Alumni Newsletter, Fall 2023 (vol. 14)

Dear Friends,

As the days here in Key West get cooler, we’re deep in the process of preparing for the Seminar and Workshops this January. Our big news is that we’ve moved offices from Love Lane to the beautifully restored Elizabeth Bishop House. It’s a treat working in this light-filled space, where such an extraordinary poet spent years writing. We’re hoping to be able to open up the gardens to the public—replanted with native species that Bishop loved and often referred to in her poems—in 2025.

See below for the latest updates from our alumni!

Support local & independent booksellers! Purchase any book highlighted here from Books & Books @ The Studios of Key West and get a 20% discount. Use code “KWLS23” at checkout.

featured achievements

Ted Wheeler‘s historical novel, The War Begins in Paris, has just been published by Little, Brown and Company.

Called “powerful and immersive” by Caitlin Horrocks, it’s a literary noir about two female World War II correspondents whose fates intertwine in Europe (order now and get a discount with the code “alum23”). (Marianne Russo Award 2014)

emerging writer awards

Melanie Faranello was awarded two writing residencies for next year, at Monson Arts and KHN Center for the Arts. Her personal essay “The Shape of Grief” was accepted for publication in Hippocampus, forthcoming in winter. (2022)

Nishanth Injam‘s essay “Burning My Mother” was published in the Atlantic. It’s about coming to terms with the loss of his mother. Injam is the author of the story collection The Best Possible Experience, a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. (2021)

writers in residence

Alicia Eler has returned to her standup comedy roots, recently performing (in English) at the Dark Comedy Night in Istanbul at Aylak Bar. She has shows coming up this fall in Minneapolis (more info @aliciakismeteler). Eler is the visual art critic/reporter at the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and recently wrote a feature on artists of Latino descent on the rise in the Twin Cities(2022)

Michael Adno wrote The Mystery of Florida’s Flamingos for the New Yorker about how he went looking for the birds after Hurricane Idalia and fell down a series of rabbit holes, learning how a small group of researchers reshaped everything we know about the American flamingo. (2020, 2019, 2018).

Katie Lee Ellison‘s essay, “like [my] mother, like me” was published in the Seventh Wave, and her essay “Faux Fur” came out in J Jourmal. She started a Seattle-based reading series called Nonfiction for No Reason that occasionally travels. She hopes to bring it back east soon. In addition, she’s launched a series of online writing classes. (2022)

Erin Fennell‘s story, “A Dream Unfolded,” won the Yeehoo Star Award in the second cycle of Yeehoo Press‘s Adapt Your Favorite Folktale competition. The story will be translated into Chinese and featured on their Chinese publisher’s website and also distributed to young readers in China via Chinese social media. (2018)

Tammy Harrow‘s novel All the Salt in the Sea won the Florida Writer’s Association’s Grand prize and took Gold for Women’s Fiction genre. “Harrow presents an absorbing tale that is equal parts traumatic, hopeful and sadly familiar,” writes Kirkus Reviews. (2022)

Drew Larimore‘s musical The New Peggy, for which he wrote the book and co-lyrics, has had its studio cast album release, and is available on all streaming platforms. The album premiered on Sirius XM’s “On Broadway.” Read an interview about the project. (2022/ 2019/ 2018)

Erika Higgins Ross has been longlisted for the Granum Foundation Prize for her novel-in-progress (which was one of the winning submissions for our 2024 Emerging Writer Awards). This prize was established to help U.S.-based writers complete substantive literary works and to help launch these works. (2023)

writers’ workshop fellows

Jovanie Vazquez wrote and produced a Women’s History Month episode for Monroe County’s television station featuring Key West Mayor Teri Johnston and a series highlighting locals in the trades titled “That’s My Job, Monroe County!” (Tyehimba Jess 2023)

writers’ workshop students

Jamel Brinkley‘s short story collection Witness was recently published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. “Exhilarating … Brinkley is a writer whose versatility knows no boundaries … A gift of the highest quality,” wrote a reviewer in the New York Times. Brinkley’s debut novel, A Lucky Man, was a finalist for the National Book Award. (Antonya Nelson 2016)

Elaine Alarcon‘s short story, “At Nola’s Kitchen” and poem, “I Wonder if Poe …” were published in eMerge. Five of her poems from “Lorca Suite” appeared in the latest issue of Solo Voyage, published by Glenna Luschei earlier this fall. Alarcon’s play, The Beast in the Library, was presented at a reading at the Old Vic Theatre in Santa Barbara. (David Treuer 2022/ Billy Collins 2020/ Jeanine Capó Crucet 2017)

Leah Rachel Berkowitz‘s third picture book, The Moving-Box Sukkah, was published by Apples & Honey Press in September. (Joy Castro 2023)

D. E. (Doug) Green is serving as the Interim Co-Poet Laureate of Northfield, Minnesota, along with Becky Boling. They host a monthly open mic and the Poets at the Depot program as part of the Cracked Walnut Festival. Green’s new book of poetryCatastrophizing in Catastrophe, came out in March. (Billy Collins 2012)

Sarah Key‘s poem “Ode to the Scarce Yellow Sally Stonefly” was included in an anthology from Penguin Random House, Greening the Earth: A Global Anthology of PoetryKey read two poems for the World Poetry Day Festival, a 24-hour online marathon of poets reading around the world. (Peter Ho Davies 2023/ Ishion Hutchinson 2022)

Priscilla Mainardi‘s short story “Otherworld” was published in Atticus Review. (Joy Castro 2023/ Christopher Castellani 2019)

Betty Joyce Nash’s novel Everybody Here is Kin was recently released by Madville Publishing. Bret Anthony Johnston, bestselling author of Remember Me Like This, called it a powerful exploration of love’s shadowy forms and the ways our relationships are as shaped by desire as they are by … the places we keep running from and toward.” (Claire Messud 2020)

John E. Simonds has just published his fourth collection of poems, Walking the Sunset Home. With a mix of humor and an edgy perspective, Simonds explores a range of topics from dysfunction and death to personal memories, offering a sense of hope in a changing world. More info at webjesunsethi.com. (Gregory Pardlo 2019/ Lisa Zeidner 2018/ Rowan Ricardo Phillips 2017/ Mark Doty 2015/ Daniel Manaker 2014/ Billy Collins 2013/ Dara Weir 2012)

teacher & librarian award winners

Emily Vizzo‘s children’s picture book, Starflower: The Making of a Poet, Edna St. Vincent Millay, was recently published by Abrams. It was featured by the American Library Association and Kirkus Reviews. Co-authored with J.M. Farkas, it’s illustrated by Jasmin Dwyer. (2019)

Kristie Camp‘s article, “Walking the Borderlands and Writing in the Woods” was published in English Journal. Her paper “Outdoor Capital,” which argues for incorporating outdoor literacy lessons into classroom structures to build social and cultural capital for marginalized teens, received the Distinguished Paper Award for the SC Educators for the Practical Use of Research. (2022)

We love hearing from KWLS alumni! Keep us up to date by sending your latest news to programs@kwls.org.

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