What do we really mean?

The greatest strength of the Young Writers' Conference has always been the faculty. We have been fortunate to recruit, year after year, instructors who are accomplished writers and experienced teachers. Many of them have returned summer after summer, attracted by the beauty of the campus and the excellence of our students, and so have become expert at helping young writers find their voices and their subjects. 

Fiction Faculty

SYWC-Faculty-SimonHanHan_300x‌Simon Han's stories and essays have appeared in The Atlantic, The Iowa Review, Guernica, Fence, Electric Literature's Recommended Reading, and elsewhere. He is the winner of the Indiana Review Fiction Prize and the Texas Observer Short Story Contest. He has received fellowships and scholarships from MacDowell, the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, the Sewanee Writers' Conference, and the Toji Cultural Center. He has taught creative writing workshops at Vanderbilt University, the University of Tulsa, and Nashville's Riverbend Prison. A graduate of Vanderbilt University's MFA program, he is a current writer fellow with the Tulsa Artist Fellowship. Find him online at simonhan.net‌.

SYWC-Faculty-GwenKirby‌Gwen E. Kirby’s stories appear or are forthcoming in One StoryTin House, Guernica, Blackbird, Ninth Letter, and elsewhere. Her story “Midwestern Girl Is Tired of Appearing in Your Short Stories” won the 2017 DISQUIET Literary Prize for Fiction and her story “Shit Cassandra Saw . . .” was selected by guest editor Aimee Bender to appear in Best Small Fictions 2018. She earned her B.A. at Carleton College, her M.F.A. at Johns Hopkins University, and her Ph.D. at the University of Cincinnati. At Johns Hopkins, she taught undergraduate classes in fiction, poetry, and humor writing and helped coordinate the graduate reading series. At the University of Cincinnati, she taught composition and fiction and worked as assistant editor at the Cincinnati Review. She has received support from the Rivendell Writers’ Colony and Sundress Academy for the Arts and this year, she is the fifty-first George Bennett Fellow at Phillips Exeter Academy.

SYWC-Faculty-JanetThielkeThielke_300x‌Janet Thielke's stories have appeared or are forthcoming in EPOCH, the Colorado Review, Ninth Letter, The Cincinnati Review, Indiana Review, Mid-American Review, Bat City Review, and Crazyhorse, among others. A graduate of the MFA program at Vanderbilt University, where she was Editor-in-Chief of the Nashville Review, her fellowships include the James C. McCreight Fiction Fellowship at the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing and the Olive B. O'Connor Fellow in Fiction at Colgate University. Most recently, she was named the 2018 winner of the Gulf Coast Barthelme Prize for Short Prose, as selected by Roxane Gay. She has taught fiction workshops at Vanderbilt University, University of Wisconsin, Colgate University, and Oberlin College.  You can learn more about her work at djthielke.com‌.

SYWC-Faculty-ElizabethWetmoreElizabeth Wetmore, whose novel “Valentine” is forthcoming from Harper in early 2020, is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She teaches creative writing workshops in the Chicago area. She is the recipient of fellowships from the Illinois Arts Council and the National Endowment for the Arts, as well as residencies from Hedgebrook and the MacDowell Colony, where she worked on a novel and collection of short stories. Elizabeth’s stories have appeared or are forthcoming in The Iowa Review, Epoch, Kenyon Review, Colorado Review, Baltimore Review, and other journals. Before devoting herself to writing, Elizabeth variously waited tables, taught English composition, drove a cab (briefly), and painted silos and cooling towers at the petrochemical plant in her hometown--proof that there are many paths to becoming a writer! She is delighted to have the opportunity to work with the gifted young writers who attend the Sewanee Young Writers' Conference. 

Poetry and Creative Nonfiction Faculty

SYWC-Faculty-ChristinaOlsonolson_300xChristina Olson, an assistant professor of creative writing at Georgia Southern University  and a visiting faculty member in the Murray State University low-res M.F.A. program, is the author of the full-length poetry collections Terminal Human Velocity and Before I Came Home Naked as well as the chapbooks Weird Science and Rook & The M.E. Her poetry and creative nonfiction have appeared in magazines and journals including The Atlantic, Gastronomica, Gulf Coast, The Normal School, Quarterly West, Passages North, Puerto del Sol, Third Coast, Virginia Quarterly Review, and The Best Creative Nonfiction, Volume Three. Christina is currently at work on two projects: a poetry collection based on Max the mastodon, whose giant remains (which she got to touch!) are currently housed at the Western Science Center in Hemet, California, as well as a creative nonfiction work exploring the origins of the coney-style chili dog and what it can tell us about American assimilation. She is most interested in the intersection of poetic lyricism, meticulous research, genre-pushing creative nonfiction, and what she calls "weird science." In the past, her other research obsessions have included the Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton, the giant Asian hornet, the television show Law & Order, something called the "honeybee thermal defense," and what would happen if the world's infectious diseases got together and threw a Christmas party. She's usually tweeting about mastodons, coney-style hot dogs, and other current fixations as @olsonquest.

Olson will be offering a special course at the conference combining her two literary loves, poetry and nonfiction prose.  “Digging Deep: Writing and Discovery.”  This workshop will emphasize discovering new and surprising sources of inspiration—in the natural world, the library, the Ralston Listening Room, and even in what Olson calls “weird science.” Inspired by close observation and reading, students will experiment with both poetry and prose forms and will consider the ways any chosen form both enables and limits discovery, determining what can and cannot be said.  Forms are lenses, and each one brings certain subjects into sharp focus. Olson will be offering a special course at the conference combining her two literary loves, poetry and nonfiction prose.  “Digging Deep: Writing and Discovery.”

Poetry Faculty

SYWC-Faculty-DaniellDeTiberusDeTiberus_300x‌Danielle DeTiberus teaches creative writing at the Charleston School of the Arts. Among some of her students’ accomplishments are: publication in the Rattle Young Poets Anthology, The Interlochen Review and The Best Teen Writing; Honorable Mention in Princeton’s High School Poetry Prize; two finalists for the National Student Poets Program; and numerous national Gold Medals from the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, including the prestigious Gold Medal Portfolio. Her manuscript, Better the Girl Know Now, was selected as a finalist for Black Lawrence Press’ 2018 Hudson Prize. In 2016, she received the Carrie McCray Nickens Fellowship in poetry from the South Carolina Academy of Authors.  Her work has been anthologized in Best American Poetry and Bared: Contemporary Poetry and Art on Bras and Breasts, and has appeared or is forthcoming in The Missouri Review, Rattle, River Styx, The Southeast Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, Tar River Poetry, Waxwing and elsewhere. She currently serves as the Poetry Society of South Carolina's Program Chair, bringing nationally renowned poets to Charleston for readings and seminars. More of her work can be found here.‌


Playwriting Faculty

SYWC-Faculty-DavidRobyDavid Roby, a professional actor and director as well as a playwright and screenwriter, is a member of the Actors’ Equity Association and the Dramatists Guild. His play Arts and Science won the 2006 Jean Kennedy Smith Playwriting Award and was published in Blackbird Journal. So was Unseen Character, a play about characters referred to, but not seen on stage, in Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie. His interest in Williams led to his one-man show (in which he plays nineteen characters!); produced most recently at Seacoast Repertory Theater in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, sometimes there's God so quickly chronicles Roby’s travels throughout the Mississippi Delta interviewing people who knew the late playwright.  After receiving the B.F.A. at the North Carolina School of the Arts and the M.F.A. at Illinois State University, he continued his studies in acting and playwriting at Oxford University, the Wooly Mammoth Theatre School in Washington, D. C., and the Playwrights’ Intensive at the John F. Kennedy Center. Roby has served as a Graduate Professor in Acting, Oral Interpretation, and Experiencing Theatre at Illinois State University, Artist-in-Residence at Oklahoma City University, and the Tennessee Williams Fellow in Playwriting at the University of the South from 2010 to 2012. His honors include the 2008 John N. Wall Fellowship, the 2009 Tennessee Williams Scholarship in Playwriting at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, as well as a residency at Endstation Theatre in Sweet Briar, Virginia. Currently, Roby is Artist-in-Residence at University of Alabama at Birmingham Arts in Medicine and the acting and playwriting teaching artist at U.A.B.'s ArtPlay. To hear Roby speak about his work with patients, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MFaVzQaEcbU.