Writer to Writer’s Spring 2019 Mentors
AWP celebrates the writers serving as mentors in the Spring 2019 session of Writer to Writer. We received hundreds of applications for this session and selected 30 mentors based on their experience, their willingness to serve, and the needs prevalent in the mentee applications. Mentors were each given several strong applications to choose from and selected their own mentees.
If you would like to volunteer as a mentor, applications are being accepted now for our 11th session, which will begin in September 2019.
“Writers are often isolated and in need of like-minded community. From day to day, I wrestle with the same challenges my mentee does: how to write, how to revise, how to publish, where to publish.”
Allen Braden has published in The Times Literary Supplement, Virginia Quarterly Review, The New Republic, Orion and elsewhere. A recipient of fellowships from the NEA and Artist Trust as well as the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Prize, Braden is the author of A Wreath of Down and Drops of Blood (University of Georgia) and Elegy in the Passive Voice (University of Alaska/Fairbanks). He teaches at Tacoma Community College and serves as assistant poetry editor of Terrain.org: A Journal of the Built + Natural Environments.
Allen Braden is working with Nicole Barden of Washington, DC.
“What I like so much about this program is that it's a really pure form of teaching; there's no grading and, therefore, I can focus on simply helping the mentee learn as much about poetry as possible.”
Jehanne Dubrow is the author of six poetry collections, including most recently Dots & Dashes. A new book of poems, American Samizdat, and throughsmoke: an essay in notes, are both forthcoming in 2019. Her work has appeared in Virginia Quarterly Review, The New England Review, and The Southern Review. She is an Associate Professor of creative writing at the University of North Texas.
Jehanne Dubrow is working with Patrycja Humienek of Seattle, WA.
“I believe a mentor can benefit an emerging writer by encouraging him or her to concentrate on the work first and foremost, wherever that may lead.”
Pamela Erens is the author of the novels The Virgins, The Understory, and, most recently, Eleven Hours. She has been a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for First Fiction, the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing, and the John Gardner Fiction Book Award. Eleven Hours was named a Best Book of 2016 by NPR, the New Yorker, Kirkus, and Literary Hub. Erens’s essays and criticism have appeared in publications such as The New York Times, Vogue, Elle, Slate, Virginia Quarterly Review, and Los Angeles Review of Books.
Pamela Erens is working with Emma Pattee of Vancouver, WA.
“Too often, I fear, newer writers shy away from what scares them and restrict themselves because of self-doubt. My hope is to support a mentee as we explore the edges of what we know together, allowing the collaboration to push us both to do better and more interesting work.”
Emily Fridlund grew up in Minnesota and lives in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Her first novel, History of Wolves, was a finalist for the Man Booker Prize and the PEN/Robert W. Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction. It was awarded the American Academy of Arts and Letters Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction and the Great Lakes Colleges Association New Writers Award. Fridlund’s debut collection of stories, Catapult, won the Mary McCarthy Prize. Her short fiction has appeared in a variety of journals, including Boston Review, ZYZZYVA, and Southwest Review. She teaches writing at Cornell University.
Emily Fridlund is working with Burcu Koray of Instanbul, Turkey.
“Believe in your love of language and your vision for your work. Read constantly, listen to the voices and conversations around you, and always remember you are feeding the river of literature.”
Amy Gottlieb is a novelist and poet. Her debut novel The Beautiful Possible (Harper Perennial, 2016) was a finalist for the Wallant Award, the Ribalow Prize, and a National Jewish Book Award. Her work has been published in Storyscape, The Ilanot Review, Lilith, Puerto del Sol, On Being, Zeek, The Bloomsbury Anthology of Contemporary Jewish American Poetry, and elsewhere. She lives in New York City, where she teaches college writing and literature.
Amy Gottlieb is working with Emily Alice Katz of Durham, NC.
“We're all trying to do similar things—more brains equal more ideas on how to reach our audiences and manage our lives.”
Danielle Hanson is the author of Fraying Edge of Sky (Codhill Press Poetry Prize) and Ambushing Water. Her work has appeared in magazines such as Poets & Writers, Blackbird, and Rosebud, and has won the Vi Gale Award from Hubbub. She was Finalist for 2018 Georgia Author of the Year Award, and shortlisted for the National Poetry Series, Washington Prize, and Ciardi Prize, and elsewhere. She is Poetry Editor for Doubleback Books, and is a Senior Reader for the Atlanta Review.
Danielle Hanson is working with Stephanie George of Bronx, NY.
“I've learned that opportunities don't come to you; you have to invite them. And I've learned that my poetic growth depends on my own determination to feed it and sustain it.”
Athena Kildegaardis the author of five books of poetry, most recently Course (Tinderbox Editions). Her poems have been set to music by many composers including Linda Kachelmeier, Libby Larsen, Jake Endres, and William Kenlon. She's a recipient of grants from the Minnesota State Arts Board and was a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award. She teaches at the University of Minnesota Morris where she also directs the Honors Program. Her poems have recently appeared in or will soon appear in Ecotone, Conduit, RHINO, North American Review, Poetry Northwest, and elsewhere.
Athena Kildegaard is working with Evana Bodiker of Allston, MA.
“Publishing is constantly changing, and a novelist's career, which has always been somewhat 'pathless' is now akin to embarking on a trip to the historical Wild West (complete with the Gold Rush metaphor). Without a map, you need guides.”
Phoebe Kitanidis teen fantasy fiction has been translated and optioned for TV. Her novel GLIMMER (Harper Collins 2012) won a Junior Library Guild Award. A former contributor at Discovery Girls magazine for seven years, she also wrote Discovery Girls Guide to Friendship Hardship. She currently runs her own urban fantasy imprint, Enigmatic Books, and writes contemporary romance as Phoebe Rose. Phoebe lives in Seattle and has one daughter.
Phoebe Kitanidis is working with Jesse Mae Weiner of Fort Collins, CO.
Sandra Gail Lambert
“Most often I work with writers who, like me, write from outside of an academic community. There's a slew of basic, seemingly routine information about submitting and publishing that I had to learn in bits and pieces and by making a lot of mistakes over many years. One of my jobs as a mentor is to demystify those processes and give the writer a sense of what to expect and which responses and guidelines are typical and which are suspicious. One of my joys is to help a writer revise a piece until it's ready to submit and then offer suggestions on where and how to do that.”
Sandra Gail Lambert is the author of the memoir, A Certain Loneliness, and The River's Memory, a novel. Lambert is a 2018 NEA Creative Writing Fellow, and her work has been published in The Paris Review, LitHub, The Southern Review, Brevity, and New Letters. She is the co-editor of the anthology Older Queer Voices: The Intimacy of Survival. She often writes about the body and its relationship to the natural world.
Sandra Gail Lambert is working with Talea Anderson of Pullman, WA.
“Be tenacious in your writing work and compassionate in your workings with people.”
Alex Lemon's Another Last Day will be published this spring (Milkweed Editions). He is the author of Feverland: A Memoir in Shards, Happy: A Memoir, and the poetry collections The Wish Book, Fancy Beasts, Hallelujah Blackout, and Mosquito. His writing has appeared in Esquire, American Poetry Review, The Huffington Post, Ploughshares, Best American Poetry, Tin House, Kenyon Review, Gulf Coast, AGNI, New England Review, The Southern Review, Grist and jubilat, among others. Among his awards are a 2005 Fellowship in Poetry from the NEA, a Jerome Foundation Fellowship and a 2006 Minnesota Arts Board Grant. He lives in Ft. Worth, Texas, and teaches at TCU.
Alex Lemon is working with Tammie Rice of Fayetteville, NC.
“For me, mentoring is the most natural of all forms of teaching. It lets a person ask the things she needs to ask, without having to take into consideration a larger audience. During a mentorship, two people are given the rare opportunity to serve as mirrors of one another. We do our best to reflect back the others’ best self, and in doing so become better ourselves.”
Benjamin Ludwig is the author of Ginny Moon, published by Park Row Books | HarperCollins in 2017. It was an Indie Next pick, a Library Reads pick, a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, and one of Amazon.com’s 20 Best Books of 2017. To date it has been published in eighteen countries. His novella, Sourdough, was the recipient of the 2013 Clay Reynolds Prize for the Novella. A mentor for teachers and writers, he holds an MAT in English education and an MFA in creative writing. He and his family live in New Hampshire.
Benjamin Ludwig is working with Liz Paley of Concord, MA.
“Being a writer can be hard and often lonely, but it doesn't have to be. I was lucky enough to have access to some really great mentors as a developing writer, and I hope I can return the favor.”
Emily Maloney is the author of the forthcoming memoir COST OF LIVING (Flatiron Books, 2020), about the failure of the American healthcare system seen both through her transition from patient to practitioner and her work as an ER tech and EMT at a busy Level II trauma center. Her essays have appeared in or are forthcoming from The New York Times, the Washington Post, Glamour, The Atlantic, the American Journal of Nursing, and other publications. Her essay, “Cost of Living,” which originally appeared in the Virginia Quarterly Review, was selected for Best American Essays 2017, edited by Leslie Jamison. She is also a MacDowell Fellow and a 2015 graduate of the MFA program at the University of Pittsburgh.
Emily Maloney is working with Mary Pan of Seattle, WA.
“Learn to edit your own work. Read it again and again till you’re sick of it and can see beyond your love for it and into the mechanics of sentences and paragraphs. Then get rid of everything extraneous.”
Faiqa Mansab is the author of This House of Clay and Water, Penguin India, 2017. The book was long listed for the Getz-Pharma Fiction Prize and the German Consulate Peace Prize in 2018. Faiqa received her MFA in creative writing with a distinction from Kingston University London in 2014. She also received the Best MFA Thesis Award.
Faiqa Mansab is working with Rashi Rohatgi who is living in Norway.
Tif Marcelo believes in and writes about heart-eyes romance, the strength of families, and the endurance of friendship. A craft enthusiast and food-lover, Tif is a veteran Army Nurse and holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing and a Master of Public Administration, and is inspired daily by her own military hero and four children. The Journey to the Heart is her 3-book debut romance series, with a forthcoming women’s fiction novel The Key to Happily Ever After (Gallery/S&S) to be released in May 2019.
Tif Marcelo is working with Faerl Marie Torres of Tijeras, NM.
“My favorite part about mentoring is helping a mentee locate his/her/their literary kin, be they living or deceased, and introducing the mentee to new writers and journals.”
Kristi Maxwell is the author of six books of poetry, including Bright and Hurtless (Ahsahta Press, 2018) and PLAN/K(Horse Less Press, 2015). Her poems appear in Bennington Review, Black Warrior Review, and Boston Review. She is an assistant professor of English at the University of Louisville.
Kristi Maxwell is working with Phylise Smith of Pomona, CA.
“Work hard. Be nice.”
Michael Meyerhofer is the author of two fantasy trilogies, as wel l as five books and five chapbooks of poetry. His debut fantasy novel, Wytchfire, won the Whirling Prize from the Kellogg Writers Series, was an Honorable Mention in the Readers Favorite Fantasy category, and was also nominated for a Readers' Choice Award by Big Al's Books and Pals. His fifth book of poetry, Ragged Eden, is forthcoming from Glass Lyre Press. He also serves as the Poetry Editor of Atticus Review. For more information and an embarrassing childhood photo, visit troublewithhammers.com.
Michael Meyerhofer is working with Annelyse Gelman of Austin, TX.
“Mentorship is foundational to literary community. Mentoring relationships — more so than individual mentors and mentees — represent a significant investment in craft, tradition and social practice. That investment produces returns that create value for all members of the community, from emerging writers to the readership of the future.”
Joe Milazzo is a writer, editor, educator, and designer. He is the author of the novel Crepuscule W/ Nellie and two full-length poetry collections: The Habiliments and Of All Places In This Place Of All Places. He is an Associate Editor for Southwest Review, a Contributing Editor at Entropy, and the proprietor of Imipolex Press. Joe lives and works in Dallas, TX, and his virtual location is http://www.joe-milazzo.com.
Joe Milazzo is working with Brandi Lee Metzger of Indianapolis, IN.
“Mentorship is a necessity in the growth of a writer's craft. Visible mentors provide feedback and encouragement, share their own stories of their successes and failures, and serve as a reminder that all writers need to be part of a community.”
Christina Olson is the author of Terminal Human Velocity,Before I Came Home Naked, Weird Science and Rook & The M.E. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, Arts & Letters, Alaska Quarterly Review, Black Warrior Review, Brevity, Gastronomica, Gulf Coast, H-ngm-n, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Hobart, The Normal School, Quarterly West, Passages North, Puerto del Sol, Third Coast, Verse Daily, Virginia Quarterly Review, and The Best Creative Nonfiction, Volume Three. Christina teaches at Georgia Southern University and in the Murray State low-res MFA program. She tweets about mastodons, coneys, and other fixations as @olsonquest.
Christina Olson is working with Abbie Kiefer of Madbury, NH.
Katie Rose Guest Pryal
“I don't believe this is particularly new to today's publishing marketplace, but I also don't believe people speak of it enough: making connections with others is essential to a successful career as a writer. A good mentor relationship changed my life and career.”
Katie Rose Guest Pryal is a bestselling novelist and essayist in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. She is the author of fiction, including Entanglement (2015), Chasing Chaos(2016), and Fallout Girl (2018), all from Blue Crow Books. With Snowraven Books, she is the author of the #1 Amazon bestseller Life of the Mind Interrupted: Essays on Mental Health and Disability in Higher Education (2017) and The Freelance Academic: Transform Your Creative Life and Career (2019). Katie is a columnist for Catapult and Women in Higher Education, and she is the co-founder and co-editor-in-chief of Disability Acts magazine (disabilityacts.com). She also contributes to The Establishment, The Chronicle of Higher Education and other national venues. She earned her master’s degree in creative writing from the Writing Seminars at Johns Hopkins, where she attended on a fellowship.
Katie Rose Guest Pryal is working with Alexandra Peetz of Oak Park, CA.
“Writing no longer takes place in a vacuum--there are important, honest, and vulnerable conversations that happen between mentor and mentee.”
Jenny Sadre-Orafai is the author of Malak and Paper, Cotton, Leather. Book of Levitations, her poetry collection with Anne Champion, is forthcoming from Trembling Pillow Press. Her poetry has appeared in Cream City Review, Ninth Letter, The Cortland Review, and Hotel Amerika. Her prose has appeared in Fourteen Hills, The Rumpus, and NELLE. She is co-founding editor of Josephine Quarterly, Professor of English at Kennesaw State University, and Executive Director of Georgia Writers Association.
Jenny Sadre-Orafai is working with Amy Huang of San Francisco, CA.
“My teaching mantra is "process before product"—and so many writers new to the profession, I find, feel the pressure of polishing work before truly exploring all of the creative possibilities. It's not all that difficult to be a competent or polished writer. Being bold—getting out of one's comfort zone, becoming comfortable with artistic risk—IS difficult, and a mentor can be both your best challenger and cheerleader.”
Anne Sanow is the author of the story collection Triple Time, winner of the Drue Heinz Literature Prize and the PEN New England Award for fiction, and she has also received the Nelson Algren Award for the Short Story and a creative writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. She has taught fiction in several graduate writing programs and is a faculty member for 24PearlStreet, the online writing program for the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. She currently lives in New Orleans, where she works as a freelance editor and is completing her novel The Dailies.
Anne Sanow is working with Rowan Sharp of Port Townsend, WA.
“To find a friend in poetry is always an amazing gift. The student's work often inspires the mentor; mentorships are a synergistic creative endeavor in better understanding the art we are called to create.”
Jay Sheets is a poet, writer, and researcher. His debut book, The Hour Wasp, was released by April Gloaming Publishing in 2017. Sheets's poems have appeared in numerous journals and magazines. He received a BFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College in Vermont and currently lives in Plymouth, Massachusetts.
Jay Sheets is working with Whitney Rio-Ross of Nashville, TN.
“There is no one path to a successful writing career. Follow your own instincts. When you get there, people will look back at what you've done and try to replicate it but as it unfolds it will always look like a mess.”
Renee Simms’ debut story collection is Meet Behind Mars (2018). She has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Ragdale, and Vermont Studio Center. She’s also studied as a fellow with Kimbilio, PEN Center, and Cave Canem. Her writing can be found in many journals and anthologies including Callaloo, Oxford American, Ecotone, North American Review, and in All About Skin: Short Fiction by Women of Color (2014). She is currently at work on a novel and a collection of linked essays. Renee lives in Tacoma, Washington where she is an associate professor of African American Studies at University of Puget Sound.
Renee Simms is working with Laurie Thomas of Tulsa, OK.
Suzanne Farrell Smith
“To be a writer is to be part of an enormous community and also totally alone. Writers benefit from a supportive, engaged mentor who has been part of that community, perhaps just a little while longer. Mentors share advice from the writing life, while focusing on why we’re all living it in the first place: the writing. What is working well? What strengths can be counted on and celebrated? What needs clarity or development, intensity or restraint, a little magic? Shared enthusiasm about the world of writing, and mutual respect and empathy that come from working together on a piece of art, are invaluable to both mentor and mentee.”
Suzanne Farrell Smith’s work explores memory, trauma, education, and parenthood, and appears in numerous literary and scholarly journals. She is the author of The Memory Sessions (memoir, Bucknell University Press, August 2019) and The Writing Shop (teaching writing, Brill | Sense, March 2019). A Connecticut native, Suzanne graduated from Trinity College and moved to Manhattan, where she taught elementary school. With master’s degrees from The New School and Vermont College of Fine Arts, she now teaches writing and literacy education and is creative advisor to Longridge Review. She recently settled back in Connecticut with her husband and three sons.
Suzanne Farrell Smith is working with Donna Tallent of Jackson Heights, NY.
“Everyone needs good readers to revise and polish work. A good mentor can model an esthetic, an approach to the art—even if the mentee goes a different direction.”
Richard Terrill is the author of two collections of poems from the University of Tampa Press, Almost Dark and Coming Late to Rachmaninoff, winner of the Minnesota Book Award; as well as two books of creative nonfiction, Fakebook: Improvisations on a Journey Back to Jazz and Saturday Night in Baoding: A China Memoir, winner of the Associated Writing Programs Award for Nonfiction. He has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Wisconsin and Minnesota State Arts Boards, the Jerome Foundation, and the MacDowell Colony, as well as three Fulbright Fellowships. He works as a jazz saxophonist.
Richard Terrill is working with William Ward Butler of Ben Lomond, CA.
“In a field that is so subjective, and that can be very damaging to the creative spirit when there is no validating reader, due to its competitive nature, a mentor can remove the shroud of loneliness and anxiety that many writers feel, and not only boost a writer’s skill but also nourish their creative life.”
Natalia Treviño, born in Mexico and raised in Texas, learned English from Sesame Street’s Bert and Ernie. Natalia is the author of the new chapbook, VirginX, and has a master’s in English from UT San Antonio and an MFA in creative writing from the University of Nebraska. Her awards include the Alfredo Cisneros del Moral Award, the Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Award for poetry, and the Menada Literary Award at the Ditet E Naimit Poetry Festival in Macedonia. Her first book of poems, Lavando La Dirty Laundry, was a national and international awards finalist. Natalia’s work appears in Bordersenses, Borderlands, Voices de la Luna, The Taos Journal of Poetry and Art, Western Humanities Review, and several other journals and anthologies. Her novel in progress is an immigration story about an undocumented teenage mother who negotiates a life in the U.S. while separated from her daughter.
Natalia Treviño is working with Gillian Esquivia-Cohen of Bogota, Colombia.
“Finish your story. The one you’re working on. The one you aren’t sure is good enough. Then revise it. Then read it again. It’s better than you thought.”
Fran Wilde’s novels and short stories have been finalists for three Nebula Awards, a World Fantasy Award, and two Hugo Awards, and include her Andre Norton- and Compton-Crook-winning debut novel Updraft, its sequels Cloudbound, and Horizon, her 2019 debut Middle Grade novel Riverland, and the Nebula-, Hugo-, and Locus-nominated novelette The Jewel and Her Lapidary. Her short stories appear in Asimov’s, Tor.com, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Shimmer, Nature, and the 2017 Year’s Best Dark Fantasy and Horror. (Bibliography.)
She writes for publications including The Washington Post, Tor.com, Clarkesworld, iO9.com, and GeekMom.com. She holds an MFA in poetry from Warren Wilson College and an MA in Information Architecture and Interaction Design.
Fran Wilde is working with Angela M. Sanchez of Glendale, CA.
Evan Morgan Williams
Evan Morgan Williams begins his second season as a mentor in the Writer to Writer program, believing he has so much more to learn! His first story collection, Thorn, won the 2013 Chandra Prize (BkMk Press, University of Missouri-Kansas City). In 2018, Williams released a second collection, Canyons, in a limited print run. Now he is pursuing further micro-publishing adventures. Williams has published over forty stories in such magazines as Witness, Antioch Review, Kenyon Review, and Alaska Quarterly. He holds a very old MFA from the University of Montana, and he has taught public school for decades. Williams is currently at work on a novel, a literary noir set in—where else—Los Angeles.
Evan Morgan Williams is working with Ken Post of Juneau, AK.
“I believe that writer's block is an important part of the process—worrying problems with developing stories until a moment of insight strikes. The insight comes with me often only when I've had to worry it. I use the metaphor of Sisyphus. I shoulder the boulder, knowing it will roll down the hill again, but also knowing that at some point it will become lighter and lift me. Only hard work entices one's muse.”
Lex Williford, a University of Arkansas MFA, has taught in the writing programs at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and the University of Alabama and has been a distinguished visiting writer at the University of Missouri, St. Louis. His book, Macauley’s Thumb, won the 1993 Iowa Short Fiction Award; his chapbook, Superman on the Roof, won the 2016 10th Annual Rose Metal Press Flash Fiction Award. His fiction and non-fiction have appeared in numerous prestigious national journals. Coeditor of the Scribner Anthology of Contemporary Short Fiction and the Touchstone Anthology of Contemporary Nonfiction, he is the founding director of the online MFA at the University of Texas at El Paso and a recent chair of the on-campus bilingual creative writing program, where he currently teaches.
Lex Williford is working with Michael Freed-Thall of West Fairfield, VT.
“The relationship for me is about two writers in conversation. The only reason I’m the ”mentor” is that I’ve been writing longer and have certainly made more mistakes. So we try to learn from our mistakes, but ultimately, all writers are really their own best teachers.”
Xu Xi is the author of fourteen books. Her latest is This Fish is Fowl: Essays of Being.Other recent titles include That Man In Our Lives and Dear Hong Kong: An Elegy for A City. She is Faculty Co-Director of the International MFA in Creative Writing & Literary Translation at Vermont College of Fine Arts and co-founder of Authors at Large. An Indonesian-Chinese-American diehard transnational, she previously inhabited the flight path connecting New York, Hong Kong and the South Island of New Zealand. These days, she splits her life, unevenly, between the state of New York and the rest of the world.
Xu Xi is working with Amalia Melis of Athens, Greece.