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Elizabeth Verdick

Elizabeth Verdick writes a mix of nonfiction and fiction for children. Her main reading audience is toddlers and preschoolers. She has also written nonfiction for elementary-age kids. Verdick is a graduate of Hamline University’s MFA program in Writing for Children and Young Adults, and she has taught picture-book writing classes and done manuscript critiques to help other writers with their craft.

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Rachel L. Coyne

Rachel Coyne, a novelist and poet, is a graduate of the Perpich Center for Arts in Minnesota and Macalester College. She is a devotee of Pablo Neruda, a lover of Don Williams songs, and collects vintage editions of Jane Eyre. Her published works include the novels The Patron Saint of Lost Comfort Lake and Whiskey Heart, and a children’s book, Daughter, Have I Told You? She lives in Lindstrom.

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Beth Dooley

Beth Dooley has been writing about the Northern Heartland for over 20 years. She is the author of six books, including Minnesota Book Award finalist In Winter’s Kitchen. Her column, “Seasonal Kitchen,” appears weekly in the Star Tribune, and she contributes regularly to Minnesota Public Radio’s “Appetites.” Dooley is the co-author with Sean Sherman of the 2018 James Beard “Best American Cookbook,” The Sioux Chef’s Indigenous Kitchen.

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Anne Ursu

Anne Ursu is the author of several middle grade fantasies, including Breadcrumbs, an NPR Backseat Book Club pick, and The Real Boy, which was longlisted for the 2013 National Book Award. She is a recipient of the McKnight Fellowship and teaches at Hamline University’s Masters in Fine Arts in Writing for Children. Ursu lives in Minneapolis with her family and neurotic cats.

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Kurtis Scaletta

Kurtis Scaletta is the author of several novels for young readers including Mudville, Mamba Point, The Tanglewood Terror, The Winter of the Robots, and Rooting for Rafael Rosales. He also wrote the Topps League series. Scaletta was born in Louisiana, but moved a lot as a kid. He lived in five states and three foreign countries before graduating from high school. One place he lived, Monrovia Liberia, is the setting of Mamba Point which is the only quasi-autobiographical book he has written. He attended the University of North Dakota and the University of Maine before moving to Minneapolis. He now lives in the Victory neighborhood with his wife, son, and three striped cats.

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Swati Avasthi

Swati Avasthi (SWA-thee Of-US-thee) started writing when she was five, but she took a serpentine career path (working as domestic violence legal coordinator, a law student, a theater director, and stage manager) before she returned to writing. Her first book, Split, received the International Reading Association Award, Cybils Award, received recognition from 15 US state awards committees, and has been translated into four languages. Her second book, Chasing Shadows, received several starred reviews from School Library Journal, Publisher’s Weekly, and was listed as a Best of 2013 by Kirkus, Bank Street College, and YALSA. Swati holds a B.A. from The University of Chicago and an MFA from the University of Minnesota. She teaches at Hamline University’s MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults and lives in Minneapolis with her two dogs, two kids, and one husband – though he’s worth two.

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Caitlin Bailey

Caitlin Bailey received an MFA from Hamline University. Her first book, Solve for Desire, won the 2017 Lindquist & Vennum Prize for Poetry and was a finalist for the 2017 Minnesota Book Awards. Her poems have appeared in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Sugar House Review, Bateau, Carolina Quarterly, and elsewhere. She lives in Saint Paul.

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A. Rafael Johnson

A. Rafael Johnson entered The University of Alabama MFA Creative Writing program in 2008. He edited for Black Warrior Review and Fairy Tale Review. He interrupted his studies to teach in post-conflict Liberia as part of USAID-funded reconstruction efforts. After returning to Alabama, Johnson completed his MFA and remained on campus, lecturing in composition, literature, hip hop, spoken word, and creative writing. Johnson was named a Kimbilio Fellow in African American Fiction in 2014 and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His debut novel, The Through, was a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award. Currently, Johnson teaches at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design and works as a consultant with his company, Inspire to Change.

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Todd Boss

Todd Boss is a poet, librettist, public artist, and film producer. His diverse career is the result of his passion for collaboration. He is the author of three books of poetry, Yellowrocket, Pitch, and Tough Luck. His poems have appeared in Poetry, The London Times, The New Yorker, NPR, and Best American Poetry, and he says he writes “poetry for people who don’t like poetry.”

Boss has worked as a librettist and lyricist with composers Andy Vores, Jake Runestad, and Matt Boehler. The award-winning works have premiered at major venues including the Kennedy Center. As a public artist, his vision is “to make public spaces more poetic.” His large-scale, multidisciplinary works of public art include installations in riverways, projections on historic buildings, and virtual reality experiences.

His passion for helping contemporary poetry reach a wider audience led him to become the founding Executive and Artistic Director of Motionpoems, the world’s only poetry film company. Motionpoems’ annual season of 15-20 films premieres annually in Minneapolis and has had screenings across the country from Los Angeles to New York City.

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Thomas Maltman

Thomas Maltman’s essays, poetry, and fiction have been published in many literary journals. He has an MFA from Minnesota State University, Mankato. His first novel, The Night Birds, won an Alex Award, a Spur Award, and the Friends of American Writers Literary Award. In 2009 the American Library Association chose The Night Birds as an “Outstanding Book for the College Bound.” He teaches at Normandale Community College and lives in the Twin Cities area with his wife, a Lutheran pastor, and his three daughters. Little Wolves, his second novel, was a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award and won the All Iowa Reads selection in 2014.

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