Faculty and Panelist Biographies

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.

Kevin J Anderson

Kevin J. Anderson, this year's Publishing Keynote, serves as the Director of Western's Certificate in Publishing. He has published more than 140 books, 56 of which have been national or international bestsellers. He has written numerous novels in the Star Wars, X-Files, and Dune universes, as well as unique steampunk fantasy novels Clockwork Angels and Clockwork Lives, written with legendary rock drummer Neil Peart, based on the concept album ...Read more

Ned Balbo

Ned Balbo

Ned Balbo, this year's Poetry Co-Keynote, has published five books including The Trials of Edgar Poe and Other Poems, awarded the Poets’ Prize and the Donald Justice Prize; Lives of the Sleepers, winner of the Ernest ,Sandeen Prize and a ForeWord Book of the Year gold medal; and Upcycling Paumanok (Measure Press, 2016). 3 Nights of the Perseids, selected by Erica Dawson for the 2018 Richard Wilbur Award, is forthcoming. His poems have appeared in&n...Read more

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Chris Barili

Chris (Western MFA '16, Genre Fiction) grew up in the Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York, but his service in the U.S. Air Force took him all over the world. He wrote his first novel in high school, and acted as co-editor of his high school literary magazine. He moved to Colorado in 1998 and has lived here ever since. He holds a bachelor's degree in English, and an MFA in Creative Writing - Popular Genre Fiction from Western. He has sold fiction in all major genres, and hi...Read more

Page Blankenbuehler

Paige Blankenbuehler

Paige Blankenbuehler is a Colorado native and writes about changing communities in the West and contributes to tribal coverage in High Country News. She began covering Western issues at newspapers in the state in 2011 and received a master’s in journalism from the University of Missouri in 2015. When she’s not writing, she likes to get swallowed by the wilderness on long backpacking trips.

Kaye Booth

Kaye Lynne Booth

Kaye Lynne Booth (Western MFA '16, Screenwriting / Genre Fiction) is a freelance writer, editor, and novelist. She writes poetry, short fiction, and children’s books, as well as literary and gardening articles. Her thesis novel, The Great Primordial Battle, is a science fantasy novel, to be the first in a four book series titled Playground for the Gods. Her short story Last Call and her western novel Delilah are...Read more

John Bowman

John Bowman

John Bowman is an Emmy award-winning writer who has been writing and producing comedy for 25 years. He has written for Saturday Night LiveIt's Garry Shandling's ShowFresh Prince of Bel AirIn Living ColorMartinMurphy Brown, and Frank TV, among others. He created Martin and received two NAACP Awards and a People's Choice Award for his work there. He is cu...Read more

Michael Brody

For eight years, Michael Brody has directed, with his wife Jennifer, the Crested Butte Film Festival, a four day celebration of narrative and documentary film. In that time, total attendance has jumped a remarkable 147%. The festival is known for its challenging, provocative and international selections and has become a favorite of many filmmakers. Before that, he graduated from the University of Colorado with a BA in Creative Writing, Filmmaking, and Philosophy. His first scre...Read more

Brian Calvert

Brian Calvert is the Managing Editor of High Country News, the nation's leading source of reporting on the American west. A fourth-generation Wyoming native, he grew up in Pinedale and graduated from the University of Northern Colorado in 1994 with a BA in English liberal arts and minors in writing and media studies. He has worked as a foreign correspondent, writer, audio journalist, and most recently, a Ted Scripps Fellow in Environmental Journalism at the...Read more

Trai Cartwright

Trai Cartwright

Trai Cartwright is on the screenwriting faculty of Western's Graduate Program in Creative Writing. She is a 25-year entertainment industry veteran and creative writing specialist who teaches, produces, and writes screenplays and novels. While in Los Angeles, she was a screenwriter, independent film producer, andstory consultant and development executive for HBO, Paramount Pictures, Universal Studios, and New Line Cinema. She was assistant director of Leonardo DiCaprio's on...Read more

Cole Claassen headshot

Cole Claassen

Cole Claassen (Western MFA '17, Screenwriting) has been in the film industry for the past 15 years and has had the honor of traveling the world shooting feature films, documentaries, and hundreds of commercial and nonprofit productions. His films have won international film festival awards and received world wide distribution, including theatrical releases. Agape Productions is his non-profit service company specifically working in the at-risk youth, education, domest...Read more

Russell Davis

Russell Davis is Director of Western’s Genre Fiction concentration. He has written and sold numerous novels and short stories in virtually every genre of fiction, under at least a half-dozen pseudonyms. His writing has encompassed media tie-in work in the Transformers universe to action adventure in The Executioner series to original novels and short fiction in anthology titles like Under Cover of Darkness, Law of the Gun, and In the ...Read more

Emily Grosholz

Emily Grosholz is a poet who teaches philosophy and poetry at Pennsylvania State University, and has been an advisory editor for the Hudson Review for over thirty years. The Stars of Earth: New and Selected Poems will be published in 2017 by Word Galaxy / Able Muse Press, with drawings by Farhad Ostovani. Her most recent book of poetry, Childhood, published by Accents Publishing with drawings by Parisian artist Lucy Vines, has raised over $2500 in the past y...Read more

Cara Guerrieri

Cara Guerrieri

Cara Guerrieri (Western MFA '12, Genre Fiction) writes what she loves—pieces of local history, ranch-life, and sometimes sassy romance. She lives part-time in the Gunnison valley, where she and her family have made their home since the 1880’s. After receiving her MFA, Cara began publishing her nonfiction pieces in regional western magazines, including Gunnison Magazine and Crested Butte Magazine, where she appears regularly.

William Tyson Hausdoerffer

William Tyson Hausdoerffer graduated from Western, Summa Cum Laude, in English, with a Minor in French, in 1992. He holds an MA in Classics from the University of Colorado and a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of California at Berkeley. He has more than a decade of college teaching experience, including teaching in a number of departments at Western. He has translated Homer, has a number of article publications and has given scholarly talks at major venues. Hi...Read more

Karen Hausdoerrfer

Karen Hausdoerffer

Karen Hausdoerffer teaches environmental writing at Western Colorado University. She earned her MFA at the University of Idaho, and she has published work in Indiana ReviewRead more

Enid Holden

Enid Holden is a writer who has experience in many forms — as a singer-songwriter, playwright, columnist, book reviewer and librettist. Her undergraduate degree is from Rhodes University in Fine Arts and English Literature. She also holds an Honors degree in History of Art from the University of South Africa and was formerly an adjunct professor of History of Art at KwaZulu-Natal University. She completed a BA in Music at Western Colorado University in classical voice and sang ...Read more

Jodie Hollander

Jodie Hollander was raised in a family of classical musicians. Her work has been published in journals such as The Poetry Review, PN Review, The Dark Horse, The Rialto, Verse Daily, The New Criterion, The Manchester Review, Australia’s Best Poems, 2011 and Australia’s Best Poems, 2015. Her debut collection, The Humane Society, was published with tall-lighthouse (London) in 2012, and her second collection, My ...Read more

Robert L. Jackson

Dr. Robert L. Jackson

Dr. Robert L. Jackson serves as the Chief Academic Officer of Great Hearts Academies.  As a professor of English and education at The King’s College (New York), Dr. Jackson spent a dozen years training future teachers in the rudiments of educational history and philosophy. In 2006, he developed an academic concentration aimed at revitalizing the 2500-year tradition of liberal arts pedagogy through the study of classic works—Quintilian, Erasmus et al. He actively integrates poet...Read more

Kase Johnstun

Kase Johnstun lives and writes in Ogden, Utah. He is the author of recently released Beyond the Grip Craniosynostosis (McFarland & Co), which has been featured in Pennsylvania Parenting MagazinePortland Family MagazineThe Ogden Standard Examiner, and many other places, as well as having mentions in the Chicago Tribuneand the Seattle Times. It was recently awarded the Gold Quill (First Place) ...Read more

Julie Kane

Julie Kane, Visiting professor of Poetry in Western's GPCW and 2016 WtR Poetry Keynote, holds a B.A. from Cornell University, an M.A. from Boston University, and a Ph.D. from Louisiana State University, where her dissertation on the villanelle won the Lewis P. Simpson Dissertation Award. Her poetry books include Rhythm & Booze (2003), a National Poetry Series winner; Jazz Funeral (2009), winner of the Donald Justice Poetry Prize; and Paper Bu...Read more

Benjamin Makino

Benjamin Makino is a freelance conductor and director. Previously he was Music Director at Opera Memphis and Assistant Conductor at the Long Beach Opera, where he conducted that company’s highly praised productions of David Lang’s The Difficulty of Crossing a Field, Michael Nyman’s The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Michael Gordon’s Van Gogh as well as the U.S. premieres of Gavin Brya...Read more

Alan Malnar

Alan J. Malnar

Alan J. Malnar, Associate Professor of Humanities and Communications at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical Unversity in Prescott, Arizona, teaches courses in writing, literature, film and cultural studies. He has published articles in both scholarly and serial periodicals, and has received many national leadership awards from the Associated Collegiate Press for his work with Horizons newspaper. He recently published Voices of the Headlands: Robinson Jeffers and the Bir...Read more

Robert Maranto

Robert Maranto serves as the 21st Century Chair in Leadership at the Department of Education Reform at the University of Arkansas, and previously taught political science at Villanova University and worked at the Brookings Institution and for the Clinton administration in the 1990s. He is interested in civil service reform generally and school reform in particular. Since December 2015 he has edited the Journal of School Choice, having previously served as boo...Read more

J S Mayank

J S Mayank is Director of Western’s Screenwriting Concentration. He is a British-Indian filmmaker, represented by UTA. He has several TV projects and features in development at the moment. His first sci-fi feature script, Slate, earned him a spot on the 2009 BLOODLIST (the Horror/Sci-fi/ Thriller Blacklist). He was invited by Robert DeNiro’s Tribeca Film Festival to the prestigious 2010 Tribeca All Access Program for his feature script Marathon. For his directorial debut, ...Read more

Candace Nadon

Candace Nadon is visiting professor of Genre Fiction in Western's Graduate Program in Creative Writing. has an MFA in Fiction from Stonecoast Low-Residency MFA in Creative Writing and a PhD in English with Creative Concentration from Georgia State University. Her fiction, poetry, and lyric essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Hartskill Review in The Fourth River, Platte Valley Review, Dogwood: A Journal of Poetry and Prose, and ...Read more

Kim Nuzzo

Kim Nuzzo

Kim Nuzzo (Walt Whitman/Playwright for Multitudes) is a resident actor with Zephyr Stage, and is also a visual artist and published poet. He’s performed many roles for Aspen’s Hudson Reed Ensemble including Scrooge and Julius Caesar. He performed the part of King Hamlet for Thunder River Theatre Company in Carbondale, Colorado.

Valerie Haugen Nuzzo

Valerie Haugen Nuzzo

Valerie Haugen Nuzzo (Executive Artistic Director/Playwright of Multitudes) has written several plays, co-writing Passionate Collaborators: George Burns & Gracie Allen and Tempest of the Mind with Lon Winston. She recently performed in the American premiere of The Principle of Uncertainty by Andrea Brunello. She has performed in more than 50 productions with Thunder River Theatre Company, including playing all the...Read more

Jay Parrotta

Justus (Jay) Parrotta

Justus (Jay) Parrotta, the composer of this year's new Opera workshop presentation, Lottie Silks, possesses a varied and extensive music background while receiving numerous commissions and awards during his musical career. His works consist of music for solo instruments, voice, choir, congregation, chamber ensemble, orchestra, dance, opera, drama, electronics, and film including the critically acclaimed documentaryDakota 38. He holds a Bachelor’s of Music...Read more

Patrick Pexton

Patrick Pexton

Patrick Pexton, this year's Creative Nonfiction Keynote, is currently defense and foreign policy editor for CQ Roll Call. Before that, he was editor-in-chief of The Frederick News-Post, a seven-day daily newspaper and 24-hour website serving the quarter million people who live in Maryland's largest county by geography. Before that, he was The Washington Post's final ombudsman, managing director of custom content at Connections Media, and deputy e...Read more

Aaron Poochigian

Aaron Poochigian

Aaron Poochigian earned a PhD in Classics from the University of Minnesota and an MFA in Poetry from Columbia University. His first book of poetry, The Cosmic Purr (Able Muse Press), was published in 2012 and, winner of the 2016 Able Muse Poetry Prize, his second book Manhattanite came out in December of 2017. His thriller in verse, Mr. Either/Or, was released by Etruscan Press in Fall of 2017. For his work in translation he was awarded a 20...Read more

Darrin Pratt

Darrin Pratt

Darrin Pratt is Director of the University Press of Colorado, a position he has held since 2000, and just finished a term as President of the Association of American University Presses (2016-2017). During his tenure at Colorado, he has been responsible for reshaping the editorial program and improving its profile, strengthening the balance sheet substantially, and merging University Press of Colorado and Utah State University Press to create greater scale for both imprints and provide a ...Read more

Mark Reaman

Mark Reaman

Mark Reaman has worked at or owned most of the newspapers in the north end of the Gunnison Valley for the last 30+ years. He has been a writer, photographer and editor at the Crested Butte Chronicle & Pilot, the Crested Butte Standard, the Crested Butte Weekly and the CB News. He is (unfortunately) younger than he looks and slower than he used to be on both mountain bikes and skis.

Mike Reiss

If you are a fan of animated comedy, chances are you have laughed at a joke written by Mike Reiss, this year's Screenwriting Keynote Speaker and a four-time Emmy award-winning producer, a 28-year veteran of The Simpsons and a contributor to more than two dozen animated films, including four Ice Age movies, two Despicable Me movies, The LoraxRioKung Fu ...Read more

Heather Sappenfield

H. E., Heather Sapenfield

H. E., Heather Sappenfield writes nonfiction and fiction for adults and kids. Her nonfiction has appeared in Better Homes and GardensMountain FlyerVelo News, and The Writers Chronicle. Her fiction has won or been a finalist for many awards, including the Danahy Fiction Prize, the Writer’s Digest Contest, the Pushcart Prize, and the Flannery O’Connor Award. She has published two young adult novels: The Vie...Read more

Jane Satterfield

Jane Satterfield

Jane Satterfield, this year's Poetry Co-Keynote, is the author of four books of poetry: Apocalypse Mix, selected by David St. John for the 2016 Autumn House Poetry Prize; Her Familiars, a finalist for the Julie Suk Award for best poetry book on an independent press; Assignation at Vanishing Point, winner of the Elixir Press Book Award; and Shepherdess with an Automatic, awarded the Towson University Prize. Her book of interconn...Read more

Jan Schreiber

Jan Schreiber is a poet and critic whose work has gained a wide audience with the publication of his recent book Sparring with the Sun, a collection of essays on twentieth-century poets and theories of poetry. A founder of Canto: Review of the Arts and a co-founder of the annual Symposium on Poetry Criticism at Western Colorado University, he is also a visiting scholar at Brandeis University and a study group leader at the university’s Osher Lifelong Lear...Read more

Andrew Sellon

Andrew Sellon

Andrew Sellon teaches the second summer intensive for poetry students, "Performance Skills for Poets," in Western's Graduate Program in Creative Writing​, helping authors present their own works aloud in ways that will entertain and engage their audiences.  Andrew ​is also the Stage Director for the New Opera Workshop at Writing the Rockies. He holds an undergraduate degree in English from Harvard and an MFA in Acting from the University of North Caroli...Read more

Robert Shaw

Robert B. Shaw

Poet and critic Robert B. Shaw earned a BA from Harvard University, where he studied with Robert Lowell and Robert Fitzgerald, and a PhD from Yale University. Influenced by Elizabeth Bishop and Philip Larkin, Shaw’s wry and plainspoken formal verse is often grounded in, or sprung from, the debris of daily life. He is the author of seven collections of poetry, including A Late Spring, and After (2016), Aromatics (201...Read more

George Sibley

George Sibley is a freelance writer and retired educator who has lived in the Upper Gunnison River valley most of the past 50 years. From 1988 through 2007 he taught journalism and regional studies at Western and coordinated special projects for the college, including the annual Headwaters Conference, Water Workshop, and Environmental Symposium. He currently serves on the board of the Upper Gunnison River Water Conservancy, and is education coordinator for the Gunnison R...Read more

Susan Spear

Susan Delaney Spear

Susan Delaney Spear is an Assistant Professor of English at Colorado Christian University in Lakewood, Colorado. In 2012, she earned an MFA in Creative Writing / Poetry from Western Colorado University. Her first collection, Beyond All Bearing, appeared from Wipf and Stock this year. Her poems have appeared in Academic QuestionsThe Anglican Theological ReviewMezzo CamminDappled Things, and many other jo...Read more

William Spicer

William Spicer

William Spicer, the director of Mike Reiss's play "Comedy is Hard" at the Gunnison Arts Center, has been involved in all things theatrical at the Gunnison Arts Center since he moved to Gunnison in 2009, most recently directing their summer 2017 production of I Hate Hamlet.

Mark Todd

Dr. Mark Todd

Dr. Mark Todd, founder of Western’s Graduate Program in Creative Writing, has been a Professor of English at Western since 1988. He currently teaches in the undergraduate creative writing program, and serves as Editor-in-Chief for Western Press Books. He has 25 years of professional journalism experience, having published hundreds of news stories, features, columns, and editorials in local through international markets. He also served as editor and publisher of both a newspaper and a regional...Read more

Toni Todd

Toni Todd is the Executive Director of KBUT, the Gunnison Valley's non-commercial community radio station. She grew up in Salem, Oregon, attended Lewis and Clark College for a few years, quit to become a couch-surfing ski bum in Vail, and eventually finished her undergraduate degree in Business Administration/Marketing at California State University Northridge in Los Angeles. She worked as a manager for a large corporation for several years in L.A. before moving to Colorad...Read more

Frederick Turner

Frederick Turner is Founders Professor of Arts and Humanities at the University of Texas at Dallas. He has held academic positions at the University of California at Santa Barbara, Kenyon College (where he was editor of The Kenyon Review), and the University of Exeter in England. Among his many books are Natural Classicism: Essays on Literature and ScienceShakespeare and the Nature of TimeParadise (poetry) and Gene...Read more

Steve Visel

Steve Visel

Steve Visel​ (GPCW MFA '16, Genre Fiction) is the GPCW Alumni Relations Coordinator. In 2016 he was a finalist in the Writers of the Future quarterly competition. He lives in Colorado Springs.

Rick Wilber

Rick Wilber

Rick Wilber has published some fifty short stories, many of them in the alternate-history genre. Most recently his co-authored alternate-history novella, "The Wandering Warriors," was the cover story for Asimov’s Science Fiction magazine’s May/June 2018 issue, and the novelette, "In Dublin, Fair City,” appeared in the November/December 2017 issue. The novella “The Secret City,” is scheduled for the September 2018 Asimov’s, and continues his alternate-hist...Read more

James Matthew Wilson

James Matthew Wilson

James Matthew Wilson has published seven books, including Some Permanent Things (Wiseblood 2014) and The Fortunes of Poetry in an Age of Unmaking (Wiseblood 2015).  A widely published scholar, poet, and critic of contemporary poetry, he reviews regularly for The Weekly StandardFirst Things, and Catholic World Report, and serves as the poetry editor of Modern Age magazine. He rec...Read more