Alumni Newsletter, Spring 2021 (vol.7)

Photo courtesy Florida Keys Public Libraries: Betty Suarez's third grade class, Reynolds Elementary School, 1965-66. Gift Lisa Suarez.
Photo courtesy Florida Keys Public Libraries: Betty Suarez's third grade class, Reynolds Elementary School, 1965-66. Gift Lisa Suarez.

Spring is here: mangoes are ripening on the trees, the temperature is rising, and our streets are a little calmer. Happily, we are back at work putting together the 2022 workshop & scholarship programs and look forward to seeing many of you in person again in the future.

Our alumni community has been busy; see below for some astonishing recent achievements. Many 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 “KWLS21” at checkout.

featured achievements

Amazingly, two of our alumni have recently been awarded poetry fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts. Competition for these fellowships is extremely rigorous. The NEA typically receives more than 1,600 applications each year in the poetry/prose category and awards fellowships to fewer than 3 percent of applicants. Congratulations to Jacqueline Allen Trimble and Flower Conroy!

Jacqueline Allen Trimble

Jacqueline Allen Trimble
“My work, in no small measure, has been helped and encouraged by KWLS, and this organization has provided me time, space, and connection with amazing teachers and wonderful fellow writers.”

Jackie lives in Montgomery, Alabama, where she is a professor of English and chairs the Department of Languages and Literatures at Alabama State University. Her work has appeared in various publications, including the Griot, the Offing, the Louisville Review, and Blue Lake ReviewAmerican Happiness (2016), published by NewSouth Books, won the Balcones Poetry Prize. (Gregory Pardlo 2020/ Kevin Young 2019/ Teacher & Librarian Scholarship 2017/ Rowan Ricardo Phillips 2017)

Flower Conroy, former Key West Poet Laureate, is the author of three chapbooks: Facts About Snakes & Hearts (winner of Heavy Feather Press’ Chapbook Contest); The Awful Suicidal Swans; and Escape to Nowhere.

Her first full-length manuscript, Snake Breaking Medusa Disorder, was chosen by Chen Chen as the National Federation of State Poetry Societies’ Stevens Manuscript Competition winner. (Gregory Pardlo 2020)

Flower Conroy


Mandy Miller‘s debut novel, States of Gracea legal thriller, has just been published by Literary Wanderlust. Writer John Dufresne wrote, “States of Grace is an unnerving and irresistible novel of judicial intrigue and betrayal set in the volatile South Florida netherworld of opioid addiction. As in the best of plots, nothing here is as it seems. States of Grace is engrossing, unpredictable, and fast-paced.” (John Dufresne 2019)

Priscilla Paton’s second Twin Cities Mystery, Should Grace Failhas been praised as “an ambitious mystery that tackles heavy themes” (Kirkus Reviews) and is a finalist for the 2020 Foreword INDIES Best Mystery Award. The mystery addresses addiction, police brutality, racism, and the difficulty of redemption. The series is published by Coffeetown Press. (Fernanda Eberstadt 2020)

Cindy Simmons was on the team that took first place in the Pennsylvania Mid-state Literacy Council Spelling Bee. Her novel Wrong Kind of Paper is due out this summer from the Sunbury Press Brown Posey imprint. (Workshop Financial Aid 2017/ Myung-Ok Lee 2017)


George Guida recently published two collections of poems: Zen of Pop, published by Long Sky Media, and New York and Other Lovers from Encircle Publications. (Rowan Ricardo Phillips 2018)

JD Scott‘s debut poetry collection, Mask for Mask, has recently been published by New Rivers Press out of Minnesota State University Moorhead. (Workshop Financial Aid 2018/ Manuel Gonzales 2018)

Laura Villareal‘s debut poetry book was accepted for publication by University of Wisconsin Press and is forthcoming in Spring 2022. (Teacher & Librarian Scholarship 2018)

short stories & articles

Leone Ciporin‘s short story “The Skin of Young Goats” was published in the Saturday Evening Post and was featured on the “front page” of the online version. (John Dufresne 2019)

Janice Gary was nominated for a Pushcart Prize for her narrative nonfiction essay “Into the Fire,” included in the anthology Fearless: Women’s Journeys to Self-Empowerment published by Mountain State Press, 2020. (Emily Raboteau 2019/ Paulette Alden 2013, 2011)

Robin Luce Martin‘s short prose appeared in Once We Were Pioneers TEXT Telephone Writings, published by Crosstown Press. This work is also featured in TELEPHONE, an international arts gallery that launched in April. A podcast of the short story “Through the Hole” will go live this month. (Joy Williams 2018/ Robert Stone 2011)

plays & film

Laura Albritton is the writer and producer of a documentary short called Adventures in History about her collaborator on the book Hidden History of the Florida Keys, published by The History Press (2018). The short narrates the remarkable adventures of local Florida Keys legend and historian Jerry Wilkinson with first-person interviews, archival images, sweeping aerials, and music. Filmed in Tavernier, Islamorada, Marathon, and Key West, it is being directed by J. Brian King of Sun King Studio and produced by Magic Kumquat Productions. (Writer in Residence 2019)

Drew Larimore‘s play Smithtown enjoyed a recent digital release produced by the Studios of Key West and was featured in the New Yorker.  Additionally, Drew was just commissioned by Denizen Theatre for a new play set to be workshopped later this summer. Broadway World announced it here. (Writer in Residence 2019)


Abby Caplin’s poem “Regret” won second place in the 2020 Soul-Making Keats Literary Competition’s poetry category, judged by Indigo Moor. Two of her poems have been included in the just-released Blue Light Press anthology Fog and Light: San Francisco through the Eyes of the Poets Who Live Here, selected by Diane Frank. Abby’s poems have been published this past year in numerous literary journals, including AGNIBelle OmbreRising Phoenix ReviewLouisiana Literature, and Spoon River Poetry Review. (Billy Collins 2020/ Gregory Pardlo 2019/ Rowan Ricardo Phillips 2018/ Kevin Young 2016)

Debra Daniel’s novella-in-flash, A Family of Great Falls, was shortlisted for the Bath Flash Fiction Novella Award (UK) and will be published by Ad Hoc Fiction. Her flash fiction also appears in Chautauqua and the National Flash Fiction Day Anthology. (Daniel Menaker 2016/ Billy Collins 2015)

Meghan Dunn‘s first collection of poetry, Curriculum, was awarded the 2020 Barry Spacks Poetry Prize, selected by Jessica Jacobs. Curriculum was recently published by Gunpowder Press. (Teacher & Librarian Scholarship 2016)

Theodore Wheeler was awarded a Nebraska Arts Council literature fellowship in February based on the opening chapters of his novel In Our Other Lives (Little A, 2020). In March, he and his wife opened a bookshop in the Dundee neighborhood of Omaha. “Located on the main floor of a historic house, the shop has as close to a Key West vibe as you can get in Nebraska,” he writes. “We even have some framed photographs of Hemingway’s six-toed cats on the wall that we took on past trips to the seminar.” (Emerging Writer Award 2014)


Emily Vizzo is the new social media editor for Air/Light Magazine, the new literary journal from the University of Southern California, where she supports social media and publicity. (Teacher & Librarian Scholarship 2019/ Rowan Ricardo Phillips 2017)

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

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