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Piper Writers Studio Instructors

Expert writers with a passion for community

Our instructors are at the heart of what we do. 

To meet current instructors for the Piper Writers Studio, select a name from the list below.

For more information, you can meet past instructors or view upcoming classes and workshops

Meet Our Current Instructors

Photograph of Willow Sanders

A marketer by day, and author by night, Willow Sanders writes sweet with heat Contemporary Romance and Romantic Suspense. Her debut novel, Dirty Little Secret won Breakout Author of the Year in 2012 from AuthorsDatabase.com and was the Book Buzz PR - Romance Novel of the year. She has been a municipal liaison for National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) since 2004, both in Chicago and in Phoenix, is the Publicity Chair for Valley of the Sun RWA, the President of Desert Rose RWA, and also was named a 40 Under 40 Marketer by Connect Association last year. When not writing you can find her torn between her loyalty to the Fighting Illini and her husband's loyalty to Michigan State, bemoaning traffic, feeding her caffeine addiction at the Green Mermaid (otherwise known as Starbucks) and trying to find the connection between her and the Gilmore Girls--because she is certain she is a long-lost family member.


Photograph of Ryka Aoki

Ryka Aoki is the author of Seasonal Velocities, He Mele a Hilo and Why Dust Shall Never Settle Upon This Soul. She has appeared in Vogue, Elle, Publisher’s Weekly, and the Huffington Post, and was honored by the California State Senate for “extraordinary commitment to the visibility and wellbeing of Transgender people.” She worked with the American Association of Hiroshima Nagasaki A-Bomb Survivors, and two of her compositions were adopted as the organization’s official “songs of peace.” Aoki is also a former national judo champion and the founder of the International Transgender Martial Arts Alliance. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Cornell University and is professor of English at Santa Monica College.


A native of Los Angeles, California, Kirby Kim attended Pomona College and got his JD at UC Hastings College of the Law. Kim got his first job in publishing working for Charlotte Sheedy Literary, at that time an affiliate of Sterling Lord Literistic, then moved to Vigliano Associates and WME before joining Janklow & Nesbit Associates.

Kim represents both literary and commercial authors. He’s most interested in receiving manuscripts that straddle the fence a bit, with upmarket expression combined with a genre element or plot device. When it comes to straight literary work, he’s alternatively drawn to rich, sweeping stories that try to encompass a time or a place or tightly written, narratively innovative stories or voices with award potential. His commercial interests include thrillers and mysteries, speculative fiction, and young adult. He also represents a range of nonfiction working with leaders and journalists in the areas of science, culture and current affairs.

Kim is currently a board member of the Asian American Writers Workshop. He lives in Phoenix, Arizona with his wife and two kids.


Photograph of Ingrid Rojas Contreras

Ingrid Rojas Contreras was born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia. Her novel Fruit of the Drunken Tree is the silver medal winner in First Fiction from the California Book Awards. Fruit of the Drunken Tree was an Indie Next selection, a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, and a New York Times editor's choice. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, The Believer, Buzzfeed, Nylon, Guernica, and elsewhere. She has received fellowships from Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, the Camargo Foundation, the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures, and the Writer’s Grotto. She is working on a family memoir about her grandfather, a curandero from Colombia who it was said had the power to move clouds.


Photograph of Fargo Tbakhi

Fargo Tbakhi (he/him) is a queer Palestinian-american writer and performer from Phoenix, Arizona. He is the winner of the 2018 Ghassan Kanafani Resistance Arts Scholarship and the 2017 Kristin Valentine Scholarship in Performance Studies. He is a Pushcart nominee, and his work can be found in Cotton Xenomorph, Mizna, Cosmonauts Avenue, Glass: a Journal of Poetry, Peach Mag, and elsewhere.


Picture of Alberto Álvaro Ríos

Alberto Ríos, Arizona’s inaugural poet laureate and a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, is the author of eleven books and chapbooks of poetry, including The Theater of Night—winner of the 2007 PEN/Beyond Margins Award—three collections of short stories, and a memoir about growing up on the border, Capirotada. His book The Smallest Muscle in the Human Body was a finalist for the National Book Award.   Ríos is the recipient of numerous accolades and his work is included in over 300 national and international literary anthologies.  He is also the host of the PBS program Books & Co. His work is regularly taught and translated, and has been adapted to dance and both classical and popular music. Ríos is a University Professor of Letters, Regents’ Professor, and the Katharine C. Turner Chair in English at Arizona State University. His most recent book is A Small Story About the Sky.


Photograph of Sally Ball

Sally Ball is the author of three collections of poems, Hold Sway, Wreck Me and Annus Mirabilis. An associate professor of English at Arizona State University, Ball is also an associate director of Four Way Books. She has been with the press for 23 of its 26 years. She has received fellowships from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, CAMAC Centre d’Art, and elsewhere. Her long poem “HOLD” has been made into a large-format artist’s book by the Czech printmaker Jan Vičar (2018) and will be featured at an exhibit at the Académie des Beaux Arts in Paris in December 2019.


Photograph of Sally Ball

Sally Ball is the author of three collections of poems, Hold Sway, Wreck Me and Annus Mirabilis. An associate professor of English at Arizona State University, Ball is also an associate director of Four Way Books. She has been with the press for 23 of its 26 years. She has received fellowships from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, CAMAC Centre d’Art, and elsewhere. Her long poem “HOLD” has been made into a large-format artist’s book by the Czech printmaker Jan Vičar (2018) and will be featured at an exhibit at the Académie des Beaux Arts in Paris in December 2019.



Photograph of Natalie Scenters-Zapico

Natalie Scenters-Zapico is the author of Lima :: Limón (Copper Canyon Press 2019) and The Verging Cities (Center for Literary Publishing 2015). She has won fellowships from the Lannan Foundation, CantoMundo, and was a 2018 Poetry Foundation Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellow. Originally from the sister cities of El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, she teaches Latina/o Studies and Creative Writing at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma Washington.


Photograph of Jenny Irish

Jenny Irish lives in Tempe, Arizona, where she is an assistant professor in the Creative Writing Program at Arizona State University. Her work has appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Blackbird, Catapult, Colorado Review, Epoch, The Georgia Review, and Ploughshares. She is the author of the hybrid collection, Common Ancestor, and the story collection, I am Faithful.


Photograph of Brian Lin

Brian Lin is a Ph.D. student in the creative writing and literature program at USC. He has participated in the Tin House Summer Workshop and the Napa Valley Writers' Conference. Fiction editor for Apogee Journal and community outreach coordinator for The Offing, Lin is also working on a novel and a short story collection.


Picture of Rosemarie Dombrowski

Rosemarie Dombrowski is the inaugural Poet Laureate of Phoenix, AZ, the founding editor of both rinky dink press and The Revolution (Relaunch), a creative revisioning of the weekly women’s rights newspaper founded by Elizabeth Cady Stanton in 1868. Her collections include The Book of Emergencies (2014), The Philosophy of Unclean Things (2017), and The Cleavage Planes of Southwest Minerals [A Love Story], winner of the 2017 Split Rock Review chapbook competition. She’s the recipient of a 2017 Arts Hero Award, the Carrie McCray Award in Nonfiction (2017), a fellowship from the Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics, five Pushcart nominations, and a Whiting Fellowship nomination (2019). Her poem, “Atypical” was named a finalist for the Brooklyn Poets Whitman Bicentennial Poetry Contest.


Photograph of E. E. Hussey

E.E. Hussey was born in the Philippines. She was raised in Japan and Italy and has lived in several U.S. cities. She holds degrees from the University of Texas at Austin and Johns Hopkins University. Her writing has appeared in PANK, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and elsewhere. She is a 2019 Tin House Scholar in short fiction and has also received support from the Vermont Studio Center. E.E. is currently an MFA student at the University of Alabama. You can find her online at www.eehussey.com or @eehussey.


Photograph of Gionni Ponce

Gionni Ponce is a Macondista prose writer currently based in Tempe, Arizona. She aims to create literary space for traditionally marginalized stories in her writing as well as in her work. She is the former associate director of the IU Writers' Conference. Her work is published in Kenyon Review Online, CRED Philly, The MFA Years, TakePart, and La Vida Magazine. To learn more, follow her on Twitter: @GPisMe


Michael Stackpole

Michael A. Stackpole is an award-winning novelist, game designer, computer game designer, graphic novelist, screenwriter and podcaster. He's had over fifty novels published, including the New York Times Bestselling I, Jedi and Rogue Squadron.


Photograph of Kay Ulanday Barrett

Kay Ulanday Barrett aka @brownroundboi, is a poet, performer, and educator, navigating life as a disabled pilipinx amerikan transgender queer in the U.S. K. has featured globally; Princeton University, UC Berkeley, The Lincoln Center, Queens Museum, The Chicago Historical Society, NY Poetry Festival, Dodge Poetry Foundation, The Hemispheric Institute, & National Queer Arts Festival. They are a 3x Pushcart Prize nominee and has received fellowships from Lambda Literary Review, VONA/Voices, The Home School, and Drunken Boat. Their contributions are found in Asian American Literary Review, PBS News Hour, NYLON, The Margins, RaceForward, Foglifter, The Deaf Poets Society, Poor Magazine, Fusion.net, Trans Bodies/Trans Selves, Winter Tangerine, Apogee, Entropy, Colorlines, Everyday Feminism, Them., The Advocate, and Bitch Magazine. They have contributions in the anthologies, Subject To Change (Sibling Rivalry Press), Outside the XY: Queer Black & Brown Masculinity (Magnus Books), and Writing the Walls Down: A Convergence of LGBTQ Voices (Trans-genre Press). They are currently a guest editor at Nat.Brut, 2018 Lambda Literary Review, Writer-In-Residence in Poetry, and 2018 guest faculty for The Poetry Foundation & Crescendo Literary. When The Chant Comes (Topside Press, 2016) is their first collection of poetry. kaybarrett.net


Photograph of Ivelisse Rodriguez

Ivelisse Rodriguez’s debut short story collection is Love War Stories (Feminist Press, 2018), a 2019 PEN/Faulkner finalist and a 2018 Foreword Reviews INDIES finalist. She is the founder and editor of an interview series focused on contemporary Puerto Rican writers. She earned an MFA in creative writing from Emerson College and a Ph.D. in English-Creative Writing from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She currently lives in NC with her beloved Lhasa Apso, Chocolatte Rodriguez. To learn more about Rodriguez, visit: www.ivelisserodriguez.com.


Photograph of Alejandro Nodarse

Alejandro Nodarse holds an MFA from the University of Miami. An alum and former staff member of the VONA Writers Conference, he was recently the Fiction Artist in Residence at The Deering Estate in Miami and a 2019 CINTAS Foundation Fellowship Finalist. His work has appeared in The Acentos Review, Burrow Press, and other publications. A former independent bookseller, he now teaches creative writing at the University of Nebraska and works as an apprentice arborist.


Picture of Andrea Avery

Andrea Avery is the author of Sonata: A Memoir of Pain and the Piano, which describes her experiences growing up as an aspiring pianist even after a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis at age 12. Her writing has been published in Ploughshares, Real Simple, The Oxford American, and The Politics of Women’s Bodies: Sexuality, Appearance, and Behavior. She was the winner of Real Simple’s 2010 essay contest and a finalist in Glamour magazine’s essay contest. She holds a BA in music, an MFA in Creative Writing, and a doctorate in education from Arizona State University. She teaches English at Phoenix Country Day School and is an active volunteer with the Arthritis Foundation.


Picture of Andrea Avery

Andrea Avery is the author of Sonata: A Memoir of Pain and the Piano, which describes her experiences growing up as an aspiring pianist even after a diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis at age 12. Her writing has been published in Ploughshares, Real Simple, The Oxford American, and The Politics of Women’s Bodies: Sexuality, Appearance, and Behavior. She was the winner of Real Simple’s 2010 essay contest and a finalist in Glamour magazine’s essay contest. She holds a BA in music, an MFA in Creative Writing, and a doctorate in education from Arizona State University. She teaches English at Phoenix Country Day School and is an active volunteer with the Arthritis Foundation.


Photograph of Piper J. Daniels

Piper J. Daniels (she/ her) is a Michigan native and queer intersectional feminist currently living in the American Southwest. She received a BA from Columbia College Chicago and an MFA from University of Washington. Her debut essay collection, Ladies Lazarus, won the Tarpaulin Sky Book Award, was longlisted for the PEN Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award For the Art of the Essay, and was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in LGBTQ Nonfiction. Entropy named Ladies Lazarus one of their favorite books of 2018. Daniels’s work appears in Hotel Amerika, The Rumpus, Tarpaulin Sky, Entropy, Longreads, and elsewhere. She works as a full-time writer and manuscript consultant to the curious and the brave.


Photograph of Susan Nguyen

Susan Nguyen hails from Virginia but currently lives and writes in Arizona. She received her MFA in poetry from Arziona State University. She is the recipient of fellowships from the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing and the Aleida Rodriguez Memorial Award. In 2018, she was featured on PBS NewsHour as "one of three women poets to watch" and she was a finalist for the Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry. Her work has appeared in Tin House, diagram, and others. You can find her at www.girlpoet.co


Photograph of Sarah MacLean

New York Times, Washington Post & USA Today bestseller Sarah MacLean is the author of historical romance novels that have been translated into more than twenty languages. A columnist for The Washington Post, Sarah is a leading advocate for the romance genre, speaking widely on its place at the nexus of gender and cultural studies. A graduate of Smith College & Harvard University, Sarah now lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.



Photograph of Vanessa Hua

Vanessa Hua is a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle and the author of a novel, A River of Stars, a national bestseller and best books pick by NPR and the Washington Post, and a short story collection, Deceit and Other Possibilities. For two decades, she has been writing about Asia and the diaspora. She has received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, a Steinbeck Fellowship in Creative Writing, as well as honors from the Society of Professional Journalists and the Asian American Journalists’ Association. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, and elsewhere. A Bay Area native, she works and teaches at the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto.


Photograph of Cathy Lin Che credit Jess X. Snow

Cathy Linh Che is the author of Split (Alice James Books), winner of the Kundiman Poetry Prize, the Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America, and the Best Poetry Book Award from the Association of Asian American Studies. She has received awards from Poets & Writers, The Fine Arts Work Center at Provincetown, and Artist Trust, among other places. She has taught at the New York University, Fordham University, and Sierra Nevada College, and she serves as executive director at Kundiman.


Photograph of Bruce Owens Grimm

Bruce Owens Grimm writes haunted queer essays and memoir. His work has appeared in The RumpusKenyon Review OnlineNinth Letter, AWP’s Writer’s NotebookIron Horse Literary ReviewOlder Queer Voices, and elsewhere. He is co-editing Fat & Queer, an anthology inspired by his Fat and Queer series for Queen Mob’s Tea House. More can be found at www.bruceowensgrimm.com.


Photograph of Ingrid Rojas Contreras

Ingrid Rojas Contreras was born and raised in Bogotá, Colombia. Her novel Fruit of the Drunken Tree is the silver medal winner in First Fiction from the California Book Awards. Fruit of the Drunken Tree was an Indie Next selection, a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, and a New York Times editor's choice. Her writing has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, The Believer, Buzzfeed, Nylon, Guernica, and elsewhere. She has received fellowships from Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, the Camargo Foundation, the National Association of Latino Arts and Cultures, and the Writer’s Grotto. She is working on a family memoir about her grandfather, a curandero from Colombia who it was said had the power to move clouds.


Photograph of Ivelisse Rodriguez

Ivelisse Rodriguez’s debut short story collection is Love War Stories (Feminist Press, 2018), a 2019 PEN/Faulkner finalist and a 2018 Foreword Reviews INDIES finalist. She is the founder and editor of an interview series focused on contemporary Puerto Rican writers. She earned an MFA in creative writing from Emerson College and a Ph.D. in English-Creative Writing from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She currently lives in NC with her beloved Lhasa Apso, Chocolatte Rodriguez. To learn more about Rodriguez, visit: www.ivelisserodriguez.com.


Desert Nights Rising Stars Writers Conference Faculty 2019 Bill Konigsberg

Bill Konigsberg is the award-winning author of five young adult novels, including The Porcupine of Truth, which won the PEN Center USA Literary Award and the Stonewall Book Award in 2016, and Openly Straight, which won the Sid Fleischman Award for Humor, and was a finalist for the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award and Lambda Literary Award in 2014 and has been translated into five languages. In 2018, The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)'s Assembly on Literature for Adolescents (ALAN) established the Bill Konigsberg Award for Acts and Activism for Equity and Inclusion through Young Adult Literature. He lives in Chandler, Arizona, with his husband, Chuck, and their Australian Labradoodles, Mabel and Buford.


Photograph of Nafissa Thompson-Spires

Nafissa Thompson-Spires earned a Ph.D. in English from Vanderbilt University and an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Paris Review Daily, Dissent, Buzzfeed Books, The White Review, and other publications. She currently works as an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Cornell University. Her first book, Heads of the Colored People, was longlisted for the 2018 National Book Award, the PEN/ Robert W. Bingham Award, and the Aspen Words Literary Prize; was a finalist for the Kirkus Prize; and has won the PEN Open Book Award, the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, and an Audie Award. She is also the recipient of a 2019 Whiting Award.


Photograph of Laura Tohe

Laura Tohe is Diné of the Sleepy Rock People clan and is the current Navajo Nation Poet Laureate for 2017-2019. A librettist and an award-winning poet, her books include No Parole Today, Making Friends with Water, Sister Nations, Tséyi, Deep in the Rock, and Code Talker Stories.  Her commissioned librettos are Enemy Slayer, A Navajo Oratorio, for the Phoenix Symphony on the Naxos Classical Music label and Nahasdzáán in the Glittering World for Opera de Rouen made its world premiere in 2019 in France.  She writes essays, stories, and a children’s play that have appeared in the U.S., Canada, and Europe with French, Dutch and Italian translations.  She is the recipient of the 2019 American Indian Festival of Writers’s Award, Joy Harjo & the Lila Wallace Reader’s Digest Fund Award, the Dan Schilling Public Scholar Award and was twice nominated for the Pushcart Award.


Photograph of Leticia Urieta

Leticia Urieta is proud Tejana writer from Austin, TX. She works as a teaching artist in the Austin community. She is a graduate of Agnes Scott College and holds an MFA in Fiction writing from Texas State University. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Cleaver, Chicon Street Poets, Lumina, The Offing, Kweli Journal, Medium, Electric Lit, and others. Her chapbook, The Monster is out now from LibroMobile Press. She is currently at work completing her novel that tells the story of a Mexican soldadera caught up in the march to Texas during Texas’ war with Mexico. 


Photograph of Lisa Crayton

Lisa A. Crayton specializes in writing nonfiction and writes material for adults, children and teens. A former corporate publication editor, she is an author, children’s book author (14) and co-author (6), award-winning freelance writer, and freelance editor and ghostwriter whose clients include authors and publishers. Her upcoming children’s books include: Wangari Maathai: Get to Know the Woman Who Planted Trees to Bring Change. Her recent YA titles include: Beating Bullying as a Teen with a Disability, Everything You Need to Know About Cultural Appropriation, and Everything You Need to Know About Confronting Racist Behavior.

A popular conference speaker, she has years of experience mentoring writers and has taught writing webinars online, and writing workshops in CA, CO, IL, MD, NC, NJ, PA, TX, VA, and Ontario, Canada. She earned her MFA from National University, and a dual degree in public relations and journalism (cum laude) from Utica College. Her professional memberships include the American Society of Journalists & Authors, and the Society of Children Book Writers & Illustrators. Visit her at https://lisacrayton.wordpress.com.



Photograph of Cristina García

Cristina García is the author of seven novels: Here in Berlin; King of Cuba; The Lady Matador’s Hotel; A Handbook to Luck; Monkey Hunting; The Agüero Sisters, winner of the Janet Heidiger Kafka Prize; and Dreaming in Cuban, finalist for the National Book Award. García has edited two anthologies, Bordering Fires: The Vintage Book of Contemporary Mexican and Chicano/a Literature and Cubaní simo: The Vintage Book of Contemporary Cuban Literature. She is also the author of three works for young readers, Dreams of Significant Girls; The Dog Who Loved the Moon; and I Wanna Be Your Shoebox. A collection of poetry, The Lesser Tragedy of Death, was published in 2010.


Piper Center Artistic Director Alberto Álvaro Ríos

Alberto Álvaro Ríos, born in 1952 in Nogales, Arizona, is the author of eleven books and chapbooks of poetry, three collections of short stories, and a memoir.  His books of poems include The Dangerous Shirt, The Theater of Night, winner of the 2007 PEN/Beyond Margins Award, along with The Smallest Muscle in the Human Body, a finalist for the National Book Award, Teodoro Luna’s Two Kisses, The Lime Orchard Woman, The Warrington Poems, Five Indiscretions, and Whispering to Fool the Wind, winner of the Walt Whitman Award.  His three collections of short stories are, most recently, The Curtain of Trees, along with Pig Cookies and The Iguana Killer.  His memoir about growing up on the Mexico-Arizona border—called Capirotada—won the Latino Literary Hall of Fame Award and was recently chosen as the OneBookArizona selection.

Ríos is host of the Eight, Arizona PBS ground-breaking original production Books & Co., now in its 22nd year on-air, where he provides viewers exclusive access to renowned authors and fresh faces on the literary scene, in intimate conversations with writers offering an unparalleled exploration into the heart and creative process of contemporary literature.

Recently honored with the University of Arizona Outstanding Alumnus Award, Ríos is the recipient of the Western Literature Association Distinguished Achievement Award, the Arizona Governor’s Arts Award, fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, the Walt Whitman Award, the Western States Book Award for Fiction, six Pushcart Prizes in both poetry and fiction, and inclusion in The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry, as well as over 300 other national and international literary anthologies.  His work is regularly taught and translated, and has been adapted to dance and both classical and popular music. 

Ríos is a Regents’ Professor at Arizona State University, where he has taught for over 35 years and where he holds the further distinctions of the Katharine C. Turner Endowed Chair in English and University Professor of Letters. He is Arizona’s inaugural poet laureate and is currently a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.


Photograph of Peter Twal

Peter Twal is a Jordanian American, an electrical engineer, and the author of Our Earliest Tattoos, winner of the Etel Adnan Poetry Prize (University of Arkansas Press). His poems have appeared in The Believer, Poem-a-Day, Best New Poets, Kenyon Review Online, West Branch Wired, Gulf Coast, Ninth Letter Online, DIAGRAM, and elsewhere. Twal earned his MFA at the University of Notre Dame, where he was awarded the Samuel and Mary Anne Hazo Poetry Award for his work. He lives in Phoenix, AZ with his wife and son. 


Photograph of Joel Salcido wearing a pigeon mask

Joel Salcido was born in the San Fernando Valley and raised in West Phoenix. He is the son of Mexican immigrants, a first-generation college graduate, a husband, and father of three sons. Salcido characterizes his work as hood magical realism—a navigation between the grief & ecstasy of place & experience. His poetry and prose are not simply written to or about his culture and community—but from it. His work has been featured or is forthcoming in [PANK] Magazine, Winter Tangerine, YesPoetry, PidgeonHoles, Write On: Downtown, Public Pool, and Acentos Review among others. He is the recipient of a Virginia G. Piper Creative Research Fellowship and a Winter Tangerine workshop alum. Salcido holds an MFA in Poetry from Arizona State University. 



Photograph of Sarah MacLean

New York Times, Washington Post & USA Today bestseller Sarah MacLean is the author of historical romance novels that have been translated into more than twenty languages. A columnist for The Washington Post, Sarah is a leading advocate for the romance genre, speaking widely on its place at the nexus of gender and cultural studies. A graduate of Smith College & Harvard University, Sarah now lives in New York City with her husband and daughter.


Photograph of Ryka Aoki

Ryka Aoki is the author of Seasonal Velocities, He Mele a Hilo and Why Dust Shall Never Settle Upon This Soul. She has appeared in Vogue, Elle, Publisher’s Weekly, and the Huffington Post, and was honored by the California State Senate for “extraordinary commitment to the visibility and wellbeing of Transgender people.” She worked with the American Association of Hiroshima Nagasaki A-Bomb Survivors, and two of her compositions were adopted as the organization’s official “songs of peace.” Aoki is also a former national judo champion and the founder of the International Transgender Martial Arts Alliance. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Cornell University and is professor of English at Santa Monica College.


Photograph of Peggy Robles-Alvarado

Peggy Robles- Alvarado is Pushcart Prize nominee, a CantoMundo fellow, Academy for Teachers and Home School fellow and a five-time International Latino Book Award winner.  This tenured educator, with M.A.Ed. degrees in elementary and bilingual education and an MFA in Performance Studies is the author of Conversations with My Skin (2011) and Homage to the Warrior Women (2012). Through Robleswrites Productions, she curated The Abuela Stories Project (2016) and Mujeres, The Magic, The Movement and The Muse (2017). As an initiated priestess in the Lukumi and Palo spiritual systems, this BRIO award-winning performance poet uses rhythmic, raw- truth energy to celebrate womanhood and honor cultural rituals. She’s been featured on HBO Habla Women, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, The Black Spirit Solstice Summit, Poets & Writers, and The BADD!ASS Women Festival. Robles-Alvarado also directed sold-out performances of her latest anthology and the poetic play Live Big Girl. For more information visit Robleswrites.com.


Photograph of Laura Tohe

Laura Tohe is Diné of the Sleepy Rock People clan and is the current Navajo Nation Poet Laureate for 2017-2019. A librettist and an award-winning poet, her books include No Parole Today, Making Friends with Water, Sister Nations, Tséyi, Deep in the Rock, and Code Talker Stories.  Her commissioned librettos are Enemy Slayer, A Navajo Oratorio, for the Phoenix Symphony on the Naxos Classical Music label and Nahasdzáán in the Glittering World for Opera de Rouen made its world premiere in 2019 in France.  She writes essays, stories, and a children’s play that have appeared in the U.S., Canada, and Europe with French, Dutch and Italian translations.  She is the recipient of the 2019 American Indian Festival of Writers’s Award, Joy Harjo & the Lila Wallace Reader’s Digest Fund Award, the Dan Schilling Public Scholar Award and was twice nominated for the Pushcart Award.


Photograph of Saretta Morgan

Saretta Morgan is a writer and artist who uses text and objects to consider relationships between privacy and narrative forms. She is the author of the chapbooks, Feeling Upon Arrival (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2018) and room for a counter interior (Portable Press @ Yo-Yo Labs, 2017) as well as a forthcoming full length collection Plan Upon Arrival (Selva Oscura/Three Count Pour). She was a 2016-2017 Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace Resident and has created interactive text-based projects for art institutions such as the Whitney Museum of American Art and Dia Beacon. Her work has received support from the Jerome Foundation, Arizona Commission on the Arts and the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, among others. Saretta received a B.A. in writing from Columbia University and an MFA from Pratt Institute. She teaches creative writing at Arizona State University.


Photograph of Tracey Baptiste

Tracey Baptiste is the New York Times bestselling author of Minecraft: The Crash. She is also the author of the popular Jumbies series including The Jumbies, Rise of the Jumbies, and The Jumbies God’s Revenge. She has written several other fiction and nonfiction books for children.


Photograph of Kay Ulanday Barrett

Kay Ulanday Barrett aka @brownroundboi, is a poet, performer, and educator, navigating life as a disabled pilipinx amerikan transgender queer in the U.S. K. has featured globally; Princeton University, UC Berkeley, The Lincoln Center, Queens Museum, The Chicago Historical Society, NY Poetry Festival, Dodge Poetry Foundation, The Hemispheric Institute, & National Queer Arts Festival. They are a 3x Pushcart Prize nominee and has received fellowships from Lambda Literary Review, VONA/Voices, The Home School, and Drunken Boat. Their contributions are found in Asian American Literary Review, PBS News Hour, NYLON, The Margins, RaceForward, Foglifter, The Deaf Poets Society, Poor Magazine, Fusion.net, Trans Bodies/Trans Selves, Winter Tangerine, Apogee, Entropy, Colorlines, Everyday Feminism, Them., The Advocate, and Bitch Magazine. They have contributions in the anthologies, Subject To Change (Sibling Rivalry Press), Outside the XY: Queer Black & Brown Masculinity (Magnus Books), and Writing the Walls Down: A Convergence of LGBTQ Voices (Trans-genre Press). They are currently a guest editor at Nat.Brut, 2018 Lambda Literary Review, Writer-In-Residence in Poetry, and 2018 guest faculty for The Poetry Foundation & Crescendo Literary. When The Chant Comes (Topside Press, 2016) is their first collection of poetry. kaybarrett.net


Photograph of Andrew Hudson

Andrew Dana Hudson is an award-winning speculative fiction writer. His fiction won the Imagination and Climate Futures Climate Fiction Contest, was runner up in the Writing the Future health sci-fi contest, and has appeared in Terraform, Little Blue Marble with work forthcoming in Slate Future Tense and LIGHTSPEED magazine He studies sustainability at ASU and is a fellow in the Imaginary College at the Center for Science and the Imagination. His nonfiction writing has appeared in Slate, among others. He serves as associate editor of Oasis, a Phoenix-based journal of anticapitalist thought.


Photograph of Vanessa Hua

Vanessa Hua is a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle and the author of a novel, A River of Stars, a national bestseller and best books pick by NPR and the Washington Post, and a short story collection, Deceit and Other Possibilities. For two decades, she has been writing about Asia and the diaspora. She has received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, the Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature, a Steinbeck Fellowship in Creative Writing, as well as honors from the Society of Professional Journalists and the Asian American Journalists’ Association. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, The Atlantic, and elsewhere. A Bay Area native, she works and teaches at the San Francisco Writers’ Grotto.


Photograph of Juhea Kim

Juhea Kim was born in In Cheon, Korea, and moved to Portland, Oregon, at age nine. Her writing has been published or is forthcoming in Granta, Slice, Zyzzyva, Catapult, Sierra Magazine, HuffPost, and elsewhere. Her translation of Lee Sang Award-winning author Choi In-Ho was published in Granta. She is the founder and editor of Peaceful Dumpling, an online magazine at the intersection of sustainable lifestyle and ecological literature. She received the Katharine Bakeless Nason Scholarship to the Bread Loaf Environmental Writers’ Conference and a BA in Art and Archaeology from Princeton University. After a decade in New York City, she now lives in a solar-powered loft with her two rescue cats in Portland, Oregon.


Michael Stackpole

Michael A. Stackpole is an award-winning novelist, game designer, computer game designer, graphic novelist, screenwriter and podcaster. He's had over fifty novels published, including the New York Times Bestselling I, Jedi and Rogue Squadron.


Photograph of Solmaz Sharif

Born in Istanbul to Iranian parents, Solmaz Sharif holds degrees from U.C. Berkeley, where she studied and taught with June Jordan’s Poetry for the People, and New York University. Her work has appeared in The New Republic, Poetry, The Kenyon Review, Granta, and others. The former managing director of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, her work has been recognized with a “Discovery”/Boston Review Poetry Prize, Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, and an NEA fellowship. She was most recently selected to receive a 2016 Lannan Literary Fellowship and the Holmes National Poetry Prize from Princeton University. A former Stegner Fellow, she is currently a lecturer at Stanford University. Her first poetry collection, LOOK, published by Graywolf Press in 2016, was a finalist for the National Book Award.


Photograph of Cristina García

Cristina García is the author of seven novels: Here in Berlin; King of Cuba; The Lady Matador’s Hotel; A Handbook to Luck; Monkey Hunting; The Agüero Sisters, winner of the Janet Heidiger Kafka Prize; and Dreaming in Cuban, finalist for the National Book Award. García has edited two anthologies, Bordering Fires: The Vintage Book of Contemporary Mexican and Chicano/a Literature and Cubaní simo: The Vintage Book of Contemporary Cuban Literature. She is also the author of three works for young readers, Dreams of Significant Girls; The Dog Who Loved the Moon; and I Wanna Be Your Shoebox. A collection of poetry, The Lesser Tragedy of Death, was published in 2010.


Logo for Office of Veteran and Military Academic Engagement at ASU

The Office for Veteran and Military Academic Engagement serves the Arizona State University community by promoting dialogue, teaching, and research that increases information, understanding, knowledge, and relationships among military, civilian, and academic cultures.

Our goal is to listen to veteran students, look for ways to connect them with faculty and other students, and continue to learn where and how to build bridges between these different cultures. We welcome your suggestions and integration ideas, and look forward to learning together and developing opportunities to serve one another."

Photograph of Judith Starkston

Judith Starkston writes historical fantasy set in the Bronze Age world of Hittites and Greeks. She holds degrees in Classics, from University of California, Santa Cruz (BA) and Cornell University (MA). She taught high-school English, Latin and humanities. Her debut novel, Hand of Fire, was a semi-finalist for the prestigious M.M. Bennett’s Award for Historical Fiction. Her second novel, Priestess of Ishana won the San Diego State University Conference Choice Award. She is represented by Richard Curtis.


Photograph of Anthony Cody

Anthony Cody is the author of Borderland Apocrypha (forthcoming from Omnidawn, 2020), winner of the 2018 Omnidawn Open Book Contest selected by Mei-mei Berssenbrugge. He is a CantoMundo fellow from Fresno, California whose poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Gulf Coast, Ninth Letter, Prairie Schooner, TriQuarterly, The Boiler, ctrl + v journal, Tinderbox, among other journals. Cody is a member of the Hmong American Writers’ Circle where he co-edited How Do I Begin?: A Hmong American Literary Anthology. As an MFA candidate at Fresno State, he serves as a fellow in the Laureate Lab Visual Wordist Studio created by Juan Felipe Herrera. In 2018, he received the Galway Kinnell Scholarship to attend the Community of Writers and nominations for a Best of the Net and a Best New Poets 2018 via The Boiler. He is the communications manager for CantoMundo, as well as an associate poetry editor for Noemi Press.


Photograph of Reyes Ramirez

Reyes Ramirez is a Houstonian. Ramirez won the 2019 YES Contemporary Art Writer’s Grant, 2017 Blue Mesa Review Nonfiction Contest, 2014 riverSedge Poetry Prize and has poems, stories, essays, and reviews (and/or forthcoming) in: Cosmonauts Avenue, The Latinx Archive, december magazine, Houston Noir, Gulf Coast Journal, The Acentos Review, Cimarron Review, and elsewhere. Ramirez has been awarded grants from the Houston Arts Alliance and The Warhol Foundation’s Idea Fund. You can read more of his work at: reyesvramirez.com.


Photograph of Solmaz Sharif

Born in Istanbul to Iranian parents, Solmaz Sharif holds degrees from U.C. Berkeley, where she studied and taught with June Jordan’s Poetry for the People, and New York University. Her work has appeared in The New Republic, Poetry, The Kenyon Review, Granta, and others. The former managing director of the Asian American Writers’ Workshop, her work has been recognized with a “Discovery”/Boston Review Poetry Prize, Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award, and an NEA fellowship. She was most recently selected to receive a 2016 Lannan Literary Fellowship and the Holmes National Poetry Prize from Princeton University. A former Stegner Fellow, she is currently a lecturer at Stanford University. Her first poetry collection, LOOK, published by Graywolf Press in 2016, was a finalist for the National Book Award.


Photograph of Natalie Lima

Natalie Lima is a 2016 PEN America Emerging Voices Fellow and a VONA/Voices alum. She is 2019 alum of the winter Tin House Workshops and will be attending the summer workshop in July. She is a first-generation college graduate of Northwestern University and an MFA candidate in creative nonfiction at the University of Arizona, where she teaches introduction to fiction writing and freshman composition. Her essays and fiction have been published or are forthcoming in Longreads, Catapult, Brevity, The Offing, and elsewhere. She is currently writing a dark humor memoir-in-essays about the absurdities of living in a body.


Photograph of Cathy Lin Che credit Jess X. Snow

Cathy Linh Che is the author of Split (Alice James Books), winner of the Kundiman Poetry Prize, the Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America, and the Best Poetry Book Award from the Association of Asian American Studies. She has received awards from Poets & Writers, The Fine Arts Work Center at Provincetown, and Artist Trust, among other places. She has taught at the New York University, Fordham University, and Sierra Nevada College, and she serves as executive director at Kundiman.


Picture of Matt Bell

Matt Bell is the author of the novels Scrapper and In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods, as well as the short story collection A Tree or a Person or a Wall, a non-fiction book about the classic video game Baldur's Gate II, and several other titles. A native of Michigan, he teaches in the Creative Writing Program at Arizona State University.


A native of Los Angeles, California, Kirby Kim attended Pomona College and got his JD at UC Hastings College of the Law. Kim got his first job in publishing working for Charlotte Sheedy Literary, at that time an affiliate of Sterling Lord Literistic, then moved to Vigliano Associates and WME before joining Janklow & Nesbit Associates.

Kim represents both literary and commercial authors. He’s most interested in receiving manuscripts that straddle the fence a bit, with upmarket expression combined with a genre element or plot device. When it comes to straight literary work, he’s alternatively drawn to rich, sweeping stories that try to encompass a time or a place or tightly written, narratively innovative stories or voices with award potential. His commercial interests include thrillers and mysteries, speculative fiction, and young adult. He also represents a range of nonfiction working with leaders and journalists in the areas of science, culture and current affairs.

Kim is currently a board member of the Asian American Writers Workshop. He lives in Phoenix, Arizona with his wife and two kids.


Photograph of Saretta Morgan

Saretta Morgan is a writer and artist who uses text and objects to consider relationships between privacy and narrative forms. She is the author of the chapbooks, Feeling Upon Arrival (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2018) and room for a counter interior (Portable Press @ Yo-Yo Labs, 2017) as well as a forthcoming full length collection Plan Upon Arrival (Selva Oscura/Three Count Pour). She was a 2016-2017 Lower Manhattan Cultural Council Workspace Resident and has created interactive text-based projects for art institutions such as the Whitney Museum of American Art and Dia Beacon. Her work has received support from the Jerome Foundation, Arizona Commission on the Arts and the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, among others. Saretta received a B.A. in writing from Columbia University and an MFA from Pratt Institute. She teaches creative writing at Arizona State University.


Photograph of Rogelio Juarez

Rogelio Juárez is a Phoenix-based writer, a graduate of the VONA/Voices of Our Nation and Tin House workshops, a grandson of Braceros and son of an immigrant and a marine. His writing can be found in J Journal: New Writing on Justice, The James Franco Review, and Zócalo Public Square.


Desert Nights Rising Stars Writers Conference Faculty 2019 Bill Konigsberg

Bill Konigsberg is the award-winning author of five young adult novels, including The Porcupine of Truth, which won the PEN Center USA Literary Award and the Stonewall Book Award in 2016, and Openly Straight, which won the Sid Fleischman Award for Humor, and was a finalist for the Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award and Lambda Literary Award in 2014 and has been translated into five languages. In 2018, The National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE)'s Assembly on Literature for Adolescents (ALAN) established the Bill Konigsberg Award for Acts and Activism for Equity and Inclusion through Young Adult Literature. He lives in Chandler, Arizona, with his husband, Chuck, and their Australian Labradoodles, Mabel and Buford.


Photograph of Piper J. Daniels

Piper J. Daniels (she/ her) is a Michigan native and queer intersectional feminist currently living in the American Southwest. She received a BA from Columbia College Chicago and an MFA from University of Washington. Her debut essay collection, Ladies Lazarus, won the Tarpaulin Sky Book Award, was longlisted for the PEN Diamonstein-Spielvogel Award For the Art of the Essay, and was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in LGBTQ Nonfiction. Entropy named Ladies Lazarus one of their favorite books of 2018. Daniels’s work appears in Hotel Amerika, The Rumpus, Tarpaulin Sky, Entropy, Longreads, and elsewhere. She works as a full-time writer and manuscript consultant to the curious and the brave.


Photograph of Nafissa Thompson-Spires

Nafissa Thompson-Spires earned a Ph.D. in English from Vanderbilt University and an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Paris Review Daily, Dissent, Buzzfeed Books, The White Review, and other publications. She currently works as an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Cornell University. Her first book, Heads of the Colored People, was longlisted for the 2018 National Book Award, the PEN/ Robert W. Bingham Award, and the Aspen Words Literary Prize; was a finalist for the Kirkus Prize; and has won the PEN Open Book Award, the Los Angeles Times Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction, and an Audie Award. She is also the recipient of a 2019 Whiting Award.


Photograph of Sherwin Bitsui

Sherwin Bitsui is the author of three collections of poetry, Dissolve, Flood Song, and Shapeshift. He is the recipient of a Whiting Award, an American Book Award, and the PEN Book Award. His poems have appeared in Narrative, Black Renaissance Noir, American Poet, The Iowa Review, LIT, and elsewhere. He is Diné of the Todí­ch’ii’nii (Bitter Water Clan), born for the Tlizí­laaní­ (Many Goats Clan), and has received fellowships from the Lannan Foundation and the Native Arts & Culture Foundation.


Picture of Rosemarie Dombrowski

Rosemarie Dombrowski is the inaugural Poet Laureate of Phoenix, AZ, the founding editor of both rinky dink press and The Revolution (Relaunch), a creative revisioning of the weekly women’s rights newspaper founded by Elizabeth Cady Stanton in 1868. Her collections include The Book of Emergencies (2014), The Philosophy of Unclean Things (2017), and The Cleavage Planes of Southwest Minerals [A Love Story], winner of the 2017 Split Rock Review chapbook competition. She’s the recipient of a 2017 Arts Hero Award, the Carrie McCray Award in Nonfiction (2017), a fellowship from the Lincoln Center for Applied Ethics, five Pushcart nominations, and a Whiting Fellowship nomination (2019). Her poem, “Atypical” was named a finalist for the Brooklyn Poets Whitman Bicentennial Poetry Contest.


Photograph of Jenny Irish

Jenny Irish lives in Tempe, Arizona, where she is an assistant professor in the Creative Writing Program at Arizona State University. Her work has appeared in Alaska Quarterly Review, Blackbird, Catapult, Colorado Review, Epoch, The Georgia Review, and Ploughshares. She is the author of the hybrid collection, Common Ancestor, and the story collection, I am Faithful.


Photograph of Sean Avery

Sean Avery (he/they) is a rapper, poet, and teaching artist from Avondale, Arizona. Their work integrates Hip-Hop music, poetry, and theater to explore how Black masculinity is projected onto their body. They strive for an authentic performance of self, in hopes that they will inspire others to examine their own identities.

Avery is an alum of the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a BA in English Creative Writing, where they received the nation's only full-tuition Hip-Hop & Spoken Word scholarship, First Wave. They’ve been on stage with performers such as Saul Williams, Lemon Anderson, and J. Ivy. Avery’s work has been featured in Afropunk, Blavity, the Wisconsin Film Festival and the Chicago Hip-Hop Theater Festival. Their songs & poems can also be found on their website, superseanavery.com. Currently, Avery teaches rap, poetry, and theater throughout the Valley while performing their Hip-Hop album and play titled skinnyblk.


Photograph of Peter Twal

Peter Twal is a Jordanian American, an electrical engineer, and the author of Our Earliest Tattoos, winner of the Etel Adnan Poetry Prize (University of Arkansas Press). His poems have appeared in The Believer, Poem-a-Day, Best New Poets, Kenyon Review Online, West Branch Wired, Gulf Coast, Ninth Letter Online, DIAGRAM, and elsewhere. Twal earned his MFA at the University of Notre Dame, where he was awarded the Samuel and Mary Anne Hazo Poetry Award for his work. He lives in Phoenix, AZ with his wife and son. 


Photograph of Tracey Baptiste

Tracey Baptiste is the New York Times bestselling author of Minecraft: The Crash. She is also the author of the popular Jumbies series including The Jumbies, Rise of the Jumbies, and The Jumbies God’s Revenge. She has written several other fiction and nonfiction books for children.


Photograph of Natalie Scenters-Zapico

Natalie Scenters-Zapico is the author of Lima :: Limón (Copper Canyon Press 2019) and The Verging Cities (Center for Literary Publishing 2015). She has won fellowships from the Lannan Foundation, CantoMundo, and was a 2018 Poetry Foundation Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellow. Originally from the sister cities of El Paso, Texas and Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, she teaches Latina/o Studies and Creative Writing at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma Washington.


Photograph of Sherwin Bitsui

Sherwin Bitsui is the author of three collections of poetry, Dissolve, Flood Song, and Shapeshift. He is the recipient of a Whiting Award, an American Book Award, and the PEN Book Award. His poems have appeared in Narrative, Black Renaissance Noir, American Poet, The Iowa Review, LIT, and elsewhere. He is Diné of the Todí­ch’ii’nii (Bitter Water Clan), born for the Tlizí­laaní­ (Many Goats Clan), and has received fellowships from the Lannan Foundation and the Native Arts & Culture Foundation.


Picture of Matt Bell

Matt Bell is the author of the novels Scrapper and In the House upon the Dirt between the Lake and the Woods, as well as the short story collection A Tree or a Person or a Wall, a non-fiction book about the classic video game Baldur's Gate II, and several other titles. A native of Michigan, he teaches in the Creative Writing Program at Arizona State University.