KWLS Alumni Newsletter, Spring 2022

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.

While summer is fast approaching, we’re eagerly looking ahead to the winter when we’ll be launching the 40th annual Seminar and Workshop Program. Our big news is that we’ll be running the Seminar and Workshops concurrently. Also, the Seminar will take place at the Coffee Butler Amphitheater — a spectacular outdoor venue in the award-winning Truman Waterfront area.

Here is the latest news from our alumni community. As Albert Einstein said, “Creativity is contagious – pass it on.” We hope you’ll find this news as inspiring as we do.

Support local & independent booksellers! Purchase any book highlighted here from Books & Books @ The Studios of Key West and get a 20% discount. Use code “KWLS22” at checkout.

featured achievements

Nishanth Injam has secured a two book deal, in a pre-empt, from Pantheon. His debut short story collection, The Best Possible Experience, follows characters in contemporary India and its diaspora and the people and places they call home. His novel, Endless, is about a family in Telangana, India, and explores the themes of addiction, caretaking, betrayal, forgiveness, and the limitations of love. (Laura van den Berg 2022/ Emerging Writer Award winner 2021)

Sarah Cypher‘s debut novel, The Skin and its Girl, sold at auction to Ballantine books for publication in April 2023. It’s the story of a girl born with cobalt-blue skin to a Palestinian-American family on the night their ancestral soap factory in Nablus is destroyed in an air strike.

Sarah’s story “Abu Hani’s Middle Eastern Foods and Gifts” was published in the current issue of New Ohio Review(Diana Abu-Jaber 2016)

Marie Myung-Ok Lee’s novel The Evening Hero, will be published in May by Simon & Schuster. It is currently Goodreads’ #1 Most anticipated literary fiction title. Toggling between the past and the present, Korea and America, the novel is a sweeping, moving, darkly comic novel about a man looking back at his life and asking big questions about what is lost and what is gained when immigrants leave home for new shores.(Workshop faculty 2017/ Writer in Residence 2016)

Diana Abu-Jaber’s newest novel, Fencing with the King, was just released. The book follows Amani, an American writer, as she accompanies her father to a duel with the King of Jordan. Amani has a secret letter from a grandmother she never knew and she is on a mission to learn what’s kept her father from his homeland for 35 years. “A rare pleasure. Abu-Jaber’s rich characters live and breathe around you, and her nuance and wit bring the largest themes to irresistible, present life,” says bestselling author Claire Messud. (Writer in Residence 2019 & 2018/ Workshop faculty 2016)

poetry

Ginny Connors‘s latest collection of poetry, Without Goodbyes: From Puritan Deerfield to Mohawk Kahnawake, was published by Turning Point in December 2021. The book looks at a historic event through the perspective of poetry, attempting to get to the emotional heart of the story. Watch the book trailer(Dara Weir 2019)

Vicky Lettmann recently published a collection of poems titled Listening to Chopin Late at Night(Gregory Pardlo 2019/ Dani Shapiro 2017/ Jane Hirshfield 2015)

Annie Klier Newcomer‘s poetry chapbook, Comets: Relationships That Wander, was published by Finishing Line Press in February. (Billy Collins 2020)

Elaine Alarcon Totten‘s workshop (called the Cigar Factory Poets and launched after her workshop experience in Key West) had poems published in Pandemic Puzzle Poems by Blue Light Press. (Jennine Capó Crucet 2017 / Billy Collins 2020)

Micah Zevin published his first book of poetry, Metal, Heavy (Olena Jennings), during the pandemic. (Jane Hirshfield 2015)

novels & collections

Maryka Biaggio’s novel The Point of Vanishing was recently published by Sunbury Press. It’s based on the true story of child prodigy author Barbara Follett, who disappeared in 1939. (Alan Cheuse 2009)

Pamela Braswell was interviewed on Legal Link podcast in February about her book Rising from Rape: A Memoir of Survival and Justice(Susan Shreve 2016)

Robert Granader‘s short stories, collected in his book Writing in the Q, were published in various literary journals during the pandemic and sprung from a need to say something during this period when schools closed, kids moved back home, offices went empty, and Starbucks delivered coffee at the curb. (Jennine Capó Crucet 2017)

Kristine Simelda‘s latest novel, Rise Up, Sista, a fifty-year saga that chronicles turbulent times for women in the music industry in the U.K. and Jamaica, was released in November by TouchPoint Press. (Naomi Jackson 2018/ Workshop Fellowship Award 2018)

Cynthia Simmons was interviewed on public radio station WPSU about her novel Wrong Kind of Paper, which came out last year from Sunbury Press. The host described it as “part thriller, part romance, and part media commentary.” (Marie Myung-Ok Lee 2017/ Workshop Fellowship Award 2017)

The audiobook for Jodi Weiss‘s novel, From Comfortable Distances, went live in January, narrated by Molly Secours. (Lee Smith 2015/ Susan Shreve 2014/ Porter Shreve 2011)

short fiction & articles

Daniel Levin Becker’s What’s Good: Notes on Rap and Language, a collection of short, interwoven critical essays, was released in February by City Lights. The New York Times called it “an often hilarious, surprisingly moving, and always joyful paean to rap’s relationship to words.” (Writer in Residence 2020)

Adela Brito‘s short story “Babalú Blessings” was recently published in Litbreak Magazine(Naomi Jackson 2018/ Workshop Fellowship Award 2018)

Alicia Eler’s first book, The Selfie Generation, received a shout-out in Men’s Health UK. As the visual art critic/reporter at the Minneapolis StarTribune, she was invited to participate in Hyperallergic‘s special Sunday edition “Critics on Pandemic TV,” for which she wrote the essay “Being a Queer WOC in the Art World, as Seen on TV.” (Writer in Residence 2022)

Pamela Gay‘s flash fiction piece “Space: A Long Story Short” was published in Midway Journal in October. (Dani Shapiro 2017/ Antonya Nelson 2016/ Madeleine Blais 2014)

Aaron Hamburger has a new short story “Simple Past Present Perfect” in the spring issue of the Massachusetts Review(Writer in Residence 2018)

Evelyn Krieger‘s essay “Losing My Words” was published in the new anthology Chicken Soup for the Soul: Grieving, Loss and Healing. (David Treuer 2022/ Workshop Fellowship Award 2022)

nonfiction

Laura Albritton‘s Historic Lighthouses of the Florida Keys, co-authored with Keys historian Jerry Wilkinson, was released by Arcadia Publishing in November. Laura’s documentary short film Adventures in History, which she produced and wrote, will be screened at the Georgia Shorts Film Festival in Atlanta in May. (Writer in Residence 2017 & 2019)

awards & miscellaneous

Ashley Bidwell will be a keynote speaker at the 2022 National Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI) Conference in Orlando, and her writing will be turned into a presentation inspiring and educating an audience of math researchers and enthusiasts. (Teacher & Librarian Scholarship 2020)

Aurora Dominguez won Teacher of the Year for the 2022 school year at Boca High School. She is slated to attend Oxford University to study English Literature for three weeks this summer, and was one of 50 teachers chosen in the U.S. to visit Disney’s Imagination Campus in late May. (Teacher & Librarian Scholarship 2019)

Janice Gary recently presented “Finding Your Voice,” the inaugural workshop of “The New 40,” a yearlong writing mentorship program for Jewish women over forty from Lilith magazine. (Emily Raboteau 2019/ Paulette Alden 2015 & 2014)

Maija Makinen‘s short story collection, The Ghosts of Other Immigrants, has won the New American Fiction Prize and will come out in 2023 from New American Press. A short story with the same title is included in Short, Vigorous Roots, an anthology of migrant writing from Ooligan Press that was released in March. Maija is currently in residence at the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation in Taos, New Mexico. (Emily Raboteau 2019)

We love hearing from KWLS alumni! Keep us up to date by sending your latest news to [email protected].

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