Creative writing offers students an opportunity to express themselves and share their stories. Writers in the Schools (WITS) Writers guide students through creative writing residencies in high school classrooms. WITS Writers and Apprentices will be teaching fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, journalism, and more, at public high schools in Portland, Gresham, Parkrose and Woodburn districts this year.
We are so excited to introduce the 2021-2022 WITS Writers and 2021-2022 WITS Apprentice.
2021-22 WITS Writers
Alex Behr is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. After receiving an MFA from Portland State, Alex Behr has taught fiction, poetry, and creative nonfiction residencies through Writers in the Schools since 2014. She is a published poet, fiction writer, essayist, and musician, and the author of the short story collection Planet Grim.
Amy Minato is the author of a memoir Siesta Lane, (Skyhorse Press, 2009) and two poetry collections Hermit Thrush (Inkwater Press, 2016) and The Wider Lens (Ice River Press, 2004). Amy has been a recipient of both a Literary Arts Fellowship for her poetry and a Walden Residency for her prose. She teaches writing through Literary Arts, Multnomah Art Center, Fishtrap and at Breitenbush Retreat Center as well as a community service course in sustainable living at Portland State University. She holds both an MFA in Creative Writing and an MS in Environmental Studies from the University of Oregon.
april joseph is a poet from East L.A., California, who creates mixed media performance art by employing movement and music to mourning songs. Her performance art is informed by her study of ancestral trauma, healing through Buddhist-psychology, musical composition, Contemplative Dance Practice, evolutionary astrology, and working at a mortuary in Oregon. april earned her MFA in Writing and Poetics from Naropa University and a BA in Literatures of the World from the University of California, San Diego. april’s chapbooks include Excerpts from: Rose Body Fell and First Call Home. Her work has appeared in TAYO, Gesture, Galatea Resurrects, Bombay Gin, The Lune, and can be found at bodyfulspace.com.
Boe Pak was raised and educated in the Portland area and is a steadfast lover of the Pacific Northwest. Although she has lived in Los Angeles and Miami Beach, she considers herself a coffee loving writer with northern sensibilities. Boe started life as a musician but has been writing screenplays for motion picture and television for the past ten years. She is currently shopping scripts for original TV pilots Legend Trippers, Father Basarab Files and Hey! Neighbor! as well as motion picture films Fisherman’s Feast and The Story of Sam. Boe has a Bachelor of Arts degree in secondary education and a Master of Education degree in adolescent literacy and also teaches high school English in addition to working on her own writing projects.
Brian Benson is the author of Going Somewhere (Plume, 2014), and co-author, with Richard Brown, of This Is Not For You: An Activist’s Journey of Resistance and Resilience (OSU Press, March 2021). In addition to his work with Literary Arts, Brian teaches at the Attic Institute and facilitates free Write Around Portland workshops in schools, treatment centers and affordable housing. His short nonfiction has been published in Entropy, The Sun and Off Assignment. He is at work on his third book, a novel.
Bruce Poinsette is a writer and community organizer whose work is primarily based in the Portland Metro Area. A former reporter for the Skanner News Group, his work has also appeared in the The Oregonian, Street Roots, Around the O, and We Out Here Magazine, as well as projects such as the Mercatus Collective and the Urban League of Portland’s State of Black Oregon 2015. In addition to his professional writing work, Poinsette also serves as the Media Action Team Leader for Respond to Racism LO, a grassroots anti-racism organization in his hometown of Lake Oswego, Oregon.
CJ Wiggan is a Nebraskan writer and illustrator creating emotional artwork about gender, relationships, magic, nature, and hair. CJ relocated shortly after earning a double BA in English and Art from Black Hills State University in Spearfish, SD and now works in youth art programming in Portland. Some of CJ’s art can be found in Theories of HER: An Experimental Anthology, JUR(Y): The Journal of Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity, and a little bit on this locked tumblr page: https://chanelheart.tumblr.com.
Damien Miles-Paulson teaches slow dancing, writes and still dreams of an overseas basketball career. He is a founding member of the now disbanded experimental German noise band, Flu Shot. His stories, poems and sounds can be found at The Whole Beast Rag, The Washington Square Review, theNewerYork, Alice Blue Review, Marco Polo Arts Mag, Everyday Genius, Past-Ten, Axolotl and The Alarmist. He now walks the world with an MFA in Creative Writing from UCR in hand.
David Ciminello is a Portland-based writer and educator. His fiction has appeared in the Lambda Literary Award-winning anthology Portland Queer: Tales of the Rose City; Underwater New York; Lumina; Nailed Magazine, and in the podcast series Storytellers Telling Stories. As a professional screenwriter, David has developed projects with Aaron Spelling Productions, All Girl Productions, Sony Pictures, HBO, and Twentieth Century Fox. His original screenplay, Bruno, appears on DVD as The Dress Code.
Dey Rivers is a mixed-media visual artist, poet and storyteller based in Portland Oregon on Cowlitz and Clackamas Native lands. After earning a degree in Fine Art in Pennsylvania they returned to the west coast as a teaching artist with local non-profits and museums. Dey is one of the featured writers in Oregon Writers of Color 2020 Spring Showcase through Ooligan Press. Their current creative writing examines relationships, nature, culture, and history from a Black, neuro-diverse, queer perspective.
Ed Edmo is a Shoshone-Bannock poet, playwright, performer, traditional storyteller, tour guide and lecturer on Northwest tribal culture. Ed offers guided tours to the She Who Watches petroglyphs on the Columbia Gorge, as well as to the Warm Springs Indian Reservation in central Oregon’s high desert country. He conducts workshops, traditional storytelling performances, dramatic monologues and lectures on issues such as cultural understanding and awareness, drug and alcohol abuse, and mental health. Ed is a published short story writer, poet and playwright, and serves as a consultant to the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian.
Elisabeth Geier is a writer, editor, teacher, and enthusiast whose short stories and essays have appeared in publications such as Porter House Review, Okey-Panky, Bright Wall/Dark Room, Nanofiction, and The Toast. She’s taught writing and literature in public high schools, community colleges, youth correctional facilities, affordable housing communities, and elsewhere. Elisabeth has an MFA in Fiction from the University of Montana and lives in Portland with several pets. Read more at elisabethgeier.com.
Emilly Prado is a writer, community organizer, and the prose instructor at the Independent Publishing Resource Center in Portland, Oregon. When not writing or teaching, Emilly moonlights as DJ Mami Miami with Noche Libre, the Latinx DJ collective she co-founded in 2017. Her debut essay collection, Funeral for Flaca, was selected as #YosiBookClub summer reading pick and has been called, “Utterly vulnerable, bold, and unique,” by Ms. Magazine. Funeral for Flaca is out now with Future Tense Books. http://www.emillyprado.com/.
Born and raised in Portland, Oregon, Erica Berry has taught writing to teenagers and adults at the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology, Literary Arts, the University of Minnesota, the New York Times Student Journeys, and as the 2019-2020 Writer-in-Residence with the National Writer Series in Traverse City, MI. Her essays can be found in publications such as The Guardian, The Yale Review, The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, and others. Her debut nonfiction book, CRY WOLF, will be published by Flatiron/Macmillan in 2023.
Jennifer Perrine is the author of four award-winning books of poetry: Again, The Body Is No Machine, In the Human Zoo, and No Confession, No Mass. Their recent short stories and essays appear in Buckman Journal and The Gay & Lesbian Review. Perrine lives in Portland, Oregon, where they co-host the Incite: Queer Writers Read series, teach creative writing to youth and adults, and serve as a diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice (DEIJ) consultant. To learn more, visit www.jenniferperrine.org.
Katie Borak is a teaching artist with a Creative Writing MFA from Portland State University. They make short queer blackout poems from pulp novels and long stories about icebergs, fanaticism, and the sea. They work through rough patches and seek unexplored terrain. Katie’s most recent eco-emotional work has been featured on Entropy and Travel Oregon. Find them co-editing Kithe Journal, teaching at Portland Community College, or hiking the Columbia River Gorge. Visit www.katieborak.com to learn more.
Laura Moulton is the author of Loaners: The Making of a Street Library and the founder of Street Books, a bicycle-powered mobile library serving people who live outside in Portland. She is the creator of Truth & Dare, a contemporary arts and writing workshop for teens and teaches in the Northwest Writing Institute at Lewis & Clark College. Her social art practice projects have included collaborations with postal workers, immigrants, incarcerated women and day laborers. She earned an MFA from Eastern Washington University.
Mark Pomeroy’s first novel, The Brightwood Stillness, was published by Oregon State University Press in 2014. He has received an Oregon Literary Fellowship for fiction, and his short stories, poems, and essays have appeared in Open Spaces, The Wordstock 10, Portland Magazine, The Oregonian, NW Book Lovers, and What Teaching Means: Stories from America’s Classrooms. He holds an MA in English Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, where he was a Fellow in Teaching.
Matt Smith grew up in Iowa and Arizona. He earned his BA in English Literature from Arizona State University. He spent the subsequent four years after college in South Korea as an ESL teacher. His short fiction work centers on the intersections of race and identity. He is currently working on a collection of short stories focused what it means to be multi-racial in America. Matt was a 2017-18 WITS apprentice.
Meg E. Griffitts (she/they) is a queer writer, educator, and the author of the forthcoming collection—Hallucinating a Homestead, which was chosen by Traci Brimhall as the 2020 Two Sylvias Press Chapbook Prize winner. Her work has appeared in The Missouri Review, Homology Lit, Black Warrior Review, and others. Her poem “When the Doctor Doesn’t Believe Your Pain” was a finalist in Inverted Syntax’s 2020 Sublingua Contest chosen by Dr. Khadijah Queen. She lives in Portland with her partner and many animals on Cowlitz Land. Find more of her work at megegriffitts.com.
Monika Cassel is a bilingual poet and translator. Her chapbook Grammar of Passage (flipped eye publishing 2021) won the Venture Poetry Award. Her poems have appeared in The Laurel Review, Phoebe Journal, and Construction Magazine and her translations from German have appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, Guernica, Poetry, and Asymptote, among others. In 2020 she received a writing grant from the Regional Arts and Culture Council. She is a degree candidate in poetry at Warren Wilson College’s MFA program; previously she was a founding faculty member and Chair of Creative Writing and Literature at New Mexico School for the Arts in Santa Fe, where she developed the school’s creative writing program with the support of the Lannan Foundation.
Rashmila Maiti holds a doctorate in Comparative Literature and Cultural Studies from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. Originally from India, she is an independent scholar who lives in Oregon. She has taught writing and literature to undergraduates for seven years. She is excited to be a part of the WITS. She is on the board of the Friends of the Multnomah County Library, a blogger for Feminist Book Club; and cohost of a podcast on books and reading, Reading Squad. When not writing about books or films, she volunteers as an editor and social media coordinator for various non-profit organizations.
Vanessa Friedman (she/her) is a queer dyke writer, editor, and teacher living in Portland, OR. She received her MFA in creative nonfiction from Sarah Lawrence College, and she is a Tin House Summer Workshop alum and a Hedgebrook Spring Retreat alum. Vanessa is the community editor at Autostraddle; her work has been published in Autostraddle, Nylon, Catapult, Alma, Shape, among others, and her essay, “If I’m Lonely,” will be included in the as yet untitled anthology based on Helen Gurley Brown’s 1962 classic, Sex and the Single Girl, forthcoming from Harper Perennial in 2022. Vanessa is currently at work on her first novel. You can find her online at vanessapamela.com.
2021-22 WITS Apprentice
Cecily Wong is a writer at Atlas Obscura and the author of two novels. Her debut novel, Diamond Head, was a Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection, recipient of an Elle Readers’ Prize, and voted a best debut of the 2015 Brooklyn Book Festival. Her second novel, Kaleidoscope, will be published in 2022. Her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the LA Review of Books, Self magazine, Bustle, Atlas Obscura, and elsewhere. She lives in Portland, Oregon, with her husband and daughter. https://www.cecilywong.com/.