Colgate Writers' Conference - Faculty Skip Navigation

Colgate Writers' Conference - Faculty

Each year, an array of faculty members contribute their expertise to the Writers' Conference.
Greg Ames
Greg Ames is the author of Buffalo Lockjaw, a novel that won the Book of the Year Award from the New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association (NAIBA). Buffalo Lockjaw was voted #1 in The Believer's Reader Survey for 2010. His work has appeared in numerous literary journals, magazines and anthologies, including The Best American Nonrequired Reading, McSweeney's, The Southern Review, Unsaid, The Sun, and He is an assistant professor in the English department at Colgate University.

Short fiction workshop description
All short story manuscripts will be circulated in advance of the conference. Manuscripts should be no longer than 20 pages, double-spaced. The workshop will focus on two short stories per session. Afterward the instructor will consult one-on-one with each writer. Participants will be asked to write a full-page, single-spaced letter in response to each story under consideration. They might want to write these letters before the conference begins to save time because it will be an intense, packed week of writing, reading, and celebrating.

Jennifer Brice
Jennifer BriceBiography
Jennifer Brice has been on the Colgate faculty since 2003. Unlearning to Fly, a memoir in essays, is her latest book. She is also the author of The Last Settlers, a work of literary journalism. Her essays have appeared in such journals as The Gettysburg Review, Under the Sun, and River Teeth.

A graduate of Smith College, Jennifer holds an MFA from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. At Colgate, she teaches creative writing and literature courses, and she co-teaches the college's Living Writers and LW Online courses.

Creative nonfiction intensive workshop description
A nurturing, rigorous workshop open to writers with a complete or nearly complete draft. The idea is to meet each manuscript wherever it's at and help the writer take it to the next level. Ideally, everyone should come to the conference having read everyone's manuscript with care. Detailed written comments aren’t necessary; constructive contributions are. Individual conferences will be scheduled in addition to the workshop. Depending on time, we may read outside work and generate new writing.

Christopher Castellani
Christopher Castellani is the author of three novels: All This Talk of Love, a New York Times’ Editor’s Choice, The Saint of Lost Things, and A Kiss From Maddalena, winner of the 2004 Massachusetts Book Award. He is the artistic director of Grub Street – one of the country’s leading independent writing centers – and on the fiction faculty of the MFA Program at Warren Wilson and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. Last fall, he was a visiting writer at Swarthmore College. He is working on a new novel and The Art of Perspective, a collection of essays, which will be published by Graywolf. He lives in Boston.
Kelly Cherry
Equally masterful at poetry, fiction, and the essay, Kelly Cherry has published twenty-one books, nine chapbooks, and two translations of classical drama. Her latest work, A Kind of Dream: Stories, will be available in the spring of 2014. Some of her previous works include Girl in a Library: On Women Writers and the Writing Life (2009), The Retreats of Thought: Poems (2009), Hazard and Prospect: New and Selected Poems (2007), We Can Still Be Friends (2003), My Life and Dr. Joyce Brothers (2002), The Lost Traveller's Dream (1984), In the Wink of an Eye (1983), and Augusta Played (1979). Her fiction has been represented in Best American Short Stories, The Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards, The Pushcart Prize Stories, and New Stories from the South. She received the Dictionary of Literary Biography Award for best volume of short stories (The Society of Friends, published in 1999), and she was the Poet Laureate of Virginia from 2010 through 2012.

Regardless of the genre she chooses to employ, Kelly's work is notable, according to The New York Times critic Megan Harlan, for its "observant elegiac precision." Her teaching is likewise distinguished: she is the Eudora Welty Professor Emerita of English and Evjue-Bascom Professor Emerita in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. She has served as Eminent Scholar at the Humanities Center at the University of Alabama in Huntsville; and she was Colgate NEH Professor of the Humanities during the spring of 2005. Kelly and her husband live on a small farm in Virginia.

Brock Clarke
Brock Clarke is the author of five books of fiction, most recently the novels Exley (which was a Kirkus Book of the Year, a finalist for the Maine Book Award, and a longlist finalist for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award) and An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England (which was a national bestseller, and American Library Associate Notable Book of the Year, a #1 Book Sense Pick, a Borders Original Voices in Fiction selection, and a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice pick). His books have been reprinted in a dozen international editions, and have been awarded the Mary McCarthy Prize for Fiction, the Prairie Schooner Book Series Prize, a National Endowment for Arts Fellowship, and an Ohio Council for the Arts Fellowship, among others. Clarke’s individual stories and essays have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Boston Globe, Virginia Quarterly Review, One Story, The Believer, Georgia Review, New England Review, and Southern Review and have appeared in the annual Pushcart Prize and New Stories from the South anthologies and on NPR’s Selected Shorts. His sixth book, the novel The Happiest People in the World, will be published in November 2014. He lives in Portland and teaches creative writing at Bowdoin College and in University of Tampa’s low residency MFA program.
Jules Gibbs
Jules Gibbs is the author of the book of poems, Bliss Crisis, published in 2012 by The Sheep Meadow Press. She's been a fellow at the Ucross Foundation, and she was a visiting professor of English and Creative Writing at Hamilton College last year. She's been published in many journals, including The Antioch Review, The American Poetry Review, Salt Hill, Folklift Ohio, Verse Daily, Dossier Journal, Barrow Street, Gulf Coast, Spoon River Poetry Review, and the anthology, Best New Poets.
Brian Hall
Brian HallBiography
Brian Hall bicycled in western and eastern Europe for two years after attending Harvard University, and wrote his first book about those experiences: Stealing from a Deep Place. His most recently published novel, Fall of Frost, concerns Robert Frost, mainly in the last year of his life, when he went to Russia to speak with Khrushchev, hoping to save the world from nuclear war. The Impossible Country explores the breakup of Yugoslavia. I Should be Extremely Happy in Your Company involves the Lewis and Clark expedition. His Saskiad's richly imaginative twelve-year old narrator lives on a commune in Ithaca, New York--or is it the Ithaca of Odysseus? Madeleine's World is a novelist's version of Piaget and child development.

He has published in The New Yorker and The New York Times Magazine.

Novel intensive workshop description
This workshop is an opportunity to have a novel manuscript read by the instructor and your fellow attendees (partial manuscripts are also welcome: recommended minimum of 50 pages). With five participants, each possibly bringing a full novel, attendees must be ready to do a lot of reading in preparation for the conference. Line editing of each other's work is not necessary, but everyone should come prepared to comment in detail on each submission during the morning session, and provide each other with written comments of a general (or specific, of course, if you want) nature on their work. We will workshop one manuscript each morning. I will meet one-on-one in the afternoon with the writer whose work was discussed in the morning. I will provide detailed feedback on the entire manuscript, and will line-edit about 50 pages, to give an idea of textual issues that might pertain to the whole. Although a lot of preparation is required, the week is worth it.

Eleanor Henderson
Eleanor Henderson was born in Greece, grew up in Florida, and attended Middlebury College and the University of Virginia, where she received her MFA in 2005. Her debut novel Ten Thousand Saints was named one of the Top 10 Books of 2011 by The New York Times and a finalist for the Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction from The Los Angeles Times. Her short stories have appeared in Agni, North American Review, Ninth Letter, Columbia, and Salon, among other publications.

Her story “The Farms” was nominated for a Pushcart and selected by Alice Sebold for The Best American Short Stories 2009. Her nonfiction has appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, All Things Considered, Poets & Writers (where she was a contributing editor), and The Virginia Quarterly Review (where she was the chair of the fiction board).

From 2006 to 2010 she taught at James Madison University in Virginia. Now an assistant professor at Ithaca College, she lives in Ithaca, New York, with her husband, Aaron, and sons Nico and Henry. With Anna Solomon she is also co-editor of Labor Day: True Birth Stories by Today’s Best Women Writers (FSG, April 2014).
Ginnah Howard
Ginnah Howard's stories have appeared in Water~Stone Review, Permafrost, Portland Review, Descant 145, Eleven Eleven Journal, Stone Canoe, and elsewhere. Several have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her novel, Night Navigation (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2009) was a New York Times Book Review Editors' Choice. The National Alliance on Mental Illness of New York State gave Howard their Media Award for work on behalf of those with mental illness and their families. Her new novel, Doing Time Outside, a stand-alone sequel to Night Navigation (Standing Stone Books) is available for purchase online at or The third novel of the trilogy about these two upstate families, Rope & Bone, will be published in August, 2014. For more information visit:

J. Robert Lennon
J. Robert LennonBiography
J. Robert Lennon is the author of a story collection, Pieces For The Left Hand, and seven novels, including Mailman, Castle, and Familiar. He holds an MFA from the University of Montana, and has published short fiction in The New Yorker, Harper's, Playboy, Granta, The Paris Review, Electric Literature, and elsewhere. He has been anthologized in Best American Short Stories, Best American Nonrequired Reading, and Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards, and his story "The Rememberer" inspired the CBS detective series Unforgettable.

He hosts the podcast Writers at Cornell, and co-hosts another, Lunch Box, with poet Ed Skoog. His book reviews have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, The Guardian, and The London Review of Books, and he lives in Ithaca, New York, where he teaches writing at Cornell University.

Novel intensive workshop description
This workshop will focus on writing and revising a novel. Participants are welcome to submit whatever they've finished, whether it's a full draft that needs revision or a small excerpt that is looking for direction. Please indicate, on the first page of your submission, what sort of advice you're seeking--are you open to major changes, or do you merely want to refine what you've got? Participants should be prepared to do a lot of reading in preparation for the conference. Close line editing of other participants' manuscripts won't be necessary, but I'd like everyone to be able to comment in detail on each submission, and provide one another with an editorial memo. I will also give each of you a detailed memo, of course, and will line-edit representative portions of each manuscript. Each participant will get his or her own in-depth workshop session, and I'll bring along examples of published books and stories that might inspire you.

Nevin Martell
Nevin Martell is a D.C.-based food, travel, and lifestyle writer whose work regularly appears in the Washington Post, Plate, Wine Enthusiast, and NPR’s blog “The Salt.” He is the author of six books, including the memoir-misadventure Freak Show Without a Tent: Swimming with Piranhas, Getting Stoned in Fiji and Other Family Vacations (2014), The Founding Farmers Cookbook: 100 Recipes for True Food & Drink (2013) and the small-press smash Looking for Calvin and Hobbes: The Unconventional Story of Bill Watterson and his Revolutionary Comic Strip (2009). Find him online at and on Twitter @nevinmartell.
Bruce Smith
Bruce SmithBiography
Bruce Smith was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He went to Bucknell University where he stayed to earn a MA in English and worked at The Federal Penitentiary in Lewisburg. He has taught at Tufts, Boston, and Harvard Universities, on the West Coast at Portland State and Lewis & Clark College, and at University of Alabama before coming to Syracuse in 2002. He has recently been a visiting professor at Colgate and Columbia University.

He is the author of six books of poems, The Common Wages, Silver and Information (National Poetry Series, selected by Hayden Carruth), Mercy Seat, The Other Lover (University of Chicago), which was a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize, Songs for Two Voices, and Devotions, (Chicago, 2011). Devotions has been named a finalist for the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Award as well as the winner of the Williams Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America.

Poems of his have appeared in The Best American Poetry, 2003 and 2004, The New Yorker, The Nation, The New Republic, The Paris Review, The Partisan Review, Kenyon Review, Poetry, The American Poetry Review, and were included in the Best of the Small Presses anthology for 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010. Essays and reviews of his have appeared in Harvard Review, Boston Review, and Newsday.

He has been a fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center and was a winner of the Discovery/The Nation prize. In 2000 he was a Guggenheim fellow and has twice been a recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment of the Arts.