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 by the band Rush. His original works include the Saga of Seven Suns series, the Terra Incognitafantasy trilogy, the Saga of Shadows trilogy, and his humorous horror series featuring Dan Shamble, Zombie PI. He has edited numerous anthologies, written comics and games, and the lyrics to two rock CDs. Anderson and his wife Rebecca Moesta are the publishers of WordFire Press.

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 American Poetry Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, Ecotone, Iowa Review, New Criterion, Poetry Daily, American Life in Poetry, and elsewhere, and in anthologies such as the Everyman’s Library volumes Villanelles and Monster Verse. He was a 2017 NEA translation fellow for his version of Paul Valéry’s “La Jeune Parque” (“The Young Fate”), from which a selection, with accompanying essay, appeared in The Hopkins Review. His prose includes reviews in most issues of Antioch Review from 1999-2009; flash fictions in Waccamaw, Gargoyle, and Pleiades; “Walt Whitman’s Finches,” awarded Crab Orchard Review’s John Guyon Literary Nonfiction Prize; and “My Father’s Music,” an essay on ethnicity and adoptive identity included in Our Roots Are Deep with Passion: Creative Nonfiction collects new essays by Italian-American Writers (Other Press). He was recently a visiting faculty member in Iowa State University’s MFA program in creative writing and environment. The recipient of three Maryland Arts Council poetry grants and residencies at the Vermont Studio Center and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, he received his MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and an MA from Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins.

Chris Barili

Chris (WSCU 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 his short fiction has appeared in anthologies by Wordfire Press, Zombies Need Brains Press and Sky Warrior Books, as well as on Evil Girlfriend Media, Quantum Fairy Tales, Zetetic: A Record of Unusual Inquiry, The Western Online, and Crimson Streets. He is also author of the dark fantasy "Hell's Butcher" series, and published his MFA thesis, a paranormal romance novel called Smothered, through Winlock Press (as B.T. Clearwater). He currently lives in Colorado Springs.

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 (WSCU 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 both available for sale on Amazon. Her short fiction was published by Zetetic: A Record of Unusual Inquiry, and Across the Margin. Her short fiction stories “If You’re Happy and You Know It” is featured in The Collapsart Directive and “The Devil Made Her Do It” is featured in Relationship Add Vice, both published by Zombie Pirates Publishing. She also has poetry published in Manifest West #5: Serenity and Severity (2016), and Colorado Life(September/October 2016).

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 currently a trustee of The Harvard Lampoon. In 2008 he received a PEN USA First Amendment Award for his leadership in the 2008 Writer's Strike. He teaches screenwriting in the School of Cinematic Arts at the University of Southern California.

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 screenplay, The Sun King, was optioned by Hollywood producer Jeff Mackler. In 2010, he wrote, directed and produced the low-budget feature film Document. In 2012 he was hired to adapt the novel Created Equal for the screen. Most recently, he was invited to submit his TV pilot Sanctuary to Sundance's esteemed Episodic Story Lab, and is now working on another adaptation.

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 University of Colorado. After extensive time in Cambodia, China and Afghanistan, Brian has a new appreciation for the West and is thrilled to be back. When he's not working, you can find him outside, trying to regain his mountain hardiness. He is also earning an MFA in Poetry at Western.

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 online ventures, the Hollywood liaison for a massive multi-player online role-playing game company, and made cell phone content for 20th CenturyFox. Trai also currently teaches creative writing, screenwriting, and producing for the Colorado Film School, writers' groups, conferences and cons, and one-on-one as a development and story editor. She is the screenwriter for Secret Ellington, and producer of the docu-series Hidden Tigers.  

Cole Claassen headshot

Cole Claassen

Cole Claassen (WSCU 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, domestic violence, homeless shelter, and other human services fields. Clients share that his contribution in development and marketing has had significant impact on fundamental growth for their organizations. Cole is based in Colorado and travels across the country to produce new content for his clients. He is the father of two wonderful boys and avidly enjoys the outdoors with them in God’s country in the Rocky Mountains.

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 Shadow of Evil. He has also worked as an editor and book packager, and created original anthology titles ranging from westerns like Lost Trails to fantasy like Courts of the Fey. He is a regular speaker at conferences and schools, where he teaches writing, editing and the fundamentals of the publishing industry. He is a past president of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, and his newest work, The End of All Seasons, is a collection of short fiction and poetry that came out in 2013.

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 year for UNICEF from sales of the book. A Japanese translation by Atsuko Hayakawa (Tsuda College) with illustrations by Chihiro Iwasaki was published in 2015, and an Italian translation by Sara Amadori (University of Bologna / Forli) was published in 2016, along with a CD, Childhood Songs, by composer Mirco De Stefani. A French translation by Pascale Drouet (University of Poitier) is underway. During the past year, her poems have appeared in the San Diego Reader, the Hudson Review, PN Review and THINK, including two elegies for Maxine Kumin, and poems about the Gunnison Valley Observatory, Escondido, Rome, and the ferryboat from Helsinki to Tallinn. Her new philosophy book Starry Reckoning: Reference and Analysis in Mathematics and Cosmology is just out from Springer. Next year, Springer will publish her book on poetry and mathematics, Great Circles: The Transits of Mathematics and Poetry. Her translation of the late Yves Bonnefoy's essay "Yeats' Poetics" is featured the Autumn 2016 issue of the Hudson Review, and will be included in a Carcanet edition of the poet's works due out next year.

Cara Guerrieri

Cara Guerrieri

Cara Guerrieri (WSCU 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.

Karen Hausdoerrfer

Karen Hausdoerffer

Karen Hausdoerffer teaches environmental writing at Western State Colorado University. She earned her MFA at the University of Idaho, and she has published work in Indiana ReviewShenandoahCrab Creek ReviewBackcountry MagazineFlyway and other journals. She has won an Associated Writing Programs Intro Journals award. Her Middle Grade novel, “City of a Thousand Paths,” has received representation from Folio Literary Management.

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. His languages include French, Greek and Latin.

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 State Colorado University in classical voice and sang in the chorus of the Crested Butte Music Festival for four consecutive years. She was selected as a performer in the Johanna Meier Young Artist program. She completed an MA in Creative Writing in 2017 from Western's School of Graduate Studies. She has written three short plays, which have been produced at festivals. She also wrote the book and directed the premier of Getting it Wright, a musical comedy on the Wright Brothers. She wrote the libretto of Lottie Silks, composed by Justus (Jay) Parrotta, work-shopped in Washington, DC, as part of the New Voices program at the Catholic University of America and at Writing the Rockies, 2017. She has written a second libretto entitled The Teardrop Tiara, also set by Justus Parrotta. She is currently enrolled as a genre fiction student in the Creative Writing MFA at Western Colorado University and is working on a novel.

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 Dark Horses, appeared in 2017 with Liverpool University Press.  She is the recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship to South Africa, and was awarded a MacDowell Colony fellowship in 2015. She is currently the poetry editor for GARO, the online journal for the Rocky Mountain Land Library.

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 poetry in his educational courses, and his research focuses on the early 20th-century debates between progressives and classicists concerning public schools. His articles and essays have been published in SocietyAcademic QuestionsMythlore, and Comment. He was the recipient of a university fellowship at Florida State University, and received awards for teaching excellence at Florida State University and The King’s College. Prior to joining Great Hearts, his administrative experience also included the oversight of two university language programs (Florida State University, State University of New York at New Paltz), coordination of a childhood education degree (The King’s College), and service as the Associate Provost of The King’s College.

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) in Creative Nonfiction by the League of Utah Writers for 2015. His work has been published widely by literary journals and trade magazines, including, but not limited to, Yahoo ParentingCreative Nonfiction Magazine, and The Chronicle Review. He is the co-editor/author of Utah Reflections: Stories from the Wasatch Front (The History Press), which was name the Salt Lake Tribune’s book of the month for August 2014 and the League of Utah Writers Recommended Read in Nonfiction 2015 (Third Place). His essay collection Tortillas for Honkies was named a finalist for the 2013 Autumn House press Nonfiction Awards (most of the essays in the collection have found homes in places like The Watershed ReviewLabel Me Latino/aPrime Number Literary Magazine, and Animal Literary Magazine). Most recently, he was the writer-in-residence at JIWAR international artist residency in Barcelona, Spain where he finished one novel and wrote most of another.

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 Bullets (2014), a collection of light verse. The Vietnam memoir that she co-authored with Kiem Do, Counterpart (1998), became a History Book Club Featured Alternate. Julie’s poems and translations appear in over fifty anthologies including Penguin’s Poetry: A Pocket Anthology, Norton’s Seagull Reader, and Best American Poetry 2016. She has collaborated with composer Dale Trumbore on the one-act opera Starship Paradise, premiered by Center City Opera Theater of Philadelphia, and with composer Kenneth Olson on City of Lights for orchestra and soprano, premiered by the Natchitoches-Northwestern Symphony. Composer Libby Larsen’s settings of Julie’s poems have been recorded on CDs by The American Boychoir and by mezzo-soprano Susanne Mentzer. Julie’s scholarly essays have been published in Twentieth Century Literature, Literature/Film Quarterly, Modern Language Quarterly, The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics, and other journals and edited collections. The 2011-2013 Louisiana Poet Laureate, she is a Professor of English and recipient of the Excellence in Teaching Award at Northwestern State University of Louisiana.

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 Bryars’ The Paper Nautilus and Stewart Copeland’s Tell Tale Heart. He also led the U.S. professional premiere of Ernest Bloch’s Macbeth at the Los Angeles harbor. He has previously been a director of the New York based Orchestra INSONICA, and is the founder of the Blackbird Music Project, which presented rarely performed works of vocal chamber music in Orange County, California. Under his leadership the Blackbird Music Project collaborated in a multimedia performance of Pierrot Lunaire with photographer and artist Jeff LeFever, and produced performances of vocal works by Luciano Berio, Marc-André Dalbavie, Tōru  Takemitsu and Dmitri Shostakovich. During the fall of 2012, Ben was the Music Director for Opera Memphis’ 30 Days of Opera, an innovative program of 30 days of free concerts around the greater Memphis metropolitan area, including performances at several local library branches, the Cooper Young Festival, Trolley Night and at various points along the route of The Color Run, in which he ran the 5km course, stopping to perform arias on a portable keyboard that he carried with him during the race.

Ben is a graduate of the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program of the Washington National Opera where he was hand selected by Director Plácido Domingo. He made his main stage debut with that company conducting Hansel and Gretel at the historic Lincoln Theater. Other appearances with the WNO included a sold out run of performances of Così fan Tutte at the Washington National Opera Studio, and concerts at the Opera House of John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Music Center at Strathmore.  Since relocating to Memphis, he has been a regular guest conductor with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, and has also appeared with Ballet Memphis, and the New Ballet Ensemble and School. He is the conductor on the recently released recording of Mark Abel’s opera Home is a Harbor, on Delos Records. He completed studies at Chapman University and the University of California, Los Angeles and pursued advanced studies at the Accademia Musicale Chigiana in Siena, Italy. In 2014 he was identified by Opera America as a future leader in the field of Opera in the United States.

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 Bird of Prey with Peter Lang.

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 book review editor. In concert with others, Bob has written or edited 11 scholarly books, including President Obama and Education Reform: The personal and the political (Palgrave/Macmillan 2012), The Obama Presidency: Change and Continuity (Routledge 2011), A Guide to Charter Schools (Rowman & Littlefield Education 2006), Beyond a Government of Strangers (Lexington 2005), and School Choice in the Real World: Lessons from Arizona Charter Schools (Westview 2001). He recently co-edited two books appealing to very different audiences: The Politically Correct University (published by conservative AEI), and Judging Bush (published by liberal Stanford University Press). He is now working on a book on education policy in the Obama years and beyond, and another on Arizona charter schools. His more than 70 scholarly publications have appeared in journals including Public Administration ReviewComputers and Education, the Journal of School LeadershipSocial Science Quarterly, the Journal of Educational Research, and Education Next. His more than 100 op-eds have appeared in venues including the Wall Street JournalHuffington PostHouston ChronicleAtlanta Journal ConstitutionPhiladelphia Inquirer, and Baltimore Sun.

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, Mayank was granted an opportunity by the band Radiohead to create a concept music video for their song Weird Fishes / Arpeggi. He worked alongside visual artist extraordinaire John Langdon (Angels & Demons) to design special ambigrams for the video. Most recently, Mayank’s script for EMIT won a Grand Prize at the Table Read My Screenplay contest, beating out over 1200 other scripts, and winning him a trip to Sundance (2012) where a table-read of it was performed. Since then, he’s directed Emit starring Jack Coleman (Heroes, The Office, Scandal), and the short has played at over 30 festivals all over the world, including NBC|Universal Shortcuts festival and the Philip K. Dick fest in New York, Fantasia, SCI-FI London, Sci-fi Fantasy – Athens, Edinburgh, Newport Beach, New York, Las Vegas, Brazil, garnering several awards, stellar reviews and high praise for its inventiveness and creative vision. Mayank has an MFA in Film Production from Loyola Marymount University and an MA in Communication & Film from Wake Forest University. He currently resides in Los Angeles.

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 Mary: A Journal of New Writing, among others. She edited the book Our Place Two, and contributed to the forthcoming textbook Primary Research and Writing. Candace is a fifth generation Coloradan and currently lives in Durango, Colorado, where she teaches at Fort Lewis College and is working on a novel.

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 big Greek girls -- Lysistrata, Medea and Antigone. 

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 in Organ Performance with a Minor in Composition Magna Cum Laude, a Masters in Composition with a concentration in Concert Music, and a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Music Composition from The Catholic University of America’s Benjamin T. Rome School of Music. Venues throughout DC, Maryland, and Virginia have featured his works. He teaches throughout the Washington, DC metropolitan area.

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 editor of National Journal, a nonpartisan magazine and website about politics and policy in the nation's capital.

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 2010-2011 Grant by the National Endowment for the Arts. His work has appeared in Best American PoetryPoetry and The Times Literary Supplement.

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 innovate blueprint for university press collaboration. From 2009 to 2011, he served as the Principal Investigator on the Andrew W. Mellon-funded Archaeology of the Americas Digital Monograph Initiative, a joint project of the University of Alabama Press, the University of Arizona Press, University Press of Colorado, the University Press of Florida, Texas A&M University Press, and the University of Utah Press. Together these six presses explored the possibilities for publishing scholarly monographs enhanced with multimedia and rich data sets. The result was a partnership with the University of Toronto Press that ultimately led to the creation of their P-Shift editorial and production workflow. Prior to becoming Director, Darrin was the Assistant Director and Sales & Marketing Managerat University Press of Colorado, and he has also held editorial, marketing, and sales positions at Ohio State University Press, Indiana University Press, and Columbia University Press. Darrin has a Master’s in English Literature from Indiana University, and he obtained his undergraduate degree from Kenyon College in his home state of Ohio.

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 Panda 3, and The Simpsons Movie, with a worldwide gross of $8 billion. He was the showrunner behind season four of The Simpsons, which Entertainment Weekly has called "the greatest season of the greatest show in history." Mike has also written seventeen children’s books, including the best-seller How Murray Saved Christmas and the award-winning Late for School.

David J. Rothman

David J. Rothman is Director of Writing the Rockies and also serves as the Director of Western’s Graduate Program in Creative Writing. His most recent book, co-edited with Jeffrey Villines, is Belle Turnbull: On the Life & Work of an American Master (Pleiades, 2017). His most recent volumes of poetry, both of which appeared in 2013, are The Book of Catapults (White Violet) and Part of the Darkness (Entasis). A book of essays about mountains and mountain towns, Living the Life (Conundrum), also appeared in 2013. His poems, essays and scholarly work have appeared widely, in journals including Appalachia, Atlantic Monthly, Gettysburg Review, Hudson Review, Kenyon Review, New Criterion, Poetry, and scores of other newspapers, journals and periodicals. He co-founded the Crested Butte Music Festival, was the founding Publisher and Editor of Conundrum Press (now owned by the Bower House Books of Denver), and currently serves as Resident Poet of Colorado Public Radio and Poet Laureate of Colorado's Western Slope. He has served as Executive Director, President, and a Board Member of the Robinson Jeffers Association, and on the board of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP). He lives in Crested Butte, Colorado.

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 View from Who I Was (Flux 2015) and Life at the Speed of Us (Flux 2016), which was a finalist for the Colorado Book Award and the Housatonic Award for Writing for Middle Grades and Young Adults. She was honored to be invited to the anchoring local author panel for this year's Colorado Teen Lit Con. She earned her MFA from Pacific University. Heather loves mountains, so she lives in a log home in Vail, Colorado, where she teaches narrative workshops at Colorado Mountain College and at a charter school for future Olympic skiers and snowboarders. If you visit Vail, you might find her skiing or pedaling along its backcountry trails.

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 interconnected essays, Daughters of Empire:  A Memoir of a Year in Britain and Beyond, appeared on Demeter Press, and she is the co-editor, with Laurie Kruk, of the recent multi-genre anthology Borderlands and Crossroads: Writing the Motherland (also on Demeter). Her honors include a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in poetry and three Maryland Arts Council poetry grants, as well as residencies in poetry or nonfiction from the Vermont Studio Center and Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. Among other awards are the William Faulkner Society's Gold Medal for the Essay, the Florida Review Editors’ Prize, the Mslexia women’s poetry prize, and the Bellingham Review’s 49th Parallel Poetry Prize. Satterfield’s poetry and prose have appeared in American Poetry ReviewAntioch ReviewThe CommonCrazyhorseNorth American ReviewNotre Dame ReviewPleiades, and many more, as well as on Verse Daily and Poetry Daily. The daughter of an American Air Force reservist and a British mother, she grew up near Andrews Air Force Base in suburban Maryland. She received her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, teaches at Loyola University Maryland, and lives in Baltimore.

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 State Colorado University, he is also a visiting scholar at Brandeis University and a study group leader at the university’s Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, with a special interest in Renaissance and modern verse. Previous books of poetry include Digressions, Wily Apparitions, Bell Buoys, and two books of translations: A Stroke upon the Sea and Sketch of a Serpent. His poems appear in both print and on-line anthologies. His newest collection is Peccadilloes. He is co-founder of the Symposium on Poetry Criticism at Writing the Rockies.

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 Carolina at Chapel Hill. His stage performances have been hailed by the New York Times and other newspapers across the country, and he taught acting for two years at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. ​He is best known to TV viewers in the recurring role of Mr. Penn in Fox's hit Batman prequel series, Gotham. ​Other recent film and TV appearances include Begin AgainMamaroshThe SmurfsThe BlacklistThe Mysteries of LauraThe Good Fight, and HBO’s Divorce. He is also an accomplished voiceover artist and audiobook narrator. ​His most recent titles are The Kevin Show by Mary Pilon, and Turncoat by Stephen Pullman. ​​Andrew also has over twenty years of corporate sphere experience in training, facilitating, coaching, and public speaking​  He presented a staged reading of his original solo play about Lewis Carroll and Alice, Through the Looking-Glass Darkly, at Writing the Rockies 2017.​

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 (2011; co-winner of The Poets' Prize), and Solving For X (2002), which won the Hollis Summers Poetry Prize. His criticism appears widely in such places as the New York Times Book Review, and he has also published a critical study of poets John Donne and George Herbert, The Call of God: The Theme of Vocation in the Poetry of Donne and Herbert (1981). He is also the author of Blank Verse: A Guide to Its History and Use, the first book-length treatment of its subject since 1895, which appeared in 2007, and received the Robert Fitzgerald Award. Shaw has received Shenandoah’s James Boatwright III Prize for Poetry as well as fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Ingram Merrill Foundation. From 1983 to 2016, Shaw taught at Mount Holyoke College, and is now the Emily Dickinson Professor of English.

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 River Basin Roundtable. His most recent work is Water Wranglers, a commissioned history of the Colorado River District and the development of Colorado’s share of the Colorado River, published by the Colorado River District. Raspberry Creek Books also recently published an expanded second edition of his 2004 book, Dragons in Paradise, a collection of essays and poetry about contemporary life from a mountain perspective. Prior to that, he wrote Part of a Winter, published by Crown Publishing, an account of life in the Colorado Rockies. He has also authored short histories of Crested Butte and Crawford, Colorado. His essays and articles have appeared in national publications – Harper’s MagazineTechnology IllustratedHigh Country NewsNew Age Journal and Old West and regional publications like Colorado Central and Mountain Gazette. He lives in Gunnison with his partner, Maryo Gard Ewell, and has two grown offspring, Sam and Sarah Sibley.

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 State 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 journals, and her one-act libretto, "The Price of Pomegranates," was scored by Jerome Malek and was produced in the second annual Writing the Rockies New Opera Workshop in 2016. Along with teaching and writing, she serves as the Managing Editor of Think, Wetern's journal of poetry, criticism, and reviews.

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 magazine and, at one point, digested online news for the Lycos daily news service. Mark has performed his poetry and given fiction readings across the country and in Europe. His books include two collections of poetry, Wire Song (Conundrum, 2001) and Tamped, But Loose Enough to Breathe (Ghost Road, 2008). He is author of the science fiction novel Strange Attractors (Write in the Thick, 2012) and co-author with wife Kym O’Connell-Todd of the paranormal comedy/fantasy trilogy The Silverville SagaThe Silverville Swindle (Ghost Road, 2006), which was reissued as Little Greed Men (Raspberry Creek, 2011); All Plucked Up (Raspberry Creek, 2012); and The Magicke Outhouse (Raspberry Creek, 2013). All were nominated for Colorado Book Awards and Little Greed Men was also nominated for the Colorado Blue Spruce Award. Their latest book is Wild West Ghosts (Raspberry Creek, 2015), a creative nonfiction book about hauntings in frontier mining towns of the Rocky Mountains.

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 Colorado to pursue a master’s in Mass Communications at the University of Denver. After graduating from DU in 1998, she discovered the Gunnison Valley (it was winter), where she signed on as a reporter for Gunnison Country Times and a ski instructor at CBMR. Toni became KBUT’s news director in 2000, and has worked for both the Times and the Crested Butte News over the years. She moved to Hawaii in 2005 and started a tiny coffee farm, hence her love of Hawaiian music as host of the Aloha Connection on KBUT. While in Hawaii, she earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from University of Alaska Anchorage. She returned to Gunnison in 2011, landing a teaching job at Western shortly thereafter. Ub 2015 and '16 she also served as Associate Conference Coordinator of Writing the Rockies. Toni taught in both the Communications and Business departments at Western from 2013 - 2018. She has also been the host of West Elk Word since 2015.

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 Genesis: An Epic Poem.

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-history exploration of the dangerous lure of American fascism during World War II, seen through the eyes of a fictional version of the famous baseball player turned spy, Moe Berg. An earlier Moe Berg story, “Something Real,” won the Sidewise Award for Best Alternate History – Short Form in 2012, and  Locus Magazine reviewer Lois Tilton called Rick “a master of historical fantasy set in this era.” Rick is the editor of the anthology, Making History: Classic Alternate History Stories (New Word City, 2018), which features reprinted classic stories from Karen Joy Fowler, Kathleen Goonan, Lisa Goldstein, Harry Turtledove, Walter Jon Williams, Gregory Benford, Eileen Gunn and Michael Swanwick, and many more. Rick’s most recent novel, Alien Morning (Tor, 2016) was a finalist for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel of the Year. The sequel, Alien Day, will be out in 2019. He is the editor of the anthology, Field of Fantasies: Baseball Stories of the Strange and Supernatural (October, 2014, Night Shade/Skyhorse). The anthology explores the influence of baseball on the fantastic, and includes classic reprints from writers like Karen Joy Fowler, Stephen King and Stewart O’Nan, Kim Stanley Robinson, Harry Turtledove, Louis Marley and others. Rick is the administrator, co-founder and co-judge for the Dell Magazines Award for Undergraduate Excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy Writing. He lives in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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 received the 2017 Hiett Prize for young scholars changing the future of American culture, from the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture, and his poetry will appear in the 2018 Best American Poetry anthology. Associate professor of religion and literature in the department of Humanities at Villanova University, his next book of poems, The Hanging God, will appear this fall from Angelico Press.