This is our speaker list from 2017; stay tuned for the 2018 version! To be notified when it's live, sign up here.
Lauryn Allison is an artist, editor, and the author of the novella Solo Down, which won an Independent Publishers Book Award in the horror category. Her chapbook, The Beauties, won Knee Jerk Magazine's chapbook contest in 2012. Corium Magazine nominated her for a Pushcart Prize, and her fiction, essays, and reviews have been published widely online and in print.
Born in Damascus, Syria in 1968 and now living in Pittsburgh, Osama Alomar is the author of three collections of short stories and a volume of poetry. He is a regular contributor to various newspapers and journals within the Arab world.
Born and raised in the Indian subcontinent, Ignatius Valentine Aloysius earned his MFA in Creative Writing with a distinguished thesis award from Northwestern University’s School of Professional Studies. He teaches advanced writing and experimentation in the Integrated Design and Strategy graduate program at Northwestern, as well, in the English department at Harold Washington College (of the City Colleges of Chicago). Ignatius is a designer and songwriter, and lead guitarist for Reverend Ruin, a hard rock band. His writing has appeared in TriQuarterly, Newcity, the Chicago Tribune, Third Coast Review, The Extraordinary Project Online, and The Sunday Rumpus, among others. He was a recent interdisciplinary resident at Ragdale Foundation in Lake Forest, Illinois, and a Fall 2016 Visiting Artist for the Writing Department at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). He is co-organizer of Sunday Salon Chicago, a bi-monthly reading event series, and he lives with his wife in Evanston.
Dr. Mary Barr is the author of Friends Disappear: The Battle for Racial Equality in Evanston (University of Chicago Press, 2014). The book examines the impact of race and social class on the lives of an interracial group of friends who grew-up in Evanston, Illinois during the suburb’s civil rights movement. Currently, she is researching a 1965 open housing campaign that challenged discriminatory practices in suburbs north of Chicago. She is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Black Metropolis Research Consortium, and American Council of Learned Societies. Her areas of interest include the northern civil rights movement, educational inequalities, and race and racism. She is a Lecturer in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Clemson University in South Carolina.
Virginia Bell is the author of From the Belly (Sibling Rivalry Press 2012). Her poems and personal essays have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and have appeared in Hypertext Review, Fifth Wednesday Journal, Gargoyle, Cider Press Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, Poet Lore, and other journals and anthologies, including The Burden of Light: Poems on Illness and Loss. Her personal essay, “Fish,” was a finalist in two creative nonfiction contests in 2016: The Chattahoochee Review and The Center for Women Writers. Bell is a Senior Editor with RHINO Poetry, an adjunct professor of English at Loyola University Chicago, DePaul University, and The Chicago High School for the Arts, and the recipient of a Ragdale Foundation residency in 2015.
Aozora Brockman was raised on an organic vegetable farm in Central Illinois, and is the author of two chapbooks, The Happiness of Dirt and Memory of a Girl. She is the recipient of the 2015 Jean Meyer Aloe Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets, and her creative work has been published in PANK, the Cortland Review, Fifth Wednesday, and other journals. She lives, works, and writes in the haven of her family’s farm.
Richard Cahan is a journalist who writes about photography, art, and history. He worked for the Chicago Sun-Times from 1983 to 1999, primarily serving as the paper’s picture editor. He left to found and direct CITY 2000, a project that documented Chicago in the year 2000. Since then, he has authored or co-authored more than a dozen books, including books about Chicago photographers Richard Nickel and Vivian Maier.
Bruce Carruthers is Director of Northwestern's Buffett Institute for Global Studies and John D. MacArthur Professor of Sociology. His current research projects include a study of the historical evolution of credit as a problem in the sociology of trust, regulatory arbitrage, what modern derivatives markets reveal about the relationship between law and capitalism, and the regulation of credit for poor people in early 20th-century America. His books include Money and Credit, which analyzes the foundation of consumer and corporate credit markets. His current projects include a study of the historical evolution of credit as a problem in the sociology of trust.
Keidra Chaney is the co-founder of The Learned Fangirl, and has written for Clamor Magazine. She is a founding member of a local indie newspaper, Third Coast Press. She is a musician in Sole Heiress, a three-piece rock band inspired by sci-fi and 90’s alt rock. She teaches regularly at StoryStudio Chicago and works on the Citizen Engagement Laboratory’s Cultural Pulse Project as a politics and pop culture analyst and writer.
Suzanne Clores is a writer, editor, consultant, and teacher. She is the author of Memoirs of a Spiritual Outsider (Conari 2000) and her work has appeared in Salon.com, Chicago Public Radio, Huffington Post, Shambhala Sun, SMITH, The Nervous Breakdown, The Sunday Rumpus, and many other publications. She has taught in the MA/MFA program at Northwestern University, and at the Northwestern Summer Writers' Conference. She holds an MFA in fiction from the University of Arizona. She lives with her family in Chicago.
Kevin Coval is a poet and community builder. As the artistic director of Young Chicago Authors, founder of Louder Than A Bomb: The Chicago Youth Poetry Festival, and professor at the University of Illinois-Chicago—where he teaches hip-hop aesthetics—he’s mentored thousands of young writers, artists, and musicians. He is the author and editor of 10 books, including The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop and Schtick, and co-author of the play, This is Modern Art. His work has appeared in Poetry Magazine, The Drunken Boat, Chicago Tribune, CNN, Fake Shore Drive, Huffington Post, and four seasons of HBO’s Def Poetry Jam. Coval’s collection, A People's History of Chicago, drops in April 2017 on Haymarket Books.
Born in London in 1971, Christopher de Bellaigue has worked as a journalist in the Middle East and South Asia since 1994. His first book, In the Rose Garden of the Martyrs: A Memoir of Iran, was shortlisted for the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize. His second book, The Struggle for Iran, was a collection of 14 essays on Iranian culture and politics, all of which originally appeared in The New York Review of Books. His most recent book, Rebel Land: Unraveling the Riddle of History in a Turkish Town, was shortlisted for the prestigious Orwell Book Prize for political writing. Christopher de Bellaigue is the Tehran correspondent for The Economist and a frequent contributor to The New Yorker, Granta, Harper’s, and The New York Review of Books. He lives in London with his wife and two children.
Martin L. Deppe is a retired United Methodist Church pastor in Chicago. He attended the first organizing meeting of Operation Breadbasket and worked with Breadbasket until its close, and is the author of Operation Breadbasket: An Untold Story of Civil Rights in Chicago, 1966–1971 (University of Georgia Press, 2017).
Toi Derricotte is the author of The Undertaker’s Daughter (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2011) and four earlier collections of poetry, including Tender, winner of the 1998 Paterson Poetry Prize. Her literary memoir, The Black Notebooks (W.W. Norton), received the 1998 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Non-Fiction and was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Her honors include, among many others, the 2012 Paterson Poetry Prize for Sustained Literary Achievement, the 2012 PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry, the Lucille Medwick Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, two Pushcart Prizes and the Distinguished Pioneering of the Arts Award from the United Black Artists. Derricotte is the co-founder of Cave Canem Foundation (with Cornelius Eady), Professor Emerita at the University of Pittsburgh and a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.
Beth Dooley has been involved with the local food movement for over twenty years. She is the author of numerous award-winning cookbooks about Heartland food traditions and her travel and food writing has been featured in the Star Tribune, Fine Cooking, Delta Sky Magazine, and the North American Review. Beth and her husband have three sons and live in Minneapolis, MN.
Nancy Doyle, CFA, is the founder of The Doyle Group. She has thirty years of experience in wealth management, investments, corporate finance, and consulting. She is a graduate of Georgetown University and received an MBA from the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business.
Dina Elenbogen, an award winning poet and prose writer, is author of the memoir Drawn from Water: An American Poet, an Ethiopian Family, an Israeli Story (BKMK Press, University of Missouri April 2015) and the poetry collection Apples of the Earth (Spuyten Duyvil, NY). She received two fellowships and an award from the Illinois Arts Council. Her work has been published in magazines including December (recipient of the 2014 Jeff Marks Memorial Award judged by Stephen Berg), Prairie Schooner, Poet Lore, TIkkun, Bellevue Literary Review, Rhino, Paterson Literary Review, Newcity, and anthologies such as Lost on the Map of the World (Peter Lang, NY), Where We Find Ourselves (SUNY Press), City of the Big Shoulders (University of Iowa Press), Beyond Lament (Northwestern University Press) and Brute Neighbors (De Paul Humanities Center). She teaches creative writing at the University of Chicago Graham School.
Robin Ellis is a British cook, author and actor best known for playing the leading role in the BBC/Masterpiece Theater series, Poldark, based on the novels of Winston Graham. He also appears in the new BBC/Masterpiece adaptation of Poldark, this time as Rev. Dr. Halse opposite Aidan Turner's Ross Poldark. Robin has had a long career in British theatre, including a stint with the Royal Shakespeare Company. He lives in Southwestern France with his American wife and a menagerie of animals. His lifelong passion for cooking plus a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes led to writing his first cookbook, Delicious Dishes for Diabetics: Eating Well with Type 2 Diabetes. His second cookbook (in which diabetes is not highlighted, though all the recipes are suitable for Type 2 diabetics) is titled Healthy Eating for Life. His third cookbook, Mediterranean Cooking for Diabetics, is an update on the first, with an addition of over 250 color photographs of his home in France, the village, the cuisine and the recipes. He blogs regularly on food, cooking and French rural life at http://robin-ellis.net/. He has a Facebook page: Robin Ellis robin-ellis.net and you can follow him on Twitter at @RobinPoldark.
Emil Ferris grew up Chicago during the turbulent 1960s, where she still lives, and is consequently a devotee of all things monstrous and horrific. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from The School of the Art Institute.
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.
Vievee Francis is the author of Blue-Tail Fly (Wayne State University Press, 2006), Horse in the Dark (Northwestern University Press, 2012), and Forest Primeval (Northwestern University Press, 2016), winner of the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Poetry. She is an associate professor at Dartmouth College and an associate editor for Callaloo.
John S. Green's play The Liquid Moon was first produced at Chicago Dramatists, where it won Chicago’s Jeff Award and the After Dark Award for Best New Play. It was subsequently produced at the Barter Theatre, nominated for the Pulitzer, and published in the anthology New Plays from Chicago. His musical Let It Play was produced at Chicago's Body Politic Theatre and the 78th Street Playhouse in Manhattan, and his comedy Hamburger Twins was produced by Michael Leavitt at the Body Politic and Briar Street Theatre. He is a Resident Alum with Chicago Dramatists, and as an actor, he won the Joseph Jefferson Award for Of Mice and Men. His short story "The Me Zone" won the Leon Forrest Prose Award.
Mike Grosso is a musician and a fourth-grade teacher who always keeps a guitar in his classroom. His father gave him his first lesson, and his mom taught him how to keep a steady rhythm. Mike continues to write and record music at his home in Oak Park, Illinois, where he lives with his wife, son, and a drum set he plays much too loud. I AM DRUMS is his first novel, and its accompanying soundtrack, Songs for Sam(antha), is available at many digital music outlets.
S. Afzal Haider is founder and senior editor of Chicago Quarterly Review. His short stories and essays have been published in a variety of literary magazines. Oxford University Press, Milkweed Editions, Penguin Books, Pearson and Longman Literature have anthologized his writings. He is author of the novel To Be With Her (Weavers Press).
Kristy Woodson Harvey is the author of Dear Carolina (Berkley/Penguin Random House, 2015), Lies and Other Acts of Love (Berkley/Penguin Random House, 2016) and the Peachtree Bluff Series, beginning with Slightly South of Simple (Gallery/Simon & Schuster, 2017). Dear Carolina was long-listed for the Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize, has been optioned for film and has appeared on numerous “must-read” lists. Lies and Other Acts of Love was a Romantic Times top pick, a Southern Booksellers Okra Pick and was chosen to be a part of the 2017 Trio display, an integration of story, art and song, which will spend the year traveling the country.
Bestselling crime fiction author Libby Fischer Hellmann claims she's "writing her way around the genre." With eleven novels and twenty short stories published, she has written thrillers, suspense mysteries, historicals, PI novels, amateur sleuth, police procedurals, and even a cozy mystery. She has been nominated for the Anthony (twice), the Agatha, Foreword Reviews “Thriller of the Year" (twice), and has won the Lovey multiple times. She lives in Chicago and claims they’ll take her out of there feet first.
Aleksandar Hemon is the author of The Book of My Lives, The Making of Zombie Wars, and The Lazarus Project, which was a finalist for the 2008 National Book Award and National Book Critics Circle Award. He has published three collections of short stories: The Question of Bruno; Nowhere Man, which was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award; and Love and Obstacles. Born in Sarajevo, Hemon visited Chicago in 1992, intending to stay for a matter of months. While he was there, Sarajevo came under siege, and he was unable to return home. Hemon wrote his first story in English in 1995. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2003 and a genius grant from the MacArthur Foundation in 2004.
Cathy Park Hong is the author of Translating Mo'um (Hanging Loose Press, 2002); Dance Dance Revolution (W.W. Norton, 2007), winner of the Barnard New Women Poets Prize; and Engine Empire (W.W. Norton, 2012). She is the recipient of fellowships from the Fulbright Foundation, the NEA, and the New York Foundation for the Arts. Her writing on politics and her reviews have appeared in the Village Voice, the Guardian, Salon, Christian Science Monitor, and New York Times Magazine. She is an associate professor at Sarah Lawrence College and is regular faculty at the Queens MFA program in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Jessica Hopper is Executive Editor at MTV News and the author of The First Collection of Criticism by a Living Female Rock Critic
Albert Hunter grew up in Evanston (Orrington, Haven and ETHS). He is a professor of sociology at Northwestern University and has served as Chair of the NU faculty senate. He has degrees from Cornell (BA) and the University of Chicago (MA PhD). He has previously taught at the University of Chicago, Wesleyan University, and the University of Rochester, with visiting appointments at Yale, the London School of Economics, the University of Edinburgh, and the University of Paris. He is the author of numerous articles and six books that include Symbolic Communities: The Persistence and Change of Chicago’s Local Communities and most recently Pragmatic Liberalism: Constructing a Civil Society. He continues research on the “symbolic ecology” of cities including a comparative study of neighborhood response to gangs, ethnic immigrant communities, a variety of local voluntary organizations, a comparison of Chicago’s rich and poor suburbs, and a comparative study of civil society in the US and the UK. He has also served as Chair of the Evanston Plan Commission, and is one the founders of the Nichols Neighbors local community organization.
Angela Jackson is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including Voo Doo/Love Magic (1974); Dark Legs and Silk Kisses (TriQuarterly, 1993), which won the Carl Sandburg Award; And All These Roads Be Luminous (TriQuarterly, 1998); and It Seems Like a Mighty Long Time (TriQuarterly, 2015). She has also written several plays, including Witness! (1978), Shango Diaspora: An African-American Myth of Womanhood and Love (1980), and When the Wind Blows (1984). Her novel Where I Must Go (TriQuarterly, 2009) won the American Book Award. Jackson’s honors include a Pushcart Prize, TriQuarterly’s Daniel Curley Award, the Poetry Society of America’s Shelley Memorial Award, the Academy of American Poets Prize, and grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Illinois Arts Council. Jackson lives in Chicago.
Nadine Kenney Johnstone's memoir, Of This Much I'm Sure, is out from She Writes Press in April. She teaches English at Loyola University and received her MFA from Columbia College in Chicago. Her work has been featured in Chicago magazine, The Moth, PANK, and various anthologies, including The Magic of Memoir. Nadine is a writing coach who presents at conferences internationally. She lives near Chicago with her family.
Chris Jones is the Chicago Tribune's chief theater critic. He has served as the touring theater critic for Variety and Daily Variety and spent 10 years teaching at Northern Illinois University, where he served as both an associate professor and as assistant chair of the School of Theatre and Dance. He also served as associate dean of DePaul University's Theatre School, where he continues to be an adjunct professor. A native of Manchester, England, Jones earned a doctorate from the Ohio State University in 1989. He lives in Evanston.
Parneshia Jones studied creative writing at Chicago State University and earned an MFA from Spalding University. Her first book is Vessel (2015), and her poems have been published in anthologies such as The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South (2007), Poetry Speaks Who I Am (2010), and She Walks in Beauty: A Woman’s Journey Through Poems (2011), edited by Caroline Kennedy. Jones’s poems have been featured on Chicago Public Radio, and she is a member of Affrilachian Poets, a collective of black poets from Appalachia. The recipient of a Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Award, a Margaret Walker Short Story Award, and an Aquarius Press Legacy Award, Jones has received commissions from such organizations as Art for Humanity in South Africa and Shorefront Legacy in Chicago and performed her work internationally. She serves on the boards of Cave Canem and the Guild Complex and the advisory board for UniVerse: A United Nations of Poetry. Currently, Parneshia holds positions as Sales and Community Outreach Manager and Poetry Editor at Northwestern University Press.
John R. Keene was born in St. Louis in 1965. He graduated from the St. Louis Priory School, Harvard College, and New York University, where he was a New York Times Fellow. In 1989, Mr. Keene joined the Dark Room Writers Collective, and is a Graduate Fellow of the Cave Canem Writers Workshops. He is the author of Annotations and Counternarratives, both published by New Directions, as well as several other works, including the poetry collection Seismosis, with artist Christopher Stackhouse, and a translation of Brazilian author Hilda Hilst's novel Letters from a Seducer. He teaches at Rutgers University-Newark. A member of the Dark Room Collective, Keene received an award from the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation and fellowships from Cave Canem, the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the New York Times Foundation, Yaddo, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and the Pan-African Literary Forum. He has taught at Northwestern University and Rutgers University and served as the managing editor of Callaloo. He divides his time between Chicago and New Jersey.
Ryan Kenealy lives in Evanston with his wife and two sons. Animals in Peril is his debut collection.
Anita Olivia Koester is a Chicago poet. She is the author of the chapbooks Marco Polo (Hermeneutic Chaos Press), Apples or Pomegranates (forthcoming with Porkbelcy Press), and Arrow Songs, which won Paper Nautilus’ Vella Chapbook Contest. She is the poetry editor for Duende. Her poetry is published or forthcoming in Vinyl, Tahoma Literary Review, CALYX Journal, Tupelo Quarterly, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, and elsewhere. Her poems have been nominated for Best New Poets and Pushcart Prizes, and won Midwestern Gothic’s Lake Prize as well as the Jo-Anne Hirshfield Memorial Poetry Award. She is the recipient of the Bread Loaf Returning Contributors Award and her writing has been supported by Vermont Studio Center, Art Farm, and SAFTA. Visit her online at- www.anitaoliviakoester.com
Alex Kotlowitz is perhaps best known for his national bestseller, There Are No Children Here: The Story of Two Boys Growing Up in the Other America, which the New York Public Library selected as one of the 150 most important books of the twentieth century. Alex’s nonfiction stories, which one critic wrote “inform the heart”, have appeared in print, radio and film. From his documentary, The Interrupters, to his stories in The New York Times Magazine and on public radio’s This American Life, he’s been honored in all three mediums.
Bruce Kraig, PhD, is an internationally recognized food historian who has written and hosted a series of award-winning food documentaries for PBS and has published several cookbooks and food history books.
Jennifer Lackey specializes in epistemology and philosophy of mind. Her recent research focuses on the epistemology of testimony, norms of assertion, epistemic luck, credit for knowledge, and the epistemic significance of disagreement. She has co-edited (with Ernest Sosa) The Epistemology of Testimony (2006, Oxford University Press) and is the author of Learning from Words: Testimony as a Source of Knowledge (2008, Oxford: Oxford University Press). She has been the recipient of a Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellowship through the American Council of Learned Societies (2007-2008), as well as a Summer Stipend through the National Endowment for the Humanities. She is also a winner of the Young Epistemologist Prize (2005).
Quraysh Ali Lansana is author of eight poetry books, three textbooks, three children's books, editor of eight anthologies, and coauthor of a book of pedagogy. He is a faculty member of the Writing Program of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and a former faculty member of the Drama Division of The Juilliard School. Lansana served as Director of the Gwendolyn Brooks Center for Black Literature and Creative Writing at Chicago State University from 2002-2011, where he was also Associate Professor of English/Creative Writing until 2014. Our Difficult Sunlight: A Guide to Poetry, Literacy & Social Justice in Classroom & Community (with Georgia A. Popoff) was published in March 2011 by Teachers & Writers Collaborative and was a 2012 NAACP Image Award nominee. His most recent books include Revise the Psalm: Work Celebrating the Writings of Gwendolyn Brooks with Sandra Jackson-Opoku (Curbside Splendor, 2017); A Gift from Greensboro (Penny Candy Books, 2016); The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip Hop with Kevin Coval and Nate Marshall (Haymarket Books, 2015) and The Walmart Republic with Christopher Stewart (Mongrel Empire Press, 2014). Forthcoming titles include: The Whiskey of Our Discontent: Gwendolyn Brooks as Conscience & Change Agent with Georgia A. Popoff (Haymarket Books, 2017), and Clara Luper: The Woman Who Rallied the Children with Julie Dill (Oklahoma Hall of Fame Press, 2018).
Juan Martinez (PhD, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, 2011) is a fiction writer. He was born in Bucaramanga, Colombia, and has since lived in Orlando, Florida, and Las Vegas, Nevada. His work has appeared in various literary journals and anthologies, including Glimmer Train, McSweeney's, TriQuarterly, Conjunctions, National Public Radio's Selected Shorts, Norton's Sudden Fiction Latino: Short-Short Stories from the United States and Latin America, and The Perpetual Engine of Hope: Stories Inspired by Iconic Vegas Photographs. Best Worst American, his story collection, was published in February 2017.
Donovan Mixon was a full-time faculty member at Berklee College of Music when in 1988 he won an NEA grant for jazz composition. Five years later he moved to Europe for professional and artistic development. During these years Donovan released four recordings that feature prominent musicians from Boston, to Milan to Istanbul. The apex of his recording career to date was recording Free With Lee with Philology Records. In 2000, Advance Music published his critically acclaimed music text Performance Ear Training. Ahgottahandleonit, published by Cinco Puntos Press, is his first YA novel.
Faisal Mohyuddin teaches English at Highland Park High School in suburban Chicago, is a recent fellow in the U.S. Department of State's Teachers for Global Classrooms program and received an MFA in fiction writing from Columbia College in 2015. His writing has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Narrative, Poet Love, Atlanta Review, RHINO, Crab Orchard Review, the minnesota review, Indivisible: An Anthology of South Asian American Poetry, and elsewhere. Also a visual artist, he lives in Chicago with his wife and son.
Raquel Monroe holds a Ph.D. in performance studies from UCLA. She is an Associate Professor in Dance at Columbia College Chicago. Raquel has performed in children’s theater in Phoenix and Los Angeles. Monroe is published in the Journal of Pan African Studies and E. Patrick Johnson’s and Ramón Rivera-Severa’s solo/black/woman: Performing Black Feminisms, and Melissa Blanco-Borreli’s The Oxford Handbook: Dance and the Popular Screen (Oxford University Press, July 2014). She serves on the board for the Society of Dance History Scholars, is a member of the Collegium for African Diaspora Dance, and is an enthusiastic yoga instructor.
Dipika Mukherjee's two poetry collections include The Third Glass of Wine (Writers Workshop 2015) and The Palimpsest of Exile (Rubicon Press 2009). She is contributing editor for Jaggery and curates an Asian American reading series in Chicago. Her debut novel was long-listed for the Man Asian Literary Prize as an unpublished manuscript, then published as Thunder Demons (Gyanna Books 2011) and Ode to Broken Things (Repeater Books 2016, distributed by Penguin/Random House). The unpublished manuscript of her second novel won the Virginia Prize for Fiction and was published as Shambala Junction by Aurora Metro Books (2016). She won the Gayatri GaMarsh Award for Literary Excellence (2015) and the Platform Flash Fiction Prize (2009). Her short story collection is Rules of Desire (Fixi Novo 2015), and her edited anthologies on Southeast Asian fiction include Champion Fellas (Word Works 2016), Silverfish New Writing 6 (Silverfish Books 2006) and The Merlion and Hibiscus (Penguin 2002).
Joan Nathan is the author of eleven cookbooks, including her upcoming work, King Solomon’s Table: a Culinary Exploration of Jewish Cooking from Around the World, coming out on April 4, 2017 from Alfred P. Knopf. Her previous cookbook, Quiches, Kugels and Couscous: My Search for Jewish Cooking in France (Knopf), was named one of the 10 best cookbooks of 2010 by NPR, Food and Wine, and Bon Appétit magazines. She is a regular contributor to The New York Times and Tablet Magazine. In 1994, Nathan’s Jewish Cooking in America won both the James Beard Award for the best American cookbook and the IACP/Julia Child Cookbook of the Year Award. Her other books include Foods of Israel Today, Joan Nathan’s Jewish Holiday Cookbook, The Jewish Holiday Baker, The Children’s Jewish Holiday Kitchen, The Jewish Holiday Kitchen, and The Flavor of Jerusalem. Ms. Nathan’s PBS television series, Jewish Cooking in America with Joan Nathan, was nominated in 2000 for the James Beard Award for Best National Television Food Show. She is an inductee to the James Beard Foundation’s Who’s Who in American Food and Beverage.
Toni Nealie is the author of The Miles Between Me, an essay collection about borders, homeland, dispersal, heritage and family, published by Curbside Splendor. Her essays have appeared in Guernica, Hobart, the Offing, the Rumpus, Entropy, the Prague Revue and elsewhere. Her essay "The Displeasure of the Table" was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Originally from New Zealand, where she worked in journalism, politics and public relations, she holds an MFA from Columbia College Chicago. She currently teaches and writes in Chicago, where she is literary editor of Newcity and coeditor of the Sunday Rumpus.
Elizabeth O'Connell-Thompson is the Literary Coordinator of the Chicago Publishers' Resource Center and a Poetry Ambassador for the Poetry Foundation. Her work has been published in RHINO, Banshee, The Fourth River, and The Best New British and Irish Poets, among others. Her chapbook will be released with Dancing Girl Press in late 2017. Get in touch at EOTwrites.com
David Pickett is the LEGO filmmaker behind BRICK 101 and Nightly News at Nine. With David Pagano, he runs the LEGO animation blog The Set Bump.
Mike Puican has had poems in Poetry, Michigan Quarterly Review, Bloomsbury Review, and New England Review, among others. His essays and reviews have appeared in TriQuarterly, Kenyon Review, Brevity, and MAKE Magazine. He won the 2004 Tia Chucha Press Chapbook Contest for his chapbook, 30 Seconds. Mike was a member of the 1996 Chicago Slam Team and for the past ten years was president of the board of the Guild Literary Complex in Chicago.
Maggie Queeney is the Library Coordinator at the Poetry Foundation. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Syracuse University. Her work has appeared, or is shortly forthcoming, in Poet Lore, Poetry Northwest, Copper Nickel, Southern Poetry Review, Conjunctions, and The Southeast Review, among others. She reads and writes in Chicago.
Natania Rosenfeld is a professor of English at Knox College. Her poetry, essays and fiction have been published in numerous journals, including Raritan, Michigan Quarterly Review, The American Poetry Review, and Fairy Tale Review. Her book of poems, Wild Domestic, came out from Sheep Meadow Press in Spring 2015. An essay she published last winter in Fifth Wednesday, “Dancing Woman: Girlhood with Pictures,” has been nominated for a Pushcart, and two essays have been listed as Notable in Best American Essay anthologies. Last June, a fellowship at Hawthornden Castle helped her to work on essays and revise her novel-in-progress, Hidden. She is the author of a critical book, Outsiders Together: Virginia and Leonard Woolf (Princeton University Press, 2000).
Dario Robleto was born in San Antonio, Texas in 1972 and received his BFA from the University of Texas at San Antonio in 1997. He lives and works in Houston, TX. He has had numerous solo exhibitions since 1997. He has been a visiting artist and lecturer at many universities and institutions, and his awards have included the International Association of Art Critics Award for best exhibition in a commercial gallery at the national level (2004) and recipient of both the Joan Mitchell Foundation Grant (2007) and the USA Rasmuson Fellowship (2009). He has been a research fellow and resident at institutions such as the Menil Collection (2014); the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center for the Arts (2014); Rice University (2013-14); and the Smithsonian Museum of American History (2011). In 2015 he joined a distinguished team of scientists as the artistic consultant to “Breakthrough Message”—a multi-national effort that aims to encourage intellectual and technical debate about how and what to communicate if the current search for intelligent beings beyond Earth is successful. He is currently serving as an Artist-in-Residence in Neuroaesthetics at the University of Houston’s Cullen College of Engineering and at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, CA. In 2015 he also joined the Board of Directors of Artpace, San Antonio, TX, and was recently appointed as the 2016 Texas State Artist Laureate.
Renee Rosen is the bestselling author of White Collar Girl, What The Lady Wants: A Novel of Marshall Field and the Gilded Age and Dollface: A Novel of the Roaring Twenties, as well as the young adult novel, Every Crooked Pot. Her latest novel, Windy City Blues, was published in February, 2017, from Penguin Random House. She lives in Chicago, where she is currently working on a new novel.
Bill Savage teaches Chicago literature and history at Northwestern University and the Newberry Library. His freelance work has appeared in many Chicago publications, including the Tribune, the Reader, Chicago Magazine, and Newcity; he performs live lit at the Paper Machete, the Frunchroom, and other venues. His latest book is an annotated edition of George Ade's The Old-Time Saloon, wherein he drew on scholarship regarding Chicago history, as well as personal experience of over 30 years tending bar.
Morton Schapiro is President of Northwestern University and a professor of economics in Northwestern's Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. He is among the nation's leading authorities on the economics of higher education, with particular expertise in the area of college financing and affordability and on trends in educational costs and student aid. Schapiro has written more than 100 articles and written or edited nine books, most with his longtime co-author Michael McPherson. These include: The Student Aid Game: Meeting Need and Rewarding Talent in American Higher Education (Princeton University Press 1998); Paying the Piper: Productivity, Incentives and Financing in Higher Education (also with Gordon Winston, University of Michigan Press 1993) and Keeping College Affordable: Government and Educational Opportunity (Brookings 1991), plus three recent edited volumes: The Fabulous Future?: America and the World in 2040 (with Gary Saul Morson, Northwestern University Press 2015),College Success: What It Means and How to Make It Happen (College Board 2008) and College Access: Opportunity or Privilege? (College Board 2006).
Donna Seaman is Editor, Adult Books, Booklist, a member of the advisory council for the American Writers Museum, and a recipient of the James Friend Memorial Award for Literary Criticism and the Studs Terkel Humanities Service Award. She has reviewed for the Chicago Tribune and Los Angeles Times, among others. She has written biocritical essays for the Oxford Encyclopedia of American Literature and American Writers. Her author interviews are collected in Writers on the Air: Conversations about Books. Her latest book is Identity Unknown: Rediscovering Seven American Women Artists. She lives in Chicago.
Sandra Seaton is a playwright and librettist. Her libretto for the solo opera From the Diary of Sally Hemings, set to music by Pulitzer Prize-winning composer William Bolcom, has been performed at Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center. Seaton’s spoken word piece about Dr. King’s Chicago march, King: A Reflection on the Life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., features Met tenor George Shirley’s accompanying spirituals. The first of Sandra Seaton’s twelve plays, The Bridge Party, set in Tennessee during World War II, dramatizes a confrontation between members of an African American women’s bridge club and white deputies engaged in a house-to-house search. Other plays include The Will, set during Reconstruction, Music History or A Play About Greeks and SNCC in 1963, about African American college students during the Civil Rights era, and Estate Sale, whose protagonist must confront memories of her father. A graduate of Chicago’s Farragut High School, Sandra Seaton has been awarded residencies at Ragdale, Hedgebrook, and Yaddo artists’ colonies.
Colleen Taylor Sen received her B.A. (Hons.) and M.A. in Slavic Studies from the University of Toronto and her Ph.D. in Slavic Languages and Literatures from Columbia University, New York. Her contributions to the field include articles and reviews on interwar Polish literature and many translations from Polish and Russian, including Roy Medvedev’s Let History Judge: The Origins and Consequences of Stalinism. After teaching at Roosevelt University, she joined Institute of Gas Technology, an energy research institute that at the time was affiliated with Illinois Institute of Technology. She was hired as an editor, and over the years held various editorial, policy and managerial positions. Throughout her career Colleen continued freelance writing on such topics as chess, dogs, travel and food, encouraged by her husband, Ashish. His late mother, Arati Sen, was a well-known Indian writer whose column in the Bengali journal Desh was one of the most widely read in India. Colleen’s articles have appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun Times, Christian Science Monitor, Toronto Globe and Mail, Travel and Leisure, Food Arts, Yoga International, and elsewhere. In 1998 she began attending the Oxford Symposia on Food and Cookery in the U.K. and has become a regular participant. She lives on the North Side of Chicago with Ashish and their Cardigan Welsh Corgi Gatewyn Krishna's Gopi.
Dan Sinker heads up the Knight-Mozilla OpenNews project for Mozilla and is the co-host of the Says Who? podcast. From 2008-2011 he taught in the journalism department at Columbia College Chicago where he focused on entrepreneurial journalism and the mobile web. He was the founding editor of the influential underground culture magazine Punk Planet until its closure in 2007, and is the editor of We Owe You Nothing: Punk Planet, the collected interviews and was a 2007-08 Knight Fellow at Stanford University. He is also the creator of the famous Twitter account @MayorEmanuel, as well as author of the book The F***ing Epic Twitter Quest of @MayorEmanuel.
Patricia Smith is a renaissance artist of unmistakable signature, recognized as a force in the fields of poetry, playwriting, fiction, performance and creative collaboration. She is the author of six critically-acknowledged volumes of poetry, including Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah, winner of the 2014 Rebekah Bobbitt Prize from the Library of Congress, the 2013 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize from the Academy American Poets and the Phillis Wheatley Award in Poetry; Blood Dazzler (a National Book Award finalist), and Teahouse of the Almighty (a National Poetry Series winner), all from Coffee House Press; Close to Death and Big Towns, Big Talk, both from Zoland Books, and Life According to Motown from Tia Chucha Press. She also edited the crime fiction anthology Staten Island Noir. Her other books include Africans in America (Harcourt Brace), a companion volume to the groundbreaking four-part PBS history series, and the children’s book, Janna and the Kings, a Lee & Low Books New Voices Award winner.
Shawn Smith is an artist and designer, and the creator of Shawnimals + Ninjatown.
Christine Sneed, winner of the 21st Century Award from the Chicago Public Library Foundation, is the author most recently of The Virginity of Famous Men (Bloomsbury, 2016), a story collection, which was a finalist for Chicago Review of Books's 2016 best work of fiction and one of four featured titles in Northern Public Radio WNIJ's Read with Me winter 2017 book club. Sneed is also the author of the novels Paris, He Said, Little Known Facts, and a second story collection, Portraits of a Few of the People I've Made Cry, a 2009 AWP Grace Paley Prize winner, a finalist for the 2010 Los Angeles Times Book Award (first-fiction category), winner of the 2011 John C. Zacharis First Book Award from Ploughshares, and 2011 Book of the Year from the Chicago Writers Association (in the traditionally published fiction category). Sneed's short stories have appeared in The O. Henry Prize Stories, Best American Short Stories, New England Review, Glimmer Train, Ploughshares, The Southern Review, Meridian, Pleiades, Notre Dame Review, New Ohio Review, Massachusetts Review, River Styx, and a number of other journals. She has also published many poems in North American literary journals, was awarded an Illinois Arts Council fellowship in poetry in 2003 and has received numerous Pushcart Prize nominations. She earned a Master's of Fine Arts degree in creative writing from Indiana University - Bloomington and a Bachelor of Science degree in French language and literature from Georgetown University. She is the faculty director of the MA/MFA program in creative writing at Northwestern University. She is also on the faculty of Regis University's low-residency MFA program in Denver.
Joy Triche is the founder and publisher of Tiger Stripe Publishing. Through Tiger Stripe, Joy seeks to develop books that celebrate diverse people and works with writers and illustrators from diverse backgrounds to bring stories to life in the form of print and electronic children’s books. Before launching Tiger Stripe in 2012, Joy spent more than 18 years in educational publishing as an editor and managing editor.
Eran Tzelgov is a Hebrew poet, translator and scholar. He is interested in cultural activism and sees literary works as social agents. He published two collections of poems – Selections and The Cat. His debut collection won the ministry of culture’s prize for new and upcoming poets in 2013. Tzelgov published numerous translations (Garcia Lorca, Langston Hughes, Beckett and the Evanston based Nigerian poet – Chris Abani) and his original work was translated into Arabic, English, Hindi and Spanish. His recent publication, a translation of Dylan Thomas' Under Milk Wood was published by Shocken Books (along with sketches, 2015). He is also founder and editor at the independent publishing house Ra'av (Hebrew for hunger).
Scott Turow is the author of ten best-selling works of fiction including Innocent, Presumed Innocent, and The Burden of Proof, and two nonfiction books, including One L, about his experience as a law student. His books have been translated into more than 40 languages, sold more than 30 million copies worldwide and have been adapted into a full-length film and two television miniseries. He frequently contributes essays and op-ed pieces to publications such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, Playboy, and The Atlantic. His latest novel is Testimony.
Gavin Van Horn is the Director of Cultures of Conservation at the Center for Humans and Nature (www.humansandnature.org), an organization dedicated to exploring and promoting moral and civic responsibilities to human communities and the natural world. He is the co-editor of City Creatures: Animal Encounters in the Chicago Wilderness (University of Chicago Press, 2015) and Wildness: Relations of People and Place (University of Chicago Press, 2017). He is currently working on a new book of creative nonfiction, The Channel Coyotes: Otherworlds of the Urban Wild, a personal journey into the ways in which urban wildlife can awaken us to a shared sense of place and fate. You can find out more about Gavin at www.storyforager.com.
Sachin Waikar's award-winning writing appears in national magazines and journals including Esquire, Amazon's Day One, Drunken Boat, South Asia Review, Highlights, Parents, Kahani and several published anthologies. His screenwriting has placed in HBO/Miramax's Project Greenlight and been nominated for an ABC/Disney Talent Development Grant. As a freelance writer he writes for businesses, universities and individuals. Before turning to writing he worked as a business strategy consultant for McKinsey & Company and a Beverly Hills psychologist. A member of Phi Beta Kappa, he earned a BA in psychology with honors and distinction from Stanford University and a PhD in clinical psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles. He lives in Evanston with his family.
Rudolph (Butch) Ware is associate professor of history at the University of Michigan. He specializes in premodern West African history, especially the study of Islam, popular religious culture, and race. Ware’s book, The Walking Qur’an Islamic Education, Embodied Knowledge, and History in West Africa (University of North Carolina Press, 2014) documents the profound significance of Qur’anic schools for West African Muslim communities, demonstrating how the transmission of Islamic knowledge has taken place as much on the body as on paper. The book also examines the ways in which Qur’anic schools have articulated with Sufi orders, Muslim reformers, and the state in the recent past. Ware’s English translation of an original Arabic poem (“In Praise of the Intercessor”) by Amadu Bamba Mbacké appeared in Islamic Africa in 2013.
Zachary Wright is associate professor in residence in the Liberal Arts Program at Northwestern University in Qatar, with joint appointments in history and religious studies. Wright received his PhD (history) from Northwestern University, with a dissertation focusing on the history of Islamic knowledge transmission in West Africa. His book publications include Living Knowledge in West African Islam: the Sufi Community of Ibrahim Niasse (Brill, 2015) and On the Path of the Prophet: Shaykh Ahmad Tijani and the Tariqa Muhammadiyya (AAII & Faydah Books, 2005, 2015). He has also translated a number of West African Arabic texts into English, with publications such as The Removal of Confusion concerning the Saintly Seal (Fons Vitae, 2010, and reprint forthcoming), Pearls from the Flood (Faydah Books, 2015), and Islam the Religion of Peace (Light of Eminence, 2013). His current research concerns eighteenth-century Islamic intellectual history in North Africa.