What do we really mean?

The greatest strength of the Young Writers' Conference has always been the faculty. We have been fortunate to recruit, year after year, instructors who are accomplished writers and experienced teachers. Many of them have returned summer after summer, attracted by the beauty of the campus and the excellence of our students, and so have become expert at helping young writers find their voices and their subjects. 


Fiction Faculty


Simon Han's debut novel is forthcoming from Riverhead Books (an imprint of Penguin). His stories and essays have appeared in The Atlantic, Literary Hub, The Iowa Review, Guernica, Electric Literature's Recommended Reading, and elsewhere. He is the winner of the Indiana Review Fiction Prize and the Texas Observer Short Story Contest. He has received fellowships and scholarships from MacDowell, the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, the Sewanee Writers' Conference, and the Tulsa Artist Fellowship. He has taught at the University of Tulsa, Nashville's Riverbend Prison, and Vanderbilt University, where he received his M.F.A. Find him online at simonhan.net.‌.




Sakinah Hofler’s work has appeared in Hayden’s Ferry ReviewMid-American ReviewPhiladelphia Stories, and elsewhere. She has won the Manchester Fiction Prize and the Sherwood Anderson Fiction Award. A recipient of the Edward H. and Mary C. Kingsbury Fellowship, Sakinah earned her M.F.A. at Florida State University, where she also served as fiction editor of the Southeast Review Currently, she’s a Ph.D. student, an Alfred C. Yates Fellow, and an Assistant Editor of The Cincinnati Review at the University of Cincinnati. She has taught numerous courses in composition, fiction, and screenwriting. Sakinah has also been a guest teacher at the School for Creative and Performing Arts, a high school in Cincinnati. In a previous life, she was a chemical and quality engineer for the Department of Defense but, for years, raced to NYC after work to take writing classes! Sakinah is at work on a collection of short stories and a novel. Find her online at https://www.sakinahhofler.com.

Sakinah will be offering one section of a fiction workshop with this specific focus:

Fantasy, Science Fiction, Fabulism: Short Fiction through a Fantastic Lens

For some folks, this type of fiction is brushed off as light entertainment and escapism. But did you know that zombie stories are more popular during times of economic upheaval? Or that Vampires frequently represent repressed desires? Or that a lot of science fiction draws on classic mythology? In this class, we’ll study craft elements in short stories about the creepy, the crawly, the terrifying, electrifying, and inspiring. Learn to make monsters into metaphors, robots into protagonists, and create magical worlds that parallel the best – and worst – parts of our own.


Originally from Appleton, Wisconsin, Luke Geddes received his Ph.D. in Creative Writing and Comparative Literature from the University of Cincinnati and his M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Wichita State University. His novel Heart of Junk, about an eclectic group of merchants at a Kansas antique mall who become implicated in the kidnapping of a local beauty pageant star, will be released by Simon & Schuster in January 2020. The author and critic Roxane Gay called his story collection I Am a Magical Teenage Princess one of her favorite books in her 2017 New York Times "By the Book" interview. Luke is an assistant professor in the English department at Thomas More University and has taught high school students through its dual-credit program. In his free time, he runs the record label Works of Love and collects vintage toys, vinyl records, midcentury ephemera, pulp paperbacks, and other odds and ends. You may read more about him at https://www.lukegeddes.com/.


Elizabeth Wetmore, whose novel “Valentine” is forthcoming from Harper in early 2020, is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She teaches creative writing workshops in the Chicago area. She is the recipient of fellowships from the Illinois Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as residencies from Hedgebrook and the MacDowell Colony, where she worked on a novel and collection of short stories. Elizabeth’s stories have appeared or are forthcoming in The Iowa Review, Epoch, Kenyon Review, Colorado Review, Baltimore Review, and other journals. Before devoting herself to writing, Elizabeth variously waited tables, taught English composition, drove a cab (briefly), and painted silos and cooling towers at the petrochemical plant in her hometown--proof that there are many paths to becoming a writer! She is delighted to have the opportunity to work with the gifted young writers who attend the Sewanee Young Writers' Conference.

Beth will be offering one section of a fiction workshop with this specific focus:

Fantasy, Science Fiction, Fabulism: Short Fiction through a Fantastic Lens

For some folks, this type of fiction is brushed off as light entertainment and escapism. But did you know that zombie stories are more popular during times of economic upheaval? Or that Vampires frequently represent repressed desires? Or that a lot of science fiction draws on classic mythology? In this class, we’ll study craft elements in short stories about the creepy, the crawly, the terrifying, electrifying, and inspiring. Learn to make monsters into metaphors, robots into protagonists, and create magical worlds that parallel the best – and worst – parts of our own.


Jess Jelsma Masterton’s work has appeared in The Arkansas InternationalThe Southern ReviewQuarterly West, and elsewhere. Her short fiction has been awarded the Don Hendrie Jr. Memorial Prize and has been nominated for the Best of the Net and Pushcart Prize anthologies. She has received support from organizations such as the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, the Spring Creek Project, and the Taft Research Center. She holds an MFA from the University of Alabama and is currently pursuing a PhD in Creative Writing at the University of Cincinnati. In addition to working as an editor for the Cincinnati Review, she has taught English and creative writing at the University of Cincinnati, the University of Alabama, the Mercantile Library of Cincinnati, and John Hopkins University’s Center for Talented Youth. She has over five years of experience working with middle and high school students in online, hybrid, and face-to-face formats. Read more about her at jessejelsma.com.

Jess will be offering one section of a fiction workshop with this specific focus:

Fantasy, Science Fiction, Fabulism: Short Fiction through a Fantastic Lens
For some folks, this type of fiction is brushed off as light entertainment and escapism. But did you know that zombie stories are more popular during times of economic upheaval? Or that Vampires frequently represent repressed desires? Or that a lot of science fiction draws on classic mythology? In this class, we’ll study craft elements in short stories about the creepy, the crawly, the terrifying, electrifying, and inspiring. Learn to make monsters into metaphors, robots into protagonists, and create magical worlds that parallel the best – and worst – parts of our own.


Daniel Paul teaches creative writing at Rollins College. He has also taught English and creative writing at the University of Cincinnati, where he received his PhD, and Southern Illinois University, where he received his MFA in fiction writing. He has won awards for his writing from Briar Cliff ReviewShenandoah, and Yemassee, and has stories published or forthcoming in Iowa ReviewThe Pinch, Passages North, Hobart, South Carolina Review, and elsewhere. He lives in Orlando with his wife, and his harshest critic: a pug/beagle mix named Ava. Find his work at danpiercepaul.wordpress.com.


Poetry and Creative Nonfiction Faculty


Christina Olson, an assistant professor of creative writing at Georgia Southern University  and a visiting faculty member in the Murray State University low-res M.F.A. program, is the author of the full-length poetry collections Terminal Human Velocity and Before I Came Home Naked as well as the chapbooks Weird Science and Rook & The M.E. Her poetry and creative nonfiction have appeared in magazines and journals including The Atlantic, Gastronomica, Gulf Coast, The Normal School, Quarterly West, Passages North, Puerto del Sol, Third Coast, Virginia Quarterly Review, and The Best Creative Nonfiction, Volume Three. Christina is currently at work on two projects: a poetry collection based on Max the mastodon, whose giant remains (which she got to touch!) are currently housed at the Western Science Center in Hemet, California, as well as a creative nonfiction work exploring the origins of the coney-style chili dog and what it can tell us about American assimilation. She is most interested in the intersection of poetic lyricism, meticulous research, genre-pushing creative nonfiction, and what she calls "weird science." In the past, her other research obsessions have included the Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton, the giant Asian hornet, the television show Law & Order, something called the "honeybee thermal defense," and what would happen if the world's infectious diseases got together and threw a Christmas party. She's usually tweeting about mastodons, coney-style hot dogs, and other current fixations as @olsonquest.

Olson will be offering a special course at the conference combining her two literary loves, poetry and nonfiction prose.  “Digging Deep: Writing and Discovery.”  This workshop will emphasize discovering new and surprising sources of inspiration—in the natural world, the library, the Ralston Listening Room, and even in what Olson calls “weird science.” Inspired by close observation and reading, students will experiment with both poetry and prose forms and will consider the ways any chosen form both enables and limits discovery, determining what can and cannot be said.  Forms are lenses, and each one brings certain subjects into sharp focus. Olson will be offering a special course at the conference combining her two literary loves, poetry and nonfiction prose.  “Digging Deep: Writing and Discovery.”


Poetry Faculty


Danielle DeTiberus teaches creative writing at the Charleston School of the Arts. Among some of her students’ accomplishments are: publication in the Rattle Young Poets AnthologyThe Interlochen Review and The Best Teen Writing; Honorable Mention in Princeton’s High School Poetry Prize; two finalists for the National Student Poets Program; and numerous national Gold Medals from the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, including the prestigious Gold Medal Portfolio. Her manuscript, Better the Girl Know Now, was selected as a finalist for Black Lawrence Press’ 2018 Hudson Prize. In 2016, she received the Carrie McCray Nickens Fellowship in poetry from the South Carolina Academy of Authors.  Her work has been anthologized in Best American Poetry and Bared: Contemporary Poetry and Art on Bras and Breasts, and has appeared or is forthcoming in The Missouri ReviewRattle, River StyxThe Southeast ReviewSpoon River Poetry ReviewTar River PoetryWaxwing and elsewhere. She currently serves as the Poetry Society of South Carolina's Program Chair, bringing nationally renowned poets to Charleston for readings and seminars. More of her work can be found here.‌


Ciona Rouse is the author of Vantablack, the first chapbook of Third Man Books (2017), which sold out within months of publication. Her poetry has appeared in The AccountTalking RiverGabby JournalMatter: a journal of political poetry and commentary and other publications. She is poetry editor of Wordpeace and the curator of several reading series in Nashville. Rouse has lectured at Sewanee and led numerous poetry workshops for students of all ages in Nashville at the Frist Art Museum and the Porch Writers’ Collective. In 2017-2018, she served as a resident poet for the “Nick Cave: FEAT” art exhibition at Frist Art Museum; currently she is a poet-in-residence at Whitsitt Elementary School. Along with poet Kendra DeColo, Rouse cohosts the podcast Re/Verb, a podcast where literature and pop culture meet.  A graduate of Columbia College of South Carolina, Rouse is working on her first full collection of poetry about an historic event in Atlanta, Georgia, where she was born.


Jessica Jacobs is the author of Take Me with You, Wherever You’re Going, published by Four Way Books and named one of Library Journal’s Best Poetry Books of the Year. Her debut collection, Pelvis with Distance, a biography-in-poems of Georgia O'Keeffe, won the New Mexico Book Award in Poetry and was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award. She received her BA at Smith College and her MFA in Poetry at Purdue University. Her poetry, essays, and fiction have appeared in publications including Orion, New England Review, Guernica, and The Missouri Review. An avid long-distance runner, Jessica has worked as a rock climbing instructor, bartender, and professor—teaching for Hendrix College, UNC-Wilmington’s MFA program, and Writing Workshops in Greece, among other programs—and now serves as the Chapbook Editor for Beloit Poetry Journal. She lives in Asheville, NC, with her wife, the poet Nickole Brown, with whom she has co-authored Write It!, a collection of writing prompts due out this fall from Spruce Books, an imprint of Penguin/RandomHouse.


REVISION FACULTY


Jorge Sánchez—who speaks, or has reading knowledge of, eight foreign languages including Aramaic, Ancient Greek, and Biblical Hebrew—has taught high school students for almost twenty years. He currently teaches English at Elgin Academy in Elgin, Illinois, where his students write across the genres and study works as diverse as medieval English literature and contemporary plays. In addition to his high school teaching, Jorge has taught literature and creative writing at the Hebrew Theological College, Wilbur Wright College (City Colleges of Chicago), and Loyola University. He received an M.F.A. from the University of Michigan and an M.A. from the University of Chicago Divinity School. He has served as the Theodore Morrison Scholar in Poetry at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and is the recipient of an Illinois Arts Council grant. His work has appeared in POETRYIowa ReviewIndiana ReviewCrab Orchard ReviewSouthern ReviewHyperallergicOkeyPankyTriQuarterly, and elsewhere. He currently lives in Chicago, Illinois.

Re-Visioning Your Revisions. This will be a cross-genre course focusing on revision: if you have a novel-in-progress, a collection of poetry, a set of short stories, or other writing project but are looking for a community of inquisitive, generous writers to help revise it, this workshop is for you. Unlike most other courses at SYWC, students in this course will have substantial drafts ready at the beginning of the workshop and will spend the bulk of their time considering principles of revision and strategies for re-seeing your work. Poets, fiction writers, non-fictionists, and playwrights will work side by side, learning from each others' genres as well as offering insights from their own.  It is open to all but may be particularly attractive to juniors who wish to have a polished portfolio during the college application process. 


Playwriting Faculty


Jenny King is a playwright whose work has been produced in both Britain and the United States. She is perhaps best known for her play Reconciling, which was performed at both the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (where it received 4-star reviews) and Fringe NYC (where it was named a “Best Bet”), and has been honored with an Arts and Letters drama prize and a grant from the University of Essex. Broadway Baby called it “ingeniously constructed and eloquently performed.” Moving Day, another play, was produced at the inaugural Fridge Festival at the IRT theatre in New York in 2017. Dedicated to helping new dramatists find audiences for their work, Jenny helped found the Barrington Collective, a theatre company dedicated to producing new work, and currently produces the Group’s ongoing Holiday Reading Series, which features short plays thematically related to specific holidays (she estimates she has read more than 600 ten-minute plays!). As a theatre educator, Jenny began in Texas public school classrooms and has now developed Laban workshops for both playwrights and actors and has lectured at universities and theatre conferences across the country. Jenny is also an actress, a member of UK Equity, who has appeared on stages from Dallas-Fort Worth to London’s off-West End. She holds the B.F.A. degree from Baylor University and an M.F.A. from the University of Essex.