Building Community Through the Arts

Creative Nonfiction Writers Conference Faculty Bios and Photos

Rahne Alexander | Michelle Blankenship | Priya Doraswamy | Taylor Harris | Donna Kaz | Vanessa Mártir | Nayt Rundquist | Pramila Venkateswaran

Author Rahne Alexander

Rahne Alexander (Author, Craft Workshop) is an interdisciplinary artist and writer from Baltimore. She is an alum of the Intermedia + Digital Arts MFA at UMBC and a 2021 Baker Artist Awardee. Her OutWrite award-winning essay chapbook, Heretic to Housewife(Neon Hemlock, 2019) is currently in its second printing. Rahne is a regular contributor to BmoreArt and jennifer magazine, and she has contributed to numerous anthologies, including the Lambda Literary Award-winning Take Me There: Trans and Genderqueer Erotica (Cleis, 2011). More at

Publicist Michelle Blankenship

Michelle Blankenship (Publicist) Since 1997, Michelle Blankenship has advocated tirelessly for books to the media. Her in-house career spanned 16 years, working at John Wiley & Sons, Picador USA, Harcourt Trade Publishers, and Bloomsbury specializing in literary fiction, poetry, and a variety of non-fiction topics (current events, international affairs, politics, history, science, medical, art, fashion, memoir, etc.). Her former in-house authors include Günter Grass, Jesmyn Ward, Wisława Szymborska, Umberto Eco, Kaye Gibbons, Roger Angell, Charles Simic, Ursula K. Le Guin, Rory Stewart, and several others. During her time as an in-house publicist, she served as Director of Publicity for Harcourt and as an Associate Director of Publicity at Bloomsbury. In April of 2013, she founded Blankenship PR and has worked with an impressive roster of authors, including Jesmyn Ward, Rebecca Walker, Eimear McBride, Barney Frank, Martha S. Jones, James Forman, Jr., Sherrod Brown, and Mitchell S. Jackson.

Priya Doraswamy

Priya Doraswamy‘s love for books, people, and background in law makes her career as a literary agent the perfect fit for her passions and talents. Priya enjoys working with publishers and writers from around the world. Although physically in New Jersey, her work hours are zone-free. She does admit to occasionally losing track of time zones and waking a writer with an early morning phone call. Priya is drawn to all genre of fiction and nonfiction. Prior to her agency career, she was a practicing lawyer in New Jersey. Originally from Bangalore, India, Priya immigrated to the New York area many moons ago. For a period of time she relocated with her family to Singapore, and there began her career as a literary agent. She founded Lotus Lane Literary in May 2013 and continues her journey with writers and publishers.

Author Taylor Harris

Taylor Harris (Author) is a writer, wife, and mom to three who lives in Charlottesville, Virginia. Her work has appeared in TIME, O Quarterly, The Washington Post, Longreads, The Cut, Romper, Parents, McSweeney’s, and other publications. Her debut memoir, This Boy We Made, was published by Catapult in January, 2022.

Author Donna Kaz

Donna Kaz (Author, Workshop Mentor, Conference Director) is a multi-genre writer and the author of “UN/MASKED, Memoirs of a Guerrilla Girl On Tour.” She has been published in Variety, Theatre Topics, Ms. Magazine, Bitch Media, Bust, Alternet, Role Reboot, Stonecoast Review, Crab Orchard Review, The Dramatist, Ful Art magazine, Girl Drive Blog, Lilith, The Sun, Gagibi, Levitate, Gender Across Borders and Women in Hollywood. She is a currently a research fellow at Winterthur in the US and the director of the Kaz Conference Writing Workshop. @donnakaz

Author Vanessa Martir

Vanessa Mártir (Author, Craft Workshop) has been widely published, including in The NY Times, The Washington Post, Longreads, The Guardian, The Rumpus, Bitch Magazine, and the NYTimes Bestseller Not That Bad, edited by Roxane Gay. She is the recipient of the 2021 Letras Boricuas Fellowship, funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Flaboyan Foundation’s Arts Fund; a 2019 Bronx Recognizes Its Own (BRIO) Award in Creative Nonfiction; a 2019 AWP Kurt Brown Award in Creative Nonfiction; and a 2013 Jerome Foundation Award. Vanessa is the creator of the Writing Our Lives Workshop and the Writing the Mother Wound movement. She has partnered with Tin House and The Rumpus to publish WOL alumni, and with Longreads and NYU’s Latinx Project to publish Mother Wound essays. She has also served as guest editor of Aster(ix) and The James Franco Review.

Nayt Rundquist

Nayt Rundquist (they/them) is Managing Editor of New Rivers Press and teaches publishing, creative writing, and literature courses at Minnesota State University Moorhead. Their writing can be found in The Citron Review, X-R-A-Y Lit Mag, Up North Lit, and Etchings, and forthcoming in Unbound: Composing Home. They live with their artist-jeweler wife and their two dogs.

Venkateswaran headshot

Pramila Venkateswaran, (Author, Workshop Mentor) is the poet laureate of Suffolk County, Long Island (2013-15) and co-director of Matwaala: South Asian Diaspora Poetry Festival, is the author of Thirtha (Yuganta Press, 2002) Behind Dark Waters (Plain View Press, 2008), Draw Me Inmost (Stockport Flats, 2009), Trace (Finishing Line Press, 2011), Thirteen Days to Let Go (Aldrich Press, 2015), Slow Ripening (Local Gems, 2016), and The Singer of Alleppey (Shanti Arts, 2018). She has performed the poetry internationally, including at the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival and the Festival Internacional De Poesia De Granada. An award winning poet, she teaches English and Women’s Studies at Nassau Community College, New York. Author of numerous essays on poetics as well as creative non-fiction, she is also the 2011 Walt Whitman Birthplace Association Long Island Poet of the Year. She leads writing workshops for breast cancer patients in their healing journey. She is a founding member of Women Included, a transnational feminist association and the current President of NOW Suffolk, Long Island.

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