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Was born in Puerto Rico, grew up in El Salvador, and lives in Connecticut. She is the author of The Heiress of Water, which won first place for debut fiction at the 2007 International Latino Book Awards and was a Borders Original Voices selection. Her second novel, Stay with Me, was a finalist for the 2011 Connecticut Book Award.


Sandra is the grateful recipient of support from The Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, The Greater Hartford Arts Council, the National Association of Latino Arts and Culture, and the Connecticut Commission on Culture & Tourism. She holds a MFA in Creative Writing from Florida International University and teaches in the Western Connecticut State University MFA Program.


Sandra will offer a Reading and conduct the Writing Workshop “THE GUIDED DREAM: Descriptive Techniques for Fiction and Creative Non-Fiction ".

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Elana’s debut collection of poetry, Eyes, Stones (LSU Press 2012), was selected by Fanny Howe as the winner of the 2011 Walt Whitman Award from the Academy of American Poets, and brings her complex heritage as the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors to consider the difficult question of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She is the recipient of grants and fellowships from the Jerome Foundation, the Edward Albee Foundation, and the Brooklyn Arts Council. Her writing has recently appeared in AGNI, Harvard Review, and the Massachusetts Review, among others.

For over ten years, Elana has facilitated writing and performance workshops nationally and internationally for participants of all ages. She offers workshops on college campuses, for educators, women in prison and throughout a spectrum of other communities.


Elana also teaches her acclaimed Writing Toward Peace curriculum internationally with Seeds of Peace, the Tent of Nations and Encounter, offering transformative creative writing workshops to support dialogue and peace building for educators and community members from regions in conflict. She was an inaugural finalist for the Freedom Plow Award for Poetry & Activism, an award which recognizes and honors a poet who is doing innovative and transformative work at the intersection of poetry and social change.


Elana also teaches literature and creative writing at CUNY College of Staten Island and to the drama students at the Juilliard school. Recently, she created and performed a collaborative, multi-disciplinary performance piece based on the poems in her first collection, Eyes, Stones.

Joining the Festival for a second time, Elana will be a member of the Panel Discussion Group: "PUBLIC CONVERSATION ON ART AND POLITICS"


Visit her at: 

 Photo courtesy of Jill Posner

Photo courtesy of Peter Dressel

Was born in Trinidad, is the author of four collections of poetry, Raw Air, Night When Moon Follows, Convincing the Body and, most recently, Arrival. She is the founder of the Calypso Muse Reading Series, which began in 1994 and which brings poets of all nationalities and languages together. 

Her work is infused with the folk language of her native island. She lives now in Brooklyn, New York.


Cheryl is participating in her third festival and will offer the Writing Workshop  "ZUIHITSU JUICE FOR THE BRAVE HEART".


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Is the former editor and publisher of the groundbreaking, award-winning lesbian and feminist press, Firebrand Books.


From 1985-2000, Firebrand published many significant authors including: Dorothy Allison, Alison Bechdel, Cheryl Clarke, Leslie Feinberg, Jewelle Gomez, Judith Katz, Audre Lorde, and Minnie Bruce Pratt. 

This is Nancy's third Festival and she will be a member of the Panel Discussion Group: "PUBLIC CONVERSATION ON ART AND POLITICS"

Read her at:

Is the author of three novels, River Cross My Heart, Stand the Storm, and her newest, Angels Make Their Hope Here.  All three novels present vivid views of African-American communities.


She is a faculty member of the Stone Coast MFA Program at the University of Southern Maine.  She is affiliated with A Room of Her Own: A Foundation for Women Artists. She is an avid swimmer. Since retirement from Time-Warner in 2000, she has been a full-time writer. 


Breena is one of the organizers of the Festival of Women Writers. 

Breena will offer, in place of Sonya Huber, the Writing Workshop “WRITING THE BODY".


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Photo courtesy of Ann E. Chapman

Photo courtesy of Nivea Castro

Photo courtesy of Mark Berghash

Is the author of Don’t Mind Me: And Other Jewish Lies with illustrations by Roz Chast, the novels No Charge for Looking and Book Doctor, and Unseen America, an ongoing project in visual history, started in 2000. Nannies, homecare workers, migrants, and scores of others tell the stories of their lives through pictures they take of what they see.  She has also published two volumes of poetry, God Is a Tree and prayerbook.  She has been writing a daily poetry blog since 2014. 


This is her fifth year at the Festival as an Invited Writer.  She lives in Manhattan as well as Cornwallville, N.Y. 


Esther will be offering the INTENSIVE Writing Workshop, "GOOD STORIES: The Deep Red Heart of Life ".


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Is the author of five books of poetry. Recently, her poems have appeared in The 2016 Argos Poetry Calendar #4 (September) and the online journals The Wide Shore and The Beltway Poetry Quarterly in 2015.  Interviews with her have appeared in The Feminist Wire in 2014 and The Huffington Post this year.  Her 1986 classic, Living as a Lesbian was reprinted in 2014 by Sinister Wisdom Press. She was voted by GO Magazine into the 2014 Class of “100 Women We Love.”  By My Precise Haircut, her fifth book of poetry, was published by The Word Works Press in April of 2016.


Cheryl is one of the organizers of the Festival, co-owner with Barbara Balliet of Blenheim Hill Books, and the sister of Breena Clarke.  


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Writer, historian, and biographer Blanche Wiesen Cook most recently completed her third and final volume of the biography of Eleanor Roosevelt, The World War II and After: 1939-1962.


Volume Two of the Roosevelt biography (1999) was widely popular as was Volume One, published in 1992, which remained on The New York Times best seller list for three months and received the 1992 Biography Prize from The Los Angeles Times and the Lambda Literary Award. The New York State Council on the Humanities honored her as Scholar of the Year in 1996. Her book The Declassified Eisenhower was listed by The New York Times Book Review as one of the notable books of 1981.


As co-founder and co-chair of the Freedom of Information and Access Committee of the Organization of American Historians, she has been actively committed to maintaining the integrity of the Freedom of Information Act. She is Distinguished Professor of History and Women's Studies at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and the CUNY Graduate Center.


Blanche will present two Readings at the Festival from Volume III of the Roosevelt biography. 


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Poet and essayist Kathy Engel is an educator, organizational strategic consultant, and co- founder and former director of MADRE, the international women’s human rights group. Her writings have been published in The Iowa Review, The Nation (online), Poetry Magazine, Poet Lore, The Wide Shore, and elsewhere. Recent books include Ruth’s Skirts (available at Amazon), IKON, The Kitchen, and We Begin Here: Poems for Palestine and Lebanon, co-edited with Kamal Boullata. 


She is Associate Arts Professor and Chair of the Department of Art & Public Policy, Tisch School of the Arts, NYU. Kathy has worked as producer, publicist, and convener with artists, change-makers, and scholars in multiple forms and venues, from street actions to poetry readings to multimedia performance pieces, spanning the last 38 years.


Kathy will Moderate the Open Panel Discussion, “PUBLIC CONVERSATION ON ART AND POLITICS".


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Is a scholar and poet. Her scholarship is at the intersection of U.S. history and literature with particular attention to twentieth century U.S. feminist and lesbian histories, literatures, and cultures. By examining lesbian print culture with the tools of history and literary studies, she reconsider histories of the Women’s Liberation Movement and gay liberation. Her book manuscript, A Fine Bind: Lesbian-Feminist Publishing from 1969 through 2009, tells stories of a dozen lesbian-feminist publishers to consider the meaning of the theoretical and political formations of lesbian-feminism, separatism, and cultural feminism. Her research has appeared or is forthcoming in Southern Cultures, Journal of Lesbian Studies, American Periodicals, WSQ, Frontiers, and other journals.

Enszer is the author of four collections of poetry, Avowed (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2016), Lilith’s Demons (A Midsummer Night’s Press, 2015), Sisterhood (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2013), and Handmade Love (A Midsummer Night’s Press, 2010). She is editor of The Complete Works of Pat Parker (Sinister Wisdom/A Midsummer Night’s Press, 2016) and Milk & Honey: A Celebration of Jewish Lesbian Poetry (A Midsummer Night’s Press, 2011). Milk & Honey was a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award in Lesbian Poetry. She is the editor of Sinister Wisdom, a multicultural lesbian literary and art journal, and a regular book reviewer for the Lambda Book Report and Calyx.

Julie is participating in her second Festival and will offer the INTENSIVE Workshop, "FROM A-Z: Self-Publishing Fundamentals ".


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is a poet, writer, performer, and the author of three poetry collections, including Scanning For Tigers, her most recent. Other published writings include essays and interviews.


Among her awards are fellowships from Norton Island, The I-Park Foundation, and The Clocktower. Broadcasts featuring readings and interviews include Art On Air International Radio, WGXC 90.7 FM and WIOX 91.3 FM.


Farrington has read and performed at series and venues in France, England, Wales, The Netherlands, and throughout the U.S.  She is the founder and director of Writers At The Eyrie, a writers residency program.


Margot will offer a Reading and present the Writing Workshop, "THE IMPRINT OF PLACE: Writing Inside/Out ".

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Jewell Gomez is a writer and activist and the author of the double Lambda Award-winning novel, THE GILDA STORIES from Firebrand Books. Her adaptation of the book for the stage "Bones & Ash: a Gilda Story," was performed by the Urban Bush Women company in 13 U.S. cities.  She is the recipient of a literature fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts; two California Arts Council fellowships and an Individual Artist Commission from the San Francisco Arts Commission.

Her fiction, essays, criticism and poetry have appeared in numerous periodicals. Among them: The San Francisco Chronicle, The New York Times, The Village Voice; Ms Magazine, ESSENCE Magazine, The Advocate, Callaloo and Black Scholar.


She has presented lectures and taught at numerous institutions of higher learning including San Francisco State University, Hunter College, Rutgers University, New College of California, Grinnell College, San Diego City College, The Ohio State University and the University of Washington (Seattle).


Formerly the executive director of the Poetry Center and the American Poetry Archives at San Francisco State University she has also worked in philanthropy for many years.  She is the former director of the Literature program at the New York State Council on the Arts and the director of Cultural Equity Grants for the San Francisco Arts Commission.  She is currently the director of Grants and Community Initiatives for Horizon and the President of the San Francisco Library Commission.

Jewelle is returning to the Festival for a third year and will be offering the Writing Workshop,  "WOMEN DO WRITE SPECULATIVE FICTION".


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Well-known for her literary portraits, fine art photography, and lyric videos, Rachel Eliza Griffiths is the recipient of numerous fellowships, including Yaddo, Cave Canem, the Kimbilio, and the Millay Colony.


Her literary and visual work have been published in, among other magazines, newspapers, and journals, Callaloo, Poets & Writers, The New York Times, American Poetry Review, Guernica,Transition, American Poet, Mosaic, Indiana Review, Puerto Del Sol, Crab Orchard Review, Brilliant Corners, Kweli Journal, The Drunken Boat, Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry. 


In 2011, Griffiths appeared in the first poetry issue in O: The Oprah Magazine. Recently, Griffiths was selected by the Poetry Society of America to curate the Poetry Walk, featuring the poetry of Octavio Paz, for the New York Botanical Garden's exhibit, Frida Kahlo: Art Garden Life. 


Rachel will offer a Reading and conduct the Writing Workshop: "EYES, BREATH, WITNESS".   


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Is a teacher, scholar, the author of Spill: Scenes of Black Feminist Fugitivity (Duke University Press, 2016) and the co-editor of Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Front Lines (PM Press, 2016).  She translated her research on contemporary black women writers into an ongoing community school called Eternal Summer of the Black Feminist Mind, and the publishing outlet BrokenBeautiful Press—both in Durham, North Carolina. 


With her partner Sangodare/Julia Roxanne Wallace, Gumbs is the co-founder of the Mobile Homecoming Project, an experiential archive honoring generations of brilliant black LGBTQ people and their contributions to black life and culture.  She is a Pushcart nominee, a Lucille Clifton Poetry Prize Honoree, and was featured in Best American Experimental Writing in 2015. 


Alexis will offer a Reading and present the Writing Workshop, “BREATHE UNDERWATER:  Memory, Magic and your Manuscript.


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Teacher and director Sonya Huber has written five books, including three works of creative nonfiction: Opa Nobody, Cover Me: A Health Insurance Memoir and the new essay collection Pain Woman Takes Your Keys and Other Thoughts from A Nervous System.


Sonya's other books include The Evolution of Hillary Rodham Clinton and a textbook, The Backwards Research Guide for Writers: Using Your Life for Reflection, Connection, and Inspiration. Her work has appeared in The New York Times, Creative Nonfiction, Brevity, Fourth Genre, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Washington Post Magazine, O: The Oprah Magazine, and


She received the 2012 Creative Nonfiction Award from Terrain, and her essays were named notable in Best American Essays 2014 and 2015. She teaches in the Department of English at Fairfield University and directs the Fairfield Low-Residency MFA Program.


Sonya is unable to attend and Breena Clarke will offer in her stead the Writing Workshop “WRITING THE BODY".


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Works to build community for writers, teaching throughout the country, working, since its founding with A Room of Her Own Foundation (AROHO), and The New Hampshire Writers Project. She is the author of An Unquenchable Thirst, named one of the best nonfiction books of 2011 by Kirkus Review and recipient of the New Hampshire Literary Award. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, O, the Oprah Magazine, The Huffington Post, among others.


She has been interviewed in, Poets & Writers, The Los Angeles Times, The Daily Beast, and on CNN, MSNBC, National Public Radio, and The Rosie Show. Johnson has been named a fellow of The MacDowell Colony. Her work as a “Humanist Celebrant” earned her recognition as New Hampshire's #1 Wedding Officiant,

Mary returns to the Festival for the fourth time and will offer the INTENSIVE Workshop, "BOOK PROMOTION 101: Practical Strategies for Connecting with Readers and Selling Books".


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Is a Dominican writer whose work includes poetry, essays, and creative non-fiction. She is the author of the book of poetry, Diosas de la yuca /Goddesses of the Yucca.


Her recent book La Casa es Humana/The House is Human, explores the impact of geographical space on the self.  She is a keeper of Taino traditions.


She is a psychotherapist in private practice in Stamford, Connecticut, where she lives.  We welcome her back for her third paticipating Festival. 

This is Marianela 's third Festival and she will be a member of the Panel Discussion Group: "PUBLIC CONVERSATION ON ART AND POLITICS"


Read more about her at:

Kamilah Aisha Moon :

Is a recipient of fellowships from the Rose O'Neill Literary House and the Vermont Studio Center, among others. Her work has been featured widely, including in The Harvard Review, jubilat, “Poem-A-Day” for the Academy of American Poets, and Prairie Schooner. She has been selected as a New American Poet presented by the Poetry Society of America. A Pushcart Prize winner, her 2013 poetry collection She Has a Name was also a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award and the Audre Lorde Award from the Publishing Triangle.


She has taught English and Creative Writing as a Visiting Professor at the Rutgers University, Newark Campus. Kamilah holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Her next poetry collection is forthcoming from Four Way Books in 2017.


This is Kamilah’s second Festival and she offers the Writing Workshop, "THE ELEGY: Poetics of Protest and Collective Grief ".


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Is the co-author, with Paul Maher Jr., of Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s ‘On the Road’. She wrote the introduction to a reissue of the Isabella Bird’s travel classic A Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains .


Her personal essays and journalism on visual arts, literature, endangered languages, and Greece and Sweden have appeared in such publications as BOMBlog, Brooklyn Rail, Gothamist, The Literary Traveler, and The Millions as well as mentioned by The New Yorker (“Page-Turner”), The Paris Review (“On the Shelf”), and The Huffington Post. For more than a decade she has edited for a publishing house in New York City.  She is also the visual arts editor for Burnside Writers Collective, where she writes a column about church architecture called “Church Hopping” and offers live tours. 


Stephanie is returning to the Festival for a fourth year and will offer the Writing Workshop, "BUILD DEMAND FOR YOUR BOOK PROPOSAL".

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Is a screenwriter, with notable adaptations to her credit, including, Afterlife, Paul Monette’s National Book Award-winning novel. With Simon Le Vay, she co-authored City of Friends: A Portrait of the Gay and Lesbian Community in America. She is the author of four novels, most recently of Shadow Line. She is Associate Professor of Cinema and Photography in the Park School of Communications at Ithaca College.


As practitioner and teacher, she investigates how stories are more broadly delivered across diverse media platforms, e.g., videogames, web series, fan fiction, and graphic novels as well as screenplays, novels, film and television.


Elisabeth is returning for a third time to offer the Writing Workshop, "RUNNING AROUND THE WRITER’S BLOCK".


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Photo courtesy of Chia Messina

Spent a large portion of her career as a writer and editor for Time and People magazines, where she co-authored the groundbreaking cover story “Twentysomething,” the first study of the demographic group known as Generation X.

Her most recent novel is "Unforgivable Love,” a Harlem renaissance retelling of Dangerous Liaisons.

Sophfronia's first novel, All I Need to Get By, was published in 2004, and she was nominated for best new author by the African American Literary Awards and hailed by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. as “potentially one of the best writers of her generation.”


Her essays, short stories, and articles have appeared in Killens Review of Arts & Letters, Saranac Review, Numéro Cinq, Ruminate, Barnstorm Literary Journal, Sleet Magazine,, More, and O, The Oprah Magazine. She’s completed her second novel and a collection of essays.

Sophfronia holds a BA in English from Harvard and an MFA in writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts School.


She is returning to the Festival for a fifth year and offering the INTENSIVE Writing Workshop, "BOOK PROPOSALS 101".


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Writes fiction and theater.  She has four books of fiction, with a new novel, We Got Him, forthcoming in November of 2016.  Her previous books are Girl Held in Home, Celebrities in Disgrace (which was produced as a short film), My Body to You, which won the Iowa Short Fiction Prize, and A Four Sided Bed, in development as a feature film.  


Elizabeth's theater work Tonya & Nancy: the Rock Opera has been produced on both coasts, most recently in NYC in 2015, and has drawn national media attention.  Elizabeth teaches in the Stonecoast MFA Program.


This is Elizabeth's second Festival and she is offering the INTENSIVE Writing Workshop, "BEGINNING WRITERS' BITE-SIZED WORKSHOP: Constructive Feedback and Comfort Food "


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Martha Southgate’s fourth and newest novel, The Taste of Salt, was published in September 2011 and was named one of the best novels of the year by the San Francisco Chronicle and the Boston Globe.


Her previous novel, Third Girl from the Left won the Best Novel of the Year award from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. The Fall of Rome received the Alex Award from the American Library Association. Another Way to Dance won the Coretta Scott King Genesis Award for Best First Novel.


She has held residencies at the MacDowell Colony, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and Bread Loaf. Her 2007 essay from the New York Times Book Review, “Writers Like Me” was reprinted in the anthology Best African-American Essays 2009.  Previous non-fiction articles have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, O, and Essence. She lives with her husband and two children in Brooklyn and is at work on a new novel.


Martha will offer a Reading and conduct the Writing Workshop "WALT, JESSE, VINCE AND FLANNERY: What They Can Teach Writers about Beginnings ".


Visit her at:; #Twitter:@mesouthgate.

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