Jenn's music has taken her performances and recording projects to France, Spain and Senegal, Africa. Her musical performances and writing workshops have been featured at the National Parks Services, DASOTA Writer's Festival, The Bolles School, Alliance Française, Mayo Clinic’s Humanities in Medicine Program, Florida State College at Jacksonville, and University of North Florida, and at cultural centers and theatres regionally and internationally. Jenn has opened for Grammy winners, including the Doobie Brothers, The Rippingtons, and Lisa Lobe and released five albums of original music. She also wrote and performed music for the nationally-aired P.B.S. documentary In Marjorie’s Wake.
Jenn's plays include the dramas Handmaid and Artichoke Soup and the musicals Majigeen and La Caroline, which recently traveled to Nantes, France. In 2013 Jenn and collaborative partner John E. Citrone received a residency at the prestigious CAP 21 Musical Theater Conservatory in NYC to work on the continued development of La Caroline. In addition, Jenn was awarded an Art Ventures grant from the Jacksonville Community Foundation for La Caroline 2014.
She has studied and written, performed and taught abroad in Dakar, Senegal at the ACI Baobab Center through a Rotary Ambassadorial grant; at the University of New Orleans summer seminars in Madrid, Spain and throughout France. She has a B.A. in International Studies and French from the University of North Florida and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of New Orleans. Jennifer has been an award-winning professor of English at Florida State College for more than a decade and with her production company aJENNda productions.
Mark Ari is a writer, painter, singer-songwriter, and editor. Kirkus Reviews, called him “a true original,” and he likes that. Jerry Stern, writing for the Tallahassee Democrat, described his work as “awesomely imaginative, and Cecil Bloom called it “exquisite” in the Jerusalem Post. He is concerned that maybe it’s unseemly to admit it, but he likes those, too. Still, he figures that’s plenty of blurbs for now.
Ari’s’ paintings have been exhibited in New York City and other venues in the United State, France, and Spain. He has performed in large theaters and public parks, as well as clubs, bars, strip joints and street corners up and down the east coast, Europe, and the Middle East. He has written three books, including The Shoemaker’s Tale for which he received enthusiastic critical support from writers in major newspapers, trade magazines, and other media.
Ari has won a mess of awards and fellowships, been to some cool places and known some great folks. He’s done all that stuff already mentioned and other stuff, and he plans to do more stuff. His favorite color is Hooker’s Green Light, and he likes taking long walks on the beach with other primates. Currently, you can spot him at the University of North Florida where, hat tipped forward over one eye, he sneaks in and out of his office at ungodly hours as quietly as boots allow.
For more than 20 years, Susan Cooper Eastman has reported on the good, bad, ugly and quirky in the Sunshine State. She’s slogged through the Fakahatchee Strand to see the ghost orchid. She’s chased after hunters following the trail of Catahoula leopard hounds hot on the scent of wild hog. She’s profiled a guerrilla gardener in Miami's Overtown who was turning desolate stretches of urban wasteland into oases of sugar cane and collards, and she’s profiled a Guatemalan girl who walked to the United States at 13 years of age to find work to help her family.
Susan’s work has won numerous regional, state and several national writing awards, so she's done something right. She will read cogent bits of her favorite stories, discuss her journalism and free-associate on why Jacksonville has been a great place to do journalism.
Susan Cooper Eastman
Sohrab Homi Fracis <www.fracis.com> is the first Asian author to win the Iowa Short Fiction Award, for Ticket to Minto: Stories of India and America. It was published by University of Iowa Press, and republished in India and, in translation, Germany. His stories appeared in Slice Magazine, Other Voices, The Antigonish Review, Weber Studies, The Toronto Review, India Currents, State Street Review, Writecorner Press, Ort der Augen, Wild Application, and South Asian Review. He taught creative writing at University of North Florida, after earning his M.A. there. He was fiction and poetry editor at State Street Review, final judge of the Page Edwards Short Fiction Award, and Visiting Writer in Residence at Augsburg College. He was a Florida Individual Artist Fellow in Fiction, a Walter E. Dakin Fellow in Fiction at Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and an artist in residence at Escape To Create and, twice, Yaddo.
Wayne Francis teaches literature at FSCJ and is currently writing a book detailing the history of Camp Tracey, a fundamentalist children's home recently shut down by the Florida Department of Children and Families.
Tim Gilmore is the author of In Search of Eartha White: "Storehouse for the People," The Ocean Highway at Night, Stalking Ottis Toole: A Southern Gothic, Ghost Compost: Strange Little Stories, and This Kind of City: Ghost Stories and Psychological Landscapes. He's the creator of jaxpsychogeo.com. He teaches at Florida State College of Jacksonville.
Teri Youmans Grimm
Teri Youmans Grimm is a fourth generation Jacksonville native. She received her BFA in poetry at the University of Nebraska at Omaha and her MFA at Vermont College. Her poetry collection, Dirt Eaters, was published by the University Press of Florida. Her writing has appeared in Prairie Schooner, Green Mountains Review, Indiana Review, South Dakota Review, Sugar House Review, EAT and Homegrown in Florida: An Anthology of Florida Childhoods, among other journals and anthologies. Her second collection, Becoming Lyla Dore, is forthcoming from Red Hen Press in 2016.
Rodney L. Hurst
Rodney L. Hurst Sr. is a civil rights activist and the author of the award winning book; It was never about a hot dog and a Coke®! A personal account of the 1960 sit-in demonstrations in Jacksonville, Florida and Ax Handle Saturday. Hurst, a native of Jacksonville, Florida recounts with clarity the bloody events of August 27, 1960 when 200 whites with ax handles and baseball bats attacked members of the Jacksonville, Florida Youth Council NAACP sitting in at white lunch counters. The press calls that day Ax Handle Saturday.
It was never about a hot dog and a Coke®! is the winner of more than a dozen awards, including the USA Book News Book First Place Gold Medal Award for Multi-Cultural Nonfiction, and the Florida Book Awards Bronze Medal in Nonfiction. His work has been recognized with the Florida Historical Society’s First Annual Stetson Kennedy Award and Prize.
Hurst speaks extensively on Civil Rights, Black History, and Racism, and is the recipient of numerous recognitions and awards. In additionto his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement, Hurst served two four-year terms on the Jacksonville City Council, and is responsible for a number of “firsts” in the Jacksonville Community. He is one of the original thirteen national recipients of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting Television Fellowships, and the first Black to co-host a television talk show in Jacksonville on PBS Channel WJCT. www.rodneyhurst.com.
Matt Lany is very pretty, but looks don’t matter. He goes about 160. Still, he’s trying to get down to 37 lbs., his birth weight. His poetry has been published in Spoon River, The Carolina Quarterly, Black Warrior Review, etc. The poems have made him billions, and he’ll read a few. He’s also been a college professor for a long time. In 1981, Oprah nominated him for a Teaching Amazing award. He lost to Nike, but it’s not about winning. His recently finished YA novel is entitled The Tree. He will read from this as well. Matt exudes optimism because he always sees the glass as half full—of urine—and because his wife and daughter tell him every day that they love him. Generally, he believes them, but sometimes, he admits, it just feels like they’re saying this to be nice.
Tiffany Melanson is a poet, performer and MFA candidate in poetry at the Bennington Writing Seminars. Her work has appeared on Swamp Radio, a live radio and podcast experience celebrating the culture, art and history of Northeast Florida, where she is both occasional co-host, interviewer and frequent contributor. She is currently working on her first full length poetry collection.
She currently teaches poetry workshops, magazine production and oral interpretation at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts.
Heather M. Peters is bad at checkers. She writes both fiction and nonfiction. She likes short, choppy sentences, but she is not Ernest Hemingway. Heather clips her nails religiously and has a particular fondness for chickens.
Raleigh Rand is the author of BRIGHTLEAF, a novel. She is currently in the process of writing ASH WEDNESDAY, a novel set in a mobile home park in Mayport, Florida.
T.F. Straight is the author of The Stories My Foremothers Told Me and All You Could See Was The Water: Hurricane Katrina through The Eyes of Children. She currently teaches Literature and Creative Writing at Greenwood School in Jacksonville.
Hurley Winkler is a writer working in the Jacksonville area. She writes and edits for the publication Perversion Magazine. She recently graduated from the University of North Florida with a degree in English Literature. Hurley lives in Jacksonville Beach with her partner, Alex.