Mildred K. Barya  directs the creative writing program at UNCA where she teaches poetry, fiction, innovative hybrids and literature. Her publications include three poetry collections: Give Me Room to Move My Feet (2009), The Price of Memory after the Tsunami (2006), and Men Love Chocolates But They Don’t Say (2002). She has also published prose, poems, or hybrids in Tin House, on the 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. She is a board member of the African Writers Trust and blogs at:

Joseph Bathanti  is former Poet Laureate of North Carolina (2012-14) and recipient of the 2016 North Carolina Award in Literature. He is the author of seventeen books. Bathanti is McFarlane Family Distinguished Professor of Interdisciplinary Education & Writer-in-Residence of Appalachian State University’s Watauga Residential College, in Boone. He served as the 2016 Charles George VA Medical Center Writer-in-Residence in Asheville.


Margaret D. Bauer is the Ralph Hardee Rives Chair of Southern Literature and Distinguished Professor of Harriot College of Arts and Sciences at East Carolina University, where she has served as Editor of the North Carolina Literary Review for more than twenty years. Under her editorship, NCLR has received four awards from the Council of Editors of Learned Journals. She has also edited two books on North Carolina playwright Paul Green, and one of her articles on Green explores his collaboration with Richard Wright on adapting Native Son for the stage. She is the author of four books of literary criticism, including A Study of Scarletts: Scarlett O’Hara’s Literary Daughters, but has turned to creative writing in recent years. Her awards include the 2017 North Carolina Award for Literature, the R. Hunt Parker Memorial Award for significant contributions to North Carolina literature, and the 2018 John Tyler Caldwell Award for the Humanities.


A.K. Benninghofen holds a BFA in Theatre from the University of Southern Mississippi. She worked as an actress in New York and Los Angeles for many years before moving to Asheville where she started a family and began her life as a writer. She is a member of Asheville’s Flatiron Writers Group. A.K.’s work has appeared in Word Riot, Passages North, Evergreen Review, Monkeybicycle, Necessary Fiction, Deep South Magazine, the anthology A Book of Uncommon Prayer, and elsewhere. She has been a fiction contributor at Sewanee Writers’ Conference, a writing fellow at the Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts & Sciences, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Weymouth Center for the Arts & Humanities and Wildacres Retreat. In 2012, she was awarded a Regional Artist Project Grant by the North Carolina Arts Council. Currently, she is at work on her first novel, Gloaming Season, as well as a collection of linked stories titled Landmine Maps of the Hospitality State.

Nickole Brown is the author of Sister, first published in 2007 with a new edition reissued by Sibling Rivalry Press in 2018. Her second book, Fanny Says, came out from BOA Editions in 2015, and most recently, a chapbook of poems called To Those Who Were Our First Gods won the 2018 Rattle Chapbook Prize. Currently, she is the Editor for the Marie Alexander Poetry Series and teaches at the Sewanee School of Letters MFA Program. She lives with her wife, poet Jessica Jacobs, in Asheville.

Maryedith Burrell is a stage and screen veteran who has worked for just about every major film and television studio in the world. With more than 24 films to her credit and numerous TV series, she is an award-winning writer, producer, and actor. Her latest project, the documentary RAISE HELL: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins, won raves at Sundance 2019, the Audience Award at SouthBySouthwest 2019, and is now due for wide release. An overall deal at Disney Studios introduced her to a career as a “script doctor” which she enjoys to this day. Maryedith has also contributed to Rolling Stone, The Los Angeles Times, and Vogue, among other publications and her essay, “And Affair to Forget”, appears in the bestseller What Was I Thinking? (St. Martin’s Press). Currently she is writing Black Angel, a film about the 19th century violin virtuoso George Polgreen Bridgetower. Maryedith is a professor of Stage & Screen at Western Carolina University, a member of Flatiron Writers, and lives in Asheville with her dog, Miss Butters.

Catherine Campbell is an award-nominated writer, editor, and book critic. Her work appears in The New York Times, Writer’s Digest, The Millions, The Rumpus, Kenyon Review, McSweeney’s, Ploughshares online, and elsewhere. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing (UNC-Asheville), her MFA in Creative Writing (Queens University), and formerly taught as an adjunct professor in Lenoir-Rhyne University’s M.A. Writing program. Since 2006, Catherine’s professional book industry work has included bookselling, marketing for a rare book company, and marketing and public relations for authors. She lives in Asheville with her husband, the poet Brandon Amico.

Catherine Carter has published two collections of poetry with LSU Press, The Memory of Gills and The Swamp Monster at Home, with a third, Larvae of the Nearest Stars, forthcoming from LSUP in fall 2019. Her poetry has won the North Carolina Literary Review’s James Applewhite Prize, the NC Literary and Historical Society’s Roanoke-Chowan Award, the NCWN’s Randall Jarrell Poetry Competition, Jacar Press’ chapbook contest, Still: The Journal’s poetry prize, and the NC Poetry Society’s poet laureate’s prize; it has also appeared in Best American Poetry 2009, Orion, Poetry, Ecotone, Tar River Poetry, Cortland Review, and Ploughshares, among others. She is a professor of English at Western Carolina University and a poetry editor at Cider Press Review.

A graduate of Columbia University, Tom Chalmers was the Artistic Director of NYC’s Groundlings East and Literary Manager of LA’s Sacred Fools Theatre, He has appeared in a few feature films that screened at Sundance, an assortment of short films, and a number of national commercials. Tom has written for SHOWTIME Television, TBS, and USA Networks. He has taught at NYU and Warren Wilson College. He currently teaches classes through the Flatiron Writers Room and the Asheville School of Improv (which he started). He is a member of the acclaimed improv comedy troupe, Reasonably Priced Babies, and is host and producer of the monthly storytelling series, Listen to This. On Wednesday nights, you can hear Tom co-host a sports talk radio show, called Steve Sax Syndrome, on Asheville FM 103.3. Let him know if he has left anything out.

Caroline Green Christopoulos (right) is co-owner, with Lauren Harr (left), of Gold Leaf Literary Services, which provides a range of pre- and post-publication assistance for authors. In addition, Caroline works at Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe, where she has been a bookseller for eighteen years and buyer for fourteen and is on the programming committee for the Carolina Mountains Literary Festival. She lives in Asheville with her husband and daughter.

Meta Commerse studied health, history and writing at Goddard College. Her community-based healing work began with a focus on domestic violence prevention. Blending her study and work, she demonstrates story as medicine across genre. She is an award winning writer, performer and seasoned teacher originally from Chicago, living in North Carolina since 2009. Meta founded and launched Story Medicine Asheville in 2011, and continues to empower her students with story medicine applied to today’s topics, both through UNCA’s Great Smokies Writing Program, and as an independent scholar. She is the author of six books, including Landscapes of Abuse (2001), Rainsongs: Poems of a Woman’s Life (2012), her novel The Mending Time (2014), her forthcoming untitled memoir, and her second poetry collection, Rhubarb Pie.

Abigail DeWitt is the author of three novels: Lili, Dogs, and News of Our Loved Ones. Described by BookList as a work of “masterful artistry,” News of Our Loved Ones was chosen as an Editor’s Choice by BookBrowse and the Historical Novel Society. Her short fiction has appeared in Narrative, Five Points, Witness, the Alaska Quarterly Review, The Carolina Quarterly, Drafthorse, and elsewhere. She has been cited in Best American Short Stories, nominated for a Pushcart, and has received grants and fellowships from the North Carolina Arts Council, the Tyrone Guthrie Center, the McColl Center for the Arts, and the Michener Society. Follow her on Instagram at @abigaildewittauthor or visit her website:

Adam Eaglin joined The Cheney Agency as a literary agent in 2012. He began his publishing career in editorial at Basic Books before working as an agent at The Wylie Agency. He represents a range of literary fiction and nonfiction, including history, politics, current events, narrative reportage, biography, memoir, and popular science.

Kevin Evans was born into a military family in Maricopa County, Arizona. He has resided in Asheville altogether about half of his life. Kevin first began writing creatively in the third grade and, as a teenager, was mentored by the poet Glenis Redmond while attending Project STEAM. He had the opportunity to perform at Diana Wortham Theatre at that time; that’s when he fell in love with performing in addition to writing. In recent years, Kevin has been a part of the Asheville Poetry Cabaret and has organized events of his own called The Human Side. Kevin recently led a workshop as part of this year’s Asheville Wordfest.

Keith Flynn ( is the award-winning author of seven books, including six collections of poetry: most recently Colony Collapse Disorder (Wings Press, 2013) and forthcoming The Skin of Meaning (Red Hen Press, 2020). He is the Executive Director and producer of the TV show, “LIVE at White Rock Hall,” and Animal Sounds Productions, both which create collaborations between writers and musicians in video and audio formats. His award-winning poetry and essays have appeared in many journals and anthologies around the world, including The American Literary Review, The Colorado Review, Poetry Wales, Five Points, Poetry East, The Southern Poetry Anthology, The Poetics of American Song Lyrics, Writer’s Chronicle, The Cimarron Review, Rattle, Shenandoah, Word, and Witness: 100 Years of NC Poetry, Crazyhorse, and many others. He has been awarded the Sandburg Prize for poetry, a 2013 NC Literary Fellowship, the ASCAP Emerging Songwriter Prize, the Paumanok Poetry Award and was twice named the Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet for NC. Flynn is founder and managing editor of The Asheville Poetry Review, which began publishing in 1994.

Tessa Fontaine is the author of The Electric Woman: A Memoir in Death-Defying Acts, a New York Times Editors’ Choice; A Southern Living Best Book of 2018; An Amazon Editors’ Best Book of 2018; A Refinery29 Best Book of 2018; A New York Post Most Unforgettable Book of 2018. Tessa spent the 2013 season performing with the last American traveling circus sideshow, the World of Wonders. Essays about the sideshow won the 2016 AWP Intro Award in Nonfiction. Her writing can be found in Glamour, The Believer, LitHub, Creative Nonfiction, and elsewhere. She’s taught in prisons, jails, colleges, community centers, for The New York Times summer journeys as well as founding a Salt Lake City Writers in the Schools program. She lives in Asheville with her fella and pup, and teaches at Warren Wilson College.


Charles Frazier grew up in the mountains of Western North Carolina. Cold Mountain (1997), his highly acclaimed first novel, was an international bestseller, won the National Book Award in 1997, and was adapted into an Academy Award-winning film by Anthony Minghella in 2003. Charles’s second novel, Thirteen Moons (2006), was a New York Times bestseller and named a best book of the year by The Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, and St. Louis Post-Dispatch. His third novel, Nightwoods (2011), also a New York Times bestseller, is a critically acclaimed literary thriller set in a fictional Western North Carolina town in the early 1960s.

Charles’s latest novel, Varina, an instant New York Times bestseller released in April of 2018, is a fictional reimagining of the life of Varina Howell Davis before, during, and after the American Civil War.

Lori Galvin represents both fiction and nonfiction. Her clients include Kwame Owuachi’s memoir Notes from a Young Black Chef (Knopf); Cambria Brockman’s debut thriller Tell Me Everything (Ballantine); and Holly Watt’s debut thriller To the Lions (Dutton; U.S. Rights). She is specifically looking for writers of thrillers, mysteries, and crime as well as grounded sci-fi or speculative fiction, book club fiction, and women’s fiction.

Award-winning author and journalist Anne Fitten Glenn has been writing about and working in the beer business since the 1990s. She is the author of two books, Western North Carolina: A Mountain Brew History (2018) and Asheville Beer: An Intoxicating History of Mountain Brewing (2012), both published by Arcadia/The History Press. She was the national public relations director and east coast marketing manager for Oskar Blues Brewery for three years. Currently, she consults to breweries across the country in the arenas of communications and public relations as well as writing for both beverage trade and consumer magazines. She pens a regular “Mountain Brews” article for Edible Asheville and has written for numerous other publications, including All About Beer, Smoky Mountain Living, Edible Aspen, WNC Magazine, Asheville Citizen-Times,  and She’s lived in and written about the Asheville area since 1997.

Luke Hankins is the author of a collection of poems, Weak Devotions, and a collection of essays, The Work of Creation. He is also the editor of Poems of Devotion: An Anthology of Recent Poets. His latest book is a collection of translations from the French of Stella Vinitchi Radulescu, A Cry in the Snow & Other Poems, recently released in an international edition by Seagull Books. Hankins is the founder and editor of Orison Books, a non-profit literary press focused on the life of the spirit from a broad and inclusive range of perspectives.

A former publicist for Coffee House Press in Minneapolis, Lauren Harr (left) is co-owner, with Caroline Christopoulos (right), of Gold Leaf Literary Services, which provides a range of pre- and post-publication assistance for authors. Lauren has worked in the book world for twenty years in bookstores, independent publishing, and in literary nonprofits. She spent eight years at Malaprop’s Bookstore/Cafe as a bookseller and events coordinator. She lives in Asheville with her husband and daughter.

Novelist, playwright, and screenwriter Tommy Hays is the Director of the Great Smokies Writing Program at UNC-Asheville. He also teaches in the Converse College Low Residency MFA.  His middle grade novel What I Came to Tell You was an Okra Pick by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance (SIBA). Hays’s novel The Pleasure Was Mine was a finalist for the SIBA Fiction Award and chosen for numerous community reads. His other novels are Sam’s Crossing and In the Family Way, winner of the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award. A Trustee of the North Carolina Writers’ Network, he received his BA in English from Furman University and graduated from the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.

Laura Hope-Gill directs the Thomas Wolfe MFA Program at Lenoir-Rhyne University and is the founding director of Asheville Wordfest. Her collection of poems, The Soul Tree, received the first Okra Award from the Southern Independent Booksellers Association. The National Forest Service and Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation inducted her as the first poet laureate of the Blue Ridge Parkway for her poems honoring the Southern Appalachians. She received two awards from the North Carolina Society of Historians for her two architectural histories of Asheville, Look Up Asheville, I and 2. While building a graduate writing program and raising a child, she has been developing a memoir about her journey to deafness and a novel based on her grandmother’s experience in a Japanese Prison Camp and the aftermath of World War II. She is a champion of the vital connection between story and medicine and launched the world’s first certificate program in Narrative Healthcare. Her poems, fiction, and creative nonfiction have appeared in Bellevue Literary Review, Parabola, North Carolina Literary Review, and other beautiful publications.

Lockie Hunter (left) holds an MFA in creative writing from Emerson College in Boston and has taught creative writing at Warren Wilson College. Her nonfiction has been published in Brevity, The Baltimore Review, Christian Science Monitor, Quarter After Eight, Gulf Stream Literary Magazine, New Plains Review, Arts & Opinion, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Nerve, and elsewhere. She serves as curator of the Juniper Bends Reading Series, co-host of the Queer Girls Reading series, and as associate producer of the poetry and prose radio program Wordplay on 103.3 FM in Asheville. She also created and curated the popular West End Reading Series and Stories by the River.

Jessica Jacobs is the author of Take Me with You, Wherever You’re Going (Four Way Books) and Pelvis with Distance (White Pine Press), winner of the New Mexico Book Award in Poetry and a finalist for the Lambda Literary and Julie Suk Awards. Her poetry, essays, and fiction have appeared in publications including Orion, New England Review, Guernica, and The Missouri Review.  An avid long-distance runner, Jessica has worked as a rock-climbing instructor, bartender, and professor, and now serves as the Associate Editor of Beloit Poetry Journal. She lives in Asheville with her wife, the poet Nickole Brown.

Jeremy B. Jones is the author of Bearwallow: A Personal History of a Mountain Homeland, which was awarded gold in memoir in the 2015 Independent Publisher Book of the Year awards and named the 2014 Appalachian Book of the Year in nonfiction. His essays appear in Oxford American, Brevity, The Iowa Review, and frequently in Our State Magazine. Jeremy is an associate professor of English at Western Carolina University and the co-editor of In Place, a literary nonfiction book series from Vandalia Press.

Alli Marshall (right) is an author and performance poet. Her most recent collaborative show, “Flyer in a Dark Chamber,” will debut at Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center in August. She has performed theatrical spoken word at Asheville Fringe Arts Festival, Asheville Percussion Festival and the {RE}Happening. In May, she curated the inaugural Dear Satyr: An Evening of Erotic Spoken Word. Alli was the 2016 winner of the Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize for her short story “Catching Out.” She holds an MFA from Goddard College and is the arts section editor at Asheville-based alternative newsweekly Mountain Xpress.

Kevin McIlvoy has published five novels, A Waltz (1982), The Fifth Station (1985), Little Peg (1988), Hyssop (2001), At the Gate of All Wonder (2018, Tupelo Press) and two short story collections, The Complete History of New Mexico (2008, Graywolf Press) and 57 Octaves Below Middle C (2017, Four Way Books). His short fiction has appeared in Harper’s, Southern Review, Ploughshares, The Missouri Review, and other literary magazines. For twenty-seven years he was fiction editor and editor in chief of the national literary magazine, Puerto del Sol. He has taught in the Warren Wilson College MFA Program in Creative Writing since 1989; he taught as a Regents Professor of Creative Writing in the New Mexico State University English Department from 1981 to 2008. He has served on the Boards of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs and the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses. For ten years he has mentored writers and has edited full-length books through his website,

Dale Neal is a novelist and veteran journalist in Asheville. He is the author of Appalachian Book of the Dead: A Southern Buddhist Thriller (SFK Press). His previous novels are award-winning Cow Across America and The Half-Life of Home. As a reporter, he traveled everywhere from Upper Paw Paw in Madison County to Karachi in Pakistan, covering culture, books, religion, business, science and technology for the Asheville Citizen-Times. His short stories and essays have appeared in Arts & Letters, North Carolina Literary Review, The Carolina Quarterly, and elsewhere. He holds an MFA in creative writing from Warren Wilson College.

Heather Newton’s novel Under The Mercy Trees won the Thomas Wolfe Memorial Literary Award, was chosen by the Women’s National Book Association as a Great Group Reads Selection and named an “Okra Pick” by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance. Her short prose has appeared in Enchanted Conversation Magazine, The Drum, Dirty Spoon, and elsewhere. A practicing attorney, she teaches creative writing for UNC-Asheville’s Great Smokies Writing Program and is co-founder and Program Manager for the Flatiron Writers Room writers’ center in Asheville.

Meg Reid is the Director of Hub City Press in Spartanburg, South Carolina. A book designer and editor, she also writes extensively about all areas of design. She holds an MFA in Nonfiction from University of North Carolina Wilmington, where she served as Assistant Editor of the literary magazine, Ecotone, and worked for the literary imprint Lookout Books.

After receiving a BA in English, Steve Shell is a long-time organizer and performer in the spoken word scene in Asheville. For seven years Steve hosted and curated Poetry Slam Asheville. In 2012, along with poet Griffin Payne and teacher Heidi Freeman, Steve helped found what would eventually become HomeWord Youth Poetry, an organization that sends teams of youth poets to the International Youth Slam Championships at the Brave New Voices Festival.  Steve is currently a host and main stage performer with The Moth in Asheville. Steve teaches English at the School of Inquiry and Life Sciences in Asheville and only feels at home in front of the classroom or behind the microphone.

Eric Tran is a resident physician in psychiatry in Asheville, and received his MFA from UNC-Wilmington. He won the 2019 Autumn House Press Emerging Writer’s contest and his debut book of poetry, The Gutter Spread Guide to Prayer, will be published in 2020. He is the author of the chapbooks Revisions and Affairs with Men in Suits. His work appears in Pleiades, 32 Poems, The Missouri Review, and elsewhere.