Skip to main content

Featured Speakers


Robert Stone is the National Book Award-winning author of seven novels, which include A Hall of Mirrors, Dog Soldiers, A Flag for Sunrise, Children of Light, Outerbridge Reach, Damascus Gate, and Bay of Souls. His story collection, Fun with Problems, was published last year. Stone received Guggenheim and National Endowment for the Humanities fellowships, the five-year Mildred and Harold Strauss Living Award, the John Dos Passos Prize for Literature, and the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Award. He also taught at the creative writing program at Yale University. For the 2010-2011 school year, he has been the Endowed Chair in the English Department at Texas State University in San Marcos. Photo credit: Phyllis Rose


Jennifer Egan is the recipient of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and the National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction for her latest novel, A Visit from the Goon Squad, for which she was also a Pen Faulkner Award and the LA Times Book Prize finalist. She is the author of The Invisible Circus, a novel which became a feature film starring Cameron Diaz in 2001, Look at Me, a finalist for the National Book Award in fiction in 2001, Emerald City and Other Stories and The Keep, which was a national bestseller. Her short stories have appeared in The New Yorker, Harpers, Granta, McSweeney's, and other magazines. She is a recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Fiction, and a Dorothy and Lewis B. Cullman Fellowship at the New York Public Library. Her non-fiction articles appear frequently in the New York Times Magazine. Her 2002 cover story on homeless children received the Carroll Kowal Journalism Award, and her most recent article, The Bipolar Kid, received a 2009 NAMI Outstanding Media Award for Science and Health Reporting from the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Photo credit: ©Pieter M. Van Hattem/Vistal

Tomaz Salamun is considered Slovenia's greatest living poet. Born in Zagreb in 1941, he is one of the foremost figures of the Eastern European poetical avant-garde, revered for his unique surrealistic style. Nine of his 37 books of poetry have been published in English. The most recent are The Book for My Brother (translated by Christopher Merrill and others); Poker (translated by Joshua Beckman); Row (translated by Joshua Beckman); Woods and Chalices (translated by Brian Henry); and There's the Hand and There's the Arid Chair, translated by Thomas Kane and others. Blue Tower, translated by Michael Biggins, is due out by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in October 2011. Salamun's prizes include the Preseren Prize, the Jenko Prize, a Pushcart Prize, the European Prize for Poetry, and The Golden Wreath. He has been a Fulbright Fellow at Columbia University, a member of International Writing Program at Iowa, a Visiting Professor in Creative Writing and Distinguished Writer in Residence at the University of Richmond, and a visiting faculty member at the Michener Center for Writers, University of Texas at Austin. Photo credit: ©Kari Klemela

Kathleen Aguero's poetry collections include Investigations: The Mystery of the Girl Sleuth, Daughter Of, The Real Weather, and Thirsty Day. She has also co-edited three volumes of multi-cultural literature for the University of Georgia Press. She is the winner of the 2008 Firman Houghton Award from the New England Poetry Club and a recipient of grants from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the Elgin-Cox Foundation. She teaches at Pine Manor College, Chestnut Hill, Mass., in both the undergraduate and low-residency M.F.A. programs and in Changing Lives through Literature, an alternative sentencing program.


Karen Lee Boren's fiction and nonfiction has appeared in journals and anthologies, including The Florida Review, New South, Night Train, Karamu, Hawaii Pacific Review, Dominion Review, Yemassee, Epoch. Cream City Review, BookForum, Fourth Genre, and The Best of Lonely Planet's Travel Writing. Her novel Girls in Peril (Tin House Books) was selected for the Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Award series. She has completed writing residencies at Norcroft, the Millay Colony for the Arts, Blue Mountain Artists Center, and Virginia Center for the Creative Arts. She is an associate professor at Rhode Island College and has just completed the novel Month of Fire.


Mary Cappello, a 2011 Guggenheim Fellow in Nonfiction, is the author most recently of Swallow: Foreign Bodies, Their Ingestion, Inspiration, and the Curious Doctor who Extracted Them. Her three previous books of literary nonfiction are Called Back, Night Bloom, and Awkward: A Detour, a Los Angeles Times Bestseller. Her essays and experimental prose appear in such places as The Georgia Review, Salmagundi, Southwest Review, American Letters and Commentary, and have been awarded The Bechtel Prize for Educating the Imagination from Teachers and Writers Collaborative, the Lange-Taylor Prize from Duke University's Center for Documentary Studies, and Notable Essay of the Year Citations in The Best American Essays. A former Fulbright Lecturer at the Gorky Literary Institute in Moscow, Russia, Cappello is Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Rhode Island.


Peter Covino is a poet, translator, editor, and Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Rhode Island. His new book of poetry, The Right Place to Jump, is forthcoming from New Issues Press in 2012; he is the winner of the 2007 PEN America/Osterweil Award for emerging poets and also the author of Cut Off the Ears of Winter (New Issues, 2005) and the chapbook Straight Boyfriend (2001), winner of the Frank O'Hara Poetry Prize. His co-edited volume, Essays on Italian American Literature and Culture will be published by Bordighera Press, CUNY (2011). Recent poems have appeared, or are forthcoming in American Poetry Review, LIT, and The Yale Review among other venues. Covino is also a founding editor of Barrow Street Press and poetry editor for VIA: Voices in Italian Americana.

Darcie Dennigan is the author of Corinna A-Maying the Apocalypse and the recipient of the Poets Out Loud prize, Discovery/The Nation award, and the Cecil B. Hemley Award from the Poetry Society of America. Her writings have been published by the Atlantic Monthly, Kenyon Review, Tin House, and other journals. She is currently a poet in residence at the University of Connecticut.


Matthew Derby is the author of Super Flat Times: Stories (2003 Back Bay Books). His writing has appeared in McSweeney's, Conjunctions, Fence, and The Believer, as well as the Anchor Book of New American Stories and The Apocalypse Reader. His story "January in December"
was a notable selection in The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2009.



Gigi Edwards grew up in Massapequa, Long Island with the name Georgine Maniscalchi and still hasn't gotten over it, despite now being a member of the Saunderstown Yacht Club. Her writing has appeared in Italian Americana, The Rhode Island Writers Circle Anthology, regional magazines (for which she won a Metcalf Diversity Award), and on R.I. Public Radio.


Richard Hoffman is author of the celebrated memoir Half the House; the short story collection Interference and Other Stories; and three poetry collections: Without Paradise; Gold Star Road, winner of the 2006 Barrow Street Press Poetry Prize and the New England Poetry Club's Sheila Motton Book Award; and most recently, Emblem. He teaches at Emerson College and currently serves as chair of PEN New England.

Nalini Jones was born in Rhode Island, graduated from Amherst College, and received an M.F.A. from Columbia University. Her story collection, What You Call Winter, was published in 2007, and her essays have appeared in AIDS Sutra (2008) and Freud's Blind Spot (2010), among other publications. She teaches at Fairfield University and is currently at work on a novel.

Robert Leuci is an adjunct professor in the University of Rhode Island English department. He has written seven crime novels, translated into four languages and has most recently published a memoir with Harper Collins, All The Centurions. He has also written a television play for the Arts And Entertainment network show "100 Centre Street" and has done a radio play, "Brooklyn Roofs," for German radio. In 1999 he received the South County Center For the Arts literary prize. He lives in Saunderstown, Rhode Island.


Jody Lisberger, PhD, MFA. Jody Lisberger's story collection, Remember Love (Fleur-de-Lis Press, 2008), was nominated for a National Book Award. Her stories have appeared in Fugue, Michigan Quarterly Review, Thema, Confrontation, and The Louisville Review. She has won fiction prizes from American Literary Review and Quarterly West, and her story "Crucible" was nominated for a Pushcart Award. She is on the fiction faculty at the brief residency MFA in Writing Program at Spalding University, Louisville, Kentucky. She has taught fiction, creative nonfiction, literature, and feminist theory at Brown, Harvard, Tufts, Holy Cross, Boston University, and University of Rhode Island, where she is currently the Director of Women's Studies. She has also recently published creative nonfiction essays on pharmaceutical marketing ("Why Women Should Take Heed"), gender issues in the workplace ("The Politics of Data"), and worked as a journalist, editor, and grant writer.


Martha Murphy is a non-fiction author, editor, book coach, and writing teacher. Her work covers a broad spectrum of topics: food and the people who bring it to us, life in out-of-the-way places, artists and the creative process, health, and the world of healthcare/medicine in the U.S. today. Her writing has been recognized with national and regional awards and featured in diverse publications, and her books have won praise in reviews across the country and enjoyed popular success. Martha has been interviewed about her work on NPR, the Food Network, and numerous network affiliates. In addition to her own writing, Martha specializes in developing book proposals for non-fiction writers, and has lead workshops at the annual Harvard Medical School Writers' Conference.


Jacob Nelson is a Master's Degree candidate in the Graduate English program at the University of Rhode Island. He earned his B.A. in Secondary Education from Saint Louis University. He currently teaches English at Stonington High School and writes poetry in his free time.


Lisa Tener, book writing coach and author, helps aspiring authors write a nonfiction/how-to book and get published. Her clients have been published by many top publishers including Random House, Simon & Schuster, Scribner's and featured on the CBS Early Show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, CNN, Good Morning America and others. Lisa has been interviewed on ABC World News and PBS-TV, and in many national publications. Lisa serves on the faculty of the Harvard Medical School CME publishing course. She blogs at www.LisaTener.com/blog and is currently working on a book with Rusty Shelton to help authors develop their online platform.


Nicki Toler's essays, reviews, and other nonfiction pieces have appeared in a variety of publications. Her monthly "Just a Thought" column ran for years in East Greenwich Magazine, and her fiction and non-fiction work have been featured in the Rhode Island Writers' Circle Anthology. A Web editor at the University of Rhode Island, she is a co-editor of The Ocean State Review.


Tom Verde is an award-winning journalist who has travelled extensively throughout the Middle East, Africa, and Europe as a travel writer in addition to reporting on the history and culture of Islam and early Christianity. His work has appeared in a host of publications including The New York Times, the Boston Globe, Newsweek, Travel and Leisure, National Geographic Adventure, Biblical Archaeology, and Saudi Aramco World as well as on NPR and the BBC. He first became interested in Islam and the Middle East after retracing the ancient frankincense trade route across the Arabian Peninsula for a documentary series for Public Radio International. He holds a B.A. in English from the University of Rhode Island and an M.A. in Islamic Studies and Christian-Muslim Relations from Hartford Seminary. 


Jan Wenzel is a late bloomer. She returned to college in her 40s to earn an English degree in 1987, wrote for a weekly newspaper, and then freelanced for a couple of years, which sounds exciting if not profitable. She switched to public relations in 1991 when she joined the University of Rhode Island's Department of Communications and Marketing. Since then, she has written hundreds of press releases and features for the alumni magazine. She also has experience in video scripts and advertising copy. Although the petals on her flower are beginning to droop, she expects that a novel or a nonfiction book, poems, or essays may still be germinating.


Crystal Wilkinson is the author of two collections of stories, Blackberries, Blackberries, winner of the 2002 Chaffin Award for Appalachian Literature and Water Street, a finalist for both the Orange Prize for Fiction and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award. Both books are published by Toby Press. She lives in Lexington, Kentucky, and teaches writing and literature in the BFA in Creative Writing Program at Morehead State University and the MFA in Creative Writing Program at Spalding University. She and her partner Ron Davis edit Mythium, a literary journal celebrating writers of color and the cultural voice.

Max Winter, a graduate of UC Irvine's MFA program and a recipient of a 2011 RISCA Merit Fellowship in Fiction, lives in Providence with his wife and son. He also teaches writing at the University of Rhode Island and co-edits The Ocean State Review. He thinks people shouldn't check out with their sunglasses on and that there's no such thing as ?!