2023 Presenters

Sarah Thankam Mathews grew up between Oman and India, immigrating to the United States at seventeen. She is a recipient of a Best American Short Stories 2020 award and fellowships from the Asian American Writers Workshop and the Iowa Writers Workshop. All This Could Be Different is her first novel. Sarah is a 2009 graduate of Fremd High School and a National Book Award finalist.

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José Olivarez is the son of Mexican immigrants. His debut book of poems, Citizen Illegal, was a finalist for the PEN/ Jean Stein Award and a winner of the 2018 Chicago Review of Books Poetry Prize. It was named a top book of 2018 by The Adroit Journal, NPR, and the New York Public Library. Along with Felicia Chavez and Willie Perdomo, he co-edited the poetry anthology, The BreakBeat Poets Vol. 4: LatiNEXT. He is the co-host of the poetry podcast, The Poetry Gods. In 2018, he was awarded the first annual Author and Artist in Justice Award from the Phillips Brooks House Association and named a Debut Poet of 2018 by Poets & Writers. In 2019, he was awarded a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation. His work has been featured in The New York Times, The Paris Review, and elsewhere.

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Omar Holmon is an Alumni poet of Rutgers University and has competed in slam poetry for numerous years with two final stage appearances at the National Poetry Slam. He has been featured on Button Poetry, Tedx, and a commercial for Laphroaig whiskey (we outchea). In 2014 Omar Holmon Co-founded the Black Nerd Problems website with William Evans, where he spends his days writing essays on pop culture, blackness, and making top quality gifs.

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Eden Robins is a 1996 Fremd graduate who loves novels best, but they take forever, so she also writes short stories and self-absorbed essays. She co-hosts a science podcast called No Such Thing As Boring with an actual scientist and produces a monthly live lit show in Chicago called Tuesday Funk. Previously, she sold sex toys, wrote jokes for Big Pharma, and once did a stand-up comedy set to an audience who didn’t boo. She lives in Chicago, has been to the bottom of the ocean, and will never go to space. WHEN FRANNY STANDS UP is her first novel. Find out more scintillating tidbits at monkeythumbs.com and on Twitter and Instagram @edenrobins.

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Toya Wolfe grew up in the Robert Taylor Homes in Chicago’s South Side. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing at Columbia College Chicago. Her writing has appeared in African Voices, Chicago Journal, Chicago Reader, Hair Trigger 27, and WarpLand. She is the recipient of the Zora Neale Hurston-Bessie Head Fiction Award, the Union League Civic & Arts Foundation Short Story Competition, and the Betty Shifflet/John Schultz Short Story Award. She currently resides in Chicago. Last Summer on State Street is her debut novel. 

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Elizabeth Moen is a singer/songwriter who blends fierce, massive vocals and raw bluesy guitar with introspective lyrics and electronic textures. She has had the opportunity to share the stage with Allison Russell with Birds of Chicago, Lake Street Dive, Houndmouth, Ani DiFranco, St Paul and the Broken Bones, Lucy Dacus, Becca Mancari, Monica Martin, Esme Patterson, The Weepies, Buck Meek, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Margaret Glaspy, Lissie, William Elliott Whitmore and Beth Stelling.

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Kevin Andrew Prchal is a singer/songwriter from Chicago, Illinois and a Writers Week fan favorite.

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Elizabeth Metzger Sampson is a poet, essayist, and frequent collaborator with visual artists. She is the executive director of the Chicago Poetry Center, which organizes local roving readings and hires poets as teaching artists for poetry residencies in Chicago Public Schools. She was named one of Newcity’s “Lit 50 2017: Who Really Books in Chicago.” She previously founded and edited Dear Navigator, an electronic experimental literary magazine for the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s MFA in Writing program. Recent and forthcoming publications include interviews, essays, and poems, in Adroit JournalTemporary Art Review, and Hypertext Magazine. Her collaborative visual and written work has been shown at venues in and around Chicago, and in Neuss, Germany, and Cairo, Egypt.

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Hot Alice is a 4-piece rock band from the suburbs of Chicago. Spawned from multiple other successful Chicago bands, they’re lifelong friends who have decided to try something new. It’s been a work in progress with a few hurdles along the way but, alas, songs.

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