Writers and Editors

Below are bios for (most of) the writers and editors who will be participating in Conversations and Connections. We’ll keep on updating this list as we get closer to the conference.

Cathy Alter‘s feature articles, essays, and reviews have appeared in local and national newspapers and magazines including The Washington Post, Washingtonian, The New York Times, The Atlantic.com, The Huffington Post, Self, McSweeney’s, Urbanite, and SMITH Magazine. Her book, Virgin Territory: Stories from the Road to Womanhood was released in 2004 and her memoir, Up for Renewal: What Magazines Taught Me About Love, Sex, and Starting Over was released in July 2008. She holds an M.A. from Johns Hopkins University, where she is currently a faculty member and nonfiction advisor.

With his most recent novels, The School of Night, The Black Tower, The Pale Blue Eye and Mr. Timothy, Louis Bayard, in the words of the Washington Post, has ascended to “the upper reaches of the historical-thriller league.” A New York Times Notable author, he has been nominated for both the Edgar® and Dagger awards and has been named one of People magazine’s top authors of the year. Louis is also a nationally recognized essayist and critic whose articles have appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Huffington Post, Salon, Ms., Nerve.com and Preservation. His other novels include Fool’s Errand and Endangered Species (Alyson). He is a contributor to the anthologies The Worst Noël and Maybe Baby (HarperCollins) and 101 Damnations (St. Martin’s). He also teaches creative writing at George Washington University.

Tom Bligh‘s fiction has appeared in The Southern Review, Cincinnati Review, specs, and Improbable Object. His essays on pop culture have been featured in Oxford American and The Believer. He directs the creative writing program at Mount St. Mary’s University.

Dan Brady is the poetry editor of Barrelhouse. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Artifice, Big Lucks, BlazeVox, Dark Sky, Gargoyle, H_NGM_N, and Shampoo, among others.

Michelle Brafman has received numerous awards for her fiction, including a Special Mention in the 2010 Pushcart Prize Anthology, the F. Scott Fitzgerald Short Story prize, and first place in the Lilith Magazine Fiction contest. Her work as appeared in the minnesota review, Blackbird, Fifth Wednesday Journal, and Slate, among other places, and she was a regular contributor to Politics Daily, now HuffPost. She teaches fiction writing at the Johns Hopkins University MA in Writing Program and George Washington University. She is also an award-winning documentary filmmaker and lives in Glen Echo, Maryland with her husband and two children.

Joanne Cavanaugh Simpson is the Editor of The Three Quarter Review, as well as a lecturer at Johns Hopkins University’s Writing Seminars and Advanced Academic Programs, a nonfiction essayist, and the author of Literature on Deadline (Celumbra/Pacific Isle 2007). Her literary essays have appeared in print or online at the literary journal, The Sun, Creative Nonfiction, Connecticut Review, Urbanite, and Utne Reader, as well as on NPR’s “The Signal.” Her work has been featured in two book collections: Signs of Life in the USA (Bedford/St. Martin’s) and Letters to J.D. Salinger (University of Wisconsin Press). She is a former staff writer for The Miami Herald and Johns Hopkins Magazine, among other publications. As a foreign correspondent, she has written for The Baltimore Sun, Palm Beach Post, and American Journalism Review, reporting from Argentina, Ecuador, Nepal, India, Cuba, and China. Cavanaugh Simpson earned a master’s degree in creative writing from Hopkins’ Writing Seminars and a bachelor’s in journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park. Her master’s thesis, on Cuba’s dissident journalists, was funded by Harvard University’s Goldsmith Research Award. She is currently an editor at the Baltimore Review. Her literary blog can be found at litdeadline.wordpress.com.

Janice D’Arcy is a DC-based journalist and essayist and a graduate of the Johns Hopkins Advanced Academic Writing Program. She’s written and reported for The Washington Post, PBS and The Baltimore Sun. Most recently she wrote The Washington Post’s popular On Parenting blog. Her essays have been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and the Pushcart Award and this year will be featured in the LTYM national reading series. Janice lives in Washington with her husband and two daughters and is currently working on a book about secrets and memory.

Keith Donohue is an American novelist, the author of the national bestseller The Stolen Child, Centuries of June, and Angels of Destruction. He also has written reviews for the Washington Post. Donohue has a Ph.D. in English with a specialization in modern Irish literature and wrote the introduction to the Complete Novels of Flann O’Brien. He lives in Maryland near Washington, DC.

Danielle Evans is the author of the short-story collection Before You Suffocate Your Own Fool Self, which was a co-winner of the 2011 PEN American Robert W. Bingham Prize for a first book, a National Book Foundation 5 under 35 selection for 2011, the winner of the 2011 Paterson Prize for Fiction and the 2011 Hurston-Wright award for fiction, and an honorable mention for the 2011 PEN/Hemingway award. It was named one of the best books of 2010 by Kirkus Reviews and O Magazine, and longlisted for The Story Prize. Her work has appeared in magazines including The Paris Review, A Public Space, Callaloo, and Phoebe, and has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories 2008 and 2010, and in New Stories from the South. She received an MFA in fiction from the Iowa Writers Workshop, was the 2006-2007 Carol Houck Smith fellow at the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, and now teaches literature and creative writing at American University in Washington DC.

Hannah Gamble is the author of Your Invitation to a Modest Breakfast (2012), selected by Bernadette Mayer for the 2011 National Poetry Series. She has received fellowships from InPrint Inc, The Edward F. Albee Foundation, and the University of Houston, where she served as an editor for Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature and Fine Arts. She teaches English at the University of Wisconsin-Parkside and lives in Chicago.

Scott Garson is the author of the story collection Is That You, John Wayne? (Queens Ferry Press), and American Gymnopédies, a collection of microfictions (Lit Pub Books). He has stories in or coming from The Kenyon Review, American Short Fiction, Hobart, Conjunctions, New York Tyrant and others. He edits Wigleaf.

Molly Gaudry is the author of the verse novel We Take Me Apart, which was named 2nd finalist for the 2011 Asian American Literary Award for Poetry and shortlisted for the 2011 PEN/Joyce Osterweil. She is the founder and creative director of The Lit Pub.

Marita Golden is a veteran teacher of writing and an acclaimed award-winning author of over a dozen works of fiction and nonfiction. As a teacher of writing she has served as a member of the faculties of the MFA Graduate Creative Writing Programs at George Mason University and Virginia Commonwealth University. Currently she teaches in the Fairfield University low-residency MFA program and serves as Distinguished Writer in Residence in the MA Creative Writing Program at John Hopkins University. She has taught writing workshops nationally and internationally to a variety of constituencies. As a cultural activist she has written about and offered workshops on the subject of colorism in communities of color and as a literary activist she co-founded and President Emeritus of the Hurston/ Wright Foundation.

Steve Himmer is the author of the novel The Bee Loud Glade. He teaches at Emerson College in Boston, where he earned his Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and is on the faculty of the First-Year Writing Program. His stories have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including Hobart, The Los Angeles Review, Night Train, Pindeldyboz, PANK, Emprise Review, and Everyday Genius. He also is a frequent blogger on writing and teaching, and edits Necessary Fiction, a webjournal from So New Publishing, a press based in Eugene, Oregon.

Dave Housley is one of the founding editors and fiction editors at Barrelhouse magazine. His second collection of short fiction, If I Knew the Way, I Would Take You Home, will be published by Dzanc Books. His work has appeared in Hobart, Mid-American Review, Nerve, Quarterly West, Wigleaf, and some other places.

Steve Kistulentz is the author of two collections of poetry,Little Black Daydream (University of Akron Press, 2012) and The Luckless Age (Red Hen Press, 2010). His narrative nonfiction—mostly on the subject of popular culture and rock and roll—has appeared widely in journals. His honors include the Benjamin Saltman Award for The Luckless Age, as well as fellowship support from Writers at Work, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and an individual award from the Mississippi Arts Commission. He has taught at the Johns Hopkins University; the University of Iowa, where he was the Joseph and Ursil Callan Scholar; and the Florida State University, where he was an Edward and Marie C. Kingsbury Fellow for Excellence in Thought. He teaches at Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi, where he directs the Millsaps Visiting Writers Series. In June, he will become the new director of the graduate creative writing program at the University of Tampa.

Con Lehane, a former bartender, union organizer, college professor, and labor journalist, holds an M.F.A. in fiction writing from Columbia University. He is the author of the forthcoming Murder at the 42nd Street Library, as well as three detective novels featuring New York City bartender Brian McNulty: Beware the Solitary Drinker , What Goes Around Comes Around, and Death at the Old Hotel. He teaches mystery and suspense writing at the Writer’s Center.

Mike Madden has been editor of Washington City Paper since June 2012. Before joining City Paper as managing editor in 2010, he covered politics and government for a decade, at Salon.com and Gannett’s Washington bureau, and wrote about the South Jersey suburbs for the Philadelphia Inquirer. He has also done freelance pieces for The New Republic, Ad Week, BookForum, Philadelphia magazine, Charlotte magazine, Time.com, Gawker Media, and USA Today.A third-generation District native, Madden was raised in Rockville, Md., and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1998. He lives in Petworth with his wife and 18-month-old daughter.

Justin Marks’ first book of poems is A Million in Prizes (New Issues, 2009), and his latest chapbook is Best Practices (Greying Ghost, 2013). Other chapbooks include On Happier Lawns (Poor Claudia, 2010) and Voir Dire (Rope-a-Dope, 2009). Recent work has appeared in, or is forthcoming from, Denver Quarterly, Barrelhouse, Leveler and Interrupture. He is a co-founder of Birds, LLC, an independent poetry press, and lives in Queens, NY with his wife and their 4 year-old twin son and daughter.

Susan Muaddi Darraj’s book, The Inheritance of Exile, was a finalist in the AWP Book Awards for Fiction, earned ForeWord Magazine’s Book of the Year for short fiction, and was translated into Arabic by the US State Department in 2012. She is the online editor for Barrelhouse.

Richard Peabody is a French toast addict and native Washingtonian. He has two new books out — a book of poetry Speed Enforced by Aircraft (Broadkill River Press), and a book of short stories Blue Suburban Skies (Main Street Rag Press). He won the Beyond the Margins “Above & Beyond Award” for 2013. He has edited Gargoyle Magazine since back before Elvis died.

Amber Sparks is the author of the acclaimed short story collection May We Shed These Human Bodies. Her fiction has been featured in various publications, including New York Tyrant, Unsaid, Gargoyle, Smokelong Quarterly, Wigleaf, and elimae. Her chapbook, “A Long Dark Sleep: Stories for the Next World,” is included in the anthology Shut Up/Look Pretty, published by Tiny Hardcore Press. She is also a contributor at lit blogs Big Other and Vouched, and lives in Washington, D.C. with a husband and two beasts.

Sampson Starkweather was born in Pittsboro, NC. He is the author of The First Four Books of Sampson Starkweather and 5 chapbooks from dangerous small presses. He is a founding editor of Birds, LLC and works for The Center for the Humanities at The Graduate Center, CUNY where he helps run the Annual Chapbook Festival and Lost & Found: The CUNY Poetics Document Initiative. He lives in Brooklyn, NY with his girlfriend, the escape artist Paige Taggart.

Roshanak Taghavi is an independent journalist based in Washington DC, where she recently completed a New Media Fellowship with the International Reporting Project at Johns Hopkins University and a Paul Miller Fellowship with the National Press Foundation. Since becoming a freelance reporter in 2009, Roshanak has reported from Mumbai, New Delhi, Lima and Washington DC for a variety of news organizations, including The Christian Science Monitor, The Guardian, TIME, Al-Monitor, Urban Times, The Huffington Post and The New Republic. From 2007 to 2009, Roshanak reported on energy, politics and economics out of Iran and the United Arab Emirates as a correspondent for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal. Prior to reporting from Tehran and Dubai, Roshanak conducted economic and political reporting for Dow Jones Newswires in New York and Al Ahram Weekly in Cairo, Egypt. She has a Master of International Affairs from Columbia University in New York, received a Bachelor of Science from the Carroll School of Management at Boston College, and has studied at the University of Paris IV (Sorbonne). Learn more about Roshanak or read her work at http://www.roshanakt.com.

Chris Tonelli is one of the founding editors of Birds, LLC, an independent poetry press. He also founded and curates the So and So Series and edits the So and So Magazine. He is the author of four chapbooks, most recently No Theater (Brave Men Press) and For People Who Like Gravity and Other People (Rope-A-Dope Press), and his first full-length collection is The Trees Around (Birds, LLC). New work can be found in or is forthcoming from jubilat, Fou, La Fovea, and Leveler. He works at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, where he lives with his wife, Allison, and their two kids, Miles and Vera.

Matthew Vollmer is the author of Inscriptions for Headstones, a collection of essays, and Future Missionaries of America (published by MacAdam Cage and Salt Modern Fiction), a collection of stories. With David Shields, he is the co-editor of Fakes: An Anthology of Pseudo Interviews, Faux-Lectures, Quasi-Letters, “Found” Texts, and Other Fraudulent Artifacts (forthcoming from W. W. Norton). To read samples from this work, and to browse a collection of fraudulent artifacts, visit literaryartifacts.tumblr.com. His work has appeared (or will soon appear) in Paris Review, Glimmer Train,The Sun,Virginia Quarterly Review, Epoch, Tin House, The Oxford American, Colorado Review, Gulf Coast, Ecotone, Hayden’s Ferry Review,Antioch Review, Willow Springs, DIAGRAM, Portland Review, Tampa Review, Passages North, PANK, New England Review, The Normal School, Confrontation, Salt Hill, Fugue, PRISM International, and New Letters. Vollmer is the recipient of a 2010 National Endowment for the Arts grant, as well as the Sturm Award for Creative Arts at Virginia Tech. His work has been twice short-listed for the Best American Short Stories series, and he has been nominated numerous times for the Pushcart Prize.

Tim Wendel is the author most recently of SUMMER OF ’68: THE SEASON WHEN BASEBALL, AND AMERICA, CHANGED FOREVER, (Da Capo). The narrative nonfiction work was a Top 10 choice by Publisher’s Weekly and a Notable Book for 2013 by the State of Michigan. His previous book — HIGH HEAT: THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE FASTBALL AND THE IMPROBABLE SEARCH FOR THE FASTEST PITCHER OF ALL TIME — was an Editor’s Selection by The New York Times Book Review. Of his nine books, Tim has published several novels, including CASTRO’S CURVEBALL (Ballantine/U of Nebraska) and RED RAIN (Writers’ Lair). His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, Washingtonian, National Geographic Traveler, Huffington Post, The Potomac Review, Gargoyle, GQ and Esquire. Tim is a writer in residence at Johns Hopkins University, where he received the 2009 Award for Teaching Excellence and the Professional Achievement Award in 2004 and 2010.

Todd Whaley was a Finalist for the Flannery O’Connor Award for Fiction. He has had stories published in a number of journals and anthologies, including The Sages of Baltimore (CityLit Press), Berkeley Fiction Review, Louisiana Literature, Soundings East, The Baltimore Review, Compass Rose, Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine, Quercus River, Regarding Arts and Letters, and others. Other stories have been honored by Glimmer Train and nominated for The Best New American Voices.

Susi Wyss is the author of The Civilized World (Henry Holt, 2011), a book of fiction set across Africa that was inspired by her twenty-year career managing international projects in HIV/AIDS and women’s health. In addition to receiving the 2012 Maria Thomas Fiction Award, The Civilized World was named a “Book to Pick Up Now” by O, the Oprah Magazine. A graduate of the writing program at Johns Hopkins University, Susi has received awards from the Maryland State Arts Council and other arts organizations. Her website is at: www.susiwyss.com.

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