2017 Guest Biographies

Ashwini Bhasi

Ashwini_BhasiAshwini Bhasi lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan and writes poems to make sense of the mind-body connection of trauma and chronic pain, life in India, and the duality of her experiences as a data analyst and poet. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Room Magazine, Rogue Agent, Bear River Review, Yellow Chair Review, The Feminist Wire, and Driftwood Press, among others. Her poem about the 2016 presidential election was nominated for a Pushcart prize.

View Ashwini’s website

Fiona Chamness

Fiona Chamness is a poet, essayist, fiction writer and musician based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Her published work can be found in PANK, Blood Lotus Journal, the Bear River Review, Radius Lit, Muzzle Magazine, Midwestern Gothic, and the Beloit Poetry Journal as well as in several anthologies and in the full length-poetry collection Feral Citizens, co-authored with Aimée Lê. She was the recipient of the Beloit Poetry Journal’s Chad Walsh Prize in 2014. As a musician, she released a solo album, Dispatches from the Well, on Insister Records in 2012. She is also guitarist, co-vocalist and co-songwriter for the queer feminist punk band Cutting Room Floor, whose debut album You Shouldn’t Be Here was released in 2013.

R. J. Fox

R.J. FoxR.J. Fox  has had shorts stories, essays, and poetry been published in over 30 literary magazines and has written 15 feature length screenplays — two of which have been optioned to Hollywood. His most recent publication is a travel memoir entitled Love & Vodka: My Surreal Adventures in Ukraine, published through Ann Arbor’s Fish Out of Water Books. His website is www.foxplots.com. Or follow him on Twitter @foxwriter7.

Joy Gaines-Friedler

Joy Gaines-FriedlerPoet Joy Gaines-Friedler teaches Creative Writing for non-profits in the Detroit area, including work in prisons, schools and for literary arts programs. She is an award-winning writer and author of three full length poetry collections.

View Joy’s website

Jill Halpern

Jill Halpern is an Ann Arbor-based writer, storyteller, educator, and tree/people-hugger with a long history of teaching and learning from underrepresented college students. Through storytelling, she has had the good fortune to share her “whole flower” teaching adventures in diverse venues ranging from TEDxUofM and the UHS Martin Luther King Symposium to a Tellabration festival and the Interfaith Center for Spiritual Growth.

Vanessa Marr

vanessa marVanessa Marr is a body-positive plant muncher who feels most at home in the kitchen, in the woods, and in her own skin. She often uses her literary and academic writing to reflect an ever-growing rhizomatic soul.

Edward McClelland

Edward McClelland is the author of How to Speak MidwesternYoung Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President and Nothin’ But Blue Skies: The Heyday, Hard Times and Hopes of America’s Industrial Heartland. Ted’s writing has also appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Columbia Journalism Review, Salon, Slate, and the Nation.

Ellen Meeropol

Ellen Meeropol is the author of three novels, Kinship of Clover, On Hurricane Island and House Arrest. A former nurse practitioner, part-time bookseller, and literary late bloomer, Ellen’s short fiction and essay publications include Guernica, The Writer, Bridges, DoveTales, Pedestal, Rumpus, Portland Magazine and The Writers Chronicle. Her dramatic script “Carry it Forward” telling the story of the Rosenberg Fund for Children was produced in 2013 in New York. Ellen holds an MFA in fiction from the Stonecoast program at the University of Southern Maine. She is a founding member and current Board President of Straw Dog Writers Guild.

Keri Middaugh

keriKeri Middaugh is a multipotentialite with her hands in many disciplines including real estate, education, creative arts, and permaculture. She aims to run a productive and wholehearted household, but often finds herself covered in flour, glitter, and chicken manure, though usually not at the same time.

Christina Olson

Christina Olson is the author of the forthcoming collection of poetry Terminal Human Velocity (Stillhouse Press, 2017); the poetry collection Before I Came Home Naked (Spire Press, 2010); the poetry chapbook Weird Science (Paper Nautilus Press, 2016); and Rook & The M.E., a chapbook of narrative flash prose loosely based on the television show Law & Order (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2015). Her writing appears in the anthologies The Best Creative Nonfiction Volume Three, American Creative Writers on Class, Writing That Risks, and 99 Poems for the 99 Percent. Her poems “Lost” and “To the Stars, Through Difficulties,” have been featured on Verse Daily. Gerald Stern chose her as the winner of The Dirty Napkin’s Poetry Prize, and she has been awarded full fellowships to the Vermont Studio Center and Willapa Bay AiR.

David Pratt

Pub ShotDavid Pratt is is the author of three novels: Bob the Book (2011 Lambda Literary Award); Looking After Joey, to be re-released by Lethe Press; and Wallaçonia, a young adult novel. Several of his short stories are collected in the volume My Movie. He lives in Ann Arbor.

Read more about David’s latest book at Beautiful Dreamer Press

Monica Rico

Monica RicoMonica Rico is a second generation Mexican American feminist who writes at www.slowdownandeat.com. Her chapbook “Twisted Mouth of the Tulip” is forthcoming from Red Paint Hill Publishing.

Adam Schuitema

Adam Schuitema is the author of the short-story collections The Things We Do That Make No Sense (2017) and Freshwater Boys (2010) and the novel Haymaker (2015). His works have twice been named Michigan Notable Books by the Library of Michigan. Adam’s stories have appeared in numerous magazines, including Glimmer TrainNorth American ReviewIndiana ReviewTriQuarterly, and The Southern Review. He earned his MFA and Ph.D. from Western Michigan University and is an associate professor of English at Kendall College of Art and Design. Adam lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan with his wife and daughter.

Ellen Stone

ellen_stoneEllen Stone teaches at Community High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Her poems have appeared in Passages North, The Collagist, The Citron Review and Fifth Wednesday. Ellen’s poetry has recently been nominated for a Pushcart prize and Best of the Net.  Michigan Writers Cooperative Press published her poetry chapbook, The Solid Living World.

Debbie Taylor

DebbieDebbie Ann Taylor is a picture book author, magazine writer and storyteller. Her first picture book, Sweet Music in Harlem, was inspired by Art Kane’s historical photograph of jazz musicians, Harlem 1958. Her stories have been published in Spider, Cricket, New Moon, and Pockets magazines.  Her next picture book, Over in Motown, will be published by Fifth Avenue Press in 2017.  Taylor is committed to a several national, regional and local literacy projects. Taylor and her husband live in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

John Darryl Winston

john_darryl_winstonJohn Darryl Winston is a graduate of The Recording Institute of Detroit, Wayne State University, The Motion Picture Institute of Michigan, and received his MA and MFA in Creative Writing from Wilkes University. He has written songs with and for Grammy winner David Foster and record mogul Clive Davis. He has been a recording artist on Arista and Polygram records and has written and/or produced songs for Gerald Levert, Gerald Alston, and many others. Winston currently lives with his daughter, Marquette, in Michigan and intends to acquire an African Grey parrot one day when he conquers his irrational fear of birds.