For more info about the writers, click on author photos to visit their websites.
Kim Stafford, Oregon's Poet Laureate
Kim Stafford, Oregon's ninth Poet Laureate, is a poet, essayist, memoirist, short story writer, and songwriter. An influential teacher recognized for his contributions to Oregon literature, he is a popular public speaker, storyteller, and workshop leader. He is the founder of the Northwest Writing Institute at Lewis & Clark College and a co-founder of Fishtrap. The author of more than a dozen books, Stafford's poetry has been published in national magazines and journals and collected in several volumes stretching over five decades, from A Gypsy's History of the World (1976) and Wild Honey, Tough Salt (2019). He also has self-published a series of chapbooks, beginning in 2017 with The Flavor of Unity: Post-Election Poems. His poems have been inscribed into public artworks, from OHSU's Doernbecher Children's Hospital to the plaza at TriMet's Orenco Station light-rail stop. Thousands of students have worked with Stafford through artists-in-the-schools projects and at writing festivals. He also has worked with adult audiences, ranging from the Oregon Legislature to the Cowboy Poetry Festival to the U.S. Forest Service, and has given workshops in Scotland, Italy, and Bhutan. Stafford was a member of the Oregon Governor's Task Force on Arts & Culture and has been a consultant to the Oregon Arts Commission. He received a Governor's Arts Award in 1998 and the Stewart H. Holbrook Literary Legacy Award from Literary Arts in 2007.
Stafford grew up in a word-friendly home, the second of four children of poet and teacher William Stafford and teacher Dorothy Stafford. In his early years, following his father's career, the family moved often, but by 1957 had settled in Lake Oswego. Stafford attended the University of Oregon, where he earned bachelor's and master's degrees in English and a doctorate in Middle English Literature. Stafford currently lives in Portland with his wife, Perrin Kerns, a teacher and filmmaker.
In May 2018, when Stafford was appointed Poet Laureate, Gov. Kate Brown wrote: "Kim Stafford is one of our state's most generous literary teachers, and I am proud to appoint him." During his two-year appointment, he is creating a series of online resources, gathering Oregon poems and pairing them with writing ideas. "I'm especially interested in Oregon poetry on local themes," he said. "I think of poetry as a very practical tool for understanding local life ... In a society of diverse backgrounds and perspectives, poetry builds community."
Kim Stafford was appointed Oregon Poet Laureate by Governor Kate Brown. The Poet Laureate program is a collaborative project of the state's five cultural partners: Oregon Arts Commission, Oregon Humanities, Oregon Heritage Commission, Oregon Historical Society, and State Historic Preservation Office, with funding from the Oregon Cultural Trust.
Brian M. Biggs
Brian M. Biggs attended the University of Washington on a football scholarship (this included a trip to the 1964 Rose Bowl) and majored in Theatre. He ran the Theatre Program at Franklin High School and Jefferson Performing Arts High School, both in Portland. He was also Executive Director of Young Musicians & Artists for 22 years, a performing and visual arts resident summer program held at Willamette University. His stories, poems, essays and photographs are published in Crab Orchard Review, Perfume River Poetry, Brave on the Page, Oberon Poetry Magazine, and Stone Path Review, among others. He lives with his wife, Vicki, in Oregon City. Brian's new book is the memoir Prove My Soul:Another Side to the Vietnam War.
Gloria D. Brown
Gloria D. Brown: From an unlikely beginning as an agency transcriptionist in her hometown of Washington, D.C., Gloria Brown became the first African American woman to attain the rank of forest supervisor at the U.S. Forest Service. As a young widow with three children, she transferred to Missoula, Montana, and embarked on a remarkable journey, ultimately leading the Siuslaw National Forest in Oregon and later the Los Padres in California. As a forest supervisor, Brown received many awards for mediating conflicts between the government and environmentalists. Brown's new memoir is Black Woman in Green, and she lives in Lake Oswego.
Kesha Ajose Fisher
Kesha Ajose Fisher, whose essays and stories have been published in several online and print collections, writes from singular experience. Born in Chicago, Fisher was raised in Nigeria, Texas, and California. She now makes her home in Portland, where she lives with her four children, her husband, and her poodle/bichon mix, Oscar. She has worked as a counselor with disadvantaged youth, and also as an advocate for African immigrants and refugees. Vividly informed by the struggle, triumph, love, and pain of her own life and the lives of her clients, Fisher's writing documents the bitter suffering of characters in seemingly inescapable predicaments. Her new collection of short stories, No God like the Mother, is a finalist for the 2020 Oregon Book Award.
Novelist Dana Haynes has spent more than 20 years in Oregon newspaper newsrooms, split between weeklies and the dailies. He has won awards as a reporter, columnist and editor. A native of the Pacific Northwest, he also served as spokesman for the mayor of Portland. Haynes' first thriller, Crashers, won the Spotted Owl Award from Friends of Mystery as 2010's best mystery or thriller written by a Northwest writer. Breaking Point, the sequel to Crashers, made its debut in 2011, followed by Ice Cold Kill, the breakout thriller for Daria Gibron, in 2012; and Gun Metal Heart in 2014. His latest novel is St. Nicholas Salvage & Wrecking.
April Henry loves to kill people - but only on paper. Henry is the New York Times-bestselling author of 24 mysteries and thrillers for adults and teens. The Body in the Woods, the first in her Point Last Seen series, won an Oregon Book Award in 2015. Her latest novel is Run, Hide, Fight Back, with The Girl in the White Van due out in February 2020. She can pick her way out of handcuffs with a bobby pin and makes a killer cinnamon roll. April has supported HomeWord Bound since its very first year.
Jackie Shannon Hollis
Jackie Shannon Hollis is a writer, storyteller and speaker and the author of the memoir, This Particular Happiness: A Childless Love Story. Her work has appeared in various literary magazines, including The Sun, Rosebud, Inkwell, High Desert Journal, VoiceCatcher, Nailed, and Slice Magazine. Jackie grew up on a ranch on the east side of Oregon. Her early jobs included taking orders at the windows of the Shoe String drive-in and driving potato and wheat truck. She left home and went to the University of Oregon, and later Portland State University where she received a master's degree in social work. She spent many years working as a counselor in chemical dependency treatment and later worked in human resources. She now lives in Portland, on the west side of Oregon. Always curious about the ways we humans relate, Jackie and her husband, Bill, lead workshops on communication, conflict management, and building successful relationships. Jackie also cohosted two seasons of Yuvi Zalkow's Neurotic Tornado: A Podcast about Relationships and the Beautiful Messiness of Being Together. Jackie brings her love of connecting with others and the joy of shaping words to creative writing workshops she facilitates, through the Multnomah County library, for people experiencing houselessness and other hardships. As a survivor of sexual assault, Jackie writes and speaks about the unfolding impact of sexual assault on survivors and those who love them.
Apricot Irving is the author of The Gospel of Trees, a lyrical meditation on ecology, loss, and the tangled history of missions in Haiti, winner of the 2019 Sarah Winnemucca Award for Creative Nonfiction (Oregon Book Award). She is the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers' Award and Literary Arts Creative Nonfiction Fellowship. Her writing has appeared in Granta, On Being, Tin House, Oregon Humanities, Portland Monthly and Topic Magazine. Raised a missionary's daughter in Haiti, Irving has taught literature and writing to students in Indonesia, China and the U.S., the U.K., and Ireland. She reported on post-earthquake recovery efforts in the north of Haiti for the radio program This American Life and is the founder and director of the Boise Voices Oral History Project, a collaboration between youth and elders to record the stories of a rapidly changing neighborhood in N/NE Portland, which was honored at City Hall for civic engagement and innovative storytelling. She currently lives in the Columbia River Gorge with her partner and two wildly imaginative boys. Her reporting on the Eagle Creek Fire was selected for the 2019 anthology Best American Science & Nature Writing.
Bart King loves to read, is a longtime teacher, and his writing's been in literally hundreds of birthday cards. Also, he's written over 25 books, and one of them, The Big Book of Boy Stuff, was once Amazon's #5 overall bestselling title. Together, his titles have sold nearly a million copies. And he's delighted to say that his books have won the Oregon Book Award, the Newbery Award and the Pulitzer Prize in Literature. (But remember, being "delighted to say" something doesn't make it true!) He has a master's degree in history, and has been the keynote speaker at the Oregon Writers Festival a number of times. In addition to books, he also sometimes writes articles and educational content. He lives in Portland with his wife. His newest book is the long-awaited Bad Dad Jokes: That's How Eye Roll.
Ramiza Koya has an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College, and has lived and taught in Spain, the Czech Republic, and Morocco. Her fiction and nonfiction has appeared in publications such as Lumina, Washington Square Review, and Catamaran, and she has been a fellow at both MacDowell Colony and Blue Mountain Center. Her mother was born in Texas, her father in the Fiji Islands, and she was born in California. Currently, she lives and works in Portland. Ramiza's new novel The Royal Abduls, a family drama about the lives of secular Muslims post-9/11, engages with the struggles of women in the workplace and the difficulties of maintaining relationships in a fragmented America.
Shawn Levy is the former film critic of The Oregonian and KGW-TV. His writing has appeared in Sight and Sound, Film Comment, American Film, Interview, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, The Hollywood Reporter, and The Black Rock Beacon. He is the author of nine books, including Rat Pack Confidential, Paul Newman: A Life, King of Comedy: The Life and Art of Jerry Lewis, and Dolce Vita Confidential. His latest book is the "fantastically fizzy" The Castle on Sunset: Life, Death, Love, Art and Scandal at Hollywood's Chateau Marmont. Shawn is an avid soccer fan who jumps and claps and sings for victory in Portland.
Carolyn O'Doherty lives in a much prettier and less dangerous version of Portland than her characters. She's loved writing and books her whole life, but didn't venture into novel writing until the late 2000s. When, as a kid, she dreamed up the idea of freezing time, she only considered the benefits: always having the perfect snappy come-back, the right answer on the test, and untraceable revenge. It was when she turned the idea into a novel that she delved into the dark side of this potential blessing. Outside of writing, she has spend the last 20 years working with Portland non-profits to develop affordable housing. Her new novel is Unleashed.
Scott Poole is the author of three books of poetry, The Sliding Glass Door, The Cheap Seats and Hiding from Salesmen. His latest book, Vacancy, incorporates both poetry and art, with 20 original works of art by Scott and 20 accompanying poems. Scott was the "house poet" of Oregon Public Broadcasting's show Live Wire!. He was also the founding director of both the Spokane Book Festival (Get Lit!) and the Portland book festival (Wordstock). Scott lives in Vancouver, Washington, and is a software developer in Portland.
As a maritime historian, Explorers Club member, shipwreck expert and avid world traveler, Taylor Zajonc's real-life adventures nearly exceed those of his fictional counterparts. His fascination with exploration began when he joined a Russian expedition to the deepest archaeological site on the planet, descending nearly three miles into the abyss of the Bermuda Triangle aboard a Soviet-era submersible. As an internationally-recognized shipwreck and treasure expert, Taylor has contributed research and methodology for some of the most important shipwreck finds of the past decade, including World War II treasure ships SS Gairsoppa and SS Mantola and the British naval ship HMS Victory. Taylor's latest novel, The Maw, is the 2018 winner of the Clive Cussler "Grandmaster" Adventure Writers Competition, the 2019 winner of the 13th Annual National Indie Excellence Award (Action/Adventure), and the 2019 Silver Winner of the IPPY Independent Publisher Book Award (Suspense/Thriller), and it was a finalist for the 2019 Oregon Book Award. Taylor lives in Portland.
Reema Zaman is an award-winning writer, speaker, actress, and author of the critically-acclaimed memoir I Am Yours. I Am Yours has been adopted into the curriculum of several high schools through an Innovation Grant from the Oregon Department of Education, and is being adapted into a movie. The New York Times states that "Zaman writes beautifully of the pain and frustration of being a woman in a man's world, an immigrant in a world suspicious of outsiders." As noted by Forbes magazine, Reema's life and career have been "A fabulous trajectory of powerful transformation." Reema's work has appeared in Vogue, Ms. Magazine, The Guardian, Salon, and other leading outlets. A "spellbinding performer of exceptional presence," Reema is a renowned speaker and has been performing worldwide since she was six years old. She was the 2018 Oregon Literary Arts' Writer of Color Fellow and is currently partnering with the International Rescue Committee and Girls Inc. to serve crucial causes and empower the next generation of leaders. Reema is credited with coining the term "immigrant abuse" and has joined forces with the nation's leading advocacy organizations to advocate for change in policies that impact immigrants and survivors of abuse. Born in Bangladesh and raised in Thailand, Reema graduated with degrees in Theater and Women's Studies from Skidmore College. Reema currently lives in Portland.