Patty Otis Abel left the University of Wisconsin, Madison, with a BA in Comparative Literature and moved to Madison Avenue. She created campaigns for Lancôme cosmetics, Fujitus Corporate, and British Airways, producing commercials in Paris, London, and the Australian Outback, and lived briefly in Paris. Hired to co-write and edit the memoir of artist, LeRoy Neiman, she pursued her passion for profiling, and now writes a blog where she rants and raves about books, culture, travel, and her adventures as a single woman. Courses in history and philosophy at Oxford inspired the book she plans to complete at the WI about her lifelong fascination with a postwar French writer of erotica. Patty’s appetite for culture in all flavors has led to memberships at the National Arts Club, the Foreign Policy Association, Albertine Library at the French Consulate, and the Helicon Foundation. She hides out in Tudor City where she received the title she is most proud of, “Kickass,” awarded by the neighborhood bodega after an impromptu push-up competition.
Christopher Campbell is a doctoral student in Comparative Literature at the CUNY Graduate Center. He was born and raised in Lima, Ohio, a city known by some as the hometown of comedienne Phyllis Diller as well as the fictional setting for the television program Glee. He has since lived in Cincinnati, Cambridge (MA), New Orleans, and South Korea. He took a MS Architecture from the University of Cincinnati, where he wrote a thesis arguing that fictional buildings are not only structures in themselves but also structuring devices within plots. Originally a student of Astrophysics, his passion for the craft of fiction and writing workshops redirected his academic trajectory into the study of literature, which helps to explain why he now finds himself in New York City studying both French and Anglo-American literature of the 19th century. He lives in Brooklyn with his partner and their two cats, Margie and Hurricane.
Lorea Canales graduated from Georgetown Law University with a Master’s in Law and worked in Washington DC specializing in antitrust and trade law. She returned to her native Mexico to continue her law career, worked for a political campaign instituting anti-fraud measures, and eventually for the newspaper Reforma, first covering Mexico’s Supreme Court and then as an investigative reporter. She moved to New York in 2000 and continued to write for Mexican publications. She got her MFA in Creative Writing in NYU in their Spanish program and in 2011, Random House published her first novel, Apenas Marta to great acclaim. This was followed by Los Perros in 2013, an exploration of the Mexican criminal system. Apenas Marta became Becoming Marta and was published by Amazon Crossing in 2016. Her stories have appeared in several anthologies. She is about to finish her first novel written in English and wishes to continue bridging her worlds. When Lorea is not writing or reading, she will be found cooking, eating, and drinking wine or mezcal, walking her dog, practicing yoga, or hitting tennis balls in Riverside Park.
Carissa Chesanek is a professional writer with a Master's in Journalism. Her journalism career has allowed her to work with publications, including ZAGAT, Food Network, and Forbes Travel Guide, but her true passion is fiction. As a short story writer and aspiring novelist, her creative writing has been seen in Writing Raw, nominated for the Freddie Award for Writing Excellence with the Mystery Writers of America, and shortlisted for Frith Books’ anthology, Restless. In August 2015, she was accepted by the Cambridge Writers’ Workshop Retreat in Granada, Spain working alongside novelist and short story writer, Peter Orner, and the following summer she was accepted into New York University's Intensive Fiction Writing Workshop working directly under novelist, Andre Dubus III. Currently she is the contributing Fiction Editor at Identity Theory literary magazine and working on her debut novel. When she's not writing, you can find her reading something dark and slightly complicated or painting something equally obscure with a nice whiskey in hand.
Greg Correll has written about his Parkinson’s diagnosis for Salon, and about his sexual assaults in jail at 14 for The Good Men Project. He has published in a half-dozen essay and poetry anthologies. Two of his short plays were produced, one Off-Broadway at the Makor. Despite movement disorders he has won TMIdol slam competitions, and has read as featured writer and poet throughout the Hudson Valley, as well as in Manhattan and New Orleans. He moved from Montana to NYC in the 1980s, to start a career in design. He channeled his PTSD and hypomania as art (won a CLIO for package design, illustrated regularly for The New Yorker) and science (engineered the Yale Climate Institute’s scientific collaboration system and site). He was the editor for several years for DTMS, a critical thinking site. He has also worked as a freelance editor, and loves immersing himself in manuscripts and helping writers improve and polish their work. He broke the cycle of abuse in his family and was a doting single parent for over nine years to his firstborn, then to all three of his ferocious, brilliant daughters.
Sarah Emilia Dillard graduated from Brown University with a BA in Literary Arts, and completed her honors thesis in fiction. Growing up in Montclair, New Jersey, she always knew that she wanted to be a writer, and took creative writing classes at NYU, Oxford, and Barnard while she was in high school. Formerly an intern at The Center for Book Arts in Manhattan, she is also interested in the way a text relates to its form, and explores this through different bookmaking practices. Her favorite novels include Lolita, Rebecca, and In the Cafe of Lost Youth. Currently living in New York City, she hopes to write books for the rest of her life.
Barbara Duarte Esgalhado received a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from Columbia University, where she focused on the creative process, and an M.F.A. in Writing from Sarah Lawrence College with an emphasis on poetry. She works as a psychologist with chronically and terminally ill people, a psychoanalyst, and teaches at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn in the Department of Social Sciences and Cultural Studies. She is strongly inspired by things Portuguese and by growing up in two languages. She wrote her dissertation on Portugal major modernist poet, Fernando Pessoa, and the relationship between writing and subjectivity. Her M.F.A. thesis in poetry was inspired by saudade, a Portuguese concept that describes loss, longing, and remembrance. Much of her imagination resides in Portugal but she is open to letting it journey elsewhere. Her writing has been published in literary and academic journals and has been included in several anthologies. This is her first journey into fiction in the form of a fictional memoir. She lives in New York City with her two daughters, two nearly black cats, and a big, hairy dog named Herman. She has an Irish boyfriend named Ted, who writes and grows organic vegetables.
Jonny Gottlieb got his degree in American Studies at Vassar in an effort to avoid his inevitable foray into writing. After attaining the aforementioned degree he ran away to the woods of Virginia to work at a therapeutic wilderness boarding school to avoid social pressures and to—theoretically—find himself. He is “currently” “working” on a “book” detailing the events of that year. Post-Virginia he moved back to New York and is now employed by the highly esteemed Bushwick pizza place Roberta’s.
Janee Graver is a returning fellow at the Writer’s Institute. Her nonfiction writing is influenced by her professional experience of starting four companies, and two non-profits, and writing a bestselling technical book. More life perspective came from raising two sons, travelling internationally to row (sculling) and indulging her curiosity about worldwide spirituality practices. Today she has an active consulting practice working with startups and nonprofits. Janee has written a series of publication-ready personal essays focusing on parenthood and third-chapter quandaries. One essay about a meditation retreat in Auschwitz was published as part of an international collection of writings in 2015. This year she plans to flex her fiction muscles. Janee has earned multiple academic degrees, acclaim as an entrepreneur of the year, and other honors along the way. When not writing, traveling, or consulting, Janee can be spotted on her kick scooter, joyfully zipping around New York City.
William Hood, who likes to be called Bill, retired as Professor of Art History at Oberlin College in 2007. Since then he has been living in New York, teaching part-time at Columbia and NYU's Institute of Fine Arts. He is the author of a scholarly book on the Florentine Renaissance painter Fra Angelico. For the past several years he has participated in the Writers Institute to learn to write for a wider, non-specialist audience. This summer he's completing the draft of a book about life-changing encounters with works of art. Titled A Concert of Statues: Art in a Life, his book focuses on the Classical male nude and its afterlife in Renaissance and later art. During the 2016-17 term, he plans to turn full-time to fiction writing.
Christy Hutchcraft is a transplant from Southern California who loves the seasons of New York, but sometimes grows nostalgic for her Los Angeles palm trees and sunsets. She earned her MFA from Columbia University in Playwriting, where her work was staged at both The Horace Mann Theatre and The Cherry Lane Theatre in Greenwich Village. Christy has worked as a theatre reviewer, an editor and copywriter, and a New York City educator. Her articles have been published in The Brooklyn Rail. Nowadays she can be found teaching high school English at a prep school in Brooklyn, exploring the language of such literary masters as Kafka, Camus, Kincaid and Shakespeare, and reaching for similar authenticity in her own work.
Mariuca Iosifescu was born in Bucharest, Romania. She came to New York in the late 70’s, with two suitcases, one of which was filled with Eastern European black shoes, already hopelessly out of fashion. They did not help with the transition into this Brave New World. She obtained an MA in Art History from the Institute of Fine Arts, NYU. While there, she discovered art restoration at the Conservation Center, NYU, graduating with a specialty in paintings restoration. After internships in several NY museums and in Rome, Italy, she has since set up her own paintings restoration studio in New York. Her occasional hobby is photography, and over the years she has exhibited her work in Bucharest, New York, and Rome. Although defining herself mostly as a visual person, she discovered that writing is a kindred pursuit, though English is sometimes a linguistic No Man’s Land, and sometimes home.
Karen Klatzkin has a doctorate in English Education from Columbia University’s Teachers College, where she wrote what could be considered her first “book,” a dissertation on intertextuality as seen in music, art, writing, and teaching. She has taught education courses at City and Queens Colleges; she has also supervised new and student teachers throughout New York City (and once in New Jersey). She was a reading/writing specialist and composition instructor at Long Island University, Brooklyn Campus and currently teaches literature at Borough of Manhattan Community College. (In a previous life, she wrote songs and performed them in cabarets.) Several years ago, she decided that it would be educationally valuable, and not just masochistic, to write the same papers she assigned her students and then to share them. This produced a Frank McCourt effect, minus the “miserable Irish childhood.” She is now working on a “creative non-fiction” book, centered on a major (cough!) birthday, which may incorporate some of the above-mentioned class papers as well. She lives on the Upper West Side with her husband and pictures of the beloved family dog, who refuses to be replaced.
Wilfred Loh’s father used to tell him “You’re supposed to study in Beijing.” Fleeing Mao Tse-tung in 1949, his parents emigrated to Hong Kong where he was born. At nineteen they sent him to the U.S. for university. He became a dentist, then took a stab at NYU Grad Film, quit and subsequently started his dental practice. He misses being the class dentist; a handful of classmates still come to see him. Three decades later, he practices three days a week. In 2012, he got his MFA from Goddard College. Yet in spite of the block of woods in front of his house in Central NJ, the seclusion did not help him get published. Solitude and writing do not necessarily make good partners. Being a semi-serious runner, he was of course inspired by Usain Bolt, who danced before he crossed the finish line at the Beijing Olympics, the town where Wilfred was supposed to have been a student. To improve his speed, he tried curried goat and Blue Mountain coffee for breakfast. But adding Red Stripe beer didn’t help either. He still crawls. Life is full of fallacies. His inspirations in literature are Borges, Calvino and Peter White. He is interested in short stories, essays and perhaps a novel and is looking forward to learn from the faculty and classmates in a safe and warm environment.
Paul Longo joined the US Department of State's Foreign Service after college, shaped by an upbringing of athletic pursuits and a simple directive to find his passion and pursue it. Adventures far (Africa) and near (New York) revealed both the diversity and unity of human life. Discovering New York and planning new adventures with his interior designer wife remain ongoing passions. Paul enrolled in the WI to test and enhance his eye and ear for writing. One day, the itinerant lifestyle of 2-year assignments may give way to calling one place home, with the dream of departing for remote assignments to profile interesting humans and events for The New Yorker.
Katherine McNamara is the author of Narrow Road to the Deep North, A Journey into the Interior of Alaska, and co-translator/editor, with the late Dena’ina Athabaskan author Peter Kalifornsky, of From the First Beginning, When the Animals Were Talking, an iBook. She was founding editor and publisher of Archipelago.org and now directs Artist’s Proof Editions, an imprint of Archipelago Publishers, Inc., where she is also an iBooks producer and makes video poems. She has spoken at national and international universities, public libraries, AWP, and other literary gatherings; was a visiting poet in Athabaskan and Yup’ik Alaskan schools; and has published in, e.g., Cultural Survival, Alaska Quarterly Review, and New Voices in Native American Literary Criticism. Her essay on Faulkner, “The Bear,” and hunting, in The James Dickey Review, was translated for the Roman literary-academic journal Ácoma. At the invitation of Rare Book School, she has organized “An Archipelago of Readers: Forming a Literary Culture in Digital Media,” now on exhibition in The Rotunda, University of Virginia. She resides in Charlottesville, Va., where she is at work on a trio of memoirs in which the narrator (herself) explores her notion that fiction is an offspring of story, continuing an old argument with her late husband, Lee Goerner, who was an editor and publisher in New York.
Kim Merrill is a playwright who originally started in theatre as an actress. Her plays have been produced by NJ Repertory, Contemporary American Theatre Festival, Theatre for the New City, Playwrights Theatre of New Jersey, New Perspectives, and several Off-0f-Broadway places. Her play Exposure Time received a 2009 Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award and her play Finding Claire is published by Dramatists Play Service. She holds an MFA in playwriting from Columbia University, and is a happy mom of two adult sons raised on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, where she still lives. Now working on her first foray into prose, Kim is excited to join the Writer’s Institute and learn new things.
Deborah Miller graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in the mid-1960s and was soon after thrust into the Mad-Man like world of corporate America at the American Enka Company. There, as a single mother, she rose to senior marketing manager of women’s apparel. Later she created a boutique fashion consulting company at the forefront of designing and producing private label fashions in India, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Germany, and Italy. In Manila, during the turbulent end of President Marcos regime, a casual conversation with a CIA agent led to a job offer in South America. The proposal paid significantly more than she was earning. The offer she declined. She enrolled in the Executive MBA Program at the Wharton School and, after earning an MBA, wrote an entrepreneurship study theorizing that America’s decommissioned military bases would serve as ideal settings to educate our inner city youth. The study was so well received it led to the founding of the Proctor Academy in West Trenton, New Jersey, the first public boarding school of its kind. Although Proctor served as a model for other schools of its kind, it became a victim of New Jersey politics. Deborah has a story to tell and more to write about surviving a family whose behavior teetered between the eccentric and the aberrant. She now lives in New York City with her husband, a lawyer, and their Havanese puppy Maximillian, nicknamed “devil dog.” Together they have three sons, and seven grandchildren.
Geoffrey Parnass practices law at a firm in midtown and a startup company in Soho. A member of the baby boom generation, he was born in New York, raised in the Midwest and graduated from Vassar College with a degree in philosophy. He met his wife, Nadia, in college and followed her to New York where he attended law school. When their daughters were small he and Nadia moved from a cramped apartment to a house in the suburbs. As a young man he wrote bad poetry and, in middle age, switched to fiction. Once, in a moment of despair, he decided to paraphrase a Chekov story about a lonely schoolteacher, and set the tale in modern day Wall Street. He was pleased with the results and felt he had found at last a use for the skills of copying and adaptation he had mastered as a lawyer. He joins the Writers Institute to further his transition to the art of fiction.
S. Brent Rodriguez Plate’s scholarly research has reached some admittedly arcane depths, but it also got him traveling, talking with people around the world, figuring out what makes humans tick, and why we keep being religious. Convinced that religion has less to do with beliefs than with bodies, he focuses on the objects we humans see, hear, smell, taste, and touch, and how those things form the basis of our spiritual lives. He has presented his accounts in books such as Blasphemy, Religion and Film, and A History of Religion in 5½ Objects, as well as essays for the Los Angeles Review of Books, Chronicle of Higher Education, The Christian Century, The Islamic Monthly, and Huffington Post. He holds the position of visiting associate professor at Hamilton College, NY.
Charles Tanzer is a true renaissance man. He’s had an eventful international career that includes time working for the United Nations as well as several East Asian governments. He holds a Master’s degree in International Affairs from Columbia University and a Bachelor’s degree in East Asian Studies from Oberlin College. He’s paired his previous career with his lifelong love of writing and now tackles politics and pop culture in his own blog, The Gen X Chronicle. Charles has been published in several major outlets, including The Nation and Truthout. He’s also working on a novel, and in his spare time he dreams of puppies and mint chocolate chip ice cream.
Warren Jay Winkelman is a physician-entrepreneur, health tech innovator and wellness advocate and has researched and published on how poorly conceived eHealth innovations may paradoxically worsen the suffering of chronically ill patients. He applied to become a Fellow of The Writers’ Institute after his short essay, an excerpt from his first novel of love, lies and HIV, was published on-line in Chelsea Station Magazine. As a child, Warren spent summers in the iconic Borscht Belt and was inspired to write a second novel based on growing up gay and questioning in a whack-job family thrust in that dying Jewish world.