Best of the Net 2013  


Valerie Marie Arvidson is a writer, artist, and teacher. She holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from Dartmouth College and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington. Her writing has appeared online or in print with Hunger Mountain, Apt (Aforementioned Productions), Anomalous Press, The Seattle Review, and Blunderbuss Magazine. Valerie teaches English and writing in Seattle where she lives with her husband Barton and her cat Pippin. She has been working on a book of hybrid-prose based on archives from her Scandinavian heritage. Visit her online at here.

Ciaran Berry is a 2012 Whiting Writers' Award winner. His full-length collections are The Sphere of Birds (2008) and The Dead Zoo (2013), which was a recent Poetry Book Society Recommendation. Originally from the west of Ireland, he directs the creative writing program at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut, where he lives with his wife and two sons.

Ash Bowen is the author of The Even Years of Marriage (winner, 2012 Orphic Book Prize, Dream Horse Press). His work has previously appeared in Best New Poets 2011, New England Review, Quarterly West, Black Warrior Review, Blackbird, and elsewhere in print and online. He lives in Tuscaloosa with his partner and step-children and teaches undergraduate creative writing and literature at the University of Alabama. "Letter from a Mistress" is for Michelle Ladwig.

Traci Brimhall is the author of Our Lady of the Ruins (W.W. Norton), selected by Carolyn Forché for the 2011 Barnard Women Poets Prize, and Rookery (Southern Illinois University Press), winner of the 2009 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry First Book Award. Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, Slate, The Believer, The Kenyon Review, The New Republic, Ploughshares, and Best American Poetry 2013 & 2014. She's received fellowships from the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, the King/Chávez/Parks Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Dan Chelotti is the author of x (McSweeney's, 2013) and a chapbook, The Eights (Poetry Society of America, 2006). His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Poetry, Boston Review, Conduit, jubilat, Gulf Coast, notnostrums, and many other journals. Chelotti is an assistant professor of English at Elms College, and he lives in Massachusetts.

Lisa Fay Coutley is the author of In the Carnival of Breathing (Black Lawrence Press, 2011), winner of the Black River Chapbook Competition. Her poems have been awarded a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, scholarships to the Bread Loaf and Sewanee Writers' Conferences, an Academy of American Poets Levis Prize, and have appeared or are forthcoming in Gulf Coast, Crazyhorse, Blackbird, Sou'wester, and Best New Poets. She is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Utah.

Barbara Daniels' Rose Fever was published by WordTech Press and her chapbooks Black Sails and Quinn & Marie by Casa de Cinco Hermanas Press. She received two Individual Artist Fellowships from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and earned an MA at New York University and an MFA in poetry at Vermont College. Her chapbook, The Woman Who Tries to Believe, won the Quentin R. Howard Prize from Wind Publications. Her poems have appeared in Mid-American Review, WomenArts Quarterly Journal, Sugar Mule, The Literary Review, and many other journals. Barbara Daniels and her husband David I. Daniels wrote two textbooks, English Grammar and Persuasive Writing, published by HarperCollins.

Joanne Diaz is the recipient of fellowships from the Illinois Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts. She is the author of The Lessons (Silverfish Review Press) and My Favorite Tyrants (winner of the Brittingham Prize, forthcoming from the University of Wisconsin Press). She teaches in the English Department at Illinois Wesleyan University.

Janelle DolRayne is a former poetry editor of Copper Nickel and the current art editor at The Journal. She lives in Columbus, OH where she is getting her MFA at The Ohio State University. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Laurel Review, Apt, and Parcel. She is originally from Boulder, CO.

Portia Elan lives and writes on the West Coast. Her work has appeared in Ninth Letter, Birdfeast, Thrush, and other journals, and has chapbooks forthcoming from dancing girl press and Mindmade Books.

Claudia Emerson is the author of five collections of poetry, including Secure the Shadow (LSU Press, 2012) and Late Wife (LSU Press, 2005), which won the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. She teaches creative writing at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA.

Kenneth Gagnon is a writer from New Hampshire. He was a finalist in Esquire's Short Short Fiction Contest in 2012, and his fiction and nonfiction has appeared in Esquire, The Millions, Menda City Review, Drunk Monkeys, Chamber Four, and elsewhere. He's at work on his first novel, and you can catch up with him at and on twitter @floppingtitties (no, seriously!).

Brent Goodman is the author of Far From Sudden, The Brother Swimming Beneath Me, and two chapbooks. His work has appeared in Poetry, Sou'wester, Pank, Diagram, Eleven Eleven, Diode, Pleiades, The Barn Owl Review, and elsewhere. He lives and works in Rhinelander, Wisconsin.

Noah Eli Gordon lives in Denver and operates various levers behind Letter Machine Editions, The Volta, Subito Press, and CU-Boulder's MFA program. Visit him online here.

Megan Grumbling's work has appeared in Poetry, The Iowa Review, Crazyhorse, The Southern Review, and other journals; was awarded a Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation; and received a Robert Frost Foundation Award for Poetry. She reviews plays and books for the Portland Phoenix, helps edit the poetry and arts journal The Café Review, and has written and staged performance works as part of several festivals. Her most recent work appears or is forthcoming in Unsplendid, Angle, and the Berlin journal Sand.

Christopher Howell was a military journalist during the Vietnam War and later earned graduate degrees from Portland State University and the University of Massachusetts. He has published ten collections of poems, most recently Gaze (Milkweed Editions, 2012), and Dreamless and Possible: Poems New & Selected (University of Washington Press, 2010). He has received three Pushcart Prizes, two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, and a fellowship from the Washington Artist Trust. He has also been honored with the Stanley W. Lindberg Award for Editorial Excellence and has twice won the Washington State Book Award. Since 1996 he has taught at Eastern Washington University's Inland NW Center for Writers, in Spokane, where he is also director and principal editor for Lynx House Press.

Luisa A. Igloria is the author of Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser (selected by Mark Doty for the 2014 May Swenson Poetry Prize; forthcoming from Utah State University Press, summer 2014); Night Willow (Phoenicia Publishing, spring 2014); The Saints of Streets (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2013); Juan Luna's Revolver (University of Notre Dame Press, 2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize); Trill & Mordent (WordTech Editions, 2005); and eight other books. Originally from Baguio City, she teaches on the faculty of Old Dominion University where she currently directs the M.F.A. creative writing program. Her website is

Chris Joyner is a graduate of the MFA program at the University of Miami and calls Virginia home. His work has been awarded first place in Sixfold's poetry contest, honorable mention in Winning Writers' Sports Poetry and Prose Contest, and the Alfred Boas Poetry Prize. Find his poems in the North American Review, B O D Y, Penduline Press, Brusque, Fiddleblack, and elsewhere. For more info, check out his website.

Rob Kenagy lives, teaches, and fishes in Michigan. He writes and plays music as Ganges. His work has appeared in Vinyl, Forklift Ohio, CHEAP POP, Hobart (online), and Gargoyle.

Kiese Laymon is a black southern writer, born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi. Laymon attended Millsaps College and Jackson State University before graduating from Oberlin College. He earned an MFA from Indiana University and is the author of the novel, Long Division and a collection of essays, How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America. Laymon is a contributing editor at He has written essays and stories for numerous publications including Esquire,, NPR, Gawker,, Longman's Hip Hop Reader, Mythium and Politics and Culture. Laymon is currently an Associate Professor of English and Africana Studies at Vassar College.

Kimberly Lojewski currently writes and teaches at UMass Amherst. She has been published in PANK, Gargoyle, Drunken Boat, Jersey Devil Press, and other great journals and magazines (both online and print). She is currently finishing her first book of short stories as well as a new nonfiction project and looking forward to a move warm and westerly.

Michael Marberry's work has appeared or is forthcoming in The New Republic, West Branch, Indiana Review, Hayden's Ferry Review, Bat City Review, Third Coast, and elsewhere. Michael earned his MFA at Ohio State University and is pursuing his PhD at Western Michigan University.

Shane McCrae is the author of Forgiveness Forgiveness (Factory Hollow Press, 2014), Blood (Noemi Press, 2013), and Mule (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2011), and is the recipient of the Whiting Writers' Award an NEA Creative Writing Fellowship. In Fall 2014, he will join the creative writing faculty at Oberlin College.

Karen Salyer McElmurray's Surrendered Child: A Birth Mother's Journey, was an AWP Award Winner for Creative Nonfiction. Her novels are The Motel of the Stars, Editor's Pick by Oxford American, and Strange Birds in the Tree of Heaven, winner of the Chaffin Award for Appalachian Writing. Other stories and essays have appeared in Iron Horse, Kenyon Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, and Riverteeth, and in the anthologies An Angle of Vision; To Tell the Truth; Fearless Confessions; Listen Here; Dirt; Family Trouble; and Red Holler. Her writing has been supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the North Carolina Arts Council, and the Kentucky Foundation for Women. Most recently, she was named Distinguished Alumna at Berea College and her essay, "Strange Tongues," was the recipient of the Annie Dillard Award from The Bellingham Review. In Spring 2014, she will be the Lewis Rubin Writer-in-Residence at Hollins University.

Matthew Olzmann's first book of poems, Mezzanines, was selected for the 2011 Kundiman Prize and was published by Alice James Books. His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in New England Review, Kenyon Review, Necessary Fiction, Poetry Northwest, Forklift, Ohio and elsewhere. He's currently a Visiting Professor of Creative Writing in the undergraduate program at Warren Wilson College. Visit him online at here.

Rae Paris is from Carson, California. She lives and writes mostly in East Lansing, Michigan where she is Assistant Professor of Creative Writing. Visit her online at here.

Jonathan Rovner learned to write at Walnut Hills Elementary School in Centennial, Colorado. His work has recently appeared in The Indiana Review, Wag's Revue, and the creative nonfiction anthology Far Edges of the Fourth Genre.

Jared Yates Sexton is a born-and-bred Hoosier living and working in Georgia as an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Georgia Southern University. His first book of stories, An End To All Things, is available from Atticus Books. For more stories and information his website is located at

Amber Sparks is the author of MAY WE SHED THESE HUMAN BODIES, and co-author (with Robert Kloss and illustrator Matt Kish) of THE DESERT PLACES, both from Curbside Splendor Publishing. You can find her at @ambernoelle on Twitter.

Nicole M. Taylor is a writer, ghostwriter, and crafter of expert hummus. She lives in San Jose, CA with her husband and a snorty, fetal alien named Magoo. She bloggerates here:

Nicole Walker's Quench Your Thirst with Salt won the Zone 3 Award for Creative Nonfiction and was released in June 2013. She is the author of a collection of poems, This Noisy Egg (Barrow Street 2010) and edited, with Margot Singer, Bending Genre: Essays on Creative Nonfiction, (Bloosmbury, 2013) and with Rebecca Campbell, 7 Artists, 7 Rings—an Artist's Game of Telephone for the Huffington Post. A recipient of a fellowship from the National Endowment from the Arts, she's nonfiction editor at Diagram and associate professor at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona.