We’ve got a great group of participating authors coming to the festival. More are being added every day.

Brock Adams

Brock Adams’s novel Ember won the South Carolina First Novel Prize and was published by Hub City Press in 2017. His short stories have appeared in Best American Mystery Stories, The Sewanee Review, Bacopa Literary Review, and many other journals. He has won the Andrew Lytle Prize in Fiction and received second place in Playboy’s College Fiction Contest. His first collection of short stories, Gulf, was published in America and Italy in 2010. Adams lives with his wife and daughter in Spartanburg, SC, where he teaches at the University of South Carolina Upstate. More at

Marcus Amaker

University of South Carolina graduate Marcus Amaker is Charleston, South Carolina’s first Poet Laureate and an award-winning graphic designer. Marcus’ poems have been featured on TEDxCharleston, PBS Newshour, the A&E network, the Huffington Post, Alaska Beyond Magazine and many local media outlets. He’s created more than 20 electronic music albums, more than 100 websites and one poetry festival. As a journalist, Marcus helped to create Charleston Scene, an entertainment weekly newspaper for the Post and Courier. He is currently the lead graphic designer for the national music journal, No Depression. Charleston Business Magazine named him one of Charleston’s 50 Most influential people. Website: and (music)

Jennifer Bartell


  • TBD
Jennifer Bartell teaches at Spring Valley High School in Columbia. She has an MFA from the University of South Carolina and her poetry has appeared in Callaloo, PLUCK!, Kakalak, the museum of Americana, among others. A Callaloo Fellow, Jennifer is also an administrator for the poetry collective The Watering Hole.

Derek Berry

Derek Berry is a novelist and spoken word poet. Derek is the author of Heathens and Liars of Lickskillet County (PRA Publishing, 2016). He co-founded and organizes The Unspoken Word, a literary non-profit based out of Charleston, SC, which provides an independent home for the poetic arts through regular readings, workshops, and community fundraisers. He is on the Executive Board of Free Verse, the Charleston Poetry Festival, the inaugural production of which occurred in Fall 2017. He has been featured in The Post and Courier, The Aiken Standard, Verge, The Charleston City Paper, Charleston Grit, Charleston Currents, The Echo Chamber, Indie Scoop, and other news venues. As founder of The Unspoken Word, he has worked alongside the Charleston Music Hall to produce Word Perfect (2014) and the MUSC Alliance for Equality to produce Speak Up: Poetry and Dialogue on Social Justice (2016).

Al Black

Al Black was born and raised in Lafayette, IN. He organizes and hosts various arts and literature events in and around his new home of Columbia, SC. In 2014 he published a book of poems, I Only Left for Tea (Muddy Ford Press). In February 2017 he co-edited the anthology, Hand in Hand, Poets Respond to Race (Muddy Ford Press) with Len Lawson. He is published in several anthologies, periodicals, and magazines.

Ebony Blanding

Ebony Blanding (b. Atlanta, GA. 1985) is a writer and filmmaker living and working in Atlanta, Georgia. Concerned with writing and directing surreal narratives and experimental character studies, Blanding cinematically navigates the human experience – centering black people in themes and crafting an ode to black existence and complexity. In summer of 2013, she formed independent art film house, House of June, with filmmaker and fellow film student, Amber L.N. Bournett, to facilitate art-house films with black and brown people in notable roles both in front of and behind the camera. Their work has screened at Atlanta Film Festival, Capetown International Film Festival, Daughters: Celebrating Emerging Female Filmmakers of Color, Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, among others. Additionally, they have presented their films at educational institutions including Spelman College, Emory University and John H. Hopkins University. Blanding is currently a Filmmaker-in-Residence with the Atlanta Film Society, and a fellow in WonderRoot’s 2017-2018 Walthall Program. Using moving pictures and narratives as ascensions to glorify black renaissance, Blanding believes the creation of dimensional and beautifully simplistic characters of color in film are an artistic act of activism.

Cindi Boiter

Cindi Boiter is a (six-time) winner of the SC Fiction Project, the Piccolo Fiction Project, the Porter Fleming Award, and the 2014 recipient of the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Award for the Arts. She is the founder and editor of Jasper Magazine, the editor or co-editor of six other books, co-editor and co-founder of the literary magazine Fall Lines – a literary convergence, author of Buttered Biscuits, and literary author of Red Social. She is the executive director for The Jasper Project.

Betsy Breen

Betsy Breen’s poetry has appeared in Redivider, Raleigh Review, Jabberwock Review, Waccamaw, Revolution House and Jasper among others. She is a graduate of the University of South Carolina’s MFA program and teaches at Hammond.

Claudia Smith Brinson

Claudia Smith Brinson worked as a journalist for 30 years in Florida, Greece, and South Carolina. At The State newspaper, she focused on social issues and special projects as a senior writer and an associate editor in editorial. During the 20 years Knight Ridder owned The State, Brinson wrote a nationally syndicated column for Knight Ridder and was also the newspaper chain’s national writing coach. She won more than three dozen regional and national writing prizes and was a Pulitzer Finalist as a member of the team that covered Hurricane Hugo. Brinson also taught writing at the University of South Carolina, mostly for the Honors College, for 20 years. She is a short story writer who won an O. Henry in 1990. In 2006, she became a senior lecturer at Columbia College, where she was the program coordinator for Writing for Print and Digital Media. She left the college in 2016 and is working on a history of South Carolina’s black civil rights activists.

Chuck Brown

Chuck Brown has written The Punisher and Black Panther comics for Marvel. He is the Writer and co-creator of Rotten Apple for Dark Horse Comics and the Writer and co-creator of Bitterroot that will debut in 2018 at Image Comics. He has been self-publishing for more than 18 years and has written comics for Zenescope, 12Gauge, LINE Web Toons, and Spike TV.

A.J. Brown

A.J. Brown is a southern-born writer who tells emotionally charged, character driven stories that often delve into the darker parts of the human psyche. Though he writes mostly darker stories, he does so without unnecessary gore, coarse language, or sex. More than 150 of his stories have been published in various online and print publications. If you would like to learn more about A.J. you can check out his blog, Type AJ Negative. You can also find him on Facebook (ajbrown36).

Tim Conroy

Tim Conroy is a former special education teacher, school administrator, and vice president of the South Carolina Autism Society. His poetry and short fiction have been published in literary journals, magazines, and compilations, including Fall Lines, Auntie Bellum, and Marked by the Water. A founding board member of the Pat Conroy Literary Center, established in his brother’s honor, Conroy is the author of Theologies of Terrain, (2017) the first in the Muddy Ford Press Laureate Series.

Annette Merritt Cummings

Annette Merritt Cummings has over 30 years of experience in marketing and communications with leading U.S. companies and non-profits, including DuPont, Gannett, and The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards and the Department of Defense. During her advertising and public relations career, clients have included U.S. Army Recruiting Command, Ford Motor Company, General Motors, and the Ohio State University Athletics. Prior to her retirement as Vice President and National Director of Diversity Services for Bernard Hodes Group, she advised clients on diversity branding, communications, and recruitment strategies for over 12 years. Annette served as a featured speaker and conducted workshops for many Federal agencies and Fortune 500 corporations. She was a contributing author to the book On Staffing, Advice and Perspectives from HR Leaders. She is a member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Columbia Museum of Arts and volunteers with Historic Columbia. Annette's memoir, "The Only Woman in the Room, Quotes and Wisdom for a Fearless Life," was published in 2017.

Carla Damron

Carla Damron’s three mysteries, Keeping Silent, Spider Blue, and Death in Zooville, explore social issues such as homelessness, addiction, and mental illness. Her literary novel, The Stone Necklace, was published by Story River Books in 2016 and was selected to be the One Book, One Community read for the city of Columbia, SC. Damron’s short stories have appeared in literary journals such as Six Minute Fiction, Melusine, In Posse Review, and Jasper’s Fall Lines. She received her MFA in Creative Writing in 2011.

Michael Dowdy

Michael Dowdy is the author of Urbilly, winner of the 2017 Main Street Rag Poetry Book Award, and Broken Souths: Latina/o Poetic Responses to Neoliberalism and Globalization, a study of Latina/o poetry. With the poet Claudia Rankine, he is coediting the forthcoming anthology, American Poets in the 21st Century: Poetics of Social Engagement (Wesleyan University Press, 2018). Originally from Blacksburg, Virginia, he teaches at the University of South Carolina.

THE Dubber

In the spirit of the Mississippi Delta Bluesmen, THE Dubber confronts the world with only his words and a guitar. Since 1997, the Washington DC born / South Carolina based artist has been trailblazing across the country and abroad with an honest and intimate stage show. His sophisticated one man band guitar style and universal message of Oneness has kept THE Dubber's musical journey going for over 20 years.

William E. Dufford

William E. Dufford, a South Carolina native, served as a school principal in Georgetown, Beaufort, and Sumter and later as the superintendent of schools in York. He also served as an educational consultant for the Boston school system and as the director of field services for the University of South Carolina Center for Integrated Education. Dufford has been recognized with the South Carolina Governor’s Award in the Humanities and the South Carolina Order of the Palmetto, the state’s highest civilian honor. Now retired, he remains actively involved in Newberry College’s annual Dufford Diversity and Inclusiveness Week and in the Newberry Opera House’s Dufford Center for Cultural Diversity.

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 The Best American Short Stories. Her debut story collection, The Wilds, was chosen by Kirkus, BuzzFeed, Book Riot, and Electric Literature as one of the Best Books of 2014 and was a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. Her first novel, The New and Improved Romie Futch, arrived in October 2015.

Margaret Evans

Margaret Evans is the editor and publisher of Lowcountry Weekly, where she pens her South Carolina Press Association award-winning column Rants & Raves. Her articles and essays have also appeared in publications throughout the South, most recently State of the Heart: South Carolina Writers on the Places They Love, Volume 2 and Southbound Magazine. She is the former editor of Beaufort Magazine and former assistant to Pat Conroy. Margaret lives in Beaufort with her husband Jeff, daughter Amelia, and feline children Arthur and Frodo. She is a proud member of the Pat Conroy Literary Center’s advisory council and a co-editor of the Center’s Porch Talk blog.

Worthy Evans

Worthy Evans is the winner of the 2009 SC Poetry Prize for his book Green Revolver (USC Press, 2010), he won Jasper Magazine’s Saluda River Prize for Poetry in 2015 and has published poems in several literary journals. He writes freelance sports stories for several newspapers, and is awaiting publication of his second book of poetry, “Cold War” (Third Lung Press, later 2018).

William Feagins Jr.


  • TBD
William Feagins, Jr.’s filmmaking journey began as a student enrolled in the Art of Pittsburgh’s Music & Video Business course where he created music videos for local hip-hop artists as school projects. After graduating he found work as a graphic designer returning to video production in 2006 filming & directing his first documentary, “The Art of Life.” In 2009, William relocated to Atlanta where he continued filming and directing music videos and short documentaries. Several of his films were screened at film festivals across the country and across seas in the UK winning several awards along the way.

Nikky Finney

Nikky Finney was born in South Carolina, within listening distance of the sea. A child of activists, she came of age during the civil rights and Black Arts Movements. At Talladega College, nurtured by Hale Woodruff's Amistad murals, Finney began to understand the powerful synergy between art and history. Finney has authored four books of poetry: Head Off & Split (2011); The World Is Round (2003); Rice (1995); and On Wings Made of Gauze (1985). The John H. Bennett, Jr. Chair in Creative Writing and Southern Letters at the University of South Carolina, Finney also authored Heartwood (1997), edited The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South (2007), and co-founded the Affrilachian Poets. Finney's fourth book of poetry, Head Off & Split, was awarded the 2011 National Book Award for poetry. “Nikky Finney has been a fine poet much too long to say that this latest treasure is her promise coming into being. She exploded with so much talent with On Wings Made of Gauze and beautifully matured with Rice, yet Head Off & Split takes the promise of youth with the control of adulthood to bring her greatest exploration. Honest, searing, searching. We all, especially now, need this book of poems; we all, especially now, need this poet.” — Nikki Giovanni, author of Bicycles

Seth Gadsden

Seth Gadsden is an artist, filmmaker, curator of public programming, and current director of Indie Grits Labs in Columbia, SC. He was a founding member of the artist collective, Transit Antenna, with which he spent two years traveling across North America developing community-based art projects. He holds an MFA from Boston University and was a founding member of the Redux Contemporary Art Center (Charleston, SC) and the Boston Young Contemporaries. Focusing on public art, experimental documentary filmmaking, and transmedia installations, Seth has exhibited his personal work across the US and has completed murals and outdoor sculptures in places like Mexico, North Dakota, Boston, Houston and his hometown of Clover, SC.

Belinda Gergel

Belinda F. Gergel is the former Chair of the History and Political Science Department at Columbia College. She has authored numerous works on South Carolina history. A former member of the Columbia City Council and president of the Historic Columbia Foundation, she now resides in Charleston, SC.

Scott Gould

Scott Gould’s work has appeared in Kenyon Review, Carolina Quarterly, New Madrid Journal, The Bitter Southerner, Black Warrior Review, Eclectica, The Raleigh Review, New Stories from the South, and New Southern Harmonies, among others. He is a two-time winner of the Artist Fellowship in Prose from the South Carolina Arts Commission and a past winner of the Fiction Fellowship from the South Carolina Academy of Authors. His collection of stories, Strangers to Temptation, was published by Hub City Press in June, 2017. Gould chairs the creative writing department at the S.C. Governor’s School for the Arts & Humanities in Greenville.

Robert Greene

Mr. Greene has been published in several places, including Dissent, Jacobin, The Nation, Scalawag, and The Atlantic. He has also published a book chapter in the edited collection Navigating Souths, which investigates the relationship between academia and activism in the modern South. At South Carolina, Mr. Greene has participated in the Graduate Civic Scholars program, which is an attempt to answer the “so what” question for scholars concerned about getting involved in their community

Sanford Greene

Sanford Greene has worked professionally in comic illustration and related industries for over 12 years. His clients include Marvel/Disney, DC Comics, SEGA, Nickelodeon, Hasbro, and Warner Brothers. His work can be seen in the children book series called “ Kulipari “ Book 1 “"Army of Frogs " “and book 2” The Rainbow Serpent “ and book 3 “ Amphibians End “ for Amulet Books. He is also an artist for Marvel comics where his most recent work is the poplar series Powerman and Iron Fist and he is also one of the cover artist for Black Panther. He has also done many covers for “ The Avengers “, “Archie “ and the most recent incarnation of the highly anticipated “ Doom Patrol “ Sanford Greene is currently the Artist In Residence for Benedict College where he conducts workshops and recruits for the Benedict Art Department.

Anthony Grooms

Anthony Grooms is the author of The Vain Conversation, the final novel selected by Pat Conroy for his Story River Books imprint. Grooms is also the author of the poetry collection Ice Poems, and of Bombingham: A Novel and Trouble No More: Stories, both winners of the Lillian Smith Book Award for fiction. Born in Charlottesville, Virginia, Grooms has taught writing and American literature at universities in Ghana and Sweden, and since 1994, at Kennesaw State University in Georgia, where he directs the master of arts in professional writing program.

Harriet Hancock

Harriet Hancock is a 1984 magna cum laude graduate of the University of South Carolina and received her law degree in 1988. She retired from the practice of law in 2013. For over three and a half decades, she has been a force for social and cultural change in South Carolina. She is a tireless advocate for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBTQ) people in South Carolinians and their families. LGBT people in this state have often faced an indifferent if not hostile climate. Harriet is a steadfast advocate and volunteer, working to change that climate.

Jamey Hatley

Jamey Hatley is a native of Memphis, TN. Her writing has appeared in the Oxford American, Torch, The Account, Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction From The Margins of History, Memphis Noir, and elsewhere. She has attended the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop, the Voices of Our Nation Writing Workshop and received scholarships to the Oxford American Summit for Ambitious Writers and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. She received an MFA in Creative Writing from Louisiana State University. She is a 2016 Prose Fellow for the National Endowment for the Arts and a 2016 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Award Winner. She is Co-Director of The Center for Southern Literary Arts.

Terrance Hayes

Terrance Hayes is the author of American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassins; How to Be Drawn; Lighthead, which won the 2010 National Book Award for poetry; Muscular Music, which won the Kate Tufts Discovery Award; Hip Logic, winner of the 2001 National Poetry Series, and Wind in a Box. He is a professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh, in Pennsylvania.

Roni Nicole Henderson

I love to move about the world, capturing miracles and projecting them in the space that is our collective memory. As a filmmaker, I have made fiction, fine art, experimental and documentary shorts and I am working towards production of my first narrative feature. As a photographer, I delight in movement, fashion, fine art, documenting artists and most especially, folks moving about their lives. As a fine artist, I project this work in odd places so as to ignite impulses to heal, change and grow. Having earned a B.A. in English and Education and an M.F.A. from the Savannah College of Art and Design in Film/TV, I desire to continue my professional work as a filmmaker and fine artist, joyously reflecting a world in motion and most essentially, learning always.

Adam Houle

Adam Houle is the author of Stray (Lithic Press). His poems have appeared in AGNI, Shenandoah, Guernica, the Best New Poets anthology, and elsewhere. His prose can be found in Cimarron Review and Past-Ten. He lives in Darlington, SC and teaches English and Creative Writing at the South Carolina Governor's School for Science and Mathematics. For more information, please visit

Crystal Irby

Crystal Irby identifies as a Black Mother Creative, an artist who creates work across multiple artist disciplines that centers on the Black experience, particularly Black women and mothering. She is a 2017 Water Hole Poetry Fellow and the co-founder and Director of The Writers Well Youth Fellowship Retreat, which is a retreat for Black girls ages 14-19 focused on writing and performance.

Nadine Johnson

Nadine Johnson founded 123 Mango Tree LLC to promote literacy through reading, music, and art. She has published several children's books that are fun to read, but also promote conversation between parent/teacher and child. Her collection features books that inspire all children to dream, love, and laugh out loud. She enjoys visiting schools and conducting self-publishing workshops to help future writers.

Miles Joyner

Miles Joyner is a senior at the University of South Carolina. They got started in activism online, with the Facebook page Miles the Bisexual. They started writing long before that, and now writes for their own blog, Mile bi Mile, as well as a few other websites. They are a GLAAD campus ambassador and teach a monthly public educational session on bisexuality at the Harriet Hancock Center here in Columbia. Currently, they are working on creating a timeline of South Carolina’s LGBTQIAP+ Movement. You can see read their work on Biscuit Mag UK, Unsweetened Magazine, The Matador Network, Ravishly, and GLAAD’s website.

Meeghan Kane

Meeghan Kane is Editor-in-Chief at Unsweetened, a magazine dedicated to unleashing the feminist voices of the South. She teaches history at Benedict College, one of several vital HBCUs in South Carolina, and she proudly volunteers her time and energy to Girls Rock Columbia, Deckle Edge Literary Festival, and South Carolina Progressive Network.

Robb Kershaw

Robb sparked success as founding member and vocalist of the band Nepotism. Robb is a myriad of culture references, spiritual anecdotes, hipster jargon - all that perfectly reflects the creative dialogue and digital landscape we roam in.

Shigeharu Kobayashi

Shigeharu Kobayashi is a writer at FRANK Comics, production house of independent graphic novels and comics set in a fictional universe called Columbia SC. Their 2015 book "Dirty Cops" and 2012's "Princess Calabretta" were each fully crowdfunded on the first days of their campaigns. Shige likes vampire stories, but doesn't like time travel stories.

Monifa Lemons

Also recognized as SelahthePoet, Monifa Lemons began in Columbia, SC in the late 90s. Both Spoken Word Artist and Host at various venues since 1998, Monifa is committed to nurturing the journey of artists from all disciplines. She also facilitates workshops on writing and intentional creation. Her work can be found in Sinister Wisdom 107 Black Lesbians -- 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 while cultivating short stories for her first manuscript.

Susan Lenz

Susan Lenz is a professional studio artist who uses needle and thread for self-expression. She works to articulate the accumulated memory inherent in discarded things, seeking a partnership with her materials, their purposes, values, and familiar associations. Her work has been widely exhibited in international and national juried exhibitions and as solo shows all over the country. She has been awarded fellowships to art residencies at The Anderson Center, PLAYA, the MacNamara Foundation, Studios Midwest, Hot Springs National Park, and the Studios of Key West. She has been engaged for workshops at Arrowmont School for Arts and Crafts, the St. Louis Craft Alliance, Southeastern Quilt and Fiber Art Museum in Georgia, the Wisconsin Museum of Quilts and Fiber Arts, Lander and Slippery Rock Universities, and the Society of Contemporary Crafts in Pittsburgh, PA. Susan’s installations have been shown with Through Our Hands, an international fiber arts organization based in Great Britain. The Grovewood Gallery in Asheville, NC is among the galleries representing Susan’s work.

Sarah Leverette

Sarah Leverette was born in 1919 and graduated from Anderson Junior College in 1938. She graduated from the USC School of Law and was admitted to the South Carolina Bar in 1943. Her first job was with the state Department of Labor, where she worked chiefly as a statistician. Encouraged by Law School Dean Samuel Prince, she attended Columbia University for post-graduate studies in legal research and law library administration. In 1947, she returned to USC as Law Librarian, a position she held until 1972. In addition to her work at the Library, Leverette taught legal writing for 25 years. During her career, she served with distinction in the American Association of Law Librarians. Upon her retirement from the University in 1972, Governor John West appointed her to the Workman’s Compensation Commission, which she eventually chaired. Leverette joined the League of Women Voters in 1957 and almost immediately became one of its most active leaders promoting good government at the local and state levels. She presided as President of the Columbia League in 1958, and has long been active on the League’s board.

Ed Mabrey

Ed Mabrey is the only 4 time Individual World Poetry Slam Champion. He tours the country professionally as a poet, comedian, and motivational speaker. A two-time InkSlam winner, the only three-time and current Southern Fried Regional Poetry Slam Individual Champion, multiple LEAF Slam Champion. An Emmy winner, Ed will appear on the inaugural season of The Golden Mic. Ed has been on Seasons 3, 5 and season 6 of Verses and Flow (TV One), ABC, FOX, HBO All Def Digital, Write About Now Poetry, Button Poetry and was a speaker at 2015 TEDx Dayton and 2017 TEDx Evans Street. He’s performed at over 100 colleges and universities around the country, teaching workshops and conducting seminars. On the comedy front, Ed has opened for DL Hughley, Ian Bagg, Rob Schneider, Roy Wood Jr., Charlie Murphy and many more. Ed is a two time finalist in The World Series Of Comedy, held in Las Vegas and he’s been the voice of companies ranging from the Ohio State Medical Center to Lexus.

James D. McCallister

James D. McCallister is the author of four novels - King's Highway (2007), Fellow Traveler (2012), Let the Glory Pass Away (2017), and Dogs of Parsons Hollow (2018) - as well as a short story collection, The Year they Canceled Christmas. His published work also includes creative nonfiction, magazine features, a newspaper column, and scholarly articles. In 2017, he founded his own indie imprint, Mind Harvest Press. McCallister adjuncts in creative writing at Midlands Technical College in Columbia, SC, where he lives with his wife Jenn and beloved brood of cats, muses all.

Alvin McEwan

In 1996 McEwan began his blog Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters which has been published in various media outlets including MSNBC, the Advocate and The Washington Post. He is a current contributor to Daily Kos, the Huffington Post and, and the recipient of numerous awards including GLAAD media awards for outstanding blogs. In 2015 won the Pride Index Esteem Award in the category of outstanding blogs.

Kelley McLachlan

Old time sorrow tinged with soulful melodies, southern gothic-like lyrics, and the occasional upbeat toe-tapper with the ruckus of kazoo describe the music of singer-songwriter Kelley McLachlan. She is one of the front women for bands such as The Post-Timey String Band and Boomtown Waifs (formerly Prairie Willows) allowing her to vary in genres from folk to blues and from old-time to hip hop and soul songs coated in bluegrass.

Ray McManus

Ray McManus is the author of three books of poetry: Punch. (published by Hub City Press and winner of the 2015 IPPY for best book of poetry by an independent publisher), Red Dirt Jesus (winner of the Marick Press Poetry Prize), and Driving through the Country before You Are Born (published by USC Press and winner of the South Carolina Poetry Book Award). He is the co-editor of Found Anew, an anthology published jointly by Pat Conroy's Story River Books imprint and Nikky Finney's Palmetto Poetry Series. McManus is an associate professor of English at the University of South Carolina Sumter, where he directs the South Carolina Center for Oral Narrative and works with K-12 educators on teaching creative writing using standard curriculum. Website:

James E. McTeer II

Born and raised in Beaufort, SC, James McTeer won the 2015 South Carolina First Novel Prize for his novel Minnow. A school librarian in Columbia, SC, he is the grandson of the late J. E. McTeer, whose 37 years as High Sheriff of the Lowcountry (and local witch doctor) served as inspiration for the book. Minnow has gone on to win a Gold Independent Publisher Book Award, received starred reviews from Kirkus and Library Journal, and was called a “fabulous tale” by Pat Conroy. James lives in Columbia with his wife, son, and two dogs.

Amy Meaney

Amy Meaney is the curator for Local Television News Collections and Science and Nature Films at the University of South Carolina’s Moving Image Research Collections (MIRC). She holds an M.A. in Historical Studies with a focus in Public History from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) and a B.S. in Cinema and Photography from Ithaca College. Her work includes curating exhibits and programs, processing collections, managing online outreach platforms, and assisting historians, researchers, media makers, and community members using archival moving image materials.

Sheila Morris

Sheila R. Morris is the author of four nonfiction books and several short stories, and she has an international following of her blog “I’ll Call It Like I See It.” She is the recipient of the Human Rights Campaign Equality Award for her leadership and service to the South Carolina LGBTQ community and has won numerous awards for her writing and activism. She lives in Columbia with her wife, Teresa Williams, and their two dogs.

Michael Murray

Michael A. Murray aka The Playlixt, co-founder of The Prologue Writing Group and co-host of Blue Note Poetry at Speakeasy, dons many hats in Columbia’s creative community. He is a mentor and Director of Spoken Word at the R.I.C.H. Legacy Program, co-host of a local podcast aptly named Cultivated Ignorance, photographer, public speaker, event organizer, and all-around decent guy. While his poetry has been featured in well-respected publications such as Access Magazine and the Columbia Panorama, he is best known as the curator of visual/performance art showcases such as Our Vision – Our Way! and other creative festivals that display Soda City talent under the brightest spotlight possible. His first (but far from last) poetry book, Wild Cards, is now available via Amazon, Books-a-Million, Barnes and Noble, and your favorite local bootlegger.

Kathleen Nalley

Kathleen Nalley is the author of the prose poetry collection, Gutterflower (winner of the Bryant-Lisembee Prize from Red Paint Hill Press), as well as the poetry chapbooks Nesting Doll (winner of the SC Poetry Initiative Prize) and American Sycamore (Finishing Line Press). Her poetry has appeared in two recent anthologies, as well as in Fall Lines, New Flash Fiction Review, Slipstream, StorySouth and elsewhere. She holds an MFA from Converse College, teaches literature and writing at Clemson University, and finds books their forever homes at M. Judson Booksellers.

Matthew O’Leary

Matthew O'Leary was born in Alexandria, Virginia, and grew up in West Columbia, South Carolina. He is a graduate of Presbyterian College and is a three-time medical school reject. He has had work featured in The Birds We Piled Loosely, Gravel Magazine, and Fall Lines. His first book, Symptoms of a Teratoma came out in August 2017. You can learn more about him by visiting his website,, or by buying him a cup of coffee.

Hannah Palmer

Hannah Palmer works as an urban designer in Atlanta. She writes about the intersection of southern stories and urban landscapes for venues like CNN, Art Papers, Atlanta Magazine, ATL Studies, and for urban design and planning projects around the world. A graduate of Agnes Scott College, she earned an MFA in creative writing from Sewanee: The University of the South. She lives near the Atlanta Airport with her husband and sons. Flight Path is her first book.

Kyle Petersen

Kyle Petersen is the Assistant Editor of Jasper Magazine and a regional freelance arts and culture writer. Petersen does healthcare writing by day at the South Carolina Hospital Association and embraces the life of the critic at night. He has a Masters degree in English from the USC, the coursework from an unfinished PhD, and a great idea for a book-length treatise on Kanye West. Four writing partners (a dog and three cats) help him out occasionally, while his wife is responsible for most of the smart things that end up in his stories.

Mark Powell

Mark Powell is the author of five novels, including his most recent, Small Treasons from Simon & Schuster. Powell has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Breadloaf and Sewanee Writers' Conferences, and in 2014 was a Fulbright Fellow to Slovakia. In 2009 he received the Chaffin Award for contributions to Appalachian literature. He holds degrees from Yale Divinity School, the University of South Carolina, and the Citadel. He lives in the mountains of North Carolina where he teaches at Appalachian State University.

Samantha Rainwater

Samantha Rainwater is a graduate from the MT program at the University of South Carolina and currently teaches English II at Richland Northeast High School. She is avid in her love of colloquialisms and pop culture, which she curates from her students.

Becci Robbins

Becci Robbins has been communications director of the SC Progressive Network since its founding in 1996. Before that, the USC graduate worked as a graphic designer at Harbinger Publications, the only eco-friendly, unionized print shop in South Carolina, and spent a decade as editor of the monthly alternative newspaper POINT. She is working on a book about the Grass Roots Organizing Workshop and the lesser-known stories of Columbia's counter-culture and activist scene.

Beth Sherouse

Beth Sherouse is a writer and southern queer activist based in Atlanta. She holds a B.A. in History and Southern Studies from Mercer University (2006), and both an M.A. (2008) and Ph.D. (2013) in U.S. and African American History from the University of South Carolina. A lifelong advocate for social justice, she has led grassroots organizing efforts and worked with numerous nonprofits in the South and nationally, including recent service as Vice President of BiNet USA, the nation’s largest biseuxal advocacy organization. She previously worked as the Senior Content Manager and ACLS/Mellon Public Fellow for the Human Rights Campaign in Washington, DC, and was an adjunct professor of U.S. and African-American History at the University of South Carolina. She currently works as a development writer at Emory University Woodruff Health Sciences Center and has stepped back from LGBTQ organizing to get involved in local politics and start an urban farm in her southwest Atlanta community of East Point.

Nathaniel Simmons-Thorne

Nathaniel/Naomi Simmons-Thorne is an activist-organizer, community educator, student, and rising scholar. Their undergraduate studies at the University at South Carolina centers on the multi-dimensional formations and characteristics of power, oppression, and inequity. He is currently seeking a double major in sociology and philosophy and regularly leans on the teachings of literature, political science, history, and economics to inform their research and analysis. His academic specialties are in the history and philosophy of social and political movements, the philosophy of social science, African American political thought and action, critical theory, queer studies, and Black feminist studies. Nathaniel is active in several political and policy initiatives, and is best known for their visible role in Columbia’s Black Lives Matter movement. His ideas and analysis have been cited by local, state, and international news agencies. Nathaniel identifies as a trans feminine person who is also queer.

Kimberly Simms

Kimberly Simms is the 2016 Carl Sandburg Writer-in-Residence, a National Poetry Slam “Legend of the South,” and a SC Humanities Speakers’ Bureau scholar. Lindy Lee: Songs on Mill Hill is her first poetry collection (Finishing Line Press). Additionally, Quintet (Ninety-Six Press) features a chapter of her poetry.

Marjorie Spruill

Marjorie Spruill is Distinguished Professor Emerita from the University of South Carolina. A historian, she is well known for her work on women and politics from the woman suffrage movement to the present as well as her work on the history of the American South. Most recently Spruill is the author of the highly acclaimed Divided We Stand: The Battle Over Women’s Rights and Family Values That Polarized American Politics (Bloomsbury 2017) which addresses the rise of the modern women's rights movement to a peak period of success, the mobilization of social conservatives in opposition, and the impact on American political culture. Over the past year Spruill has traveled widely to speak about the book, including at the Carter and Clinton presidential libraries and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars at the British Association for American Studies, and in a five city “tour de France” and on France 24 television. In November she gave the keynote address at the conference celebrating the 40th Anniversary of the National Women’s Conference in Houston, Texas, which Spruill describes in her book as a transformative event in US political history.

Cassie Premo Steele

Cassie Premo Steele is the author of 15 books of poetry, fiction and nonfiction. Her poetry has been nominated six times for the Pushcart Prize, and her newest poetry book, Tongues in Trees, contains poems published since 1994 plus new poems that respond to our current political climate. Her website is

Lynn Shuler Teague

Lynn Shuler Teague is a native South Carolinian, born in Orangeburg, SC. She moved to New Mexico in 1968 at the time of her marriage to George Teague, and continued her education in anthropology and archaeology in New Mexico and Arizona. She was on the faculty of the Arizona State Museum at the University of Arizona for many years, serving as Director of the Museum’s Cultural Resource Management Division and later as administrator of Arizona’s repatriation laws. Her personal research was in Southwestern prehistory, especially the development of early societies in the Sonoran Desert and Colorado Plateau. She has also published extensively on the interpretation of prehistoric fabrics. She and her husband returned to South Carolina at the time of their retirement. Since 2013 she has been the VP for Issues and Action of the League of Women Voters of South Carolina, serving as the League’s lobbyist at the State House. This provides an opportunity to address lifelong concerns about government integrity and accountability.

Raegan Teller

Raegan Teller is an award-winning mystery author in Columbia, South Carolina, where she lives with her husband and two cats. Her debut novel, Murder in Madden, received Honorable Mention in the 2017 Writer's Digest Self-Published Book Awards. The judge stated, "It's one of the best I've read this year...good plot line...engaging characters...made me want to read more." The Last Sale is the second novel in the Enid Blackwell series. Before writing fiction, Raegan was a communications consultant and executive coach - among other things. While working her way through school, she even sold burial vaults at a cemetery. How apropos is that for a mystery writer!

Arthur Turfa

Originally from Pennsylvania, Arthur Turfa has lived in several places and traveled extensively before coming to South Carolina. His careers as a pastor, Army chaplain, and educator have presented him with many insights into people and the world. With two published books of poetry prior to Gemini, he looks forward to new experiences and insights to turn into poetry. Currently he teaches German and English at Blythewood High School and English at Midlands Technical College.

Marv Ward

Blues and Americana singer, songwriter, and guitarist “Reverend” Marv Ward has performed throughout the United States and shared the stage with some of the most well-known artists in music today. Listed in An Encyclopedia of South Carolina Jazz and Blues Musicians, Ward writes poetry with the same passion that he composes his songs. His book, One Lone Minstrel, was published in 2017 by Muddy Ford Press.

Marjory Wentworth

MARJORY WENTWORTH’s books include Noticing Eden, Despite Gravity, and The Endless Repetition of an Ordinary Miracle and New and Selected Poems. She is the co-writer with Juan Mendez of Taking a Stand, The Evolution of Human Rights, co-editor with Kwame Dawes of Seeking, Poetry and Prose inspired by the Art of Jonathan Green. Her most recent collaborations include We Are Charleston, Tragedy and Triumph at Mother Emanuel, with Herb Frazier and Dr. Bernard Powers and Out of Wonder, Poems Celebrating Poets with Kwame Alexander and Chris Colderly (2017). She is the Poet Laureate of South Carolina.

Qiana Whitted

Dr. Qiana Whitted is Associate Professor of English and African American Studies at the University of South Carolina. Her published work includes the book, Comics and the U.S. South, and essays on race, genre, and comics in representations of historical figures such as Nat Turner, Stagger Lee, and Emmett Till. She is also Associate Editor of INKS: The Journal of the Comics Studies Society. Her forthcoming book on race and social protest in 1950s EC comics will be published by Rutgers University Press in 2019.

Candace Wiley

Candace Wiley was born in S.C., graduated with her B.A. from Bowie State University, an H.B.C.U. in M.D., her M.A. from Clemson University, and her M.F.A. at the University of South Carolina as a James Dickey Fellow. She is founding director of The Watering Hole, a nonprofit that creates Harlem Renaissance-style spaces in the contemporary South, and she often writes in the mode of Afrofuturism, covering topics from black aliens, to mutants, to mermaids. She is a Fine Arts Work Center Fellow, Callaloo Fellow and former Fulbright Fellow to San Basilio de Palenque, Colombia, a town that was founded by West Africans who had escaped from Cartagena slavery. (The people have their own language and customs that trace back to the Bantu and Kikongo in West Africa.) She is currently on faculty at Clemson University and is now living, writing, and running The Watering Hole from her Provincetown fellowship at FAWC.

Catherine Zickgraf

Catherine Zickgraf performed her poetry in Madrid, San Juan and three dozen other cities. But she’s differently-abled now—walking with a cane and flying in her sleep—so her main jobs are to hang out with her family and write more poetry. Her work has appeared in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Pank, Victorian Violet Press and The Grief Diaries. Her most recent chapbook, Soul Full of Eye, is published through Aldrich Press and is available on Read/watch her at and run/jump while you are able.