Throughout her writing career, Margaret Atwood has received numerous awards and honourary degrees. She is the author of more than fifty volumes of poetry, children’s literature, fiction, and non-fiction and is perhaps best known for her novels, which include The Edible Woman (1970), The Handmaid's Tale (1983), The Robber Bride (1994), Alias Grace (1996), and The Blind Assassin, which won the prestigious Booker Prize in 2000. Atwood's dystopic novel, Oryx and Crake, was published in 2003. The Tent (mini-fictions) and Moral Disorder (short stories) both appeared in 2006. Her most recent volume of poetry, The Door, was published in 2007. Her non-fiction book, Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth, part of the Massey Lecture series, appeared in 2008, and her most recent novel, The Year of the Flood, in the autumn of 2009. Ms. Atwood's work has been published in more than forty languages, including Farsi, Japanese, Turkish, Finnish, Korean, Icelandic and Estonian. In 2004 she co-invented the Long Pen TM.
is Poet Laureate of St. Petersburg, Florida. His work has appeared in The New Republic, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Poetry, and dozens of other journals. He's published 15 books , 7 in the prestigious Pitt Poetry Series, the most recent being The Contracted World (2006). His poetry has received many awards, including 2 NEA Fellowships and 3 prizes from the Poetry Society of America. His book of short stories, The Piano Tuner, won the 1986 Flannery O'Connor Award. He directed the Writing Workshop at Eckerd College for many year, and has often been writer-in-residence at other colleges and universities. In 2009 the University of Tampa Press published Lines from Neuchatel--illustrated by his wife Jeanne--in handsome 35th Anniversary, with added poems and drawings--which received the 2009 Award of Excellence from the Southeastern Library Association (their highest award). He writes a bi-weekly column, Poet's Notebook--also illustrated by Jeanne--for Tampa By's alternative newspaper, Creative Loafing. In 2011, Yellow Jacket Press (Tampa) published his chapbook, Lassing Park, with Jeanne's illustration, and the University of Tampa published an expanded version of his book on writing, The Shape of Poetry. This year (2012) he has joined the faculty of the University of Tampa's new low-residency MFA Program in Creative Writing.
Soul-stirring, interdisciplinary work has garnered Al Letson national recognition and devoted fans. Early in his career, Letson established himself as a heavyweight in the Poetry Slam community and went on to be a featured performer on stages across the country, including such venues as HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, and CBS’s 2004 Final Four PreGame.
Drawing on his background as a performance poet, Letson seamlessly weaves spoken word into the fabric of his theatre work. With plays like Essential Personnel, a solo performance; Griot: He Who Speaks the Sweet Word, a theatrical celebration of African American performance art and Julius X a mash-up of Shakespeare, spoken word, African mythology, and Civil Rights history he has taken traditional theater into new directions. His most recent work, Summer in Sanctuary opens off-Broadway with the Abingdon Theatre Company in March of 2011.
In 2008, Letson was one of three finalists out of more than 1,500 applicants to win the Public Radio Talent Quest. The Talent Quest was an effort by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and the Public Radio Exchange to find new voices and innovative programming to launch nationally on public radio. Since that time Letson’s program State of the Re:Union (SOTRU) has become one of the fastest growing shows in public radio, airing on more than 200 stations, receiving critical acclaim and the first co-distributed program by NPR and the Public Radio Exchange.
Acclaimed “A true original,” by Kirkus Reviews, Mark Ari publishes fiction, poetry, and nonfiction. His novel, The Shoemaker’s Tale (Zephyr Press), earned high praise from Kirkus, the New York Times, The Jerusalem Post, Publisher’s Weekly, among others. Most recently, “Looking Back on Louis,” a personal essay on meeting Louis Armstrong was published in Prick of the Spindle; his flash fiction, “The King of Mulberry Street” was featured in Kiss the Sky (Paycock Press), an anthology of works about Jimi Hendrix; and his interview with the late Julian Beck, founder of The Living Theater, was incorporated into Paradise Now (Universal Mutant & Arthur Magazine), a DVD commemorating the troupe’s 50 years of vanguard theater.
Ari teaches creative writing at the University of North Florida, where he won the 2009 Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award. He also won the 2011 DRC Professor Empowerment Award, the 2006 Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award and a 2003 Distinguished Advisor Award. Ari founded and serves as advisor to Fiction Fix, a student and alumni-edited literary journal; EAT, a CD magazine. He created and maintains River House, the university’s virtual writer’s house. Website: www.arifiles.com.
Lola Haskins’poetry has appeared in The Atlantic, the London Review of Books, The New York Quarterly, Georgia Review, Southern Review, Prairie Schooner, and elsewhere. The most recent of her nine books of poems is The Grace to Leave (Anhinga, 2012). Other collections include Still, the Mountain (Paper Kite) Desire Lines, New and Selected Poems (BOA), Extranjera (Story Line), and Forty-Four Ambitions for the Piano (University Press of Florida). Her prose books are Solutions Beginning with A, fables about women illustrated by Maggie Taylor (Modernbook) , Not Feathers Yet: A Beginner's Guide to the Poetic Life (Backwaters) and Fifteen Florida Cemeteries: Strange Tales Unearthed (University Press of Florida).
Among Ms. Haskins' awards are, the Iowa Poetry Prize, a silver medal for poetry from the Florida Book Awards two NEA fellowships, the Emily Dickinson Prize from Poetry Society of America, and narrative poetry prizes from New England Review and Southern Poetry Review. Ms. Haskins retired in 2005 from from teaching Computer Science at University of Florida to join the faculty of Rainier Writers Workshop, a low residency MFA program in Tacoma, WA. For more information, please visit www.lolahaskins.com.
is a poet, educator, and book artist originally from Florida, now writing and living in Oakland, CA with her husband Damon. Her writing has appeared in Calyx: A Journal of Literature by Women; in the anthology, So Speak Up; at the Bella Vista Art Gallery in Chicago; on deadpaper.org; and in The Campanil. She received her MFA in Poetry from Mills College where she spent two years as the poetry editor for 580 Split. Kiala is the founding editor for GENERATIONS Literary Journal and she teaches college level Creative Writing, Humanities, and English Composition. She is a Cave Canem fellow, a Voices of Our Nation (VONA) alum and a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. (photo credit Rachel Eliza Griffiths)
A graduate of Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, Billy Merrell is the author of Talking in the Dark, a poetry memoir (Scholastic, 2003); co-editor of The Full Spectrum: A new Generation of Writing About LGBTQ and Other Identities (Knopf, 2006), which received a 2006 Lambia Literary Award; and co-author of Go Ahead, Ask Me (Simon & Schuster, 2009). His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in the anthologies This Is Push, Divining Divas, A Face to Meet the Faces: An Anthology of Contemporary Persona Poetry, and others. He lives in New York City, where he serves as Web Developer for Poets.org, the award-winning website of the Academy of American Poets.
Writer, naturalist and activist Janisse Ray is author of four books of literary nonfiction and a collection of nature poetry. She is on the faculty of Chatham University’s low-residency MFA program and is a Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow. She holds an MFA from the University of Montana, and in 2007 was awarded an honorary doctorate from Unity College in Maine.
Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, a memoir about growing up on a junkyard in the ruined longleaf pine ecosystem of the Southeast, was published by Milkweed Editions in 1999. Besides being a plea to protect and restore the glorious pine flatwoods of the South, the book looks hard at family, mental illness, poverty, and fundamentalist religion. Essayist Wendell Berry called the book “well done and deeply moving.” Anne Raver of The New York Times said of Janisse Ray, “The forests of the South find their Rachel Carson.” Ray’s second book, Wild Card Quilt: Taking a Chance on Home, about rural community, was published by Milkweed Editions in early 2003. The third, Pinhook: Finding Wholeness in a Fragmented Land, the story of a 750,000-acre wildland corridor between south Georgia and north Florida, was published by Chelsea Green in 2005. Her first book of poetry, A House of Branches, came out in 2010 from Wind Publication. Ray's latest work, out in fall 2011, is a lovesong and a call to action, called Drifting Into Darien: A Personal and Natural History of the Altamaha River.
Ray has won a Southern Booksellers Award for Poetry 2011, Southeastern Booksellers Award for Nonfiction 1999, an American Book Award 2000, the Southern Environmental Law Center 2000 Award for Outstanding Writing, and a Southern Book Critics Circle Award 2000.
David Macinnis Gill
David Macinnis Gill is the author of, Soul Enchilada, from Greenwillow/Harper Collins. His short stories have appeared in several magazines, including The Crescent Review and Writer’s Forum. His critical biography of young adult author Graham Salisbury, Graham Salisbury: Island Boy, was published by Scarecrow Press. His non-fiction, book reviews, essays, and academic work have appeared in a variety of publications, including The English Journal, Teacher-Librarian, and many others. He is the Past-President of ALAN (The Assembly on Literature for Adolescents) .
David’s teaching career began in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where he was a high school teacher at Brainerd High School and briefly at the Chattanooga School for the Arts and Sciences. He later joined the English Department at Ohio University as an assistant professor. Currently, he is an associate professor of English education at the University of North Carolina Wilmington.
David now lives on the Carolina coast with his family, fourteen fish, and two rescued dogs. He is represented by Rosemary Stimola of the Stimola Literary Studio.
Some of his writing credits include songs with Don Henley, The Eagles, The Byrds, Ringo Starr, The Mavericks, Meredith Brooks, Toto, Matraca Berg, The Fabulous Thunderbirds, June Pointer, Eddie Money, Restless Heart, John Michael Montgomery, Sister Hazel, Edwin McCain and Tim McGraw.
In 1985 he began a successful writing and producing relationship with Don Henley that has garnered many Grammy nominations and two ASCAP Most Played Songs of the Year Music Awards. He also collaborated on The Eagles “Hell Freezes Over” that has sold over 10 million records. He wrote and produced Don Henley’s “Inside Job,” which yielded the hit single “Taking You Home” gone platinum. He was the music supervisor for Don Henley’s A&E By Request and VH1’s Storytellers. He also hosted and helped develop the premier of CMT’s series “Crossroads” featuring Elvis Costello and Lucinda Williams. Most recently he wrote Tim McGraw’s “Back When” which went to number one on the Bilboard chart. ASCAP presented him with his third Most Played Songs of the Year Music Award.
He continues to write and produce music and lives in St. Augustine, FL.
Billy Chapin is President and Owner of Chapin Music Group, Inc., and Funkamongus Music Publishing, and is a member of the Board of Governors, Florida Chapter of NARAS (Grammy’s). He is a producer, engineer and songwriter, and has written music for Don Henley, Sister Hazel, BackStreet Boys, Alison Krauss and others.
Chapin was music director and guitarist for the Backstreet Boys from 1997-1999 and for O-Town/Making the Band Season 2 from 2000-2004. He has been seen on Saturday Night Live, The Tonight Show, MTV Music Awards, Showtime, HBO, American Music Awards, Regis and Kelly, Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve and more. His awards include a 2004 BMI Award, Platinum Album (1999, 2000, 2002, and 2004), Juno award nominee in 2000, and several Gold Albums.
He is currently living in Edgewater, Florida working as an independent producer/engineer and writer.
Martha Cooley is the author of The Archivist, a national bestseller published in eleven foreign markets, and Thirty-Three Swoons (also published in Italy). Her short fiction, essays, and translations have appeared in A Public Space, AGNI, Writer’s Chronicle, West Branch, PEN American, Washington Square, and elsewhere. She teaches fiction in the Bennington Writing Seminars and is an Associate Professor of English at Adelphi University. She has led summer fiction workshops at Manhattanville College’s Writers Week and in three Italian locales: Siena, Cortona, and Certaldo.
Jeff Brumley has been a writer at the Florida Times-Union since 2004. His passion is writing and teaching about religion, and he also writes about transportation and the military. He has a bachelor's in journalism from the University of Tennessee and a master's in religious studies from Miami University in Ohio. In addition to being the TU's religion writer, he's an adjunct professor of religion at FSCJ.
Ira Sukrungruang is a Thai American writer born in 1976 in Oak Lawn, Illinois, a suburb of south Chicago. In 1999, he wrote his way into graduate school at The Ohio State University where he received an MFA in creative nonfiction. Along the way, he married an animal-loving, environmentalist/ feminist/ poet/ cookie maker extraordinaire, Katherine The Great Riegel, and co-edited, with his good friend Donna Jarrell, What Are You Looking At?, The First Fat Fiction Anthology and Scoot Over, Skinny: The Fat Nonfiction Anthology. Now he edits The Clever Title and Sweet: A Literary Confection. He is also the author of the memoir Talk Thai: The Adventures of a Buddist Boy.
Ira taught creative nonfiction at SUNY Oswego for six years, and now teaches in the MFA program at University of South Florida.
Michael Judd received his MFA in Poetry from the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where he worked at the International Writing Program and taught Creative Writing courses. Before coming to Iowa, Michael studied at Princeton University and Brigham Young University and spent two years living in Hong Kong. He has received the Ann Doty Fiction Prize, the Mayhew Prizes in Short Fiction and Poetry, and the Ethel Lowry Handley Prize from the Academy of American Poets.
John Ray was a co-founder of TS&M Productions in Cincinnati. Writing, directing and performing in low-budget extravaganzas of social and political satire, he helped to create fringe theater before there was a Fringe movement. His play “The Last of the Red-Hot Lamas” explores the politics of climate change, while “Fullest Vigour,” his MFA play at Ohio University, embodies Darwinian selection. A short play, "Tiger on the Slopes," was part of the BoCoCa Festival in New York in 2011. His current project, “The Sweet, Burning Yonder," is a re-imagining of the Lewis and Clark legend in the post-Katrina world and is in development with BuryingBeetles.org for production this year. He has taught theater at Ohio University, Southern Illinois U. and as a guest instructor at Xavier U.
Pauletta Hansel is a writer, editor, teacher and author of four poetry collections, most recently What I Did There (Dos Madres Press, 2011); and The Lives We Live in Houses (Wind Publications, 2011). Pauletta’s work has been featured in journals including ABZ Journal, Southern Women’s Review, Still: The Journal, The Mom Egg, Penwood Review and Appalachian Journal, and anthologized in A Gathering at the Forks, Old Wounds, New Words, A Kentucky Christmas, Listen Here: Women Writing in Appalachia Motif: Come What May and Boomtown: the Queens MFA Tenth Anniversary Celebratory Anthology. Pauletta founded and facilitates Practice of Poetry workshops and retreats in the Greater Cincinnati area and will be Thomas More College’s Writer-in-Residence for the 2012/2013 academic year. Current editor of Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, the literary publication of Southern Appalachian Writers Cooperative, Pauletta received her MFA from Queens University of Charlotte. She lives in Cincinnati, Ohio.