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Marilène Phipps

Born and raised in Haiti, Marilène Phipps has held fellowships at the Guggenheim Foundation, Harvard’s Bunting Institute, the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for Afro-American Research, and the Center for the Study of World Religions. The Company of Heaven: Stories from Haiti, won the 2010 Iowa Short fiction Award. Her poetry won the 1993 Grolier prize, and her collection, Crossroads and Unholy Water, won the Crab Orchard Poetry Prize. Her most recent book is Unseen Worlds. She has contributed to American anthologies and collections such as The Best American Short Stories; Haiti Noir: The Classics; The Beacon Best; Ploughshares; River Styx; Callaloo; and Harvard Divinity Bulletin, and she edited Jack Kerouac: Collected Poems for The Library of America. Phipps is the recipient of the NAACP’s Award of Excellence for outstanding commitment in advancing the culture and causes for communities of color.

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Vincent Wyckoff

Born and raised in Minneapolis, Vincent Wyckoff dedicated a career to the U.S. Postal Service. His first book, Beware of Cat, celebrates the life stories of people on his route. For a short time he lived on the Northshore of Lake Superior, from which he developed the background for Black Otter Bay. He and his wife, Sybil, are long-time residents of south Minneapolis. They have three children and six grandchildren.

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Brittany Chaffee

Brittany Chaffee is an avid storyteller, professional empath, and author. On the daily, she gets paid to strategize and create content for brands. Off work hours, it’s all about a well-lit place, warm bread, and good company. Her first book, Wild Morning was released in 2017. Her recent work, Borderline: A Series of Essays, is a collection of prose essays about memory, time, change, and wonder. She lives happily in Saint Paul.

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Christine Bauer

Christine (Chris) Bauer’s first book Those Three Words: A Birth Mother’s Story of Choice, Chance, and Motherhood was published in 2018, after decades of work. Her book chronicles her journey of experiencing an unplanned pregnancy at age 18, the agonizing decision she needed to make, and its impact on her life. Bauer has loved reading and writing for as long as she can remember. She grew up in Mitchell, South Dakota, and attended Mankato State University in Mankato, Minnesota, where she majored in Mass Communications and hoped to one day be part of a Woodward and Bernstein-type team who saved the world through ground-breaking journalism. Soul searching and need for employment led her to a gratifying career in corporate communications, public relations, and marketing. Her greatest achievement and most profound joy are being the mother of three kind-hearted children and two beautiful grandchildren. In addition to being a mom and grandma of humans, Bauer is also the proud mom to one very spoiled dog and an equally spoiled granddog. She admits there were moments in the motherhood journey where she preferred the canines.

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Susan Thurston

Susan Thurston’s grandfather loved a poem she wrote in second grade, and within the glow of his appreciation, she decided to become a writer. Later, a well-meaning adult mentioned that as a journalist, she could earn her living. She became a reporter and editor, but wouldn’t really say what she earned was a living. She did get to work with some of the finest people she has ever known. Along the way, she has created and produced adult education programs, traveled in search of her soul-deep home, mothered two fabulous kids, learned to make really good bread, and flown in a hot air balloon. And always — writing. She has published, performed, and earned awards for a lot of her poetry and some of her prose, co-authored a cookbook, published the novel Sister of Grendel, and taken a few plays from page to stage. She is the executive editor of The Black Hat Press, assumed from dear friend and fellow writer Beverly Voldseth.

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Dale A. Swanson

Dale A. Swanson is a published author, poet, screenwriter, and playwright. His historical novel, The Thirty-ninth Man, made the Star Tribune “Best book read” in 2013. The sequel, Tears of Sorrow, was released in 2018. His fantasy chapter book, The Wild Ways: Mystery of the Hanging Tower, for 9- to 99-year-old readers, was published in 2015.  He has had poetry included in two annual stage productions by the Bloomington Arts Council, and two of his radio plays have been performed live and aired statewide. Swanson’s screenplay, Creation Story, was filmed for the nonprofit, Native Strong ARC. In addition to writing, Swanson is an accomplished speaker, having given talks on the US-Dakota War of 1862 to area schools 6th-grade classes and many other venues. His talk about growing up in the ’50s has been popular with 4th-grade classes and senior centers alike.

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Richard Thieme

Richard Thieme is an author and professional speaker who addresses challenges posed by new technologies, how to redesign ourselves to meet these challenges, and creativity in response to radical change. His speaking addresses “the human in the machine,” technology-related security and intelligence issues as they come home to our humanity. He has published hundreds of articles, dozens of short stories, five books, and delivered hundreds of speeches. His novel, FOAM, was published in 2015 and A Richard Thieme Reader, fiction and non-fiction, in 2016. His column, “Islands in the Clickstream,” was distributed in 60 countries before collection as a book in 2004. When a friend at NSA said, “The only way you can tell the truth is through fiction,” Thieme returned to writing fiction and Mind Games, a collection of 19 stories about anomalies, infosec, and professional intelligence, was published.

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Sammi Jones

Sammi Jones got her start in roller derby in 2010 when she joined the Fargo Moorhead Derby Girls. She quickly fell in love with the sport and has been skating the flat track ever since. Jones earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Minnesota State University Moorhead and has written for a variety of publications. She currently resides in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area where she works as an editor for a trade magazine and skates for North Star Roller Derby.

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Donna Isaac

Poet Donna Isaac grew up in the South but has been part of Minnesota’s writing community for over 30 years. She has a B.A. in English (James Madison University); an M.A. in English (University of Minnesota); and an MFA in creative writing (Hamline University). She is on the Board of Cracked Walnut, member of LOMP, and runs a reading series, Literary Lights at Next Chapter Booksellers. Poetry chapbooks include Tommy; Holy Comforter; and Persistence of Vision. Her paean to American roots music and the Appalachians is a full poetry collection, Footfalls. She publishes in various journals including The St. Paul Almanac, the Penn Review, and Pine Mountain Sand & Gravel. She is a teaching artist who has worked at the Loft, Banfill-Locke Center for the Arts, and through Cracked Walnut as well as in various schools.

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Greg Brick

Greg Brick, Ph.D., was employed as a hydrogeologist and has taught geology at local colleges and universities. He has published nearly 200 articles about caves and was the recipient of the 2005 Cave History Award from the National Speleological Society. His first book, Iowa Underground: A Guide to the State’s Subterranean Treasures, was published in 2004. His second book, Subterranean Twin Cities, won an award from the American Institute of Architects, and his third book, Minnesota Caves: History and Lore, was nominated for the Minnesota Book Awards. His work has been featured in National Geographic Adventure magazine as well as on the History Channel. He has led guided tours of caves for the Minnesota Historical Society and the University of Minnesota College of Continuing Education.

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