Shanan Ballam earned an MFA in Poetry Writing from the University of Nebraska, Omaha in 2007. She teaches poetry writing and fiction writing at Utah State University and was named the 2014 Lecturer of the Year for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences. She is the author of the chapbook The Red Riding Hood Papers (Finishing Line Press 2010) and the full-length poetry collection Pretty Marrow (Negative Capability Press 2013)which was a semi-finalist for the 2010 Brittingham and Polk Poetry Prizes, the 2010 May Swenson Award, the 2010 Philip Levine Prize in Poetry, and the 2012 Louise Bogan Award; in 2012 it received first place in the Utah Division of Arts and Museums Original Writing Contest, judged by Sue Walker, Poet Laureate of Alabama. In 2013, she was appointed to the Utah Arts Council Board of Directors where she serves as the Literary Arts Representative for the state of Utah.
Andre Dubus III is the author of six books: The Cage Keeper and Other Stories, Bluesman, and the New York Times bestsellers, House of Sand and Fog, The Garden of Last Days (soon to be a major motion picture) and his memoir, Townie, a #4 New York Times bestseller and a New York Times "Editors Choice". His work has been included in The Best American Essays and The Best Spiritual Writing anthologies, and his novel, House of Sand and Fog was a finalist for the National Book Award, a #1 New York Times Bestseller, and was made into an Academy Award-nominated film starring Ben Kingsley and Jennifer Connelly. His new book, Dirty Love, was published in the fall of 2013 and has been listed as a New York Times “Notable Book”, a New York Times Editors’Choice”, a 2013 “Notable Fiction” choice from The Washington Post, and a Kirkus “Starred Best Book of 2013”. Mr. Dubus has been awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship, The National Magazine Award for Fiction, Two Pushcart Prizes, and a 2012 American Academy of Arts and Letters Award in Literature. His books are published in over twenty-five languages, and he teaches full-time at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. He lives in Massachusetts with his wife, Fontaine, a modern dancer, and their three children.
Georgann Eubanks, author of the Literary Trails series published by UNC Press, is a writer, teacher, and consultant with more than 30 years of experience in the nonprofit sector. Since 2000 she has been a principal with Donna Campbell in Minnow Media, LLC, an Emmy-winning multimedia production company that primarily creates independent documentaries for public television. Eubanks has taught creative writing as a guest artist in public schools, at UNC-Chapel Hill, and presently serves as the writing coach for the Wildacres Leadership Initiative. After directing the Duke University Writers Workshop for 20 years, in 2009 she launched the Table Rock Writers Workshop held in the fall at Wildacres Retreat. A graduate of Duke University, Eubanks is also a former chair of the NC Humanities Council and one of the founders of the NC Writers Network.
Jeremy B. Jones earned his M.F.A. in nonfiction writing from the University of Iowa and is the author of the memoir Bearwallow: A Personal History of a Mountain Homeland. His essays have appeared in numerous literary magazines and have twice been named “Notable” in Best American Essays. Jones grew up in southern Appalachia, where his family has been haunting the mountains since the 18th century. But it wasn’t until he left home to live in Honduras that he contemplated how the North Carolina mountains molded him into the man he is today. As he seeks to understand how the places we call home shape us, unify us, and craft our cultures, he questions the foundation for our identities. Jones teaches creative writing at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, NC.
David Joy is the author of the novel Where All Light Tends to Go (Putnam, 2015), as well as the memoir Growing Gills: A Fly Fisherman's Journey (Bright Mountain Books, 2011), which was a finalist for the Reed Environmental Writing Award and the Ragan Old North State Award for Creative Nonfiction. His work has appeared in numerous magazines and journals, and has been nominated for awards such as the Pushcart Prize. He is currently finishing a second novel for Putnam with a release scheduled in 2016. He lives in Webster, N.C.
Brent Martin lives in the Cowee community of western North Carolina and serves as the Southern Appalachian Regional Director for The Wilderness Society. He has an M.A. and A.B.D in History from Georgia State University, and is the author of three chapbook collections of poetry, Poems from Snow Hill Road, A Shout in the Woods, and a fourth collection, Every Breath Sings Mountains, which he co-authored with writers Thomas Rain Crowe and Barbara Duncan. His poetry and essays have been published in the North Carolina Literary Review, Pisgah Review, Tar River Poetry, Chattahoochee Review, Eno Journal, New Southerner, Kudzu Review, Smoky Mountain News, and elsewhere.
Rebecca McClanahan’s tenth book is The Tribal Knot: A Memoir of Family, Community, and a Century of Change. She has also published five books of poetry, three books of writing instruction, and a suite of essays, The Riddle Song and Other Rememberings, Her work has appeared in Best American Essays, Best American Poetry, The Kenyon Review, The Gettysburg Review, The Sun, and numerous anthologies. The recipient of the Wood Prize from Poetry Magazine, a Pushcart Prize, the Glasgow Award for nonfiction, and literary fellowships from New York Foundation for the Arts and the North Carolina Arts Council, McClanahan teaches in the MFA programs of Queens University (Charlotte) and Rainier Writing Workshop.
Tiya Miles, in addition to her recognition as a MacArthur “genius grant” recipient, has been selected for Ebony Magazine’s Power 100 and The Grio’s 100 lists of African American leaders. Her nonfiction books, The House on Diamond Hill: A Cherokee Plantation Story (UNC Press, 2010) and Ties That Bind: The Story of an Afro-Cherokee Family in Slavery and Freedom (University of California Press, 2005) received numerous awards. She lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan, where she is a professor in American Culture, History, Afroamerican & African Studies, Native American Studies, and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan
Tim Peeler, a past winner of the Jim Harrison Award for contributions to baseball literature, lives in Hickory, North Carolina, where he directs the Learning Assistance Program at Catawba Valley Community College. He has published over eight hundred poems, stories, essays, and reviews with university presses and small presses, and his work has appeared everywhere from RAW BONE PRESS to HBO and Time Life. He ran the small press magazine Third Lung Review from 1986 to 2008.He has published twelve books including his latest works of poetry, Checking Out, a 2011 SIBA finalist and Rough Beast, a story of a country gangster who becomes a literary sensation.
Carter Sickels is the author of the novel The Evening Hour (Bloomsbury), a Finalist for the 2013 Oregon Book Award and the Lambda Literary Debut Fiction Award. He is the recipient of the 2013 Lambda Literary Emerging Writer Award, a project grant from Oregon’s RACC, an NEA Fellowship to the Hambidge Center for the Arts, and a scholarship to the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. Carter is the editor of the forthcoming anthology Untangling the Knot: Queer Voices on Marriage, Relationships, and Identity, and he has published essays in Appalachian Heritage, Still, and the forthcoming anthology Walk Till the Dogs Get Mean: Essays on the Forbidden from a New Appalachia (Ohio University Press). Carter teaches fiction in the Low-Residency MFA Programs at West Virginia Wesleyan College and Eastern Oregon University. He lives in Portland, Oregon.
Aaron Smith is the author of two books of poetry: Appetite (Pittsburgh, 2012), a finalist for the Paterson Poetry Prize, the Lambda Literary Award, and the Publishing Triangle's Thom Gunn Award, and Blue on Blue Ground (Pittsburgh, 2005), winner of the Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize. His chapbooks are Men in Groups andWhat's Required, winner of the Frank O'Hara Award. A 2007 Fellow in Poetry from the New York Foundation for the Arts, he is assistant professor of English at West Virginia Wesleyan and poetry editor for the queer literary journal Bloom.
Belinda Smith is a Dove Award-winning songwriter based in Nashville, TN. She has been a professional songwriter and session singer since 1997 when she moved to Nashville from West Virginia. Belinda has had well over a hundred songs recorded by artists ranging from Grammy-nominated Ty Herndon to the Dove Award winning group Ernie Haase and Signature Sound. Along with that, she has been honored with other Dove nominations, enjoyed several #1 songs and has three BMI Awards to date. Her new record, BELINDA SMITH LIVE: TIME MACHINE is available now on iTunes and Spotify.
Tracy K. Smith is the author of three books of poetry. Her most recent collection, Life on Mars (Graywolf, 2011), won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize and was selected as a New York Times Notable Book. The collection draws on sources as disparate as Arthur C. Clarke and David Bowie, and is in part an elegiac tribute to her late father, an engineer who worked on the Hubble Telescope. Duende (2007) won the 2006 James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets and an Essence Literary Award. The Body’s Question (2003) was the winner of the 2002 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. Smith was the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Writers Award in 2004 and a Whiting Award in 2005. In 2015, her memoir, Ordinary Light, will be released by Knopf.
Smith’s poems embody the lyrical, rhythmic quality of masters such as Lorca. At times political, whimsical, and always meditative, they speak largely to the role of art and to the conception of what it means to be American, dealing with the “evolution and decline of the culture we belong to.”Her work also explores the dichotomy between the ordered world and the irrationality of the self, the importance of submitting oneself willingly to the “ongoing conflict”of life and surviving nonetheless. For Smith, in her own words, poetry is a way of “stepping into the mess of experience.” After her undergraduate work at Harvard, Smith earned her MFA at Columbia before going on to be a Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University from 1997 to 1999. She currently teaches Creative Writing at Princeton University, and has also taught at Columbia, City University of New York, and the University of Pittsburgh. She lives in Brooklyn.