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Writers & Schools

Our writers boast many titles and accolades. They have published novels, short story collections, and books of poetry. Their journal publications include: Arts & Letters, Portland Review, Indiana Review, Swivel, and Poetry Northwest. They are Slammasters, literary curators, novelists, screenwriters, performance artists, and award-winning storytellers. They are teachers not only for Writers In The Schools but also Hugo House, Creative Justice, The University of Washington's Rome Program, and Youth Speaks Seattle. They hold MFAs and more titles than we can count. This year, they serve 25 schools in five school districts: Highline, Port Townsend, Seattle, Shoreline, and Lake Washington. By encouraging students to write about what they know best––themselves––WITS writers-in-residence help students find their authentic voices.

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Samar Abulhassan Laurelhurst Elementary School, Blue Heron School & The Hutch School

Samar holds an M.F.A. from Colorado State University and has worked for SAL's WITS program for nearly ten years. Born to Lebanese immigrants and raised with multiple languages, she is a 2006 Hedgebrook alum and the author of multiple chapbooks, including Farah and Nocturnal Temple. She received a 2016 CityArtist grant to complete a novel-in-poems, reflecting on memory, longing and the Arabic alphabet ignited while exploring Pike Place Market and Seattle’s waterfront.

Samar Abulhassan
Daemond Arrindell West Seattle High School, South Lake High School & Nathan Hale High School

Daemond Arrindell is a poet, performer, and teaching artist. He is currently a faculty member of Freehold Theatre and is co-facilitating a poetry and theater residency at Monroe Correctional Complex for men, in addition to working as a Writer-In-Residence through the Writers in the Schools Program. In 2012, he taught Seattle University’s first course in Slam Poetry. He has performed in venues across the country and has been repeatedly commissioned by both Seattle and Bellevue Arts Museums.

Daemond Arrindell
Jamaica Baldwin Ballard High School

Jamaica Baldwin is a graduate of the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Pacific University Oregon and a 2017 Jack Straw Writer’s Fellow. Her poetry has been published, or is forthcoming, in Rattle, Spiral Orb, Jack Straw Anthology, Hayden’s Ferry, Third Coast Review and the Seattle Review of Books where she was the March 2017 poet in residence. She teaches at Hugo House and Writers in the Schools in Seattle and is currently working on her first book.

Jamaica Baldwin
Letitia Cain Catharine Blaine K-8 School

Letitia Cain is a poet who holds a MFA degree in creative writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her poems have appeared in Switched-on Gutenberg, Raven Chronicles and Gravel Literary Journal. She teaches creative writing classes in the community that focus on the promotion of health and wellness through writing, using her skills as a physician and poet. She is the Business Manager for Poetry Northwest and also works as part of the event staff for Seattle Arts and Lectures.

Letitia Cain
Aaron Counts Seattle Youth Poet Laureate Mentor

Aaron has written and read with professors, prisoners, dropouts and scholars. He is the co-author of Reclaiming Black Manhood and the lead artist with King County’s Creative Alternatives Program, which uses art to reduce the number of kids locked away in detention. His first publication appeared on a Kenmore refrigerator on 7th St. in Yakima, and he has recently appeared in Specter Magazine, Bestiary, Aldebaran Review and Rufous City Review. His forthcoming book of poetry, Strange-tongued Names, will be published by Backbone Press.

Aaron Counts
Katy Ellis B.F. Day Elementary School

Katy E. Ellis grew up in Renton, Washington and is the author of two chapbooks, "Urban Animal Expeditions" and "Gravity," which was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She studied writing at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada and at Western Washington University. Her poetry has appeared in a number of literary journals including Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Grain, and Fiddlehead. Her fiction has appeared in Burnside Review and won Third Place in the Glimmer Train super-short fiction contest. She has been awarded grants from the Elizabeth George Foundation, Seattle’s Office of Arts & Culture, and Artist Trust/Centrum. Katy co-curates WordsWest Literary series, a monthly literary event in West Seattle, where she lives with her husband and daughter.

Katy Ellis
Karen Finneyfrock Lafayette Elementary School & Blue Heron Middle School

Karen Finneyfrock is a poet and novelist. She is the author of two young adult novels: The Sweet Revenge of Celia Door and Starbird Murphy and the World Outside, both published by Viking Children’s Books. She is one of the editors of the anthology Courage: Daring Poems for Gutsy Girls, and the author of Ceremony for the Choking Ghost, both released on Write Bloody press. She is a former Writer-in-Residence at Hugo House.

Karen Finneyfrock
Kathleen Flenniken View Ridge Elementary School

Kathleen Flenniken is the author of two poetry collections: Plume, winner of the Washington State Book Award and finalist for the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America, and Famous, winner of the Prairie Schooner Book Prize and named a Notable Book by the American Library Association. Her awards include a fellowship from the NEA and a Pushcart Prize. She served as Washington State Poet Laureate from 2012 - 2014.

Kathleen Flenniken
Kelly Froh Renaissance School of Art and Reasoning

Kelly Froh has self-published over 60 mini-comics and zines, and her comics have appeared in the Seattle Weekly, Poetry Northwest, and the Women’s Review of Books. Kelly has performed her comic stories at the Hugo House's acclaimed Literary Series, Gridlords, Lit Crawl, Pecha Kucha, On the Boards, APRIL, Spark Central, and at Bumbershoot. Kelly is also the co-founder and Executive Director of Short Run Comix & Arts Festival.

Kelly Froh
Laura Gamache Blue Heron Middle School, Hamilton International Middle Schoo, TOPS K-8, & Broadview-Thomson K-8

Laura Gamache believes reading and writing can save your life. She holds an MFA from the University of Washington, directed their Writers in the Schools MFA Internship Program for 10 years, and has been a WITS writer since 1997. She was a Jack Straw Writers Program fellow in 1999 and 2002, Finishing Line Press published her chapbook, "nothing to hold onto," and her poems and teaching essays have appeared in many print and on-line journals and anthologies, most recently Sixfold Poetry (Summer 2016). Her band, Feeble Prom Date, is imaginary.

Laura Gamache
Matt Gano The Center School & Seattle Youth Poet Laureate Mentor
Matt Gano is author of Suits for the Swarm, a poetry collection from MoonPath Press, and has been writing and teaching professionally since 2004. Matt has toured poetry venues and worked as an artist-in-residence from New York to Hong Kong. He is a veteran of the Seattle writing community and in 2015, he and writer Aaron Counts co-founded the Seattle Youth Poet Laureate Program with Seattle Arts & Lectures.
Matt Gano
Ramon Isao B.F. Day Elementary School & Chief Sealth High School

Ramon Isao is a recipient of the Tim McGinnis Award for Fiction, as well as fellowships from Artist Trust and Jack Straw Cultural Center. His writing has appeared in The Iowa Review, Ninth Letter, Hobart, The American Reader, and elsewhere. He is also a teacher at Hugo House.

Ramon Isao
Jourdan Imani Keith Cascade K-8 Community School & Renaissance School of Art & Reasoning

Jourdan Imani Keith is a poet, playwright, essayist, lecturer and storyteller. A contributing writer for Orion Magazine, two of her essays were chosen for the 2015 Best American Science and Nature Writing Anthology (Houghton Mifflin). Her memoir Tugging at the Web is forthcoming from University of Washington Press (2018). Featured at the Northwest African American Museum, MOHAI's Queering the Museum exhibition and at Seattle Art Museum's REMIX, her image driven poetry keeps the history of marginalized people alive through stories of the land. Keith's TEDx Talk "Your Body of Water" is the 2016-2018 theme for King County's “Poetry on Buses” project. 

Jourdan Imani Keith
Rachel Kessler Blue Heron School

Rachel Kessler is co-author of books Who Are We? (including a 7" record) and TYPO, made as co-founder of poetry performance collaborations Vis-a-Vis Society and Typing Explosion, respectively. Her work has appeared in The Stranger, USA Today, Tin House, Poetry Northwest, Narrative and elsewhere. Inspired by everyday occurrences, she has performed poetry in parks, on buses, disguised as a tree, aboard water taxis, in phone booths, hair salons and public restrooms.

Rachel Kessler
Gary Copeland Lilley Port Townsend High School

Gary Copeland Lilley is a native of Sandy Cross, North Carolina. He is a veteran of the United States Navy Submarine Force and a longtime blues denizen of Washington, DC and Chicago. He presently teaches and writes in Port Townsend, Washington. Lilley’s books include Alpha Zulu, The Subsequent Blues, Black Poem and The Reprehensibles.

Gary Copeland Lilley
Alex Madison TOPS K-8 School

Alex Madison grew up in the Seattle area. She writes fiction and nonfiction and holds an MFA from the Iowa Writers' Workshop. Her work has appeared in the Indiana ReviewSalon, The Rumpus Bitch Media, Atlas Obscura, Witness, City Arts and elsewhere. She has taught high school language arts in Highline Public Schools, creative nonfiction in Singapore, and fiction writing at the University of Iowa. She also teaches prose classes at Hugo House. 

Alex Madison
Corinne Manning Roosevelt High School

Corinne is a prose writer, literary organizer and performer whose fiction has appeared in Story Quarterly, Calyx, Vol 1 Brooklyn, Moss, The Bellingham Review, Southern Humanities Review, and is forthcoming in Wildness from Platypus Press. Additional stories and essays have appeared in Literary Hub, Vol 1 Brooklyn, Drunken Boat, Arts & Letters, anthologized in Shadow Map: An anthology of Survivors of Sexual Assault (CCM Press), and recognized as notable in The Best American Series. Corinne founded The James Franco Review and just finished a novel, Potential Monsters. 

Corinne Manning
Peter Mountford Blue Heron Middle School

Peter Mountford’s debut novel A Young Man’s Guide To Late Capitalism won the 2012 Washington State Book Award in fiction. His second novel The Dismal Science was published in 2014. His work has appeared in the Atlantic Monthly, Granta, the New York Times Magazine, Best New American Voices 2008, Boston Review, and elsewhere.

Peter Mountford
Sierra Nelson Seattle Children's Hospital & McDonald International Elementary School

Sierra is a poet, cephalopod appreciator, and co-founder of performance art groups The Typing Explosion and Vis-à-Vis Society. Her lyrical choose-your-own-adventure, I Take Back the Sponge Cake with artist Loren Erdrich, debuted from Rose Metal Press in Spring 2012 and her chapbook “In Case of Loss” from Toadlily Press in Fall 2012.

Sierra Nelson
Minh Nguyen Franklin High School

Minh Nguyen is a writer, illustrator, and organizer of exhibitions and art programs. She has curated exhibitions at Wing Luke Museum, and writes art criticism for Seattle Weekly, Art in America, ArtSlant, and elsewhere. Along with Claire Buss, she initiated Chat Room, a research and development project about how the internet has changed the culture and economy of art. She teaches art education programs at Seattle Art Museum.

Minh Nguyen
Cody Pherigo Nathan Hale High School

Cody Pherigo is a queer writer from Kalamazoo, MI. His studies at Bent Writing Institute and Goddard College convinced him that poets are politicians in the most humane sense of the word. Cody has self-published 2 chapbooks, and is a 2016 Ruth Stone Poetry Prize finalist. In 2016, he was awarded a 4Culture Artists Grant for a project on trans resilience. 

Cody Pherigo
Danny Sherrard Nathan Hale High School & Middle College High School

Danny Sherrard unfolds the kind of space wherein stories are created. With over ten years of experience conducting writing and performance workshops across the globe, Sherrard bares witness to the life-giving power of storytelling. He is the youngest person to have won both the US National Poetry Slam and the World Poetry Cup Paris, France. Sherrard is the author of three collections of poetry and is working on his first novel. He is currently the writer-in-residence at the GLASS BOX art gallery.

Danny Sherrard
Imani Sims Renaissance School of Art and Reasoning

Imani Sims spun her first performance poem at the age of fourteen. She has gone on to teach performance poetry to youth and adults, publish her first collection of poetry entitled, Twisted Oak, on Requiem Press, and founded an interdisciplinary arts production company, Split Six Productions. Her latest book of poetry, (A)live Heart, was published in October 2016 by Sibling Rivalry Press.

Imani Sims
Greg Stump McClure Middle School, Cascade K-8 Community Schoool & Catharine Blaine K-8 School

Greg Stump has been a regular contributor to The Stranger for more than a decade. He is the co-creator of the comic book series Urban Hipster, a former writer and editor for The Comics Journal, and the creator of the weekly alternative-newspaper comic Dwarf Attack. He teaches comics through a variety of schools and organizations in the Seattle area and recently completed his first graphic novel, Disillusioned Illusions.

Greg Stump
Ann Teplick Seattle Children's Hospital Education Department

Ann is a poet, playwright, and prose writer with an MFA in creative writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. For twenty years she’s been a Teaching Artist in Seattle public schools; Hugo House; Coyote Central; and Pongo Teen Writing, at King Co. juvenile detention and the Washington State psychiatric hospital.

Ann Teplick
Arianne True Washington Middle School

Arianne True (Choctaw, Chickasaw) is a poet, storyteller, and excitable human from right here in Seattle. Arianne has more than a decade of experience working with youth of all ages, and has taught and performed everywhere from the temperate rainforest canopy to under Seattle’s streets; from the intertidal zone to the deck of a tall ship. Currently, Arianne is proud to be an MFA student at the Institute of American Indian Arts.

Arianne True
Jeanine Walker Alki Elementary School & Leschi Elementary School

Jeanine Walker is a poet who holds a Ph.D. in Creative Writing and Literature from the University of Houston. Her poems and reviews have appeared in Cimarron Review, Cream City Review, Gulf Coast, Narrative, PageBoy, and Web Conjunctions. She has performed at many venues around town and is the host of the popular variety show "Mixed-Bag."

Jeanine Walker