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Northwestern University Summer Writers' Conference

Faculty and Readers

Faculty and Readers

Amin Ahmad

Amin Ahmad

Workshop Instructor, Manuscript Consultant

Amin Ahmad worked as international architect before turning to fiction. His essays and stories have been published in literary magazines and listed in Best American Essays. As A.X. Ahmad, he is the author of the suspense novels The Caretaker and The Last Taxi Ride, one of NPR’s ‘Best Books of 2015’. He created the ‘Novel Year’ program at The Writer’s Center in Bethesda, MD, and is now a 2017-18 Visiting Artist in Residence at Northwestern University. He also teaches at Story Studio in Chicago. He was awarded a 2015-16 Artist’s Fellowship grant from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.
Anne-Marie Akin

Anne-Marie Akin

Keynote Reader

Anne-Marie Akin is a Jubilation Foundation Fellow, a faculty member at Chicago’s Old Town School of Folk Music, and a songwriter for Carnegie Hall’s National Lullaby Project. She has taught writing at Harold Washington College, and is a prior recipient of an NEA teaching artist fellowship. Her work has been published in The Bitter Southerner, Mothers Always Write, Pass it On, About Place, and the anthology The Buddha Next Door. Collaborative works include the oral history song cycle, “Call and Response,” which was commissioned in 2012. She holds an MFA in nonfiction creative writing from Northwestern University.
Ignatius Valentine Aloysius

Ignatius Valentine Aloysius

Panelist, Manuscript Consultant

Ignatius Valentine Aloysius teaches advanced writing and experimentation in the Integrated Design and Strategy graduate program at Northwestern, and is a graduate lecturer in creative writing at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). A designer and lead guitarist, he co-curates Sunday Salon Chicago, a bi-monthly reading event series, and is a member of the Curatorial Board at Ragdale Foundation. His novel Fishhead. Republic of Want. is forthcoming from Tortoise Books. Ignatius carries purple pride and lives with his wife in Evanston. 

Gint Aras

Gint Aras

Workshop Instructor, Manuscript Consultant

Gint Aras (Karolis Gintaras Žukauskas) is the author of The Fugue, finalist for the 2016 Chicago Writers Association Book of the Year. His prose and translations have appeared in The St. Petersburg Review, Quarterly West, Curbside Splendor, Dialogo, The Good Men Project, STIR Journal, ReImagine and other publications. He is a community college instructor of Rhetoric and Humanities and lives in Oak Park, Illinois with his family.

Martha Bayne

Martha Bayne

Keynote Reader

Martha Bayne Is a freelance writer and a senior editor with Belt Publishing. Her work has appeared in Belt Magazine, Buzzfeed, the Baffler, the Chicago Reader, the Chicago Tribune, the Rumpus, and other outlets. She is also currently an associate editor with the Medill School of Journalism's Social Justice News Nexus program and a member of Theater Oobleck's artistic ensemble.
Ian Belknap

Ian Belknap

Workshop Instructor, Manuscript Consultant

Ian Belknap is a Chicago writer/performer/instructor and founder/Overlord of WRITE CLUB, the world's greatest competitive readings series (Chicago, Atlanta, Denver, Los Angeles, with more cities on the way). He is author/performer of the solo shows Bring Me the Head of James Franco, That I May Prepare a Savory Goulash in the Narrow and Misshapen Pot of His Skull, Wide Open Beaver Shot of My Heart: A Comedy With a Body Count, Terminal Ferocity, and Uncle Dad is Rip-Shit, You Guys. He curated and hosted the monologue shows Something Wicked This Way Comes, and Ian's Dog & Pony Show. In 2018, he will launch The Foundry, Chicago’s only dedicated storytelling academy, with Janna Sobel, and a new show called Humanities Fair. Ian's work has been featured in the live lit shows This Much is True, Truth and Lies, That's All She Wrote, Story Club Chicago, Fictilicious, Essay Fiesta, Guts & Glory, Fillet of Solo Theater Festival, and the Rhino Theater Festival, among others. He served as Fact Checker for The Encyclopedia Show, and is on the masthead of The Paper Machete as the Dean of Mean, and is a regular cast member/contributor to the fiction podcast Pleasuretown. Ian has been on panels and presented at TEDx Greenville, Arts & Business Council of Chicago, League of Chicago Theatres, Printers, Row Book Fair, Chicago Writers, Conference, and Decatur Book Fest, among others, and has appeared as a guest lecturer at Columbia College Chicago and DePaul University. He has performed at The Poetry Foundation, The Smart Museum of Art at University of Chicago, and Museum of Contemporary Art, among many other venues. He has been named to New City Chicago’s “Lit 50” list twice – in 2013 and 2015. His work has appeared in The Chicago Reader, The Rumpus, The Chicago Tribune, Crain's Chicago Business, Slackjaw, The Hit List, Bullshitist, Arts + Marketing, Untoward, Chicago Literati, Story Club Magazine, and the Reading Out Loud podcast, among others. He is co-editor and contributor to Bare-Knuckled Lit: The Best of WRITE CLUB (Hope & Nonthings, 2014), and co-host of the WRITE CLUB podcast.

Photo credit: Joe Mazza, Brave Lux Photography

Joshua Bohnsack

Joshua Bohnsack

Panel Moderator

Gerald Brennan

Gerald Brennan

Panelist, Manuscript Consultant

Gerald Brennan earned a B.S. in European History from the United States Military Academy at West Point and an M.S. in Journalism from Columbia University in New York. He's the founder of Tortoise Books, and the author of Resistance, Zero Phase, Public Loneliness, and Island of Clouds. He’s been featured on WGN Radio and in Newcity, and his writing has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Hypertext Magazine, The Good Men Project, and Innerview Magazine. He resides in Chicago.

Susanna Calkins

Susanna Calkins

Workshop Instructor, Manuscript Consultant

Susanna Calkins is the author of the award-winning Lucy Campion historical mysteries published by Minotaur (St. Martin's). Her books have been nominated for the Mary Higgins Clark Award, the Agatha for Best Historical Mystery, the Bruce Alexander Historical Mystery (Lefty) and the Sue Feder Historical Mystery (Macavity) awards. A historian by training, Susanna works at Northwestern University where she directs learning and teaching initiatives for faculty. Born and raised in Philadelphia, she lives outside Chicago now, with her husband and two sons.

Henry Carrigan

Henry Carrigan

Workshop Instructor, Manuscript Consultant

Henry L. Carrigan, Jr. writes about has been writing about books for Publishers Weekly for twenty-five years and was a book reviews editor at PW for five years. He also writes forBookPage and the Christian Century, and he writes a weekly book column for No Depression: The Quarterly Journal of Roots Music. A long-time book reviewer, he has written about books for the Washington Post, the Christian Science Monitor, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, theCharlotte Observer, the Orlando Sentinel, the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Columbus Dispatch, the State, Library Journal, American Songwriter, and Living Blues. He's the former assistant director at Northwestern University Press and the formerly North American publisher of T&T Clark International, and he's a senior lecturer in the English department at Lake Forest College.

Shannon Cason

Shannon Cason

Keynote Reader

Shannon Cason has shared his stories all over the country. Shannon is a host, MainStage storyteller and GrandSlam champion with The Moth. He is a regular on WNYC’s Snap Judgment; awarded their Best Performance of 2013. He has appeared on countless podcasts and storytelling stages, including SXSW, RISK!, Third Coast Festival, Podcast Movement, and an upcoming television pilot. He also hosts his own storytelling podcast, Shannon Cason’s Homemade Stories, which partnered with WBEZ Chicago for its 2014-2015 season.Shannon recently launched a new podcast with WBEZ Chicago called TheTrouble with Shannon CasonHis storytelling is featured in the new anthology,The Moth Presents: All These Wonders. Shannon serves as the chief educator for the Brutally Honest Storytelling workshop series, where he has worked with companies, pro athletes, and celebrities tell their stories more honestly. He is a husband, father, and is originally from Detroit. Find out more at shannoncason.com.

Sara Connell

Sara Connell

Workshop Instructor, Manuscript Consultant

Sara Connell is a Chicago based writer. She has been featured on The Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America, The View and NPR. She received the Judith Dawn Memorial Grant for fiction and has presented at Northwestern University, Printer's Row Literary Festival, Chicago Writers Association, Chicago Women in Publishing and teaches at Story Studio Chicago. Her writing has appeared in: the New York Times, Good Housekeeping, Parenting, TriQuarterly, and Mindful Metropolis. Her first book Bringing In Finn was nominated for ELLE magazine Book of the Year.

Patricia Crisafulli

Patricia Crisafulli

Panel Moderator

Patricia Crisafulli received a Master of Fine Arts (MFA) degree from Northwestern University in 2017 and was awarded the Distinguished Thesis Award in Creative Writing for her novel in progress, The Cross of Siena. Patricia has also studied in the prestigious Bread Loaf writers’ program (in Sicily).

Patricia has received the Silver Pen Association’s Write Well Award for three of her short stories and has published in an anthology featuring award winners. She is also the author of a collection of short stories and essays entitled Inspired Every Day: Essays and Stories to Brighten Your Day, Give You Hope, and Strengthen Your Faith, published by Hallmark.

Patricia is the author of the New York Times bestseller, House of Dimon: How JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon Rose to the Top of the Financial World (John Wiley & Sons, 2009). She co-authored, with Andrea Redmond, Rwanda, Inc: How a Devastated Nation Became an Economic Model for the Developing World (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2012), which was an Editor’s Choice Book on Amazon, and Comebacks: Powerful Lessons from Leaders Who Endured Setbacks and Recaptured Success on Their Terms (Jossey-Bass, 2010). Her first book, written under the name Patricia Commins, was Remembering Mother, Finding Myself: A Journey of Love and Self-Acceptance (HCI Books, 1999.

Her labor of love is www.FaithHopeandFiction.com, an e-literary magazine that features original fiction, essays, and poetry.

Jim Davis

Jim Davis

Panel Moderator

Jim Davis is a graduate of Knox College, Northwestern University, and Harvard University. His current area of focus is Human Development and Psychology with specialty in Cognitive Neuroscience, but poetry and painting are in his blood. His work has appeared in the Harvard Crimson, Portland Review, Bellevue Literary Review, Midwest Quarterly, California Journal of Poetics, and Poetry Daily, among many others. He has been a featured speaker at poetry readings around the world, most recently at Harvard University alongside former teacher and legedary poet Ed Roberson. Find him on instgram @jimdavis.artist
Kevin Davis

Kevin Davis

Workshop Instructor, Manuscript Consultant

Kevin Davis is a Chicago-based journalist and author of The Wrong Man (Avon), Defending the Damned (Atria/Simon & Schuster) and, most recently, The Brain Defense: Murder in Manhattan and the Dawn of Neuroscience in America's Courtrooms. (Penguin Press).

J-L Deher-Lesaint

J-L Deher-Lesaint

Panelist, Manuscript Consultant

Born and raised in Guadeloupe (French West Indies), J-L Deher-Lesaint has lived in the United States since 1995. He holds degrees from Harold Washington College, Loyola University Chicago, the University of Virginia and Northwestern University. His feature interviews with acclaimed authors Edmund White and Edward P. Jones have appeared in Meridian, where he served as fiction editor, and his book reviews have appeared in New Cityand the Virginia Quarterly Review. He has taught at Harold Washington College since 2004, and currently serves as Co-Chairperson for the English, Speech, Theatre and Journalism Department.

Paul Durica

Paul Durica

Keynote Moderator

Paul Durica is the Director of Programs with Illinois Humanities. His writing on Chicago history and culture has appeared or is forthcoming in The Journal of American StudiesPoetry, and The Chicagoan among other places and, with Bill Savage, he edited Chicago By Day and By Night: The Pleasure Seeker's Guide to the Paris of America (Northwestern UP, 2013). He has a PhD in English Language and Literature from the University of Chicago and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Michigan.
Barbara Egel

Barbara Egel

Panel Moderator

Barbara Egel has a B.A. in Comparative Literature from the University of Illinois and finished her M.A. in Literature at Northwestern in 2015, winning the Distinguished Thesis Award for her essay on the work of Lady Mary Wroth. Currently, she works as a corporate trainer, freelance writer and editor, and Chicago City Colleges adjunct professor. She has published poetry, book reviews, and children's books, and she is the in-house reviewer for Light Poetry Magazine. Her stage adaptation of Virginia Woolf's short story, "'Slater's Pin's Have No Points,'" is forthcoming in Katherine Mansfield Studies.
Robert K. Elder

Robert K. Elder

Panelist

Robert KElder is the President and Publisher of Blockchain News, the award-winning author of eight books and founder of Odd Hours Media. He also serves as a mentor at TechStars, 1871 Chicago and Northwestern University’s The Garage. Elders books include Hidden HemingwayThe Film That Changed My LifeLast Words of the Executed and most recently, The Mixtape of My Life. Visit his website at robertkelder.com or on Twitter at @robertkelder.
Eileen Favorite

Eileen Favorite

Workshop Instructor, Manuscript Consultant

Eileen Favorite is the author of The Heroines: A Novel (Scribner), and her work has appeared in Triquarterly, The Rumpus, Diagram, Chicago Reader, and other publications. She teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

Charles Finch

Charles Finch

Workshop Instructor

Charles Finch is the USA Today-bestselling author of the Charles Lenox mysteries, including the most recent, The Woman in the Water (February 2018). His first work of literary fiction, The Last Enchantments, is also available from St. Martin's Press. Finch received the 2017 Nona Balakian Citation, for excellence in reviewing, from the National Book Critics Circle. His reviews and essays regularly appear in the New York Times, Slate, The Guardian, USA Today, The Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and elsewhere.

Beth Finke

Beth Finke

Workshop Instructor

NPR commentator Beth Finke is an award-winning author and a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts grant. In her new book "Writing Out Loud," she reflects on the joys and challenges of teaching memoir-writing classes to older adults in Chicago and getting around the city with a Seeing Eye dog. Find out more at www.bethfinke.com.

Vincent Francone

Vincent Francone

Workshop Instructor, Manuscript Consultant

Vincent Francone is a writer from Chicago whose memoir, Like a Dog, was published in the fall of 2015. He graduated from Northwestern University (MA in Creative Writing Poetry) in 2008 and won first place in the 2009 Illinois Emerging Writers Competition (Gwendolyn Brooks Award). In 2016 he was accepted to the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry's Summer School workshop at Queens University in Belfast, Northern Ireland. His poems and stories have appeared in Rhino, The Oklahoma Review, Silver Birch Press, New City Magazine, and other publications. He is at work on a collection of poems. Visit www.vincentfrancone.com to read his work or say hi.

Amina Gautier

Amina Gautier

Panelist

Amina Gautier is the author of three short story collections: At-Risk, Now We Will Be Happy and The Loss of All Lost Things. At-Risk was awarded the Flannery O’Connor Award and the Eric Hoffer Legacy Award. Now We Will Be Happy was awarded the Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Fiction, the International Latino Book Award, the Royal Palm Literary Award, and was a Finalist for the William Saroyan International Prize. The Loss of All Lost Things was awarded the Elixir Press Award in Fiction, the Phillis Wheatley Award, the Chicago Public Library’s 21st Century Award, and was a Finalist for the Hurston/Wright Award, the Paterson Prize, the John Gardner Award, and shortlisted for the SFC Literary Prize. Gautier has been the recipient of fellowships from the Camargo Foundation, the Chateau de Lavigny, Dora Maar House/Brown Foundation, Kimmel Harding Nelson Center, the MacDowell Colony, the Vermont Studio Center, and the Woodrow Wilson Foundation. For her body of work she has received the PEN/MALAMUD award.

Eric Grawe

Eric Grawe

Panel Moderator

Eric Grawe is a graduate of Northwestern University’s MFA in Creative Writing program. He's adjunct faculty at Harold Washington College, and is currently at work on his first novel.
Adrienne Gunn

Adrienne Gunn

Workshop Instructor, Manuscript Consultant

Adrienne Gunn is a writer, editor, and humorist based in Chicago. She received an MFA in creative writing from the University of Oregon and her work has appeared in various literary magazines including McSweeney's and PANK. Adrienne previously served as managing editor and fiction editor of TriQuarterly, the literary magazine of Northwestern University, and she regularly performs stand-up and storytelling throughout Chicago. In 2016, her first one-woman show Mother of the Year! debuted and returned to sold-out audiences. Adrienne is currently the editor of the web magazine HEAUXS.

Betsy Finesilver Haberl

Betsy Finesilver Haberl

Workshop Instructor

Betsy Finesilver Haberl is a freelance writer and editor. She is a graduate of Northwestern University's MA/MFA in Creative Writing and co-curator of the Sunday Salon Chicago literary reading series. She lives in Evanston, Illinois, with her family.

Miles Harvey

Miles Harvey

Workshop Instructor

Miles Harvey's work includes The Island of Lost Maps: A True Story of Cartographic Crime, a bestseller USA Today named one of the ten best books of 2000, and Painter in a Savage Land: The Strange Saga of the First European Artist in North America, awarded an Editors’ Choice honor from Booklist, and a best-books citation from The Chicago Tribune. A former Knight-Wallace journalism fellow at the University of Michigan, he teaches creative writing at DePaul, where he is co-founder of Big Shoulders Books and editor of the oral-history collection How Long Will I Cry?: Voices of Youth Violence. He is currently working on a nonfiction account of a con man with dreams of being king of the universe. (It’s not the person you’re thinking of.)
Julianne Hill

Julianne Hill

Workshop Instructor, Manuscript Consultant

Julianne Hill’s award-winning nonfiction has appeared in outlets including NPR’s “This American Life” and “Morning Edition,” PBS, The History Channel, Real Simple, ABA Journal, Triquarterly Online and Writer’s Digest.

Hill’s stories often focus on health. She served as a Rosalynn Carter Fellow, awarded to journalists covering mental health, and as a National Press Foundation Fellow, given for work focusing on HIV-AIDS. She also worked as a team member earning the George Foster Peabody Award for PBS science show “The New Explorers.”

She also writes essays. Her “This American Life” piece “One Brain Shrinks, One Brain Grows” looks at a young boy’s struggle with his father’s degenerative brain disease. Her essays have appeared in The Round, Chicago Quarterly Review, Health among others. She was nominated for a Pushcart Prize.

She has taught at at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism, Ohio University, Loyola University Chicago and the University of Chicago.
Jonathan Winston Jones

Jonathan Winston Jones

Panelist

Jonathan Winston Jones is a social scientist working in the U.S. government. He holds two master's degrees, one in public policy from the University of Chicago and one in human rights from the University of Manchester where he studied on a Fulbright Scholarship. He's slowly working on an MFA in creative nonfiction at Northwestern University and believes that three master's degrees in these exact fields are keys to his own enlightenment. He recently won the VanderMey Nonfiction Prize at Ruminate Magazine for a piece called "Bison Clouds."
Laura Jones

Laura Jones

Keynote Reader

Laura Jones earned her MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Northwestern University, where she also won the 2015 AWP Journals Prize.  In 2017-18, she taught writing at Ohio’s HBCU, Central State University. Her work has been featured in Creative Nonfiction, Foglifter, The Gay and Lesbian Review, The Drum,Litro, About Place Journal, Wraparound Southand the Oklahoma Review.  An excerpt of her graphic memoir My Life in Movies was featured this spring in Fourth Genre, along with a companion essay they commissioned about collaboration in graphic work.
Riva Lehrer

Riva Lehrer

Workshop Instructor, Manuscript Consultant

Riva Lehrer is an artist, writer and curator whose work focuses on issues of physical identity and the socially challenged body. She is best known for representations of people with impairments, and those whose sexuality or gender identity have long been stigmatized.

Ms. Lehrer’s work has been seen in venues including the National Portrait Gallery of the Smithsonian, the United Nations, the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, DC, the Arnot Museum, the DeCordova Museum, the Frye Museum, the Chicago Cultural Center, and the State of Illinois Museum.

Awards include the 2017 3Arts MacDowell Fellowship for writing, 2015 3Arts Residency Fellowship at the University of Illinois; the 2014 Carnegie Mellon Fellowship at Haverford and Bryn Mawr Colleges; the 2009 Prairie Fellowship at the Ragdale Foundation. Grants include the 2009 Critical Fierceness Grant, the 2008 3Arts Foundation Grant, and the 2006 Wynn Newhouse Award for Excellence, (NYC), as well as grants from the Illinois Arts Council, the University of Illinois, and the National Endowment for the Arts. 

Her memoir, entitled “Golem Girl,” was recently signed to the One World imprint of Penguin/Random House, via the Regal Hoffman & Associates literary agency, NYC. 

Ms. Lehrer is on faculty at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and instructor in the Medical Humanities Departments of Northwestern University and University of Illinois at Chicago.

Mike Levine

Mike Levine

Panelist, Manuscript Consultant

Mike Levine offers developmental, substantive, and line editing for books, essays, and short stories, as well as appraisals of book proposals. He was an acquisitions editor at Northwestern University Press for nine years, overseeing a wide range of books, including fiction, nonfiction, drama, poetry, and scholarly titles. Among his authors were Ludmila Ulitskaya, A. E. Stallings, Amit Majmudar, Lydia R. Diamond, and David Ives, as well as novelist Jen Beagin and playwright Clare Barron, both winners of a 2017 Whiting Award. In 2015, he was named to New City's Lit 50: Who Really Books in Chicago. He has participated in editors' panels at the Sewanee Writers Conference, the Squaw Valley Writers Workshop, AWP, and other conferences. Mike earned a BA from Washington University in St. Louis and a PhD in English from Rice University. Visit his website at www.mikelevineeditorial.com.

Photo credit: Andrea Bauer

Billy Lombardo

Billy Lombardo

Workshop Instructor, Manuscript Consultant

Billy Lombardo is the author of three books of fiction The Man with Two Arms, How to Hold a Woman, The Logic of a Rose: Chicago Stories. He is the 2011 recipient of the Nelson Algren Award. Billy is the founder and managing editor of Polyphony HS, a student-run, international literary magazine for high school writers and editors. His most recent publication is the play, The Storm of the Century, published by Coachella Review. He teaches English literature and creative writing at the Latin School of Chicago.

Rebecca Makkai

Rebecca Makkai

Workshop Instructor, Manuscript Consultant

Rebecca Makkai is the Chicago-based author of the novels The Borrowerand The Hundred-Year House, and the collection Music for Wartime -- six stories from which have appeared in The Best American Short Stories and The Best American Nonrequired Reading. The recipient of a 2014 NEA Fellowship, Rebecca has taught at the Tin House Writers' Conference and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, and is currently on the faculty of the MFA programs at Sierra Nevada College and Northwestern University. Her website is www.rebeccamakkai.com.

Juan Martinez

Juan Martinez

Workshop Instructor, Manuscript Consultant

Juan Martinez is a fiction writer. He was born in Bucaramanga, Colombia, and has since lived in Orlando, Florida, and Las Vegas, Nevada. His work has appeared in various literary journals and anthologies, including Ecotone, Glimmer Train, McSweeney's, TriQuarterly, Conjunctions, National Public Radio's Selected Shorts, Norton's Sudden Fiction Latino: Short-Short Stories from the United States and Latin America, and The Perpetual Engine of Hope: Stories Inspired by Iconic Vegas Photographs. His collection of stories, Best Worst American came out from Small Beer Press in February 2017. He holds a PhD from the University of Nevada and is currently at work on a novel.

Eric Charles May

Eric Charles May

Workshop Instructor, Manuscript Consultant

Eric Charles May is the author of the novel Bedrock Faith, which was named a Notable African-American Title by Publisher's Weekly, and a Top Ten Debut Novel for 2014 by Booklist magazine. May is an associate professor in the fiction-writing program at Columbia College Chicago, and the 2015 recipient of the Chicago Public Library Foundation's 21st Century Award. A former reporter for The Washington Post, his fiction has also appeared in Fish Stories, Solstice, Hypertext, Flyleaf Journal, F, Criminal Class, and We Speak Chicagoese. In addition to his Post reporting, his nonfiction has appeared in Sport Literate, Chicago Tribune, and the personal essay anthology Briefly Knocked Unconscious By A Low-Flying Duck. He has taught at the Stonecoast, Solstice, Northwestern University, and Chicago writers conferences, and in Chicago has read personal essays with 2nd Story, and That's All She Wrote, and oral tellings at the Grown Folks Stories and Here's the Story personal essay programs.

Marty McConnell

Marty McConnell

Workshop Instructor, Manuscript Consultant

Marty McConnell lives in Chicago, where she coaches individuals and groups toward building thriving, sustainable lives and organizations. Her forthcoming second poetry collection, “when they say you can’t go home again, what they mean is you were never there,” won the 2017 Michael Waters Poetry Prize; her first full-length collection, "wine for a shotgun," received the Silver Medal in the Independent Publishers Awards, and was a finalist for both the Audre Lorde Award and a Lambda Literary Award. YesYes Books recently released her first nonfiction book, "Gathering Voices: Creating a Community-Based Poetry Workshop.” An MFA graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, her work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including Best American Poetry, Southern Humanities Review, Gulf Coast, and Indiana Review.

Adam Morgan

Adam Morgan

Panelist

Adam Morgan is the editor-in-chief of the Chicago Review of Books, a contributing writer at Chicago magazine, and a book critic at the Chicago Tribune and the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. His writing has also appeared in The Paris Review Daily, The Guardian, Poets & Writers, Literary Hub, Electric Literature, and elsewhere.

Simone Muench

Simone Muench

Keynote Reader

Simone Muench is the author of six full-length poetry collections including Wolf Centos(Sarabande, 2014). Her recent, Suture, is a book of sonnets written with Dean Rader (Black Lawrence, 2017). She and Dean are also editing They Said: A Multi-Genre Anthology of Contemporary Collaborative Writing (BLP, 2018). She is the recipient of an NEA Fellowship and the Meier Foundation for the Arts Achievement Award, and is professor of English at Lewis University where she teaches creative writing and film studies. Currently, she serves as faculty advisor for Jet Fuel Review and as a poetry editor for Tupelo Quarterly.
Jarrett Neal

Jarrett Neal

Workshop Instructor

Jarrett Neal is the Writing Center Coordinator at Governors State University, located in University Park, IL, where he is also affiliated faculty for both the English department and the Gender and Sexuality Studies department and a member of the Writing Across Curriculum Advisory Board. He earned a BA in English from Northwestern University, an MFA in Writing from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and an EdD in Adult and Higher Education from Aurora University. He is a member of the International Writing Centers Association, the Midwest Writing Centers Association, and the Association of Writers and Writing Programs. He has worked as a writing tutor for the last eleven years, and his research reflects his interest in helping college and university students locate and craft their authorial voice as well as gain confidence in themselves as writers. His essays, poetry, and fiction have appeared in such publications as The Good Men Project, The Gay and Lesbian Review, Chelsea Station, and Requited Journal. His book reviews have appeared in CHOICE Magazine, New City, and the National Academy of Education Studies. His first collection of essays, What Color Is Your Hoodie: Essays on Black Gay Identity, was a finalist for the 2016 Lambda Literary Award for Best Nonfiction. His memoir, I'm Sorry for My Ignorance, is forthcoming from Routledge Books.
Toni Nealie

Toni Nealie

Panelist

Toni Nealie is the Literary Editor of Newcity and the author of the essay collection "The Miles Between Me." A Pushcart Prize nominee, her nonfiction and fiction has appeared in Guernica Magazine, Rust Belt: Chicago, The Guardian, The Rumpus, The Offing, Essay Daily, Chicago Quarterly Review, Hobart, Entropy, Hypertext and elsewhere. She worked in magazine journalism, politics and PR in her native New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Singapore and now edits, writes and teaches in Chicago. Find her at toninealie.com and on Twitter @tnealie. She can be reached at toni@newcity.com.
Devin O'Shea

Devin O'Shea

Panel Moderator

Devin will graduate from Northwestern’s MFA program at the end of August 2018. His fiction has appeared in Midwestern Gothic, and his nonfiction will be a part of Belt Publishing's St. Louis Essay Anthology. He reads slush for TriQuarterly, and he is a contributing reviewer at American Book Review.
Jeremy Owens

Jeremy Owens

Workshop Instructor, Manuscript Consultant

Christine Pacyk

Christine Pacyk

Keynote Reader

Christine Pacyk is a poet and educator living in the Chicago Suburbs. She holds an MFA in poetry from Northwestern University. In 2011 she earned 1st place in the Illinois Emerging Writers Competition, Gwendolyn Brooks poetry Award. Her work has been published in Jet Fuel Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Crannóg Magazine, and Zone 3, among others.
Marcy Posner

Marcy Posner

Panelist

After fifteen years on the editorial side of the business, Marcy Posner made the jump to agenting – spending twelve years as at the William Morris Agency as an agent and as Vice President and Director of Foreign Rights; five years as president of her own agency; five years at Sterling Lord Literistic as an agent and Director of Foreign Rights; and Iow she's here – and very happy – at Folio. Editorial skill and a deep knowledge of the publishing industry sets her apart from many of her colleagues. When she works with my authors, she'll focus editorially on how to make the book as strong as it could be – whether that book be terrific women’s fiction or an extraordinary YA debut (or any of the other categories she represents). During that process, she's able to bring to bear all the institutional memory she possesses, knowing which editors and which publishing houses have a penchant for a certain subject, or a different voice, or a particular kind of author.
Ruben Quesada

Ruben Quesada

Workshop Instructor

Ruben Quesada has taught writing, literature, and literary translation at Vermont College of Fine Arts, UCLA Writers’ Program, and at Columbia College Chicago. He is the author of Next Extinct Mammal and Exiled from the Throne of Night: Selected Translations of Luis Cernuda. His writing and digital media have been featured at The Art Institute of Chicago, The Poetry Foundation, Oxford American, Ploughshares, TriQuarterly, The American Poetry ReviewSouthern Humanities Review, and elsewhere. His forthcoming chapbook of poetry and translations from Sibling Rivalry Press out in November of this year is titled, Revelations.
Roger Reeves

Roger Reeves

Keynote Speaker, Workshop Instructor

Roger Reeves is the author of King Me, and his poems have appeared in Poetry, Ploughshares, American Poetry Review, Boston Review, Tin House, Best American Poetry, and the Indiana Review, among other publications. Reeves was awarded a Ruth Lilly Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation in 2008; he is also the recipient of two Bread Loaf Scholarships and a Cave Canem Fellowship. In 2012, Reeves received a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and a Pushcart Prize for his poem “The Field Museum.” He is an Assistant Professor of Poetry at the University of Illinois, Chicago, and a 2014–2015 Hodder Fellow at the Lewis Center for the Arts, Princeton University.
Christine Rice

Christine Rice

Keynote Reader, Workshop Instructor, Manuscript Consultant

Christine Rice’s novel Swarm Theory was recently awarded the Chicago Writers Association Book of the Year Award (Honorable Mention, Traditional Fiction), an Independent Publisher Book Award or ‘IPPY’ (Silver for Best First Book), and a National Indie Excellence Award – Winner (Regional Fiction – Midwest). Swarm Theory also made PANK’s Best Books of 2016, was included in Powell’s Books Midyear Roundup, the Best Books of 2016 So Far, and was called “a gripping work of Midwest Gothic” by Michigan Public Radio’s Desiree Cooper. Most recently, Christine's short stories have been published in BELT’s Rust Belt Anthology, The Literary Review, American University of Beirut’s Rusted Radishes, F Magazine, Roanoke Review, and Bird’s Thumb, among others. Her essays, interviews, and long-form journalism have appeared in The Rumpus, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, The Big Smoke, The Millions, the Chicago Tribune, Detroit’s Metro Times, among other publications, and her radio essays have been produced by WBEZ Chicago. Christine taught in Columbia College Chicago's Fiction Writing Department for over 20 years, is currently the managing editor of Hypertext Magazine, and director of the social justice storytelling nonprofit organization Hypertext Magazine & Studio (HMS). photo credit: Joe Mazza/Brave Lux

Ross Ritchell

Ross Ritchell

Workshop Instructor, Manuscript Consultant

Ross Ritchell served in the 75th Ranger Regiment of the United States Army and earned his MFA in Fiction from Northwestern University. He wrote the novel The Knife, hailed as a "literary masterpiece" by the Chicago Tribune, and lives with his family in Winnetka.
Kenyatta Rogers

Kenyatta Rogers

Workshop Instructor, Manuscript Consultant

Kenyatta Rogers is a Cave Canem Fellow and has been twice awarded scholarships from the Breadloaf Writers' Conference. He has also been nominated twice for both Pushcart and Best of the Net prizes, his work has been previously published in or is forthcoming from Jubilat, Vinyl, Bat City Review, The Volta and PANK, among others. He is an associate editor of RHINO Poetry and currently serves on the creative writing faculty at the Chicago High School for the Arts.
Kathleen Rooney

Kathleen Rooney

Workshop Instructor, Panelist

A founding editor of Rose Metal Press, a publisher of literary work in hybrid genres, and a founding member of the typewriter poetry on demand collective Poems While You Wait, Kathleen Rooney is the author, most recently, of the novel Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk (St Martin’s Press, 2017) and The Listening Room: A Novel of Georgette & Loulou Magritte (Spork Press, 2018). With Eric Plattner, she is the co-editor of Rene Magritte: Selected Writings (University of Minnesota Press, 2016). Married to the writer, Martin Seay, she lives in Chicago and teaches at DePaul University. Follow her @KathleenMRooney.
Renée Rosen

Renée Rosen

Workshop Instructor, Manuscript Consultant

Renée Rosen is the bestselling author of historical fiction including, WHAT THE LADY WANTS: A Novel of Marshall Field and the Gilded Age and DOLLFACE: A Novel of the Roaring Twenties, WHITE COLLAR GIRL and Windy City Blues.  Her next novel PARK AVENUE SUMMER will be published in May 2019. She lives in Chicago and is currently at work on a new novel, THE SOCIAL GRACES coming in June 2020. photo credit: Charles Osgood Photography
Abby Saul

Abby Saul

Panelist

Abby Saul founded The Lark Group after a decade in publishing at John Wiley & Sons, Sourcebooks, and Browne & Miller Literary Associates. She's worked with and edited bestselling and award-winning authors as well as major brands. At each publishing group she's been a part of, Abby also has helped to establish ebook standards, led company-wide forums to explore new digital possibilities for books, and created and managed numerous digital initiatives. A zealous reader who loves her iPad and the ebooks on it, she still can’t resist the lure of a print book. She’s looking for great and engrossing adult commercial and literary fiction. A magna cum laude graduate of Wellesley College, Abby spends her weekends—when she’s not reading—cooking and hiking with her husband and son. Find her @BookySaul on Twitter and www.larkwords.com.
Karen Schreck

Karen Schreck

Panelist, Manuscript Consultant

Karen Halvorsen Schreck is the author of two historical novels, Broken Ground and Sing for Me, along with two young adult novels and a book for children. Her short stories, interviews, and essays have appeared in magazines and journals including Consequence, Hypertext, The Rumpus, Belt, Literal Latté, and Image. The recipient of a Pushcart Prize and an Illinois State Arts Council Grant, Karen received her doctorate in English and Creative Writing from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She lives with her husband and two children in the western hinterlands of Chicago, works as a freelance writer and editor, serves as Senior Editor and Board Member at Hypertext Magazine and Studio, and teaches writing where the fates will lead. Connect with Karen at http://www.karenschreck.com.
Donna Seaman

Donna Seaman

Workshop Instructor, Panelist, Manuscript Consultant

Donna Seaman is the Editor for Adult Books at Booklist; a member of the Content Leadership Team and National Advisory Council for the American Writers Museum, and a recipient of the James Friend Memorial Award for Literary Criticism and the Studs Terkel Humanities Service Award. Seaman has written for the Chicago Tribune, the Los Angeles Times, and other publications, and contributed biocritical essays to the Oxford Encyclopedia of American Literature and American Writers. Seaman has been a writer-in-residence for Columbia College Chicago and has taught at Northwestern University and the University of Chicago. She created the anthology In Our Nature: Stories of Wildness; her author interviews are collected in Writers on the Air: Conversations about Books, and she is the author of Identity Unknown: Rediscovering Seven American Women Artists.
Fred Shafer

Fred Shafer

Workshop Instructor, Manuscript Consultant

Fred Shafer is a literary editor, writer, and teacher of writing. He was an editor with TriQuarterly, the international literary journal published by Northwestern University, where he has taught a sequence of courses in fiction writing in the School of Professional Studies for many years. He gives lectures and leads workshops each year at The Writers and the Off-Campus Writers Workshop in suburbs near Evanston, and he directs a set of three private workshops for advanced short story writers and novelists. More than thirty books have been published by members of his workshops, including six in the last two years. He has also worked with film editors on scripts, and one motion picture on which he received screen credit won six first prizes at the Milan Film Festival, including best film and best screenplay. His own essays, reviews, and interviews have appeared in several periodicals.
Virginia Smith Rice

Virginia Smith Rice

Keynote Reader

Virginia Smith Rice is the author of the poetry collection, When I Wake It Will Be Forever (Sundress Publications, 2014), and a chapbook, Whose House, Whose Playroom (Dancing Girl Press, 2017). Her poems appear in The Antioch Review, Baltimore Review, Cincinnati Review, CutBank, Denver Quarterly, Massachusetts Review, and Southern Poetry Review, among other journals. Collaborative poems written with Christine Pacyk appear in Jet Fuel Review, and in They Said: A Multi-Genre Anthology of Contemporary Collaborative Writing (Black Lawrence Press, 2018.) She is poetry editor at Kettle Blue Review and associate editor at Canopic Publishing.
Christine Sneed

Christine Sneed

Workshop Instructor, Manuscript Consultant

Christine Sneed is the author of the novels Paris, He Said and Little Known Facts and the story collections Portraits of a Few of the People I've Made Cry and The Virginity of Famous Men.  Her stories or essays have been included in The Best American Short Stories, O. Henry Prize Stories, New Stories from the Midwest, New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Tribune, New England Review, The Southern Review, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, Greensboro Review, and a number of other periodicals.

Her books have received AWP’s Grace Paley Prize in Short Fiction, Ploughshares' Zacharis prize, the Society of Midland Authors Award, the Chicago Public Library’s 21st Century Award, and Book of the Year from the Chicago Writers Association.  She is the faculty director for the MFA program at Northwestern University’s MA/MFA program in creative writing; she is also on the fiction faculty of the Regis University low-residency MFA program.

Mare Swallow

Mare Swallow

Panelist, Manuscript Consultant

Mare Swallow is the former Executive Director of the Chicago Writers Conference. Her essays have appeared in Story Club and Hypertext magazines. She is a contributor to Pop Mythology, and she tells her stories live at events such as Tuesday Funk and The Frunchroom. She has been named to New City’s Lit 50 list three times.By day, she is a public speaking coach and professional speaker. She holds an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Goucher College. An occasional ukulele player, she is one-half of the duo The Ukeladies.
Rachel Swearingen

Rachel Swearingen

Workshop Instructor, Manuscript Consultant

Rachel Swearingen’s stories have appeared in VICEThe Missouri Review, Kenyon ReviewAgniAmerican Short Fiction, and elsewhere. Her work has garnered several awards, including the 2015 Missouri Review Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize in Fiction, a 2013 MacDowell Colony fellowship, a 2012 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award, and the 2011 Mississippi Review Prize in Fiction. She has taught creative writing and American literature at Western Michigan University and Kalamazoo College, and lives in Chicago.
Ben Tanzer

Ben Tanzer

Workshop Instructor, Manuscript Consultant

Ben Tanzer is an Emmy-award winning creative strategist, writer, podcaster, coach, and teacher who lives in Chicago with his family. He has had work published in Punk Planet, Clamor, Men’s Health, and Rhapsody Magazine; written a series of award-winning books including Be Cool – a memoir (sort of), SEX AND DEATH, Lost in Space, and Orphans; regularly speaks on topics such as branding, publishing, and writing personal narrative; and curates the cultural website This Blog Will Change Your Life.
Frank Tempone

Frank Tempone

Workshop Instructor, Manuscript Consultant

Frank Tempone is a Chicago-based teacher, freelance journalist, book critic, and essayist. His work has appeared in OZY.com, Chicago Tribune's Printers Row Journal, McSweeney's Internet Tendency, Another Chicago Magazine, 580 Split, and upstreet, where one of his essays was cited as "Notable" in The Best American Nonrequired Reading, 2009. He lives in the Rogers Park neighborhood with his family.
Vu Tran

Vu Tran

Workshop Instructor, Manuscript Consultant

Vu Tran's first novel, Dragonfish, was a NY Times Notable Book and a San Francisco Chronicle Best Books of the Year.  His short fiction has appeared in the O. Henry Prize Stories, the Best American Mystery StoriesBest of Fence, and other publications.  He is the winner of a Whiting Writers’ Award and an NEA Fellowship, and has also been a fellow at Bread Loaf, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and the MacDowell Colony. Born in Vietnam and raised in Oklahoma, Vu received his MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and his PhD from the Black Mountain Institute at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He is a criticism columnist for the Virginia Quarterly Review, and is currently an Assistant Professor of Practice in English & Creative Writing at the University of Chicago.
Emily Victorson

Emily Victorson

Panelist, Manuscript Consultant

Emily Clark Victorson is the publisher/editor of Allium Press of Chicago. After receiving degrees from Oberlin College and the University of Michigan she moved to the Chicago area. Prior to starting Allium Press she worked as a librarian, historian, and book designer for such organizations as the Newberry Library, the Chicago History Museum, and History Works, Inc.

Allium Press of Chicago was founded in 2009 as a small, independent press to publish literary fiction, mysteries, thrillers, historical fiction, and middle grade/young adult fiction, all with a Chicago connection. Titles published by Allium include Tony Romano's Where My Body Ends and the World Begins, Frances McNamara's Emily Cabot Mysteries series, and Libby Fischer Hellmann's A Bitter Veil.

Michele Weldon

Michele Weldon

Workshop Instructor, Manuscript Consultant

Michele Weldon is an award-winning author, journalist and emerita faculty in journalism at Northwestern University. She is a senior leader at The OpEd Project, leading Public Voices Fellowships at Princeton, Stanford, Brown, Loyola and Northwestern Universities as well as programs in Africa, Canada and Europe. The author of five non-fiction books, she is editorial director of Take The Lead, and contributes essays regularly to New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, CNN, Chicago Tribune, Slate, Narratively, Pacific Standard and scores more outlets.
Jeremy T. Wilson

Jeremy T. Wilson

Keynote Reader, Manuscript Consultant

Jeremy T. Wilson is the author of the forthcoming short story collection Adult Teeth (Tortoise Books). He is a former winner of the Chicago Tribune’s Nelson Algren Award for short fiction, and his stories have appeared or are forthcoming in literary magazines such as The Carolina Quarterly, The Florida Review, Hobart, Sonora Review, Third Coast and other publications. He teaches creative writing at The Chicago High School for the Arts.
Mary Wisniewski

Mary Wisniewski

Workshop Instructor, Manuscript Consultant

Mary Wisniewski is a reporter and columnist at the Chicago Tribune. She also teaches creative journal writing at the Newberry Library. Her book about Chicago writer Nelson Algren, "Algren: A Life," was the winner of the 2017 Society of Midland Authors' award for best biography and the Chicago Writers Association award for best non-fiction. The book has won praise from multiple publications, including The New York Times and Chicago Magazine, which called it "a captivating book that reads like a novel." Wisniewski also has won numerous reporting awards, and appears frequently on local television and radio.
Zoe Zolbrod

Zoe Zolbrod

Panelist, Manuscript Consultant

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