Staff List

Meet the People of Poets & Writers

ADMINISTRATION

Elliot Figman – Executive Director

As an earlier admirer of Poets & Writers, Elliot came to the organization as a volunteer in 1977. Four years later he was appointed the organization’s executive director. Elliot graduated Phi Beta Kappa with Honors in English from Oberlin College in 1971 and earned an MA in Teaching from the University of Massachusetts in 1972. He has served on the Board of Directors of Oberlin College and The Corlears School. An accomplished poet, his book, Big Spring, was published by Four Way Books in 2003.

Melissa Ford Gradel, CFRE – Managing Director

Melissa joined the Poets & Writers staff in January 2010, bringing fifteen years of experience as a development director and consultant to a range of arts and cultural organizations. Early in her career, she assisted P&W in writing the initial grant proposals for pw.org. Melissa holds a BFA from New York University. She is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals and a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE), and completed a certificate course in Management & Supervision at the Support Center for Nonprofit Management. She is a beekeeper, gardener, sailor, and an avid reader.

William F. Hayes – Director of Finance and Accounting

Bill has been controller of Poets & Writers since 1999. He has been involved in the media industry for the past twenty-five years. Prior to joining Poets & Writers, Bill served as the controller of the Talman Company, a small press publisher and distributor located in New York City. Bill has also held the position of assistant to the treasurer/controller of Tele-Communications, Inc. (TCI), and controller of United Artists Cablesystems, Inc., eastern division. He is a graduate of Rutgers University’s CPA emphasis program.

D. Sulaitis – Administrative Coordinator

D. has worked at Poets & Writers since 1991. Her short stories have appeared in Inkwell, New York Stories, and Painted Bride Quarterly, and one of her essays was included in My Father Married Your Mother (Norton, 2006). In 2006, D. won the Boston Review’s annual fiction contest, and she has been a finalist in both the New Letters and Zoetrope fiction contests, and for the Flannery O’Connor award for a collection of short stories. She is the recipient of two fiction fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, and holds a BA in English/Creative Writing from the University of Hartford.

Rachel Schuder – Senior Manager, Development & Marketing

Rachel joined Poets & Writers in 2011 with significant experience in the non-profit arts sector. Previously she worked for the Creative Capital Foundation and the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, both artist-service organizations. Rachel is a visual artist and holds a BA in Studio Art from Bowdoin College and an MFA from Hunter College. She has received fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Bronx Museum's Artist in the Marketplace program, and Skowhegan. Her work has been shown her work in museums, galleries, and alternative spaces in New York City, Boston, Provincetown, Seattle, and Mexico City.

Soraya Membreno – Development & Marketing Associate

Soraya joined Poets & Writers in 2013 after having worked with Cave Canem and LouderARTS. A member of the Williams College class of 2012, she graduated with honors in English for her undergraduate thesis creating a critical framework for the spectrum of performance in American poetry. Originally from the sunniest of states, Soraya now lives in Brooklyn, where she can be found wandering around the park waiting for summer.

Paul Vargas – Staff Accountant

Paul joined Poets & Writers in July, 2013. A graduate of Bennington College and a lifelong resident of Brooklyn, New York, Paul has eight years of prior finance and accounting experience in the non-profit sector. This includes a two-year stint at Aperture Foundation, an organization and publisher devoted to the advancement of photography. He will argue on behalf of self-publishing to anyone who isn’t tired of hearing it, and spends his off-hours developing ideas for films, writing poetry, and editing the novels of writers much more innovative than he.

EDITORIAL

Kevin Larimer – Editor in Chief 

Kevin has been with Poets & Writers since 1999; he became editor in 2009. He holds a degree in journalism and received his MFA in poetry from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where he was the poetry editor of the Iowa Review. He has also been the sports editor of a daily newspaper, an editorial assistant for a science book publisher, and a proofreader for a university press. His poems have appeared in Fence, Pleiades, Verse, and a dozen other literary magazines. He has written book reviews for American Letters & Commentary, American Book Review, Chelsea, and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

William Smyth – Production Editor

With years of experience in national consumer magazines, newspapers, trade publications, and web editing, William joined the Poets & Writers staff in October 2012. He is an editor by trade and holds a BA in English from the State University at Buffalo and is certified in all Adobe desktop publishing platforms. After growing up on Long Island and living in Manhattan for many years, William now resides in lower Westchester County with his wife and daughter, while dreaming of one day moving them all back to the city he loves.

Melissa Faliveno – Associate Editor

Melissa was Poets & Writers’ 2011 Diana & Simon Raab Editorial Fellow before joining the staff full-time in 2012. She received a BA in English and creative writing from the University of Wisconsin and an MFA in creative nonfiction writing from Sarah Lawrence College. She has worked as both an editorial assistant for a major fiction publisher and an editor for a small nonfiction press based in the Midwest. She is also a freelance writer and book reviewer, and has taught creative writing to high school students and incarcerated men in New York City. Her fiction and nonfiction has appeared in DIAGRAM, Din, Isthmus, and Lumina. She lives in Brooklyn, where she plays in a rock band and is at work on a collection of essays.

Dana Isokawa – Assistant Editor

Dana joined the Poets & Writers staff in 2013. She is from the California Bay Area, where she previously worked at the Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit that runs Wikipedia. She graduated cum laude from Princeton University with a BA in philosophy and creative writing. She is currently pursuing her MFA in poetry at New York University as the Fromer Fellow, and works as the Interviews Editor for the graduate literary journal Washington Square. She lives in Brooklyn.

Caroline Davidson – Editorial Assistant

Caroline joined Poets & Writers in October 2014. She holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Colorado-Boulder with an emphasis in poetry. Caroline’s poetry, book reviews, travel articles, and lyric essays have appeared in Coconut Poetry, Sixth Finch, The Volta, Tinge, Bayou Magazine, Matador Network, RealPoetik, and elsewhere. She has taught creative writing, worked in music marketing, and performed as a vocalist and keyboardist in various bands. Originally from Ohio, Caroline is happily no longer land-locked. She lives in Brooklyn.

Jessica Kashiwabara – Associate Web Editor

Jessica joined Poets & Writers in May 2014. She received her BA from the University of California in San Diego, studying Human Development and Literature Writing, and has lived in New York City since 2000. She has worked in online media for Spin, CNET, and most recently the Child Mind Institute, a nonprofit for children's mental health. She was selected to participate in the JET Programme in 2007, teaching English in Japan. Jessica has trained in the martial art of Shorinji Kempo for many years and enjoys performing and writing music, photography, and comedy.

Nicole Reinhardt – Online Editorial Assistant

Nicole joined the Poets & Writers staff in April 2014. She received her BA from Sarah Lawrence College, concentrating in writing and philosophy, and her MS in Publishing and Digital Media from New York University. She has worked at Rolling Stone, and helped launch the online marketplace Straw & Gold. Born in Brooklyn with a curious soul, Nicole is always in search of a good adventure and has a great passion for music. She has read her poems at Sarah Lawrence College and Brooklyn Poets Yawp, and is currently working on a collection of short stories.

ADVERTISING

Tim O'Sullivan – Associate Publisher

Tim joined Poets & Writers in 2008. He has published novel excerpts in A Public Space, one of which was re-published in the 2012 Pushcart Prize Anthology; another excerpt received special mention in the 2008 Pushcart Prize Anthology. He has been a Teaching-Writing Fellow at the Iowa Writers' Workshop, an Emerging Writer Fellow at the Center for Fiction, and a Residential Fellow at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and the MacDowell Colony. He is at work on a novel.

Jessica Lanay Moore – Advertising Coordinator

Jessica Lanay joined P&W's Advertising team in October of 2013. She brings to the position eclectic professional experience in art history, creative writing, graphic design, and marketing. A lover of social media and clean design, Jessica Lanay is also an arts writer for Stark Life Digital Culture Magazine in her free time. Educated at Agnes Scott College and the University of Wisconsin - Madison, Jessica Lanay has also lived and studied in Brazil and Mexico. She loves traveling, design, typography, and macaroni and cheese.

Amy Feltman – Advertising Assistant

Amy Feltman joined Poets & Writers' staff in June 2014. She holds a BA from Vassar College and is a candidate for an MFA in fiction from Columbia University. In 2013, she received a Columbia University Teaching Fellowship. She has written book reviews for Publishers Weekly and has been published in Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art. In the past, she has worked for A Public Space and Random House Films. She is currently working on her first novel.

READINGS & WORKSHOPS (EAST)

Bonnie Rose Marcus – Director of Readings & Workshops (East) and the Writers Exchange

Bonnie joined Poets & Writers in July 2000, bringing more than twenty years of experience in the field of arts education. Bonnie has conducted theatre and writing workshops at numerous community-based organizations in New York City and created a model program, Project VIP (Voice, Identity, Power), a theatre writing initiative for adolescent girls, which continues at New Settlement Apartments in the Bronx. A writer and performer, Bonnie has presented her poetry at a variety of venues in New York City including  ABC No Rio, Boricua College, Cornelia Street Cafe,  Playwright's Horizon, Two Moon Art, and Night and Day Cafe. She has also presented her poetry at the Third Midwest Literary Walk, in Michigan, Split This Rock Festival in Washington, D.C, and at the New Mexico Poetry Convention. Her theatre credits include a three and a half year run in the Off Broadway show, Tony ‘n Tina’s Wedding. Bonnie's book of poetry, The Luminosity, was released in June 2013 with 3: A Taos Press.

Lynne Connor – Program Assistant, Readings & Workshops (East)

Lynne Connor holds an MFA in creative writing from Mills College with an emphasis in creative non-fiction. She’s been published in Kartika Review, Gazillion Voices Magazine, and Adoption Today Magazine. In November 2012, Lynne founded Lost Lit, a literary arts space that hosts creative writing workshops using the Amherst Writers & Artists method and arts events with Grumpy Bert in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn. Currently, Lynne has a love hate relationship with her memoir Abandon Me and hopes to return to her YA fiction manuscript—someday.  She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and furry son, Remy-the-Pug.

READINGS & WORKSHOPS (WEST) and CALIFORNIA OFFICE

Jamie Asaye FitzGerald – Director, California Office and Readings & Workshops (West)

Jamie has worked for Poets & Writers since 2005. While an undergraduate at the University of Southern California, she received an Academy of American Poets College Prize and the Edward W. Moses Poetry Prize. She has taught creative writing, composition, and literature at San Diego State University where she received an MFA in poetry. She also has extensive experience as a copywriter. Her poetry has appeared in Ariel, Fulcrum, LORE, Poetic Diversity, Speechless, and Snow Monkey, as well as the King County Poetry on the Buses Project. Jamie is originally from Hawaii.

Brandi M. Spaethe – Program Assistant, Readings & Workshops (West)

Brandi M. Spaethe received her MFA in poetry from Fresno State where she worked for The Normal School and The Philip Levine Prize in Poetry. Her poems have appeared in CRATE, Off the Rocks: An Anthology of GLBT Writing, American Athenaeum, and Slipstream, to name a few. Her chapbook, To You Who Wants In, was released in December 2012. Brandi received the 2012 C.G. Hanzlicek Poetry Writing Fellowship and was a poetry fellow in the 2013 Lambda Literary Foundation's Emerging Writer's Retreat. Her passions lie in writing about the queer community and wandering the deserts of Southern California. She interned with Poets & Writers, and then joined the staff in 2014.

INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY AND WEB DEVELOPMENT

Jason Chapman – Director, Information Technology and Web Development

Jason has worked in the IT industry for over twenty years, and joined Poets & Writers in 1997. His diverse experiences include mainframe operations for the Georgia Institute of Technology, application development for a military contractor, and Web development for a variety of businesses. He is also the author of the novel, The Heretic, an early success in the still-developing arena of electronic publishing.

GALEN WILLIAMS FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM, 2013-14

Jerriod Avant – McCrindle Foundation Online Editorial Fellow

Wo Chan – McCrindle Foundation R&W Fellow

Nick Narbutas – Diana & Simon Raab Editorial Fellow

Current Issue

Cover Story 

Our Independent Publishing Issue features an in-depth interview with Graywolf Press editor Jeff Shotts; a look at the successful partnerships of eleven small-press authors and their editors; a profile of indie essayist Charles D'Ambrosio; Donald Hall recalls a golden age of American poetry; best-selling author Miranda Beverly-Whittemore on the rewards of self-promotion; advice for self-published authors; a conversation with Guernica publisher Lisa Lucas; and much more.

Finding Gems in Lost & Found

by Rebecca Bates

News and Trends

Posted 10.15.14

November/December 2014

The Center for Humanities at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City is making the ephemeral more tangible through its Lost & Found chapbook series.

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Let's Just Do This: Eleven Small-Press Authors and their Publishing Partners

by Kevin Larimer

Special Section

Posted 10.15.14

November/December 2014

Eleven small-press authors and their publishing partners discuss the independent approach—and all the passion, commitment, and love that comes with it—to bringing books into the world.

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Agents & Editors: Jeff Shotts

by Michael Szczerban

Special Section

Posted 10.15.14

November/December 2014

Graywolf Press executive editor Jeff Shotts discusses the power of patience in publishing, editing as an act of empathy, and why it’s an exciting time to be a poet.

More