Annette Saunooke Clapsaddle, an enrolled member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) resides in Qualla, NC with her husband their two sons. She holds degrees from Yale University and the College of William and Mary. Her first novel, Going to Water is winner of The Morning Star Award for Creative Writing from the Native American Literature Symposium (2012), and a finalist for the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction (2014). Annette teaches English and Social Studies at Swain County High School. She is co-editor of the Journal of Cherokee Studies and writes periodically for Smoky Mountain Living magazine.
Jesse Donaldson Jesse Donaldson was born and raised in Kentucky, educated in Texas, and now lives in Oregon. He is the author of a novel, The More They Disappear, and a work of nonfiction, On Homesickness.
Tony Kushner is an Academy Award Nominated playwright, screenwriter, essayist, and nonfiction author from New York. He won the Pulitzer Prize for drama in 1993 for his play Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes, and received the National Medal of Arts from Former President Barack Obama. Other than that he has received numerous awards for his work. He wrote the screenplay for the film Lincoln (2012), directed by Steven Spielberg and co-authored Munich in 2005. Both films received critical acclaim, and he was nominated for an Academy Award for best Adapted Screenplay. He is an advocate for public education and the arts, and is very active in modern politics. He is currently working on a nameless play that explores the political landscape of the United States today.
Gertrude Conaway Professor of English at Vanderbilt University, Lorraine M. López is the author of six books of fiction and editor/coeditor of three essay collections. Her first book Soy la Avon Lady and Other Stories won the inaugural Miguel Marmól Prize. Her next publication Call Me Henri was awarded the Paterson Prize for YA Literature. López's short story collection, Homicide Survivors Picnic and Other Stories was a Finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Prize in Fiction in 2010 and winner of the Texas League of Writers Award for Fiction. An Angle of Vision: Women Writers on Their Poor or Working-Class Roots (2009) is her first edited collection. Subsequent publications include three novels: The Gifted Gabaldón Sisters, The Realm of Hungry Spirits, and The Darling and two coedited collections: The Other Latin@: Writing against a Singular Identity and Rituals of Movement in the Writing of Judith Ortiz Cofer.
A native of Asheville, Michael McFee has taught in the Creative Writing Program at UNC-Chapel Hill since 1990. He is the author of eleven books of poetry—including five published by Carnegie Mellon University Press: We Were Once Here, That Was Oasis, Shinemaster, Earthly, and Colander—and two collections of essays, The Napkin Manuscripts: Selected Essays and an Interview (University of Tennessee Press) and the just-published Appointed Rounds: Essays (Mercer University Press). He has received the James Still Award for Writing about the Appalachian South, from the Fellowship of Southern Writers, and the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award from the Western North Carolina Historical Association.
Rose McLarney’s collections of poems are Its Day Being Gone, winner of the National Poetry Series, and Forage, forthcoming, both from Penguin Books, as well as The Always Broken Plates of Mountains, published by Four Way Books. She has received fellowships and prizes from the MacDowell Colony, Bread Loaf, Warren Wilson College, Dartmouth, and the Fellowship of Southern Writers, and her poems have appeared in The Kenyon Review, The Southern Review, New England Review, Prairie Schooner, Missouri Review, The Oxford American, among others. Rose is Associate Professor of Poetry at Auburn University and Co-Editor-in-Chief of The Southern Humanities Review.
Jim Minick is the author of five books, including the novel Fire Is Your Water and The Blueberry Years: A Memoir of Farm and Family, winner of the SIBA Best Nonfiction Book of the Year Award. His honors include the Jean Ritchie Fellowship in Appalachian Writing, and the Fred Chappell Fellowship at University of North Carolina-Greensboro. Minick’s work has appeared in Oxford American, Orion, Shenandoah, Encyclopedia of Appalachia, The Sun, and Conversations with Wendell Berry. Currently, he is Assistant Professor of English at Augusta University and Core Faculty at Converse College’s low-residency MFA program.
Ricardo Nazario-Colon is a Puerto Rican poet, language teacher, former Marine, a 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 B.A. at the University of Kentucky in Latin American studies and Spanish Literature, as well an M.A. from Pace University in Spanish Secondary Education. 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. In the past he has also worked to encourage diversity and provide opportunities at Morehead University.
Pat Riviere-Seel is a poet, a runner, a woman who has lived long enough to have “past” and “former” prefixes for more jobs and volunteer positions than she can name without looking at a resume. She co-edited the anthology Kakalak 2016 and is the author of two prize-winning poetry chapbooks: No Turning Back Now and The Serial Killer’s Daughter, winner of the Roanoke-Chowan Award. The book has been turned into a one-act plan and performed throughout North Carolina by Shared Radiance Theatre. Her most recent poetry collection, Nothing Below but Air, was a semifinalist for the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award. In September 2017, Pat was awarded the Charlie Award at the Carolina Mountains Literary Festival in Burnsville, NC. The award honors an author who exemplifies fine writing and works to build community. The Charlie Award is named to honor author Charles Price, a festival founder. Pat co-edited the 2016 Kakalak anthology and has taught in UNC Asheville’s Great Smokies Writing Program. In 2012 she held a unique position as poet-in-residence at the NC Zoo. Before earning her MFA from Queens University of Charlotte, she worked as a newspaper journalist, publicist, and lobbyist. She lives in Asheville, NC.
Glenn Taylor is the author of the novels A Hanging at Cinder Bottom, The Marrowbone Marble Company, and The Ballad of Trenchmouth Taggart, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. His writing has appeared in Oxford American, The Guardian, and GQ, among others. Glenn was born and raised in Huntington, West Virginia, and he now lives with his wife and three sons in Morgantown, where he teaches in the MFA Program at West Virginia University.
Jessie van Eerden is author of the novels Glorybound (WordFarm, 2012), winner of ForeWord Reviews’ Editor’s Choice Fiction Prize, and My Radio Radio (Vandalia Press, 2016), and the essay collection The Long Weeping (Orison Books, 2017). Her work has appeared in Best American Spiritual Writing, The Oxford American, Willow Springs, and other publications. Jessie holds an MFA in nonfiction from the University of Iowa and directs the low-residency MFA program at West Virginia Wesleyan College.
Frank X Walker is a poet from Kentucky. During his time at the University of Kentucky, he helped co-found the Affrilachian poets, advocating for African American poets and writers in the Appalachian region and helping their voices come through in art. He has published 5 collection of poetry and his most recent work About Flight, published in 2015, is a collection of poems that discusses the difficult issue of drug abuse in his community. His poetry collection Buffalo Dance: The Journey of York won the 2004 Lillian Smith Book Award. In 2016 he was the Poet Laureate of Kentucky, and became the first African American to hold that position. He has made it his mission to focus on issues of social justice and representation.
Dana Wildsmith is the author of a novel, Jumping (Inkbrush Press, 2016), and her memoir, Back to Abnormal: Surviving with an Old Farm in the New South (MotesBooks), won Finalist for 2010 Georgia Author of the Year. She is also the author of four collections of poetry including, One Good Hand Iris Press, 2005), which was a SIBA Poetry Book of the Year nominee. In 2010, she was Artist-in-Residence for Grand Canyon National Park, and will serve as Artist-in-Residence for Everglades National Park in October, 2017.
Crystal Wilkinson is a fiction and nonfiction author from Kentucky who is especially active in the American Feminist and African American literary community. Wilkinson lends a strong voice to the group of Affrilacian poets, a community of African American poets from the Appalachian region. She has received the 2016 Earnest Gaines Fellowship for Literary Excellence, as well as the Sallie Bingham Award from the Kentucky Foundation for Women. She is an advocate for conversation about many issues including mental illness and racism in her community. She has been published in The Oxford American, Southern Exposure, African Voices Magazine and many more. Her most recent work was The Birds of Opulence, which tackles issues of mental health, especially in the African American Appalachian community. She has become an important voice for the representation of African Americans in the South of the United States and offers her own bookstore (Wild Fig Books and Coffee in Lexington) as a platform for conversation on social issues.