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Nikky Finney was born by the sea in South Carolina and raised during the Civil Rights, Black Power, and Black Arts Movements. She began reading and writing poetry as a teenager growing up in the spectacle and human theatre of the deep South. At Talladega College, she began to autodidactically explore the great intersections between art, history, politics, and culture. These same arenas of exploration are ongoing today in her writing, teaching and spirited belief in one-on-one activism. She is the author of four books of poetry, On Wings Made of Gauze, RICE, The World Is Round, and Head Off & Split, which won the National Book Award for Poetry in 2011. She has written extensively for journals, magazines, and other publications. For twenty-one years she taught creative writing at the University of Kentucky and now holds the John H. Bennett, Jr., Chair in Creative Writing and Southern Letters at the University of South Carolina in Columbia. She travels extensively, never lecturing, always inviting and hoping for conversations that just might improve the human condition.


Tessa Fontaine is the author of The Electric Woman: A Memoir in Death-Defying Acts, New York Times Editors' Choice; A Southern Living Best Book of 2018; An Amazon Editors' Best Book of 2018; A Refinery29 Best Book of 2018; A New York Post Most Unforgettable Book of 2018.

Tessa spent the 2013 season performing with the last American traveling circus sideshow, the World of Wonders. An essay about the sideshow won the 2016 AWP Intro Award in Nonfiction. Her writing can be found in The New York Times, Glamour, The Believer, LitHub, FSG's Works in Progress, Creative Nonfiction, The Normal School, The Rumpus, Seneca Review, DIAGRAM, New Orleans Review, [PANK], Brevity, and more.

​Raised outside San Francisco, Tessa got her MFA from the University of Alabama and is currently a doctoral student in creative writing at the University of Utah. She's received awards and fellowships from Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, The Taft Nicholson Center, Writing by Writers, Squaw Valley Community of Writers, and taught for the New York Times summer journeys as well as founding a Salt Lake City Writers in the Schools program. She currently lives in North Carolina, where she teaches at Warren Wilson College.

​Around the country, she has performed her one-woman plays in theatres ranging from New York to San Francisco. The scar on her cheek from a 2am whip act is slowly fading. 


A member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, Santee Frazier earned a BFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts and an MFA from Syracuse University. His collection of poems, Dark Thirty (2009), was published in the Sun Tracks series of the University of Arizona Press. Frazier’s honors include a Fall 2009 Lannan Residency Fellowship and 2011 School for Advanced Research Indigenous Writer in Residence and was the 2014 Native Arts and Culture Foundation literature fellow. His second collection of poems Aurum was released in the Fall of 2019 by The University of Arizona Press.


Born and raised in rural New Hampshire, Allegra Hyde received her B.A. from Williams College and her M.F.A. from Arizona State University. Her debut story collection, Of This New World, won the John Simmons Short Fiction Award through the Iowa Short Fiction Award Series.

A recipient of three Pushcart Prizes, her writing has also been anthologized in Best American Travel Writing, Best Women’s Travel Writing, Best of the Net, and Best Small Fictions. Her stories and essays have been widely published, appearing in Tin House, American Short Fiction, Kenyon Review, New England Review, The Threepenny Review, and other venues.

Hyde has received fellowships and grants from the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, The Elizabeth George Foundation, the Lucas Artist Residency Program, the Jentel Foundation, The Virginia G. Piper Center, Writing Workshops in Greece, the National University of Singapore, the U.S. Fulbright Commission, and elsewhere.

She currently teaches creative writing at Oberlin College, in addition to serving as a faculty member in The MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. She lives in Oberlin, Ohio.


Julia Koets is the author of The Rib Joint: A Memoir in Essays (2019, Red Hen Press), Pine ​(forthcoming 2021, Southern Indiana Review Press), and Hold Like Owls (2012, The University of South Carolina Press). Julia is the winner of the 2017 Red Hen Press Nonfiction Book Award judged by Mark Doty, the 2019 Michael Waters Poetry Prize, and the 2011 South Carolina Poetry Book Prize judged by National Book Award Winner Nikky Finney. Julia's essays and poems have been published or are forthcoming in literary journals including Creative Nonfiction, Indiana Review, Nimrod, The Los Angeles Review, Carolina Quarterly, and Portland Review. She earned her MFA. in poetry at the University of South Carolina and her PhD in Creative Writing and Literature at the University of Cincinnati. She's currently an assistant professor of creative nonfiction at the University of South Florida.  


Maggie Mitchell has published short fiction in a number of literary magazines, including the New Ohio Review, American Literary Review, and Green Mountains Review. Her story "It Would Be Different If" is included in the Bedford Introduction to Literature. She teaches English and creative writing at the University of West Georgia. Pretty Is is her first novel. 


Alicia Mountain's debut collection, High Ground Coward (Iowa, 2018), was selected by Brenda Shaughnessy to win the Iowa Poetry Prize. She is also the author of Thin Fire, selected by Natalie Diaz and published by BOAAT Press. Dr. Mountain earned her PhD at the University of Denver, where she was a Clemens Doctoral Fellow, and a MFA at the University of Montana in Missoula. She is a lesbian poet, living and writing in New York City. Keep up with her on twitter at @HiGroundCoward.


Sun Yung Shin (born 1974) is a Korean American poet, writer, and educator living in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

She is the editor of A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2016), author of Unbearable Splendor (Coffee House Press 2016), Rough, and Savage (Coffee House Press, 2012), Skirt Full of Black (Coffee House Press, 2007), the bilingual (English/Korean) illustrated children's book Cooper's Lesson (Children's Book Press an imprint of Lee & Low Books) and she was an editor with Jane Jeong Trenka and Julia Chinyere Oparah for Outsiders Within: Writing on Transracial Adoption (South End Press, 2006), the first international anthology on the politics of transracial adoption.


Poet and activist Christopher Soto, who also uses the name Loma, is the son of El Salvadoran immigrants. He was educated at New York University.

In his poems, Soto engages themes of intimacy, trauma, and identity. In a 2014 blog essay for VIDA, Soto writes, “At dinner, she asked why I write such sad poems. And I told her, ‘My poems are not sad, they are masochistic.’ My poems like a good choking, a good spanking. They want to be bound and gagged and told what to do. There is a pleasure that my poems derive from being under such control; from having trauma recalled and then stripped of its agency.” He is the author of Sad Girl Poems (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2016) and the chapbook How to Eat Glass (Still Life Press, 2012). His poems have appeared in Apogee Journal, MiPOesias, Columbia, and elsewhere.

A founding editor of the literary journal Nepantla: A Journal Dedicated to Queer Poets of Color in collaboration with the Lambda Literary Foundation, Soto also helped found the Undocupoets Campaign, which has successfully lobbied numerous poetry publishers to remove a proof of citizenship requirement from first-book contests, allowing undocumented poets to participate.

Soto lives in Brooklyn and has served as an intern for the Poetry Society of America.


Kathi Wolfe is a writer and poet. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Poetry Magazine, and other publications. She is a contributor to the groundbreaking anthologies QDA: A Queer Disability Anthology and Beauty Is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability. Wolfe is the author of four poetry collections: Helen Takes the Stage: The Helen Keller Poems (Pudding House Press); The Green Light (Finishing Line Press); The Uppity Blind Girl Poems (BrickHouse Books), and Love and Kumquats: New and Selected Poems (BrickHouse Books, 2019). Wolfe has been awarded a Puffin Foundation grant and Writers grants from Vermont Studio Center. In 2008, she was a Lambda Literary Foundation Emerging Writer Fellow. She is a contributor to the acclaimed LGBTQ paper The Washington Blade.