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Jeff VanderMeer’s New York Times bestselling Southern Reach trilogy has been translated into over 35 languages. The first novel, Annihilation, won the Nebula Award and Shirley Jackson Award, was made into a movie by Paramount. Recent works include Borne, a finalist for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, The Strange Bird, and the just-released Dead Astronauts. These novels, set in the Borne universe, have been optioned for TV and continue to explore themes related to the environment, animals, and our future. Called “the weird Thoreau” by The New Yorker, VanderMeer frequently speaks about issues related to climate change and storytelling, including at DePaul, MIT, and the Guggenheim. He was a 2019 National Book Award judge for fiction and lives in Tallahassee, Florida, with his wife Ann, cat Neo, and a yard full of native plants.

Jeff VanderMeer

 photo by Ditte Valente

Kiese Laymon is a black southern writer, born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. Laymon attended Millsaps College and Jackson State University before graduating from Oberlin College. He earned an MFA in Fiction from Indiana University. Laymon is currently the Ottilie Schillig Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Mississippi. He served as the Distinguished Visiting Professor of Nonfiction at the University of Iowa in Fall 2017.  Laymon is the author of the novel, Long Division  and a collection of essays,  How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America, and Heavy: An American Memoir. Heavy, winner of the Andrew Carnegie Medal, the LA Times Isherwood Prize for Autobiographical Prose and Audible’s Audiobook of the Year, was named one of the Best Books of 2018 by the The Undefeated, New York TimesPublishers Weekly, NPR, Broadly, Library Journal The Washington Post Southern Living Entertainment Weekly, San Francisco Chronicle and The New York Times Critics. Laymon has written essays, stories and reviews for numerous publications including Esquire, McSweeneys, New York Times, Virginia Quarterly Review, ESPN the Magazine, Granta, Colorlines, NPR, LitHub, The Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, PEN Journal, Fader, Oxford American, Vanity Fair, The Best American Series, Ebony, Travel and Leisure, Paris Review, Guernica and more. 

Kiese Laymon


Carmen Maria Machado is the acclaimed author of various works of essay, criticism, and fiction. Her memoir, In The Dream House, will be published in November 2019. Her 2017 debut short story collection, Her Body and Other Parties, was a finalist for the National Book Award, the Kirkus Prize, LA Times Book Prize Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, the World Fantasy Award, the Dylan Thomas Prize, the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction, and the winner of the Bard Fiction Prize, the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Fiction, the Brooklyn Public Library Literature Prize, the Shirley Jackson Award, and the National Book Critics Circle’s John Leonard Prize. Machado is the Writer in Residence at the University of Pennsylvania and lives with her wife in Philadelphia.



Doug Bock Clark is a GQ Correspondent and contributor to the website of The New Yorker. His first book, The Last Whalers, was called a "feat of journalism" by The New York Times. His writing has appeared in numerous national publications including: The New York Times, Rolling Stone, WIRED, Esquire, Mother Jones, Foreign Policy, The New Republic, and The New York Times Book Review. His many journalism honors include the 2017 Reporting Award and being a finalist for the Mirror Award and an Excellence-in-Features Award from the Society for Features Journalists. He was also the first person to kayak the middle section of Myanmar's Irrawaddy River. 

Doug Bock Clark


Joni Tevis is the author of two books of essays, most recently The World Is On Fire: Scrap, Treasure, and Songs of Apocalypse. Her essays have appeared in Orion, The Oxford American, Poets & Writers, the Pushcart Prize anthology, and elsewhere. She serves as the Bennette E. Geer Associate Professor of English at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina, and is at work on a new book of nonfiction about music, destruction, and iconic American landscapes.

Joni Tevis 

Abigail DeWitt’s latest novel is News of Our Loved Ones (HarperCollins). Narrated by three generations of French women, the novel explores one family’s losses and discoveries in the aftermath of the June 6, 1944 D-Day bombings. Named an Editor’s Choice by BookBrowse and the Historical Novel Society, The Washington Book Review described it as “absolutely mesmerizing” and Ms. called it “literary gold.” Abigail’s short fiction has appeared in Narrative, Five Points, The Alaska Quarterly Review, Witness, The Carolina Quarterly, and elsewhere. The recipient of grants and fellowships from the North Carolina Arts Council, the Michener Society, the Tyrone Guthrie Center, and the McColl Center for the Arts, she has been listed in Best American Short Stories and nominated for a Pushcart. She received her B.A. from Harvard University and her M.F.A. from the Iowa Writers Workshop and currently teaches creative writing to women veterans at the V.A. Medical Center in Asheville, NC. 

Abigail DeWitt


Nickole Brown received her MFA from the Vermont College, studied literature at Oxford University, and was the editorial assistant for the late Hunter S. Thompson. She worked at Sarabande Books for ten years. She’s the author of Sister, first published in 2007 with a new edition reissued in 2018. Her second book, Fanny Says (BOA Editions), won the Weatherford Award for Appalachian Poetry in 2015. The audiobook of that collection became available in 2017. Currently, she is the Editor for the Marie Alexander Poetry Series and teaches at the Sewanee School of Letters MFA Program and the Great Smokies Writing Program at UNCA. She lives with her wife, poet Jessica Jacobs, in Asheville, NC, where she periodically volunteers at three different animal sanctuaries. A chapbook of called To Those Who Were Our First Gods won the 2018 Rattle Chapbook Prize, and a long sequence called The Donkey Elegies will be published as a chapbook by Sibling Rivalry Press in 2020. 


Nickole Brown


Jessica Jacobs is the author of Take Me with You, Wherever You’re Going, published by Four Way Books in March 2019. Her debut collection, Pelvis with Distance, a biography-in-poems of Georgia O'Keeffe, won the New Mexico Book Award in Poetry and was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. Her poetry, essays, and fiction have appeared in publications including Orion, New England Review, Guernica, and The Missouri Review. An avid long-distance runner, Jessica has worked as a rock climbing instructor, bartender, and professor—teaching for Hendrix College, UNC-Wilmington’s MFA program, and Writing Workshops in Greece, among other programs—and now serves as Chapbook Editor for Beloit Poetry Journal. She lives in Asheville, NC, with her wife, the poet Nickole Brown, and is at work on parallel collections of essays and poems exploring spirituality, Torah, and Midrash.

Jessica Jacobs


Kathryn Kirkpatrick is the author of seven collections of poetry, including three recipients of the NC Poetry Society’s Brockman-Campbell award, The Body’s Horizon (1996), Our Held Animal Breath (2012), and Her Small Hands Were Not Beautiful (2014). The Fisher Queen: New & Selected Poems appeared from Salmon Press in 2019. Although she grew up in the nomadic subculture of the U.S. Air Force and spent her childhood in the Philippines, Texas, and Germany, she has lived in the Blue Ridge Mountains for almost 30 years, where she teaches environmental literature, animal studies, and Irish studies as Professor of English at Appalachian State University. As a literary scholar, she has published essays on class trauma, eco-feminist poetics, and vegan studies.  She is the editor of Border Crossings: Irish Women Writers and National Identities and co-editor with Borbala Farago of Animals in Irish Literature and Culture (2015). 

Kathryn Kirkpatrick


Ricardo Nazario y Colón is a Puerto Rican poet, language teacher, former Marine, co-founder of the Affrilachian poets, and the Chief Diversity Officer for Western Carolina University. He was born in New York, but moved to the south for school. He earned his BA in Latin American studies and Spanish Literature at the University of Kentucky and an MA in Spanish Secondary Education from Pace University. His most recent work, Of Jibaros and Hillbillies, published in 2011, connects Puerto Rican roots to the Affrilachian community through narrative poetry. He has worked to encourage diversity, leadership, and participation in community groups throughout the Appalachian region of the United States.

Ricardo Nazario-Colon


Cassandra Kircher's essay collection, Far Flung: Improvisations on National Parks, Driving to Russia, Not Marrying a Ranger, the Language of Heartbreak, and Other Natural Disasters, was released May 2019 by West Virginia University Press. She is the winner of Flyway’s Notes in the Field Contest, and her work has been short-listed in Best American Essays and nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Individual essays have appeared in North Dakota QuarterlySouth Dakota ReviewCold Mountain ReviewApalachee ReviewPermanent Vacation: Twenty Writers at Work and Life in our National Parks, and others. A ranger in Colorado’s Rocky Mountain National Park for seven seasons during her twenties, she teaches at Elon University. 

Cassie Kircher



Kevin Boyle’s book, Astir, (Jacar Press) was a finalist for the 2016 Brockman-Campbell Prize (judge, Barbara Hamby).  His first collection, A Home for Wayward Girls, won the New Issues Poetry Prize, judged by Rodney Jones, and his chapbook, The Lullaby of History, was selected by David Rivard for the Campbell Award. His poems have appeared widely in journals, including The Greensboro Review, Hollins Critic, North American Review, Pleiades, Prairie Schooner and Virginia Quarterly Review. Kevin grew up in Philadelphia and now teaches writing and literature at Elon University in North Carolina.

Kevin Boyle

Wesley Browne is the author of the 2019 novel Hillbilly Hustle. He is also the founder and host of Pages & Pints Reading Series at Apollo Pizza in Richmond, Kentucky. He lives with his wife and two sons in Madison County, where he practices law, co-owns and helps manage local restaurants and a music venue, and coaches sports.

Wes Browne


Catherine Carter grew up in Greensboro, Maryland, raised by a master gardener and a biologist.  Her collections of poetry with LSU Press include The Memory of Gills and The Swamp Monster at Home, with a third, Larvae of the Nearest Stars, just out in October 2019.  Her poetry has won the North Carolina Literary Review’s James Applewhite Prize, the NC Literary and Historical Society’s Roanoke-Chowan Award, and Jacar Press’ chapbook contest, it has also appeared in Best American Poetry 2009, Orion, Poetry, Ecotone, Tar River Poetry, and Delmarva Review, among othersShe is a professor of English at Western Carolina University.

Catherine Carter

Pamela Duncan is the author of three novels: Moon Women, a Southeast Booksellers Association Award finalist; Plant Life, winner of the 2003 Sir Water Raleigh Award for Fiction; and The Big Beautiful. In 2007, she received the James Still Award for Writing about the Appalachian South, awarded by the Fellowship of Southern Writers. In 2017, the Mountain Heritage Literary Festival at Lincoln Memorial University honored her with the Lee Smith Award, which recognizes an individual who has worked to preserve and promote Appalachian culture. Duncan has appeared on North Carolina Bookwatch on public television and on The State of Things on NPR. She holds a BA in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and an MA in English/Creative Writing from North Carolina State University. Pamela lives in Sylva, NC and teaches creative writing at WCU. She is currently at work on The Wilder Place, a novel set in western North Carolina, and a collection of short fiction titled On the Inside Looking Out.


Pam Duncan

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