Our Spring MFA Guest Faculty

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We are thrilled to announce our roster of guest faculty for our upcoming MFA residency! They are:

Luis Alfaro is an associate professor of dramatic writing at the USC School of Dramatic Arts. He has been working in theatre, performance, poetry and journalism since the early 1980s. A multi-disciplined artist, he is also a director, curator, producer, educator and community organizer. A Chicano born and raised in the Pico-Union district of downtown Los Angeles, Alfaro is the recipient of a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation fellowship, popularly known as a “genius grant,” awarded to people who have demonstrated expertise and exceptional creativity in their respective fields. Alfaro spent over two decades in the Los Angeles poetry community, and toured North and Latin America as a Performance Artist for over 10 years. An anthology of his plays, The Greek Plays of Luis Alfaro, will be released in September by Methuen Drama/Bloomsbury Press, and licensed by Dramatists Play Service, Inc. He currently holds commissions with Denver Center, Geffen Playhouse, South Coast Repertory and Victory Gardens Theatre. He is currently member of the artist collective at Center Theatre Group. He is the first playwright-in-residence in the 90-year history of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, the largest repertory company in the United States, serving for six seasons (2013-19) through the generous support of the Andrew S. Mellon Foundation. His work at OSF included curating a yearly writer’s retreat (Brown Swan Lab), yearly conference (Latino Play Project) and working as a member of the artistic staff. In 2018, he was awarded the PEN/America/Laura Pels International Foundation for Theatre Award for a Master American Dramatist; the United States Artists Fellowship, through the generous support of the Doris Duke Foundation; the Ford Foundation Art of Change Fellowship and the Annenberg Artist-in-Residence for the city of Santa Monica. He is also a Joyce Foundation Fellow. Alfaro is the only playwright to have received two Kennedy Center ‘Fund for New American Play’ awards in the same year.

Norma Barksdale joined Ecco in 2020 after working for Viking Books and Farrar, Straus and Giroux. She comes from Oxford, Mississippi, where she was a longtime bookseller at Square Books. She studied Art History and French at Davidson College in North Carolina, and her interests include Southern fiction and nonfiction, fiction-in-translation, voice-driven memoir and essays, and literary fiction. She’s been fortunate to work with award-winning authors such as Ani DiFranco, Rebecca Dinerstein Knight, Andrew Marantz, and Tom Rosenstiel.

Matt Bell’s next novel, Appleseed, is forthcoming from Custom House in July 2021. His craft book Refuse to Be Done, a guide to novel writing, rewriting, and revision, will follow in early 2022 from Soho Press. He is also the author of the novels Scrapper and In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods, as well as the short story collection A Tree or a Person or a Wall, a non-fiction book about the classic video game Baldur’s Gate II, and several other titles. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, Tin House, Conjunctions, Fairy Tale Review, American Short Fiction, and many other publications. A native of Michigan, he teaches creative writing at Arizona State University. His novel In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods was a finalist for the Young Lions Fiction Award and an Indies Choice Adult Book of the Year Honor Recipient, and was selected as the winner of the Paula Anderson Book Award, among other honors. Both In the House and Scrapper were selected by the Library of Michigan as Michigan Notable Books.

Aimee Bender is the author of six books: The Girl in the Flammable Skirt (1998) which was a NY Times Notable Book, An Invisible Sign of My Own (2000) which was an L.A. Times pick of the year, Willful Creatures (2005) which was nominated by The Believer as one of the best books of the year, The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake (2010) which won the SCIBA award for best fiction, and an Alex Award, The Color Master, a NY Times Notable book for 2013, and her latest novel, The Butterfly Lampshade, which came out in July 2020, and was longlisted for the PEN/Jean Stein Award. Her books have been translated into sixteen languages. Her short fiction has been published in Granta, GQ, Harper’s, Tin House, McSweeney’s, The Paris Review, and more, as well as heard on PRI’s “This American Life”and “Selected Shorts”. She lives in Los Angeles with her family, and teaches creative writing at USC.

Sean Berard is an agent at Grandview Talent Management.

Francesca Lia Block is the author of more than twenty-five books of fiction, non-fiction, short stories and poetry, and has written screenplay adaptations of her work. She received the Spectrum Award, the Phoenix Award, the ALA Rainbow Award and the 2005 Margaret A. Edwards Lifetime Achievement Award, as well as other citations from the American Library Association and from the New York Times Book Review, School Library Journal and Publisher’s Weekly. Her work has been translated into Italian, French, German, Spanish, Japanese, Danish, Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish and Portuguese. Francesca has also published stories, poems, essays and interviews in The Los Angeles Times, The L.A. Review of Books, Spin, Nylon, Black Clock, The Fairy Tale Review and Rattle among others. In addition to writing, Francesca is a beloved and devoted teacher. She was named Writer-in-Residence at Pasadena City College in 2014 and in 2018-19 became a Visiting Assistant Professor in Creative Writing at the University of Redlands where she was a finalist for Professor of the Year award. Currently she teaches fiction at UCLA Extension, Antioch University, and privately in Los Angeles where she was born and raised. She holds an MFA from UC Riverside.

Sara Borjas is a Xicanx pocha, is from the americas before it was stolen and its people were colonized, and is a Fresno poet. George Floyd. Delaina Ashley Yaun Gonzalez. Lorenzo Perez. Xiaojie Tan. Say their names. Joyce Echaquan. Her debut collection of poetry, Heart Like a Window, Mouth Like a Cliff was published by Noemi Press in 2019 and won a 2020 American Book Award. Juanito Falcon. Breonna Taylor. Daoyou Feng. Elcias Hernandez-Ortiz. Sara was named one of Poets & Writers 2019 Debut Poets, is a 2017 CantoMundo Fellow, and the recipient of the 2014 Blue Mesa Poetry Prize. Hyun Jung Grant. Ahmaud Arbery. Suncha Kim. Her work can be found in Ploughshares, The Rumpus, Poem-a-Day by The Academy of American Poets, Alta and The Offing, amongst others. Sandra Bland. Soon Chung Park. Yong Ae Yue. She teaches innovative undergraduates at UC Riverside, believes that all Black lives matter and will resist white supremacy until Black liberation is realized, lives in Los Angeles, and stays rooted in Fresno. Say their names. Justice for George Floyd and the countless others. She digs oldiez, outer space, aromatics, and tiny prints is about decentering whiteness in literature, creative writing, and daily life.

Annie Connole is a writer and artist living in the Mojave Desert.  She was born and raised in the rocky highlands of Helena, Montana.  Annie received a BA from The New School where she studied art and philosophy and MFA in Creative Writing from University of California Riverside – Palm Desert.  Her work has appeared in literary journals including The Rumpus. The Spring is her first book.

Grace Doyle is the Editorial Director of Thomas & Mercer and 47North where she’s worked on numerous bestsellers, including Lee Goldberg’s True Fiction and Lost Hills, Robert Dugoni’s The Eighth Sister, as well as acclaimed series from Barry Eisler and Matthew Fitzsimmons. A native of the San Francisco Bay Area, Grace began her career at Houghton Mifflin, where her projects included the Best American Mystery Stories and Buzz Bissinger’s Three Nights in August.

Jennie Dunham founded Dunham Literary, Inc. in 2000 after working for several years at three literary agencies. She represents literary fiction and non-fiction for adults and children. Her clients have had both critical and commercial success. Books she has represented have appeared on the New York Times Best Sellers in adult hardcover fiction, children’s books, and children’s book series. Her clients have won numerous awards including: New York Times Best Illustrated Book, The Schneider Family Award, Boston Globe Horn Book Honor, and Los Angeles Times Book Prize Finalist. She is a member of AAR (Association of Authors Representatives) and SCBWI.

Megan Fishmann is currently the Vice President/Associate Publisher, Director of Publicity for Catapult/Counterpoint/Soft Skull Press. She holds a MFA in fiction from UVA. Previously she has worked at both Random House and Algonquin, and has held editorial positions at VQR, Narrative, and Zoetrope. She currently lives in San Francisco with her husband and two children.

Gina Frangello is the author of four books of fiction and the memoir Blow Your House Down, out now. Her novel A Life in Men (Algonquin, 2014) is currently under development by Netflix, produced by Charlize Theron’s production company, Denver & Delilah. Her most recent novel, Every Kind of Wanting (Counterpoint, 2016) was included on several “best of” lists for 2016, including Chicago Magazine’s and The Chicago Review of Books. She has nearly 20 years of experience as an editor, having founded both the independent press Other Voices Books, and the fiction section of the popular online literary community The Nervous Breakdown. She has also served as the Sunday editor for The Rumpus, and as the faculty editor for both TriQuarterly Online and The Coachella Review. Her short fiction, essays, book reviews and journalism have been published in such venues as Salon, the Los Angeles Times, Ploughshares, the Boston Globe, BuzzFeed, the Chicago Tribune, the Huffington Post, Psychology Today, and in many other magazines and anthologies. After two decades of teaching at many universities, including UIC, Northwestern’s School of Continuing Studies, UCLA Extension, the University of California Riverside Palm Desert, Roosevelt University, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and Columbia College Chicago, Gina is excited to be a student again at the University of Illinois-Chicago’s Program for Writers, where she has returned to complete the PhD she left unfinished 20 years ago.

Edgar Gomez is a Florida-born writer with roots in Nicaragua and Puerto Rico. A graduate of University of California, Riverside’s MFA program, he is a recipient of the 2019 Marcia McQuern Award for nonfiction. He has written for POPSUGAR, Narratively, Longreads, Catapult, Ploughshares, The Rumpus, Lamda Literary, and elsewhere online and in print. His first book, a memoir titled High-Risk Homosexual, is forthcoming in January 2022 with Soft Skull Press. He currently lives in Queens, New York, where he is saving up for good lotion.

Jasper Grey is a Los Angeles based Manager and Producer who runs The Vendetta Group, an independent management company dedicated to championing emergent female and diverse voices in addition to an established roster of award-winning tv and film Writers and Directors. Jasper also represents production companies and financing entities that enable a holistic approach to development and production of content. With a penchant for darker themed material, Jasper is constantly on the look for tomorrow’s Cronenberg, Wachowski or Tarkovski. The team Jasper has built at The Vendetta Group has more than five decades of experience developing and producing some of the world’s biggest blockbusters including 300, V for Vendetta, and Safe House. The Vendetta Group also represents commercial productions companies that build branded content and animation for some of the largest companies in the world including Facebook, Johnson & Johnson, Ford and Marvel.

Don Handfield is a filmmaker, screenwriter, producer and novelist. He is the co-creator of History Channel’s drama series Knightfall. He produced The Founder starring Michael Keaton and Kill The Messenger starring two-time academy award nominated actor Jeremy Renner, with whom Handfield co-founded  production company The Combine. Handfield wrote and directed the Saturn Award winning film Touchback that starred Kurt Russell and Christine Lahti. Handfield also wrote the novel, which was a top seller on Amazon and received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly.  He has co-written three comic series, including The Rift, published in 2017 and the upcoming series The Source and The Mall. His short film My Name Is starring French Stewart won best short at several film festivals including the top prize at the Atlanta Film Festival, qualifying it for entry into the Academy Awards. He was named one of the top new faces of independent film by Filmmaker Magazine in 2005 and has written screenplays for Warner Brothers, DreamWorks, Paramount and Lionsgate, among others.

Ryan Harbage founded The Fischer-Harbage Agency in January, 2007 and has placed books for five #1 New York Times bestselling authors. Ryan’s most lauded clients include Karim Dimechkie, Jen Doll, Miranda Esmonde-White, Thomas Healy, Alicia Menendez, Melissa Harris-Perry, Janet Mock, Taylor Plimpton, Rob Roberge, Robbie Robertson, Susan Shapiro, J. Ryan Stradal, and Jackson Taylor. He represented Gérard de Villiers until the author passed away–his S.A.S. series has sold more than 120 million copies worldwide; Ryan continues to work on behalf of the estate. Previously, Ryan was an editor at Simon & Schuster where he helped create and launch a new imprint, Simon Spotlight Entertainment (now Gallery Books). He also worked as an editor for Little, Brown & Company as well as Penguin Random House (where he edited books for Plume, Dutton, and Viking). He acquired and edited the Pulitzer Prize winning Boston Globe Spotlight Team’s Betrayal: The Crisis in the Catholic Church, which informed the movie Spotlight, winner of the Academy Award for Best Picture as well as Peter Singer’s New York Times bestseller The President of Good & Evil: Questioning the Ethics of George W. Bush. He has also worked with numerous other bestselling authors, including Michael Connelly, Matthew Diffee, John Feinstein, Malcolm Gladwell, Brad Listi, Alice Sebold and Danny Wallace. For many years, Ryan taught courses on writing book proposals and fiction at The New School University’s MFA Program, Pratt, and Mediabistro. He addresses students and writers regularly at New York University’s MFA program, Sarah Lawrence College’s MFA program and conferences including The Colgate Writers’ Conference, Miami Writers Institute, The New Orleans Writers Conference, and The Writers’ League of Texas, among others. He has been quoted on writing and publishing in The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Poets & Writers, Publishers Weekly and on “Good Morning America,” among other outlets. Ryan is a graduate of Kalamazoo College, The Radcliffe Publishing Course and the Master of Fine Arts program in writing and literature at Bennington College. He lives with his children in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn.

David Harris is a poet and playwright and screenwriter from West Philly. He is the Tow Playwright-in-Residence at Roundabout Theatre Company. His play TAMBO & BONES will be produced at Playwrights Horizons and Center Theatre Group, and his play EXCEPTION TO THE RULE will be produced at Roundabout whenever theatre allows. His work has been seen at Actors Theatre of Louisville Humana Festival, Roundabout Underground, Manhattan Theater Club, Center Theatre Group, The Goodman, Victory Gardens, The Kennedy Center, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, SPACE on Ryder Farm, The Ground Floor at Berkeley Rep, and Ojai Playwrights Conference amongst others. Honors include: the 2019 Ollie Award, The Lorraine Hansberry Award and Mark Twain Award from The Kennedy Center, The International Commendation for The Bruntwood Prize, the 2018 Venturous Fellowship from The Lark, and a Cave Canem poetry fellowship amongst others. His adapted film Summertime had its premiere at Sundance in 2020 and will be distributed in 2021. His first full-length collection of poetry, Patricide, was published in May 2019 from Button Poetry. Dave received his B.A. from Yale University and his MFA from UC San Diego.

Gabino Iglesias  is a writer, professor, book reviewer, editor, and translator living in Austin, TX. He is the author of Zero Saints and Coyote Songs and the editor of Both Sides. His work has been translated into five languages, optioned for film, nominated to the Bram Stoker Award and the Locus Award. and won the Wonderland Book Award for Best Novel in 2019. His reviews appear regularly in places like NPR, the Los Angeles Review of Books, the San Francisco Chronicle, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Criminal Element, Mystery Tribune, and other venues. He’s been a juror for the Shirley Jackson Awards twice, the Newfound Prose Prize, the Splatterpunk Awards, and PANK Magazine’s Big Book Contest. He teaches creative writing at SNHU’s online MFA program and runs a series of low-cost writing workshops.

Mackenzie Kiera is co-founder and co-host of the dark fiction podcast Ladies of the Fright, where they interview authors and review everything dark and stormy. She is the author of a novella, ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE AND A STRONG ELECTRIC CURRENT, from Unnerving Press, and over 30+ articles, essays, and short stories that have appeared in Gamut Magazine, The Mighty, The Nervous Breakdown, The Manifest-Station, Ink Stains Anthology Vol. IV, The Stokercon Anthology, This is Horror, and Dwarf+Giant. To make money she works for Western Governors University as professional communications faculty. In her off time, she watches slashers, runs, and plays pretend with her toddler. Find out more at mackenziekiera.contently.com.

Mariam Lam joined the UCR faculty in 2002 as a member of the Department of Comparative Literature and Languages with specialization in Southeast Asian studies, part of a Henry Luce Foundation and College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences initiative in Southeast Asian Studies. She is trained in comparative Asian and diasporic literatures, arts and cultures, postcolonial criticism, critical race and ethnic studies, globalization, gender and sexuality, translation, tourism, community politics, media and educational development, trauma and affect, minoritization and multiculturalism, la Francophonie, and academic disciplinarity. She was founding co-editor-in-chief of the Journal of Vietnamese Studies for the University of California Press from 2005-2016, served as Director of Graduate Studies and Admissions Advisor for both Comparative Literature and the Southeast Asian Studies Interdisciplinary Research Program, later stepping into the position of Director of the Southeast Asian Studies Program from 2011-2016. As a faculty member, Lam has served as Vice Chair of the Academic Senate (2014-2016), Chair of the Committee on Committees and systemwide UCOC member (2012-2014), CHASS Executive Committee member (2009-2011), and in many other systemwide roles. Professor Lam was president and a longtime board member of the Riverside Asian American Community Association, and has served on the boards of Thirdway Human Rights and Development, Vietnamese American Arts and Letters Association, Diasporic Vietnamese Artists Network, Global Village Foundation, and on the Grades 7‐12 Vietnamese American Curriculum Project for the Orange County Asian Pacific Islander Community Association. She earned a Bachelor’s degree in English, a Minor in Spanish, and Master’s and Ph.D. degrees in Comparative Literature with Certificates of Emphasis in Feminist Studies and Asian American Studies from UC Irvine. In her role as the Vice Chancellor and Chief Diversity Officer, Lam advises the leadership team, including the Chancellor, on all issues related to diversity, equity and inclusion, and sets the vision and course for positioning UCR as a national leader in reimagining diversity in higher education. She heads a wide range of initiatives and committees that address DEI, partners with campus and community stakeholders to advance UCR’s diversity mission, and represents UCR at the system, state and national levels.

Roberto Lovato is the author of Unforgetting: A Memoir of Family, Migration, Gangs and Revolution in the Americas (Harper Collins), a memoir picked by the New York Times as an “Editor’s Choice” that the paper also hailed as “Groundbreaking…. A kaleidoscopic montage that is at once a family saga, a coming-of-age story and a meditation on the vicissitudes of history, community and, most of all for [Lovato], identity.”  Newsweek listed Lovato’s memoir as a “must read” 2020 book and the Los Angeles Times listed it as one of its 20 Best Books of 2020. Lovato is also an educator, journalist and writer based at The Writers Grotto in San Francisco, California. As a Co-Founder of #DignidadLiteraria, he helped build a movement advocating for equity and literary justice for the more than 60 million Latinx persons left off of bookshelves in the United States and out of the national dialogue. A recipient of a reporting grant from the Pulitzer Center, Lovato has reported on numerous issues—violence, terrorism, the drug war and the refugee crisis—from Mexico, Venezuela, El Salvador, Dominican Republic, Haiti, France and the United States, among other countries.

Kate Maruyama’s novel Harrowgate was published by 47North and her novella Family Solstice is out now from Omnium Gatherum. Her short work has appeared in Asimov’s, Entropy, and Arcadia among other journals and is featured in numerous anthologies including Winter Horror Days, Accolades, and the upcoming December Tales. She is a member of the SFWA and the HWA where she serves on the Diverse Works Inclusion Committee. She has been a juror for the Bram Stoker Awards and twice for the Shirley Jackson Awards. She is a book coach and instructor for LA Writing classes and is faculty for the BA program at Antioch University Los Angeles. She writes, teaches, cooks, and eats in Los Angeles where she lives with her family.

Karen McCullah has co-written the movies LEGALLY BLONDE starring Reese Witherspoon, 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU starring Julia Stiles and Heath Ledger, ELLA ENCHANTED starring Anne Hathaway, SHE’S THE MAN starring Amanda Bynes and Channing Tatum, THE HOUSE BUNNY starring Anna Faris, and THE UGLY TRUTH starring Katherine Heigl and Gerard Butler. She adapted the novel Angel Angel which became the indie dramedy CRAZY KIND OF LOVE. She also did uncredited work on GIRLS TRIP which was the highest grossing comedy of 2017. Her novel The Bachelorette Party (St. Martin’s Press) was translated into twelve languages. Upcoming projects include HOPE, a rom-com for Netflix and PARTY GIRLS, a comedy for Paramount. Karen is a graduate of James Madison University in Virginia. Before becoming a screenwriter and novelist, her careers included marketing and PR, painting furniture sold in galleries in New Mexico, travel writing, and teaching creative workshops to teen gang members. In her youth, she worked for such prestigious firms as McDonald’s, Bob’s Big Boy and The Olive Garden.

Josh Mensch is the coauthor of two bestselling and critically acclaimed books about American history: the New York Times #2 nonfiction bestseller The First Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill George Washington (Flatiron Books, 2019); and the New York Times #6 nonfiction bestseller The Lincoln Conspiracy: The Secret Plot to Kill America’s 16thPresident—and Why it Failed (Flatiron Books, 2020). In addition to writing books, Josh has been a documentary television showrunner, writer, director, and producer.  He has created a wide variety of historical, cultural, and journalistic programming for the most prominent nonfiction networks including the History Channel, PBS, National Geographic, Discovery and others. Remarkably, two television stories that Josh wrote and directed led to the recovery of significant artifacts from American history: the iconic flag raised by firefighters at Ground Zero on 9/11 (as featured in Lost History, for the History Channel), and the electric guitar played by Bob Dylan when he famously “plugged in” at the Newport Folk Festival in 1965 (as featured in History Detectives, on PBS). Also in the realm of American history and politics, Josh has written and produced stories about subjects ranging from World War II battles, to the Hatfields & McCoys, to the early days of jazz, to the buildup to the Iraq War, to the history of superheroes. Josh’s television credits as a showrunner, writer, director, or producer include: Superheroes Decoded (History Channel), Generation X (National Geographic), Lost History (History Channel),  Frontline (PBS), History Detectives (PBS), Border Wars (Nat Geo), True Life (MTV), and others. In the course of his projects, Josh has conducted interviews with many famous and/or fascinating figures including senators, actors, film directors, historians, political activists, fashion designers and the occasional astrophysicist. Josh grew up mostly in Buffalo, New York. He is a graduate of Princeton University and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, with his filmmaker wife and their two children.

Julia Pistell is a writer, comic, podcaster, radio personality, and is the founder and the managing director of Sea Tea Improv. Sea Tea Improv has performed award-winning comedy all over the country, from Cleveland to Maine to Baltimore to Los Angeles. Julia was trained at the Hartford Stage Company and the Upright Citizens Brigade, where she is an Advanced Study student. Sea Tea Improv won the Upright Citizens Brigade Indie Cage Match in 2012 and went on to perform in the larger UCB Cage Match. Julia was one of the first members of the E-Mprov team Electronic Initiation and half of the duo Julia & Jeffrey. She also performs frequently with the members of Franklin’s Peaches, experimenting with new forms like Improvised Disaster Movie, Campfire, and Spoken. Julia is also the former director of writing programs at the Mark Twain House and is regular contributor to WNPR, where she hosted the acclaimed Radius Project. Her writing has appeared in numerous magazines, newspapers, and journals, including the Hartford Courant, Book Riot, and NPR, and she is also the cohost of Literary Disco, named one of the top literary podcasts by the Washington Post. Julia holds an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from the Bennington Writing Seminars and a BA in English from Skidmore College. Julia’s work has been recognized by the Greater Hartford Arts Council, who awarded her a Solo Writers Fellowship, and the City of Hartford, who awarded her an Arts and Heritage Jobs Grant for her work.

Ivy Pochoda is the author of the critically acclaimed novels Wonder Valley, Visitation Street and These Women. Wonder Valley won the 2018 Strand Critics Award for Best Novel and was a finalist Los Angeles Times Book Prize and Le Grand Prix de Litterature Americaine, as well as being chosen as an NPR and Los Angeles Times Book of the Year. Visitation Street won the Prix Page America in France and was chosen as an Amazon Best Book of the Month, Amazon Best Book of 2013, and a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection. Her books have been translated into five languages. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times & The Los Angeles Review of Books. Her first novel The Art of Disappearing, was published by St. Martin’s Press in 2009. She teaches creative writing at the Studio 526 Skid Row.

Joy Priest is the author of HORSEPOWER (Pitt Poetry Series, 2020), winner of the Donald Hall Prize for Poetry. She is the recipient of a 2021 NEA fellowship and a 2019-2020 Fine Arts Work Center fellowship, and has won the 2020 Stanley Kunitz Memorial Prize from APR, and the Gearhart Poetry Prize from The Southeast Review. Her poems have appeared in the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day, The Atlantic, and Virginia Quarterly Review, among others. Her essays have appeared in The Bitter Southerner, Poets & Writers, ESPN, and The Undefeated, and her work has been anthologized in Breakbeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop, The Louisville Anthology, A Measure of Belonging: Writers of Color on the New American South, and Best New Poets 2014, 2016 and 2019. Joy received her M.F.A. in poetry, with a certificate in Women & Gender Studies from the University of South Carolina. She is currently a doctoral student in Literature & Creative Writing at the University of Houston.

Lisa Quigley lives in New Jersey and writes spooky speculative fiction. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of California, Riverside’s low-residency MFA program in Palm Desert. Her work has appeared in Unnverving Magazine, Journal of Alta California, Automata Review, IDEA Fitness Journal, and Dwarf + Giant. She is the co-founder and co-host of the award winning podcast Ladies of the Fright. Hell’s Bells is her debut novella. Find her at http://www.lisaquigley.net.


Mary Robertson is an Emmy Award-winning showrunner and director.  Presently she works as the showrunner of The New York Times Presents, the anthology documentary series from the New York Times, Left/Right, FX and Hulu. Her most recent effort for the series is ‘Framing Britney Spears’, a critically-lauded documentary that has broken ratings records around the world and touched-off a reckoning on Spears’ treatment, misogyny and tabloid culture. Before her work on The New York Times Presents Mary helped create and executive produce The Weekly, whose first season garnered nine Emmy nominations and four wins.  Prior to that Mary created, directed and executive produced the award-winning all-archival limited series Tricky Dick for CNN.  The Wall Street Journal described Tricky Dick as a, “remarkably penetrating portrait of Richard Nixon” and named it to its year-end best of TV list.  Before that she directed and produced the feature documentary Trumped which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and premiered on Showtime. And before that Mary helped develop and executive produce the inaugural season of Showtime’s doc series on the Presidential election ‘The Circus: Inside the Greatest Political Show on Earth’. Season one of The Circus was honored with IDA, and Television Critics Association nominations and the series is now in its sixth season.  Additionally Mary directed, produced and wrote five films for Frontline on PBS, two of which received Emmy nominations.  Some of Mary’s earlier credits include multiple stories produced for This American Life, the SXSW award-winning digital series ‘She’s the Ticket’, the short doc ‘Missed Connections’ which premiered in competition at the Tribeca Film Festival before going on to play at over 20 festivals, and dozens of hours of non-fiction television for PBS, History, Discovery and AMC networks (to name a few). Mary is a member of the Writers Guild of America and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.  A lifelong New Yorker, she graduated from Wesleyan and today she proudly calls Brooklyn home.

Andrea Seigel is a screenwriter and author. She is the author of four novels — Like the Red Panda, To Feel Stuff, The Kid Table, and Everybody Knows Your Name – and wrote the films Laggies and Handsome. Her latest film, Silent Twins, which Andrea adapted from the book of the same name, will be released soon from Focus Films.  

James Sie is the author of Still Life Las Vegas, his debut novel, which was a Lambda Literary Award nominee for Best Gay Fiction. An award- winning playwright, he has had productions performed in Chicago, Los Angeles, New York (Lincoln Center Institute) and across the country. He has contributed essays to The Rumpus, The Advocate, Pen America, and Esquire. In addition to writing, James is also a voiceover artist for many cartoons and games, including Jackie Chan Adventures, Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness; Final Fantasy VII Remake, and Avatar: The Last Airbender, where his excessive love of cabbages has earned him immortal fame. James now lives in Los Angeles with his husband and son.

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