Special Program / The 2017 Creative Nonfiction Writers’ Conference (Archived Landing Page)

2017 Conference Presenters


The Creative Nonfiction Writers' Conference presenters are journalists, best-selling authors, agents, and editors—leaders in the field of creative nonfiction. But they're also professional teachers of the craft.

Best of all, they are down-to-earth, friendly, and approachable; they'll tell you what they really think. The Creative Nonfiction Writers' Conference features more than just classroom learning; this two-day event also provides plenty of opportunities for informal interactions and Q&A sessions.

Please follow the links below for more information about:

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 Robert P. Baird

Robert P. Baird is the articles editor at Esquire. He has also worked as an editor at the Paris Review, Harper’s, the New Yorker, and Chicago Review. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.

Lee Gutkind

Lee Gutkind is the founder and editor of Creative Nonfiction and a professor in the School for the Future of Innovation in Society at Arizona State University. Even before he was spotlighted in Vanity Fair in 1997 as “the Godfather behind creative nonfiction,” he was the genre's most active advocate and practitioner. He has written and edited nonfiction books about subjects as varied as motorcycle subculture, child and adolescent mental illness, baseball umpires, robots, and organ transplantation.  Gutkind has appeared on many national radio and televisions shows, including The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Comedy Central), Good Morning America, National Public Radio’s Talk of the Nation and All Things Considered, as well as BBC World.  His book:  You Can’t Make This Stuff Up: The Complete Guide to Writing Creative Nonfiction, From Memoir to Literary Journalism to Everything in Between, is “Reminiscent of Stephen King’s fiction handbook On Writing,” according to Kirkus Reviews—"An accessible, indispensable nonfiction guidebook from an authority who knows his subject from cover to cover.”

Cressida Leyshon

Cressida Leyshon is a senior editor at the New Yorker.

James Marcus

James Marcus is the editor of Harper’s magazine and the author of Amazonia: Five Years at the Epicenter of the Dot-Com Juggernaut as well as seven translations from the Italian, the most recent being Giacomo Casanova’s The Duel. His work has appeared in Harper’s, the Nation, the Atlantic, the New York Times Book Review, Story Quarterly, the Paris Review, Raritan, and Best American Essays. His next book, Glad to the Brink of Fear: A Portrait of Emerson in Thirteen Installments, will be published in 2018. He is also compiling a personal selection from Emerson’s journals, which will be published simultaneously by Penguin Classics.

Dan Piepenbring

Dan Piepenbring is the editor of The Paris Review Daily. He was collaborating with Prince on a memoir, The Beautiful Ones, at the time of the artist's death. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Ilena Silverman

Ilena Silverman is the Features Editor at the New York Times Magazine. She started her career at Harper's magazine and has been an editor at Vogue and GQ. She has worked with Elizabeth Gilbert, Michael Pollan, Ann Patchett, George Saunders, Nikole Hannah-Jones, Siddhartha Mukherjee, Jennifer Egan, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Paul Tough among others. She is the editor of the essay collection, I Married My Mother-in-Law.


Conference Presenters

Ross Andersen

Ross Andersen is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he oversees the science, technology, and health sections. He joined The Atlantic in 2015. He was previously the deputy editor of Aeon magazine, and before that, he was the science editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books. In addition to his work as an editor, he is known for his award-winning feature essays, which straddle philosophy, technology, science, history, and the arts. 

Ronald Barber

Ronald D. Barber, a shareholder at Strassburger McKenna Gutnick & Gefsky in Pittsburgh, is an experienced trial lawyer who concentrates on media and First Amendment law and personal injury, professional malpractice and commercial litigation. Mr. Barber served as law clerk to the Honorable Ronald W. Folino of the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County. He also has taught high school history and college and postgraduate media law and ethics classes. Mr. Barber is a native of Tacoma, Washington. 

Jaswinder Bolina

Jaswinder Bolina is author of the poetry collections Carrier Wave (2006) and Phantom Camera (2012) and the chapbook The Tallest Building in America (2014). His poems, which explore intersections between personal experience, politics, physics, and metaphysics, have appeared in numerous U.S. and international literary journals and in The Best American Poetry series. His essays on the relationship between language, race, class, and culture have appeared at The Poetry Foundation dot org, The Huffington Post, The State, The Writer, and in a number of anthologies including Poets on Teaching (University of Iowa Press 2011), Language: A Reader for Writers (Oxford University Press 2013), and in the 14th edition of The Norton Reader. Bolina is a professor of poetry in the MFA Program at the University of Miami.

Torie Bosch

Torie Bosch is the editor of Future Tense, a collaboration between Slate, New America, and Arizona State University that examines emerging technologies and their effects on public policy and society. Before becoming the Future Tense editor, she edited Slate’s medical and religion departments and served as the magazine’s first social media manager. Torie is a graduate of Penn State University, where she majored in English with minors in business, media studies, and Latin. On Twitter, she is @thekibosch.

Jamie Brickhouse

Jamie Brickhouse is the author of the critically-acclaimed Dangerous When Wet: A Memoir of Booze Sex and My Mother (St. Martin’s Press).  Brickhouse has been published in the New York Times, Washington Post, The Daily Beast, Salon, Out, Huffington Post, POZ, Amtrak’s Arrive, as well as other places.  Brickhouse is a comedic storyteller and a two-time StorySLAM winner of The Moth, a Literary Death Match champion, and just finished a week-long New York engagement of the solo show based on his memoir, which won an Audience Choice Award and received rave reviews in NY Theater Guide, Theater is Easy, and Hi! Drama.

Brickhouse has taught the art and craft of memoir writing and book marketing and publicity at CNF Writers’ Conference, the Columbia Publishing Course, and other venues across the country and in Mexico. He lives in Manhattan with common-law husband Michael.

Andrew Conte

Andrew Conte serves as the founding director of Point Park University’s Center for Media Innovation. He also is a contributing writer at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and a best-selling nonfiction author. Andrew’s latest book, All About Roberto Clemente, tells the story of the Pirates outfielder and Puerto Rican native. It’s written for advanced elementary and middle school readers. Previously, Andrew wrote The Color of Sundays, which explores the role of race in the National Football League and how the Pittsburgh Steelers used the league’s prejudice to the team’s advantage. He also authored the best-selling sports book Breakaway, which was re-released in paperback in the fall of 2016 with a new chapter on the Penguins hockey team’s latest Stanley Cup championship.

Andrew is a graduate of Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism and Dickinson College. Read more at AndrewConte.com.

Hattie Fletcher

Hattie Fletcher has been the managing editor of Creative Nonfiction magazine since 2005. Essays she has edited have been reprinted in The Best American Essays, The Best American Travel Writing, and The Best Women’s Travel Writing and have been awarded the Pushcart Prize. She has also worked on books covering such topics as end-of-life care, personalized medicine, education, mental health, and parenting. She was a coordinating editor for the Best Creative Nonfiction series, published by W.W. Norton, and is co-editor, with Lee Gutkind, of True Stories, Well Told … from the first 20 years of Creative Nonfiction magazine (In Fact Books, 2014).

Callie Garnett

Callie Garnett is an Assistant Editor at Bloomsbury, where her projects include High Notes, the selected writings of Gay Talese, the forthcoming essays of Blues historian Robert Gordon, and the brilliant (she doesn’t mind saying) novels of Aaron Thier. She is also a poet—author of Hallelujah, I’m a Bum from Ugly Duckling Presse. Her poems have been published in Company, Prelude, and jubilat, She has a Masters in English from the University of Iowa, and she lives in Brooklyn.

Chris Girman

Chris Girman is an assistant professor of creative nonfiction at Point Park University.  His books include the ethnographic memoir, Mucho Macho, and the semi-autobiographical novel, The Chili Papers.  He formerly practiced immigration law along the south Texas border, an experience he credits with introducing him to the importance of voice and characterization in nonfiction writing.  His work has appeared in Glass: A Journal of Poetry, The Journal of Tourism and Cultural Change, Gender & Society, and the recent anthology What I Didn’t Know: True Stories of Becoming a Teacher.  He is currently working on a series of stories about his time as an attorney and part-time Uber driver.

Cris Hoel

Cris Hoel is a lawyer and former journalist who has focused on legal issues confronting writers and publishers for 30 years.  Cris was a reporter and editor at the Pittsburgh Press, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and Austin American-Statesman for five years before representing broadcasters, publishers, and authors as a lawyer with law firms Buchanan Ingersoll and Schnader Harrison.  He has been a guest lecturer in journalism and media law at the University of Pittsburgh and Duquesne University. 

Anne Horowitz

Anne Horowitz is a Brooklyn-based freelance book editor. Until 2010, she was associate editor at Counterpoint/Soft Skull Press, where she worked for five years. As an independent editor, she works on a range of projects, including both general-interest nonfiction and memoir and literary and commercial fiction, in both a developmental editing and line editing capacity. Her clients include independent presses such as Tin House Books, Seal Press, Grove Atlantic, Creative Nonfiction/In Fact Books, The Experiment, Catapult, Library Journal, and Hal Leonard Corporation, as well as individual authors and literary agents. She is also an editor and part-time associate working with the agent Reneé Zuckerbrot at Massie & McQuilkin Literary Agency.

Maggie Jones

Maggie Jones is a contributing writer to the New York Times Magazine. She’s reported on immigration, race, teenagers, education, adoption and other social issues in the United States, as well as in Japan, S. Korea, Guatemala, and Thailand. She was a finalist for a National Magazine Award and a Nieman Fellow. She is also currently a Visiting Assistant Professor at University of Pittsburgh’s MFA program.

Adam Keiper

Adam Keiper is the editor of and a cofounder of The New Atlantis, a quarterly journal that explores the political, ethical, and social implications of modern science and technology. He is also editor of TheNewAtlantis.com and of the New Atlantis Books series. In addition, he is the editor of Big Questions Online, a web magazine dedicated to the "big questions" of human purpose, existence, and the universe. He is also a fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a think tank in Washington, D.C., where he directs the program on Science, Technology, and Society. And he serves as the chief of staff of the Witherspoon Council on Ethics and the Integrity of Science, a private commission of scholars interested in the ethical and political questions raised by advancing biotechnology. He writes and speaks on such subjects as space policy, neuroethics, and the social and political implications of emerging technologies like robotics and nanotechnology. He is a contributing editor to National Affairs and Current, and his essays and articles have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard, Philanthropy, and elsewhere. He formerly worked in a corporate government-affairs office and as a staffer in the U.S. House of Representatives. He has a bachelor's degree in political science from American University.

Nadine Kenney Johnstone

Nadine Kenney Johnstone is the author of the memoir, Of This Much I'm Sure. She teaches writing at Loyola University and received her MFA from Columbia College in Chicago. Her work has been featured in Chicago magazine, The Moth, PANK, and various anthologies, including The Magic of Memoir. Nadine is a writing coach who presents at conferences internationally. She lives near Chicago with her family. Follow her at nadinekenneyjohnstone.com.

Cheston Knapp

Cheston Knapp is managing editor of Tin House. His book, Up Up, Down Down, a collection of essays, is forthcoming from Scribner in February, 2018. With his wife and son, he lives a life of reluctant modesty in Portland, OR.

Maggie Messitt

Maggie Messitt is author the author of The Rainy Season, long-listed for the 2016 Sunday Times Alan Paton Award in South Africa, where she was a journalist and editor for 8 years. Since returning to the US, her essays and reportage have been published in Creative Nonfiction, Mother Jones, River Teeth, and the Southern Poverty Law Center's Teaching Tolerance magazine, among others. Editor of Proximity, a quarterly collection of true stories, Messitt earned her MFA from Goucher College and (is one dissertation defense away from her) PhD in Creative Nonfiction from Ohio University. Messitt currently teaches in the low-residency MFA programs at Goucher College and Carlow University, and is working on her next book, a hybrid of investigation and memoir.

Dinty W. Moore

Dinty W. Moore is author of The Story Cure: A Book Doctor’s Pain-Free Guide to Finishing Your Novel or Memoir, the memoir Between Panic & Desire, and many other books. He has published essays and stories in The Southern Review, The Georgia Review, Harper's, the New York Times Sunday Magazine, Arts & Letters, and The Normal School among numerous other venues. A professor of nonfiction writing at Ohio University, Moore lives in Athens, Ohio, where he grows heirloom tomatoes and edible dandelions.

Adriana E. Ramírez

Adriana E. Ramírez is a Mexican-Colombian writer, critic, and performance poet based in Pittsburgh. She won the inaugural PEN/Fusion Emerging Writers Prize in 2015 for her novella-length work of nonfiction, Dead Boys (Little A, 2016), and in 2016 she was named Critic at Large for the Los Angeles Times Book Section. Her essays and poems have also appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Guernica/PEN America, Literary Hub, Convolution, HEArt, Apogee, and on Nerve.com. Once a nationally ranked slam poet, she cofounded the Pittsburgh Poetry Collective and continues to perform on stages around the country. She and novelist Angie Cruz founded Aster(ix) Journal, a literary journal giving voice to the censored and the marginalized. Her debut full-length work of nonfiction, The Violence, is forthcoming from Scribner.

Shannon Reed

Shannon Reed is a frequent contributor to the the New Yorker's "Shouts and Murmurs" department as well as McSweeney's Internet Tendency. Other credits include the Washington Post, BuzzFeed, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Chronicle of Higher Education, Eater, Guernica, Poets & Writers, and many more. She is a visiting lecturer at the University of Pittsburgh. www.shannonreed.org.

Anjali Sachdeva

Anjali Sachdeva’s work has been published in Creative Nonfiction, Iowa Review, Yale Review, Gulf Coast, Alaska Quarterly Review, and The Literary Review, among others, and her short story “Pleiades” was included in Best American Nonrequired Reading. For six years she worked at the Creative Nonfiction Foundation, where she served as Director of Educational Programs. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and has taught at the University of Iowa, Iowa Summer Writing Festival, Augustana College, and Carnegie Mellon University, and currently teaches at the University of Pittsburgh. Her short story collection, All the Names They Used for God, will be published by Spiegel & Grau, a division of Random House, in 2018.

Daniel Sarewitz

Daniel Sarewitz is professor of science and society in the School for the Future of Innovation and Society, and co-director and co-founder of the Consortium for Science, Policy, and Outcomes, at Arizona State University .  He is the editor of the magazine Issues in Science and Technology, and a regular columnist for Nature. His most recent book is The Techno-Human Condition

Ira Sukrungruang

Ira Sukrungruang is the author of the memoirs Southside Buddhist and Talk Thai: The Adventures of Buddhist Boy, the short story collection The Melting Season, and the poetry collection In Thailand It Is Night. He is the coeditor of two anthologies on the topic of obesity: What Are You Looking At? The First Fat Fiction Anthology and Scoot Over, Skinny: The Fat Nonfiction Anthology. He is the recipient of the 2015 American Book Award, New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Nonfiction Literature, an Arts and Letters Fellowship, and the Emerging Writer Fellowship. His work has appeared in many literary journals, including Post Road, The Sun, and Creative Nonfiction. He is one of the founding editors of Sweet: A Literary Confection (sweetlit.com), and teaches in the MFA program at University of South Florida. For more information about him, please visit: www.buddhistboy.com.



Danielle Chiotti

Danielle Chiotti has worked in publishing for twelve years. Formerly an editor, she joined Upstart Crow when it was founded in 2009, specializing in young adult and middle grade fiction, as well as cookbooks and select nonfiction. Thanks to her extensive editorial background, she enjoys working closely with authors to develop projects. She welcomes first-time authors with a unique voice and point of view.

Rachel Ekstrom Courage

Rachel Ekstrom Courage has spent her fifteen-year publishing career working with debut, bestselling, and award-winning writers. She started out in the publicity departments of St. Martin’s Press, Minotaur Books, and Penguin and is now an agent at the Irene Goodman Literary Agency. Rachel is also the co-founder of Littsburgh, which showcases Pittsburgh’s vibrant literary scene. More information at www.rachelcourage.com and www.littsburgh.com.

Dawn Michelle Hardy

Dawn Michelle Hardy has been called a "literary lobbyist" by Ebony magazine for her ability to help authors reach their readership using strategic promotions, win awards and garner national and local media attention. She has dual roles in the book publishing industry as both publicist and literary agent. She founded Dream Relations, PR & Literary Consulting Agency in 2004. Additionally, in 2011 she joined Serendipity Literary Agency where she aids in shaping the careers of platformed writers. Some of her clients at Serendipity include Jean McGianni Celestin, co-writer of the upcoming Nat Turner biopic The Birth of a Nation, Kent Babb, Washington Post sports writer and PEN Literary Award finalist for Not a Game: The Incredible Rise and Unthinkable Fall of Allen Iverson, Clay Cane, entertainment editor at BET.com and director of Holler If You Hear Me: Black and Gay in the Church.

As a publicist she works with both fiction and non-fiction authors including New York Times bestseller D. Watkins, author of The Beastside: Living and Dying While Black in America, Tia Williams, former magazine beauty editor and author of The Perfect Find and Clint Smith award-winning poet, Ted Talk conference speaker and contributor to the New Yorker.

While actively building her client list at Serendipity Literary Agency, Dawn likes memoirist who can capture a larger narrative through their personal story and strong hook, best-in-class professionals and educators in a variety of fields, an engaging and outspoken cultural critic, pop-culture, sports or music enthusiast with a 'hip' idea from an untold vantage point.  Creatives who use art as activism. Loud millennials, women and multicultural voices looking to better the world through their writing.

Sharon Pelletier

Sharon Pelletier joined Dystel, Goderich & Bourret in 2013 after working for Europa Editions, Vantage Press, and Barnes & Noble. At DG&B, in addition to growing her own client list, Sharon oversees digital projects and social media. Her list is broad, including upmarket suspense and book club fiction in addition to narrative and creative nonfiction. In the nonfiction arena Sharon especially responds to compelling, fiercely reported narratives by journalists and tough topics unpacked by experts who are irresistible storytellers. She is also eager to work with emerging voices with a growing platform who can speak to pop culture, feminism, sports, social justice, and/or religion.

Uwe Stender

Literary Agent Dr. Uwe Stender is a Full Member of the AAR (Association of Authors' Representatives). He founded Triada US in 2004. which now consists of five hard-working eager agents, who respond to all queries they receive.

Triada US is a full service literary agency and retains and exercises subsidiary rights on our clients’ behalves through a variety of co-agents, scouts, publishers, and entertainment lawyers. Uwe is interested in all kinds of non-fiction and fiction. In non-fiction, he is completely open to any project, from Memoir, Pop Culture, and Health to How-to, Gardening, History and everything in between, including non-fiction for children. In Children's fiction, he is looking for YA, MG and the occasional PB. In adult fiction, his tastes trend towards Women's Fiction, Psychological Suspense, and Mysteries.  But surprise him, his tastes are eclectic, and he may just love what you wrote!

Beth Vesel

Beth Vesel began her publishing career at the Watkins Loomis Agency in New York in 1985, working under principal agent Gloria Loomis, after which she joined Sanford J. Greenburger Associates as a senior agent for fourteen years. She then founded The Beth Vesel Literary Agency in 2003.

Beth is known for her work with academics, psychiatrists, psychologists and other professionals in helping them transition to authors of landmark books. Her areas of specialty include narrative nonfiction, literary fiction, cultural criticism, psychology, psychiatry, science, health and memoir. Best sellers include Your Money or Your Life by Vicki Robin and Joe Dominguez, I Don't Want to Talk About It by Terrence Real, Finding Your Own North Star by Martha Beck, Inside the Mind of Scott Peterson by Keith Ablow, Against Love by Laura Kipnis, Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline, and NeuroTribes by Steve Silberman.

Beth has a B.A. from UC Berkeley in English and Political Science where she also completed graduate work in comparative literature.


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