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2021-22 SPOKEN WORD &


Tamara M. Baxter’s collection of fiction, Rock Big and Sing Loud, won the Morehead State’s First Author’s Award for Fiction, and was published by the Jesse Stuart Foundation Press with introduction by Robert Morgan. Her short fiction, poetry, and essays have been published in journals such as Artemis, Appalachian Heritage, Wellspring, Mockingbird, Now and Then, Main Street Rag and The Sow’s Ear.


Jessica Weyer Bentley is an author/poet who grew up in the hills of Eastern Kentucky. She is author the poetry collection, Crimson Sunshine and a cowriter for the award-winning series Grief Diaries.

Suzette Bradshaw is a self-taught poet, my work is influenced by daily life, rural memories, dreams, and art.  I strive to create poems which cause a bit of heart-flinch and enjoy performing poetry on stage with old-time Appalachian musicians. My poems have been published in Dead Mule, Branches, and more.

Kathleen S. Burgess, senior editor at Pudding Magazine, won a 2018 Sheila-Na-Gig poetry prize. Recent collections include What Burden Do Those Trains Bear Away (Bottom Dog Press, 2018) and The Wonder Cupboard (NightBallet Press, 2019). A retired public-school music teacher, she lives in Chillicothe, Ohio. Visit her at

Danielle Nicole Byington is an author and artist living in Johnson City, TN where she teaches composition and literature at East Tennessee State University (ETSU); during early 2020, she also began an educational business, Sight into Insight, which focuses on the relationship of word and image to enhance emotional understanding. 

Odana Chaney is a sixth-ish generation Appalachian living in West Virginia on land stolen from the Osage, Cherokee, Shawnee, Moneton, Adena and Hopewell peoples. She attended the University of Pittsburgh where she found her voice, but forgot to graduate. Shen writes about dirt, duality, and dearness.


Born in Fairmont, WV, Leslie Clark has been published in Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel. Her poem “To My Cat – Quarantine Day 15”, was included in Postcards from the Pandemic: A Cincinnati Poetry Month 2020 online project. Her chapbook Driving in the Dark was published by Finishing Line Press.


After spending over 20 years as a fulltime mom for three children, Leann Cooper returned to her love of drawing and watercolor in the Fall of 2009. She specializes in creating images of flowers, nature and portraits. She’s especially fond of combining animals and flowers together.


Since graduating from BGSU in 2000, Connaught Cullen has received a MA-Studio from Eastern Michigan University in 2011 and a MFA from Ohio University in 2015. She has participated in several group exhibitions regionally, nationally and internationally. She is currently the Executive Director for Majestic Galleries in Nelsonville, Ohio.


Cecile Dixon is am a retired ED nurse who has returned to Appalachia to write and raise goats. Her work has appeared in Pine Mountain Sand and Gravel, Still: The Journal, Fried Chicken and Coffee, Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, KY, Herstory, Voices, and Tributaries. She holds an MFA from Bluegrass Writer’s Studio.

Joy Duffy is an award winning artist specializing in pin-ups, paintings and portraits. She strives to candidly capture each subject. She swims in visual flow that entices the eyes and engages the mind. Her work has been featured in a variety of venues, publications, books and album covers.


CJ Farnsworth has an M.F.A. from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her poetry has appeared in Kenning, Kestrel, Poetry Quarterly, Mountain Scribes, and Poetry on the Move. She is an active member of WVWriters, Inc. She has also written for WVLiving. She is a lifelong resident of Wheeling, WV where she currently resides with her husband and son.

Diana Ferguson, known in the art community as ‘DiFergi’, has shown internationally and is an awarded visual artist. Growing up an army brat and being a latent bloomer, she graduated with a degree in the arts at the age of 40.  Her work contains unique stylized images that live in a lively and colorful world.

Kelle Ann Neal Flora was raised in West Virginia where she still resides with her husband and critters. She is happiest spending time with family. Being outdoors influences Kelle’s art style and other interests such as herbalism. She has a Graphic Design certification which is useful in her occupation.

Sylvia Freeman, a native North Carolinian, is an artist/photographer, poet and singer. In her mind all arts overlap and are necessary to her creative spirit. Her photos have been published in Dove Tales, Heron’s Nest, NC Literary Review, Fusion Gallery and others. Her award-winning poems are in many collections.


Kathy Guest is an artist who works with paper as her primary medium.  With a BFA in printmaking from Tyler School of Art, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA, she works to make paper pieces as emotive as paintings, using paper faces that are portraits done from life casts. Her website


Kari Gunter-Seymour’s award-winning poetry collection is titled A Place So Deep Inside America It Can’t Be Seen. Her work has been featured in numerous publications including Verse Daily, Rattle and the LA Times. She is a poetry workshop instructor, the 2020 Ohio Poet of the Year and Poet Laureate of Ohio.

Pushcart Prize nominee and Ohio native Jennifer Hambrick has won numerous awards for her poetry, was selected by former U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser to be featured in American Life in Poetry and is the frequent recipient of poetry commissions. Hundreds of her poems appear in publication in literary journals.

Pauletta Hansel’s seven poetry collections include Coal Town Photograph and Palindrome, winner of the 2017 Weatherford Award. Cincinnati’s first Poet Laureate and managing editor of Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, her writing has been featured in Rattle, The Writer’s Almanac, American Life in Poetry, Verse Daily and Poetry Daily.

Jessica Held first moved to Athens from Cincinnati, to earn a degree in painting and photography at Ohio University. After graduating and moving around the Midwest, years later she happily settled back in Athens. Home sweet home. Jessica paints functional artwork and teaches youth art camps and art enrichment classes. 


Mary Ann Honaker is the author of It Will Happen Like This (YesNo Press, 2015) and Becoming Persephone (Third Lung Press, 2019).  Mary Ann holds an MFA in creative writing from Lesley University. She currently lives in Beaver, West Virginia.

Libby Falk Jones’ poems and creative nonfiction have been published nationally.  Her poetry chapbook, Above the Eastern Treetops, Blue, appeared in 2010 (Finishing Line); a co-authored collection, Balance of Five, came out in 2015.  A past president of Kentucky State Poetry Society, Jones is Professor Emerita of English at Berea College, Berea, KY.


Stephanie Kendrick is an Ohio poet. She works for Athens County Board of Developmental Disabilities and Albany Village Council. A co-founder of RoseElaine Productions, she produces a bi-monthly Open Mic and submission workshop. Her work has been published in SheilaNaGig, Ghost City Review, Northern Appalachia Review, Backdrop Magazine and others.

Patsy Kisner’s poems have appeared in journals such as Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel, Appalachian Journal, and Shelia-Na-Gig. She is the author of two poetry collections, Inside the Horse’s Eye and Last Days of an Old Dog, both from Finishing Line Press.

Marlene L'Abbé is inspired by her experiences of life and the world of nature. She studied art in Montreal, Quebec and currently lives in Athens. She exhibits her paintings locally, and her art tiles under the name Waterspider Designs which are available at a variety of shops in Athens, Ohio.


Jonie McIntire, poet and community builder in Toledo, Ohio, has authored chapbooks Beyond the Sidewalk (Nightballet Press, 2017), Not All Who Are Lost Wander (Finishing Line Press, 2016), and Semidomesticated (which is expected to print later this year.) Jonie hosts monthly readings and workshops. Learn more about her at

Karen Salyer McElmurray is the author of Wanting Radiance, a novel, released in April 2020 form University Press of Kentucky. She is also the author of Surrendered Child: A Birth Mother’s Journey, a memoir. Her essays have been awarded the Annie Dillard Prize and the Orison Anthology Award. 


Wendy McVicker is a longtime Woman of Appalachia participant, Ohio Arts Council teaching artist, and current poet laureate of Athens, OH; author of The Dancer’s Notes, Sanctuary, and Sliced Dark, an art/poetry collaboration with John McVicker. She often performs with musician Emily Prince, as the duo another language altogether.

Mimi Railey Merritt spent the ‘80s as a newspaper reporter before a brief stint writing computer manuals, followed by 25 years as a communications professor at Bluefield College. She lives in Bluefield, WV, and now writes poetry and essays and anything else she is not required to.

Sara Minges is an International Speaker and Poet, Best Poet of Kansas City Award Nominee (2019-2020), University of Tennessee-Knoxville alum, Founder of Wonder Woman Rising and former panelist for Lady Gaga’s Foundation.  Her third full length collection, Whiskey Sweet, is forthcoming in Spring 2021 from Black Heart Press. 


Barbara Marie Minney writes personal and emotional poetry that describes her feelings, thoughts, and passions while struggling to live her truth as a transgender woman.  She began her transition to living authentically as the woman that she now knows she was meant to be at the age of 63 after repressing her true gender identity for over 60 years. 


Amanda Neal grew up on a farm in Apple Grove, West Virginia with her three sisters. Neal has her BFA in Theatre Performance and a minor in Dance from Marshall University. She is currently obtaining her MFA in Acting at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio and will graduate May 2021.

Amee S. Neal lives in Apple Grove, West Virginia where she spends her time cake decorating, writing stories, creating fan art and exhibiting her work. Amee currently has children’s book illustrations published. She is one of four siblings who all share a love for art.

Kelly D. Neal is from Apple Grove, West Virginia and the mother of four artistic daughters: Emalea, Amee, Amanda and Kelle. She considers them her greatest works! Neal enjoys writing poetry (with several published) and the occasional art project. She hopes to someday publish an illustrated collection of poetry.

Karen Whittington Nelson lives in rural Southeast Ohio. She attended Ohio University and had careers in both nursing and teaching. Her most recent short story can be found in the Anthology of Appalachian Writers Volume XII. Her poetry and prose appear in the Women Speak Anthologies, Gyroscope Review and Pudding Magazine.

Susanna Nestor moved from Southeast Ohio to Taos, New Mexico in 1977 after pursuing degrees from Ohio State University and Cleveland Marshall Law school.  She pursued agribusiness before retiring with lots of horses and grandchildren on her high mountain ranch.  She recently completed a Hindman Settlement School Makery fellowship.


Corie Neumayer, a painter in Louisville, Kentucky, works mainly in acrylic, latex,

found papers, and aerosol. Her formative years were spent in the rural areas of

Rowan County Kentucky and continue to influence her work. Her paintings are in

public and private collections, and she has shown regionally and nationally.


Valerie Nieman’s most recent books are To the Bones, a horror/mystery set in the West Virginia coalfields (2019), and Leopard Lady: A Life in Verse (2018) which was featured in WOAP last year. She is a graduate of West Virginia University and Queens University of Charlotte, and teaches writing at NC A&T State University.


Holly Norton is a professor at the University of Northwestern Ohio. She teaches English composition and electives such as Myth and Fairy Tales, Gothic Literature, and Women Who Rock. Her chapbook, Letting Go, was published in 2017. Her poems have also been published in Poets to Come and Women Speak.


Ashley Parker Owens is an Appalachian writer, poet, and artist living in Richmond, Kentucky. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from Eastern Kentucky University and an MFA in Visual Arts from Rutgers University.


V.E. Parfitt grew up in northern Appalachia and the pull of the hills and hollows is strong, but the pull cannot overcome the sheer economic reality of the area. Funny how even the not-so-good memories and the hardships can seem lit from within, when the light hits from a just-so slant. She writes when the sun slants in just that way. She currently makes her home in northeastern Pennsylvania.

Tina Parker is the author of three books of poetry—Lock Her Up, Mother May I, and Another Offering. She grew up in Bristol, VA, and now lives in Berea, KY.

Linda Parsons Linda Parsons is the poetry editor for Madville Publishing and reviews editor for Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel. She coordinates WordStream, WDVX-FM’s weekly reading/performance series, with Stellasue Lee, and is copy editor for Chapter 16, the literary website of Humanities Tennessee. Widely published, her fifth poetry collection is Candescent (Iris Press, 2019). 

A native of Alabama, Nancy Posey lived more than twenty years in Western North Carolina with a window view of Grandfather Mountain and Table Rock. Now living midway between in Tennessee, she spends time teaching, reading, writing, and enjoying family and music.

Bonnie Proudfoot lives in Athens, Ohio. Her poetry recently appeared in Pine Mountain Sand and Gravel and Sheila Na-Gig. Her story, “Old Spirits” placed first in the 2020 Sand Hills Journal national competition. A first novel, Goshen Road, set in West Virginia, was published by Swallow Press in January, 2020.

Susan Powers holds a BFA from Carnegie Mellon University with a minor in Creative Writing, and an MFA in Painting from Pratt Institute. She is an Adjunct Lecturer in the Art Department of Carlow University. Her writing is influenced by immigration and labor history, memory and the sentient natural environment.

Erin Miller Reid is originally from southeastern Kentucky and now works as a dermatologist in Kingsport, Tennessee. She has had fiction and poetry published in Still: The Journal.


L. Renée is a third-year MFA candidate at Indiana University, where she has served as Nonfiction Editor of the Indiana Review. Her poems have been published or are forthcoming in Tin House Online, Poet Lore, the minnesota review, Southern Humanities Review, Appalachian Heritage and New Limestone Review.

McKenna Revel grew up in Mount Sterling, Kentucky, called “the gateway to the mountains.” She now lives in Lexington, Kentucky. She has been published with The Girl God. This will be her second year participating in the Women of Appalachia Project.

Mary Ruden  taught college level art for over eight years. Her artwork and sculpture has been featured in public art projects in several states. She was awarded a Preservation Award by the Knox Heritage East Tennessee Preservation Alliance. Her bronze statues and recent quilts feature historic people. See 


From Apple Grove, West Virginia, Emalea Neal Rupe earned her Associates in 2013 and BFA in Visual Art from the University of Rio Grande in 2016. Rupe has exhibited in various shows and murals in Rio Grande, Ohio. She accepts many different art projects as well as drawing/painting commission portraits.


Barbara Sabol's second full-length book, Imagine a Town, was awarded the 2019 Sheila-Na-Gig Editions poetry manuscript prize. Her poetry has appeared widely in journals and anthologies. Barbara's awards include an Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council. She lives in Akron, OH with her husband and wonder dogs.


Portraits are but one of the numerous collections by artist Tere Sager, and portraits of fellow proud Appalachians are particularly dear to her heart.  She concentrates mainly, but not solely, on watercolour and encaustic. She currently exhibits her art at Starbrick Gallery in historic downtown Nelsonville Ohio.


S. Renay Sanders learned to love the spoken word amidst a family of storytellers, secretly writing her own stories as poems. She is venturing into storytelling based on her memories and family tales. Her poetry can be found in her chapbook Dancing in Place and various anthologies.

Susan Truxell Sauter’s poems appear in Apalachee Review, Anthology of Appalachian Writers; WOAP: Women Speak Vol. 3, 5 & 10th Anniversary Collection; Nasty Women & Bad Hombres; Fracture: Essays, Poems, & Stories on Fracking in America; and many volumes of Voices from the Attic. She lives in West Virginia.

Karen Scott is a poet and substitute teacher in Columbus, Ohio.  A member of Ohio Poetry Association (OPA), a past participant in the Women of Appalachia Project, and a proud member of the SALON writing group.  Some of her work has been published in various anthologies.

Marcia Shubert’s early interest in photography can be tied to a close ancestor, Percy Loomis Sperr. Sperr was the official New York City photographer during the 1920–40’s, and her grandmother, Julia Loomis Staniland bought her first camera. She attended Ryerson Polytechnical Institute in Toronto, Canada. She considers this medium a vital and important part of her life.


Rose M. Smith's work has appeared in several journals and anthologies. She is author of four chapbooks, most recently Holes in My Teeth (Kattywompus Press, 2016).  Her collection, Unearthing Ida (Glass Lyre Press, 2019), won the 2018 Lyrebird Prize.  She's an Editor with Pudding Magazine and a Cave Canem fellow.

Anna Egan Smucker is the author of nine books including No Star Nights (Knopf). A resident of Bridgeport, WV, her poems have been published in anthologies and literary journals. Her first poetry book, Rowing Home, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2019.  She lives in Bridgeport, WV.

A lifetime lived in Southeastern Ohio informs everything Lois Spencer writes, most particularly her memoir, In the Language of My Country, and recent stories published in Women Speak and Anthology of Appalachian Writers. Borrowing Grace Paley’s words, Lois believes her purpose as a writer is “to tell the truth in the language of the country [I’m] in.”

Lacy Snapp lives in Johnson City, Tennessee and works as both an adjunct professor of Literature at ETSU and a carpenter, running her self-owned business: Luna’s Woodcraft. She is a board member of the Johnson City Poets Collective and has been published in The Mockingbird.

Katherine Struder can trace her grandparents seven generations back, discovering they lived in Carter County and Elliott County, Kentucky for hundreds of years. Even though her father moved the family to Northern, Ohio to work at a factory that would pay a decent living wage, her ties to the hills of Appalachia are her true identity.


Beth Jane Toren hopes to develop her knowledge and increase her value by flatlander standards. She extracted herself for higher education, exploited herself to pay for it. Home again, she is not buying or selling. She is staying to nurture the people and land in what remains of her mountain home.

Page Turner is an assemblage artist who collects items of deep personal meaning to create delicate sculptural pieces infused with a new feminist aesthetic and a soulful reverence for her Mormon Feminist heritage. Recently featured in 50 Contemporary Women Artists: Groundbreaking Contemporary Art from 1960 to Now, her work is grounded in the Appalachian region of Virginia.  


Vicki Pritchard has been a nurse in Appalachian Ohio for fifty-five years.  She has seen first- hand and relied upon, the forgotten bedside work force of essential care-givers who labor for minimum wages.

Kristi Stephens Walker is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in various print and online publications. A native of Charleston, West Virginia, she often writes character and setting that reflect the uniqueness of life in her hometown. She currently lives in Nashville, TN with her husband and three children, where she recently completed her first novel.

Kristine Williams lives and writes in Athens, OH. Her chapbook, Like an Empty House (Finishing Line Press), comes out in January, 2021. She is retired from teaching communication courses at a local technical college. She lives with her husband and has two adult children who credit her with a love of both writing and teaching.

Bianca X, Ph.D., is an award-winning writer and multidisciplinary artist from Kentucky. An Assistant Professor of English at Ohio University, Bianca is the author of five collections of poems, most recently Black Mermaid (Argus House Press, 2018), and the co-editor of three poetry anthologies, most recently Black Bone: 25 Years of the Affrilachian Poets (University of Kentucky Press, 2018).


Katherine Ziff lives in Athens, Ohio, having arrived with her family 22 years ago from the eastern edge of the southern Appalachians. She is retired from counseling practice and now makes flower essences and art. She is the author of Asylum on the Hill: History of a Healing Landscape.

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