The Writers in the Schools (WITS) program helps high school students explore their creative processes and tell their stories. WITS writers teach fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, journalism, and more, at public high schools in Portland, Gresham, Parkrose and Woodburn districts.
We are so excited to introduce the incredible group of writers who make up the 2022-2023 WITS teaching roster.
2022-23 WITS Writers
A WITS writer since 2014, Alex Behr has led residencies in poetry, fiction, and personal essays throughout Portland. She’s also taught fiction through Corporeal Writing, at the Portland Book Festival, and at the college level. RACC awarded her a grant to support an adoption interview project website called Altar/Altered, based on stories sparked by people’s special objects. Her writing has appeared widely, including in Salon, Oregon Humanities, Tin House, Cleaver, Gravity of the Thing, and Vol. 1 Brooklyn. She performed in cities on both coasts in the comedy show. She’s the author of Planet Grim (7.13 Books) and lives in Portland.
Amy Minato is 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. Amy holds both an MFA in Creative Writing and an MS in Environmental Studies from the University of Oregon. She teaches sustainable living education at Portland State University and lives with her husband and two children in Portland, Oregon. In summers they migrate to their old haunts in the Wallowa Mountains of Eastern Oregon to skip rocks on the lake, float innertubes down the creek behind their house and sleep beneath skies crazy with stars.
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, 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, Off Assignment, Hippocampus, and Blood Tree Literature, among other journals.
Bruce Poinsette is a writer and community organizer whose work is primarily based in the Portland Metro Area. He hosts the YouTube series “The Blacktastic Adventure: A Virtual Exploration of Oregon’s Black Diaspora” and “The Bruce Poinsette Show” on The Numberz FM. A former reporter for the Skanner News Group, his writing has also appeared in The Oregonian, Street Roots, Oregon Humanities, and Eater PDX, 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 volunteers with Respond to Racism LO, a grassroots anti-racism organization in his hometown of Lake Oswego, Oregon.
Caitlin Delohery is a writer and artist from Portland, Oregon. Her work has been published in the anthology Indelible in the Hippocampus: Writings on the Me Too Movement (McSweeney’s, 2019), and she’s also been featured in Buckmxn Journal, Weird Sister, Lumina, Storyscape, and other journals. She’s a MacDowell Fellow (09, 19).
Cecily Wong is the author of three books. 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, was published in July. Cecily is also the co-author of the New York Times best seller Gastro Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to Food.
Cecily’s work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, The LA Review of Books, Self Magazine, Bustle, Atlas Obscura, and elsewhere. She lives in Portland with her husband and daughter.
CJ Wiggan is Jamaican-American, raised in Nebraska but with immigrant parents who shared the folklore of their country. CJ was first homeschooled and then sent to public school, where they just spent copious hours daydreaming, doodling, and inventing whimsical characters in their mind. CJ studied writing and art at Black Hills Stare University (Spearfish, SD), and in both mediums they try to capture a sweet and dreamy story, largely inspired by fairytales, poetry, magical realism, Gothic novels, and the cryptical lyrics in electronic dance music. CJ builds worlds that feel quiet and nature-held, following characters who are both subtle and electric. CJ has been featured in four literary journals and anthologies—most recently Portland’s Buckman Journal—and they originally authored @rofibeats twitter. CJ is working on several things at the moment, but is focused mainly on completing a work about cosmic love.
Damien Miles-Paulson would rather not drive. He teaches writing, writes things, and still dreams of an overseas basketball career. 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 has an MFA from the University of California-Riverside.
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 non-binary Black american emerging writer & artist living with depression, c-ptsd and bodily manifestations thereof. They are inspired by different modes of storytelling through the practice and mantra of Sankofa, meaning “go back and get it”, as well as history, botanical motifs, breaking harmful cycles, and relationship. Dey has an educational background in Fine Arts and mental health advocacy. They especially enjoy creating, guiding, and learning in creative communities where they live on stolen land and are currently in submission processes for their first novel, various short stories, and poems which they don’t enjoy as much.
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 including Porter House Review, Electric Literature, and Bright Wall/Dark Room (where she’s also an editor). She’s taught writing and literature in prisons, public high schools, community colleges, and elsewhere. Elisabeth has an MFA in Fiction from the University of Montana and lives in Portland with her partner and their assorted pets.
Emilly Prado is an award-winning writer and community organizer based in Portland, Oregon. Her debut essay collection, Funeral for Flaca, has been called, “Utterly vulnerable, bold, and unique,” by Ms. Magazine and is a winner of the 2022 Pacific Northwest Book Award, amongst other prizes. As an award-winning multimedia journalist, Emilly spent half a decade independently reporting on a wide range of topics, most often centered on amplifying the voices and experiences of people from historically marginalized communities. Her writing and photographs have appeared in more than 30 publications including NPR, Marie Claire, Bitch Media, Eater, and The Oregonian. Emilly is a Tin House and Las Dos Brujas Workshop alumna, Blackburn Fellow and MFA Candidate at Randolph College, and a co-founder of arts non-profit, Portland in Color. She moonlights as DJ Mami Miami with Noche Libre, the Latinx DJ collective she co-founded in 2017. Learn more at emillyprado.com or on social media @emillygprado.
Erica Berry is a writer and teacher based in her hometown of Portland, Oregon. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Guardian, Outside Magazine, Catapult, and The Yale Review, among other publications. Winner of the Steinberg Essay Prize and the Kurt Brown Prize in Nonfiction, she has received support from the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, Tin House, the Ucross Foundation, the Minnesota State Arts Board, and the Institute for Journalism and Natural Resources. A former Writer-in-Residence with the National Writers Series in Traverse City, Michigan, she is on the summer faculty of Oxford Academia, and has also taught for The New York Times Student Journeys and the Sitka Center for Art and Ecology. She holds an MFA from the University of Minnesota, where she was a College of Liberal Arts Fellow.
Jennifer (JP) Perrine is the author of four books of poetry: Again, The Body Is No Machine, In the Human Zoo, and No Confession, No Mass. JP’s current writing projects include Beautiful Outlaw, a book of poetry composed through elaborate constraints; Dead Ends, a branching-narrative memoir, multimedia installation, and set of handmade books; and a series of articles for Oregon Humanities about outdoor recreation and led by Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color. Perrine co-hosts Portland’s Incite: Queer Writers Read series, teaches writing and gender studies at Portland Community College, and serves as an outdoor adventure guide.
Katie Borak is alive in Portland, OR. They make short queer blackout poems from pulp novels, and long stories about icebergs, fanaticism, and the sea. Find them co-editing Kithe Journal, teaching at Portland Community College, and working in Literary Arts’ WITS program. Outside the classroom Katie can be found in the garden with dirt under their nails. Visit them at www.katieborak.com.
Laura Moulton teaches in the Northwest Writing Institute at Lewis & Clark College and leads residences in high schools for Literary Arts. Over the years she has taught writing in public schools, prisons and teen shelters. Moulton is the founder of Street Books, Portland’s bicycle-powered street library, (http://streetbooks.org). She is the author of Loaners: The Making of a Street Library. Learn more about her at: http://lauramoulton.org.
Mark Pomeroy lives with his family in Portland, Oregon, where he was born and raised. In 2014, Oregon State University Press published his first novel, The Brightwood Stillness, which The Oregonian called “absorbing and humane.” He has received an Oregon Literary Fellowship for Fiction, and his short stories, poems, and essays have appeared in Open Spaces, Portland Magazine, The Wordstock 10, NW Book Lovers, The Oregonian, 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, and for the past twenty-seven years has led creative writing workshops in Portland schools.
Meaghan Loraas is a queer writer based in Portland, OR. They hold a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Texas State University, and their work has appeared in publications such as McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, New South Online, and others. When they’re not working on their novel, teaching, or reading, they work as a content manager for several websites.
Meg E Griffitts (she/they) is a writer, educator, and author of HALLUCINATING A HOMESTEAD, which won the 2020 Two Sylvias Press Chapbook Prize. They live in Portland on Grand Ronde land where they tend to their garden. Her work has appeared in The Missouri Review, Black Warrior Review, pioneertown, and many others. More of their work can be found at megegriffitts.com.
Monika Cassel is a bilingual poet and translator. Her poems and have appeared in Phoebe Journal, petrichor, and Moist, among others, and her translations from German have appeared or are forthcoming in POETRY Magazine, Guernica, AGNI, Harvard Review Online, and Asymptote. Her chapbook Grammar of Passage (flipped eye publishing 2021) won the Venture Poetry Award and she is the recipient of a Regional Arts and Culture Council grant, a fellowship at Vermont Studio Center, and a travel fellowship award from the American Literary Translators Association. She was a founding faculty member at New Mexico School for the Arts, where she developed the school’s creative writing curriculum, and is a degree candidate in poetry at Warren Wilson College’s MFA program.
Valarie Pearce is a Portland-based writer, educator, and curriculum content specialist who is committed to the excellence, elevation, and empowerment of burgeoning women of color leaders. Having earned her M.Ed. from Concordia University, she has taught high school women’s studies and social sciences classes and is an adjunct writing professor at Lewis & Clark College.
Valarie has written four children’s books: When Mommy Needs A Timeout, When Daddy Needs A Timeout, I Love Colors, and A Bucket Full of Dreams. Her work has appeared in SMART’S Oregon Reads Aloud: A Collection of 25 Children’s Stories by Oregon Authors and Illustrators. After many moons, she has just completed her YA fiction manuscript and submitted it for publication consideration! Leave a message and celebrate with her at: www.imarapublishing.com, her Facebook page, and Instagram.
Vanessa Friedman (she/her) is a queer dyke writer living in Portland, OR. She’s the community editor at Autostraddle, a teaching artist with 826NYC and Literary Arts, and an instructor at the Sarah Lawrence College Writing Institute. 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 writes about friendship, home, loneliness, grief, sex, and the body; her work has been published in Autostraddle, Nylon, Catapult, Alma, among others, and her essay, “If I’m Lonely,” is included in Sex and the Single Woman: 24 Writers Reimagine Helen Gurley Brown’s Cult Classic, recently published from Harper Perennial. She is currently working on her debut novel. You can find her online at vanessapamela.com.
Wryly T. McCutchen is a multi-genre writer, interdisciplinary performer, community educator, & 2018 LAMBDA Fellow in poetry. His work has appeared in 2020* The Year of the Asterisk. Foglifter, Papeachu Review, & Nat. Brut. Wryly earned a dual genre MFA in creative nonfiction & poetry from Antioch University Los Angeles. His debut poetry collection, My Ugly & Other Love Snarls, was published in 2017 by University of Hell press. Wryly resides on unceded lands, stewarded by the Cowlitz & Clackamas peoples, where he casts spells in text & flesh & sweat.
2021-22 WITS Apprentices
Jen Shin is a Korean American writer and mental health advocate with over a decade in recovery from alcoholism and bulimia. Her writing focuses on her addiction, exploring the impacts of identity, race, and intergenerational trauma. Through her work, Jen hopes to reach communities of color to destigmatize the stigmatized, decolonize shame, and encourage healing. She is the recipient of HerStry’s 2022 Eunice Williams Nonfiction Prize and is an Anaphora Arts Fellow. In 2021, she published Have You Received Previous Psychotherapy or Counseling? through zines + things and her essays can be found in Oregon Humanities, The Rumpus, and elsewhere.
- The Rumpus, “Choices” (2022)
- HerStry, “Limitless Virility” (2022)
- Oregon Humanities, “Fermenting My Asian American Identity” (2021)‘
Jeremy Husserl is a writer, art curator, and aspiring filmmaker from Chicago, Illinois. He is currently working on entertainment and art analysis papers for various publications, shooting commercials, finishing his short film, and pursuing his undergraduate degree at Portland State University. He mainly spends his free time reading comics, watching movies, listening to rap music, watching Chicago sports teams, and exploring the world around him with those he loves.