Straw Dog Writers Guild Members are patrons and advocates of literature, raising the literary profile of Western MA. We are a community of writers, authors, workshop leaders, and literary lovers.
Members are listed in alphabetical order by last name.
Janet E. Aalfs, poet laureate emeritus of Northampton and founder/director of Lotus Peace Arts at VWMA, enjoys helping to facilitate sites for revelation. Her books include Bird of a Thousand Eyes.
Alvilda Sophia Anaya-Alegría is a graduate of Southern University of New Hampshire in Economics. She is a Fine Art Artist and Writer. Her focus has been to write lyric poetry, décima puertorriqueña, to be played with a cuatro guitar, and sung by Trovadores, who usually improvise singing historical events happenings. She is from Guayama, Puerto Rico and came to live in Springfield when she was 3. Her work in the fine arts, architecture, and literature have been honored by the Puerto Rican Institute of Culture (ICP). The highest government institution of culture, protectors of our art, history, architecture of our archipelago.
Boricua poet and feminist intersectional educator María Luisa Arroyo’s poetry collections include Gathering Words: Recogiendo Palabras (Bilingual Press 2008), and the chapbooks Flight (2016) and Destierro Means More than Exile (2018). Her poems and essays have been published in a number of journals and magazines, and among her many awards, she was named Springfield’s Inaugural Poet Laureate in 2016, and received New England Public Radio’s Arts & Humanities Award in 2019. María Luisa is an Assistant Professor of Writing and First Year Studies at Bay Path University and serves as an Advisory Member on the Board of the New England Poetry Club. She has facilitated numerous poetry and writing workshops, and has written a guide to poetry for middle schoolers; Just Imagine in Springfield. Her poems, essays, and work in the classroom are inspired by her study of and lived experience in four cultures and their languages: American, Puerto Rican, German, and Iranian. She holds degrees from Colby College (BA), Tufts University (MA), Pine Manor College (MFA). At Harvard, she completed her coursework, passed her oral exams and submitted the first two chapters of her dissertation on two Jewish German poets, Hilde Domin and Mascha Kaleko, who were forced into exile during the Nazi period.
Jeannine Atkins writes about women in history. Her books include Finding Wonders: Three Girls Who Changed Science and Stone Mirrors: The Sculpture and Silence of Edmonia Lewis (both Simon and Schuster).
Joy Baglio is the founder/director of Pioneer Valley Writers’ Workshop, a writing center in Williamsburg MA offering workshops, editing services, and literary community. Her short stories have appeared in Tin House, The Iowa Review, TriQuarterly, New Ohio Review, SmokeLong Quarterly, PANK, and elsewhere and she’s been recognized by numerous contests and awards including the Ploughshares’ Emerging Writer’s Contest (Honorable Mention) and the Wigleaf Top 50 (Very) Short Fictions. She’s the recipient of scholarships, fellowships, and grants from Yaddo, Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, The Elizabeth George Foundation, The Speculative Literature Foundation, The Vermont Studio Center, and Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing. She serves as Associate Fiction Editor at the Bucknell University-based literary magazine West Branch and teaches writing at Grub Street in Boston and Pioneer Valley Writers’ Workshop.
Liz Bedell is a freelance editor, writing coach, and writer based in Northampton. A longtime English teacher, she is currently working on a novel set during the Great War and THE CARE AND FEEDING OF A WRITER’S SOUL, a nonfiction book about sustaining one’s writing practice. She also facilitates writing workshops locally and teaches at the Hartsbrook School.
Stephen is the author of seven published science fiction/fantasy novels, including The American Book of the Dead and Quest for the Thirty-Six. From 2006 to 2016, Stephen and his wife Bela Breslau founded and ran the Shintaido Farm, a center for the practice of the Japanese body movement and martial art Shintaido, on River Road in Deerfield. Odeon Press is publishing Stephen’s literary collection of short stories entitled: A Book of Fields: Tales from the Pioneer Valley.
A poet, author, and nurse, Anna’s holistic approach to life and connection to spirit is expressed in her awards winning novel HATTIE which she says “is a testament to the multidimensional aspects of our human and spiritual lives.”
Bela has joined with her husband Stephen Billias (also a Straw Dog member). Together they have written a novel and are in the process of looking for an agent to represent them. Bela is working on a long-term project (memoir/personal history) about her father Sam, a Jewish chicken farmer who lived in Connecticut. Bela and Stephen founded and ran the Shintaido Farm, a center for the practice of the Japanese body movement and martial art Shintaido, on River Road in Deerfield. It is now Windhorse Hill Retreat Center.
Steven D. Brewer teaches scientific writing at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. His LGBTQIA+ fantasy story “Revin’s Heart” has been serialized by Water Dragon Publishing. As an author, Brewer identifies diverse obsessions that underlie his writing: deep interests in natural history, life science, and environmentalism; an abiding passion for languages; a fascination with Japanese culture; and a mania for information technology and the Internet. Brewer lives in Amherst, Massachusetts with his extended family.
Jane is an award-winning journalist, editor, and the co-author, with Susan Haltom, of One Writer’s Garden: Eudora Welty’s Home Place. She is a workshop leader, helping other people write their life stories.
Elaine is the award-winning author of the novel Wishbone and short-story collection A Perfect Life and Other Stories. Wishbone was honored with a 2016 Golden Crown Literary Society award for Dramatic/General Fiction. A Perfect Life and Other Stories earned a 2016 Rainbow Award. Her next book, Endurance, a science fiction novel and first in a trilogy, will be out in June 2022. She lives in the North Quabbin region where she’s helping her wife rebuild a natural landscape and do battle against invasive plants and mice.
Short stories, novels, plays, nonfiction, songs.
Naturalist educator. Writer, Poet. Priestess. Wild edibles enthusiast. Arianna writes natural science / natural history articles for local and regional publications and she is the author of Hearken to Avalon, a historical fantasy novel. Through her business Offerings for Community Building, Arianna provides services in environmental education, writing, event planning, and business maximization. Arianna currently serves as SDWG’s part-time administrative Director.
Candace Curran is a writer and founding member of collaborative word and image exhibitions throughout western MA . Multimedia installations include, INTERFACE I-X, Automotive Poetry, Four on the Floor and Three on a Tree, and most recently Exploded View. She is twice named Western Massachusetts Poet’s Seat laureate and has judged for the competition as well as for the Massachusetts Book Awards. Publications include, Bone Cages and Playing in Wrecks, ( Haley’s Press), Raw Nervz, Meat For Tea, Silkworm and Compass Roads.
Corinne Demas is the author of 32 books including five novels, two short story collections, a memoir, a collection of poetry, and numerous books for children. She is a Professor of English at Mt. Holyoke College and a Fiction Editor of The Massachusetts Review.
Lori Desrosiers’ poetry books are The Philosopher’s Daughter and Sometimes I Hear the Clock Speak (both from Salmon Poetry). She edits Naugatuck River Review, a journal of narrative poetry.
My manuscript, A Bestiary Tales from a Wildlife Garden, celebrates trees, birds, butterflies, and other beings inhabiting Flower Hill Farm Retreat. Enjoy 21 acres, forest, gardens, views, quiet? Discount/barter.
Susanne Dunlap As a traditionally published author of seven historical novels, I love bringing my experience and knowledge to bear to help aspiring or established authors polish their manuscripts for submission or self-publishing. Helping others master craft and tighten prose, fix plot holes and generate momentum and drive—all while finding the right voice for their project—is a passion. Based in Northampton, MA, I can work virtually or face-to-face.
Beth Filson has served as the host of Writers Night Out, a Straw Dog open mic. She won the 2015 Wild Light Poetry Prize from Red Hen Press, and her art was featured on the cover of The Florida Review.
Poet and translator of classic contemporary Danish authors, Michael Goldman’s work has appeared in dozens of literary journals. He is also a guest speaker in classrooms and at literary events.
Book author of Fourth World, and Nightly, at the Institute of the Possible, a finalist for the Massachusetts Book Award and International Book Award. Prizewinning poetry and fiction, including Glimmer Train (1st Prize), The Massachusetts Review, and Nimrod. MCC Artist Fellow in Fiction, a finalist in poetry. Editor; multiple genres.
Tzivia Gover, is the author most recently of Joy in Every Moment: Mindful Exercises for Waking to the Wonders of Ordinary Life, and Learning in Mrs. Towne’s House: A Teacher, Her Students, and the Woman Who Inspired Them. As an author and workshop leader, she draws from mindfulness, dreamwork, and writing to empower people to live their best lives.
Poetry, novels, essays, and plays are what I do. Professor of Theatre and Africana Studies at Smith. Author of WILL DO MAGIC FOR SMALL CHANGE and REDWOOD AND WILDFIRE
Kathryn Holzman has had short stories published in numerous literary magazines including the Adirondack Review and the Atticus Review. She published a chapbook of her short stories entitled “Migrations.”
Ellen Evert Hopman writes Celtic fiction and Herbals. Find my books and blog at www.elleneverthopman.com My new children’s book: “Once Around the Sun: Stories, Crafts, and Recipes to Celebrate the Sacred Earth Year” will be on sale April 19, 2022 in the U.S. The UK on-sale date is about 6 weeks later. It is available for pre-order here and other retailers worldwide here.
Richard Wayne Horton is the author of Sticks and Bones (Meat for Tea Press, 2017), and Artists In The Underworld (Human Error Publishing, 2019). Later this year he will release Ballet for Murderers (Human Error Publishing). Richard writes poetry, flash fiction, and longer fiction, but much of his work is a hybrid of these genres, or might be said to exist outside the definition of any of them. Richard has received two Pushcart nominations and is the 2019-21 Massachusetts Beat Poet Laureate. His work has appeared in Lonesome October, Meat For Tea, Bull & Cross, Literary Heist, The Dead Mule and others. He is a master of the conservation and restoration of books, and has published four technical manuals on the subject, and has written research timelines on the culture of the Left in the 20th century, and on music, art, and literature in Russia from 1730 to 1970.
Alexis Johnson is co-founder and was Executive Director of International Language Institute for 31 years. Before that, she lived and taught in Barcelona for 9 years. Playing With A Full Deck is a wry look at her experiences.
Becky Jones leads bereavement writing groups and has an active volunteer life. She has published some poetry and works episodically on a manuscript of stories from her hospital chaplain days.
My two books of poetry, All Roads Go Where They Will, 2010 and Migrations, 2013 were both published by Antrim House Press. My third book, Finding Ithaca, was published by Dos Madres Press, 2018. Copies are available from the Norwich Bookstore and at Broadside Bookshop.
Eileen P. Kennedy lives in Amherst, MA. Her chapbook Banshees (Flutter Press, 2015) was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2015 and awarded Second Prize from the Wordwrite Book Awards in Poetry. She was awarded Second Prize in the Penumbra Haiku Poetry Contest. She was a finalist for the 2018 Concrete Wolf Louis Poetry Prize. She won Honorable Mention from the New England, New York, and London Book Festivals, as well as from the Tom Howard/Margaret Reid/Poetry Contest and the Oregon Poetry Society.
Winner of the Michael Doherty Award, Amy received her MFA in Writing from Sarah Lawrence College, and has, for over 12 years, coached writers of many ages and backgrounds. Her work has appeared in Meat for Tea: The Valley Review, Canyon Voices, Plum Literary Journal and Write Angles Journal, to name a few. So Nice to Finally Meet You…is her debut novel.
Mahajoy Laufer was adopted from the Philippines and grew up in Northampton, MA. She recently lived in Peru for almost 6 years and is excited about preserving her Spanish. She is a therapist at Transhealth and Smith College. She graduated in 2005 from Mount Holyoke College and from the Smith College School for Social Work in 2012. She is working on her very first novel, a mystery set in Cajamarca, Peru.
Patricia Lee Lewis (aka Pat Sackrey) MFA, offers writing workshops & accommodations locally at Patchwork Farm Retreat; writing & yoga retreats internationally. Award-winning poet. Founding member, Straw Dog Writers Guild. Author of A Kind of Yellow, and High Lonesome.
Mark Luebbers is a teacher and writer living in Greenfield, Massachusetts. His work focuses on nature and the environment, the lives of eccentric and creative figures from history, and living in America. Mark has published poems in a number of journals and magazines in recent years, including The American Journal of Poetry, The Journal of Americana, Wayfarer Magazine, Apple Valley Review, Blue Line, and The Hopper. In 2018, Mark was nominated for two Pushcart Prizes. “Flat Light”, his first collection, was published in 2020 by Urban Farmhouse Press. “Citizens of Ordinary Time”, a collection of biographical and ekphrastic poems written in collaboration with Ben Goluboff, is forthcoming, also from UFP.
Janet MacFadyen is the managing editor of Slate Roof Press and the author of five poetry collections. Her newest book, State of Grass, is forthcoming from Salmon Poetry. Recent work appears in Scientific American, Naugatuck River Review, Crannóg, Osiris, Persimmon Tree, Tiny Seed Journal, Soul-Lit, and elsewhere. She has received awards from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown.
Jan Maher’s writing credits include novels, Earth As It Is, and Heaven, Indiana; plays Ismene, Intruders, Widow’s Walk, and Most Dangerous Women; and books for educators.
Libby Maxey, of Conway, MA, is a senior editor at the online journal Literary Mama; she also edits for Amherst College and as a freelancer. She reviews poetry for The Mom Egg Review and Solstice, and her own poems have appeared in Mezzo Cammin, Crannóg, Kestrel, Naugatuck River Review, and elsewhere. Her first chapbook, Kairos, won Finishing Line Press’s 2018 New Women’s Voices Chapbook Competition. Locally, she has won both the Poet’s Seat Poetry Contest and the Robert P. Collén Poetry Contest, and her work was selected for the Northampton Arts Council’s 2017 Visual Arts and Poetry Biennial. Her nonliterary activities include singing classical repertoire and mothering two sons
J.A. McIntosh spent too many years as an attorney in the child welfare system. She draws on her experience and her imagination to write about her former career. When not writing, she walks in the woods, plays piano, and indulges her addition to chocolate. Her book, Niagara Fontaine, a Meredith, Massachusetts novel was released in 2018. Her next novel in the series, A. B. Hartwell, will be released in 2019.
Ellen is the author of the novels The Lost Women of Azalea Court, Her Sister’s Tattoo, Kinship of Clover, On Hurricane Island, and House Arrest, and guest editor for the anthology Dreams for a Broken World. Her work has been honored by the Sarton Prize, Women’s National Book Association, and the Massachusetts Center for the Book. Recent essay publications include Ms Magazine, Lilith, The Boston Globe, The Writer, Guernica, and Lit Hub. She is a founding member of Straw Dog Writers Guild.
Lesléa Newman’s 70 books include Heather Has Two Mommies and October Mourning: A Song for Matthew Shepard. A past poet laureate of Northampton, her newest poetry collection I Carry My Mother was a 2016 Massachusetts “Must Read” title.
Nerissa Nields is a musician, songwriter, novelist, poet, and author. She has released 18 CDs, written five books and is currently at work on her third “Jintucket” novel. She has been running writing workshops and retreats out of her home in Northampton MA since 2003. Writing It Up in the Garden is a mostly generative workshop process that welcomes all genres and levels of writers. She also runs manuscript groups (“Weeding & Pruning”) and maintains a popular blog on her website.
Chris O’Carroll is the author The Joke’s on Me (White Violet Press, 2019). He is a Light magazine featured poet whose work has appeared The Great American Wise Ass Poetry Anthology, Love Affairs at the Villa Nelle, New York City Haiku, and Poems for a Liminal Age, among other collections.
Dori Ostermiller, MFA is the author of Outside the Ordinary World, and founder and director of Writers in Progress, a writing center offering workshops, editing and consulting at our beautiful Florence studio
Rick Paar taught psychology at Springfield College for thirty-three years. He has presented at local, national, and international conferences on topics ranging from psychotherapy to chaos theory to play. His book, God Bless America and Breakfast Burritos to Go, is to be published in the fall of 2022.
Suzanne Rancourt is a poet, a writer of fiction and creative non-fiction, photographer, and musical artist. As a woman of Native American and European ancestry who grew up in rural Maine, and as a Marine Corps and Army veteran, she has combined her heritage, her arts, and her experiences as a survivor into a therapeutic practice which uses art and ceremony to treat those suffering from Traumatic Brain Injury and PTSD. Suzanne is the author of the poetry collections Old Stones, New Roads (Main Street Rag Press, 2021), murmurs at the gate (Unsolicited Press, 2019), and Billboards in the Clouds (2nd print – Northwestern University Press, 1st print by Curbstone Press, 2004), which was the winner of the Native Writers’ Circle of the Americas First Book Award. Her poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and photography has appeared in dozens of journals and reviews, as well as several anthologies. Her work focuses on nature, memory, family relationships, marginalized cultures and communities, and healing from physical, emotional, and spiritual injury.
Elaine is a poet, herbalist, educator, and member of SCWBI. Her chapbook, The Heart is a Nursery For Hope, recently won honors from Flutter Press.
With an activist’s heart, Karen Ribeiro has recently authored Beyond Karen: Emerging from the depths of an epic epithet, and has just completed a 108 day Heart Readings blog series. She had a great time with two collaborations, Fearless Voices and Inspired Voices, and enjoys sharing stories in community. Karen is passionate about collaborating on nature informed policy and spiritual development with a special interest in land justice and protection. She has also crafted the Inner Fortune life journaling system.
LaVonne Roberts is a health, technology, and science journalist and an MIT Tech Review Fellow. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, CNN, Wired, Popular Science, Neo.Life, The Independent, and other publications. She earned an MFA in Nonfiction from The New School, where she currently reviews books and interviews authors for Lit Magazine. Current work as an author and editor includes the newly-released Applied Virtual Reality in Healthcare.
Macci Schmidt is a geologist and science librarian with a murder mystery in the works. She is also pleased to be the Personal Librarian to many writers and enjoys helping with their research.
Straw Dog Writers Guild board member, and the assistant editor with Jane Yolen on the Compass Roads Anthology.
A member of Straw Dog Writers Guild and Florence Poets Society, Stephanie Shafran resides in
Northampton, where she writes poetry and prose. Her writing has appeared in several journals
and anthologies over the years. Stephanie published her first poetry chapbook “Awakening” in
John Sheirer has published works of fiction, memoir, and current events, as well as books for children. A few of his titles include Growing up Mostly Normal in the Middle of Nowhere: A Memoir (Foremost Press, 2009), Tales of a Real American Liberal (Veracity Press, 2012), and Uncorrected: A Novella (Scantic Books, 2020). His most recent book is a collection of “linked” short stories; Stumbling Through Adulthood (Janice Beetle Books, 2021). John has taught writing at Asnuntuck Community College in Enfield Connecticut for many years and he serves as editor and faculty advisor to the college’s Freshwater Literary Journal. John also writes a monthly column for the Daily Hampshire Gazette.
Skies slung so low
Tree kaleidoscope dreams float
Wet and shimmering with half rememberings
Of the season unlacing.
Vati Sreiberg is a founding editor of Stone Walls II, a literary and arts journal of the hilltowns. She is currently the fiction and non-fiction editor. She resides in the hilltowns of western Massachusetts where she practices acupuncture and writes. She has a BA in Education and Comparative Literature and an MA in Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal Medicine. She is also on the program committee of Straw Dog Writers Guild.
Jessica B. Sokol is a creative nonfiction writer and editor focusing on personal stories about travel, music, sexual relationships, and loss in today’s ever-changing world. She was valedictorian of her Lynn University Class of 2007 in Boca Raton, FL. She is author of For Better And Worse: Short Stories and Tantalizing Tales- From Coast to Coast, creator of Morning After Thoughts with Jessica B. Sokol, and contributor to the Music Museum of New England. Jessica is an international educator and vegan cook living in Hadley, MA.
Laura is dedicated to the growth and placement of the many seeds (ideas, programs, events) planted that work with Tiny Seed Project. Her goal as a nonprofit leader is to help envision successful and sustainable growth while supporting each idea as it grows into full fruition. She has over 20 years of experience working in the nonprofit world. The opportunity to support, empower, and assist community-based conservation and restoration projects is her life’s mission. Laura served as SDWG’s Administrative Director for 4 years.
Lanette Sweeney’s first poetry collection, What I Should Have Said: A Poetry Memoir about Losing A Child to Addiction, has just been released by Finishing Line Press. The book is structured in accordance with the stages of grief, and includes twenty poems by Sweeney’s late son, who died of an overdose in 2016. Sweeney began her writing career as a journalist, and has also taught writing and Women’s Studies at SUNY New Paltz. Lanette’s poems and essays have been published in a variety of publications, including Rattle, Gyroscope Review, Silkworm, Blue Collar Review, and Please See Me. Her short stories and essays have also been included in the popular Women’s Studies anthology and textbook Women: Images and Reality.
Gail Thomas has published four books of poetry including Odd Mercy, winner of the Charlotte Mew Prize, and Waving Back, named a Must-Read for 2016 by the Massachusetts Center for the Book.
Fungai is a journalist, writer and web developer who founded the multiple award-winning arts and culture website Zimbo Jam in 2008. In 2015 he was awarded a Nieman Journalism Fellowship and Berkman Klein Fellowship for Journalism Innovation at Harvard University. His fiction and poetry look at the promises the world makes to young people and the extent to which those promises are kept. He is passionate about using the Internet as a platform for promoting artists and artistic endeavor.
Sharon Tracey is a poet and editor, and the author of two full-length poetry collections, CHROMA: Five Centuries of Women Artists (Shanti Arts Publishing) and What I Remember Most Is Everything (All Caps Publishing). Her poems have appeared in The Worcester Review, Mom Egg Review, Tule Review, and elsewhere.
Ellen Wittlinger is the award-winning author of 15 young adult and middle-grade novels. Two more middle-grades will be published this year and next. She also writes plays and screenplays.
Jane Yolen, often called “the Hans Christian Andersen of America,” is the author of over 366 books (actual number), including OWL MOON, THE DEVIL’S ARITHMETIC, and HOW DO DINOSAURS SAY GOODNIGHT. In 2018 you will be able to read a Jane Yolen book a day for a year–even on a leap year.)
Nicole M. Young is a performance poet, playwright, theater instructor and pop culture critic originally from Detroit, MI. Her work has been performed across Western Massachusetts, New York, and Michigan. She self-produced a spoken word album, In/Put: Live from the Valley, which was recorded live and is working on her first memoir.
Q.M. Zhang is a writer, teacher, editor, and founder of MemoryWorks, a creative research and writing practice for individuals and communities trying to trace their own pasts and write their own stories in the face of historical omissions and intergenerational silences. Her book, Accomplice to Memory, a Kirkus Best Indies Book of 2018, combines memoir, historical fiction, and documentary photographs to explore the possibilities of truth telling across generations and geographies. She is an Associate Professor Emerita of Cultural Psychology and Creative Nonfiction at Hampshire College and Prose Editor at The Massachusetts Review.