Join us on Sunday October 20th at 5 pm for an evening of poetry and prose with the 2019 Jack Straw Writing Fellows!
Samar Abulhassan holds an M.F.A. from Colorado State University and has worked as a teaching artist for ten years, for Seattle Arts and Lectures’ WITS Program, Jack Straw, and the Skagit River Poetry Foundation. Born to Lebanese immigrants and raised with multiple languages, she is a 2006 Hedgebrook alum and the author of multiple chapbooks, including Farah and Nocturnal Temple. She received a 2016 CityArtist grant to complete a novel-in-poems, reflecting on memory, longing, and the Arabic alphabet, ignited while exploring Pike Place Market and Seattle’s waterfront.
Christianne Balk grew up in upstate New York, studied biology and art at Grinnell College, English and writing at the University of Iowa, taught at the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, and now lives in Seattle. Her poems have appeared in Cirque, Poemoftheweek.org, Women Writing Nature, Floating Bridge Review, Nimrod, Terrain, and other publications. Christianne loves gardening, the Anglo-Saxon rhythms of everyday street talk, and open water swimming. Her most recent book is The Holding Hours (University of Washington Press Pacific Northwest Poetry Series).
Gabrielle Bates works for Open Books: A Poem Emporium, cohosts the Poet Salon podcast, and edits for Poetry Northwest, Broadsided Press, and Bull City Press. Her poems and poetry comics have appeared in the New Yorker, Poetry, and New England Review, among other journals. She is originally from Birmingham, Alabama.
Shankar Narayan explores identity, power, mythology, and technology in a world where the body is flung across borders yet possesses unrivaled power to transcend them. Shankar is a four-time Pushcart Prize nominee, winner of the 2017 Flyway Sweet Corn Poetry Prize, and has been a fellow at Kundiman, Hugo House, and now Jack Straw. He is a 4Culture grant recipient for Claiming Space, a project to lift the voices of writers of color, and his chapbook, Postcards from the New World, won the Paper Nautilus Debut Series chapbook prize. Shankar draws strength from his global upbringing and from his work as a civil rights attorney for the ACLU. In Seattle, he awakens to the wonders of Cascadia every day, but his heart yearns east to his other hometown, Delhi.
Sylvia Byrne Pollack has a collection of soubriquets acquired over the decades, including professor, cancer researcher, mental health counselor, lesbian, Jew, flutist, world traveler. Among her favorites are Mom, Nana, wife, poet. Sylvia’s poems have appeared in Floating Bridge Review, Crab Creek Review, Clover, and Antiphon as well as other print and online journals. A two-time Pushcart nominee, she won the 2013 Mason’s Road Winter Literary Award and was a medalist for the 2014 inaugural Russell Prize. In 2018, her chapbook manuscript Overheard: The Deaf Woman Poems was a finalist for the Two Sylvias Press Chapbook Prize and received Honorable Mention for the Charlotte Mew Chapbook Contest.
Rena Priest is a writer and Lummi tribal member. Her debut book, Patriarchy Blues, was released on MoonPath Press and garnered an American Book Award. Her most recent collection, Sublime Subliminal, was published by Floating Bridge Press in 2018. She has attended residencies at Mineral School, Underwater New York/Works on Water on Governors Island, and Hawthornden Castle International Retreat for Writers. She is the recipient of a 2018 National Geographic Explorers Grant, and has taught various topics in writing, storytelling, and literature.
Michael Schmeltzer was born and raised in Japan. He is the co-author of the nonfiction book A Single Throat Opens, a lyric exploration of addiction and family. His debut book Blood Song was a Washington State Book Award Finalist for Poetry. He is a member of Seattle7Writers and currently serves as the President of Floating Bridge Press.