Voices of the Middle West: Presenters

 From 5:00 PM to 5:45 PM, 2015 National Book Award Finalist Ross Gay will give a talk at the Keene Theater, located in the lower level of East Quad—space is limited, so we invite you to arrive early in order to secure a seat. There will be a public reception in the atrium (main floor) immediately following the keyenote, from 6:00 PM to 6:30 PM, where Mr. Gay will be available to sign copies of his books, available to purchase by Literati Bookstore.

About the 2016 Keynote Speaker

Ross GayHe is the author of three books: Against Which; Bringing the Shovel Down; and Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, finalist for the 2015 National Book Award in Poetry. He is also the co-author, with Aimee Nezhukumatathil, of the chapbook “Lace and Pyrite: Letters from Two Gardens,” in addition to being co-author, with Richard Wehrenberg, Jr., of the chapbook, “River.” He is a founding editor, with Karissa Chen and Patrick Rosal, of the online sports magazine Some Call it Ballin’, in addition to being an editor with the chapbook presses Q Avenue and Ledge Mule Press. Ross is a founding board member of the Bloomington Community Orchard, a non-profit, free-fruit-for-all food justice and joy project. He has received fellowships from Cave Canem, the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, and the Guggenheim Foundation. Ross teaches at Indiana University.

2016 Author and Panelist Bios

Fred Arroyo - Voices of the MiddlewestFred Arroyo is the author of Western Avenue and Other Fictions, shortlisted for the 2014 William Saroyan International Prize for Writing, and the novel The Region of Lost Names, a finalist for the 2008 Premio Aztlán Prize. A recipient of an Individual Artist Program Grant from the Indiana Arts Commission, Fred’s fiction is included in the Library of Congress series “Spotlight on U.S. Hispanic Writers.” He is currently completing a book of literary nonfiction, Second Country: Stories in Memory, in which he lyrically meditates on work, reading and writing, migration, and place—those sources of creativity arising from living and working in the Midwest, growing up bilingual on the East Coast, and being caught between urban and rural worlds. He is also at work on a novel set in the Michigan and the Caribbean, Fruits of Paradise.

Aaron Burch - Voices of the Middle West Aaron Burch is the author of Backswing and the editor of Hobart. He lives in Ann Arbor, where he splits his teaching at University of Michigan and Eastern Michigan University.

Melissa FalivenoMelissa Faliveno is the Senior Editor of Poets & Writers Magazine. Her essays have appeared in DIAGRAM, Isthmus, Lumina, Green Mountains Review, and Midwestern Gothic, among other publications, and in the book Derby Life, an anthology about women’s roller derby published in 2015 by Gutpunch Press. Originally from Wisconsin, Melissa holds a BA in English and creative writing from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and an MFA in creative nonfiction from Sarah Lawrence College, where she also teaches workshops in magazine writing. She lives in Brooklyn, New York. 

Angela FlournoyAngela Flournoy is the author of The Turner House, which is a finalist for the National Book Award and the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize. The novel was a Summer 2015 Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, and a New York Times Sunday Book Review Editors’ Choice. She is a National Book Foundation “5 Under 35” honoree. Her fiction has appeared in The Paris Review, and she has written for The New York Times, The New Republic and The Los Angeles Times. A graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Flournoy has taught at the University of Iowa and The Writer’s Foundry at St. Joseph’s College in Brooklyn.
Matthew Gavin Frank - Voices of the MiddlewestMatthew Gavin Frank is the author of the nonfiction books, The Mad Feast: An Ecstatic Tour Through America’s Food, Preparing the Ghost: An Essay Concerning the Giant Squid and Its First Photographer, Pot Farm, and Barolo, the poetry books, The Morrow Plots, Warranty in Zulu, and Sagittarius Agitprop, and 2 chapbooks. He teaches at Northern Michigan University, where he is the Nonfiction Editor of Passages North. This winter, he tempered his gin with two droplets (per 750ml) of tincture of odiferous whitefish liver. For health.
Peter GeyePeter Geye was born and raised in Minneapolis, where he continues to live with his wife and their three children. He holds a PhD from Western Michigan University, where he was editor of Third Coast. He is the author of the novels Safe from the Sea (soon to be a motion picture), The Lighthouse Road and, coming from Knopf in June 2016, Wintering.
Naomi HuffmanNaomi Huffman is a writer and editor who lives in Chicago. She is editor-in-chief of Curbside Splendor Publishing, managing editor of featherproof books, and director of Book Fort, a roving interactive book fair. Naomi co-hosts two reading series in Chicago—The Marrow, a nonfiction show, and Lies!, the city’s only all-fiction show. Her work has appeared in Chicago Tribune, Newcity, Bookslut, and elsewhere.
Michael KirkpatrickMatthew Kirkpatrick is an assistant professor of creative writing at Eastern Michigan University where he teaches fiction writing and new media. His short story collection, Light Without Heat, was published in 2012 by FC2 and his novella, The Exiles, was pubished in 2013 by Ricochet Editions.
Airea D. Matthews - Voices of the MiddlewestAirea D. Matthews is a 2015 Kresge Literary Arts Fellow. She is currently the Assistant Director of the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where she earned her MFA and the Executive Editor of The Offing, a channel of the Los Angeles Review of Books. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Best American Poetry 2015, edited by Sherman Alexie, American Poet, The Missouri Review, The Baffler, Callaloo, Indiana Review, WSQ and elsewhere. Matthews’ fiction and essays appear in SLAB, Michigan Quarterly Review and Vida: Her Kind. Her performance work has been featured at the Cannes Lions Festival, PBS’ RoadTrip Nation and NPR. She lives in Detroit with her husband and their four children.
Phong Nguyen - Voices of the MiddlewestPhong Nguyen is the author of Pages from the Textbook of Alternate History (Queen’s Ferry Press, 2015) and Memory Sickness and Other Stories (Elixir Press, 2011), winner of the 2010 Elixir Press Fiction Award. He coedited the volume Nancy Hale: On the Life & Work of a Lost American Master (LSU/Pleiades Press) with Dan Chaon, and serves as Editor of the journal Pleiades. His own stories have appeared in more than 40 literary journals including Agni, Boulevard, Massachusetts Review, Mississippi Review, North American Review, and New Letters. He is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, Missouri, where he lives with his wife Sarah and their three sons..
Christina OlsonChristina Olson is the author of the collections Terminal Human Velocity (Stillhouse Press, 2017) and Before I Came Home Naked (Spire Press, 2010) as well as the chapbooks Weird Science (Paper Nautilus, 2016) and Rook & The M.E.: A Law & Order-Inspired Narrative (Red Bird Chapbooks, 2015). Her poetry and nonfiction has appeared in Arts & Letters, VQR, The Southern Review, Brevity, River Styx, Gulf Coast, Passages North, The Normal School, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and The Best Creative Nonfiction, Volume 3. Born in Cincinnati and raised in Buffalo, she teaches creative writing at Georgia Southern University. Her website is www.drevlow-olsonshow.com.
Ann-Marie Oomen - Voices of the MiddlewestAnne-Marie Oomen is the author of Love, Sex and 4-H, Pulling Down the Barn and House of Fields (both Michigan Notable Books), and An American Map: Essays (Wayne State University Press); and a collection of poetry, Uncoded Woman (Milkweed Editions). She is represented in New Poems of the Third Coast: Contemporary Michigan Poetry, and edited Looking Over My Shoulder: Reflections on the Twentieth Century (MCH). She has written seven plays, including Secrets of Luuce Talk Tavern, winner of the 2012 CTAM playwriting contest. She is instructor at Solstice MFA at Pine Manor College, (MA) and Interlochen College of Creative Arts. www.anne-marieoomen.com
Emily Schultz - Voices of the MiddlewestEmily Schultz is the co-founder of Joyland Magazine, host of the podcast Truth & Fiction, and creator of the blog Spending the Stephen King Money. Her parents hailed from Saline, Michigan, and Detroit, and Schultz grew up just across the border in Canada. Her newest novel, The Blondes, released in spring 2015 from St. Martin’s Press. It received praise from the Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times, and was named one of Kirkus Magazine‘s Best Fiction Books of 2015. Her writing has appeared in Elle, Bustle, Windsor Review, and Prairie Schooner. She currently lives in Brooklyn. Her forthcoming novel, Men Walking on Water, is set in 1920s Detroit and based on her family’s rumrunning history.
Jared Yates Sexton - Voices of the MiddlewestJared Yates Sexton is a born-and-bred Hoosier living and working in the South as an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Georgia Southern University. He is the author of three collections, a crime-novel, and is currently covering the 2016 Presidential Election for Atticus Books.
Amber Sparks - Voices of the MiddlewestAmber Sparks is the author of THE UNFINISHED WORLD AND OTHER STORIES, out in January 2016 from Liveright/Norton. She is also the author of a previous short story collection, MAY WE SHED THESE HUMAN BODIES, and co-author of a collaborative hybrid novel, with Robert Kloss and illustrator Matt Kish. She lives in Washington, DC and is online at www.ambernoellesparks@gmail.com and @ambernoelle.”
Ben TanzerBen Tanzer is the author of the books Orphans, which won the 24th Annual Midwest Book Award in Fantasy/SciFi/Horror/Paranormal and a Bronze medal in the Science Fiction category at the 2015 IPPY Awards, Lost in Space, which received the 2015 Devil’s Kitchen Reading Award in Prose Nonfiction, The New York Stories and the forthcoming Sex and Death, among others. He has also contributed to Punk Planet, Clamor, and Men’s Health, serves as Senior Director, Acquisitions for Curbside Splendor, and can be found online at This Blog Will Change Your Life the center of his vast lifestyle empire.
Jim WarnerJim Warner’s poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in various journals including The North American Review, RHINO poetry, New South, and is the author of two collections (PaperKite Press). Currently, Jim teaches in the MFA program at Arcadia University and serves as host of the literary podcast Citizen Lit.
Erica T. WurthErika T. Wurth’s novel, Crazy Horse’s Girlfriend, was published by Curbside Splendor. Her first collection of poetry, Indian Trains, was published by The University of New Mexico’s West End Press and her second A Thousand Horses Out to Sea is forthcoming from Mongrel Press. A writer of both fiction and poetry, she teaches creative writing at Western Illinois University and has been a guest writer at the Institute of American Indian Arts. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in numerous journals, such as Boulevard, Drunken Boat, and South Dakota Review. She is represented by Peter Steinberg. She is Apache/Chickasaw/Cherokee and was raised outside of Denver.

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