Poets, Presenters, and Dancers

Joy Harjo

Joy-Harjo-Courtesy-Image (1)

Joy Harjo was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma and is a member of the Mvskoke Nation.
Her seven books of poetry, which includes such well-known titles as How We Became Human- New and Selected Poems, The Woman Who Fell From the Sky, and She Had Some Horses have garnered many awards.  These include the New Mexico Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers Circle of the Americas; and the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America. For A Girl Becoming, a young adult/coming of age book, was released in 2009 and is Harjo’s most recent publication.

She has released four award-winning CD’s of original music and in 2009 won a Native American Music Award (NAMMY) for Best Female Artist of the Year for Winding Through the Milky Way. Her most recent CD release is a traditional flute album: Red Dreams, A Trail Beyond Tears. She performs nationally and internationally with her band, the Arrow Dynamics. She also performs her one-woman show, Wings of Night Sky, Wings of Morning Light, which premiered at the Wells Fargo Theater in Los Angeles in 2009 with recent performances at the Public Theater in NYC and La Jolla Playhouse as part of the Native Voices at the Autry. She has received a Rasmusson US Artists Fellowship and is a founding board member of the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation. Harjo writes a column “Comings and Goings” for her tribal newspaper, the Muscogee Nation News. She lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
View All Books

Out of Print
The Last Song poetry chapbook, Puerto del Sol Press 1975.
What Moon Drove Me to This? I.Reed Books, 1979.

Joy Harjo is rooted simultaneously in the natural world, in earth—especially the landscape of the American Southwest—and in the spirit world. Aided by these redemptive forces of nature and spirit, incorporating native traditions of prayer and myth into a powerfully contemporary idiom, her visionary justice-seeking art transforms personal and collective bitterness to beauty, fragmentation to wholeness, and trauma to healing.” Read more.

Sean Hill


Born and raised in Milledgeville, Georgia, Sean Hill is the author of Dangerous Goods, awarded the Minnesota Book Award in Poetry, (Milkweed Editions, 2014) and Blood Ties & Brown Liquor, named one of the Ten Books All Georgians Should Read in 2015 by the Georgia Center for the Book, (UGA Press, 2008). Read more.

Elizabeth Bradfield


Poet and naturalist Elizabeth Bradfield is the author of Interpretive Work (Arktoi Books/Red Hen Press, 2008), which won the Audre Lorde Award and was a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award; Approaching Ice (Persea Books, 2010), a book of poems about Arctic and Antarctic exploration that was a finalist for the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets; and Once Removed (Persea, 2015). Read more.


John Lane

John Lane

Poet, essayist, and author John Lane has been teaching students in English and creative writing since 1988. He’s now in the midst of a new challenge: the development of the Environmental Studies major at Wofford. Having served as interim director of the program, Lane is now director of Wofford’s Environmental Studies Center, located at the Glendale Shoals of Lawson’s Fork Creek, in the historic Glendale community. Read more.

Mildred Barya


When I decided that I wanted to be a professional writer in the tradition of the scribes of Ancient Egypt, a teacher appeared. I had the great fortune of being mentored by Ayi Kwei Armah (mostly known for his debut novel, The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born) for nine months at his residence in Popenguine, Senegal. At the time, I had completed Masters studies in organizational psychology at Makerere University, Uganda. . . Read more.




Norman Bissell

Norman Bissell

Norman Bissell is a founder member of the Scottish Centre for Geopoetics (SCG) which was set up in 1995 and has been its Director since 2002. He writes poetry, fiction, essays and reviews which have been widely published online and in literary journals, books and newspapers. He is also a very experienced teacher, lecturer and performer of his work and a longtime activist for radical cultural renewal. He has lectured on geopoetics at several Universities in Scotland and, with others, has organised many geopoetics events e.g. the Atlantic Islands Festival in 2009 and the Expressing the Earth Conference in 2017.
He has collaborated and performed with many musicians, visual artists, archaeologists, filmmakers and others, and spoken at numerous literary and music festivals in Scotland. He was awarded the Fellowship of the Educational Institute of Scotland (FEIS) ‘for signal service to education’, a commission to write a feature film screenplay and a Creative Scotland Artist’s Bursary to write his first novel I Want to Live about the last years in the life of George Orwell. Originally from Glasgow, he now lives on the Isle of Luing where he was Vice-Chairman of the Isle of Luing Community Trust that built the award winning Atlantic Islands Centre which opened in 2015.
His poetry collection Slate, Sea and Sky, A Journey from Glasgow to the Isle of Luing, with photographs by Oscar Marzaroli, was published in hardback in 2007 and reprinted in paperback in 2015. Author website: www.normanbissell.com


Cara Hagan


Cara Hagan is an interdisciplinary artist whose practice is informed by movement, words and digital space. Ms. Hagan has the pleasure of sharing her artistic pursuits across the United States and abroad. Most recently, Cara has set choreographic works on students at the UNC School of the Arts, Missouri State University and on professional dancers at the Dance Barn Festival in Battle Lake, MN. Her recent guest residencies have included Thirak India, where she taught, performed and lectured across the north region of India, at James Madison University . . . Read more.



Molly Rice

Molly Rice

Molly Rice is an award-winning theatre educator and poet who has held several residencies teaching poetry, storytelling, theatre, and ESL in hundreds of schools, colleges, and organizations in NC, United Kingdom, Ireland, and Russia. While living in Northern Ireland, she became a Pushkin Trust Artist for the Duchess of Abercorn. Molly is currently a theatre teacher/director at the Tractor Shed Theatre at St. Stephens High School in Hickory, NC. She was Teacher of the Year for 2017 for North Carolina Theatre Arts Educators and has won the Hancock-Settlemyre Award for contribution in the field of prevention of child abuse & neglect. Her first poetry chapbook Mill Hill was published by Finishing Line Press and preparing a first full poetry collection for Press 53.

Alastair McIntosh

Alastair McIntosh

Alastair McIntosh (Scotland) has been described by BBC TV as “one of the world’s leading environmental campaigners.” A pioneer of modern land reform in Scotland, he helped bring the Isle of Eigg into community ownership. On the Isle of Harris he negotiated withdrawal of the world’s biggest cement company (Lafarge) from a devastating “superquarry” plan, then agreed to serve (unpaid) on that company’s Sustainability Stakeholders Panel for 10 years.  Alastair guest lectures at military staff colleges, most notably the UK Defence Academy, on nonviolence. His books include Soil and Soul: People versus Corporate Power (Aurum), Hell and High Water: Climate Change, Hope and the Human Condition (Birlinn), Rekindling Community (Green Books) and Spiritual Activism: Leadership as Service (Green Books). His most recent major work is Poacher’s Pilgrimage: an Island Journey (Birlinn 2016, due in USA from Cascade 2018). He is a fellow of the School of Divinity at the University of Edinburgh and a visiting professor at the College of Social Sciences, University of Glasgow. His website is www.AlastairMcIntosh.com and Twitter @alastairmci.

Michael Newton

Dr Michael Newton was awarded a Ph.D. in Celtic Studies from the University of Edinburgh in 1998 and was an Assistant Professor in the Celtic Studies department of St Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia 2008-2013. He has written several books and numerous articles about Gaelic culture and history and is the leading authority on Gaelic heritage in North America. He was the editor of Dùthchas nan Gaidheal: Selected Essays of John MacInnes, which won the Saltire Society’s Research Book award of 2006 and the author of Warriors of the Word: The World of the Scottish Highlanders, which was nominated for the 2009 Katharine Briggs Award for folklore research. In 2014 he was given the inaugural Saltire Award by the St. Andrews University Scottish Heritage Center (of Laurinburg, North Carolina) for his “outstanding contributions to the preservation and interpretation of Scottish history and culture.” His 2015 publication Seanchaidh na Coille / Memory-Keeper of the Forest: Anthology of Scottish Gaelic Literature of Canada is the first extensive collection of Gaelic-Canadian literature and analysis of it. For more info and papers.  

Jamieson Ridenhour 


Jamieson Ridenhour is the author of the werewolf murder-mystery Barking Mad (Typecast, 2011) and the award-winning short horror films Cornerboys and The House of the Yaga. His ghost play Grave Lullaby was a finalist for the Kennedy Center’s David Cohen Playwriting award in 2012, and his latest play, Terry Tempest: The Final Interview debuted at Magnetic Theater in Asheville in March of 2017. Jamie’s short fiction and poetry has appeared in Strange Horizons, TheNewerYork, The Lumberyard, Mirror Dance, and Architrave, among others, and has been podcast on Pseudopod, Cast of Wonders, and Radio Unbound. Jamie has a Ph.D. in Victorian Gothic fiction. In addition to publishing scholarly articles on Dickens, LeFanu, and contemporary vampire film, he edited the Valancourt edition of Sheridan LeFanu’s Carmilla (2009) and wrote a book-length study of urban gothic fiction, In Darkest London (Scarecrow, 2014). His latest project, a serial fiction podcast called Palimpsest, is currently available wherever you get your podcasts.

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Elizabeth Meade  

elizabeth meade

Elizabeth Meade is a poet living in Asheville with Cerebral Palsy, a feline named Camilla, and gratitude. She enjoys connecting with life, exercising curiosity, and travelling. She is in the process of writing her first book of poems.

Rachel Lee Campbell

A transgender woman now living fulltime in the world, Rachel began writing in earnest to document her gender transition. Looking for other ways to share her feelings and help people understand of what it means to be transgender she began writing poetry and blogging random thoughts at Rachelsturn.com.


Recently retired, Rachel has lived in Asheville for13 years and will tell you that she spent a lifetime on her journey to arrive here. Originally from Hicksville, New York, with long stops in Pittsburgh and Pinehurst, NC.  Active in the LGBTQ community, she has volunteered her time with Blue Ridge Pride and Tranzmission and has appeared on a number of panels and forums discussing transgender issues. Her video appeared in the production of Qtopia put on at UNCA. Rachel has told her stories at the “Moth Stories Told Live” and has performed her poetry at a number of venues, she appeared in the Vagina Monologues for the second time earlier this year. She has also had the honor of speaking in front of 10,000 people at the first woman’s march on Asheville.Rachel continues to be visible and vocal and also continues to threaten to publish her words.

José Vázquez 


José G. Vázquez is a Mexican poet and visual artist who lives in Charlotte, NC since 1996. In 2012 he founded the poetry ensemble ArteSanos de la Palabra with which in 2014 he co-wrote the book The Fragrance of Water, that same year the group dissolved and he co-funded the poetry trio Voz ES. Vazquez creates his visual art mostly with salvaged materials. He believes that things, just like people, deserve a second chance. Photography is his main hobby.

In 2013 he shot the short documentary Five Dollars for My Storyhttps://youtu.be/XycffOQYgWw ) about homeless people in the city of Charlotte. Currently he is member of the group MAS+arte which he co-funded with artists from Colombia, Venezuela, Argentina and El Salvador to promote art in this city.

Ícaro Vuela de Noche ( Icarus Flies By Night)  is his first poetry and photography book with 75% of the material written in Spanish and 25% in English.

Devin Jones

devin jones

Devin Jones is a Asheville, North Carolina native. He has been on Asheville’s brave New voices nationals team. He has competed with the team in San Francisco, CA, Washington D.C, And Atlanta, GA. He was also Asheville’s 2016’s GrandSlam champion. He has perfomed poetry at firestorm, NC stage, The Diane Wortham Theatre, Moral Monday, rainbow community school, the Lake Eden Arts Festival, and even at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. His poetry touches on how he has found his way through fear of being a person of color and how he has built up strength from it.


Fred Bahnson


Fred Bahnson is the author of Soil & Sacrament (Simon & Schuster) and co-author with Norman Wirzba of Making Peace with the Land (IVP).  His essays have appeared in HarpersOxford American, Image, Orion, The Sun, Christian Century, and Best American Spiritual Writing (Houghton Mifflin).  His awards include a Pilgrimage Essay Award, a William Raney scholarship in creative nonfiction at Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, a Kellogg Food & Community fellowship, and a North Carolina Artist fellowship in creative nonfiction from the NC Arts Council. He lives with his wife and three sons in Transylvania County, North Carolina and teaches at the Wake Forest University School of Divinity where he directs the Food, Health, & Ecological Well-being Program. More info.


Keith McDade

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Keith is currently an Associate Professor of Sustainability Studies at Lenoir-Rhyne University Center for Graduate Studies of Asheville.  He coordinates the MS program in Sustainability Studies and is the Director of the Reese Institute for the Conservation of Natural Resources.  He has worked in sustainability-related positions in California, Oregon, Vermont, Michigan, New York, the Federated States of Micronesia, Laos, and The Gambia, West Africa. He is the Vice Chair of the Sustainability Advisory Committee on Energy and the Environment (SACEE) for the City of Asheville, an Advisory Committee representative on the City of Asheville’s Comprehensive Plan process, and a representative on the City’s Climate Resilience Plan.  He has a Ph.D. In Natural Resources and Environment with a focus on Sustainability Behavior, Education, and Communication from the University of Michigan, a Master’s degree in Community and Regional Planning and an MS in Environmental Studies from the University of Oregon, and an A.B. in Psychology in Literature, Science, and Arts from the University of Michigan.  He aims to learn, connect, and enjoy life at every chance he gets.


Dan Albergotti is the author of The Boatloads (BOA Editions, 2008) and Millennial Teeth (Southern Illinois University Press, 2014), as well as a limited-edition chapbook, The Use of the World (Unicorn Press, 2013). His poems have appeared in The Cincinnati Review, Five Points, The Southern Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, The Best American Poetry 2017, and two editions of the Pushcart Prize, as well as other journals and anthologies. He is a professor of English at Coastal Carolina University.

The Numinous Encounter: Writing about God & Nature 


Fred Bahnson, Wake Forest University School of Divinity; Director of Food, Health, and Ecological Well-Being Program, author of Soil and Sacrament
Religious experience is one of the most difficult topics a writer can approach. How do we write about our encounters with God, Being, Mystery — however we name it — in a way that avoids sounding preachy or pious or simply vague? How do we find language adequate to an experience the mystics tell us is ineffable? “Tell all the Truth but tell it slant — / Success in Circuit lies,” wrote Emily Dickinson. In this workshop we will discuss ways to “tell it slant,” looking sideways at numinous encounters in nature and drawing the reader into that moment through language. Using selected essays and poems, we will look at nature writing that does more than simply report on “what happened,” but becomes itself a site of encounter, a locus of Presence where the reader experiences that feeling that, as Chekhov said, two plus two equals five. “What I crave is mystery that utterly obliterates reality by utterly inhabiting it, some ultimate insight that is still in sight. Heaven is precision,” wrote Christian Wiman in My Bright Abyss.  Through readings and selected writing exercises, we will look for metaphors from the natural world to explore our own brushes with Mystery.



Dayna Reggero presents The Climate Listening Project


What’s your climate story?

The Climate Listening Project is a collaborative effort by Dayna Reggero to connect and share hopeful conversations on climate and community. We work creatively to cultivate and share unique stories through video, film, connections, and collaborations. Read our Reviews and Testimonials to learn more.  Since 2014, we’ve traveled across the United States and around the world to explore the connections that are important to each of us: family, faith, business, community; weaving together the latest science with inspiring stories from around the globe. Visit our Films page to stream now.

We collaborate with local, national, and international organizations, individuals and businesses to listen to the stories that need to be heard. Collaborators include Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), National Audubon Society, and Moms Clean Air Force, to name a few. Check them out on our Collaborators page. You can find Climate Listening Project stories on more than 120 places online. From television, blogs, radio, and news outlets including Salon, ABC, NPR, iHeartRadio, Univision, Yahoo, Huffington Post, Governing Magazine, and The Atlantic to resource sites like Jane Goodall Institute, Yale Climate Connections, Union of Concerned Scientists, and Thrive Global. Check out our Press page to read all about it.  Our films and videos have screened at local events, conferences, and film festivals around the globe from Wake Forest University in North Carolina to the Stockholm Resilience Center in Sweden. Our faith vignettes have been shared at 4,000 churches across America and our food and farming videos were screened at the International Paris Climate Talks. Our first feature documentary “The Wood Thrush Connection” was honored as the Best Short Documentary Winner at the 2017 Belize International Film Festival. Visit our Events page to see past events or attend an upcoming event. Our advisers include top scientists and thought leaders. Plus, we’ve hired more than 30 diverse videographers, photographers, and creatives. See who’s who on our Team and Advisers page.  The Climate Listening Project has reached more than 10 million people through press, social media and events. Connect with us on Facebook to keep up with what’s new. Our collaborative videos and films continue to be used again and again to start or accelerate hopeful climate conversations. Please Connect with us to collaborate or learn more.

Jasmin Pitman Morrell and Garreth Higgins present a preview and the story of Movies and Meaning Festival that will take place in Asheville April 26-28 at Diana Wortham Theatre. Alice Walker will be at the Movies and Meaning Festival! 


We are born into stories, many of which rely on oppositional energy: who we are against, what we don’t like, who to exclude. These stories don’t work, but the noise of damaging stories has only gotten harsher, louder, and more overwhelming. The task of creating our better world seems too large and difficult to hold. And many people we’ve talked to just seem, for lack of a better word, tired.  Our fourth annual Movies & Meaning Experience this April is designed for this moment.You’re invited to this healing, joyful, challenging, and life-giving experience, which will lift your heart without asking you to switch off your brain.This April 26-28, 2018, at the lovely Diana Wortham Theatre in Asheville, North Carolina, we will gather and hear from special guests Alice Walker, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Color PurpleBrian McLaren, author and theologian; and Gareth Higgins, film critic and Irish peace activist. We’ll screen seven movies, hear seven stories, and participate in seven activities proven to nurture community, restore hope, and build a bridge to the kind of world so many of us seek. We’ll do it in the setting of one of the most beautiful and creative small cities in the world, in a lovely theatre, surrounded by fantastic restaurants, places to stay, and the stunning Blue Ridge Mountains. We’ll make new friends, see astonishing big screen art, and pick up fuel for the journey of living more whole in uncertain times.  Epic and intimate, serious and funny, inspirational and relaxed: this community is ready to welcome you. Click here to learn more or to register for the experience.

Nicole Townsend (Nicole will not be appearing as she is participating in community-building elsewhere in the U.S. Wordfest is leaving her bio up because she is still a part of this year’s Asheville Wordfest creation. We wish you all the best in your work, Nicole!)


Nicole Townsend the Regional Organizer for Southerners On New Ground and is currently living in Asheville, NC. She was born and raised in the boot heel of Missouri, New Madrid to be exact. Nicole is unapologetically Black and Queer. Her people are migrants from Mississippi and Louisiana. Her people are descendants of enslaved Africans, Irish immigrants, and Chickasaw Indians. Her people are sharecroppers, homemakers, cooks, factory workers, nurses, military personnel, d-boys, addicts, and dreamers. Her journey into movement work came many years before she attended her first organized action. At the age of 11, her family suffered a tragic loss which pushed her to learn more about social justice. During this time, she became extremely close with her older brother Raheem, who was incarcerated in federal prison. He taught her about some of the most powerful Black radicals, which shaped her political ideology. Nicole is currently wearing many hats such as working full time in forest protection, as well as collectively fighting for the liberation of Black folks, Undocumented folks, Queer folks, Trans folks, and Poor Folks. She is affiliated with Southerners On New Ground, Asheville Writers in Schools, Bountiful Cities, and the Grassroots Equity Alliance. When she is not putting in work, she likes to cuddle up on the couch with her beagle Roscoe, and enjoy home cooked meals with her loved ones.





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