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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 BF Day Elementary, Blue Heron School & The Hutch School
Samar holds an M.F.A. from Colorado State University and worked in California public schools for seven years. Born to Lebanese immigrants and raised with multiple languages, she is a 2006 Hedgebrook alum and the author of two chapbooks, Farah and Nocturnal Temple.
Samar Abulhassan
Daemond Arrindell Broadview-Thomson K-8, HS3 High School, West Seattle High School & South Lake 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
Emily Bedard Broadview-Thomson K-8 School

Emily writes poetry, fiction, and collaborative screenplays with her sister. She has an M.F.A. from the University of Montana and has taught students from preschool to college age. Her freelance work is in print and online, and her poems have appeared in Indiana Review, Swivel, and elsewhere.

Emily Bedard
Aaron Counts Nathan Hale High School

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
Vicky Edmonds Broadview-Thomson K-8 School

Vicky Edmonds has taught poetry as a means of Social/Emotional Learning for the last 26 years throughout Seattle, as well as presenting at conferences in the US and Canada and abroad. She is inspired by the authentic, hopeful voices of children as they write their way through their difficulties and then try to find their own deepest beauty, and she has written more than 20,000 poems over the last 47 years trying to do the same thing.

Vicky Edmonds
Katy Ellis Broadview-Thomson K-8 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
Alex Gallo-Brown Nathan Hale High School

Alex Gallo-Brown was born and raised in Seattle. He is the author of a self-published collection of poetry, The Language of Grief, and his poems and essays have appeared in publications that include Tahoma Literary Review, Pacifica Literary Review, Seattle Review of Books, and The Stranger. 

Alex Gallo-Brown
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
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 McDonald International Elementary 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 Keith Cascade K-8 Community School

Jourdan Keith was the 2006-2007 Seattle Poet Populist and a 2006 Jack Straw Writer. Her poetry and stories blend the textures of political, personal and natural landscapes to offer voices from the margins of American lives. She was awarded an individual artists grant from the City of Seattle Mayor’s Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs in 2004. She has been a Writer-in-Residence with WITS, the Cottages at Hedgebrook, Book-It Repertory Theater, Powerful Schools and the Nature Consortium.

Jourdan Keith
Rachel Kessler Washington Middle School & Blue Heron Middle 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
Corinne Manning Roosevelt High School

Corinne Manning received her MFA from UNC Wilmington. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Story Quarterly, Vol 1 Brooklyn,  Arts & Letters, Drunken Boat, The Oxford American and The Nervous Breakdown. Her story "Slow Steady Eruption" was published as a chapbook by Alice Blue Books in 2014. She's received grants and fellowships from Artist Trust, Seattle Office of Arts & Culture and was the Hub City Writer's Project Writer-in-Residence in 2010/2011. She co-coordinates The Furnace Reading Series, a long form prose reading series in Seattle.

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
Nikkita Oliver Washington Middle School & Franklin High School

Nikkita Oliver is a Seattle-based creative, teaching artist/mentor, and organizer. She was recently admitted to the WA State Bar Association to practice law, and is completing a Masters of Education at the University of Washington. She is the 2014 Seattle Poetry Slam Grand Slam Champion. Her writing has been included in the South Seattle Emerald and the Christena Cleveland blog.

Nikkita Oliver
Michael Overa Broadview-Thomson K-8 School & TOPS K-8 School

Michael Overa was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest and holds an MFA from Hollins University. A steadfast believer that clear communication opens doors, Michael has taught writing in a variety of venues, including Cornish College of the Arts and the Tinker Mountain Online Writers' Workshop. His work has appeared in the Portland Review, Prime Number Magazine, Fiction Daily and the Denver Syntax, among others.

Michael Overa
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
Anastacia Renee Garfield High School

Anastacia Renee Tolbert is a queer super-shero of color moonlighting as a writer, performance artist and creative writing workshop facilitator. She has received awards and fellowships from Cave Canem, Hedgebrook and VONA. She is the 2015-16 Poet-in-Residence at Hugo House. Her chapbook "26" was published by Dancing Girl Press, and she is a 2015 Pushcart nominee. 

Anastacia Renee
Danny Sherrard Broadview-Thomson K-8 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 Broadview-Thomson K-8 School, Catharine Blaine K8 School, & 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 & BF Day Elementary 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
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 reading series Cheap Wine & Poetry.

Jeanine Walker