Alumni Newsletter, Spring 2024 (vol. 15)

Dear Friends,

The clocks have sprung forward, the humidity is rising here in Key West, and we are preparing to launch our 2025 scholarship and workshop programs. And registration for the 42nd annual Seminar, Family, is now open!

We’ve settled into the Elizabeth Bishop House, where we are currently holding a series of spring workshops. It’s wonderful to have the space to host writers and help them polish their work as they seek publication.

Our good news is that we’re very close to reaching our goal for the Bishop House capital campaign — if we can raise $38,000 by March 31, the Helmerich Trust will give us a challenge grant of $200,000! If you’d like to participate you can donate here.

Please see below for all the latest news from our alumni. Congratulations to all!

Support local & independent booksellers! Purchase any book highlighted here from Books & Books @ The Studios of Key West and get a 20% discount. Use code “KWLS25” at checkout.

featured achievements

Annabelle Tometich‘s memoir, The Mango Tree, is being published by Little, Brown on April 2. Preorder here at 20% discount (use code KWLS25).
Publisher’s Weekly writes, “Tometich writes with awe and humor about her irascible mother, who provided her children with a middle-class upbringing, while never underplaying the emotional toll extracted along the way.” (David Treuer 2022)

emerging writer awards

Chase Burke‘s short story “Last Rites” is hot off the press from Mississippi Review 51.3. (2020)

Lisa Beech Hartz‘s short story “The Nurse’s Name is Celeste” was recently published in the Winter 2023-24 of Ploughshares, edited by Ladette Randolph. (2022)

writers in residence

Lily Meyer‘s debut novel, Short War, will be released April 2, and is now available for pre-order. Told in three distinct voices, Short War brings together a rapturous teenage love story set in Chile, the hunt for the author of an eye-opening literary detective story, and a complex reckoning with American political intervention in South America. (2023)

In January, Rolling Stone published Michael Adno and Rose Marie Cromwell’s years long investigation, “A Fire in the River,” about how Florida’s sugar industry shaped the lives of those living in the Everglades and transformed south Florida in the past century. (2020, 2019, 2018)

Anthony DiPietro‘s debut poetry collection, kiss & release (Unsolicited Press) was published in February. The book is described by Pulitzer Prize-winner Diane Seuss as “a pleasurable, lovable book about love and pleasure.” DiPietro has launched a multi-state tour, including at the Finger Lakes Arts Series hosted by fellow KWLS alum George Guida. (2023/ Rowan Ricardo Phillips 2018)

Alicia Kismet Eler‘s comedy work was recently featured on MN Comedy and in Sahan Journal. To follow their work, check out Instagram @aliciakismetcomedy. (2023, 2022)

Ariana Reines‘s poem “Disinhibitor,” written while in residence, was published in the New Yorker in December. The Rose, a manuscript she was working on in Key West, just sold to Graywolf. Ariana’s essay “And All the World Shall Be In Love With Night” has just been published by SCAD/KARMA. This spring she will be teaching a workshop called Ha Ha Your Soul, inspired by her time in Key West. (2023)

writers’ workshop fellows

Evelyn Krieger received a Standiford Fellowship to the week-long Writers in Paradise Conference at Eckerd College this past January. More info here. (David Treuer 2022)

Claire Lombardo‘s second novel, Same As It Ever Was, is forthcoming in June 2024 from Doubleday Books and is available for preorder. Her New York Times bestselling debut novel, The Most Fun We Ever Had, is being adapted as a series to be produced by Laura Dern and Amy Adams, and written by Lombardo. (Rick Russo 2019)

Kristine Simelda‘s fifth novel, Rise Up, Sista, has been published by TouchPoint Press. Set in the UK and Jamaica, it’s a story about female friendship and the power of music to change individual lives and popular culture that spans over fifty years. (Naomi Jackson 2018)

writers’ workshop students

Joshunda Sanders‘s novel Women of the Post was published by Park Row. Inspired by the real life Six Triple Eight, a group of 855 Black women who cleared millions of pieces of backlogged mail as part of a postal battalion during World War II, the novel received praise from Alice Walker, Jacqueline Woodson, and Honoree Fanonne Jeffers. (Kristin Paige Madonia 2015)

Julie Benesh’s debut poetry collection, Initial Conditions, was recently published by Saddle Road Press.(Kimiko Hahn 2024/ Luis Urrea 2023/ Laura Van den Berg 2022/ Fernanda Eberhardt 2020)

Laura Catherine Brown’s second novel, Made by Mary, was published by C&R Press and rewarded an Independent Publisher silver medal. Her comics have been published in World War 3 Illustrated anthology and HAD magazine. (Antonya Nelson 2016)

George Guida’s novel The Uniform was recently published by Guernica Editions. According to J Journal, “Guida elevates shattering violence to poetry, shows history through the daily grind, and creates a complex protagonist who, like all human heroes, can never put away his past.” George’s review of Anders Carlson-Wee‘s latest collection, Disease of Kings, appears in the Winter 2024 issue of West Branch. (Rowan Ricardo Phillips 2018)

Mandy Miller’s third Grace Locke novel, Grace Period, was just published. KWLS faculty John Dufresne said: “Grace Period is an unflinching and impassioned novel about corruption writ large, about dirty money in the hands of the filthy rich, about a netherworld where no one is safe, and no one is innocent. Mandy Miller is at the top of her writing game.” (Marjan Kamali 2023/ Joyce Maynard 2022/ John Dufresne 2019)

Chris Naff’s short story “Elephant” was awarded first prize in Mayday magazine’s fiction contest for 2023. She developed this short story during her KWLS workshop. (Joy Castro 2023)

Annie Klier Newcomer’s poem Catch & Release was selected for the annual publication of the Volume 6 Anthology, gifted to participants at the 2023 Johnson County Library Conference. The poem honored Bert Berkley, patron of the library arts. (Marie Howe 2024)

Reema Rao-Patel’s short story “Color of Blood” was published in Hayden’s Ferry Review and was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. This story was workshopped at KWLS. (Dantiel Moniz 2023)

Jacqueline Trimble’s poem “Walking Beside the Cemetary, Olivia Street, Key West” was published by the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day on February 8. (Ishion Huntchinson 2022/ Kevin Young 2019/ Rowan Ricardo Phillips 2017/ Teacher & Librarian Scholarship 2017)

Gerry Wilson’s historical novel That Pinson Girl was recently published by Regal House. Told against the backdrop of the deprivation of World War I, the tragedies of the influenza epidemic, and the burden of generations of betrayal, the novel tells the story of a young woman who gives birth to an illegitimate son in a desolate farmhouse in Mississippi, and forges a bond with the son of one of her grandfather’s former slaves. (Claire Messud 2020)

teacher & librarian award winners

Amy Clark launched the podcast “Talking Appalachian,” which covers the linguistic heritage of the Appalachian region and is based on the book Talking Appalachian: Voice, Identity, and Community (University Press of Kentucky, co-edited with Nancy Hayward.) You can listen on apple or any other podcast platform. Amy is on the editorial board of University of Virginia Press. (2018)

Mike Cooper‘s short story “Call Me When You Get There” was recently published in the Baltimore Review. (2024)

Sabine Jean Dantus‘s book Empathy by Design: Empathy-Driven Marketing for Libraries was published by the Association of College & Research Libraries. It offers step-by-step strategies for understanding why people visit the library and for tailoring marketing with personalization that resonates with users on a deeper level. (2018)

Colleen Herman was selected as a finalist for the 2024 Stories Out of School flash fiction contest sponsored by the Academy for Teachers. (2024)

We love hearing from KWLS alumni! Keep us up to date by sending your latest news to

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