Southern California Poetry Festival
HomeAbout the EventEventsAbout the ParticipantsFAQs

Kaveh Akbar is the founding editor of Divedapper. His poems appear in The New Yorker, Poetry, APR, Ploughshares, PBS NewsHour, and elsewhere. His debut full-length collection, Calling a Wolf a Wolf, will be published by Alice James Books in September 2017; he is also the author of the chapbook Portrait of the Alcoholic. A recipient of the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation and the Lucille Medwick Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, Kaveh was born in Tehran, Iran, and is a Visiting Professor of Poetry in the Purdue University MFA program.

Samantha Alsina is currently finishing up her undergraduate degree in Creative Writing at University of California, Santa Cruz where she is an editor for the on-campus literary magazine, Chinquapin. She also interns for the Creative Writing Department where she publicizes the Living Writers Series and curates the weekly newsletter for her peers. She hopes to pursue a career related to writing and arts administration.

Bridgette Bianca is a native of Los Angeles where she teaches at the college level. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English from Howard University and her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Otis College of Art & Design. Bridgette Bianca’s poetry seeks to serve as witness to moments most forget or ignore. Her poetry thesis, Pain is Proof, explores what it means to hurt. She is currently developing her second project, Just In Case the Sky Is Falling, a small collection of near-love poems.

Michelle Bitting's first collection, Good Friday Kiss (2008, C&R Press) was chosen by Thomas Lux as the winner of the DeNovo First Book Award. Her second collection, Notes to the Beloved (2012, SPC Press) won the Sacramento Poetry Center Book Award and received a starred review from Kirkus Reviews. A third collection, The Couple Who Fell to Earth (2016, C&R Press) also received another glowing and starred review from Kirkus. She has won the Beyond Baroque Foundation, Virginia Brendemuehl, and Glimmer Train poetry contests and been a finalist for the Poets & Writers Magazine California Exchange, the Rona Jaffe Foundation, the Julia Peterkin, among others.

John Brantingham's work has been featured on Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac and The Best Small Fictions 2016. He has seven books of poetry and fiction and is currently working on a collection of flash fiction pieces with Grant Hier that covers the entire history of California. He teaches poetry and fiction at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park and Mt. San Antonio College.

Rocío Carlos was born and raised in the South/East areas of Los Angeles. Rocío has been reading her work all over L.A. since 1993. In 2003 she was chosen as a recipient of PEN USA’s Emerging Voices/Rosenthal fellowship. She is a graduate of the Creative Writing MFA program at Otis of College of Art and Design and continues to live and teach in Los Angeles.

Writer and editor Victoria Chang earned a BA in Asian studies from the University of Michigan, an MA in Asian studies from Harvard University, an MBA from Stanford University, and an MFA from the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers. Her collections of poetry include Circle (2005), winner of the Crab Orchard Review Award Series in Poetry; Salvinia Molesta (2008); The Boss (2013); and Barbie Chang (2018). Her poems have been published in the Kenyon Review, Poetry, the Threepenny Review, and Best American Poetry 2005. In 2017, she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. Chang is the editor of the anthology Asian American Poetry: The Next Generation (2004). In addition to editing, she writes children's books and works in marketing and communications. She lives in Southern California with her family. 

Micah Chatterton writes, edits, teaches and tends library at various locations in the Inland Empire, where he grew up. His first book, Go to the Living, was published by Inlandia in the spring of 2017, and he is also featured in Best New Poets 2013, The Cancer Poetry Project 2 and The Burden of Light: Poems on Illness and Loss. His work has appeared in a number of journals, including B O D Y, Sixfold, Ruminate, Tupelo Quarterly, LETTERS, and Slice. More at

Brendan Constantine's work has appeared in Prairie Schooner, FIELD, Ploughshares, Virginia Quarterly, and Ninth Letter, among other journals. His most recent collection is Dementia, My Darling (2016 Red Hen Press). He has received grants and commissions from the Getty Museum, James Irvine Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. He currently teaches poetry at the Windward School and regularly offers classes to hospitals, foster homes, veterans, and the elderly.

Barbara Crooker is the author of eight books of poetry, including Les Fauves (C&R Press, 2017) and The Book of Kells (Cascade Books, 2019). Radiance, her first book, won the 2005 Word Press First Book Award and was finalist for the 2006 Paterson Poetry Prize; Line Dance, her second book, won the 2009 Paterson Award for Excellence in Literature. Her writing has received a number of awards, including the 2004 WB Yeats Society of New York Award, the 2003 Thomas Merton Poetry of the Sacred Award, and three Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Creative Writing Fellowships. She has been a fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Moulin à Nef, Auvillar, France,and The Tyrone Guthrie Centre, Annaghmakerrig, Ireland. Garrison Keillor has read her poems on The Writer’s Almanac, and she has read her poetry all over the country, including The Calvin Festival of Faith and Writing, The Austin International Poetry Festival, Poetry at Round top, The Geraldine R.Dodge Poetry Festival, Glory Days: A Bruce Springsteen Symposium, and the Library of Congress.

Bill Cushing was born in Virginia to a Navy family, raised in New York, and after a stint in the Navy himself, lived in Virginia, Maryland, Florida, and Puerto Rico. He earned an MFA in creative writing from Goddard College and currently lives in the Southern California area where he teaches English at both Mount San Antonio and East Los Angeles colleges. He has written reviews and articles for Birder's World, the Florida Times-Union, and the San Juan Star. He previously had poems published in Avocet, Brownstone Review, Penumbra, Metaphor, the Synergist, Spectrum, and the Sabal Palm Review.

​Nicelle Davis is a California poet, collaborator, and performance artist who walks the desert with her son J.J. in search of owl pellets and rattlesnake skins. Her poetry collections include The Walled Wife (Red Hen Press, 2016), In the Circus of You (Rose Metal Press, 2015), Becoming Judas (Red Hen Press, 2013), and Circe (Lowbrow Press, 2011). Her poetry film collaborations with Cheryl Gross have been shown across the world. She has taught poetry at Youth for Positive Change, an organization that promotes success for youth in secondary schools, MHA, Volunteers of America in their Homeless Youth Center, and with Red Hen’s WITS program. She is the creator of The Poetry Circus and collaborator on the Nevermore Poetry Festival. She currently teaches at Paraclete High School.​

Alexis Rhone Fancher is the author of How I Lost My Virginity to Michael Cohen and other heart stab poems, (2014), State of Grace: The Joshua Elegies, (2015), and Enter Here (2017). She is published in Best American Poetry 2016, Rattle, Slipstream, Hobart, Cleaver, Public Pool, H_NGM_N, The MacGuffin, and elsewhere. Her photographs are published worldwide. A multiple Pushcart Prize and Best of The Net nominee, Alexis is poetry editor of Cultural Weekly, where she also publishes a monthly photo essay, “The Poet’s Eye,” about her on-going love affair with Los Angeles.

A native of Gainesville, Florida, Natalie Graham earned her M.F.A. in Creative Writing at the University of Florida and completed her Ph.D. in American Studies at Michigan State University as a University Distinguished Fellow. Her poems have appeared in Callaloo, New England Review, Valley Voices: A Literary Review, and Southern Humanities Review; and her articles have appeared in The Journal of Popular Culture and Transition. She is a Cave Canem fellow and associate professor of African American Studies at California State University, Fullerton. Begin with a Failed Body, her first full-length collection of poems, won the 2016 Cave Canem Poetry Prize and is forthcoming from University of Georgia Press, September 2017.

torrin a. greathouse is a genderqueer, schizophrenic, cripple-punk from Southern California. They are the Editor and Co-Founder of Black Napkin Press. Their work has been published or is forthcoming in Assaracus, Crab Fat Magazine, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Polychrome Ink, Rabbit Catastrophe Review, Calamus Journal, Emerge Literary Journal, & The Feminist Wire. torrin’s work was nominated for the Pushcart Prize by Rust + Moth. When they are not writing or editing poetry, they are trying to survive in america long enough to earn a degree. 

David Hernandez's most recent collection of poetry is Dear, Sincerely (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2016). His other books include Hoodwinked (Sarabande Books, 2011), winner of the Kathryn A. Morton Prize in Poetry, Always Danger (SIU Press, 2006), winner of the Crab Orchard Series, and A House Waiting for Music (Tupelo Press, 2003). David has been awarded an NEA Literature Fellowship and two Pushcart Prizes. His poems have appeared in Field, Kenyon Review, Poetry, Ploughshares, Southern Review, and The Best American Poetry. He is also the author of two YA novels, No More Us for You and Suckerpunch, both published by HarperCollins. David teaches creative writing at California State University, Long Beach and is married to writer Lisa Glatt.

​Armine Iknadossian fled Beirut, Lebanon for Pasadena, California with her family in 1978 to escape the civil war. After earning her BA from UCLA, she worked as assistant editor to syndicated columnists Arianna Huffington, Robert Scheer and Moly Ivins. Armine’s teaching career took over for the next 20 years, during which time she served as a recitation coach for Poetry Out Loud’s National Recitation Contest. She later earned her MFA in Poetry from Antioch University, Los Angeles during which time her mentor Richard Garcia nominated Armine for a writing fellowship at Summer Poetry in Idyllwild. In 2015, Armine retired from teaching in order to support the literary arts and focus on her two manuscripts god(l)ess: The L Is Silent and Resident Alien. She is currently one of the bookstore managers at Beyond Baroque Bookstore aka The Scott Wannberg Poetry Lounge where you can purchase her newly released chapbook United States of Love & Other Poems. She looks forward to serving as a Writer in the Schools (WITS) for Red Hen Press this fall.

Mark Irwin is the author of nine collections of poetry, which include A Passion According to Green (2017), American Urn: Selected Poems (1987-2014), Large White House Speaking (2013), Tall If (2008), Bright Hunger (2004), White City (2000), Quick, Now, Always (1996), and Against the Meanwhile: Three Elegies (1988). He has also translated Philippe Denis’s Notebook of Shadows and Nichita Stanescu’s Ask the Circle to Forgive You: Selected Poems. His collection of essays, Monster: Distortion, Abstraction, and Originality in Contemporary American Poetry, is forthcoming in 2017. His poetry and essays have appeared in many literary magazines including American Poetry Review, Agni Review, the Atlantic Monthly, Georgia Review, the Kenyon Review, Paris Review, Pleiades, Poetry magazine, the Nation, New England ReviewNew American Writing, the New Republic, and the Southern Review. Recognition for his work includes The Nation/Discovery Award, four Pushcart Prizes, two Colorado Book Awards, the James Wright Poetry Award, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Fulbright, Lilly, and Wurlitzer Foundations. He is an associate professor in the PhD in Creative Writing & Literature Program at the University of Southern California and lives in Los Angeles and Colorado.

Judy Kronenfeld is the author of four full-length collections of poetry: Bird Flying through the Banquet (FutureCycle Press, 2017), Shimmer (WordTech Editions, 2012), Light Lowering in Diminished Sevenths, winner of the 2007 Litchfield Review Poetry Book Award, now available in a second edition (Antrim House Books, 2012), and Shadow of Wings (Bellflower, 1991). She has also published two chapbooks, Disappeared Down Dark Wells and Still Falling (Inevitable Press, 2000), and Ghost Nurseries (Finishing Line, 2005). She has taught English literature at the University of California, Irvine, the University of California, Riverside, and Purdue University. After her midlife turn back to her childhood love of writing poetry, Judy began to teach in the Department of Creative Writing at the University of California, Riverside, where she is now Lecturer Emerita, having retired after 25 years. She now serves as an Associate Editor of the online journal, Poemeleon.

Danusha Laméris’s work has been published, or is forthcoming in: The Best American Poetry, The New York Times, The American Poetry Review, The Gettysburg Review, Tin House, and New Ohio Review, as well as in a variety of other journals and anthologies. Her first book, The Moons of August (2014), was chosen by Naomi Shihab Nye as the winner of the Autumn House Press poetry prize. She lives in Santa Cruz, California and teaches private writing workshops.

Julayne Lee is a 1.X generation adopted Asian-American. She is a Community Literature Initiative Scholar and was accepted to Las Dos Brujas Writers’ Workshop. She has been published by the Los Angeles’ Department of Cultural Affairs, Cultural Weekly and Korean Quarterly. A co-founder and steering committee member of Adoptee Solidarity Korea - Los Angeles (ASK-LA), she has spoken on adoption at symposiums and universities in Korea and the U.S. Julayne has a B.S. in Mathematics Education, an M.A.Ed. and is a Sr. Data Analyst. Her first collection of poetry Not My White Savior will be published spring 2018.

Teddy Macker is the author of the collection of poetry, This World (White Cloud Press, 2015; foreword by Brother David Steindl-Rast). His work appears in the Antioch Review, Columbia, New Letters, Orion, Resurgence (UK), The Sun, various anthologies, and elsewhere. Among his honors is the Reginald S. Tickner Creative Writing Fellowship of the Gilman School in Baltimore. A lecturer in creative writing at UC Santa Barbara, he lives with his wife and daughters on a small farm in the foothills of Carpinteria, California.

Douglas Manuel was born in Anderson, Indiana. He received a BA in Creative Writing from Arizona State University and a MFA from Butler University where he was the Managing Editor of Booth a Journal. He is currently a Middleton and Dornsife Fellow at the University of Southern California where he is pursuing a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing. He was a recipient of the Chris McCarthy Scholarship for the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference and has been the Poetry Editor for Gold Line Press as well as was one of the Managing Editors of Ricochet Editions. His poems are featured on Poetry Foundation's website and have appeared or are forthcoming in Poetry Northwest, Superstition Review, Rhino, North American Review, The Chattahoochee Review, New Orleans Review, Crab Creek Review, Many Mountains Moving, Figure 1, and elsewhere. His first full length collection of poems, Testify, was released by Red Hen Press in the spring of 2017.

Clint Margrave is the author of Salute the Wreckage (2016) and The Early Death of Men (2012), both published by NYQ Books. His work has been featured on Garrison Keillor’s The Writer’s Almanac, as well as in New York Quarterly, Rattle, Cimarron Review, Verse Daily, Word Riot, and Ambit (UK), among others. He lives in Los Angeles, CA.

Michael Mark is a hospice volunteer and author of two books of stories, Toba and At the Hands of a Thief (Atheneum). His poetry has recently appeared or is forthcoming in Alaska Quarterly Review, American Journal Poetry, Bellevue Literary Review, Cimarron Review, Cutthroat Journal, Poet Lore, Pleiades, Potomac Review, Rattle, Sugar House, Spillway, and The Sun. His poetry has been nominated for three Pushcart Prizes.

When told to calm down, Sarah Elizabeth Miller becomes a mouthy saloon girl. The rest of the time she's a fairly nice lady. She has an MFA in Fiction from CSU, Long Beach where she spent a few years indulging her desire to write pretty sentences she enjoys reading aloud. Her biggest claim to fame use to be making the list of the top 25 in Glimmer Train's December 2008 Fiction Open, but in 2016, Arroyo Seco Press was kind enough to publish her very first chapbook, Transitory Myth. Her poetry has also been published in Tears in the Fence, Bank-Heavy Press, Bender, SheilaNa-Gig, and Rip Rap--at least two of these are now defunct, and she hopes she had nothing to do with that.

Robbi Nester is a poet and writer who has published three books of poetry: a chapbook, Balance (White Violet, 2012) and two collections, A Likely Story (Moon Tide, 2014) and Other-Wise (Kelsay Books, 2017). She has also edited two anthologies, The Liberal Media Made Me Do It (Nine Toes, 2014) and an ekphrastic e-anthology, Over the Moon: Birds, Beasts, and Trees--celebrating the photographs of Beth Moon (accessible at She holds a BA and MA from Hollins University and an MFA and PhD from University of California, Irvine.

A longtime resident of Los Angeles, Martin Ott is the author of seven books of poetry and fiction, including Underdays, Sandeen Prize Winner, University of Notre Dame Press (2015) and Spectrum, C&R Press (2016). His work has appeared in 15 anthologies and more than 200 magazines, including The Harvard Review, The North American Review, and Prairie Schooner.

Shannon Phillips earned her MFA in Creative Writing from CSU, Long Beach. She won second place in Beyond Baroque’s First Annual Poetry Contest with her poem, “Plum.” Her second chapbook, Body Parts, is forthcoming from dancing girl press, Fall 2017. After teaching English as a Second Language for 3 years, she decided to study Arabic and is currently pursuing her goal of working as a translator. She is also the founding editor of Carnival, an online poetry magazine. 

Luivette Resto, a mother, teacher, poet, and Wonder Woman fanatic, was born in Aguas Buenas, Puerto Rico, but proudly raised in the Bronx. Her two books of poetry Unfinished Portrait and Ascension have been published by Tía Chucha Press. She is a CantoMundo fellow. Some of her latest work can be read in Entropy Magazine, Coiled Serpent, Pilgrimage Magazine, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, and an Afro-Latino poetry anthology titled ¡Manteca!. Currently, she lives in the Los Angeles area with her three children.

Kevin Ridgeway lives and writes in Long Beach, CA. A two-time Pushcart Prize Nominee, recent work has appeared in Chiron Review, Nerve Cowboy, Trailer Park Quarterly, Big Hammer, San Pedro River Review, Lummox, Spillway and Cultural Weekly, among many others. He is the author of six chapbooks of poetry, including All the Rage (Electric Windmill Press), On the Burning Shore (Arroyo Seco Press) and Contents Under Pressure (Crisis Chronicles Press).

Amy Newlove Schroeder's collection of poems, The Sleep Hotel, received the Field Prize and was published by Oberlin College Press. Her poems and prose have appeared in Arts and Letters, Boston Review, Los Angeles Magazine, and Los Angeles Review of Books. She teaches writing and ethics in the Viterbi School of Engineering at USC.

David Allen Sullivan’s books include: Strong-Armed AngelsEvery Seed of the Pomegranate, a book of translation from the Arabic of Iraqi Adnan Al-Sayegh, Bombs Have Not Breakfasted Yet, and Black Ice. Most recently, he won the Mary Ballard Chapbook poetry prize for Take Wing. He teaches at Cabrillo College, where he edits the Porter Gulch Review with his students, and lives in Santa Cruz with his family.

Jennifer K. Sweeney is the author of three poetry collections: Little Spells,(New Issues Press); How to Live on Bread and Music, (Perugia Press); and Salt Memory. The recipient of the James Laughlin Award, a Pushcart Prize, and a Hedgebrook residency, her essays have been featured in Vela and The Washington Post, and poems have recently appeared in The Adroit Journal, The Awl, Crab Creek Review, Passages North, Rust+MothStirring, Tinderbox, and Thrush. She lives in California’s Inland Empire where she teaches privately and at the University of Redlands.

Winner of the Stephen Dunn Poetry Prize in 2016 and the Tuscon Literary Award (Poetry) in 2017, poet Lynne Thompson is the author of Start With a Small Guitar and Beg No Pardon, winner of the Perugia Book Award and the Great Lakes Colleges New Writers Award. Recent work appears or is forthcoming in Ecotone, Prairie Schooner, African American Review, Crab Creek Review, Salamander and, Poetry, among others. Thompson received a of a Master Artist Fellowship from the City of Los Angeles in 2015 and is the Reviews and Essays Editor of the literary journal, Spillway.

Lynn Ungar is the author of the poetry collection Bread and Other Miracles, and has been included in a variety of anthologies, including most recently Poetry of Presence:An Anthology of Mindfulness Poems. Parker Palmer writes of her poems: "they take subtle, complex and elusive experiences and make them accessible without diminishing the mystery." Lynn is a Unitarian Universalist minister, and lives on the east side of the San Francisco Bay with her two Australian Shepherds. Visit her online at 

Terry Ann Wright’s debut chapbook Nature Studies was published by Sadie Girl Press in 2015; the title poem was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, her third nomination. Her poetry has appeared most recently in The Rise Up Review, The Harpoon Review, Chiron Review, and Angel City Review, and in the anthologies Gutters & Alleyways: Perspectives on Poverty and Struggle; The Language I Was Broken In; and Like a Girl: Perspectives on Feminine Identity, among others. She is a teacher and an editor.