Below are the judges for West Virginia Writers 2017 Writing Contests.
Dana Wildsmith is the author of an environmental memoir, Back to Abnormal: Surviving with an Old Farm in the New South (MotesBooks), which was a Finalist for Georgia Author of the Year in Essay, four collections of poetry: One Good Hand, Iris Press, 2005), Our Bodies Remember (The Sow’s Ear Press, 2000), Annie (Palanquin Press, 1999), and Alchemy (The Sow’s Ear Press, 1995). One Good Hand was a SIBA Poetry Book of the Year nominee. She has served as Artist-in-Residence for the Grand Canyon National Park and for The Island Institute in Sitka, Alaska, and has been a Poetry Fellow with the South Carolina Academy Of Authors. Her work is widely published in journals and anthologies, including most recently: Writing By ear (MotesBooks), Listen Here: Women Writing in Appalachia (University Press of Kentucky), The Southern Poetry Anthology (Texas Review Press, 2007), and Women, Period (Spinsters Ink). Wildsmith lives in Bethlehem, Georgia.
BOOK LENGTH PROSE/YOUNG ADULT
Tom Douglass is the Appalachian Echoes fiction editor for the University of Tennessee Press. He is the author of A Room Forever: The Life, Work and Letters of Breece D’J Pancake (1998) and the upcoming Voice of Glory: the Life and Work of Davis Grubb (2017). He has edited reprints of Hubert Skidmore’s Hawk’s Nest and Davis Grubb’s Fools’ Parade. He teaches Contemporary Literature at East Carolina University. He is a graduate of Davis & Elkins College and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Jennifer Allison grew up in a small town in Michigan. One of her best friends lived on a sheep farm, and the two girls found the spooky atmosphere of the barn hayloft to be perfect for séances. As it turned out, the experience was also perfect inspiration for a novel about a thirteen-year-old psychic investigator in her Gilda Joyce: Psychic Investigator series.
Ms. Allison holds a B.A. from the University of Michigan and an M.F.A. from American University. Her various careers have included work as a news reporter and high school English teacher. She has also held numerous odd jobs — piano player in a shopping mall, assembly-line worker for General Motors, waitress, preschool teacher — that have helped her generate ideas for characters and stories.
Jennifer Allison currently lives in Chicago, with her husband, Michael, and their three children — Max, and the twins, Marcus and Genevieve (“Gigi”).
EMERGING WRITERS POETRY
Grady Hillman is a literary translator, poet and performer and received the Austin Book Award for his poetry collection Razor Wire. His poetry and poetry translations have been published in more than 50 literary journals and anthologies. Hillman has been a solo artist or part of an ensemble in 300 poetry performances. He directed or co-directed three inter-disciplinary performing companies: Clearlight, PoDan Sam, and WordWork.
Hillman holds an M.A. in linguistic anthropology and conducted a Fulbright Grant to Peru to research and record Quechua narratives between 1989-90. Prior to receiving his Fulbright, he published a book of historical Quechua verse with Guillermo Delgado, Return of the Inca. Hillman has translated and published more Quechua verse since his year in Peru, and he has published and performed Russian and Spanish translations as well.
As a young poet, Hillman began work in the Poet in the Schools program in Texas. That led him to the Texas prison system where he conducted a three-year residency as the Poet in the Schools for the Windham School System, the state-wide prison program. For thirty years, he has worked as a consultant and artist for community arts programs in the US and abroad. (He collected and edited anthologies of Katrina memoirs--Writing Mobile Bay: The Hurricane Project (Alabama Writer's Forum) and Walking the Waterfront: Pascagoula Remembers America's Most Destructive Natural Disaster (National Communities in Schools and the Mississippi Arts Commission)). However, Hillman is best known in the community arts realm for his work in correctional arts. He edited or co-edited state-wide anthologies of prison writing in Texas (Writer's Block) and California (About Time III). For the last four years, he has served as a mentor and consultant to the National Endowment for the Arts and Federal Bureau of Prisons.
EMERGING WRITERS PROSE
June Langford Berkley is a writer who imagines her family saga in storytelling performances and fiction. Her multi-faceted career in education includes public school and university teaching and nationwide consulting. She has written many articles and chapters for text books. Her published fiction includes: Shannaganey Blue, a novella, University of Akron, 5th ed. 1993; The Rhinegold Case, University of Akron, Akros Review, l984.
Sandi Rog is the founder and acquisitions editor of Tulpen Publishing (www.tulpenpublishing.com). She has been editing since 1999 and is also an international, multi-published, award-winning author.
Sandi lived in Holland for thirteen years and now lives in Colorado with her husband, her children, a cat, and too many spiders. You can learn more about Sandi Rog at her personal website: www.sandirog.com.
Dr. Brucella Jordan is a historian and former professor who has been involved in a variety of historical projects. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in History and Government from West Virginia Institute of Technology, a Master’s Degree in Public History and a Ph.D. in History from West Virginia University. She has taught classes primarily in African American history at West Virginia University, Marshall University Graduate College, West Virginia Institute of Technology, and Lane College in Jackson, Tennessee. She is co-founder and curator of the African American Heritage Family Tree Museum in Ansted, West Virginia and she portrayed the historical characters Anne Spencer and Ida B. Wells for ten years under the sponsorship of the West Virginia Humanities Council. Dr. Jordan is the author of Flashback: Poetry and Commentary, Anne Spencer: Poet of the Harlem Renaissance, African American Migration to Ansted, West Virginia, and Aunt Artie’s House. She spends summers in West Virginia and winters in Georgia.
PEARL S. BUCK AWARD FOR WRITING FOR SOCIAL CHANGE
Delegate Barbara Evans Fleischauer was elected in 2014 to her 10th two year term representing Monongalia County in the West Virginia House of Delegates. She is a graduate of Allegheny College in Meadville, PA and the WVU College of Law. Barbara lives on the Evans family farm just outside of Morgantown with her husband, WVU Law Professor Bob Bastress.
She has passed important legislation affecting women, children, veterans and disabled West Virginians.
In 2014, Delegate Fleischauer sponsored nearly one-third of the House bills that became law. She is known as one of the hardest working Delegates, passing hundreds of bills to aid her community and state during her tenure in the W.Va. Legislature.
Barbara is a member of and has served as a leader in numerous local, state and national organizations. She was raised in and is a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church. Because of her legislative and community service, Delegate Fleischauer has been the recipient of local, state and national awards.
Donna Meredith’s award-winning novels include The Glass Madonna, The Color of Lies, Wet Work, and Fraccidental Death. She also wrote Magic in the Mountains: Kelsey Murphy, Robert Bomkamp, and the West Virginia Cameo Glass Revolution. Her work has appeared in Tallahassee magazine, Goldenseal, the Seven Hills Review and various newspapers. The retired English and journalism teacher is regular contributor to Southern Literary Review. A graduate of Fairmont State College, West Virginia University, and Nova Southeastern University, she also studied creative writing at Florida State. For the past thirty years, the Clarksburg native has called Tallahassee, Florida, home. For more information, see www.donnameredith.com.
Joe Limer is a West Virginia native from Clarksburg. He graduated Washington Irving H.S. then went to Fairmont State University and received a B.A. in both English and Political Science. He graduated WVU College of Law with a Juris Doctorate. He also wrote for the Fairmont Times newspaper as a regular sports reporter.
After law school he moved to San Diego, California where he is now a Professor at Palomar College in San Marcos, California teaching political science/legal studies, as well as poetry workshops at Palomar and Mira Costa College and several San Diego-area high schools.
Joe is an American Filipino finding identity in words. Beginning as a closet poet, he got his start on the poetry slam scene by winning his first slam in San Diego. From there, he’s won or placed in slams in Encinitas, Oceanside, Hawaii, Pittsburgh, Pa., Morgantown, WV, Charleston, WV, Richmond, Va, Hollywood, and Long Beach. He’s been on 3 San Diego slam teams that have placed in the top 10 nationally.
Suehyla El-Attar is an actor/writer/director/dramaturge based in the Atlanta area. For just over 10 years, she’s worked on most of the stages in Atlanta, including but not limited to: The Alliance Theatre, Horizon Theatre, Synchronicity Theatre, 7 Stages, Dad’s Garage, Georgia Ensemble and Essential Theatre; receiving multiple Suzi Bass Award nominations and a win for her performances. Since 2009, she’s delved into film and television hoping to create a legacy as a one-line actor and eventually evolve into ’that actor, what’s her name? She’s always like in one scene with one line’. As a writer, her work has premiered at Horizon Theatre (The Perfect Prayer; Third Country) and 7 Stages (The Doctor, The Devil, & My Dad). Her TYA scripts (Fishbowl; Desperadoes; The Devil’s Blues) were commissioned and produced by local high schools. She is a recipient of the Mississippi Theatre Association Playwright award (2011) and Gene Gabriel Moore Playwriting Award (2014). In the very active and growing-like-kudzu literary scene in Atlanta, she’s dominated the Write Club stage with 5 hard-earned wins and 2 very-much deserved losses; you can hear all of them on the WriteClubAtl podcast. She’s a former Alliance Theatre Artistic Fellow (2014) of directing and has worked with The Process Theatre on her directorial debut: Die Mommie Die (2015), The Tribute Artist (2016). During the inaugural year of the Ethel Woolson Lab, she served as the resident dramaturge for Working Title Playwrights. This year, she continues to audition for film/tv, is the dramaturge on The Alliance Theatre’s TYA production of SLUR written by Greg Shagnon), will unveil her new stage play ( at 7 Stages Homebrew Series, continue to develop her nearly-one woman show (Nope. That’s Just My First Name), and indulge in Netflix, highpointing, and hiking with her guy and their two cats. (Except they won’t bring the cats on the highpoint and hiking trips. That seems like a really bad idea.)
Sandra Vrana received her PhD in Literature and Cultural Criticism from Indiana University of PA in 1995. She taught classes at IUP while a graduate student there, and then she taught a variety of literature and composition classes, including creative writing, at Alderson Broaddus University from 1993 until her retirement in May of 2016.
She was a member of Barbour County Writers all of the years she lived in West Virginia, and she was honored to be a part of that very talented group.
She was a member of West Virginia Writers, and she participated both as a presenter and as a contestant at writing conferences there. She believes West Virginia Writers is an invaluable asset to writers in the state, providing important instruction and showcasing and acknowledging the wonderful work of contestants in its annual writing awards.
She now resides in Pennsylvania.
Leaf Seligman has been writing fervently since childhood. Stories, letters to the editor, journals, poems, plays, novels, essays, sabbath meditations. She studied fiction writing and poetry at the University of New Hampshire where she earned an MA in writing; she studied playwriting at Brandeis. She began teaching writing in 1985, as a graduate assistant at the University of New Hampshire, and a volunteer at the Rockingham County jail. She’s taught writing ever since at two universities, a college, two prisons, two jails, and a variety of community settings. Her writing has been published in Creative Nonfiction and The New Thought Journal. Bauhan Publishing brought out two books by her, Opening the Window: Sabbath Meditations (2011) and A Pocket Book of Prompts (2015). Leaf freelances as a writing guide and itinerant preacher in addition to teaching.
NEW MOUNTAIN VOICES ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
Renée K. Nicholson splits her artistic pursuits between writing and dance. She is Assistant Professor in the Multidisciplinary Studies Program at West Virginia University.
Renée studied English at Butler University, and holds a MFA in Creative Writing from West Virginia University where she won the Rebecca Mason Perry Award for Outstanding First-Year MFA Student and the Russ MacDonald Prize for Graduate Writing, Fiction. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Chelsea, Mid-American Review, Perigee: A Journal of the Arts, Paste, Poets & Writers, Crosstimbers, Naugatuck River Review, Honey Land Review, Dossier, Stymie, ABZ, Prime Number, Blue Lyra Review, Switchback, Fiction Writers Review, Moon City Review, Redux, Cleaver Magazine, Barely South Review, Saw Palm, Bluestem, The Superstition Review, The Gettysburg Review and elsewhere. Her work has been included in the anthologies Not A Muse, A Generation Defining Itself, and in Keeping Track: Fiction of Lists from Main Street Rag. She has served as Assistant to the Director of the West Virginia Writers’ Workshop since 2007, serves on the book reviews staff at Los Angeles Review, and is a member of the National Book Critics Circle. She co-hosts the literary podcast, SummerBooks and co-founded the journal Souvenir. Her collection of poems, Roundabout Directions to Lincoln Center, was published in 2014 in the Crossroads Poetry Series at Urban Farmhouse Press.
In 2011, Renée was the Emerging Writer-in-Residence at Penn State Altoona.
NEW MOUNTAIN VOICES MIDDLE SCHOOL
Pam Andrews Hanson, a former reporter and West Virginia University journalism instructor, is the co-author (with her mother/writing partner Barbara Andrews) of more than 50 novels including romance, inspirational women’s fiction, and mystery for Harlequin and Guideposts. In addition, she and her partner have several indie inspirational romances available for Kindle on Amazon. She has been a workshop presenter for Romance Writers of America, West Virginia Writers, and Appalachian Studies Association. Teaching freshmen composition at the University of Nebraska at Kearney is her new passion. Pam, a past recipient of the JUG Award, has lived in Nebraska since 2008 where she writes when she’s not procrastinating on Facebook: facebook.com/pamandrewshanson
NEW MOUNTAIN VOICES HIGH SCHOOL
Natalie Sypolt's work has appeared in Glimmer Train, Appalachian Heritage, Willow Springs Review, and The Kenyon Review Online, among other publications. Natalie is the winner of the Glimmer Train New Writers Contest, the Betty Gabehart Prize, and Still: The Journal’s fiction competition. She is also an active book reviewer whose work has appeared in Los Angeles Review, Fjords Review, Paste, Shenandoah, Harpur Palate, and Mid American Review. Additionally, Natalie serves as a literary editor for the Anthology of Appalachian Writers, is on the selection committee for the prestigious Weatherford Award in Fiction, is the High School Workshop Coordinator for the West Virginia Writers Workshop at West Virginia University, and is co-host of SummerBooks: A literary podcast. Natalie currently works as an Assistant Professor at Pierpont Community & Technical College.