Dolen Perkins-Valdez is the New York Times bestselling author of three novels: Wench, Balm, and Take My Hand. Her short fiction has appeared in The Kenyon Review, StoryQuarterly, StorySouth, and elsewhere. She is the current Chair of the Board of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation. On behalf of the foundation, she has visited nearly every public high school in the District of Columbia to talk about the importance of reading and writing. She is currently Associate Professor in the Literature Department at American University and lives in Washington, DC with her family.
Dr. Jessica L. Ware
Dr. Jessica L. Ware is an associate curator in invertebrate zoology at the American Museum of Natural History. Dr. Ware’s research focuses on the evolution of behavioral and physiological adaptations in insects, with an emphasis on how these occur in Odonata (dragonflies and damselflies) and Dictyoptera (termites, cockroaches, and mantises). She holds a BSc from the University of British Columbia in Canada, and a PhD from Rutgers, New Brunswick. Dr. Ware is the past president of the Worldwide Dragonfly Association and serves as current president of the Entomological Society of America. She was recently awarded a PECASE medal from the US government for her work on insect evolution.
Rena Priest is a poet and an enrolled member of the Lhaq’temish (Lummi) Nation. She is the current Washington State Poet Laureate and 2022 Maxine Crushing Gray Distinguished Writing Fellow. She is the recipient of an Allied Arts Foundation Professional Poets Award and fellowships from In-Na-Po and the Vadon Foundation. She is the author of two poetry collections Sublime Subliminal and Patriarchy Blues, which received an American Book Award. Priest holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College.
Alina Simone is a singer and author who was born in Kharkov, Ukraine, and now lives in Brooklyn. Her music has earned critical acclaim from a wide range of media, including the BBC’s The World, NPR, Spin, Pitchfork, The New Yorker, and The Wall Street Journal. She is the author of the essay collection You Must Go and Win (Faber, 2011) and the forthcoming novel Note to Self (Faber, 2013). Her writing has also appeared in The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, and online at McSweeneys, The Wall Street Journal, and BOMBlog.