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Keynote Speakers

Ayad Akhtar is a novelist, playwright, screenwriter, and actor. His play Disgraced, has recently received the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, along with the 2012 Jeff Equity Award for Best New Play. Disgraced, which examines identity and religion in the contemporary world, premiered at the American Theatre Company in Chicago, opened the 2012-2013 Lincoln Center's LCT2 Theater season this past fall, and is scheduled to premier at the Bush Theater in London in May. His novel American Dervish (2012), named a Best Book of the Year by Kirkus Reviews and Toronto’s The Globe and Mail, depicts a Pakistani-American boy’s coming of age in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the town where Akhtar grew up. Akhtar starred in and co-wrote the screenplay for The War Within, nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Best Screenplay and an International Press Academy Satellite Award. He has been heralded as a "significant and formidable dramatic writer" (Chris Jones, Chicago Tribune).

Richard Blanco was selected by President Obama to be the 2013 inaugural poet, joining the ranks of Robert Frost and Maya Angelou. His acclaimed first book of poetry, City of a Hundred Fires (1998), explores the yearnings and negotiation of cultural identity as a Cuban-American, and received the Agnes Starrett Poetry Prize from the University of Pittsburgh Press. His second book, Directions to The Beach of the Dead (2005), won the Beyond Margins Award from the PEN American Center for its continued exploration of the universal themes of cultural identity and homecoming. Looking for The Gulf Motel, (University of Pittsburgh Press (2012), examines the blurred lines of gender, the frailty of his father-son relationship, and the intersection of his cultural and sexual identities as a Cuban-American gay man living in rural Maine. Jim Elledge writes, "Every poem in Looking for The Gulf Motel packs an emotional wallop and an intellectual caress. A virtuoso of art and craft who juggles the subjective and the objective beautifully, Blanco is at the height of his creative prowess and one of the best of the best poets writing today."

Amity Gaige is the author of the novels O My Darling (2005), The Folded World (2007) named ForeWord Book of the Year and one of the best books of 2007 by the Chicago Tribune, and Schroder (2013). Schroder, “ a radiant meditation on identity, memory and familial love” (Publisher’s Weekly) and an “offbeat, exquisitely written novel” (Jennifer Egan), has been translated into 14 languages. Gaige’s honors include a Fulbright Fellowship, a Baltic Writers Residency, and fellowships at The MacDowell Colony and Yaddo. In 2006 she was named one of the “5 under 35” outstanding emerging writers by the National Book Foundation. Gaige’s short stories, reviews and essays have appeared in The New York Times, O Magazine, One Story, The Yale Review and other venues. She is a founding Ocean State Summer Writing Conference workshop leader and is Visiting Writer at Amherst College in Amherst, Massachusetts.  

Seminars, Workshops and Craft Sessions

Talvikki Ansel has published two books of poems: My Shining Archipelago (Yale Series of Younger Poets Award) and Jetty & other poems. Her poems are currently or forthcoming in The Cincinnati Review, The Kenyon Review, and in the anthology The Hide-and-Seek Muse: Annotations of Contemporary Poetry (Drunken Boat, 2013). She has received a Stegner Fellowship, Pushcart Prize, a Lannan Residency Fellowship, and a grant from the Money for Women / Barbara Deming Memorial Fund. She is an adjunct instructor at The University of Rhode Island.

Jeannine Atkins writes books about history for children and teens, including Aani and the Tree Huggers (Lee and Low) and Borrowed Names: Poems about Laura Ingalls Wilder, Madam C. J. Walker, Marie Curie and Their Daughters (Holt). She teaches Children's Literature at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst and a graduate course in writing for children at Simmons College. You can learn more on her website at

This spring and summer, LaShonda Katrice Barnett's short stories appear in, or are forthcoming in C4: The Chamber Quarterly Literary Review ("Ezekiel Saw the Wheel"), The New Orleans Review ("Hen's Teeth") and Gemini Magazine ("533"). Barnett is the author of one story collection, editor of I Got Thunder: Black Women Songwriters On Their Craft (2007) and Off the Record: Conversations with African American and Brazilian Women Musicians (Rowman & Littlefield, Fall 2013), and recently completed her debut novel. A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and the College of William and Mary, where she received an M.A. in Women's History and the PhD in American Studies respectively, she divides her time between Manhattan and Providence, where she is Visiting Assistant Professor in Ethnic Studies at Brown University, writing an historical novel about 18th century African American seafaring men. You can find LaShonda on the web at
Photo Credit: Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Britt Bell has been in publishing in one form or another for over fifty years. Early on he was a book buyer for the largest book distributor in Ontario, Canada. He went on to become a publisher's rep based in Southern California. In time he moved to New York City working for Delacorte Press and Dial Press. He would become the managing editor at Dial working with the wonderful author, James Baldwin on his novel, Just Above My Head. In 1984, along with his late wife Jennifer Moyer, he started Moyer Bell publishing. With a staff of five, Jennifer and Britt published ten to fifteen books a year for most of the past twenty-nine years. Some of their author's are Vanessa Bell, Basil Bunting, E.F. Benson, Pearl S. Buck, Jennifer Bartlett, Noam Chomsky, Alice Thomas Ellis, Barbara Gordon, Robert Graves, Sir Fred Hoyle, Helene Hanff, August Kleinzahler, James Laughlin, Robert Leuci, Berthe Morisot, Shena McKay, Ralph Nader, Nostradamus, Gerard de Nerval, Jacques Prevert, Barbara Pym, Madame Roland, Vita Sackville-West, Angela Thirkell, and Edmund Wilson.

Nancy Berk, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, comic and award-winning humor writer. A frequent contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul, she is also a Huffington Post and USA Today College blogger, and social media analyst. Her latest book College Bound and Gagged: How to Help Your Kid Get into a Great College Without Losing Your Savings, Your Relationship, or Your Mind appears in the film Admission, starring Tina Fey and Paul Rudd. Nancy has consulted with Fortune 500 companies, major media outlets (WSJ, NYT, Parade Magazine, Huffington Post Live) and celebrities on psychology/lifestyle issues and social media strategy. She hosts three iTunes' podcasts including the popular celebrity podcast "Whine At 9". She was a 2011 keynote speaker for the American Marketing Association's Symposium and has spoken at numerous national meetings including the 2012 Women's Summit and The Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop.

Mairéad Byrne is the author of five poetry collections You Have to Laugh: New + Selected Poems (Barrow Street, 2013), The Best of (What's Left of) Heaven (Publishing Genius, 2010), Talk Poetry (Miami University Press, 2007), SOS Poetry (/ubu Editions, 2007), and Nelson & The Huruburu Bird (Wild Honey Press, 2003); also five poetry chapbooks. Collaborations with visual artists include Jennifer's Family, photographs by Louisa Marie Summer (Schilt, 2012), Lucky, with illustrations by Abigail Lingford (Little Red Leaves, 2012), and three books with Irish painters. An Irish emigrant, Mairéad Byrne practices the poetics of diversity. She is the cofounder, curator and emcee for couscous, a poetry/music/performance series which has been running monthly for five years in Providence, where she is employed as Professor of Poetry + Poetics at Rhode Island School of Design.


A 2011 Guggenheim Fellow in Nonfiction, Mary Cappello is the author of four books of literary nonfiction, including Called Back: My Reply to Cancer, My Return to Life (which won a Foreword Book of the Year Award, and Independent Publishers Prize), and Awkward: A Detour (a Los Angeles Times Bestseller). Her numerous essays and experimental prose appear in such venues as The Georgia Review, Salmagundi, and Cabinet Magazine. Her work has been featured in The New York Times,, The Huffington Post, NPR, MSNBC, in guest author blogs for Powells Books, and on five separate occasions as Notable Essay of the Year in Best American Essays. A recipient of The Bechtel Prize for Educating the Imagination from Teachers and Writers Collaborative, and the Dorothea Lange-Paul Taylor Prize from Duke University's Center for Documentary Studies, Cappello is a former Fulbright Lecturer at the Gorky Literary Institute (Moscow), and currently Professor of English and creative writing at URI. Based on her most recent book, Swallow, she has served as Distinguished Visiting Professor at U/Penn's Grand Rounds in Otolaryngology, as Presidential Lecturer for the ABEA, and as co-curator of the newly refurbished Chevalier Jackson Foreign Body Collection in Philadelphia's Mutter Museum.

Dr. Robert Carothers served for eighteen years as the President of the University of Rhode Island. Prior to coming to Rhode Island, Dr. Carothers served as the President of Southwest Minnesota State University and as Chancellor of the Minnesota State University System. He has worked extensively in the areas of alcohol and drug abuse, civil rights, and non-violence. He received lifetime achievement awards from the American Council on Education, the New England Board of Higher Education, The Urban League, and many more. He is the recipient of the Robert F. Goodrich Distinguished Public Service Award, The President's Leadership Award from the National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, the Jeanne Clery Campus Security Award and the Rhode Island Historical Society's History Maker Award. Since 2010, Dr. Carothers has been a member of the Rhode Island Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Education. Carothers holds a B.A. in English from Edinboro University, a Ph.D. from Kent State University and a J.D. from the University of Akron. He is currently President Emeritus and Distinguished University Professor at the University of Rhode Island, where he teaches courses in leadership. A poet, Carothers has published two books of poetry: Freedom and Other Times (1972) and John Calvin's Favorite Son (1979).

Rob Cohen is a writer and director who has worked across the expanse of the movie and television business, and directed films around the world. He was the Executive Producer/Creative Director of the series NextWorld and FutureCar, produced by CBS and aired on the Discovery Channel. He has also created programming for the History Channel, NBC and USA Networks. For 3 consecutive years, he wrote and directed the John McEnroe US Open tv special. Prior to his work at CBS, Rob Cohen directed and produced the film The Longest River, which was part of the PBS series, Quest. He also directed the opening film for the Super Bowl. He has just finished directing/writing the documentary feature Kinderblock 66: Return to Buchenwald. As a writer and director in advertising and corporate media, he has created films and television spots for the leading global brands including General Motors, Cisco, GAP, Sony, McDonalds, GE, and many others. Rob Cohen runs the production company Internal Combustion. He is currently under contract to write the new sitcom Wheels.

Betty J. Cotter of Wakefield, RI, is the author of the novel Roberta's Woods, which was published in 2008 by Five Star, and The Winters, which she self-published in 2012. She recieved the 2006 fiction fellowship from the RI State Council on the Arts and holds an MFA in writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. She teaches English composition at Three Rivers Community College in CT and writing and journalism at the University of Rhode Island. In addition, she offeres writing workshops for adult writers and coordinates an authors lecture series at Contemporary Theater in Wakefield. She blogs at


Peter Covino is a poet, translator, editor, and Associate Professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Rhode Island. He is the author the poetry collections The Right Place to Jump (2012), recently featured on NPR, and on the Huffington Post, and Cut Off the Ears of Winter (2005) both from W. Michigan University Press, New Issues. His prizes include the 2007 PEN American/ Osterweil Award for emerging poets and the Frank O'Hara Poetry Prize for his chapbook Straight Boyfriend (2001). Recent poems appeared in such places as the American Poetry Review, Colorado Review, Gulf Coast, The Journal, LIT, The Paris Review, The Yale Review, and The Penguin Anthology of Italian-American Writing, among others. He is also one of the founding editors of Barrow Street Press; since 2009 he's been the poetry editor of VIA: Voices in Italian Americana.

Edward J. Delaney is an award-winning author, journalist and filmmaker. His books include the novels Broken Irish and Warp & Weft and the short-story collection The Drowning and Other Stories. He was a 2008 National Endowment for the Arts Literary Fellow, a winner of the 2005 PEN/Winship Award for Fiction, and a past winner of an O. Henry Prize for short story writing. His work has appeared regularly in The Atlantic Monthly and other magazines, and has appeared in Best American Short Stories. He is also the co-author of Born to Play, My Life in the Game, by Boston Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia. As a journalist, Delaney wrote for The Chicago Tribune Magazine, The Denver Post and other publications before beginning to write fiction.

Paul Di Filippo sold his first professional short story in 1977. Since then, he's had over thirty books of fiction and non-fiction published. His latest is Science Fiction: The 101 Best Novels 1985-2010, co-authored with fellow critic Damien Broderick. He lives in Providence, RI, with his partner of some thirty-seven years, Deborah Newton. His official website is

Tony Estrella has been artistic director of the Gamm Theatre since 2002 and has been an actor and director with The company since 1996. He has appeared in more than 20 productions including The Real Thing, Anne Boleyn, A Doll's House (which he also adapted), Glengarry Glen Ross, Rock 'n'' Roll, Much Ado About Nothing (2009 & 2000), Awake and Sing!, The Pillowman, the world premiere of Paul Grellong's Radio Free Emerson, La Bête Crime and Punishment and the title roles in Hamlet and Henry V. He adapted and directed new versions of Friedrich Schiller's Don Carlos and Dylan Thomas' A Child's Christmas in Wales, and has directed many productions for the company since 1997, including the North American premiere of Howard Brenton's Paul and Sarah Kane's 4:48 Psychosis. Tony has appeared in theaters throughout New England including Trinity Repertory Company and Boston Playwrights. In addition to being The Gamm's artistic director, Tony teaches at the University of Rhode Island, where he has been on the theater faculty for the past 15 years. Tony's film credits include Martin Scorsese's The Departed and The Company Men. His television credits include episodes of the Showtime TV series "Brotherhood" and NBC's "Law & Order" and he is a graduate of Trinity Rep Conservatory and the University of Rhode Island and is the recipient of this year's Pell Award for Excellence in the Arts.

Tripp Evans is an art historian and author of two nonfiction books, Romancing the Maya: Mexican Antiquity in the American Imagination (University of Texas Press: 2004) and Grant Wood: A Life (Alfred A. Knopf: 2010), which received the National Award for Arts Writing. Evans received his Ph.D. in the History of Art from Yale University, and since 1998 he has taught art of the Americas at Wheaton College in Massachusetts. Biography -- whether of individuals, nations, or institutions -- is his favorite genre. Evans is currently working on two projects that cast New England subjects within a broader national context: Three Acres of Providence, which follows a small parcel of land in Providence from continental drift to the present; and The Importance of Being Furnished, which will tell the story of three Edwardian-era “bachelor” decorators. Read more at Evans’s website:

Matthew Gavin Frank is the author of the nonfiction books Pot Farm and Barolo (both from the University of Nebraska Press/Bison Books), and Preparing the Ghost: An Essay Concerning the Giant Squid and the Man Who First Photographed It (forthcoming from W.W. Norton: Liveright); and the poetry books, The Morrow Plots and Sagittarius Agitprop (both from Black Lawrence Press/Dzanc Books), and Warranty in Zulu (Barrow Street Press), as well as three chapbooks. Recent work appears in The New Republic, Field, Epoch, AGNI, The Iowa Review, Crazyhorse, Black Warrior Review, North American Review, Seneca Review, DIAGRAM, The Normal School, Quarterly West, The Best Food Writing, The Best Travel Writing, Creative Nonfiction, Hotel Amerika, Gastronomica, The Huffington Post, Plate Magazine, and others. He was born and raised in Illinois, and currently teaches Creative Writing in the MFA Program at Northern Michigan University, where he is the Nonfiction Editor of Passages North. This winter, he prepared his first batch of whitefish-thimbleberry ice cream.

Michael Grossman is devoted to helping other authors self-publish and avoid the pitfalls of self-publishing. As owner of the, he guides authors along each step in the self-publishing process, turning their manuscripts into well-designed, print-on-demand paperback books and eBooks. His support starts with cover and interior book design and leads to print-on-demand paperback and eBook distribution. Authors get help with issues including book pricing, maximizing on-line exposure, and book distribution to the major retailers. Grossman, who holds a MA from Michigan State University and is the author of three books, advises: "I've been there. I've gone with a traditional publisher and I've self-published. I know the pitfalls but also how authors can take advantage of the power of the self-publishing opportunity."

Amy Hoffman's third memoir, Lies About My Family, was published by the University of Massachusetts Press in April 2013. She is the author of two previous, award-winning memoirs: An Army of Ex-Lovers, about the Boston weekly Gay Community News and the lesbian and gay movement of the late 1970s (UMass, 2007); and Hospital Time, about caring for friends with AIDS (Duke, 1997). Hoffman is editor of Women's Review of Books and teaches creative nonfiction in the Solstice Low-Residency MFA Program at Pine Manor College. She has been an editor at Gay Community News, South End Press, the Unitarian Universalist World magazine, and The Public Eye. She taught writing and literature at the University of Massachusetts and Emerson College and served as development director for the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities and the Women's Lunch Place, a daytime shelter for homeless women. She has served on the boards of Gay Community News, GLAD, Sojourner, and Boston's LGBT History Project. Hoffman has a BA in English from Brandeis University and an MFA in creative writing from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She lives in Boston with her wife, Roberta Stone, and is currently working on a novel set in Provincetown, Massachusetts.

Sarah Kruse is a third year PhD candidate at the University of Rhode Island. Her research interests are the Lyric Avant-Garde, Philosophy of Language, and Literary Nonfiction, particularly the Essay. Her scholarly work has appeared in The International Journal of Zizek Studies. She has been a staff writer for Propeller Quarterly since 2009.

Sarah Lamstein's young adult novel Hunger Moon was a finalist for the Julia Ward Howe Book Award and among the YA Top Forty of the Pennsylvania School Librarians Association. She has also published four picture books and a collection of folktales from Nepal. She received her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College.


Robert Leuci is the author of the novels Doyle's Disciples (1984), Captain Butterfly (1987), Odessa Beach (1990), The Snitch (1991). Fence Jumpers (1993) -- described as a "A Mafia Opera worthy of Verdi" (Kirkus Reviews), Double Edge (1995), Blaze (2003). His publications include the memoir All The Centurions (2008) and several short stories. Leuci wrote a radio play for German radio, Brooklyn Roofs as well as television plays End Of The Month, for the Arts and Entertainment network show "100 Centre Street," and The Muster Room for Public Television. He has written and produced three television episodes for the national television news program "A Current Affair", exploring the problems in American Policing. In 2013, in collaboration with Rhode Island icon, Arlen Violet, Leuci has written a one act play, "The Centurion" based on his memoir; it is scheduled to be shown at the Manhattan Repertory Theater this coming August. Robert Leuci is an adjunct professor in the University of Rhode Island English department.


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.

Rachel May's book, Quilting with a Modern Slant, is forthcoming from Storey (Workman). Her writing has been twice nominated for the Pushcart, won the William Allen Creative Nonfiction Award, the Geraldine McLoud Commendation for Fiction, Literal Latte's Short Shorts Award, Honorable Mention in Ninth Letter's Fiction Contest, and noted in over a dozen others. Her work has most recently been published in New Delta Review, Indiana Review, Cream City Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Meridian, Nimrod, Word for/Word, and other journals. She's a PhD student at URI and earned her MFA from The University of Montana.

Kevin McLellan is the author of the chapbook Round Trip (Seven Kitchens, 2010), a collaborative series of poems with numerous women poets. He has recent or forthcoming poems in journals including: 2014 Poets Market, American Letters & Commentary, Barrow Street, Colorado Review, Interim, Kenyon Review Online, Sixth Finch, Western Humanities Review, Witness and numerous others. Kevin lives in Cambridge MA, and sometimes teaches poetry workshops at the University of Rhode Island in Providence.

Maria Mutch's essays, poetry and short fiction have appeared in Ocean State Review, Bayou Magazine, Literary Mama, The Malahat Review, Fiddlehead and Grain. Her memoir, Know the Night, is forthcoming in 2014 from Simon & Schuster and Knopf Canada. She lives in Rhode Island.

Jennifer Pashley is the author of two books, The Conjurer, (Standing Stone Books, 2013) and States (Lewis-Clark Press, 2007). Her stories, poems, and nonfiction have appeared widely in journals like Mississippi Review, Salt Hill, PANK, SmokeLong Quarterly and Interim. She has won the Red Hen Prize for fiction, the Mississippi Review Prize for fiction and the Carve Magazine Esoteric Award for LGBT fiction. Her first collection, States, was hailed by writer Aimee Bender as "an inviting and well-carved debut." A graduate of Le Moyne College, Jennifer has taught creative writing at Syracuse University, and is a long time fiction instructor at the YMCA's Downtown Writer's Center. She was raised in Central New York by an accordion virtuoso and a casket maker, and now lives with her family in Clinton.


Russell Potter was born and raised in Cleveland Ohio; he attended Goddard College and The Evergreen State College, and earned his Ph.D. in English from Brown University. He's the author of nonfiction books on topics as varied as the history of Hip-hop and British Arctic exploration, and appeared in Arctic Passage, an Emmy-nominated episode of PBS's NOVA in 2006. His debut novel, PYG: The Memoirs of Toby, the Learned Pig, is based on the career of an actual "learned" pig that toured England in the 1780's. Toby's performances consisted of answering questions from the audience by spelling out his answers using cards on which individual letters of the alphabet were written. The pig's ability to reply to all manner of inquiries amazed all who saw him, prompting the poet Robert Southey to declare him "a far greater object of admiration to the English nation than ever was Sir Isaac Newton." PYG was originally published in the UK by Canongate Books in 2011, and will be published in the US as a paperback original by Penguin Books in August of 2012. He lives in Providence and is Professor of English at Rhode Island College.

Kristin Prevallet is a poet, performer, and hypnotherapist who is the author of five books including the critically acclaimed I, Afterlife: Essay in Mourning Time (Essay Press). Recently published is Everywhere Here and in Brooklyn: A Four Quartets (Belladonna, 2012) and You, Resourceful: Tap Your Inner Resources to Restore Your Mind and Body (Wide Reality Books). Her writing appears in Fourth Genre, Stonecutter, Spoon River Review, and several anthologies including I'll Drown My Book: Conceptual Writing By Women. An associate of Bard College's Writing and Thinking Program, in 2013 she is a visiting writer at Poet's House, Spalding University, and Naropa University.



Martha Elena Rojas is Associate Professor of English and Director of the Edmund S. and Nathalie Rumowicz Program in Literature and the Sea at the University of Rhode Island. Her first book entitled Diplomatic Letters: Becoming a Nation Among Nations in Early America is under contract with the University of Pennsylvania Press, and she is currently at work on a study of the coastal imagination.

John Rudolph joined Dystel & Goderich in 2010 after twelve years as an acquiring children's book editor. While John's list started out as mostly children's books, it has evolved to the point where it is now half adult, half children's authors--and he's looking to maintain that balance. He is actively looking for narrative nonfiction, especially in music, sports, history, popular science, "big think", performing arts, health, business, memoir, military history, and humor. He is also interested in commercial men's fiction--thrillers, mysteries and other "boy books." On the children's side, he is keenly interested in middle-grade and young adult fiction, and would love to find the next great picture book author/illustrator.

Kate Schapira is the author of four full-length books, most recently The Soft Place; her eighth chapbook is forthcoming this summer from Grey Book Press. She teaches creative writing at Brown University, serves as a visiting writer in Providence public schools, and co-runs the Publicly Complex Reading Series.

Deborah Salem Smith is the playwright-in-residence at Trinity Repertory Company. Her latest play Love Alone premiered at Trinity Rep, and received an Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award as well as an Honorable Mention by the Jane Chambers Playwriting Award. Smith's previous honors include an Emerging American Artist Fulbright for playwriting in Dublin, Ireland, where she worked with the Abbey Theatre, Ireland's national theater, and served as a Visiting Academic at the Trinity College School of Drama. Her work has been produced across the country and recognized by a National Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities, a MacDowell Fellowship, a Colby Fellowship, a Major Hopwood Award, as well as writing and visual arts prizes from the University of Michigan and Princeton University. Her other plays include: Faithful Cheaters, Some Things Are Private, Good Business, and Boots on the Ground.

Kate Snodgrass is the Artistic Director of both the Elliot Norton Award-winning Boston Theater Marathon and Boston Playwrights' Theatre at Boston University, the "Home of New Plays in Boston." The author of the Actors' Theatre of Louisville's Heideman Award-winning play Haiku, her plays have been recognized with two IRNE Awards for "Best New Play" and a Steinberg Award nomination from the American Theatre Critics Association. She lectures in Playwriting at Boston University and is a member of A.E.A., A.F.T.R.A., and the Dramatists' Guild. Acknowledged by Boston's StageSource in 2001 as a "Theatre Hero," Kate is a Playwriting Fellow at the Huntington Theatre Company and the recipient Boston's Elliot Norton Award for Sustained Excellence.

Author, blogger and book writing coach, Lisa Tener specializes in helping authors write and publish a compelling nonfiction book--and takes them step-by-step through her unique process. She teaches on the faculty of Harvard Medical School's CME publishing course and at other conferences.She has been on ABC World News, PBS TV and been quoted in USA Weekend, The Boston Globe, Providence Journal and much more. Her book writing and book proposal clients have signed 5- and 6-figure publishing deals with Random House, Simon and Schuster, Charles Scribner's Sons, Prometheus Books and many other publishers, as well as self-publishing. Visit Lisa online at


Padma Venkatraman is the author of two critically acclaimed novels - Climbing the Stairs and Island's End - and has had over 100 nonfiction articles published in American, Indian and European journals. Her debut novel, Climbing the Stairs, was released to starred reviews and won the Boston Authors Club award and the ASTAL RI Book of the Year award, in addition to being shortlisted for several state awards and receiving numerous other honors such as a Booksense Notable citation, an ALA BBYA, a New York Public Library best book for teens, a CCBC/NCSS notable, a Bank Street college of Education best book, a Boolinks best books of summer, a Booklist Editor's Choice Best Book of the Year, a PW Flying Start, a Capitol Choices selection and more. Her second novel, Island's End, was released to starred reviews in Kirkus, Bookslist, Publishers Weekly and School Library Journal and is listed on several "best books of 2011" lists: Kirkus, Booklist, ALA, YALSA, Amelia Bloomer and CCBC. Island's End won the international South Asia Book Award and a Paterson Prize. Her third novel, A Time To Dance, is scheduled for release in February 2014 and she has been invited to speak at the PEN World Voices Festival in New York city this April. Padma Venkatraman lives in Rhode Island and teaches scientific writing at URI.

Tiphanie Yanique is the author of the short fiction collection How to Escape from a Leper Colony (Graywolf Press, 2010). Her writing has won the Boston Review Prize in Fiction, a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers Award, a Pushcart Prize, the Bocas Caribbean Literature Prize in Fiction, and an Academy of American Poets Prize. In 2010, she was named one of the National Book Foundation's 5 Under 35, a list of promising young fiction writers. Her stories, essays, and poems have appeared in Transition Magazine, the London Magazine, American Short Fiction, Salt Hill, and The Pushcart Prize Anthology. She was born and raised in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands and in 2000, was awarded a dual-country Fulbright to Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago, where she studied Caribbean literature, women's studies, and creative writing.

Conference Planning

Andrea Yates is a Lecturer in English at URI. With degrees from Middlebury and the University of Rhode Island, as well as study at Oxford, she is a literary and cultural theorist who has published work on Beckett, Woolf, Derrida, and Pat Barker. She has taught introductory and advanced courses at the University of Rhode Island as well as directing Independent Studies in the areas of Film and Philosophy; Faulkner; Gay and Lesbian Literature; Enlightenment Authors; Critical Theory, and the Novel.

Michelle Caraccia is the Conference Coordinator, the URI English Department's Graduate Program Administrator, and a visual artist who has medaled in the Hatch Awards, won the Silver Pencil in New York's One Show, and been awarded Dean's Choice in the URI Student Juried Show. Her paintings, lithographs, and monotypes have been shown at the Gilbert Stuart Museum, Gallery Z, and URI's Presidential Art Collection. She lives in Narragansett, RI with her family, close to the beach.