Keynote Speaker

Alison Hawthorne Deming, keynote

Alison Hawthorne Deming’s most recent nonfiction book is Zoologies: On Animals and the Human Spirit (Milkweed 2014). Recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, she is the author of three additional nonfiction books and five poetry books with Stairway to Heaven (Penguin) and Death Valley: Painted Light, in collaboration with astronomer/ photographer Stephen Strom out this year. Her first book Science and Other Poems won the Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets. She has received fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Wallace Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University, and the Bayer Award in Science Writing, among other honors. Former Director of the University of Arizona Poetry Center, she is Agnese Nelms Haury Chair in Environment and Social Justice and Professor in Creative Writing at the University of Arizona. Learn more at and

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Workshop Leaders

Kate Brandes, Fiction Workshop (Saturday, Feb. 4, 9:00-11:30 AM)

An environmental scientist with 20 years of experience, Kate Brandes is also a watercolor painter and a writer of women’s fiction with an environmental bent. Her first novel, The Promise of Pierson Orchard, will be published in April 2017. Her short stories have been published in The Binnacle, Wilderness House Literary Review, and Grey Sparrow Journal. Kate is a member of the Arts Community of Easton (ACE), the Lehigh Art Alliance, Artsbridge, Pennwriters, and the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. Kate lives in a small town along the Delaware River with her husband, David, and their two sons. When she’s not working, she’s outside on the river or chasing wild flowers.

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Benjamin Cohen, Nonfiction Workshop (Saturday, Feb. 4, 9:00-11:30 AM)

B.R. Cohen is a professor at Lafayette College, where he teaches about science, technology and nature, studies the historical origins of industrial agriculture, and works on the future of sustainable food. He is the author of Notes from the Ground: Science, Soil and Society in the American Countryside (2009) and co-editor of Technoscience and Environmental Justice: Expert Cultures in a Grassroots Movement (2011). In addition to academic publishing, he has written for a range of mainstream media outlets including The Believer, Grist, Civil Eats, Inside Higher Ed, Public Books, The Morning News, The Believer, Gastronomica, and McSweeney’s.

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Julia Kasdorf, Poetry Workshop (Saturday, Feb. 4, 9:00-11:30 AM)

Julia Spicher Kasdorf has published three collections of poetry with the University of Pittsburgh Press, most recently Poetry in America. Her poems were awarded a 2009 NEA poetry fellowship and a Pushcart Prize. A concern for the relationships that writers have with the communities and places they come from is reflected in her collection of essays, The Body and the Book:  Writing from a Mennonite Life and the biography, Fixing Tradition:  Joseph W. Yoder, Amish American.  She has worked on new editions of Yoder’s 1940 local color classic Rosanna of the Amish, which is set in Centre and Mifflin Counties of Pennsylvania, and also Fred Lewis Pattee’s The House of the Black Ring, set in 1890s Centre County. She is currently working with photographer Steven Rubin on a poetry project to document the impacts of natural gas development in southwestern PA, where she grew up and north central PA, near where she lives now.

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Avi Setton, Documentary Studies Workshop (Saturday, Feb. 4, 9:00-11:30 AM)

Avi Setton received a B.F.A. in Film & Television Production at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts with a minor in Philosophy, and an M.A. in English at Lehigh University. After completing a Graduate Documentary Certification, Avi was asked to teach Graduate Documentary Filmmaking at Lehigh. Avi taught screenwriting at SOCAPA (School of Cinema and Performing Arts), worked as a Story Logger for ABC’s reality TV series The Glass House, and as the Script Supervisor on the feature film The Kitchen. He also has experience acting in feature films such as Wet Hot American Summer and The Big Bad Swim. Avi currently works as an adjunct professor and documentary filmmaker at Lehigh University.

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Craft Session Leaders

Paul Acampora, Children’s/YA Writing Craft Session (Saturday, Feb. 4, 2:00-3:30 PM)

Paul Acampora writes novels and short stories for young readers. Kids, parents and critics praise his work for its laugh-out-loud humor, rollicking dialogue, and heartfelt characters. His books include Defining Dulcie (Dial 2006), Rachel Spinelli Punched Me in the Face (Roaring Brook 2011), I Kill the Mockingbird (Roaring Brook 2013), and his newest novel, How to Avoid Extinction (Scholastic 2016), which is a comedy adventure road trip story about death and food and family and fossils. Paul is a popular writing workshop leader for schools, libraries, and conferences. He and his family live in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Find more about Paul at Twitter (@paulacampora) or at

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Diane Husic, Crossing Boundaries in Nonfiction Craft Session (Saturday, Feb. 4, 2:00-3:30 PM)

Diane Husic holds B.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Biochemistry; she served as Chair of Biological Sciences at Moravian College from 2004 to 2015, when she was appointed as the new Dean of the School of Natural and Health Sciences. Her interests are varied but focus largely on restoration and resilience of the natural world: how ecosystems can recover from and adapt to human influences on the planet. She has taught courses on environmental science, conservation biology, nutrition, biochemistry, sustainability, environmental literature, and climate change. Her research focuses on a contaminated site (the Palmerton, PA Superfund site), examining heavy metal impacts on plants and the effectiveness of ecological restoration efforts in restoring biodiversity. She is an author on over 50 publications and has contributed to several reports, including a 200-page ecological assessment for a Superfund site, the 2011 PA Climate Change Adaptation report, and the NGO Committee on the Status of Women outcome document for the North America and European region. She is a contributor to multiple blogs, including The Huffington Post and her personal blog, titled “A New Prosperity” (

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Mary Heather Noble, Crossing Boundaries in Nonfiction Craft Session (Saturday, Feb. 4, 2:00-3:30 PM)

Mary Heather Noble is an environmental scientist, writer, and mother whose work is inspired by social and environmental issues and the intersection of the natural world, family, and place. She was a 2015 Oregon Arts Commission Fellowship recipient, and her essay collection, Plumes: On Contamination of Home and Habitat, was selected by New York Times bestselling author Karen Joy Fowler as the winner of the 2014 Siskiyou Prize for New Environmental Literature (sponsored by Ashland Creek Press). Noble’s work has also been honored with first prize in Creative Nonfiction’s The Human Face of Sustainability contest and as a finalist in Bellingham Review’s 2016 Annie Dillard Award for Creative Nonfiction. Her writing has appeared in About Place Journal, Fourth Genre, High Desert Journal, Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, Minerva Rising, Orion, Pithead Chapel, Quartz, The FEM, The Sun, and Utne Reader. She is a graduate of the Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing Program at the University of Southern Maine and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Geology from The Ohio State University, and a Master’s degree in Environmental Science from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. She lives with her family in Vermont. Learn more at

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Chuck Wendig, Science Fiction/Fantasy Craft Session (Saturday, Feb. 4, 2:00-3:30 PM)

Chuck Wendig is a novelist, screenwriter and game designer. He’s the author of many published novels, including Blackbirds, The Blue Blazes, and the YA Heartland series. His most recent novel, Invasive, was released in August 2016. He is co-writer of the short film Pandemic and the Emmy-nominated digital narrative Collapsus. Wendig has contributed over two million words to the game industry. He is also well known for his profane-yet-practical advice to writers, which he dispenses at his blog,, and through several popular e-books, including The Kick-Ass Writer, published by Writers Digest. He currently lives in the forests of Pennsyltucky with wife, two dogs, and tiny human.

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