KWLS Alumni Newsletter, Spring 2019

We’ve got news! Over the past few months we’ve been impressed by all the incoming news from KWLS alumni who are busy writing, publishing, and winning awards. In this newsletter, we’re delighted to share with you the many achievements of our past workshop students, Emerging Writer Award winners, scholarship recipients, and writers in residence. We’ll be sending out this newsletter a few times a year from now on (today’s is an epic edition).

Here in Key West, we’ve been busy too. Executive Director Arlo Haskell was just named Poet Laureate of Key West. We bid farewell to our program coordinator Freya Henderson, who is embracing adventures in Oregon, and welcomed Katrin Schumann to our offices in Love Lane. Katrin is the author of the Washington Post bestselling novel, The Forgotten Hours.

Support local & independent booksellers! Purchase any book highlighted here from Books & Books @ The Studios of Key West and get a 20% discount. Use code “KWLS20” at checkout.

featured achievements

Dantiel W. Moniz’s debut story collection, Milk Blood Heat, just sold to Grove Atlantic. Dantiel also won the 2018 Alice Hoffman Prize for Fiction, awarded by Ploughshares (2018 Cecilia Joyce Johnson Award winner).

Claire Lombardo’s debut novel, The Most Fun We Ever Had, will be published in June in the US by Doubleday and in the UK by Weidenfeld & Nicolson (2019 Richard Russo workshop).

“Lombardo’s impressive debut is a gripping and poignant ode to a messy, loving family in all its glory. She juggles a huge cast of characters with seeming effortlessness, bringing each to life with humor, vividness and acute psychological insight.” —Madeline Miller, New York Times bestselling author of Circe

Michael Adno’s story “The Short & Brilliant Life of Ernest Matthew Mickler” won the 2019 James Beard Award in Profile Writing. A piece Michael reported over the course of two years, “Once It Comes Time: William Christenberry,” came out in the Bitter Southerner in February. “It’s maybe the most significant thing I’ve written yet,” he says. His articles “Surfing Remade in the Rockaways” and “Conjuring Spirits in Florida,” which he worked on while in residence in Key West, were published in the New York Times (2018 & 2019 writer in residence).

Joshunda Sanders’s first children’s book, I Can Write the World, about an aspiring black girl journalist, is coming out in June with Six Foot Press. Joshunda recently participated on a panel, Black Books Matter, one of the flagship events of the Bologna, Italy, Children’s Book Fair. She was a finalist for the Jerome Artist Fellowship and one of five first place winners of a Voices of Color Fellowship at the Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing (2016 Kristen-Paige Madonia workshop).

Katya Apekina’s novel The Deeper the Water the Uglier the Fish was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize—the Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction—and will be translated into Spanish, French, German, Italian and Catalan (2018 Joy Williams workshop & scholarship winner).

Judy Seldin-Cohen’s book Recharging Judaism won the silver award from the National Jewish Book Awards and the Myra H. Kraft Memorial Award for Contemporary Jewish Life & Practice.

Judy started a blog series ( sharing stories of congregations that are using their resources to create affordable housing (2019 Toolkit participant).

Sara Johnson Allen was awarded a MacDowell Colony Fellowship in 2018 and was given a  2019 Elizabeth George Foundation artist’s grant. Her story “We Make Them Pay” was shortlisted for the 2019 Stockholm Writers Festival First Pages Prize (2018 Marianne Russo Award winner).

short stories & plays

John Baum’s short story “Everything is Fine” was published in the Massachusetts Review and another was a runner-up in the William Faulkner Wisdom Competition. John was also awarded a residency at the Hambidge Center for the Arts in Georgia (2016 Mary Kay Zuravleff workshop).

Esperanza Cintron has had short stories published by Wayne State University Press and in Shades: Detroit Love Stories. More here (2018 Teacher & Librarian scholarship).

Leah Griesmann’s story “Desert Rats” will be published in the anthology This Side of the Divide: Stories of the American West, by Baobab Press. Leah workshopped a story linked to this one during her week in Key West. She’ll be a resident at the Studios of Key West in 2019 (2017 Jennine Capo-Crucet workshop).

Drew Larimore’s musical The New Peggy has been featured on the Micro Musical Theatre podcast and will be available on iTunes this summer. He is attending the Djerassi Artist Residency in fall 2019 as a playwright in residence (2018 & 2019 writer in residence).

Vicky Lettmann’s story “Dolls, Death, and Pleasing Decay” is forthcoming in the next issue of Minerva Rising. More here (2016 Jane Hirschfield/ 2017 Dani Shapiro/ 2018 Gregory Pardlo workshops).

Jen Logan Meyer has a short story in the winter-spring issue of the Alaska Quarterly Review, and her story “Stop.” is forthcoming in the summer issue of the Sewanee Review (2018 Joy Williams workshop).

Seamus Scanlon’s play The McGowan Trilogy sold out in Japan. His first poetry collection, Ireland in the Heart, has has been translated into Spanish –Irlanda en el Corazon– and published by Artepoetica Press (2013 Teacher & Librarian scholarship).


Pamela Gay’s memoir I’m So Glad You’re Here will be published by She Writes Press in 2020. Pamela recently won an honorable mention for her flash memoir “Against the Wall” in a contest sponsored by Midway Journal and judged by Michael Martone (2017 Dani Shapiro workshop).

Lara Lillibridge’s  memoir, Mama, Mama, Only Mama: An Irreverent Guide for the Newly Single Parent, has just been released by Skyhorse Publishing. Lara also co-edited the anthology Feminine Rising: Voices of Power and Invisibility released by Cynren Press in April (2018 Daniel Menaker/ 2019 John Dufresne workshops).


Scott Brennan’s poetry collection Raft Made of Seagull Feathers will be published by Main Street Rag Publishing in the fall. More on Scott here (2013 Scotti Merrill Award winner).

Leila Chatti’s first full-length collection, Deluge, is forthcoming from Copper Canyon Press in 2020 (2018 Emerging Writer Award runner-up).

George Guida’s revised poetry collection New York and Other Lovers will be published by Encircle Publications in January 2020. More here. (2018 Rowan Ricardo Phillips workshop).

Abigail King has four poems in the current spring issue of Leaping Clear (2017 Billy Collins workshop).

Paul Lubenkov’s poetry collection Tap Dancing On The Razor’s Edge was published by David Robert books in 2018.

Pamela Manche Pearce has a chapbook coming out this fall. Her previous collection, Widowland, is a finalist for the 2019 Eric Hoffer Book Award (2016 Billy Collins workshop).

Paige Riehl published a collection titled Suspension with Terrapin Books in 2018. Riehl’s manuscript was a finalist for the Lindquist & Vennum Prize for Poetry with Milkweed Editions, and she has published poems in several journals, including Water-Stone Review, Crab Orchard Review, and Free State Review (2016 Billy Collins workshop).

Bruce Robinson has placed poems in assorted publications with others promised in DASH Literary Journal, the Menteur, Blueline, and Spectrum(2018 Billy Collins/ 2019 Gregory Pardlo workshops).

Emily Vizzo’s poetry collection Giantess was released by YesYes Books in 2018 and reviewed by Portland’s The Poetry Question (2017 Rowan Ricardo Phillips workshop/ 2019 Teacher & Librarian scholarship).

recommended quick reads

Aaron Hamburger’s opinion piece “Yes Kurt Cobain was a grunge hero, he was also a gay rights advocate” was published in the Washington Post.His novel Nirvana is Here—”a yearning, generous coming-of-age story,” says author Tova Mirvis—has just been released by Three Rooms Press (2019 writer in residence).

Maija Makinen’s essay “Finland Is Not Real” was published in the Bare Life Review. She’ll be attending the Mary Sky Residency in Vermont this June (2019 Emily Raboteau workshop).

Kristine Mietzner’s travel essay “Food Sharing, Barcelona Style” was featured in the April edition of the online magazine Your Life is a Trip, which also published her essay “Travels with Rain Man.” An excerpt from Kristine’s novel, Matisse in Winter, was published in the 2018 anthology 166 Palms (2017 Teacher & Librarian scholarship/ 2018 Daniel Menaker workshop).

Jen Gilman Porat’s essay “The Neanderthal” is on Longreads (2017 Jennine Capo-Crucet/ 2019 Emily Raboteau workshops).


Rebecca Bruff’s historical novel, Trouble in the Water, inspired by the life of Robert Smalls, will be published in June by Koehlerbooks (2017 Kate Moses workshop).

Ted Wheeler’s third book, In Our Other Lives, set during an NSA post-9/11 domestic spying campaign, was acquired by Little A and will be published in March 2020 (2014 Marianne Russo Award winner).

Audrey Wick’s debut women’s fiction novel, Finding True North, and its sister story Coming Home were recently released by Tule Publishing. Audrey’s author debut was featured in Writer’s Digest as a “Breaking In” profile for traditional publishing, as well as in Southern Writers as a “New Voice in Town” (2018 Teacher & Librarian scholarship).

awards, residencies & more

Katherine Agard’s first book, of color, won the Essay Press Open Book contest and will be published early next year (2018 Rowan Ricardo Phillips workshop).

Allison Alsup’s short story “The Proper Protocol for Abandoned Babies” was shortlisted for the Manchester Fiction Prize (2019 Richard Russo workshop).

Ben Bush has been awarded various fellowships, including residencies from the Vermont Studio Center and the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts in Nebraska. In August he will begin the creative writing doctorate program at the University of Southern California as a Dornsife Fellow (2016 Antonya Nelson workshop & scholarship winner).

Martin Cloutier has been named a 2018 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellow in Fiction (2018 Emerging Writer Award runner-up).

Debra Daniel’s novella, Roster, will be published by Ad Hoc Fiction in the UK and was a highly commended entry in the Bath Flash Fiction competition (2015 Billy Collins/ 2016 Daniel Menaker workshops).

Elizabeth Jacobson’s second book, Not into the Blossoms and Not into the Air, won the New Measure Poetry Prize selected by Marianne Boruch and was published in January by Free Verse Editions/Parlor Press. Beginning this spring she will be the Reviews Editor at (2019 writer in residence).

Kristina Neihouse’s debut novel, Knowing When to Leave, was awarded the silver medal in the young adult category of the 2018 Florida Book Awards. She received an Anne McKee Artist Fund grant for the second book in the series. Her essay “Death and an Abscess” placed 3rd in the WOW Women on Writing quarterly creative nonfiction essay contest (2018 Manuel Gonzales workshop & scholarship winner/ 2019 Emily Raboteau workshop & Toolkit participant).

Elizabeth Oxley earned a Merit Award in the Book of Kells Creative Competition held annually by Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, for her poem “Jesus Gets the Band Back Together.” She placed 2nd in the 2018 Frontier OPEN poetry competition for her poem “Expelling Venus” (2019 Gregory Pardlo workshop).

Patty Smith’s debut novel, The Year of Needy Girls, was a 2018 Lambda Literary Award finalist in lesbian fiction. Her short story “A Country Where I am Beautiful” won third place in the Master’s Review Summer Short Story contest. Patty spent two weeks in residency at VCCA working on her second novel and was granted one of the inaugural Rowland Writers Residencies in Aurora, NY (2015 Teacher & Librarian scholarship).

Arida Wright was awarded an Anne McKee Artists Fund grant to publish her first book (2018 Manuel Gonzalez workshop & scholarship winner).

other news

Pam Braswell is completing the fourth and fifth books in a series, and her earlier novels are currently on submission to publishers. She went to Israel to complete field work and took a literary tour of Ireland and Scotland with Christine Cozzens, Dean of Agnes Scott College and a published scholar of Irish literature (2015 Susan Shreve workshop).

Joshua Bodwell has been named editorial director of David R. Godine, Publisher, an independent Boston-based press established in 1970, and will be leaving his 10-year post as executive director of the Maine Writers & Publishers Alliance. In addition to the Godine list, Joshua will oversee the house’s Black Sparrow Press imprint, a continuation of the famed West Coast avant-garde publisher’s legacy (2015 Marianne Russo Award winner).


We love hearing what KWLS alumni are up to!
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