In the Spotlight

Featuring AWP members who represent AWP’s mission to foster literary achievement, to advance the art of writing as essential to a good education, and to serve the makers, teachers, students, and readers of contemporary writing.

  • Ashley M. Jones

    Ashley M. Jones

    Birmingham, Alabama      Member Since: 2012

    “Since graduate school, I’ve made a point to surround myself with poets (and people) who are in the life-giving business. That means, poets who aren’t caught up in creating a flock of sheep who write exactly as they do. That means poets who are writing their authentic experience and who give space for others to do the same.”

    About: Ashley M. Jones is a poet and teacher from Birmingham, AL. She is the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers Award, and she is the author of two poetry collections: Magic City Gospel (Hub City Press, 2017) and dark / / thing (Pleiades Press—Lena-Miles Wever Todd Prize for Poetry, 2019). She is a creative writing faculty member at the Alabama School of Fine Arts, and she founded and directs the Magic City Poetry Festival in Birmingham, Alabama.


  • Elizabeth Austin

    Elizabeth Austin

    Newtown, Pennsylvania      Member Since: 2015

    “Writing is odd: it’s just putting words down on a page essentially, trying to get them just right. If I can do that and use that to connect with another human being and pull them out of any isolation they might be experiencing, then that’s everything to me.”

    About: Elizabeth Austin is a poet, photographer, and visual artist. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and she currently lives in Newtown, Pennsylvania, with her two children. Her work has appeared in the Schuylkill Valley Journal, See Spot Run, Driftwood Press, PAST TEN, and Foliate Oak. She was recently featured in a collaborative exhibit with photographer Sarah Jane Sanders at the Norton Center for the Arts.


Previously in the Spotlight

  • Brian Kaufman

    Brian Kaufman

    Vancouver, Canada      Member Since: 2018

    “‘Balance’ is the key word, and I wish I were better at it… There is always something more you can do or try when trying to publicize and market the books. So, at some point I have to say, ok, enough, a bit of ‘me’ time now.”


  • Natalia Sylvester

    Natalia Sylvester

    Austin, TX      Member Since: 2013

    “I think the question needs to shift and progress past asking POC authors to continually answer it. I'd love to see this question asked just as often to non-POC booksellers and literary journals, and then be taken several steps further: what are they actively doing not only to invite a more diverse community of writers, but to make their space one in which our community feels welcome, valued, and centered?”


  • Brenda Hillman

    Brenda Hillman

    Moraga, California      Member Since: 2012

    “The adrenalin of happily creating first versions/drafts can’t be confused with finishing work you think will last and you will be proud of. I often will return to a poem over and over because it is not yet in the zone of its initiating impulse, but rather has been the product of false pride..”


  • Theodore Wheeler

    Theodore Wheeler

    Omaha, Nebraska      Member Since: 2006

    “The idea is to start conversations about books and how literature fits into a modern person's life—and to do this in a specific way, in a specific place. There are always people drawn to see what titles we brought along on the cart. It's a challenge, a game, for them to be surprised by what titles we felt were appropriate for the venue and for them to suggest what we forgot.”


  • Erika T. Wurth

    Erika T. Wurth

    Illinois/Colorado      Member Since:2012

    “As someone who has worked at a University with a large percentage of working class white, black and Latino/Indigenous students, I can say that some of them come ready-made, and all they need is for me to pull them in the right direction, show them there is one. Others, there’s a glimmer, but what they’ve needed all of their lives was a toolbox. I hand it to them, show them how to work on the car – and my god, if they don’t often blossom in ways that shock me.”


Nominate a Member

In the Spotlight highlights AWP members who are making exceptional contributions to the literary community.

Spotlighted Members

View a complete list of In the Spotlight AWP members.