Photos by Sherwin Eng

2014 Jack Straw Writers Program

The 2014 Jack Straw Writers, selected by Curator Felicia Gonzalez, are Laurel Albina, Claudia Castro Luna, Margot Kahn, Loreen Lilyn Lee, Susan Meyers, John Mullen, Michelle Peñaloza, Gigi Rosenberg, Raúl Sánchez, Anastacia Tolbert, Jane Wong, and Kristen Millares Young.

The musicians of the Bushwick Book Club Seattle created original music inspired by the work of the 2014 Jack Straw Writers, which was presented via a live event in November 2014 at Hugo House and a recorded album produced in the studios at Jack Straw. Stream or download the music below:

Photo by Libby Lewis Photography
2014 Writers Program Curator Felicia Gonzalez was born in Cuba. She believes that language and the act of speaking are not only physical, but also have a geographic presence. An alumna of Hedgebrook Writers Retreat and the Jack Straw Writers Program, her writing has received numerous awards including a 2007 Artist Trust/Washington State Arts Commission Fellowship. A poet and short fiction writer, Felicia is currently working on a collection of interrelated short stories, Swimming in Mercury, exploring the relationship of language to identity, which received support from 4Culture and Seattle Office of Arts & Culture.

Laurel Albina is a Canadian born, Palestinian-American writer and union organizer. Her writing is deeply influenced by her parents' respective emigrations to Canada as a result of conflict and war. She is a 2011 alumnus of Hedgebrook and is currently attending The Writer's Studio at Simon Fraser University. Her poetry has been published in Grey Sparrow Journal and Prairie Fire Magazine. She lives in Vancouver, BC with her partner and two young children.

Claudia Castro Luna was born in El Salvador and came to the United States in 1981. She studied French and German, earned an MA in Urban Planning from UCLA and taught Spanish to high school students in Oakland, CA. After years of putting writing on the backburner, she finally decided to get serious and earned an MFA in poetry from MillsCollege in 2012. Her poems have appeared in Milvia Street, The Womanist, and Riverbabble. She has been a featured reader for the Berkeley Poetry Festival and for KALW, an NPR affiliate in San Francisco. She recently completed WoundedCity, a poetry manuscript that investigates the intersections between language and the emotional geography of urban spaces. She is also working on a memoir about her experience escaping the Salvadoran Civil War. She lives in Seattle with her husband and their three children.

Margot Kahn is the author of Horses That Buck: The Story of Champion Bronc Rider Bill Smith. She is the recipient of awards from the Ohioana Library Association, the Seattle Office of Arts and Culture, and 4Culture. Her essays have appeared in the collections Night Lights: Stories and Essays by 22 Northwest Authors, What to Read in the Rain 2012, and YOU: An Anthology Devoted to the Second Person, as well as in print and online. She has worked professionally as a speechwriter, junk mail proofreader, creative writing teacher, manager of Seattle's Writers in the Schools program and director of Richard Hugo House's creative writing programs for teens. Margot received an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University. She lives in Seattle with her husband and son.

Loreen Lilyn Lee grew up in three cultures: Chinese, American, and Hawaiian. Her memoir The Lava Never Sleeps: A Honolulu Memoir tells the stories "I'm not supposed to tell." She weaves together family secrets; childhood trauma; cultural confusion; and Hawaiian history, geology, and mythology in a journey to discover her authentic self. A Seattle resident since 1986, she graduated from the University of Washington in 1994 as a working adult and began writing her personal stories. Hedgebrook awarded her a fellowship, and Artist Trust accepted her into their EDGE Professional Development Program for Writers. Her writing community extends beyond the Pacific Northwest. Besides the Port Townsend Writers Conference, she has attended VONA in San Francisco, Oxford Creative Nonfiction Writers Conference in Mississippi, and Las Dos Brujas in New Mexico.

Susan V. Meyers has lived and taught in Chile, Costa Rica, and Mexico. She earned an MFA from the University of Minnesota and a PhD from the University of Arizona, and she currently teaches creative writing at SeattleUniversity. Her work has recently appeared in CALYX, Per Contra, Dogwood, Cold Mountain Review, and The Minnesota Review. She has been the recipient of a Squaw Valley Community of Writers scholarship, a Monique Wittig scholarship, a 4Culture grant, and a Fulbright fellowship. Her novel, Failing the Trapeze, won the 2013 Nilsen Award for a First Novel. Her field study on education in rural Mexico, Del Otro Lado: Literacy and Migration Across the U.S.-Mexico Border, is forthcoming from Southern Illinois University Press.

John D. Mullen is a short story author and monologist. He has performed at On the Boards, Bumbershoot, New City Theater, Annex Theater, Park West Chicago, Mercer Island Youth Theater, and Richard Hugo House. His writing has appeared in the L.A. Times, Drawn and Quarterly, Modern Odysseys, and I Can't Tell You Anything (Penguin Press), among others. He lives in Seattle, where he tries to get along with his condo neighbors by keeping his opinions to himself.

Michelle Peñaloza grew up in Nashville, Tennessee and earned her M.F.A. from the University of Oregon. Her poetry has most recently appeared in Hobart, TriQuarterly, The Weekly Rumpus, and Hyphen Magazine. She is the recipient of the Miriam McFall Starlin Poetry Award, fellowships from Kundiman, the Richard Hugo House, and Oregon Literary Arts, as well as scholarships from the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, VONA/Voices Workshop, Vermont Studio Center, and the Napa Valley Writers' Conference.

Gigi Rosenberg's current project is How I Lost My Inheritance: A Mother/Daughter Memoir. She's performed at On the Boards, been a guest commentator on Oregon Public Radio, and been published by Seal Press, Poets & Writers, Writer's Digest, and Parenting. The author of The Artist's Guide to Grant Writing (Watson-Guptill, 2010), Gigi lives in Portland, Oregon, where she works as a coach to entrepreneurs and artists.

Raúl Sánchez comes from a place south where the sun shines fiercely, where Indigenous and European cultures collided. He is a translator, a Bio-Tech technician, and an avid collector of poetry books, who occasionally volunteers as a DJ for KBCS 91.3 FM. His inaugural collection, All Our Brown-Skinned Angels, published by MoonPath Press, was nominated for the Washington State Book Award in Poetry for 2013. He has read the book from Vancouver, WA to Bellingham since May 2012.

Anastacia Tolbert's work is a syrupy rune--wings, words & why not. She is a Cave Canem Fellow, Hedgebrook Alumna, Jack Straw Writer, EDGE Professional Writer, VONA alum, creative writing workshop facilitator, documentarian, and playwright .She is writer, co-director, and co-producer of GOTBREAST? (2007): a documentary about the views of women regarding breast and body image. Lately she's been obsessed with the body & the stories it holds. Her poetry, fiction & nonfiction have been published widely.

Jane Wong is the recipient of fellowships and scholarships from the U.S. Fulbright Program, the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, the Squaw Valley Community of Writers, and the Fine Arts Work Center. Poems have appeared in CutBank, Mid-American Review, Hayden's Ferry Review, Salt Hill, The Volta, Best New Poets 2012, The Arcadia Project, and others. Her most recent chapbookis Kudzu Does Not Stop. She holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop and is currently a Ph.D. candidate and Ingham Fellow at the University of Washington.

Kristen Millares Young is a prize-winning journalist and writer whose work has appeared in the New York Times, the Guardian, City Arts Magazine, Pacifica Literary Review, KUOW 94.9-FM, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, the Miami Herald, and TIME Magazine. Kristen was the researcher for the NYT Pulitzer Prize-winning story "Snow Fall: The Avalanche at Tunnel Creek," which also won a Peabody and the Punch Sulzberger Award for Online Storytelling in 2013. Hailed by The Stranger as one of the "fresh new faces in Seattle fiction," she is seeking representation for her debut novel about an ill-fated affair between an anthropologist and a hoarder's son on the Makah Indian Reservation. Kristen graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University with a degree in History and Literature and from the University of Washington's Master of Fine Arts program, where she studied and taught creative writing. She is a co-founder of the nonprofit journalism center InvestigateWest.


Jack Straw Productions gratefully acknowledges The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, Seattle Office of Arts and Culture, 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 2014 Jack Straw Productions ~ All rights reserved

About the podcasts

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

Previous Jack Straw Writers Program

2013 Writers
2012 Writers
2011 Writers

2009 Writers
2008 Writers
2007 Writers
2006 Writers
2005 Writers
2004 Writers
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