“At SNU, we take our job as teachers and mentors as seriously as we take our own writing. My hope is to create lifelong relationships with my students.”
— Suzanne Roberts, MFA Faculty
Sierra Nevada Review Faculty Advisor
- MFA, the Institute of American Indian Arts
Brendan Shay Basham (Diné) is a fiction writer, poet, educator, and former chef, born in Alaska and raised in northern Arizona. His debut novel, Swim Home to the Vanished, is forthcoming from Harper Books, flagship imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, in early 2023. His prose and poetry have appeared in Poetry Northwest, Santa Fe Literary Review, Red Ink, Yellow Medicine Review, Juked, and Sheepshead Review. He is a recipient of Poetry Northwest’s inaugural James Welch Prize for Indigenous Writers, two Writing By Writers Fellowships, and the Truman Capote Trust Fellowship. He was a nominee for a 2016 PEN / Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers and a 2018 Pushcart. He is also the recipient of the Ucross Foundation’s first Native American Literary Award. He lives and teaches in Baltimore.
- MA in African America Studies, UCLA
- MFA, Warren Wilson College
Natalie Baszile is the author of Queen Sugar. The book, now a television series on the Oprah Winfrey Network, was adapted for television by writer/director Ava DuVernay of “Selma” and co-produced by Oprah Winfrey. Queen Sugar was named one of the San Francisco Chronicles’ Best Books of 2014, was long-listed for the Crooks Corner Southern Book Prize, and was nominated for an NAACP Image Award.
- BA, Latin; MA, Strategic Communications, University of Minnesota
Anitra Budd is currently the Executive Director and Publisher of Coffee House Press. She is also an experienced freelance copywriter, editor, educator, and public speaker, whose past clients include Graywolf Press and New Directions Publishing as well as marketing agencies, universities, and magazines. As former managing and acquiring editor at Coffee House from 2009 to 2014, she championed the work of award-winning and critically acclaimed authors including T. Geronimo Johnson, Julie Iromuanya, Christopher Merkner, and Lincoln Michel, among others.
Through her time with Coffee House and her freelance business, she has worked with more than three hundred authors and shepherded dozens of books from contract to publication. Her recent work in academia includes teaching editing for MFA students at Sierra Nevada University as well as teaching undergraduate courses at the University of Minnesota and Macalester College.
She has written several educational books for children, most recently Blacks in Paris: African American Culture in Europe (Abdo Publishing, 2018; coauthored with Duchess Harris, JD, PhD). I hold BA and MA degrees from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She has presented on publishing and editing topics at a variety of venues, including The Thread on Minnesota Public Radio, Columbia College’s Story Week, SUNY–Binghamton, Hamline University, and the Minnesota Book Publishers Roundtable.
Editing, Poetry, Creative Nonfiction
Rick Campbell’s most recent book is The History of Steel: A Selected Works (2014), from All Nations Press. His other books include Dixmont (Autumn House 2008); The Traveler’s Companion (Black Bay Books 2004); Setting The World In Order (Texas Tech 2001); and A Day’s Work (State Street Press 2000). He’s won a Pushcart Prize, an NEA Fellowship in Poetry, and two poetry fellowships from the Florida Arts Council.
Campbell was the director of Anhinga Press from 1992 to 2014, during which time the press published about 80 books of poetry. He is a founder and the Director of the Florida Literary Arts Coalition and its Other Words Conference in St. Augustine, FL.
His poems and essays have appeared in The Georgia Review, The Florida Review, Prairie Schooner, Fourth River, Kestrel, Puerto Del Sol, New Madrid and other journals. He was chosen to take part in the Georgia Poetry Circuit eight school tour, and has read or presented workshops at over 100 schools and conferences in the last thirty years.
Campbell teaches English at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Florida.
Writing for Children & Young Adults
- BA in Writing, Loyola Marymount University
- MFA in Writing, Vermont College of Fine Arts
Pablo Cartaya is the author of the acclaimed middle-grade novel, The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora (Viking Children’s Books/Penguin Random House). He is a Publisher’s Weekly “Flying Start” and has received starred reviews from Kirkus, Booklist, and Publisher’s Weekly. For his performance recording the audiobook of his novel, Pablo received an Earphone Award from Audiofile Magazine and a Publisher’s Weekly Audiobooks starred review. The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora was named one of the best books of the month by Amazon and Barnes and Nobles and one of the “50 Most Brilliant Books of Summer” by Scholastic Library. His novel Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish, also with Viking, is set for publication in summer 2018, with two forthcoming titles to follow in 2019 and 2020. He is the co-author of the picture book, Tina Cocolina: Queen of the Cupcakes (Random House Children’s Books, 2010), a contributor to the literary magazine, Miami Rail; the Spanish language editorial, Suburbano Ediciones; and a translator for the poetry chapbook, Cinco Poemas/Five Poems based on the work of the poet Hyam Plutzik.
Pablo has been a guest speaker at Florida International University’s Exile Studies Program, University of Miami’s Lowe Museum, and has visited schools throughout the US. He holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and a BA from Loyola Marymount University. He currently serves as lead faculty at Sierra Nevada College’s low residency MFA in the Writing for Children and Young Adults track. He calls Miami home and Cuban-American his cultura.
- B.A. in History, Cornell University
Peter Catapano was born in Brooklyn, NY. After college he studied graduate creative writing at Brooklyn College with fiction writer Jonathan Baumbach and poetry with Allen Ginsberg. He was an adjunct writing instructor at Brooklyn College and has taught Philosophy and the Media with the philosopher Simon Critchley at The New School’s Eugene Lang College of Liberal Arts, and A Course for Aspiring Philosophers at The School of the New York Times in 2017. He appears frequently as a speaker and guest lecturer at schools and universities to share his insights on writing, editing and the media landscape.
Catapano began his career at The Times as an assistant to The Times Editorial Board in 1998. He became a copy editor in 2000 for The New York Times News Service and joined the Opinion section as an editor in 2005, where he began developing projects specifically for the web. Since then, Catapano has created and edited some of the most popular New York Times online series — The Stone (on philosophy), Anxiety (worry and mental health), Happy Days (contentment), Menagerie (animals), Home Fires (veteran voices) and Disability (voices of authors with disabilities) — some of which helped launch the careers of several writers. He received a Publisher’s Award in 2008 for his work in pioneering the online series.
Catapano has edited and published roughly 1,500 pieces in The Times, where he has worked directly with both beginners and highly accomplished thinkers and writers. These include Arthur Danto, E.O. Wilson, Errol Morris, Alan Gurganis, Annette Gordon-Reed, Frans de Waal, Peter Singer, Simon Critchley, Thomas Nagel, Laszlo Krasznahorkai, Pico Iyer, Brian Turner, Phil Klay, Roy Scranton, Steven Pinker, Siri Hustvedt and Oliver Sacks. In 2015, Catapano was asked by Dr. Sacks to edit his final essays in The Times chronicling his illness and death, which were later collected in “Gratitude” — now a best-selling book by Knopf.
The Stone, the philosophy series established by Catapano and the philosopher Simon Critchley, was the longest-running online series in Opinion (2010-2021). It attracted millions of readers each year and won numerous Best Philosophical Op-Ed awards during its run. The series has also resulted in three anthologies published by Liveright Books: “The Stone Reader: Modern Philosophy in 133 Arguments,” “Modern Ethics in 77 Arguments” and the forthcoming “Question Everything.” The series has helped bring philosophical thought back into the national conversation. In addition, his groundbreaking Disability series (2016-2020) was the first platform in the mainstream media by and about people with disabilities. That series also resulted in a book, “About Us: Essays from the Disability Series of the New York Times.”
Catapano has also written and published more than a dozen essays in various publications, including The Times, Salon, Killing the Buddha and The Los Angeles Review of Books. He lives in Manhattan with his wife, the poet Joanna Sit.
Writing for Children & Young Adults
- MFA English – Creative Writing, San Francisco State University
Traci Chee is a best-selling and award-winning author of books for young people, including the instant New York Times best seller and Kirkus Prize Finalist The Reader and Printz Honor Book, Walter Award Honoree, and National Book Award Finalist We Are Not Free. Her forthcoming title is A Thousand Steps into Night, a Japanese-influenced young adult fantasy. When she isn’t writing, she enjoys hiking, egg painting, bonsai gardening, and hosting game nights for family and friends. She lives in California with her fast dog.
Essayist and writer of memoir and literary nonfiction Steven Church is the author of The Guinness Book of Me: a Memoir of Record, Theoretical Killings: Essays and Accidents, The Day After The Day After: My Atomic Angst, Ultrasonic: Essays, One With the Tiger: Sublime and Violent Encounters between Humans and Animals, and the collection of essays, I’m Just Getting to the Disturbing Part: On Work, Fear and Fatherhood. He’s also the editor of the forthcoming anthology of essays, The Spirit of Disruption: Selections from The Normal School. He is the winner of the Glenna Luschei Prize from Prairie Schooner, and received the Colorado Book Award in Creative Nonfiction for The Guinness Book of Me: A Memoir of Record.
His essays have been published and anthologized widely, including in the 2011 Best American Essays. He is a Founding Editor and Nonfiction Editor for the nationally recognized literary magazine, The Normal School; and he Coordinates the residential MFA Program at Fresno State.
Church received is MFA in Fiction from Colorado State University and his BA in philosophy from the University of Kansas. In addition to his academic positions as an adviser, adjunct instructor, and professor, he has worked as a housepainter, paperboy, grocery store clerk and bagger, fry cook, shovel and Uni-loader operator, construction laborer, tour guide (twice), maintenance man, and conflict mediator.
Editing, Creative Nonfiction, Journalism, Ghostwriting
- Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, emphasis in creative nonfiction, Bennington College.
Nana-Ama Danquah is an author, editor, freelance journalist, ghostwriter, public speaker, actress, and teacher. Her groundbreaking memoir, Willow Weep for Me: A Black Woman’s Journey Through Depression (W.W. Norton & Co.) was hailed by the Washington Post as “A vividly textured flower of a memoir, one of the finest to come along in years.” A native of Ghana, Ms. Danquah is the editor of four anthologies: Becoming American: Personal Essays by First Generation Immigrant Women (Hyperion); Shaking the Tree: New Fiction and Memoir by Black Women (W.W. Norton & Co.); The Black Body (Seven Stories Press); and Accra Noir (Akashic), as part of their popular noir series.
Her articles have been published in newspapers, journals, and magazines, such as the Africa Report, the Village Voice, the Los Angeles Times, Allure and Essence. Her essays and poems have been heavily anthologized and used in high school and university textbooks.
As a ghostwriter and editor, Ms. Danquah has worked with celebrities and other high-profile individuals in the worlds of entertainment, business and politics, writing and editing book proposals as well as full-length books. Many of these have been New York Times bestsellers. From 2012-2016, she was the International Speechwriter for H.E. John Dramani Mahama, the President of Ghana, her birth country. In that capacity, Ms. Danquah wrote four United Nations General Assembly speeches, several State of the Nation addresses, and various speeches delivered by President Mahama at high-level conferences, meetings and panels.
A highly sought-after speaker herself, Ms. Danquah has delivered keynote speeches and addresses at dozens of conferences and gatherings throughout the world. She has been featured at the Carter Center; Barnard College; University of Ghana, Legon; University of California, Los Angeles; Vanderbilt University; Hamline University, and many other institutions. She has taught at Otis College of Arts and Sciences, Antioch College’s MFA in Creative Writing program, and the NYU in Ghana program. At the University of Ghana, she was a Visiting Scholar at the School of Communication Studies and a Senior Lecturer in the Department of English. Additionally, she taught Creative Writing for the City of Manhattan Beach, California as a California Arts Council Artist-in-Residence, and Poetry to grades K-12 in the Los Angeles Unified School District as a California Poet-in-the-Schools.
Ms. Danquah is based in Southern California.
Born in Detroit, Michigan in 1950, poet, teacher and activist Carolyn Forché has witnessed, thought about, and put into poetry some of the most devastating events of twentieth-century world history. According to Joyce Carol Oates in the New York Times Book Review, Forché’s ability to wed the “political” with the “personal” places her in the company of such poets as Pablo Neruda, Philip Levine, and Denise Levertov.
An articulate defender of her own aims as well as the larger goals of poetry, Forché is perhaps best-known for coining the term “poetry of witness.” In her ground-breaking anthology, Against Forgetting: Twentieth-Century Poetry of Witness (1993), Forché described the difficulties of politically-engaged poetry: “We are accustomed to rather easy categories: we distinguish between ‘personal’ and ‘political’ poems…The distinction…gives the political realm too much and too little scope; at the same time, it renders the personal too important and not important enough. If we give up the dimension of the personal, we risk relinquishing one of the most powerful sites of resistance. The celebration of the personal, however, can indicate a myopia, an inability to see how larger structures of the economy and the state circumscribe, if not determine, the fragile realm of the individual.” Calling for a new poetry invested in the “social,” Forché’s anthology presented poets who had written under extreme conditions, including war, exile, and imprisonment. The anthology solidified her place as one of America’s most important and aware poetic voices.
Forché’s first book of poetry, Gathering the Tribes (1975), however, is resolutely personal, recounting experiences of the author’s adolescence and young-adult life. Published when she was just twenty four, the book won the 1975 Yale Series of Younger Poets Award. Judge Stanley Kunitz described the work as centering on “kinship” and noted that Forché “tries to understand the bonds of family, race, and sex.” Highly praised as a young poet of “uncommon vigor and assurance,” again according to Oates, Forché received a Guggenheim Fellowship and traveled to El Salvador as part of Amnesty International, in time to witness the unfolding civil war. While there, she viewed inadequate health facilities that had never received the foreign aid designated for them; saw young girls who had been sexually mutilated; and learned of torture victims who had been beaten, starved, and otherwise abused. Her experiences found expression in The Country between Us (1981). As reviewer Katha Pollitt observed in the Nation, Forché “insists more than once on the transforming power of what she has seen, on the gulf it has created between herself and those who have seen less and dared less.” The poet herself admitted to the compelling nature of her Central American experience. “I tried not to write about El Salvador in poetry, because I thought it might be better to do so in journalistic articles,” she told Jonathan Cott of Rolling Stone. “But I couldn’t—the poems just came.” In these poems Forché “addresses herself unflinchingly to the exterior, historical world,” Oates explained. She did so at a time when most of her contemporaries were writing poetry in which there is no room for politics—poetry, Pollitt stated, “of wistful longings, of failed connections, of inevitable personal loss, expressed in a set of poetic strategies that suit such themes.”
The Country between Us was named the 1981 Lamont Poetry Selection and became that most-rare publication: a poetry bestseller. In a critique for the Los Angeles Times Book Review, Art Seidenbaum maintained that the poems of the second volume “chronicle the awakening of a political consciousness and are themselves acts of commitment: to concepts and persons, to responsibility, to action.” A Ms reviewer called the book, “a poetry of dissent from a poet outraged.” More than one critic singled out her poem “The Colonel,” centering on her now-famous encounter with a Salvadoran colonel who, as he made light of human rights, emptied a bag of human ears before Forché. Pollitt remarked that “at their best, Forché’s poems have the immediacy of war correspondence, postcards from the volcano of twentieth-century barbarism.” Forché herself told Cott: “The voice in my first book doesn’t know what it thinks, it doesn’t make any judgments. All it can do is perceive and describe and use language to make some sort of re-creation of moments in time. But I noticed that the person in the second book makes an utterance.”
A dozen years passed between the publication of The Country between Us and Forché’s editing of Against Forgetting: Twentieth-Century Poetry of Witness. Matthew Rothschild in the Progressive called the poems in the anthology “some of the most dramatic antiwar and anti-torture poetry written in this benighted century.” They provide, Gail Wronsky pointed out in the Antioch Review, “irrefutable and copious evidence of the human ability to record, to write, to speak in the face of those atrocities.” Building on the tradition of social protest and the antiwar poems of the late 1960s, Forché presents a range of approaches: “Many of the poems here are eyes-open, horrifyingly graphic portrayals of human brutality,” observed Rothschild. “But others are of defiance, demonstrating resolve and extracting hope even in the most extreme circumstances.”
In an article in the Mason Gazette, Forché commented that “The poetry of witness reclaims the social from the political and in so doing defends the individual against illegitimate forms of coercion.” The year following the publication of Against Forgetting saw Forché bring out her own book of witness, The Angel of History (1994), which won the 1994 Los Angeles Times Book Award for poetry. The book is divided into five sections dealing with the atrocities of war in France, Japan, and Germany and with references to the poet’s own experiences in Beirut and El Salvador. The title figure, the Angel of History—a figure imagined by Walter Benjamin—can record the miseries of humanity yet is unable either to prevent these miseries from happening or from suffering from the pain associated with them. Kevin Walker, in the Detroit Free Press, called the book “a meditation on destruction, survival and memory.” Don Bogen, in the Nation, saw this as a logical development, since Forché’s work with Against Forgetting was “instrumental in moving her poetry beyond the politics of personal encounter. The Angel of History is rather an extended poetic mediation on the broader contexts—historical, aesthetic, philosophical—which include [the twentieth]…century’s atrocities,” wrote Bogen. And Steven Ratiner, reviewing the work for the Christian Science Monitor, called it one that “addresses the terror and inhumanity that have become standard elements in the twentieth-century political landscape—and yet affirms as well the even greater reservoir of the human spirit.”
Forché’s next collection, Blue Hour (2003) took its title from the translated French phrase for dawn. According to a review in Publisher’s Weekly, the book draws on personal memories, “ethereal images of twentieth-century horror” and is “dosed with a mysticism derived from Heidegger and Buber.” Placing Forché squarely in line with the “visionary abstraction” of fellow poets Michael Palmer and Jorie Graham, the reviewer found sections of the book “lovely and mysterious,” and praised the tour-de-force at its center, “On Earth,” for the adroit foregrounding of its own “lyric complications.” Her new books include the collection In the Lateness of the World (2017), which was a finalist for the Nuestadt International Prize for Literature.
Carolyn Forché is also a noted translator and teacher. Her translations of poets as various as Claribel Alegría, Georg Trakl, Robert Desnos and Mahmoud Darwish have won great critical acclaim. She has won numerous grants and awards, including fellowships from the Lannan Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Academy of American Poets. In 1997, she was presented with the Edita and Ira Morris Hiroshima Foundation Award for using her poetry as a “means to attain understanding, reconciliation, and peace within communities and between communities.” Hope J. Smith commented in the Madison Gazette that “Forché’s work is unusual in that it straddles the realms of the political and the poetic, addressing political and social issues in poetry when many poets have abandoned these subjects altogether. In recognizing the link Forché has made between these worlds, the Hiroshima Foundation recognizes her human rights work as much as it does her writing.” Forché is currently University Professor at Georgetown University where she directs the Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice.
- BA, Journalism, University of Iowa
- MFA, Bowling Green University
- MFA, Boise State University
Alan Heathcock’s VOLT was a “Best Book” selection from numerous newspapers and magazines, including GQ, Publishers Weekly, Salon, the Chicago Tribune, and Cleveland Plain Dealer, was named as a New York Times Editors’ Choice, selected as a Barnes and Noble Best Book of the Month, and was a finalist for the Barnes and Noble Discover Prize.
“The stories in VOLT are intense, suspenseful, and utterly compelling. Heathcock writes about violence and bad luck and bad choices with a cool, grim eye that recalls Cormac McCarthy, yet he also approaches the hard lives of his stoic Westerners with great empathy and compassion and heart–a kind of miraculous combination. By turns hair-raising and tender, the tales in this collection draw you into a tough, bleak, beautiful world that you won’t soon forget.” – Dan Chaon, author of Await Your Reply
Heathcock has won a Whiting Award, the GLCA New Writers Award, a National Magazine Award, has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Lannan Foundation, and the Idaho Commission on the Arts. A native of Chicago, he lives and works in Boise, Idaho
- BA, Writing & Literature, Naropa University
- MFA, Bennington College
Tim Z. Hernandez is an award winning author and performance artist. His debut collection of poetry, Skin Tax (Heyday Books, 2004) received the 2006 American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation, the James Duval Phelan Award from the San Francisco Foundation, and the Zora Neal Hurston Award for writers of color dedicated to their communities. His debut novel, Breathing, In Dust (Texas Tech University Press 2010) was featured on NPR’s All Things Considered, received the 2010 Premio Aztlan Prize in Fiction from the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and was a finalist for the 2010 California Book Award.
In 2011 the Poetry Society of America named him one of sixteen New American Poets, and he was one of four finalists for the inaugural Freedom Plow Award from the Split This Rock Foundation for his work on locating the victims of the plane wreck at Los Gatos. His second collection of poetry, Natural Takeover of Small Things, and his novel of historical fiction, Mañana Means Heaven, based on the life of Bea Franco, were released in 2013 with the University of Arizona Press.
As a performer he has collaborated with Grammy Award winning classical composer Eugene Freisen, and in 2001 was commissioned by the United Way of Greater Los Angeles to write and perform an original play on homelessness. Since 2007 he has worked with Poets & Writers Inc. and the California Center for the Book at UCLA teaching poetry, fiction, and non-fiction workshops across the west coast. He is the state-wide coordinator for Writers-in-the-Schools (Colorado), which focuses on rural under-served communities, and is a frequent guest artist at universities, cultural institutions, and literary centers across the United States.
He has taught as an adjunct in fiction at Naropa University, and is currently a Mentor for Prescott College’s Graduate Program. He currently lives in Boulder, Colorado with his wife and children.
Fiction, Poetry, Creative Nonfiction
- MFA in Creative Writing, Sierra Nevada University
- BA in English, Texas State University-San Marcos
Faylita Hicks is a queer nonbinary femme Afro-Latinx activist, writer, and interdisciplinary artist. They use their direct experience with pre-trial detention to advocate for the rights of BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ people forced into poverty-based incarceration and subjected to racially-charged police disruptions to their lives.
They are the Editor-in-Chief of the quarterly digital anthology Black Femme Collective, the former EIC of the literary journal Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, a voting member of the Recording Academy, a 2020-2022 Texas Touring Artist, and the author of HoodWitch (Acre Books, 2019), which was a finalist for the 2020 Lambda Literary Award for Bisexual Poetry, the 2019 Balcones Poetry Prize, and the 2019 Julie Suk Award. They are the winner of Palette Poetry’s 2020 Sappho Prize, and have been awarded fellowships and residencies from the Tony Award-winning Broadway Advocacy Coalition, Civil Rights Corps, The Dots Between, Jack Jones Literary Arts, Lambda Literary, Texas After Violence Project, Tin House, and the Right of Return USA, the first fellowship designed exclusively for previously incarcerated artists.
Their work is anthologized in The Long Devotion: Poets Writing Motherhood, What Tells You Ripeness: Black Writing on Nature (Pangyrus, 2021), and When There Are Nine. Their other work has been featured in American Poetry Review, HuffPost, Kenyon Review, Longreads, Poetry Magazine, The Rumpus, Slate, Texas Monthly, and Yale Review, amongst others. Their digital art has been shown in juried exhibitions at Texas State University’s Gallery of the Common Experience and Insomnia Gallery in Houston, as well as being featured in the print magazines of Five:2:One and Ecotone. In May 2021, they debuted Bar for Bar: After Party, their docu-poem about a world without police developed as part of their fellowship with Broadway Advocacy Coalition, followed by the release of their fifth independent spoken word album A NAME FOR MY LOVE in September 2021 with the support of Civil Rights Corps.
They are a member of the Statewide Leadership Council, established by the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition, and Detention Watch Network, both of whom advocate for policy changes related to pretrial incarceration in rural counties, immigrant detention, and the use of cash bail in rural Texas counties. As an organizer with Mano Amiga, they helped to successfully advocate for the “Cite and Release” Ordinance in the city of San Marcos, in 2020. This legislation, which limits police discretion and lowers the potential for escalation, is the first of its kind in the state of Texas. Their incarceration story was featured in PBS’s Independent Lens Documentary Series “45 Days,” and is featured in “Racially Charged,” a new Brave New Films project released February 2021 and narrated by Mahershala Ali.
- PhD, University of Houston
Lacy M. Johnson is a Houston-based artist, curator, professor, activist, and is author of the memoir The Other Side (Tin House, 2014). For its frank and fearless confrontation of the epidemic of violence against women, The Other Side was named a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award in Autobiography, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, an Edgar Award in Best Fact Crime, the CLMP Firecracker Award in Nonfiction; it was a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writer Selection for 2014, and was named one of the best books of 2014 by Kirkus, Library Journal, and the Houston Chronicle. She is also author of Trespasses: A Memoir (University of Iowa Press, 2012), which has been anthologized in The Racial Imaginary (Fence Books, 2015, edited by Claudia Rankine et al.) and Literature: The Human Experience.
Johnson worked as a cashier at Wal-Mart, sold steaks door-to-door, and puppeteered with a traveling children’s museum before earning a PhD from University of Houston’s Creative Writing Program, where she was both an Erhardt Fellow and Inprint Fondren Fellow. Her writing has appeared in Guernica, Tin House, Los Angeles Times, Dame, Fourth Genre, Creative Nonfiction, TriQuarterly, Gulf Coast, and elsewhere. As a writer and artist she been awarded grants and residencies from the Sustainable Arts Foundation, the Houston Arts Alliance, the Kansas Arts Commission, Millay Colony for the Arts, and the University of Houston’s Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts.
Her third book of nonfiction, The Reckonings, is forthcoming from Scribner. She teaches creative nonfiction in the Low-residency MFA Program at Sierra Nevada College and at Rice University.
Poetry, Literary Theory
- BA, Richard Stockton College of NJ
- MFA, Writing and Literature, Goddard College
Laura McCullough’s most recent books are Rigger Death & Hoist Another, poems (Black Lawrence Press, 2013); Ripple & Snap, micro-fiction/prose-poems about the aftermath of a public suicide; Shutters*Voices*Wind, linked monologues in the voices of women from around the globe; The Smashing House, a short fiction chapbook (ELJ Publications, 2013); and her edited anthology, The Room & the World: Essays on the Poetry of Stephen Dunn (Syracuse University Press, 2013). Her other books are Panic (winner of the Kinereth Gensler Award, Alice James Books, and a Foreword BOTYA finalist), Speech Acts (Black Lawrence Press), and What Men Want (XOXOX Press). Her second edited anthology, A Sense of Regard: Essays on Poetry and Race is forthcoming in late 2014 from University of Georgia Press.
She has been a finalist for the Brittingham and Felix Poetry Prize, the Isabella Gardner Award, and the Frost Place residency and has been awarded scholarships or fellowships from Sewanee Writers Conference, Bread Loaf Writers Conference, the Vermont Studio Center, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, The Nebraska Summer Writers Conference, and others. Her essays, criticism, poems, creative non-fiction, and short fiction have appeared in Diode, Plume, Drunken Boat, The Georgia Review, New South, Guernica, The American Poetry Review, Green Mountains Review, Pank, The Good Men Project, The Writer’s Chronicle, Gulf Coast, Pedestal, Painted Bride Quarterly, and others. She was the founding editor of Mead: the Magazine of Literature and Libations and currently acts as an editor-at-large.
Writing for Children & Young Adults
- MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults, Vermont College of Fine Arts
- MA in Writing, Rowan University
Joe McGee is the author of the picture book, Peanut Butter & Brains (Abrams 2015), about which the Kirkus Review said “Run, don’t shamble to get this original zombie tale.” The New York Times praised it for “amusingly unit[ing] the seemingly unrelated contemporary obsessions of zombies and food,” and The Washington Post noted “Joe McGee keeps the story moving with flowing and engaging text.” Peanut Butter & Aliens, a sequel, was published in August, 2017, and Peanut Butter & Santa Claus will be released in 2019.
Joe’s writing has garnered many awards, to include the 2014 Vermont College of Fine Arts Holy Smokes! short story award, the 2013 Vermont College of Fine Arts Critical Essay award, and a Vermont College of Fine Arts merit scholarship. He was the recipient of the 2012 Medallion Award for the outstanding graduate writing student at Rowan University and the winner of the 2012 Denise Gess Literary Prize for Poetry. He has been awarded 1st place honors in fiction, short story writing, YA/teen writing, and poetry from The Philadelphia Writers’ Conference. His short story, Ink Soul, won 2nd place in the 2011 national Writer’s Digest genre fiction awards. Los Angeles Book Prize winner and Printz Honoree, A.S. King, called Joe’s short story, Leaves of Brass, “one of the best short stories” she’d ever read. National Book Award finalist and Newberry Honor recipient, Kathi Appelt, said of Joe’s short story, Tooth Fairy, that it was “one of the most authentic child’s voices” she’d ever read.”
He teaches several Creative Writing classes at Rowan University. He is a former airborne Army platoon leader and the father of three boys, ranging from high school to middle school to elementary school. He is an amateur cartoonist, has flown fixed-wing aircraft, and hiked an active volcano. Joe lives along the river, in a scenic and historic part of New Jersey with his fiancé, also a children’s writer.
- MFA, University of Washington
Peter Mountford’s debut novel, A Young Man’s Guide to Late Capitalism (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), won the 2012 Washington State Book Award and was a finalist in the 2012 VCU Cabell First Novelist Prize. His second novel The Dismal Science was a New York Times editor’s choice. In her full page review in the Sunday Times, Martha McPhee wrote, “Mountford’s fierce imagination and intelligence drive The Dismal Science. D’Orsi is a mesmerizing character. His wrecking-ball choices and the truth that there are no easy answers make him utterly human.”
Peter’s short fiction has appeared in The Paris Review, Best New American Voices 2008, Southern Review, Missouri Review, Conjunctions, and Boston Review, where he won second place in the 2007 contest judged by George Saunders. His personal essays have appeared in the New York Times‘ Modern Love column, Granta, The Atlantic, The Sun, and elsewhere.
Winner of the 2016 Gar LaSalle Storyteller Award for a fiction writer in Washington State, and an Elizabeth George Fellowship, he received the 2010 recipient of Yaddo’s Wallace Residency for a Distinguished Writer, and he was the 2015 Katharine Bakeless Nason Fellow at Bread Loaf.
Peter grew up in Washington, DC, apart from three years in Sri Lanka during the early stages of the Sri Lankan civil war. In 1999, Peter earned a BA in International Relations, and worked as an adjunct fellow for a think tank. For most of that time, he lived in Ecuador and wrote about Ecuador’s economy. He now lives in Seattle, where he serves as the events curator at Hugo House, Seattle’s writing center.
John Murillo is the author of the poetry collection, Up Jump the Boogie, which was finalist for both the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and the Pen Open Book Award. His honors include the J. Howard and Barbara M.J. Wood Prize from the Poetry Foundation, a Pushcart Prize, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Times, Bread Loaf Writers Conference, Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Cave Canem Foundation, and the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing.
Recent poems have been published in Poetry, Prairie Schooner, Ploughshares, and in the anthology Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of African-American Poetry. He has taught in the creative writing programs at Cornell University, the University of Miami, Columbia College Chicago, and currently teaches at Hampshire College and New York University.
- BA, Amherst College
I work with authors and publishers to share ideas that deserve to be read. I’m a former editor from Oxford University Press and I’ve worked in book publishing since 2011. I help writers present their work clearly without compromising on style.
As an editor, I take pride in being an excellent reader. My experience is varied. I’ve read for literary agents at renowned agencies, managed the publication of award-winning medical resources, and assisted in the development of scholarly references that have shaped the way we conduct research today. In all of my work, I’m attentive to the relationships that writers build with their readers on the page.
I care about the details and I believe in the power of books. I use inclusive language editing techniques to help avoid bias and ensure that every book is accessible to a wide range of readers. I’m interested in prescriptive and narrative nonfiction including environmental science; food studies; health and wellness; cultural criticism; and discussions of race, gender, and sexuality.
Writing for Children & Young Adults
- BA in English, California State University, San Bernardino
- MA in English Composition, California State University, San Bernardino
Isabel Quintero is a writer and the daughter of Mexican immigrants. She was born, raised, and resides in the Inland Empire of Southern California. She earned her BA in English and her MA in English Composition at California State University, San Bernardino. Isabel also sits on on the board for a non-profit literary arts organization, PoetrIE.
Gabi, A Girl in Pieces from Cinco Puntos Press, her first novel, is the recipient of the 2015 William C. Morris Award for Debut YA Novel, the 2015 Tomas Rivera Mexican American Children’s Book Award, the California Book Award Gold Medal for Young Adult, the 2015 Paterson Prize for Books for Young People, Grades 7-12, and the 2015 Peggy Miller Award for Young Adult Literature. Gabi was a finalist for the 2015 Elizabeth Walden Award, the 2015 Cybils Award, and received an honorable mention from the NACCS Tejas Young Adult Fiction FOCO Award. In addition, the book has been included on the Amelia Bloomer Project List of Recommended Feminist Reading for ages 0-18, one of School Library Journal’s Best Books of 2014, 2015 Capitol Choices: Noteworthy Books for Children and Teens, is one of Booklist’s Best Books of 2014, one of Kirkus’ Best Teen Books of 2014, and a 2015 YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults, among other lists.
Her forthcoming chapter books, the first two in a series for young readers, Ugly Cat and Pablo, will be released in Spring 2017 from Scholastic, Inc. Her first graphic novel, Photographic: The Life of Graciela Iturbide a biography about photographer Graciela Iturbide, will be released by Getty Publications Fall 2017. In addition to writing fiction, she also writes poetry and her work can be found in The Great American Literary Magazine, Huizache, As/Us Journal, The Acentos Review, The Pacific Review, and others.
Editing, Graphic Memoir
Kristen Radtke is a writer, editor and designer based in Brooklyn. She is the managing editor of Sarabande Books, and the film and video editor of TriQuarterly magazine.
Her graphic memoir Imagine Wanting Only This is forthcoming from Pantheon Books. Her work has appeared in Oxford American, The Daily Beast, Tin House, Buzzfeed, Electric Literature, Huffington Post, and many other places.
Publishers Weekly named her a “future leader of the American publishing industry” in its 2015 Star Watch, and Buzzfeed Books named her design one of the most beautiful book covers of 2015. She has an MFA from the University of Iowa’s Nonfiction Writing Program.
Agent, Writing for Children & Young Adults
Jess Regel is a literary agent at Foundry Literary + Media who represents New York Times bestselling and award-winning authors in both the children’s and adult literary market. Originally from Iowa, Jess was working at her local library when she was offered a job at the Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency and immediately packed up for New York City.
She spent eleven years at the Naggar Agency before moving over to Foundry in 2013. Some of her books include: Amber Smith’s New York Times Bestseller The Way I Used to Be (Margaret McElderry Books/Simon & Schuster), Emily Danforth’s award winning The Miseducation of Cameron Post (Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins), Linda Liukas’ international bestseller Hello Ruby: Adventures in Coding (Feiwel & Friends/MacMillan), Nora McInerny Purmort’s national bestseller It’s Okay to Laugh (Dey Street/HarperCollins), and Bryn Greenwood’s New York Times Bestseller All the Ugly and Wonderful Things (MacMillan/Thomas Dunne). She is a graduate of Hunter College with a degree in English Literature.
Writing for Children & Young Adults
- MFA, Vermont College of Fine Arts
Jessica has a BA in Social Welfare from Bloomsburg University and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her debut picture book biography about Gloria Steinem, Gloria Takes a Stand, is due out in March 2019 with Bloomsbury, and her second biography, yet unannounced, in 2020, also with Bloomsbury. Her middle grade duology, The Dare Sisters, will be out in 2020 and 2021 with Macmillan/Imprint. Jessica writes across all categories and has published creative nonfiction, short stories, and poetry in addition to her forthcoming children’s books.
In 2010, Jessica won second place in Amazon’s Breakthrough Novel Award, and was chosen as one of Warren County New Jersey’s “Writers on the Rise” in 2010 and 2012. In 2017, she was the Writer in Residence at Weymouth Center of the Arts in Southern Pines, North Carolina. She has interned with a literary agency and literary magazine, and currently works as a developmental editor and writing coach for Wild River Publishing and Consulting. Prior to (mostly) full-time writing, Jessica has been a professional actress, literacy teacher, theatre reviewer, a stay-at-home mom, and rounding out her Jane-of-all-trades approach to life, a barista at a fabulous little coffee shop that has provided her a lifetime of fodder for stories.
- BA in Creative Writing and Psychology, minor in Women and Gender Studies, New Jersey City University
- MFA in Creative Nonfiction, Hunter College
Born in the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, Krystal A. Sital is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir SECRETS WE KEPT: Three Women of Trinidad (W.W.Norton 2018).
The New York Times says, “Sital paints a credible and complex portrait . . . This is not the Trinidad of V. S. Naipaul, rendered with elegant sentences and brilliant introspection, but, rather, a place where women’s and children’s lives are held in thrall by cruel men.” SECRETS WE KEPT has garnered rave reviews by Kirkus, Booklist, Library Journal, and Christian Science Monitor. Vanity Fair included it in their “What to Read This Month,” Lit Hub put it on their “17 Books You Should Read This February”; PopSugar included it in their “21 Inspiring Books Written by Women You Simply Can’t Miss in 2018”; and Electric Lit put it on their “46 books by Women of Color to read in 2018.”
Nicole Dennis-Benn says it is a “stunning and unforgettable memoir…a brilliant account of gender inequality and the burdens we bear as Caribbean women.”, and Andre Dubus III called it “a deeply resonant, timely, and necessary work of art.”
A PEN award finalist, Academy of American Poet’s Prize winner, and Hertog Fellow, Krystal’s work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The New York Times—Well, Salon, Catapult, Today’s Parent, LitHub, Asian American Writers Workshop—The Margins, The Caribbean Writer, Brain Child, and elsewhere. She’s taught creative writing, gender and sexuality, and peoples and cultures of the Caribbean at New Jersey City University and Fairleigh Dickenson University.
Krystal was also the world literature editor at Riffle Books, the narrative nonfiction editor for the international journal The Missing Slate, the prose editor and book reviewer for Vine Leaves Literary Journal, and the editor for Mothers Always Write.
A mother to three tiny geniuses, she practices magic with them and her partner in the suburbs of New Jersey.
- MA, Duke University
Erika Stevens is the editorial director at Coffee House Press, where she has served in various editorial capacities for a decade. Erika currently acquires poetry, nonfiction, and fiction for Coffee House. Erika was previously in acquisitions at the University of Georgia Press and the University Press of Florida; she started her career in publishing at Duke University Press and UNC Press. She has taught in the Graduate Program in Book Publishing at Portland State University and in the Sierra Nevada University MFA program. She dabbles in German to English translation and has freelanced for authors, presses, and nonprofit organizations.
Editing, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction
- MFA, Fiction, University of Michigan
Steve Woodward is an associate editor at Graywolf Press. Prior to joining Graywolf, he taught composition and creative writing at the University of Michigan. He is editor and co-founder of Menagerie, an online magazine that focuses on hybrid forms. His own writing has been recognized with a Minnesota State Arts Board grant and with Hopwood Awards in both fiction and nonfiction. He has spoken about publishing and independent presses at AWP, the Loft Literary Center, the Flathead River Writers’ Conference, Writers at Work, and often visits MFA programs as an editor. He lives in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota.
Creative Nonfiction, Poetry
- MFA, University of Arizona
Arianne Zwartjes is the author of the lyric nonfiction project Detailing Trauma: A Poetic Anatomy (University of Iowa Press); a selection from Detailing Trauma won the 2011 Gulf Coast Prize for Nonfiction and was named a Best American Essays Notable Essay. Her writing can be found in Tarpaulin Sky, Kenyon Review, Ninth Letter, Fourth Genre, Essay Daily, and elsewhere; her previous works include Disem(body), The Surfacing of Excess, and (Stitched) A Surface Opens: Essays. She is currently at work on a manuscript exploring themes of cultural relocation, violence, and migration, and looking at the treatment of refugees in Europe and the US drone program. Zwartjes has taught writing at the University of Arizona, the United World College, Pima Community College, Santa Fe Community College, the UA Poetry Center, Urban Word, and elsewhere. Visit her and her writing at ariannezwartjes.com or on Medium @ariannezwartjes.