2018 Presenters

JeffZentner_SerpentKing_Nashville__JHernandez-17Jeff Zentner is the author of the William C. Morris Award winning and Carnegie Medal longlisted book The Serpent King (2016) as well as Goodbye Days (2017). He came to writing through music, starting his creative life as a guitarist and eventually becoming a songwriter. He’s released five albums and appeared on recordings with Iggy Pop, Nick Cave, Warren Ellis, Thurston Moore, Debbie Harry, Mark Lanegan, and Lydia Lunch, among others. In 2017, Jeff was a guest on the Write Life podcast, and his episode can be heard HERE.


RegieRegie Gibson is a former National Poetry Slam Individual Champion, was selected one of Chicago Tribune’s Artist of the Year for Excellence for his poetry.  He has co-judged the Chicago Sun-Times Poetry Competition with Marc Smith and Mark Strand, has been regularly featured on NPR and has appeared on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam. Regie has worked with Gwendolyn Brooks, Roy Ayers, Fareed Haque, Kurt Vonnegut, David Amram, The Monks of the Drepong Gamong Monastery, members of the world famous AACM (Association for the  Advancement of Creative Musicians), Mos Def, David Murray, Sterling Plumpp, Marc Smith, Mark Strand, Reg E. Gaines, Savion Glover, John Legend and many other artists in musical genres including World, Celtic, Jazz, Blues and, Salsa, and classical European.


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Samira Ahmed is a graduate of the University of Chicago, taught high school English for seven years, worked to create over 70 small high schools in New York City, and fought to secure billions of additional dollars to fairly fund public schools throughout New York State. She’s appeared in the New York Times, New York Daily News, Fox News, NBC, NY1, NPR, and on BBC Radio. Her creative non-fiction and poetry has appeared in Jaggery Lit, Entropy, the Fem, Claudius Speaks and the Spine Out novelists series. Her debut novel, LOVE, HATE & OTHER FILTERS is out January 16, 2018 from SoHo Teen.




Kevin Andrew Prchal is a Chicago area singer/songwriter whose newest release, “Love & Summer,” is out now. In 2016, he was a guest on the Write Life podcast, and his episode can be heard HERE.




Beth Sampson

Elizabeth Metzger Sampson directs and teaches in the Hands On Stanzas Program. Elizabeth’s creative work is a hybrid of writing and visual art. She has published and shown work in the US, Egypt, and Germany. Before Hands On Stanzas, Elizabeth taught creative practice workshops in Cairo and Sinai, Egypt, taught at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and was editor of the electronic magazine, Dear Navigator.  Elizabeth has been working with the Poetry Center of Chicago for five years, and is currently Executive Director.




Faisal Mohyuddin‘s poetry and fiction have appeared in several publications, including Prairie SchoonerNarrativeRHINOPoet LoreChicago Quarterly Review, Crab Orchard Review, Atlanta ReviewCatamaran Literary Readerthe minnesota reviewHair Trigger, and Indivisible: An Anthology of Contemporary South Asian American Poetry (University of Arkansas Press). New work is forthcoming in Painted Bride Quarterly, The Missouri Review, and in the anthologies Misrepresented People: Poets Respond to Trump’s America (New York Quarterly Books) and The Book of Donuts (Terrapin Books). He received the 2014 Edward Stanley Award from Prairie Schooner and was a finalist in Narrative‘s Eighth Annual Poetry Contest in 2016. His first chapbook of poems, The Riddle of Longing, was published in October 2017 by Backbone Press.

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