2015 ST. AUGUSTINE WRITERS CONFERENCE FACULTY
Genres: Poetry and Creative Nonfiction
“Music has been known to travel phenomenal distances in no time, and in Sascha Feinstein’s Ajanta’s Ledge jazz tropes leapfrog the lived landscapes, from heart to heart, going wherever this authentic American voice dares to venture sonically and spiritually to places of earned solitude. In other words, in Ajanta’s Ledge—from the public to the personal—this poet travels to the past, present, and future, surveying historical fissures while simultaneously creating those moments of healing that true art always reckons with.”~~Yusef Komunyakaa
SASCHA FEINSTEIN is a poet, memoirist, essayist, critic, and editor. His first collection of poems, Misterioso, was selected by Hayden Carruth for the first annual Hayden Carruth Award from Copper Canyon Press. Robert Pinsky described his more recent poetry collection, Ajanta’s Ledge, as “A surge of joy in art, as in certain vocal music, not so much overcoming grief as joining it, even embodying it.” Individual poems have appeared in The American Poetry Review, The Missouri Review, The North American Review, The Penguin Book of the Sonnet, Ploughshares, Poets Against the War, and many other journals and anthologies. His other books include a memoir, Black Pearls: Improvisations on a Lost Year; a critical study, Jazz Poetry: From the 1920s to the Present; and a collection of interviews, Ask Me Now: Conversations on Jazz & Literature. He has also co-edited four books, including The Jazz Poetry Anthology and its companion volume The Second Set (both with Yusef Komunyakaa). In 1996, he founded Brilliant Corners: A Journal of Jazz & Literature, a bi-annual print publication, which he still edits. Since 2007, he has hosted Jazz Standards for WVIA, the NPR station for central Pennsylvania. His awards include the 2008 Pennsylvania Governor’s Award for Artist of the Year. A former core faculty member at Vermont College of Fine Arts, he co-directs the Creative Writing Program at Lycoming College in Williamsport, PA, where he has received their highest awards for teaching. At the moment, he’s concentrating on another collection of creative nonfiction, currently titled Wreckage: A Memoir of Art & Junk. You can learn more about Sascha at SaschaFeinstein.com.
CONNIE MAY FOWLER
Genres: Fiction and Creative Nonfiction
“There is no denying the depth of Connie May Fowler’s talent and the breadth of her imagination.”~~The New York Times Book Review
CONNIE MAY FOWLER is an award-winning novelist, memoirist, and screenwriter. Her most recent novel, How Clarissa Burden Learned to Fly, was published by Grand Central Publishing in 2010 to wide acclaim. “Connie May Fowler is a storyteller extraordinaire,” writes The Barcelona Review in reference to her latest novel. Connie is the author of six other books: five critically praised novels and one memoir. Her novels include Sugar Cage, River of Hidden Dreams, The Problem with Murmur Lee, Remembering Blue—recipient of the Chautauqua South Literary Award—and Before Women had Wings—recipient of the 1996 Southern Book Critics Circle Award and the Francis Buck Award from the League of American Pen Women. Three of her novels have been Dublin International Literary Award nominees. Connie adapted Before Women had Wings for Oprah Winfrey. The result was an Emmy-winning film starring Ms. Winfrey and Ellen Barkin. In 2002 she published When Katie Wakes, a memoir that explores her descent and escape from an abusive relationship. Her work has been translated into 18 languages and is published worldwide. Her essays have been published in the New York Times, London Times, International Herald Tribune, Japan Times, Oxford American, Best Life, and elsewhere. For two years she wrote “Savoring Florida,” a culinary and culture column for FORUM, a publication of the Florida Humanities Council. In 2007, Connie performed in New York City at The Player’s Club with actresses Kathleen Chalfont, Penny Fuller, and others in an adaptation based on The Other Woman, an anthology that contains her essay “The Uterine Blues.” In 2003, Connie performed in The Vagina Monologues alongside Jane Fonda and Rosie Perez in a production that raised over $100,000 for charity. Domestic violence shelters and family violence organizations have honored her with numerous awards. In 2009, she received the first annual Peace, Love, and Understanding Award from WMNF Community Radio. She is currently working on her next project, a environmental memoir that explores the psychological and spiritual effects of the Gulf oil disaster on everyday life along the northern Gulf of Mexico coast. She teaches at the Vermont College of Fine Arts low residency creative writing MFA program. You can learn more about Connie at conniemayfowler.com. Photo credit: ©www.lanceoliverphotography.com
Genres: Poetry, Fiction, Creative Nonfiction
Named one of twenty-five young writers to watch by The Guild Literary Complex.
PARNESHIA JONES is the recipient of a Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Award, a Margaret Walker Short Story Award, and an Aquarius Press Legacy Award. She has received commissions from such organizations as Art for Humanity in South Africa and Shorefront Legacy in Chicago. She studied creative writing at Chicago State University, earned an MFA from Spalding University, and studied publishing at Yale University. Her first book-length collection of poems, Vessel, is forthcoming by Milkweed Publications. Her poems have been published in several anthologies including She Walks in Beauty: A Woman’s Journey Through Poems, edited by Caroline Kennedy, The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South, edited by Nikky Finney, as well as Poetry Speaks Who I Am, a book/CD compilation. She serves on the boards of Cave Canem and the Guild Complex and the advisory board for UniVerse: A United Nations of Poetry. She is a member of the Affrilachian Poets, a collective of Black voices from Appalachia and serves. She has performed her work throughout the United States and internationally, including the Nuyorican Poets Café in New York City, the Art Institute in Chicago, and Vanderbilt University. Parneshia is the Sales and Subsidiary Rights Manager and Poetry Editor for Northwestern University Press. You can read an interview with Parneshia at http://freewebs.com/lilylitreview/5_2JonesInterview.html.
LAURA VAN DEN BERG
Genres: Fiction and Creative Nonfiction
“…a young writer with talent to burn; the beauty of her writing is matched only by the fierce emotional empathy for her characters.”~~The Courier-Journal
LAURA VAN DEN BERG is the author of the story collections What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us, a Barnes & Noble “Discover Great New Writers” selection, and The Isle of Youth, which won the Rosenthal Family Foundation Award from the American Academy of Arts & Letters. The collection was also named a “Best Book of 2013” by over a dozen venues, including NPR, The Boston Globe, and O, The Oprah Magazine. Both collections were shortlisted for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. The recipient of an O. Henry Award and a Pushcart Prize, her work has been anthologized in The Best American Short Stories, The Best American Mystery Stories, and The Best American Nonrequired Reading. Laura’s first novel, Find Me, will be published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux in February. She has recently taught fiction at George Washington University, Johns Hopkins University, Colby College, and in the M.F.A. programs at Emerson College and Warren Wilson College. A native of Florida, she lives in the Boston area. You can learn more about Laura at lauravandenberg.com/.
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