Jack Straw Writers Program

The purpose of the Jack Straw Writers Program is to introduce local writers to the medium of recorded audio; to encourage the creation of new literary work; and to provide new venues for the writer and their work. The program was created in 1997, and each year a single curator selects 12 writers/writing teams out of dozens of applicants based on artistic excellence, diversity of literary genres, and a cohesive grouping of writers.

Twelve writers/writing teams are selected by a curator each year to participate. The program features voice and presentation training, in-studio interviews, public readings, a published anthology, and internet podcasts. All live readings are recorded, and selected portions are produced for podcasts and radio broadcast. 

To date, the Jack Straw Writers Program has included more than 150 Pacific Northwest writers who represent a diverse range of literary genres. Writers Program participants have included novelist Harold Taw (2011), poet Rebecca Hoogs (2008), legendary Litmus Inc. founder Charles Potts (2007), Seattle Poet Populist Jourdan Imani Keith (2006), Stranger Genius Award recipient for poetry John Olson (2004), WA Poet Laureate Kathleen Flenniken (2002), Floating Bridge Press founder Peter Pereira (2001), Writers In The Schools founder Kip Robinson-Greenthal (2000), and humorist David Schmader (1998).

2012 Jack Straw Writers Program

The 2012 Jack Straw Writers, selected by Curator Shawn Wong, are Kathleen Alcalá, Stacey Bennetts, Kaia Chessen, Gabriela Denise Frank, Sharon Hashimoto, Lacey Jane Henson, Carol Light, Sally Neumann, Claudia Rowe, Johanna Stoberock, Mitsu Sundvall, and Nick Wong.

The 2012 Jack Straw Writers Anthology is available for sale at Elliott Bay Book Co. and Jack Straw Productions. Download the anthology as a pdf here.

In November 2012 Jack Straw resident artists The Bushwick Book Club Seattle performed a night of original music inspired by the work of the 2012 Jack Straw Writers. See video from the night here:

2012 Writers Program Curator Shawn Wong is a professor in the Creative Writing Program at the University of Washington. His first novel, Homebase, won both the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award and the 15th Annual Governor's Writers Day Award of Washington. He is also the co-editor and editor of six Asian American and American multicultural literary anthologies and co-editor of Before Columbus Foundation Fiction Anthology: Selections from the American Book Awards, 1980-1990 and Before Columbus Foundation Poetry Anthology: Selections from the American Book Awards, 1980-1990, two volumes of contemporary American multicultural poetry and fiction (W. W. Norton, 1992). His second novel, American Knees, was adapted into a film titled Americanese, directed by Eric Byler, which has won several film festival awards.  

About the 2012 Jack Straw Writers:

Kathleen Alcalá is the author of a collection of stories, three novels set in 19th Century Mexico, and a collection of essays. Her work has received awards that include two Artist Trust Fellowships, a previous Jack Straw Writers Program residency, and a Western States Book Award. Her current project is an exploration of sustainability on Bainbridge Island called "Notes from a Food Oasis." A graduate of Stanford, the University of Washington, and the University of New Orleans MFA program in Creative Writing, Kathleen teaches at the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts on Whidbey Island. She is a member of writers groups Los Norteños and The Seattle7. More at kathleenalcala.com.  

Stacey Bennetts is a mother, a writer, and a criminal defense attorney in Seattle, Washington. She married her Hastings College of the Law classmate - and landlord during her house arrest stint - Dennis Carroll. Stacey is editing her 330 page unpublished memoir, Trial By Error: Confessions of an Eight-Year-Old Drug Smuggler, while a student of the 2012 EDGE Professional Development Program for Writers and the Jack Straw Writers Program.

Kaia Chessen is a writer and cellist living in Seattle, Washington. She holds a Bachelors Degree in Creative Writing from the University of Washington, where she was nominated for an Associated Writing Programs Intro Awards in 2005 and co-authored the short story "Getting Undressed" with novelist Shawn Wong in 2007, which was interpreted in a performance through a Mary Gates Endowment Fellowship. Her short story "Onagadori" was a finalist for Glimmer Train Press Inc. As an intern and freelance writer for the local arts and activist publication The Stranger in 2008 and 2009, she wrote reviews, blog posts, and news features. She is currently working on a series of short stories about her experiences as an outsider traveling in West Africa.

Gabriela Denise Frank, a Detroit native and Seattle resident, is the author of CivitaVeritas: An Italian Fellowship Journey, published in 2011. The book is based on her experience in the unique Italian hill town of Civita di Bagnoregio, Italy, where she lived as a Fellow of the Northwest Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies in Italy (NIAUSI.) Gabriela holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of Arizona and an Associate of Applied Arts with Honors in Graphic Design from the Art Institute of Seattle. In 2010 she launched a blog (hiddencitydiaries.com), which she continues to write today.

Sharon Hashimoto teaches at Highline Community College. Her fiction has appeared in Bamboo Ridge, North American Review, Crab Orchard Review, Shenandoah, Tampa Review, and others. Her poetry collection, The Crane Wife, was co-winner of the Nicholas Roerich Prize from Story Line Press in 2003.  

Lacey Jane Henson grew up in Illinois, and spent a few years in New Mexico before landing in Seattle. She earned an MFA from the University of Washington in 2006 and currently organizes a popular local reading series called "The Off Hours." In 2009, she won first-prize in the Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Fiction given by Nimrod International. Her stories have appeared in Nimrod, MAKE: A Chicago Literary Magazine, Vestal Review, Third Coast, and other literary journals. In addition to stories, she is currently at work finishing her first novel, Nobody Told Me.

Carol Light's poems have appeared in Narrative Magazine, American Life in Poetry, Poetry Northwest, Literary Bohemian, Prairie Schooner, and elsewhere. She was awarded GAP funding from Artist Trust in 2011. She is a graduate of the University of Washington MFA program in poetry and an adjunct faculty member at Olympic College. She lives with her family in Port Townsend, Washington.

Sally Neumann, currently a proud resident of Seattle, is finishing her Bachelor's degree in English and Psychology at the University of Washington. She enjoys writing humorous excerpts about her family-or whatever strikes her fancy-and spends much of her time being generally sedentary (watching movies, reading books, watching movies that once were books). But when she isn't hampered by the all-too-present rain, she enjoys dining in restaurants, exploring new places, and going rock climbing. She's fascinated by people, emotions, cults, the occult, relationships, and all the complexities they engender. Though she'll never be able to understand any of them fully, there's nothing she loves more than to unpack and explore.

Claudia Rowe is a journalist, essayist, and writer of creative nonfiction. For seven years she was a regular contributor to The New York Times and several national magazines. In 2003, after a residency at Hedgebrook on Whidbey Island, she flew back to New York, packed up her car and hit the road for Seattle, where for six years she covered social issues at the Seattle Post-intelligencer. Her essay about that solo road trip was published in A Matter of Choice: 25 People Who Transformed Their Lives (Seal Press, 2004). Her writing about juvenile justice won a Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism in 2008 and has been honored by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. To blow off steam, she practices drumming to Led Zeppelin.

Johanna Stoberock's novel, City of Ghosts, was published by W.W. Norton. Her essays, reviews, and short fiction have appeared in The Wilson Quarterly, Copper Nickel, Eclipse, The Seattle Times, and numerous other publications. She has been awarded residencies at the Corporation of Yaddo, the Vermont Studio Center, and the Millay Colony. She lives in Walla Walla, where she teaches at Whitman College.

Mitsu Sundvall is a writer from Berkeley, New York City, and Seattle. She has been a Harper & Row editor, an Artist Trust and Seattle Arts Commission awardee, and a Seattle Times book reviewer, and is a Hedgebrook and Edge programs alumna. Tongue-Cut Sparrows is a family memoir that includes a shogun, an anarchist plotting overthrow of the Emperor, a judo-wrestling grandmother, a fast-talking chorus girl, a mother who recites Chaucer, a pool hustler, a heroin addict, and the writer James Baldwin, with some ordinary people who had some extraordinary experiences. Backdrops include the Tokyo Imperial Palace, Cannery Row Monterey, a Utah concentration camp, a Chinatown nightclub, and a New York City seder. In these stories of struggle and aspiration she hopes, as Grace Paley said about writing memoir, to save a few lives.

Nick Wong is a writer and photographer who explores culture through the art of boxing. A Mary Gates Scholar, a Bonderman Fellow, and a VONA alum, he served as the assistant editor at The International Examiner from 2009-2010 and now freelances for online boxing websites. He is currently writing his first book about his journey through the boxing gyms of Latin America (thewanderingpugilist.com), and working towards his dream of building boxing gyms around the world.


Jack Straw Productions gratefully acknowledges The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, Mayor’s Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs, 4Culture King County Lodging Tax Fund, Washington State Arts Commission, National Endowment for the Arts, ArtsFund, and individual contributors for their support of the Jack Straw Writers Program.

Copyright 2012 Jack Straw Productions ~ All rights reserved

About the podcasts

Jack Straw Productions produces bi-monthly podcasts featuring excerpts from live readings and interviews highlighting literary artists from the Jack Straw Writers Program.

2012 Podcasts:

Kathleen Alcalá
Gabriela Denise Frank

Claudia Rowe

Sally Neumann

Sharon Hashimoto

Nick Wong

Johanna Stoberock

Mitsu Sundvall

Carol Light

Lacey Jane Henson

Stacey Bennetts

Kaia Chessen

Previous Jack Straw Writers Program

2011 Writers

2009 Writers
2008 Writers
2007 Writers
2006 Writers
2005 Writers
2004 Writers
List of writers to date

Jack Straw Writers Program Events

Jack Straw Writers At the Seattle Public Library
Saturday, November 10, 2pm
SPL Downtown Branch
1000 Fourth Ave.

Kathleen Alcalá, Stacey Bennetts, Kaia Chessen, Gabriela Denise Frank, Sharon Hashimoto, Lacey Jane Henson, Carol Light, Sally Neumann, Claudia Rowe, Johanna Stoberock, Mitsu Sundvall, and Nick Wong. Hosted by 2012 curator Shawn Wong.

The Bushwick Book Club Seattle on the 2012 Jack Straw Writers
Friday, November 30, 8pm
The Royal Room
5000 Rainier Ave. S.

Twelve local musicians perform new music inspired by the work of the 2012 Jack Straw Writers.