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.



Nic Stone was born and raised in a suburb of Atlanta, GA, and the only thing she loves more than an adventure is a good story about one. After graduating from Spelman College, she worked extensively in teen mentoring and lived in Israel for a few years before returning to the US to write full-time. Growing up with a wide range of cultures, religions, and backgrounds, Stone strives to bring these diverse voices and stories to her work. Her first novel, Dear Martin, is a finalist for the ALA’s Morris Award, honoring first-time authors writing for teens and celebrating impressive new voices in young adult literature. In October, Nic was a guest on the Write Life podcast, and her episode can be heard HERE.



Cristina Henríquez is the author of The Book of Unknown Americans, which was a New York Times Notable Book of 2014 and one of Amazon’s Top 10 Books of the Year. It was the Daily Beast Novel of the Year, a Washington Post Notable Book, an NPR Great Read, a Target Book of the Month selection, and was chosen one of the best books of the year by BookPage, Oprah.com, and School Library Journal. It was also longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction and was a finalist for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize. Her stories have been published in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Glimmer Train, The American Scholar, Ploughshares, TriQuarterly, and AGNI along with the anthology This is Not Chick Lit: Original Stories by America’s Best Women Writers. In 2016, Cristina was a guest on the Write Life podcast, and her 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.


Gloria Chao

Gloria Chao is an MIT grad turned dentist turned writer. Her debut novel, AMERICAN PANDA, is coming out in Spring 2018 from Simon Pulse/Simon & Schuster. She was once a black belt in kung-fu and a dancer, but that side of her was drilled and suctioned out. Restoration in progress. You can visit Gloria’s website, add her on Goodreads, and follow her on Twitter.





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.


Gia Margaret


Gia Margaret is a singer-songwriter from Chicago whose newest release, Before, is available at her Bandcamp site.




Eden Robins


Eden Robins is a fiction writer whose short stories have appeared (or will!) in venues such as Apex MagazineShimmerKaleidotrope, and Farrago’s Wainscot, and she was the founding editor of the now-defunct online magazine Brain Harvest. She also writes novels — most recently a weird Western. She has co-hosted Tuesday Funk since January 2014.




andrewhuff_200x copyAndrew Huff is editor and publisher of Gapers Block, a Chicago-centric news and events webzine he co-founded in 2003. In addition to Gapers Block, he has also worked for several years as a professional blogger for corporate clients such as American ExpressKenneth ColeA&E, and Starwood Hotels. He holds a journalism degree from The Ohio State University and a certificate in medical writing and editing from the University of Chicago, and spent 10 years in public relations, working primarily with clients in the healthcare and biotech industries. He has taught in the journalism departments at Loyola University Chicago and Columbia College. He has hosted Tuesday Funk since April 2013.




AJ Pine is a teen librarian by day and a romance writer by night and the author of the If Only series (Entangled Embrace), the Only You series (Berkley/Intermix), the Kingston Ale House series (Entangled Select), and the upcoming Crossroads Ranch series (Forever Romance).



Tom Latourette

Tom Latourette has written his first children’s book, I Had a Runny Nose, and 100% of the proceeds will go to The BTB Foundation, a local charity founded by Tom and his brother that has given over one million dollars to local families fighting cancer.

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