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-MatthewBakerMatthew Baker is the author of the story collection Hybrid Creatures (LSU Press) and the children's novel If You Find This (Little Brown), which was a Booklist Top Ten Debut of 2015 and an Edgar Award Nominee for 2016, and his stories have appeared in publications such as American Short Fiction, New England Review, One Story, Electric Literature, and Best of the Net. A recipient of fellowships from organizations including the Fulbright Commission, the MacDowell Colony, the Ucross Foundation, and Vermont Studio Center, he earned an M.F.A. at Vanderbilt University, where he was the founding editor of Nashville Review. His other projects include Early Work, an online review of childhood art by grown-up artists, and Interview With An Artist. Along with having taught writing workshops for adult cancer survivors through the Vanderbilt University Medical Center, he has led workshops for youth through Vanderbilt University Programs for Talented Youth, the Program for the Academically Talented at Hope College, and the Grand Rapids Creative Youth Center, and spent a year volunteering in writing workshops at the Fighting Words Writing Center in Dublin, Ireland. Born in Michigan, he currently lives in New York City, where he teaches creative writing at NYU. ‌Visit him online at www.mwektaehtabr.com.

SYWC-Faculty-LeeConellLee Conell is the author of the story collection Subcortical. Her short fiction appears in the Chicago Tribune, Kenyon Review online, Guernica, American Short Fiction, Indiana Review, Glimmer Train, and elsewhere. Her essays and book reviews have appeared in The New York Times and Chapter 16. She has received an Individual Artist Fellowship from the Tennessee Arts Commission, a Barry Hannah scholarship from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and support from Tent at the Yiddish Book Center. Her story “The Lock Factory” was awarded the grand prize in the Chicago Tribune‘s Nelson Algren Literary Arts award and was listed as a Distinguished Story in Best American Short Stories 2016. When she is not teaching at the Sewanee Young Writers’ Conference, she is a writing mentor for the arts nonprofit Southern Word, and teaches at Vanderbilt University, where she earned her MFA. She has also taught classes on fiction writing and magical realism for Vanderbilt Programs for Talented Youth, as well as weekly creative writing workshops at the Vanderbilt Psychiatric Hospital and the Nashville Public Library.‌ Most recently, she is a Visiting Assistant Professor of English at Sewanee.

SYWC-Faculty-GwenKirbyGwen E. Kirby’s stories appear in Guernica, Ninth Letter, New Ohio Review, Mississippi Review, SmokeLong Quarterly, and elsewhere. Her story “Midwestern Girl Is Tired of Appearing in Your Short Stories” won the 2017 DISQUIET Literary Prize for Fiction. She earned her B.A. at Carleton College, where she won the Huntington Poetry Prize, and her M.F.A. at Johns Hopkins University. At Johns Hopkins, she taught undergraduate classes in fiction, poetry, and humor writing and helped coordinate the graduate reading series. Currently, she is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Cincinnati, where she has taught composition and fiction and is assistant editor at the Cincinnati Review. As a doctoral student, her research focuses on the history of the female novelist, with particular emphasis on the nineteenth century and contemporary speculative fiction. She is currently at work on a short story collection and a novel.

SYWC-Faculty-ElizabethWetmoreElizabeth Wetmore’s stories have appeared or are forthcoming in The Iowa Review, Epoch, Kenyon Review, Colorado Review, Baltimore Review, and other journals. 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. 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.

Creative Nonfiction Faculty

Jill Schepmann’s essays and stories have appeared in Black Warrior Review, Parcel, Midwestern Gothic, Afro-Hispanic Review, and NPR’s All Things Considered, and she was a regular contributor to This Week in Short Fiction on The Rumpus blog. One of her stories received a Notable Mention in The Best American Essays. She earned her M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Vanderbilt University, where she was an undergraduate fiction workshop instructor and a fiction and nonfiction editor for Nashville Review. In her time in Nashville, she taught a writing workshop for people living with cancer whose ages ranged from 10 to 60+ and literature courses focused on medicine and the environment to high schoolers through Vanderbilt’s Talented Youth Program. A native Kansan, Schepmann began her teaching career at a large public high school outside Topeka. On relocating to San Francisco, she taught English Language Arts at a KIPP middle school and coordinated afterschool programming and student retreats for Leadership Public Schools, a network of charter high schools in the Bay Area. Schepmann currently teaches writing courses in the Rhetoric and Language Department at the University of San Francisco, where she reviews manuscripts in the spring for the school’s undergraduate research journal, Writing for a Real World.

Poetry Faculty

SYWC-Faculty-TianaClarkTiana Clark is currently the 2017-2018 Jay C. and Ruth Halls Poetry Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute of Creative Writing. She is the author of Equilibrium, selected by Afaa Michael Weaver for the 2016 Frost Place Chapbook Competition, and the forthcoming poetry collection, I Can't Talk About the Trees Without the Blood. She is the winner of the 2017 Furious Flower’s Gwendolyn Brooks Centennial Poetry Prize, 2016 Academy of American Poets University Prize, and 2015 Rattle Poetry Prize. Her writing has appeared in or is forthcoming from The New Yorker, American Poetry Review, Best New Poets 2015, BOAAT, Crab Orchard Review, Thrush, The Journal, Sewanee Review, and elsewhere. She recently graduated from Vanderbilt University’s M.F.A. program where she served as the poetry editor of the Nashville Review. Clark has received scholarships to the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, and Frost Place Poetry Seminar. She is a graduate of Tennessee State University where she studied Africana and Women's studies. She was awarded funding from the Nashville Metropolitan Arts Commission for her community project, Writing as Resistance, which provides creative writing workshops for trans youth. Additionally, Clark has taught various creative writing workshops for the Porch Writer’s Collective including SLANT (Student Literary Artists of Nashville, Tennessee—a creative writing program for teens). In the fall of 2018, she will start teaching at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. Find her online at tianaclark.com.


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.