The distinguished participants in this summer's conference are all active and successful novelists, poets, screenwriters, critics, scholars, or publishing professionals. In addition to our graduate program faculty, other speakers and presenters join us from all over the country. This page includes all presenter biographies. Biographies of Workshop and Critical Seminar leaders and of participants in the Poetry Symposium can also be found on the pages with the descriptions of those programs.
During his years at Wells he taught literature (including British Romantic Poetry, British Victorian Poetry, Modern British Poetry, Twentieth Century American Poetry, and Contemporary American Poetry) and creative writing courses (including Poetry Writing, Creative Nonfiction, Advanced Poetry Writing, and Advanced Creative Nonfiction). He was Director of Creative Writing, and coordinated the college’s Visiting Writers Series, and one of his courses, The Maker’s Craft (the Uses of Form in Poetry), was half literature and half poetry writing; it featured readings and writing assignments in traditional forms as well as work and class visits by visiting writers. Since the early 1990’s, Professor Bennett served as Chair of English. He retired in June 2014, and is currently Professor Emeritus of English.
During the 1980's and 90's, he was an Associate Editor (with Stan Rubin and Linda Allardt) at Judith Kitchen's State Street Press in Rochester and Brockport, NY. In 1993, he founded, with Robert Doherty and others, the Wells College Book Arts Center and Wells College Press, and was its Director until 2002. He still directs the Wells College Press, which has published a number of poetry books, chapbooks, and pamphlets, and has regularly produced letterpress broadsides by writers in the Visiting Writers Series.
Professor Bennett has reviewed contemporary poetry books in The New York Times Book Review, The Nation, Harvard Review, and elsewhere, and his poems have appeared widely in national literary journals, as well as numerous textbooks and anthologies. Last fall he was Poetry Editor of Issue 9 of Stone Canoe, a journal of Arts, Literature and Social Commentary, based in Syracuse.
Randall Potts is the author of Trickster (2014), published by the University of Iowa Press in its Kuhl House poetry series. His debut, Collision Center, appeared from O Books in 1994; the same year, Leave Books released his chapbook, Recant: (A Revision). His poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Antioch Review, Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, Five Fingers Review, Iowa Review, Jung Journal: Culture & Psyche, The West Marin Review, Unsplendid and many others. A graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, he has taught creative writing at the graduate and undergraduate levels at the University of San Francisco and California College of the Arts. He volunteered as an intern at a wildlife rehabilitation hospital and worked on several oil spill responses. He lives in Berkeley, California.
Bob Shayne is Visiting Professor of Screenwriting in Western's Graduate Program in Creative Writing. He has been an active and successful screenwriter for years, both in New York and Los Angeles. He’s sold 18 prime-time pilots and written 16 of them for the major TV networks in all genres, six of which were shot, two of which went to series, and most of which he produced. He’s worked on staff of both sitcoms and one-hour dramas; been a show-runner on sitcom, drama, MOW and pilots; written well over 100 episodes; written and produced TV movies; written two four-hour miniseries, written features both live-action and animated, and adapted four novels into screenplays (not counting his own). He’s won or been nominated for awards including Best TV Movie of the Year from the Writers Guild of America, Edgar for Best TV Movie of the Year from the Mystery Writers of America, Edgar for Best TV Episode of the Year from the Mystery Writers of America, two Emmys from the TV Academy (for Best Talk Show and Best Documentary), and a Grammy for Best Comedy Album.
Marilyn L. Taylor, former Poet Laureate of the state of Wisconsin (2009 and 2010) and the city of Milwaukee (2004 and 2005), is the author of six poetry collections. Her award-winning poems and essays have appeared in many anthologies and journals, including Poetry, American Scholar, Measure, Able Muse, Measure, Ted Kooser’s “American Life in Poetry” column, and the Random House anthology titled Villanelles. Marilyn taught poetry and poetics at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and served for five years as Contributing Editor and regular poetry columnist for The Writer magazine. She currently teaches for the Writers Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and at Lawrence University's Bjorklunden Seminar Center. She is a member of the Poetry Concentration Advisory Board of the Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Western.