*This page will be updated as we add speakers and contributors for the upcoming festival.*
2015 Keynote Speaker:
Dorothy Allison grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, the first child of a fifteen-year-old unwed mother who worked as a waitress. Now living in Northern California with her partner Alix and her teenage son, Wolf Michael, she describes herself as a feminist, a working class story teller, a Southern expatriate, a sometime poet and a happily born-again Californian.
The first member of her family to graduate from high school, Allison attended Florida Presbyterian college on a National Merit Scholarship and studied anthropology at the New School for Social Research.
An award winning editor for Quest, Conditions, and Outlook—early feminist and Lesbian & Gay journals, Allison’s chapbook of poetry, The Women Who Hate Me, was published with Long Haul Press in 1983. Her short story collection, Trash (1988) was published by Firebrand Books. Trash won two Lambda Literary Awards and the American Library Association Prize for Lesbian and Gay Writing.
Allison says that the early Feminist movement changed her life. “It was like opening your eyes under water. It hurt, but suddenly everything that had been dark and mysterious became visible and open to change.” However, she admits, she would never have begun to publish her stories if she hadn’t gotten over her prejudices, and started talking to her mother and sisters again.
Allison received mainstream recognition with her novel Bastard Out of Carolina, (1992) a finalist for the 1992 National Book Award. The novel won the Ferro Grumley prize, an ALA Award for Lesbian and Gay Writing, became a best seller, and an award-winning movie. It has been translated into more than a dozen languages.
Cavedweller (1998) became a national bestseller, NY Times Notable book of the year, finalist for the Lillian Smith prize, and an ALA prize winner. Adapted for the stage by Kate Moira Ryan, the play was directed by Michael Greif, and featured music by Hedwig composer, Stephen Trask.
In 2003, Lisa Cholendenko directed a movie version featuring Krya Sedwick.
The expanded edition of Trash (2002) included the prize winning short story, “Compassion” selected for both Best American Short Stories 2003 and Best New Stories from the South 2003.
Fall 2009, Allison was The McGee Professor and writer in residence at Davidson College, in North Carolina. Spring, 2007, Allison was Emory University Center for Humanistic Inquiry’s Distinguished Visiting Professor. Summer, 2007, she was Famosa in residence at Macondo in San Antonio, Texas. 2006, she was writer in residence at Columbia College in Chicago.
Awarded the 2007 Robert Penn Warren Award for Fiction, Allison is a member of the board of the Fellowship of Southern Writers.
A novel, She Who, Is forthcoming.
PANELISTS, PRESENTERS, AND READERS:
- Stacey Balkun received her MFA from Fresno State and her work has appeared or will appear in Muzzle, THRUSH, Bodega, and others. She is a contributing writer for The California Journal of Women Writers at www.tcjww.org. In 2013, she served as Artist-in-Residence at the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Her chapbook, Lost City Museum, will be published by ELJ Publications in 2016.
- Moira Crone is a widely published short story writer and novelist. In 2009, she received the Robert Penn Warren Award for Fiction from the Fellowship of Southern Writers for the body of her work. Her publications include the her current novel, The Not Yet, (2012) What Gets Into Us,(2006) a collection of stories, Dream State (Jackson: The University Press of Mississippi in 1995; Paperback 1997), also stories, A Period of Confinement (New York: G.P. Putnam and Sons, 1986, Paperback, New York: Harper and Row, 1987. French Translation: Paris: Gallimard 1986) a novel, and The Winnebago Mysteries and Other Stories (New York: The Fiction Collective/ Braziller 1982), stories and a novella. In 2012, her novel, The Not Yet, was short listed for the Philp K.Dick Award, for paperback original science fiction novel of year.Her works have been published in numerous magazines, including: The New Yorker, Mademoiselle, Boston Sunday Globe Magazine, North American Review, Ploughshares, Southern Review, Gettysburg Review, New Orleans Review, Shenandoah, Callaloo, TriQuarterly, and Habitus. Her non-fiction has appeared in The Oxford American, Beliefnet, Altnet, (online) Family Circle, Working Mother, American Homestyle, Image Journal, among others. She has been included in several anthologies, such as Best from the Ohio Review, 25th Anniversary Anthology, Smith Voices; Various Gifts, American Made, New Stories by Southern Women, Wide Awake in the Pelican State, Intersections, Best of LSU Fiction, Something in the Water and, forthcoming, a new comprehensive anthology of New Orleans Literature spanning three centuries.Her stories have been chosen for the “Year’s Best” by the award anthology New Stories From The South five times. She has been selected for an individual artist’s grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, (1990) and a fellowship at the Mary Ingraham Bunting Institute of Radcliffe College at Harvard, (1987-88.) She won the Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society Short Story Prize in 1994, and William Faulkner/Wisdom Award for Novella in 2004. She won an ATLAS grant from the State of Louisiana in 2005-2006. She has been named Image Journal’s “Artist of the Month.”The mother of two daughters, Anya and Kezia, she is married to the writer, and poet, Rodger Kamenetz.
- Nancy Dixon is the author of N.O. Lit: 200 Years of New Orleans Literature, and of Fortune and Misery: Sallie Rhett Roman of New Orleans, which won the Humanities Book of the Year Award in 2000 from the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities. She is a professor of English at Dillard University
- Kate Fox is the author of the recently released Walking Off The Map. Her poems have appeared in the Great River Review, Green Mountains Review, Valparaiso Review, Mount Hope, and West Branch. Her chapbook, The Lazarus Method, was published by Lent State University Press as part of the Wick Poetry Chapbook Series.Kate earned her Ph.D. in American literature/creative writing from Ohio University, where she worked as an instructor, editor, and assistant to the president. After serving for several years as the editor of the Ohioana Quarterly book review journal, she currently runs Textual Healing, a freelance writing and editing business, and organizes Women on the Line, an annual poetry reading held to raise awareness for My Sister’s Place, a local domestic violence shelter.
- Kelly Frankenberg is an artist, writer, and teacher. She has illustrated several published children’s books and her first book, a memoir titled, “Diary of a Gay, Pregnant Bride,” came out in June 2015. Kelly also writes song lyrics, poems, comic books, screenplays, and fiction. She has written for Curve Magazine, Lavender Magazine, CurveMag.com, NourrirMag.com, and the Examiner.com Her artwork has appeared on Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, Fox National News, Kare 11, Public Television, in short films, newspapers, on windows, walls, and mailboxes. She writes a weekly blog about wedding advice and other related topics at Pridezillas.com. You can view her other books, blogs, and artwork at www.kellyfrankenberg.com and Diary of a Gay Pregnant Bride.
- Tawnysha Greene received her PhD from the University of Tennessee where she served as the fiction editor for Grist: The Journal for Writers. Her work has appeared in PANK, Bellingham Review, and Weave Magazine. Her first novel, A House Made of Stars, was released from Burlesque Press in 2015.
- John Gery’s books of poetry include The Enemies of Leisure (1995), Davenport’s Version (2003), A Gallery of Ghosts (2008), and Lure (2012), among others, with a new collection, Have at You Now!, forthcoming from CW Books in 2014. His poetry has appeared in journals throughout the U.S. and Europe and has been translated into half a dozen languages. He has also published criticism extensively on a wide range of poets, from John Ashbery to Marilyn Chin, has edited several poetry anthologies and critical books, and has worked as a collaborative translator. His awards include an NEA Fellowship, a Fulbright (Belgrade), and residencies at Bucknell, University of Minnesota, Beijing Institute of Technology, Centro Studi Americani in Rome, and elsewhere. A Research Professor at the University of New Orleans, he directs the Ezra Pound Center for Literature, Brunnenburg, Italy, summer seminars in Poetry Writing and the Poetry of Ezra Pound.
- Candice Huber is the owner of New Orleans’ premier geeky bookstore and nerd mecca, Tubby &Coo’s Mid-City Book Shop, named after her grandparents. She is also the founder of Reading Between the Wines, a local event that happens on the first Wednesday of each month at Pearl Wine Co. in Mid-City where local authors discuss their books. To date, the event has promoted more than 70 local authors.
- Rodger Kamenetz is the author of the History of Last Night’s Dream (Harper, 2007) which was featured on Oprah’s Soul Series. He’s been working with client dreams since 2002. Rodger was also founding director of the LSU MFA program where he taught poetry and non-fiction, but is now living in sweet retirement. Rodger Kamenetz’s poems have appeared in 25 major anthologies and in periodicals including The New Republic, Tikkun, Image, Callaloo, Grand Street, Shenandoah, Exquisite Corpse, Boulevard, Pequod,Southern Review,Western Humanities Review, North American Review. His five books of poetry are The Missing Jew (1979), Nympholepsy (1985), The Missing Jew: New and Selected (1991), Stuck (1995), and The Lowercase Jew (2003). Six Galleries Press will bring out his latest collection, To Die Next To You in spring 2013.The San Francisco Review of Books noted “his ear is as good as William Carlos Williams in the early poetry.” Louise Erdrich adds that “Kamenetz’s poems whirl and shake on the page.” The Jerusalem Post called his recent work “stunningly powerful”, and called Kamenetz “a master at infusing seemingly plain words with resonance and depth, with subtle textures and playful ironies, wonderfully open to a whole gamut of human emotions.”In non-fiction, Kamenetz is also the author of the perennial best-seller The Jew in the Lotus now in its 36th printing, The History of Last Night’s Dream , Terra Infirma: A Memoir of My Mother’s Life in Mine, and Burnt Books: Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav and Franz Kafka.More at http://www.kamenetz.com
- Lania Knight’s first book, Three Cubic Feet, is a 2012 Finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in Debut Fiction. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in The Rumpus, Fourth Genre, New Stories from the Midwest, PANK, Missouri Review, Jabberwock Review, Literary Mama, and elsewhere. She currently teaches creative writing at Eastern Illinois University. Read more about her at http://www.laniaknight.com.
- Kristin LaTour’s first full-length poetry collection, What Will Keep Me Alive, is forthcoming in the fall of 2015 from Sundress Publications. She holds an MFA in poetry from the Stonecoast Program and has had three chapbooks out since 2007: Town Limits (Puddinghouse, 2007), Blood (Naked Manekin, 2009) and Agoraphobia (Dancing Girl Press, 2013). Her protest poetry can be found in the journals Five Poetry, New Verse News, Protest Poems, Rock and Sling, The Infoxicated Corner and Stone Highway. She teaches composition, literature and poetry classes at Joliet Junior College and lives in Aurora, IL with her fiction-writing husband, Paul.
- Paul LaTour is a writer and former journalist whose work has been published in Joyland and national newspapers. He curates the reading series Lit by the Bridge in Aurora, IL. Originally from northern Minnesota, many of his stories center on that landscape and the personalities of that region. He is also involved in the arts scene in Aurora, which seeps into his story-telling as well.
- Casey Lefante is a memoirist, fox iconographer, and COO of the Hands On Festival.
- Bill Lavender is a poet, editor, and teacher living in New Orleans. His most recent book is his acclaimed verse memoir, Memory Wing. His poems have appeared in dozens of print and web journals and anthologies, and his essays and theoretical writings have been published in Contemporary Literature and Poetics Today, among others.
- Bill Loehfelm is the author of four novels, most recently, THE DEVIL IN HER WAY, the next Maureen Coughlin adventure and his first New Orleans-set novel. Readers met Maureen for the first time in THE DEVIL SHE KNOWS (2011). His first two novels are, FRESH KILLS, winner of the 2008 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, and BLOODROOT (2009). Born in Brooklyn and raised on Staten Island, Loehfelm moved to New Orleans in 1997 where he now lives with his wife, AC Lambeth, a writer and yoga instructor. Loehfelm’s work about post-Katrina New Orleans has also appeared in the NOLAfugees Press anthologies YEAR ZERO, LIFE IN THE WAKE, and SOUL IS BULLETPROOF. His work has also appeared in Akashic’s STATEN ISLAND NOIR and in the award-winning mystery non-fiction anthology BOOKS TO DIE FOR.
- Nicholas Mainieri’s debut novel, THE INFINITE, will be published by Harper Perennial in the Fall of 2016. His short stories have appeared in The Southern Review, The Southern Humanities Review, Hobart, Salamander, and Sou’wester, among other journals. He teaches at Nicholls State University, and he lives in New Orleans with his wife and son.
- Dawn Manning is a writer, photographer, and rogue anthropologist living in the Greater Philadelphia area. Her poems have been published through Crab Orchard Review, Fairy Tale Review, Silk Road, Smartish Pace, Unsplendid, and other literary journals. This year she added the Beullah Rose Poetry Prize to her list of awards. Her inaugural poetry collection, POSTCARDS FROM THE DEAD LETTER OFFICE, is forthcoming from Burlesque Press. Find her at dawnmanning.com.
- Mary Kay McBrayer, a recent graduate of Georgia College & State University’s Masters of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program, with a specialization in Creative Nonfiction. My work has appeared in Prick of the Spindle and Blueshift Journal, and is forthcoming in the anthology Being Biracial: Where Our Secret Worlds Collide. I currently live and work in Atlanta as a pastry cook in a gigantic hotel; I teach creative writing and literature to academically gifted middle- and high-schoolers; and I tutor-mentor emotionally at-risk youth.
- Leon Miller, Head of the Louisiana Research Collection at Tulane University, is head of the Louisiana Research Collection at Tulane University, which may be the largest research library and archives for the study of New Orleans and possibly the second largest for the study of Louisiana as a whole. He is a past president of the Academy of Certified Archivists and a Fellow of the Society of American Archivists.
- Biljana D. Obradović, a Serbian-American poet, translator and critic has lived in Yugoslavia, Greece, and India besides the U.S. since 1988, and has been a US citizen since 2006. She writes in English. She is Professor of English at Xavier University of Louisiana, in New Orleans. She has three collections of poems, Frozen Embraces (1997), Le Riche Monde (1999), and Little Disruptions (2012). Her poems also appear in Three Poets in New Orleans (2000), and in anthologies (Like Thunder: Poets Respond in Violence in America, Key West: A Collection), and magazines (Poetry East, Bloomsbury Review, Prairie Schooner, The Plum Review). In addition to her own poetry, other works include her Serbian translation of John Gery’s American Ghosts: Selected Poems (1999), Serbian translations of Stanley Kunitz, The Long Boat (2007), Fives: Fifty Poems by Serbian and American Poets, A Bilingual Anthology, as editor and translator (2002), a collection of Bratislav Milanović’s poems into English, Doors in a Meadow (2011), and Serbian translation of Patrizia de Rachewiltz’s poems Dear Friends (2012). Forthcoming is a Serbian translation of Bruce Weigl’s poems entitled, What Saves Us (2013). She also reviews books for World Literature Today (many of which include women’s writing) and others. She is currently co-editing with Dubravka Djurić an anthology of contemporary Serbian poetry of poets born after WWII.
- Yuka Petz, Founder of Studio Ippiki, Book Binder, Book Maker, is the founder of Studio Ippiki, a studio in New Orleans that creates handmade books. Yuka is a bookbinder, papermaker, and visual artist who made her first book in third grade. Since then, she has spent the past 20 or so years honing her skill. She has an MFA in Book Arts/Printmaking from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and she studied bookbinding and papermaking in workshops and studios across the U.S. and in Argentina and Japan.
- Monica Prince received her M.F.A. in Creative Writing with a focus in poetry from Georgia College & State University this past spring. Her nonfiction has been featured in MadCap Review and the 2014 Agnes Scott College Writers Festival, and her choreopoem, Testify, will be performed in Brooklyn, NY this November. She currently writes, performs, and works in Denver, Colorado with her pug, Otis.
- Matt Roberts is a founding editor of The Normal School literary magazine, which Robert Atwan described as “indispensable for anyone wanting to discover new directions in the contemporary essay” in his introduction to this year’s Best American Essays. Matt’s work has appeared in Isotope, Post Road, Ecotone, Ninth Letter, and on NPR’s Morning Edition.
- Christopher Louis Romaguera is a Cuban-American writer who was born in Hialeah, FL. He attended Florida International University, and graduated with Bachelors’ degrees in English and in Philosophy. After graduating, he moved to New Orleans to follow his passion of writing. This past summer, Chris spent a week in Cuba, the first member of his family to go back to the island. He is currently working on his first novel.
- Laurence Ross received his MFA from the University of Alabama where he served as the Creative Nonfiction Editor for Black Warrior Review. In addition to publishing his essays and reviews in literary journals and the Huffington Post, he is a frequent contributor to Pelican Bomb, a regional publication dedicated to the Louisiana arts community. Laurence Ross lives in New Orleans where he is the current Director of P.3Writes, a program in conjunction with U.S. Biennial Prospect New Orleans.
- Ira Sukrungruang is the author of the memoir Talk Thai: The Adventures of Buddhist Boy and the poetry collection In Thailand It Is Night, which won the Anita Claire Schraf Award. He is coeditor of two anthologies on the topic of obesity: What Are You Looking At? The First Fat Fiction Anthology and Scoot Over, Skinny: The Fat Nonfiction Anthology. He is the recipient of the New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Nonfiction Literature, an Arts and Letters Fellowship, and the Emerging Writer Fellowship. His work has appeared in many literary journals, including Post Road, The Sun, and Creative Nonfiction. He is one of the founding editors of Sweet: A Literary Confection (sweetlit.com), and teaches in the MFA program at University of South Florida and the low-residency MFA program at City University in Hong Kong.
- Laura J. Thomson, Director of Processing for Amistad Research Center, Book Binder, & Archivist, has been an archivist for over 12 years and is currently the Director of Processing for the Amistad Research Center at Tulane University. She holds a Master’s degree in Library and Information Sciences with a specialization in archival management. She was also an archivist in Australia, where she studied bookbinding and book restoration at the Central Metropolitan College of TAFE in Perth.
- John Vanderslice teaches in the MFA program at the University of Central Arkansas, where he also serves as associate editor of Toad Suck Review. His stories, poems, essays, and one-act plays have been published in scores of periodicals, including Southern Humanities Review, South Carolina Review, Sou’wester, Laurel Review, Versal, Seattle Review, and Crazyhorse. His linked book of stories, Island Fog, was named by Library Journal as one of the Top 15 Indie Fiction Titles of 2014. He has recently completed a novel depicting the last, sad days of Oscar Wilde.
- Stephanie Vanderslice is a Professor of Writing at the University of Central Arkansas, and the director of its MFA program, Stephanie Vanderslice is an internationally recognized expert on creative writing pedagogy. She is the author or editor of such seminal works as Can It Really Be Taught: Resisting Lore in Creative Writing Pedagogy (Heinemann, 2007) and Rethinking Creative Writing in Higher Education (Professional and Higher, 2012). An accomplished fiction and creative nonfiction writer, she also blogs about the writing life for The Huffington Post. She has recently completed a braided historical novel that touches on three separate tragedies: the fiery destruction of the P.S. General Slocum in 1904, the mid-century devastation of World War Two, and the terrorist attack on the World Trade Centers on September 11, 2001.
- Daniel Wallace is studying for his PhD at the University of Tennessee. His first novel is represented by Inkwell Management. He was the Toni Brown Scholarship winner to the 2012 Winter Getaway and has been a finalist in several writing contests. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in McSweeney’s, Tampa Review, Fiction Writers Review, HTML Giant, and Air Schooner.
- Tawni Vee Waters is a writer, actor, college teacher, and gypsy. Her first novel, Beauty of the Broken, will be released by Simon/Pulse in Fall 2014. Her first poetry book, Siren Song, will be released by Burlesque Press in Winter 2014. Her work has been published in Best Travel Writing 2010, Bridal Guide Magazine, Ft. Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel, Albuquerque Journal, Albion Review, ABQ Arts Magazine,So To Speak, Blood Lotus, and Conceptions Southwest, among others. She is a regular contributor to Burlesque Press and was a regular contributor Albuquerque’s East Mountain Telegraph. In 2010, she won the Grand Prize in the Solas Awards Travel Writing Competition. In 2009, she won the Editor’s Award for Fiction from Ellipses Magazine. She teaches creative writing at Estrella Mountain College. She lives in Phoenix, Arizona with her children and a menagerie of wayward animals. In her spare time, she talks to angels, humanely evicts spiders from her floorboards, and plays Magdalene to a minor rock god.
- Michael Allen Zell is a noted New Orleans based novelist, playwright, and essayist. The Los Angeles Review of Books called his new Run Baby Run “a successful entertainment, taking a buzz saw to the glamorous city New Orleans has purported to have become since Katrina.” His first novel, Errata, was named a Times-Picayune ‘Top 10 Book of 2012’. His first play, What Do You Say To A Shadow?, was named a ‘Top 10 Play of the Year’ in 2013 by the Times Picayune. He has worked as a bookseller in New Orleans since 2003.