Conference Presenters

Meet the writers who will be presenting and reading at the 2022 Annual Poetry Conference!

Morgan Adams is a poet and bookstore manager who lives and works in Lexington, KY. She is the author of the poetry chapbook In Nonestica (Accents Publishing), and has printed small limited-run publications from both local and national writers through Osedax Press, where she serves as founder and editor-in-chief. 
Kelly Norman Ellis is the author of Tougaloo Blues (2003) and Offerings of Desire (2012). Her poetry has appeared in Sisterfire: Black Womanist Fiction and Poetry, Spirit and Flame, Role Call: A Generational Anthology of Social and Political Black Literature and Art, Boomer Girls, Essence Magazine, Obsidian, Calyx, and Cornbread Nation. She is a recipient of a Kentucky Foundation for Women writer’s grant and is a Cave Canem fellow and founding member of the Affrilachian Poets. Ellis is an associate professor of English and creative writing and chairperson for the Department of English, Foreign Languages and Literatures at Chicago State University.
Dave Harrity’s poems, essays, and criticism have appeared in Verse Daily, Ninth Letter, Mid-American Review, Copper Nickel, Hotel Amerika, Softblow and elsewhere. Author of several books, his most recent are A Distant Place (with photographer Michael Winters, Material Books, 2020), Our Father in the Year of the Wolf (Word Farm, 2016), and These Intricacies (Cascade Books, 2015). The recipient of an Al Smith Fellowship from the Kentucky Arts Council and a William Alexander II and Lisa Percy Fellowship recipient from the Rivendell Writers’ Colony, he lives in Louisville, KY. Reach out via
Dr. Cheryl R. Hopson is an Associate Professor of English and African American Studies. She received her PhD in English from the University of Kentucky in 2008, and specializes in 20th Century American and African American literature and culture, and Black and Third Wave feminist autobiographical, philosophical, and life writing. Dr. Hopson is an essayist and a poet. She has published essays on Zora Neale Hurston, Alice and Rebecca Walker, as well as on Black Feminist sisterhood. Finishing Line Press published her chapbooks Fragile (2017) and Black Notes (2013). Additionally, Professor Hopson’s poems can be found in the Toronto Quarterly, Border Crossings, and Not Very Quiet, in the anthology Writing for Peace (2017)published by Dove Tale: An International Journal of the Arts, and in other publications. Originally from Southwest Virginia (love those Blue Ridge Mountains), she has been a resident of Kentucky on-and-off since 2002, and is excited to be a part of the WKU family.
Iris A. Law is a poet, editor, and educator living in the San Francisco Bay Area. A Kundiman fellow whose poems have appeared or are forthcoming in journals such as the New England Review, The Margins, and Waxwing, she also edits and is cofounder of Lantern Review: A Journal of Asian American Poetry. Her chapbook, Periodicity, was published by Finishing Line Press in 2013.
Kristen Renee Miller is the incoming director and editor-in-chief for Sarabande Books. A poet and translator, she is the 2020 winner of the Gulf Coast Prize in Translation and the translator of two books of poetry from the French by Ilnu poet Marie-Andrée Gill. Her work can be found widely, including in Poetry Magazine, The Kenyon Review, Diagram, jubilat, and Best New Poets. She is the recipient of awards and fellowships from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, AIGA, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and the American Literary Translators Association. She lives in Louisville, KY.
Britton Shurley is author of the chapbook Spinning the Vast Fantastic (Bull City Press, 2021), and his poetry has appeared in such journals as Southern Humanities Review, Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review, and Southern Indiana Review. He is the recipient of Emerging Artist Awards from the Kentucky Arts Council in both 2011 and 2016. He is a Professor of English at West Kentucky Community & Technical College where he edits Exit 7: A Journal of Literature & Art. He lives with his daughters and wife, the poet, Amelia Martens in Paducah, KY where they curate the Rivertown Reading Series. 
Crystal Wilkinson is the award-winning author of The Birds of Opulence (winner of the 2016 Ernest J. Gaines Prize for Literary Excellence), Water Street and Blackberries, Blackberries. Nominated for both the Orange Prize and the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, she has received recognition from The Kentucky Foundation for Women, The Kentucky Arts Council, The Mary Anderson Center for the Arts, The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and is a recipient of the Chaffin Award for Appalachian Literature. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and her short stories, poems and essays have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies including most recently in the Oxford American and Southern Cultures.  Her most recent novel, a lyrical exploration of love and loss, The Birds of Opulence centers on several generations of women in a bucolic southern black township as they live with and sometimes surrender to madness. Her collection, Perfect Black, was published August 2021. Crystal identifies as a southern, feminist fiction writer, and grew up in the hills of Kentucky. She currently teaches at the University of Kentucky where she is Associate Professor of English in the MFA in Creative Writing Program. She is a 2020 USA Artist Fellowship Recipient, and makes her home in Lexington, KY. In 2021, Crystal was named the Poet Laureate for Kentucky.
Olivia A. Cole is the author of six novels, most recently The Truth About White Lies. Olivia’s essays have been published by Bitch Media, Real Simple, The L.A. Times, HuffPost, Teen Vogue, Gay Mag, and others. Dear Medusa, Olivia’s first novel-in-verse, will be released in Spring 2023.
Tyler Vaughn Hayes is a poet and essayist in the midst of his MFA at Western Kentucky University. His words have been published in The Ponder Review, Thimble Magazine, and others.
 NitaJade Jackson (they/she) is a self-proclaimed weirdo hailing from Asheville, NC. They hold a BA in African and African American Studies (with a minor in Theatre) from Berea College, and an MFA in Creative Writing Poetry from the University of Kentucky. They are currently a Visiting Assistant Professor of English at Centre College for the 2022-2023 academic term. As of this year, they’ve been named an Affrilachian Poet, published in Poetry Northwest‘s winter/spring edition, and included in the Zora’s Den: the Fire Inside Volume II anthology. They aspire to embody the combined aesthetics of sloths and narwhals (slarwhals, if you please.) They laugh loudly and stubbornly.
Ellen Hagan is a writer, performer, and educator. Her books include: Don’t Call Me a HurricaneBlooming FiascoesHemisphereCrowned, Watch Us Rise (co-written with Renée Watson) and Reckless, Glorious, Girl. Her work can be found in ESPN MagazineShe Walks in Beauty, and Southern Sin. She received a New York Foundation for the Arts fellowship in poetry in 2020 and has received grants from the Northern Manhattan Arts Alliance and the Kentucky Foundation for Women.
Tom C. Hunley directs the MFA Creative Writing program at Western Kentucky University, where he has taught since 2003. He writes poetry, essays, and screenplays. He divides his time between Kansas and Oz.
Lisa Low’s poems appear or are forthcoming in Copper Nickel, Ecotone, The Massachusetts Review, Poetry, The Southern Review, and elsewhere, and her nonfiction won the 2020 Gulf Coast Nonfiction Prize. She graduated from Indiana University’s MFA program and earned her PhD in creative writing from the University of Cincinnati. Her debut chapbook, Crown for the Girl Inside, won the 2020 Vinyl 45 Chapbook Contest and is forthcoming from YesYes Books.
Jeremy Paden is a professor of Spanish and Latin American literature at Transylvania University in Lexington, KY. He writes poems in both English and Spanish and translates into and out of both. He has translated and published poetry from Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Spain. His bilingual, illustrated children’s book Under the Ocelot Sun (Shadelandhouse Modern Press, 2020) won a Campoy-Ada prize for Spanish language children’s literature. His most recent collections of poems are world as sacred burning heart (3: A Taos Press, 2021) and Self-Portrait as an Iguana (Valparaiso USA, 2021).
Katerina Stoykova is the author of several award-winning poetry books in English and Bulgarian, as well as the Senior Editor of Accents Publishing, where she has selected, edited, and published over 80 poetry collections. Her latest book, Second Skin (ICU, 2018, Bulgarian) received the Vanya Konstantinova biannual national poetry award, as well as a grant from the European Commission’s program Creative Europe for translation and publication in English. Katerina acted in the lead roles for the independent feature films Proud Citizen and Fort Maria, both directed by Thom Southerland. Her poems have been translated into German, Spanish, Ukrainian, Bangla, Farsi, and a volume of her selected poems, translated into Arabic by acclaimed poet Khairi Hamdan, just came out in Arabic from Dar Al Biruni press.
Marissa Davis is a poet and translator from Paducah, Kentucky. Her poetry has appeared in Poetry, Poem-A-Day, Narrative, Rattle, West Branch, Mississippi Review, Muzzle Magazine, and Best New Poets, among others. Her translations are published or forthcoming in Massachusetts Review, New England Review, Mid-American Review, The Common, Rhino, American Chordata, and The Offing. Her chapbook, My Name & Other Languages I Am Learning How to Speak (Jai-Alai Books, 2020) was selected by Danez Smith for Cave Canem’s 2019 Toi Derricotte and Cornelius Eady Prize, and she was the runner-up of the 2021 Narrative 30 Below Contest. Davis holds an MFA from New York University. Her website is
Louisville, KY writer Minda Honey is the Black Joy editor for Reckon News. Her memoir-in-essays, An Anthology of Assholes, is forthcoming from Little A summer 2023. Until then, catch her words in Longreads, the Oxford American, the Washington Post, Salon, and elsewhere.
Jarek Jarvis is a Hoosier poet.  Before returning to the US, he taught EFL in Beijing, China and was involved with the international arts collective Spittoon. Currently, he is an MFA candidate in Poetry at Western Kentucky University.
Jay McCoy is a Lexington-based writer and visual artist with deep roots in Eastern Kentucky. Currently, he works as a contract writer/editor and medical credentialer/coder. Jay earned his MFA in creative writing from the Bluegrass Writers Studio at Eastern Kentucky University.  Active in the writing community, he leads Q-munity (a queer writing series) at the Carnegie Center and co-founded the Teen Howl Poetry Series. Jay’s writing has appeared in several anthologies and journals. His chapbook, The Occupation, was published in 2015, and he edited the 2020 Lexington Poetry Month Anthology.
Kate Nezelek is a poet and fiction writer from Richmond, Virginia.  She holds a BA in English (with a Creative Writing concentration) from Rice University and is currently an MFA candidate at Western Kentucky University.  
Joy Priest is the author of HORSEPOWER (Pitt Poetry Series, 2020), selected by U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey as the winner of the Donald Hall Prize for Poetry. She is the recipient of a 2021 National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, a 2019-2020 Fine Arts Work Center fellowship, and the Stanley Kunitz Memorial Prize from the American Poetry Review. Her poems have appeared in the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day series and The Atlantic, among others, as well as in commissions for the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH) and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). Her essays have appeared in The Bitter SouthernerPoets & WritersESPN, and The Undefeated. Priest received her MFA in poetry with a certificate in Women & Gender Studies from the University of South Carolina. She has facilitated poetry workshops with incarcerated juvenile and adult women, and has taught creative writing, comedy, gender & sexuality, and African American Arts & Culture at the university level. Joy is an Inprint MD Anderson Foundation Fellow and a doctoral student in Literature & Creative Writing at the University of Houston. She is currently editing an anthology of Louisville poets for Sarabande Books.
Robin LaMer Rahija lives in Lexington, KY. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Puerto Del Sol, Fence, Guernica, and elsewhere. From 2010-2020, she was the managing editor of Rabbit Catastrophe Press, a book arts, feminist micropress. 
 Teja Sudhakar is a first year MFA candidate in Poetry at Indiana University. She was born in Chennai, India, but lived in Lexington, KY for the majority of her life. Teja earned her B.A. degrees in Psychology and Gender & Women’s Studies from the University of Kentucky. In her creative work, Teja explores diaspora, belonging, intergenerational womanhood, homemaking, and faith. She is the author of the chapbook Looking for Smoke, a collection of docupoetry entailing the experiences of first-generation immigrant women living in Kentucky. When she’s not writing, Teja enjoys making Spotify playlists, calling her friends back home, and attempting to invent recipes.
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