CHRIS MARTIN has worked with neurodivergent students for over a decade, specializing in creative writing and executive function. He earned his BA in English at Carleton College; his MA in Poetry, Performance, and Education from NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study; and his MFA in Poetry from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His first collection of poems, American Music (Copper Canyon Press, 2007), was selected by C. D. Wright for the Hayden Carruth Prize. Becoming Weather, his second collection, was published by Coffee House Press in 2011 and he was named one of the Poetry Society of America’s New American Poets. His third collection, The Falling Down Dance (Coffee House Press, 2015), was recognized by critic and Harvard Professor Steph Burt as “the best whole book” of poetry about fatherhood.
He was writer-in-residence at the Minnesota Historical Society in 2013 and a Bartos Fellow at United World College in 2014. He is the recipient of grants from the NEA, Minnesota State Arts Board, and Mellon Foundation. He also teaches creative writing at Hamline University and Carleton College. After growing up in Colorado Springs, he spent several years in both San Francisco and New York, and now resides in Minneapolis with his wife and two children.
BRIAN LAIDLAW is a poet, songwriter and educator from San Francisco, currently based in Minneapolis. He studied Creative Writing as an undergraduate at Stanford University, where he first began setting his poems to music; after graduating in 2005 he worked for several years as a private writing tutor for students with special needs.
In 2008, Laidlaw moved to Minneapolis to earn an MFA in Poetry at the University of Minnesota. His poems have now been published in journals including New American Writing, The Iowa Review, Handsome, Volt, Quarter After Eight and many others. He also had poems in the Arcadia Project anthology (Ahsahta Press), song lyrics in American Songwriter Magazine, and a Songwriting Consultant credit on the Grammy Award-Winning album Can You Canoe? by The Okee Dokee Brothers.
In late 2014, Laidlaw released a hybrid poetry/music project called Amoratorium, a vinyl LP with a companion poetry chapbook in the liner notes (Paper Darts Press). His first full-length collection of poems, The Stuntman, was released – also with a companion album of music – by Milkweed Editions in 2015. He teaches songwriting at McNally Smith College of Music, and tours nationally as a troubadour.
RACHEL MORITZ has led writing workshops in elementary and middle schools, senior centers, and college classrooms since 2003. She believes that poetry offers everyone a language for connecting to self and world. In 2012, she began teaching with Alzheimer’s Poetry Project-Minnesota, serving older adults with cognitive and physical challenges. She is also on the roster of teaching artists at COMPAS, Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop, and Poetry Barn.
Moritz earned an MFA in Poetry from the University of Minnesota. Her first collection of poems, Borrowed Wave (Kore Press, 2015), was a finalist for the National Poetry Series and the Minnesota Book Award in Poetry. She is also the author of Sweet Velocity (2017), which won the Besmilr Brigham Women Writer’s Award from Lost Roads Press, and five chapbooks: How Absence (MIEL Books, 2015), many forms in water (above/ground press, 2014), Elementary Rituals (Albion Books, 2013), Night-Sea (New Michigan Press, 2008), and The Winchester Monologues (New Michigan Press, 2005). Moritz lives in Minneapolis with her partner and son.
STEPHANIE GRAY is a NYC-based poet, filmmaker, and educator. She is an adjunct assistant professor of writing and senior lecturer at three NYC-area colleges and has also served as a college writing tutor, youth mentor, preschool teacher and day care leader. In her extensive work with special needs, autistic youth and college-age students, she endeavors to reveal their inherent strengths and helps them to realize the creative potential of their own writing. As a writer and artist with hearing loss, Stephanie has explored the theme of disability in deeply personal, complex ways. In her poems and films she mines the seam between ability and disability to reveal new portals of understanding.
Much of Stephanie’s own poetry and films deal with sound – how we hear, communicate, and make sense of sound into meaning. Her first chapbook *I Thought You Said It Was Sound/How Does That Sound?* (Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs, 2012) investigates this theme deeply. Her first book *Heart Stoner Bingo* (Straw Gate Books, 2007) also investigates sound as well as feminist, class and gentrification themes. In 2015 she published her second full-length collection, *Shorthand and Electric Language Stars* (Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs) and a chapbook, *A Country Road Going Back in Your Direction* (Argos Books). Stephanie studied English and Creative Writing, receiving an MFA from Long Island University’s Creative Writing program (Brooklyn).
She has won numerous awards and honors for her films including a NY Foundation for the Arts Fellowship and a Finishing and Distribution Fund from the NY State Council on the Arts. Her films have screened internationally, and she had a three-day retrospective Anthology Film Archives in 2015, which was reviewed by *Artforum* and the *Village Voice,* among others.
BEN MIROV began his teaching career working as an supplemental educator for K-12th grades. He has also worked as an educator in the San Francisco foster care system. In 2009, he began working as a College English Instructor in Brooklyn, New York, where he worked with non-traditional students for a number of years before moving to Oakland, CA. He currently works as a College English Instructor in San Francisco.
Mirov is the author of ghost machines (Slope Editions, 2016), Hider Roser (Octopus Books, 2012), a finalist for the National Poetry Series, and Ghost Machine (Caketrain, 2010), which was selected for publication by Michael Burkard and chosen as one of the best books of poetry in 2010 for Believer Magazine's Reader Survey. He is also the author of the chapbooks My Hologram Chamber is Surrounded by Miles of Snow (YESYES, 2011), Vortexts (SUPERMACHINE, 2011), I is to Vorticism (New Michigan Press, 2010), and Collected Ghost (H_NGM_N, 2010). He is a founding editor's of PEN America's Poetry Series, and an editor at large for LIT Magazine. In addition to his poetry he has written criticism for BOMB Magazine, Jacket 2, the Best American Poetry Blog, the Brooklyn Rail and Coldfront Magazine, among other publications. He grew up in Northern California and lives in Oakland.