The following are the bios for the judges of the 2012 WV Writers Annual Writing Contest.
Gerald Lee Ratliff - Stage Plays: the Joe McCabe Memorial Playwriting Award
Gerald Lee Ratliff is the award-winning author of numerous articles, essays, and textbooks in performance studies and literary criticism. He has served as President of the Eastern Communication Association (1991), selected as a Fulbright Scholar to China (1990), and was as a U.S.A. delegate of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to Russia (1992). He is also author of the textbook An Introduction to Reader's Theatre and Editor of the popular series Young Women's Monologues From Contemporary Plays (Meriwether Publishing, Ltd.) He currently serves as Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs at The State University of New York (Potsdam).
Valerie “Val” Nieman - Nonfiction
Valerie Nieman is the author of a new novel, Blood Clay, as well as two earlier novels, a collection of short stories, Fidelities, and a poetry collection, Wake Wake Wake. Her work has appeared in many journals, including New Letters, Poetry, the North Carolina Literary Review, and the Kenyon Review, and in several anthologies. She has received an NEA creative writing fellowship as well as grants from North Carolina, West Virginia, and Kentucky, and prizes including two Elizabeth Simpson Smith awards in fiction and the Greg Grummer Prize in poetry. She graduated from West Virginia University and Queens University of Charlotte. A long time newspaper reporter and editor, she now teaches creative writing at North Carolina A&T State University, conducts writing workshops throughout the region, and serves as poetry editor of Prime Number magazine.
Linda Hager Pack - Children’s Books
Linda Pack grew up in the small town of Hamlin, West Virginia where she was reared by her parents, aunts, uncles, and grandparents to be a proper mountain youngun’. Having determined early on that children are what God does best, Linda decided to become a teacher. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Education and a Master of Arts in Education from Eastern Kentucky University where she graduated with honors; and in 1996 Kentucky’s Governor Paul Patton presented her the prestigious Ashland Oil Teacher Award. During her twenty-two years of teaching young children in West Virginia and Kentucky, Linda realized that the theme she and her students most enjoyed was the one she taught about Appalachia. Following her passion for writing and the advice she often gave her students, she decided to write about what she knows and what she loves: Appalachia. The author has two grown children, Robin and Josh, and a granddaughter, Elleigh. She lives in Richmond, KY with her husband, Jim, and their sad dog, Zoe.
Joe Limer – Long Poetry
Joe Limer, West Virginia native from Clarksburg. Graduated Washington Irving H.S. then went to Fairmont State University and received a B.A. in both English and Political Science. Graduated WVU College of Law with a Juris Doctorate. Also wrote for the Fairmont Times newspaper as a regular sports reporter. After law school moved to San Diego, California. Professor at Palomar College in San Marcos, California teaching political science. Attending San Diego State University and working on a master's degree in public policy. Poetry - Most of my poetry is considered performance poetry or spoken word. received honorable mention in Morgantown Poets poetry contest in 2011. Placed 2nd in Pittsburgh's Poetry slam competition November 2011 and won Pittsburgh poetry slam competition in December 2011. Won Encinitas Poetry Slam competition in Summer 2010. Performed in venues in Morgantown, Pittsburgh, San Diego, Oceanside, Pomona, Irvine, Long Beach, Honolulu, and Hollywood. Currently competing to make National Poetry Slam Competition in Charlotte, NC in August. Also teach poetry workshops at Palomar College and Mira Costa College and several San Diego-area high schools.
Liz Wells – Short Poetry
Liz Wells M.F.A., is former WVW Secretary and a writer who splits her time living in Portland, Oregon and Hagerstown, Maryland. She is the author of a chapbook, Knuckle Deep, and recent collections, Corollaries of Leaving and The Other Nina. Her work has appeared in various journals including Contemporary Haibun Online, Sixers Review, Gloom Cupboard, Pitkin Review, and Love Your Rebellion. She is an online E-structor, teaching essay writing and basic composition.
June Langford Berkley - Short Story
June Langford Berkley has earned a national reputation as teacher, education leader, journalist, and performer. Proud to be "born and landed in West Virginia" she is among the Mountain State authors featured on the Literary Map of West Virginia. In 2010 she was named Distinguished Alumnus of Salem College. She was graduated with double majors --and her writing career already launched in local and national newspapers--at the age of 18. She earned a Master of Arts degree in Creative Writing from Ohio University and beginning in l980 served for over a decade in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences as a teacher of Creative Writing, English and education. She has traveled, lived and worked internationally as an education leader, teacher, platform speaker, creative storyteller-performer, and writer-in-residence. Her fiction, journal articles, professional publications, and education leadership service have been honored nationally and internationally. Her first published story in a series of narratives set in Appalachia --where she traces her family roots through the pre-Revolutionary frontier-- was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in l982.
Tom Donlon - Emerging Writer’s Poetry: the F. ethan Fischer Memorial Poetry Award
Tom Donlon is a project manager for Verizon and lives with his wife and children in Shenandoah Junction, WV. He earned an MFA in Creative Writing from the American University in Washington, DC before moving to West Virginia in 1986. Poems have appeared in, or are forthcoming in, ABZ, America, Blue Collar Review, Christianity and Literature, Commonweal, Folio, Penn State’s International Journal of Humanities and Healthcare, Kestrel, Poet Lore, Sow’s Ear Poetry Review and in other journals, newspapers, and anthologies. Recognition has included Pushcart Prize nominations and a fellowship from the WV Commission on the Arts.
Cindy Gaillard – Emerging Writers’ Prose
Cindy Gaillard is the Executive Producer for Arts and Culture for WOSU Television, the PBS station in Columbus, Ohio. She is an Emmy Award winning writer, producer, director and editor. She is currently an MFA candidate in creative non-fiction writing at The Ohio State University.
Gretchen Moran Laskas – Book Length Prose
Gretchen Moran Laskas, a native of Philippi, is an eighth generation West Virginian, and the author of two award winning novels, THE MIDWIFE'S TALE and THE MINER'S DAUGHTER. She is the 2012 recipient of the Appalachian Heritage Writers Award, and will be the writer-in-residence this year at Shepherd University.
Silas House – Appalachian Writing
Silas House is the author of four novels: Clay’s Quilt (2001), A Parchment of Leaves (2003), The Coal Tattoo (2004), Eli the Good (2009), two plays, The Hurting Part (2005) and Long Time Travelling (2009), and Something’s Rising (2009), a creative nonfiction book about social protest co-authored with Jason Howard. House was selected to edit the posthumous manuscript of acclaimed writer James Still, Chinaberry. House’s young adult novel, Same Sun Here, co-written with Neela Vaswani, will be published by Candlewick Books in early 2012. House serves as the Director of the Loyal Jones Appalachian Center at Berea College and on the fiction faculty at Spalding University’s MFA in Creative Writing program. House is a former contributing editor for No Depression magazine, where he has done long features on such artists as Lucinda Williams, Nickel Creek, and many others. He is also one of Nashville’s most in-demand press kit writers, having written the press kit bios for such artists as Kris Kristofferson, Kathy Mattea, Leann Womack, and others. A former writer-in-residence at Lincoln Memorial University, he is the creator of the Mountain Heritage Literary Festival. House is a two-time finalist for the Southern Book Critics Circle Prize, a two-time winner of the Kentucky Novel of the Year, the Appalachian Writer of the Year, the Lee Smith Award, the Appalachian Book of the Year, the Chaffin Prize for Literature, the Award for Special Achievement from the Fellowship of Southern Writers, and many other honors. In 2009 the Silas House Literary Seminar was given at Emory and Henry College. For his environmental activism House received the Helen Lewis Community Service Award in 2008 from the Appalachian Studies Association. In 2010 he was awarded the Intellectual Freedom Award from the Kentucky Council of English Teachers. House’s work can be found in The New York Times, Newsday, Oxford American, Bayou, The Southeast Review,The Louisville Review, The Beloit Fiction Journal, Wind, Night Train, and others, as well as in the anthologies The Southern Poetry Anthology: Volume 3, New Stories From the South 2004: The Year’s Best, Christmas in the South, A Kentucky Reader, Of Woods and Water, Motif, We All Live Downstream, Missing Mountains, A Kentucky Christmas, Shouts and Whispers, High Horse, The Alumni Grill, Stories From the Blue Moon Café I and II, and many others. House is the father of two daughters. He divides his time between London and Berea, Kentucky.
Dr. Nancy Berk – Humor
Nancy Berk, Ph.D., President of Nancy Berk Media, LLC, is a clinical psychologist, author and award-winning humorist. Her second book, College Bound and Gagged: How to Help Your Kid Get into a Great College Without Losing Your Savings, Your Relationship, or Your Mind, was released October 2011. A blogger for The Huffington Post, USA Today College, MORE Magazine, and HumorOutcasts.com, she is also a frequent contributor to Chicken Soup for the Soul. Nancy has appeared on television and radio, and hosts the popular iTunes podcast Whine At 9.
Laura Benedict- Genre Fiction: SciFi/Fantasy/Horror
Laura Benedict is the author of the dark suspense novels Devil's Oven, Isabella Moon, and Calling Mr. Lonely Hearts. She has also edited the Surreal South: an Anthology of Short Fiction series with her husband, Pinckney Benedict. Her work has appeared in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Thrillers: 100 Must-Reads, Noir at the Bar, and a number of other anthologies. A recipient of a West Virginia Artist Fellowship Grant, she currently lives in the southernmost wilds of a midwestern state, where she is surrounded by coyotes, bobcats, and many other less picturesque predators.
The Pearl Buck Award in Writing for Social Change (JUDGE COMING SOON)
2012 Judges for New Mountain Voices Student Contest
Pam Hanson – NMV High School
Pam Andrews Hanson along with her writing partner/mother (Barbara Andrews) is the author of more than 30 novels, including women’s inspirational fiction for Guideposts Publishing and romances for Harlequin. Several more titles will be released by Guideposts this year. In addition, she and her partner released two indie inspirational romances for Kindle on Amazon and Nook on Barnes & Noble. A former reporter, Pam previously taught beat reporting and was the director of advising for the School of Journalism at West Virginia University. She is a past recipient of the JUG Award. Pam now resides with her family in Nebraska, where she writes fulltime.
Wilma Acree – NMV Middle School
Wilma Acree holds Bachelor's and Master's degrees in Education. She taught English at Jackson Middle School for 32 years and presented writng workshops for middle grade teachers at National Council of English Teachers Conventions, WV English Teachers' Conventions, and Wood County Teachers' Inservice. She served as editor of Confluence literary magazine 2000-2009. She is the author of two poetry chapbooks, has work published in numerous literary magazines, and has won awards in WVW's Spring Contest.
Terry McNemar’s writing group – NMV Elementary School