Authors & Presenters


Learn more about the authors and presenters scheduled to appear at Deckle Edge 2019!

Dorothy Allison

Dorothy Allison grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, the first child of a fifteen-year-old unwed mother who worked as a waitress. The first member of her family to graduate from high school, Allison attended Florida Presbyterian college on a National Merit Scholarship and studied anthropology at the New School for Social Research. Now living in Northern California with her partner Alix and her son, Wolf Michael, she describes herself as a feminist, a working class story teller, a Southern expatriate, a sometime poet and a happily born-again Californian. An award winning editor for Quest, Conditions, and Outlook—early feminist and Lesbian & Gay journals, Allison's chapbook of poetry, The Women Who Hate Me, was published with Long Haul Press in 1983. Her short story collection, Trash (1988) was published by Firebrand Books. Trash won two Lambda Literary Awards and the American Library Association Prize for Lesbian and Gay Writing. Allison says that the early Feminist movement changed her life. "It was like opening your eyes under water. It hurt, but suddenly everything that had been dark and mysterious became visible and open to change." However, she admits, she would never have begun to publish her stories if she hadn't gotten over her prejudices, and started talking to her mother and sisters again. Allison received mainstream recognition with her novel Bastard Out of Carolina, (1992) a finalist for the 1992 National Book Award. The novel won the Ferro Grumley prize, an ALA Award for Lesbian and Gay Writing, became a best seller, and an award-winning movie. It has been translated into more than a dozen languages. Cavedweller (1998) became a national bestseller, NY Times Notable book of the year, finalist for the Lillian Smith prize, and an ALA prize winner. Adapted for the stage by Kate Moira Ryan, the play was directed by Michael Greif, and featured music by Hedwig composer, Stephen Trask. In 2003, Lisa Cholendenko directed a movie version featuring Krya Sedwick. The expanded edition of Trash (2002) included the prize winning short story, "Compassion" selected for both Best American Short Stories 2003 and Best New Stories from the South 2003. Fall 2009, Allison was The McGee Professor and writer in residence at Davidson College, in North Carolina. Spring, 2007, Allison was Emory University Center for Humanistic Inquiry’s Distinguished Visiting Professor. Summer, 2007, she was Famosa in residence at Macondo in San Antonio, Texas. 2006, she was writer in residence at Columbia College in Chicago. Awarded the 2007 Robert Penn Warren Award for Fiction, Allison is a past member of the board of the Fellowship of Southern Writers.

Mildred K Barya

Mildred K Barya has authored three poetry books: Give Me Room to Move My Feet (Amalion Publishing), The Price of Memory After the Tsunami (Mallory International), and Men Love Chocolates But They Don’t Say (Femrite Publications). She has also published prose, poems or hybrids in Tin House, site, Asymptote, Prairie Schooner, Per Contra, Northeast Review and Poetry Quarterly. She received her Ph.D. in English from the University of Denver, Colorado, MFA in creative writing from Syracuse University, New York, and B.A in Literature, Makerere University, Uganda. Currently, Barya teaches creative writing and literature at the University of North Carolina-Asheville. She has given readings and lectures in parts of China, Africa, Europe and the US. She is a board member of the African Writers Trust and blogs at:

Paula Gail Benson

Paula Gail Benson is the moderator for The Detective in the South panel. She is a legislative attorney and writer of short stories.

Derek Berry

Derek Berry is the author of the novel Heathens & Liars of Lickskillet County (2016) & the poetry chapbook Skinny Dipping with Strangers (2013). They are the founder of literary non-profit The Unspoken Word & co-host of the creative writing podcast Contribute Your Verse. Their work has appeared or is forthcoming in Gigantic Sequins, Beloit Poetry Journal, Yemassee, BOAAT, Pidgeonholes, & elsewhere. They live in Aiken, South Carolina & work in a Cold War Historic Curation Facility.

Al Black

Al Black is a Columbia, SC based poet, writer, host and social activist originally from Lafayette, IN. He has been married 47 years to Dr. Carol Agnew Black; they have four grown children and six grandchildren. He was drafted and served as a conscientious objector during the Vietnam era, he graduated Edgelea Elementary, high school and college was just fine tuning the process. He has two collections of poetry published, I Only Left for Tea (2014) andMan With Two Shadows (2018); he co-edited the anthology, Hand in Hand, Poets Respond to Race (2017) and can be found in various periodicals, journals and anthologies.

Cindi Boiter

Cindi Boiter is the founder and executive director of the Jasper Project, founder and editor of Jasper Magazine and Fall Lines: a literary convergence, author of Buttered Biscuits, and editor of a number of regional publications by SC authors. She is the 2014 recipient of the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Award for the Arts and the 2018 recipient of the Lucy Hampton Bostick Award for literary advocacy and excellence.

Catherine Fleming Bruce


Catherine Fleming Bruce is author of the award-winning book, ‘The Sustainers: Being, Building and Doing Good through Activism in the Sacred Spaces of Civil Rights, Human Rights and Social Movements. In 2017, she became the first African-American winner of annual Historic Preservation Book Prize, presented by the University of Mary Washington Center for Historic Preservation in Fredericksburg, Virginia. Bruce founded TNOVSA LLC and TNOVSA Global Commons as methods of engagement in transformational politics, global ethics and norms, and historic and cultural preservation. She led the effort to preserve the home of South Carolina civil rights activist Modjeska Monteith Simkins, and is currently preserving the Cyril O. Spann Medical Office along with the Visanska Starks House and Carriage House, all in Columbia, South Carolina. An alumna of Agnes Scott College, with a dual BA in English/Creative Writing and Art, Bruce received her Master of Arts in Mass Communication and Information Studies at the University of South Carolina, and pursued doctoral studies there in mass communication, philosophy and ethics, international relations and international law. She has participated in such global governance efforts as the World Summit for the Information Society, held in Geneva and Tunis by the United Nations and the International Telecommunications Union. Her other publications include ‘The globalization-friendly public sphere: contrasting paths to moral legitimacy and accountability’ in Public Sphere Reconsidered: Theories and Practices (2012) and ‘A Statue Past its Expiration Date’, a Guest column for the State (SC) Newspaper and the Free Times (SC) on removal of the Tillman Monument from the SC State House grounds, run in February 2008. Bruce has a long history of civil rights engagement, including work with Occupy Columbia, an offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement, and electoral politics. She runs several social media pages on governance and progressive thought. She received the Key to the City of Columbia Mississippi (MS) in 2016 for her efforts to assist Columbia MS and Columbia SC during natural disasters experienced by both cities in 2014 and 2015. Other awards include the Women of Excellence, Sumter, SC Social Justice Consortium in 2012 and a State of South Carolina Governor’s Proclamation and United States Postal Service plaque on the release of the ‘To Form a More Perfect Union’ Civil Rights stamp series in 2005.

Lillian Burke

Lillian Burke, born and raised in South Carolina, is a filmmaker, musician, and part time farmer. She received her bachelor’s degree in Media Arts from Antioch College in 2016. Drawn to more diy and experimental forms of media, her artistic philosophy embraces subjectivity, vulnerability, and doubt. After finishing college, Lillian moved to her family farm in Saluda, SC where she became fascinated and increasingly invested in the story of the small rural town that she is now working to document. Today Lillian works at the Nickelodeon theatre and is involved with Indie Grits Labs as an educator, a filmmaker, and as a project coordinator for the Rural Project.

David Burnsworth

David Burnsworth became fascinated with the Deep South at a young age. After a receiving a degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Tennessee and fifteen years in the corporate world, he made the decision to write a novel. Having lived in Charleston on Sullivan’s Island for five years, the setting for his Brack Pelton novels was a foregone conclusion. He and his wife call South Carolina home. He also writes a series featuring private detective Blu Carraway.

Elena Castro

Elena Castro is a visual and literary artist from Greenville, SC. She is a Peace Voices Ambassador, a position which serves to strengthen Greenville's various communities through poetry education and service. She is the winner of a National Silver Medal in Flash Fiction and eleven regional awards from the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards. In June of 2017, she was accepted into the Piccolo Spoleto Rising Stars Program for which she traveled to Charleston, SC to read her work in the Spoleto Festival U.S.A. She has been published in the 2017 Rattle Young Poets Anthology, Cargoes Magazine, and Jasper Magazine. Most recently, she won first place in Palmetto Luna's VI Annual Latino Poetry Contest and will be featured in the 2018 Anthology of South Carolina Latino Poets. She is the Managing and Nonfiction Editor at Crashtest Magazine.

John Connor Cleveland

John Connor Cleveland is director of policy and external communications for Governor Henry McMaster. He is the son of Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Kathleen Parker.

Juan David Cruz

Juan David Cruz Duarte was born in Bogota, Colombia. He earned a doctorate degree in Comparative Literature at the University of South Carolina. Cruz Duarte lives in Clinton, SC. His work has been published in Fall Lines, the Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Jasper Magazine, Blue Collar Review, Burningword, Five:2:One, and elsewhere. He is the author of Dream a Little Dream of Me: cuentos siniestros (2011), La noche del fin del mundo (2012), and Léase después de mi muerte (2018).

Carla Damron


Carla Damron’s most recent novel, The Stone Necklace, won the Women’s Fiction Writers Association “Star Award” for best novel of 2017 and chosen was selected to be the “One Book, One Community” read for Columbia SC in 2016. Damron has also authored multiple op-eds, short stories, essays, and the Caleb Knowles mystery novels in which she explores social issues like addiction, homelessness, and mental illness.

Debra A. Daniel

Debra A. Daniel has authored two poetry chapbooks—The Downward Turn of August (Finishing Line Press), As Is (Main Street Rag)—and a novel, Woman Commits Suicide in Dishwasher (Muddy Ford Press). Twice named South Carolina Arts Commission Poetry Fellow, she has won the Los Angeles Review’s award for short fiction, the Guy Owen Prize, and the Dubose and Dorothy Heyward Prize. She was a Pushcart nominee. Her work has appeared in Fall Lines, The Los Angeles Review, Jasper Magazine, Smokelong Quarterly, Kakalak, Emrys Journal,, Inkwell, Southern Poetry Review, Tar River, Gargoyle, and The Poetry Society of South Carolina Yearbook.

Emily Davis-Fletcher

Emily Davis-Fletcher earned a B.F.A. in creative writing from Stephens College and an M.A. in women’s studies from the National University of Ireland Galway. Her poetry has been published in Southword, Crannóg Magazine, The Irish Examiner, On the Banks: Cork City in Poems and Songs, The High Window, HCE Review, Two Hawks Quarterly, and The Punch Magazine. She placed third in the 2016 Just Add Words Video Description Contest and was selected to read at the Poetry Introductions Reading at the 2018 Cork International Poetry Festival.

Lindsey Drager

Lindsey Drager is the author of The Sorrow Proper (Dzanc, 2015), recipient of the 2016 Binghamton University / John Gardner Fiction Award; The Lost Daughter Collective (Dzanc, 2017), winner of the 2017 Shirley Jackson Award for novella and finalist for 2018 Lambda Literary Award in LGBTQ Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror; and the forthcoming The Archive of Alternate Endings (Dzanc, 2019). She is currently an assistant professor at the College of Charleston where she teaches in the MFA program in fiction and serves as nonfiction editor of the literary journal Crazyhorse.

Kerry Egan

Kerry Egan is a hospice chaplain and a graduate of Harvard Divinity School. Her hospice work has been featured on PBS and CNN, and her essays have appeared in Parents, American Baby, Reader’s Digest, and, where they have been read more than two million times. She and her family live in Columbia, South Carolina. Her book, On Living, featured at the 2019 Deckle Edge Literary Festival, recognizes the brokenness we all seem to share and deal with in this life on earth.

Julia Elliott

Julia Elliott’s writing has appeared in Tin House, The Georgia Review, Conjunctions, The New York Times, and other publications. She has won a Rona Jaffe Writer’s Award, and her stories have been anthologized in Pushcart Prize: Best of the Small Presses and Best American Short Stories. Her debut story collec­tion, The Wilds, chosen by Kirkus, BuzzFeed, Book Riot, and Electric Literature as one of the Best Books of 2014, was a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice and was long-listed for the Story Prize. Her first novel, The New and Improved Romie Futch, arrived in October 2015.

Sherry Fasano

Sherry Fasano lives in a small town in South Carolina with her husband and their hound dog, Lizzie. Her favorite hobbies include porch sitting and spinning tall tales for her grandchildren, often enjoyed simultaneously. She's been writing family stories and fiction for several years.Her short story, The Gift of Understanding, was published in the anthology, The Old Weird South (QW Publishers 2013) and she published three stories in Wild, Wonderful ‘n Wacky, South Cacklacky.

Seth Gadsden

Seth Gadsden is an artist, and current director of Indie Grits Labs in Columbia, SC. Focusing on public art, documentary filmmaking, and media installations, Seth has exhibited his personal work across the US and completed murals and outdoor sculptures in places like Mexico, North Dakota, Boston, Houston and his hometown of Clover, SC. His video work as a producer and director has been featured in Vimeo Staff Picks, the Tribeca Film Festival, Indie Memphis Film Festival, Oxford Film Festival, Atlanta Film Festival, and the Blackstar Film Festival among others. Through Indie Grits Labs, Seth has curated and a range of projects and produced works with over 80 artists including documentary films and new media in the past five years. Seth is a founding member of the artist collective, Transit Antenna, with which he spent two years traveling across North America developing community-based art projects. Seth is also a founding member of the Redux Contemporary Art Center (Charleston, SC) and the Boston Young Contemporaries at Boston University.

Santiago Garcia-Castanon

Santiago García-Castañón holds a degree in English Philology from the Universidad de Oviedo (Spain) and a Master’s and Ph.D. in Spanish Literature from the University of Illinois (USA). He is currently Professor of Spanish Literature at Western Carolina University, and has lectured extensively on various literary topics. He is an award-winning poet and novelist with 19 books to his credit. His poetry collections include Las orillas de una mar incierta / The shores of an Uncertain Sea (2015; bilingual), Objetos desechables / Disposable Objects (2017; bilingual), Una lejana luz (2017), and La vida es lo que pasa (2018), and the recent novels The Life and Fabulous Adventures of Pedro Menéndedez de Avilés (2016, English translation) and El coleccionista (2018). Santiago has represented Spain at the International poetry festivals of Puerto Rico (2015 and 2018) and the Dominican Republic (2017). He recently translated John Milton’s complete sonnets into Spanish verse.

Cindy Waszak Geary

Cindy Waszak Geary graduated from Hillside High School in 1973. She completed undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Northern Arizona University. She worked more than 30 years as a social scientist focused on global health, based in Chapel Hill, N.C., and traveling often to Africa and Asia as part of her job. She continues to write and think a lot about racial justice and enjoys spending time with friends, hiking in the woods and yoga. She is the mother of two grown children and has one granddaughter.

Vera Gomez

Vera Gómez is a habitual border-crosser between her American upbringing and Mexican heritage. She is a workshop facilitator, performance poet and a teaching poet. Her poetry collection Barrio Voices was released in 2008; her first essay appeared in State of the Heart: Carolina Writers on the Places They Love, Volume II; her poetry has appeared in publications like ARCHIVE; The Southern Poetry Anthology Vol.1: South Carolina; Ties that Bind, Quintet, Kakalak and the Emrys Journal. She supports collaborative work and has teamed with the Indie Grits Festival’s Visones project (2017); presented a Chautauqua Talk on Caesar Chavez (2017); introduced “Improv Poetry” at Read Up, Greenville (2017); and has been part of the Free Verse: Charleston Poetry Festival (2018) and Columbia, SC Rain Poetry Project (2019).

Juan Gonzalez

Juan González was born in Mexico, he has a master’s degree in mathematical sciences from Clemson University and is the founder of Spanish Writers, the first writing group of bilingual and bicultural writers in South Carolina. Spanish Writers aims to find beauty, culture and history. Its mission reads: to promote intercultural innovation through creative writing and community collaborations. In his stories, Juan, brings the craft of story-telling to explore the roots and the boundaries of cultures, the complexities of immigration and the emerging diverse ethnic and cultural groups in the United States, a destination for many immigrants, where their dreams come true.

Mahkia Greene

Mahkia Greene is a Columbia based filmmaker. Her love for film emerged at a young age, when she began shooting and editing home movies and short films with family and friends. Mahkia graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Media Arts from the University of South Carolina in 2016. Since then she has done her best to incorporate her own identity as a young queer, black, southern woman in her art. Currently Mahkia is a media education instructor for Indie Grits Labs where she teaches two media based afterschool programs, TakeBreakMake and Come Around My Way.

Jeremy Griffin

Jeremy Griffin received his MFA in Fiction from Virginia Tech University. He is the author of the story collections A Last Resort for Desperate People: Stories and a Novella, From SFASU Press, and Oceanography, forthcoming from Orison Books. His work has appeared in a variety of journals, and he has received support from the South Carolina Arts Commission. He teaches in the English Department at Coastal Carolina University, where he serves as faculty fiction editor of Waccamaw: a Journal of Contemporary Literature.

Jo Watson Hackl

Jo Watson Hackl grew up just outside a ghost town in rural Mississippi where storytelling is a favorite form of entertainment. She spent her childhood exploring the piney woods, inventing characters, and creating tiny worlds out of acorns, rocks, sticks and moss. Now, she lives with her husband, children, and Pupper, who just happens to closely resemble the character of Percy in the book, in Greenville, South Carolina, where she writes next to a window overlooking the woods. She is also a lawyer with Wyche, PA., whose lawyers have worked to preserve over 100,000 acres of land for future generations. She graduated from Millsaps College and Yale Law School, and also founded, a resource celebrating the treasures and curiosities of nature with stories, know-how, and inspiration to get readers outside.

Kendra Hamilton

Kendra Hamilton is a native of Charleston, S.C., with deep family roots in the Greenwood County hamlet of Ninety-Six, where the family farm still remains in family ownership. She is a poet, essayist, and scholar of the literature and culture of the South who currently serves as an assistant professor of English and director of Southern Studies at Presbyterian College in Clinton, S.C. Her literary and critical essays and poetry have appeared in journals such as Common-place, Mississippi Quarterly, Callaloo, The Southern Review, Shenandoah, and in such recent anthologies as Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry. Her poetry collection, The Goddess of Gumbo, was published in 2006. A work of literary criticism, Romancing the Gullah, is forthcoming from the University of Georgia Press.

Ashley Harris

Ashley Harris is an Aquarius that aspires to be both a physician and poet. She attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with the Johnston Scholarship. She graduated in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in Chemistry and Hispanic Culture & Literature with a minor in Creative Writing. After graduation, she won the Gerard Unk Fellowship Grant to travel to both London, England, and Portobelo, Panama, to study the poetry and art between the two locations. She has also published her work in journals such as Event Horizon, Cartridge Lit, and Yellow Chair Review. Her debut book of poetry is called If the Hero of Time was Black(Weasel Press, 2018). Ashley is currently emerged in clinical research, poetry, and the Legend of Zelda.

Jonathan Haupt

Jonathan Haupt is the executive director of the Pat Conroy Literary Center, the founding director of the Pat Conroy Literary Festival, and the former director of the University of South Carolina Press. Haupt serves on the boards of the South Carolina Academy of Authors and the Friends of South Carolina Libraries, and on the South Carolina Humanities advisory committee and the American Writers Museum affiliates steering committee. With Charleston novelist and artist Nicole Seitz, he is co-editor of the anthology Our Prince of Scribes: Writers Remember Pat Conroy.

Alexia Jones Helsley

Alexia Jones Helsley is the senior instructor of history and university archivist at the University of South Carolina Aiken. A high school classmate of Pat Conroy’s, she is the author of Lost Aiken County, Lost Columbia, Wicked Columbia, and others.

Sasscer Hill

Sasscer Hill is the author of the Agatha and Macavity nominated Nikki Latrelle horseracing series. Her latest novels, Flamingo Road and The Dark Side of Town, have followed Fia McKee, who after being put on leave for use of excessive force as a Baltimore police officer receives a second chance working for the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau. Flamingo Road won the $10,000 Dr. Tony Ryan Best in Horse Racing Literature Award for 2018. In addition, Sasscer, herself and expert horsewoman, has written a Nikki Latrelle prequel for Young Adults and a number of short stories.

Dartinia Hull


Dartinia is a recovering newspaper journalist and is communications manager and graphic designer for a large non-profit in Charlotte. She graduated Winthrop University and Queen"s University of Charlotte and her essays and stories have appeared in the Charleston Post and Courier, The Charlotte Observer,, Edible Charlotte Magazine and The Bitter Southerner. She is currently working on a book about her grandmother's incarceration. She frets about .... well, everything, and she feels that the demise of news (despite the 24-hour news cycle) has led to a desert of critical thinking and well-developed commentary, especially for underserved and marginalized populations.

Ann-Chadwell Humphries

Columbia poet, Ann-Chadwell Humphries has been recognized as an emerging voice in poetry by The Jasper Project and Sun Magazine. She writes documentary, quotidian , and opportunity poetry which has appeared in Jasper And Emrys journals. She recites her poetry often accompanied by guitar and piano.

Shannon Ivey

Shannon Ivey MFA, AEA, is the founder of the #whatshesaidproject,. Shannon is a professional actor, educator, Tedx speaker, and performance artist. Shannon taught theatre to kids of all ages for over 15 years, and uses her storytelling training in a variety of community building and engagement ways. Her specialties are first person storytelling (Essays and Story Slams), Theatre of the Oppressed facilitation, 36 Question events, and solo shows. She currently resides in Columbia with her daughter, Zoe.

Roger Johns

Roger Johns writes the Wallace Hartman Mysteries from St. Martin’s Press/Minotaur Books: Dark River Rising (2017) and River of Secrets (2018). He is the 2018 Georgia Author of the Year (Detective·Mystery Category), a 2018 Killer Nashville Readers’ Choice Award nominee, a finalist for the 2018 Silver Falchion Award for best police procedural, runner-up for the 2019 Frank Yerby Fiction Award, and the 2019 JKS Communications Author-in-Residence. His articles and interviews on writing and the writing life appear in Career Authors, Criminal Element, and the Southern Literary Review. He co-authors the MurderBooks blog at

Anastatia Ketchen

Anastatia Ketchen is a native Gullah/Geechee traditions keeper from Charleston, SC. She is not only a sweetgrass basket maker, but also a poet and painter. Ms. Ketchen is proudly a community servant and empowerment coach that specializes in creative development, public speaking, acting and event coordination. She embodies the name of her company, Driven LLC.

Len Lawson

Len Lawson is the author of Chime (Get Fresh Books, 2019) and the chapbook Before the Night Wakes You (Finishing Line Press, 2017). His poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. He has received fellowships from Callaloo, Vermont Studio Center, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the North Carolina Poetry Society. His poetry appears in Callaloo Journal, African American Review, Verse Daily, Mississippi Review, and elsewhere. Len is also a Ph.D. student in English Literature and Criticism at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He currently teaches English at University of South Carolina Sumter and is a Poetry Reader for Up the Staircase Quarterly.

Monifa Lemons

Also recognized as SelahthePoet, Monifa Lemons began her poetic journey in Columbia, SC in the late 90s. Both Spoken Word Artist and Host at various venues, Monifa has always been committed to nurturing the journey of artists from all disciplines. Co-Founder/Executive Director of The Watering Hole Poetry Organization, which creates Harlem Renaissance spaces in the contemporary South, she also facilitates workshops on writing and intentional creation. Her work can be found in Sinister Wisdom 107 -- We Are the Revolution! (Reviewer), The African American Review (July 2016) and African Voices (Winter/Spring 16/17). She is currently writing plays and non-fiction projects, Artist in Residence in the K-12 sector, and cultivating poems and short stories for her first full manuscript. Her Chapbook Moon Cycles, will be released Fall 2019.

Tom Mack

Dr. Tom Mack is the author/editor of six books, including Circling the Savannah, Hidden History of Aiken County, and Hidden History of Augusta (The History Press), A Shared Voice (Lamar University Press), The South Carolina Encyclopedia Guide to South Carolina Writers (University of South Carolina Press), and Dancing on Barbed Wire (2018, Angelina River Press). Retired from the English Department at the University of South Carolina–Aiken, Mack also has published more than 100 articles on American literature and cultural history. He is the founding editor of the Oswald Review, the first international refereed journal of undergraduate research in the discipline of English ( Since 1990, Mack has also contributed a weekly column to the Aiken Standard—more than 1,300 columns to date devoted to the arts and humanities. For his many contributions to the cultural life of Aiken and South Carolina as a whole, Mack was presented with the Governor’s Award in the Humanities in 2014.

James D. McCallister

James D. McCallister is the author of five novels and a short story collection, as well as magazine features and creative nonfiction. In 2016 he founded an indie publishing imprint, Mind Harvest Press. His 2019 release, DIXIANA, was a finalist for the Faulkner Society novel award. A lifelong South Carolinian, McCallister lives in West Columbia with his wife and beloved brood of cats, muses all.

Bren McClain

Bren McClain was born and raised in Anderson, South Carolina, on a beef cattle and grain farm. She has a degree in English from Furman University; is an experienced media relations, radio, and television news professional; and currently works as a communications confidence coach. She is at work on her next novel, TOOK, which received the gold medal for the 2016 William Faulkner –William Wisdom Novel-in-Progress. She makes her home outside of Nashville, Tenn., on 100 acres. One Good Mama Bone is McClain’s first novel.

Darion McCloud

Darion McCloud is an actor, director, storyteller, consultant, activist and children’s literature advocate. He is the winner of the 2018 Jasper Theatre Artist, the Andrew Billingsley Award and the Literacy Leader Award. He is a founding member and creative director of NiA Theatre Company. Darion May be contacted at

Ray McManus

Ray McManus is the author of three books of poetry—Punch (Hub City Press, 2014), Red Dirt Jesus (Marick Press, 2011), Driving through the Country before You Are Born (University of South Carolina Press, 2007)—and the co-editor of the anthology Found Anew (University of South Carolina Press, 2015). He is an associate professor of English at the University of South Carolina Sumter, where he teaches Irish Literature, Southern Literature, and creative writing, and directs the South Carolina Center for Oral Narrative. Ray’s website is at

Loli Molina Munoz

Loli Molina Muñoz is a Spanish teacher of Elementary Education in Columbia, SC who is pursuing a Phd in comparative literature and is writing a dissertation on feminist science fiction. She started writing poetry in 1997, that year she earned the Sixth Poetry Prize Fernan Caballero by the University of Malaga and the First Poetry Prize Mujeres de Anna O. Her poetry has appeared in Poemas al director by Guillermo Spottorno (Bubok 2013) Antología Whitestar dedicated to David Bowie (Palabristas 2016); and Vive San Valentín (ViveLibro 2017). Her book poemAnuario was published in 2016, and her second book Expatriados was published in 2017. In 2018 she published poems in the journals Label me Latina/o and Jasper Magazine. In 2019 she will publish an article on gender and sex identity in feminist science fiction in a book called Infiltradas.

Kathleen Nalley

Kathleen Nalley is the author of Gutterflower, a full-length prose poetry collection and winner of the Bryant-Lisembee Editor’s Prize from Red Paint Hill Press. She also authored the poetry chapbooks Nesting Doll (winner of the South Carolina Poetry Initiative Prize) and American Sycamore (Finishing Line Press). Recently, her poetry has appeared in concis; Fall Lines; New Flash Fiction Review; Slipstream; RED SKY (Sable Books); and Hand-in-Hand: Poets Respond to Race (Muddy Ford Press). She holds an M.F.A. from Converse College and teaches literature and writing at Clemson University.

Susan Osteen

An honors graduate of journalism from TCU in Fort Worth, Texas, Susan Doherty Osteen, has worked for a variety of newspapers and non-profit organizations. In 2010 after more than a decade of collaborative research, she published Tracing a Legacy, a 950 page tomb chronicling her family’s ranching empire from County Donegal, Ireland, to the American Wild West. Her essay about her mother-in-law is published in His Mother. She is also a contributor to and co-editor of Wild, Wonderful ‘n Wacky, South Cackalacky. Susan lives in South Carolina with her husband and two children. She continues to write for regional publications and is working on a three-part novel, as well as attending graduate school at USC Columbia in the MFA program.

Lang Owen

Columbia Free Times music writer Kevin Oliver has called Lang Owen a “gifted songwriter” whose “songs evoke classic ‘70s storytelling artists such as Harry Chapin, Paul Simon, or Fred Neil.” In lyrics both practical and poetic, Lang Owen’s observations describe the common struggles of the current day, often viewed through the perspective of individuals' imagined interior lives. Lang Owen lives and works in Columbia, SC.

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker is a Pulitzer Prize–winning journalist for the Washington Post. Her twice-weekly columns on politics and culture are syndicated in more than four hundred media outlets. In April, she will be inducted into the South Carolina Academy of Authors, our state’s literary hall of fame.

Frances J. Pearce

Frances J. Pearce is a poet, essayist, and fiction writer. She is the author of a poetry chapbook, Those Carolina Parakeets Once Far from Extinct (Finishing Line Press). Her work can be found in anthologies and in print and on-line literary journals. She is the immediate past-president of the Poetry Society of South Carolina.

Kyle Petersen

Kyle Petersen is the Assistant Editor of Jasper Magazine and an arts and culture contributor to the Columbia Free Times and the Charleston City Paper. He also has an M.A. in American Literature from the University of South Carolina where he studied American Literature with a focus on contemporary Southern culture.

Tara Powell

Tara Powell is an associate professor of English at the University of South Carolina, where she teaches courses in southern literature and poetry. She is the author of Physical Science (2010), a chapbook of poems from Finishing Line Press, and a book of literary scholarship called The Intellectual in Twentieth-Century Southern Literature (2012), from Louisiana State University Press. She co-edited Writing in the Kitchen: Essays on Southern Literature and Foodways (2014) from the University Press of Mississippi. She grew up in eastern North Carolina on a river between the swamps and beaches, but has been living, teaching, and writing in Columbia since 2005. She is the mother of three small children and many poems and essays about the people and landscapes she loves.

Queen Quet

Queen Quet Marquetta L. Goodwine is a native of St. Helena Island, SC. She is a published author, computer scientist, lecturer, mathematician, historian, columnist, preservationist, environmental justice advocate, environmentalist, film consultant, and “The Art-ivist.” She is the founder of the premiere advocacy organization for the continuation of Gullah/Geechee culture, the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition. Queen Quet was selected, elected, and enstooled by her people to be the first Queen Mother, “head pun de bodee,” and official spokesperson for the Gullah/Geechee Nation. As a result, she is respectfully referred to as “Queen Quet, Chieftess and Head-of-State for the Gullah/Geechee Nation.” Queen Quet has not only provided “histo-musical presentations” throughout the world, but was also the first Gullah/Geechee person to speak on behalf of her people before the United Nations in Genevé, Switzerland. Queen Quet was one of the first of seven inductees in the Gullah/Geechee Nation Hall of Fame. She received the “Anointed Spirit Award” for her leadership and for being a visionary.

Nilsy Rapalo

Nilsy Rapalo, graduated in Psychology from Universidad del Norte (Barranquilla, Colombia). From 2009 to 2016, She wrote a wellness column for the Spanish newspaper El Informador and hosted radio shows in Charleston area and other national radio station. She is a current advisory board member of the South Carolina Commission for Minority Affairs at the Governor’s Office; and also has served in the past as advisory board member of the Disability Affairs Committee (University of South Carolina). Nilsy won the first prize at the North Texas Book Festival (Spanish book category) on April 15, 2017. For her inspirational book Inmigración espiritual: Un camino de inspiración y bienestar (Spiritual Immigration: a journey of inspiration and welfare).

Brenda Remmes

Brenda Remmes is the author of the bestselling novel The Quaker Café and two other Quaker Café novels titled Home to Cedar Branch and her most recent release, Mama Sadie. Her stories and articles have appeared in Newsweek as well as southern publications and journals. She is also a contributor to Wild, Wonderful ‘n Wacky, South Cackalacky. She currently lives with her husband in an old family home near the Black River Swamp in South Carolina.

Sandy F. Richardson

Sandy Richardson has been writing fiction and nonfiction for adults and middle graders for over thirty years. She is a retired educator and currently writes full time. She is also a freelance editor and Editor in Chief and Owner of Southern Sass Publishing Alliances. Richardson has also developed and taught writing workshops throughout the South. Her middle grade novel, The Girl Who Ate Chicken Feet, was nominated for the SC Children’s Book Award, and both adult nonfiction anthologies received awards as one of five finalists in the American Bookfest Book of the Year (2017 and 2018).

Aïda Rogers

Aïda Rogers is a writer and editor whose feature journalism has won national and regional awards. After many years of working in newspapers and magazines, she now writes, edits, and teaches for the Honors College at her alma mater, the University of South Carolina. A Lexington native, she lives in Columbia and McClellanville with her husband, his boats, and their dogs.

LaHoma Smith Romocki

LaHoma Smith Romocki graduated from Hillside High School in 1975. She completed her undergraduate studies at Duke University and received both her masters and doctoral degrees in public health and mass communication at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In the ’80s, she was a Peace Corps volunteer in the Central African Republic and recently completed a tour as Peace Corps Country Director in Cameroon, Central West Africa. LaHoma is currently an associate professor of Public Health Education at North Carolina Central University and has an appointment as an adjunct associate professor at the Gillings School of Global Public Health at UNC-CH. She lives in Granville County, N.C., with Tim, her husband of 30 years. They have two adult children and her parents live close by, along with a large network of beloved family members.

J.C. Sasser

Born and raised in Metter, Georgia, J.C. Sasser started her professional career at age 12, working as a dishwasher, waitress, and cook at a truck stop off Georgia’s I-16. Over her life, she has worked as an envelope licker, tortoise tagger, lifeguard, Senate page, model, editor, water-polo coach, marine biologist, plant grower, software consultant, and 6-Sigma Black Belt. She is the award winning author of Gradle Bird and a contributor to Town Magazine and the forthcoming anthology, Gather at the River: Twenty-five Authors on Fishing. She lives in an old barn on Edisto Island, SC with her husband and two sons.

Boyd Saunders

Boyd Saunders’ art is exhibited throughout the world and is included in many private and public collections, including the Boston Public Library, the U.S. Wildlife Collection in Washington, D.C., and Shanxi University collection in China. Saunders founded the University of South Carolina’s printmaking program as well as the Southern Graphics Council, now SGC International.

Ivan Segura

Ivan Segura has several years of experience in community activism, arts advocacy and grassroots leadership development for Latinos in SC. His volunteer advocacy work includes serving as Executive Director of Palmetto Luna Arts, member of the SC Hispanic Leadership Council’s Board of Directors, and the Advisory Council of Mexico Secretariat of Foreign Affairs’ Institute for Mexicans Abroad. He also serves on the ACLU National Board of Directors and as treasurer at ACLU of SC. Mr. Segura’s advocacy, arts and leadership activities place emphasis on the development of Latino youth and children as the future leaders of our community and nation.

Greg Shemkovitz

Greg Shemkovitz is the author of two novels, Lot Boy (Sunnyoutside Press, 2015) and REMIND (Spaceboy Books, forthcoming). His work has appeared in the Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Foundling Review, Right Here, Right Now: A Buffalo Anthology, and elsewhere. He lives in Atlanta.

Glenda Simmons-Jenkins

Glenda Simmons Jenkins was born on the barrier island of Amelia, home of the historic American Beach. She serves as a member of the Gullah/Geechee Nation Assembly of Representatives. In that capacity she has worked nearly 20 years in Florida and across the country to promote cultural and environmental sustainability and to further the accurate portrayal of Gullah/Geechee history. A graduate of the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications, Jenkins has worked as a full-time news reporter and as a freelance news contributor. She is a University of Minnesota CREATE (Co-developing Research and Engaged Approaches to Transform Environments) Fellow, advancing research and education that fosters just and equitable communities.

Nathaniel Naomi Simmons-Thorne

Nathaniel Naomi Simmons-Thorne is an award-winning scholar, writer, and activist-organizer based out of Columbia, South Carolina. Nathaniel Naomi has written for small and medium-sized publications in both digital and print, and is currently a finalist for a Lambda Literary Fellowship. In her research and writings, Nathaniel Naomi explores topics such as the history and philosophy of social and political movements, critical theories, feminism and gender, race, aesthetics, and Black queer studies. Nathaniel Naomi is also a student at the University of South Carolina in the departments of philosophy and sociology. In June of 2019, she will have the distinct pleasure of serving as an Alain Locke Fellow in Philosophy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Kimberly J. Simms

Kimberly’s literary voice is rooted in the Southern tradition of storytelling. She was the 2016 Carl Sandburg National Historic Site Writer-In-Residence (Flat Rock, North Carolina); she is a member of the South Carolina Humanities Council’s Speaker’s Bureau; and she is a Pushcart Prize nominee. In her debut book of poems, Lindy Lee: Songs on Mill Hill (Finishing Line Press, 2017), Kimberly chronicles the lives of textile workers in the Piedmont. Her work is included in the South Carolina Poetry Archives at Furman University. Her website is at

Raegan Teller

Raegan Teller is the award-winning author of the Enid Blackwell series. Murder in Madden (Pondhawk Press, 2016) was her debut novel, followed by The Last Sale (2018) and Secrets Never Told (2019). Her mystery novels are set in and around Columbia, where she lives with her husband and two cats. Teller writes about small town intrigue, family secrets, and tales of murder, and while her books are fiction, her books are inspired by real events. She is a summa cum laude graduate of Queens University, Charlotte, and a member of Sisters in Crime, South Carolina Writers Association, and Charlotte Writers Club.

Amada Torruella

Amada Torruella is a Salvadoran artist and storyteller currently residing between Santa Ana, California and El Salvador. Her work explores migration, identity, memory, language, and cultural dissonance. She is a National Association of Latino Arts and Culture Fellow and a VONA Voices fellow, the only multi genre workshop for writers of color in the US. Amada has worked as a journalism intern for the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA is the lead UN agency working to end gender disparity) and the Salvadoran government. Before moving to California, Amada was the Programming Coordinator and film series curator at South Carolina’s only non-profit Art House Cinema: The Nickelodeon Theatre. In 2016-17 Amada was the lead curator and producer of the “Visiones Project” in which she facilitated the production of over a dozen media artworks by Latino artists from across South Carolina.

Maggie Toussaint

Maggie Toussaint is a scientist by training, a romanticist at heart, and an award-winning author of mystery, romance, romantic suspense, and science fiction. Her series protagonist Baxley Powell has inherited the ability to dreamwalk in order to find answers about crime. Through her investigations, Baxley seeks justice for the dead and solace for the living in a unique lowcountry setting. Maggie is the Past President of the Southeast Mystery Writers of America and a member of Low Country Sisters in Crime.

Elder Carlie Towne

Elder Carlie Towne was born and raised in Union Heights, a Gullah/Geechee neighborhood in the Neck Area between the City of Charleston, South Carolina, and North Charleston, South Carolina, to parents who also are from Union Heights. Elder Carlie Towne is a producer, play-write, poet, historian, TV host and narrator. She wrote and produced an audio tape entitled, "My Journey to the Gullah/Geechee People" and, "It is a Cultural Affair." She is the Minister of Information for the Gullah/Geechee Nation and the founder of the Gullah/Geechee Angel Network which is the official 501(c)3 of the Gullah/Geechee Nation.

Jon Tuttle

Jon Tuttle is Director of University Honors and Professor of English at Francis Marion University and has served as Playwright-in-Residence and Literary Manager at Trustus Theater. His plays, which include BOY ABOUT TEN, THE PALACE OF THE MOORISH KINGS, THE SWEET ABYSS, HOLY GHOST, THE WHITE PROBLEM, DRIFT and THE HAMMERSTONE, have won national and regional awards and received over 100 productions across the country. He has received the SCTA's Founder’s Award and fellowships from the South Carolina Arts Commission and the South Carolina Academy of Authors, on whose Board of Governors he now serves. His most recent book, just out from Muddy Ford Press, is THE TRUSTUS COLLECTION. He is now editing SOUTH CAROLINA ONSTAGE, a collection of plays about South Carolina by native playwrights, beginning in 1805.

Danielle Verwers


Danielle Verwers loves to play with words in poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. She is an unashamed fan of young adult fiction. She hopes her stories remind her readers who we were, who we are, and who we can be. "We are only as strong as the weakest among us," she says. "That is why we must look for ways- big and little, voluntary and legislative, spiritual and practical- to strengthen others."

Jay Wright

Jay Wright is a past president of Foothills Writers Guild and currently coordinates publicity and guild publications. He and his wife Anne live in Anderson, SC. He is the author of three books and also writes freelance for Anderson Magazine and Fair-Town Times. His self-published books include: Appalachian Tales & Stretched Truths (co-authored with Jim Broome), Where'd the Sun Go? (a children's book), and G.A.S. - Living with Guitar Acquisition Syndrome (humor for guitar addicts). Wild, Wonderful, ‘n Wacky, South Cacklacky features one of his many stories.

Jane Zenger

Jane Zenger is a teacher and writer living in Blythewood, SC. She has a BA in English literature and a Ph.D. in Reading Language and Literacy. Jane studied poetry and creative writing with the late James Dickey and her work first appeared in his book, From the Green Horseshoe: Poems by the Students of James Dickey. Her published research, Thirteen Poets, chronicled poets living and writing in South Carolina from 1975-1985. Jane was the poetry editor for Auntie Bellum; the first feminist magazine published in South Carolina. She also edited The Spotlight, a quarterly journal dedicated to at risk youth, teen pregnancy and dropout prevention. Her most recent work appears in Fall Lines Vol. IV and State of the Heart, Vol. 3 ( USC Press). Jane is currently working on a book of poetry based on love, redemption and traveling under the radar in third world countries.