English from Loyola University-Maryland & was the recipient of the Buford Boone Fellowship during his time at Alabama. His work has been anthologized in Best Creative Nonfiction Volume 2, 30 Under 30: An Anthology of Innovative Fiction, & has been twice selected as a Notable Essay in the Best American Essays series. He is the author of six books and two chapbooks, ranging from Craigslist Missed Connections, to video game boss battles, to NBA Jam.

Excerpts from his book, Leave Luck to Heaven, served as inspiration for “Another Castle,” an art installation by L’etablissment en face in Brussels, Belgium during September of 2012, which featured art from Juan Muñoz, Luciano Fabro, & Claes Oldenburg.

Oliu has taught numerous classes at The University of Alabama, including Freshman Composition, Late American Literature, as well as many Creative Writing courses, including nonfiction workshops, classes on the lyric essay, poetry & prose tours, as well as classes dedicated to writing about games, about place, & about utilizing artifice in writing.

He served as Director of Slash Pine Press, an experiential learning internship where students edited and designed poetry chapbooks, as well as put on community writing events. He is a firm believer that the excitement and true joy in writing non-fiction is taking something that is universal & finding something absurd or even impossible while still remaining inside the confines of truth. It is his role as an educator to help students realize this concept and find their true story within the stories.

Essays on topics ranging from 8-bit video games, to long distance running, to professional wrestling, appear in Catapult, The Rumpus, Inside Higher Ed, McSweeney’s, DIAGRAM, TriQuarterly, Runner’s World, Waxwing, Gay Magazine, and elsewhere.

Selected Publications



Works In Progress

  • Kilometer Zero, A book collaboration/translation project of my grandfather’s guide to running, originally published in the Catalan language.
  • Dancefloor, A hybrid text based off of pop songs.
  • Boston Cream Review, A series of essays about donuts.
  • Full-Zip, A non-fiction book about the cultural significance of the track jacket.


  • “Sugar Run,” Unruly Bodies: By Roxane Gay, Medium, 2019
  • “As Is,” The Shell Game Anthology, University of Nebraska Press, 2017
  • “As Is,” Booth X, 2017
  • “The Squared Circle,” Essay Daily: A Reader, Coffee House Press, 2017
  • “Vince McMahon and the Tending of the Flock,” A Book of Uncommon Prayer, Outpost 19 Books, 2015
  • “Friday The 13th,” chosen as a Notable Essay in Best American Essays 2013, edited by Cheryl Strayed
  • “Adventure Island,” (Meta)Writing in (Non)Fiction, University of Iowa Press, 2012
  • “Contra,” Blurring The Boundaries, University of Nebraska Press, 2012
  • “c:\ run penelope.exe,” Diagram.4, 2012
  • “C:\ping,” 30 Under 30, Starcherone Press, 2012
  • “c:\ run penelope.exe,” chosen as a Notable Essay in Best American Essays 2009, edited by Mary Oliver
  • “Anti-Aliasing,” Best Creative Non-Fiction Vol. 2, W.W. Norton, edited by Lee Gutkind, 2008

Editorial Experience

  • Guest Judge for the Flannery O’Connor Prize, 2020
  • Guest Judge for Booth’s Nonfiction Prize, 2018
  • Fiction Reader for Sundress Publications’ Best of the Net 2018
  • Poetry Judge for Sundress Publications’ Best of the Net 2017
  • Nonfiction Judge for AWP’s Kurt Brown Prize, 2017
  • Director of Slash Pine Press, an undergraduate chapbook press
  • Founder & Editor of Tuscaloosa Runs This, a charity book for Tuscaloosa, Alabama Tornado Relief, consisting of writers from and affiliated with Tuscaloosa.
  • Founder & Editor of Liver of Dixie, writing about Egan’s Bar, Tuscaloosa.
  • Founder & Editor of Tuscaloosa Writes This, a textbook of Tuscaloosa writers.
  • Guest Editor for Sundog Lit’s Games Issue.
  • Poetry Judge for New South’s 2014 Prize