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Storyfort 2020 Storytellers

Storyfort 2020 will inspire you with a variety of writers, poets, and storytellers.


Authors that will be attending Storyfort 2020 include poet + cultural critic Hanif Abdurraqib, novelist + short story writer Lydia Fitzpatrick, novelist + journalist Julia Claiborne Johnson, poet Eloisa Amezcua, novelist + short story writer Jennifer Haigh, poet + spoken word artist Olivia Gatwood, novelist Brandon Hobson, poet Andrea Gibson, musician and author Michelle Zauner, and queer poet + podcaster Fran Tirado.


We’ve added more artists to the Storyfort 2020 lineup: novelist + essayist Kristen Arnett, screenplay + television writer Chris Marcil, novelist Jonathan Evison, short story writer Xuan Juliana Wang, novelist + musician Nick Jaina, poet Lyd Havens, novelist + short story writer Mary Pauline Lowry, essayist Quinn Grover, true crime memoirist + poet J Reuben Appelman, and true crime writer James Renner!


Storyfort 2020 will also include historical fiction novelist Carrie Callaghan, poet + essayist Matthew Babcock, poet Ben Chappell, poet Russell Simone Wilson, Alex Dimitrov from The Astro-Poets, poet C. Marie Fuhrman, Boise State University president Dr. Marlene Tromp, author + social critic Kevin Allred, fiction writer Anne Kilfoyle, and poet Alfredo Ocaranza Gonzalez.


Storyfort is all ages and open to the public. There are Storyfort events every day of Treefort 2020 (March 25th-29th).

Read about some of this year’s writers below.


( columbus, ohio )
Hanif Abdurraqib is a poet, essayist, and cultural critic from Columbus, Ohio. His poetry has been published in Muzzle, Vinyl, PEN American, and various other journals. His essays and music criticism have been published in The FADER, Pitchfork, The New Yorker, and The New York Times. His first full length poetry collection, The Crown Ain’t Worth Much, was released in June 2016 from Button Poetry. It was named a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Prize, and was nominated for a Hurston-Wright Legacy Award. He released Go Ahead In The Rain: Notes To A Tribe Called Quest with University of Texas press in February 2019. The book became a New York Times Bestseller, and was met with critical acclaim. His second collection of poems, A Fortune For Your Disaster, is being released by Tin House Books in September 2019.




( boulder, colorado )
In a fierce oscillation between activism and love, Andrea Gibson‘s newest literary triumph, Lord of the Butterflies, is a masterful showcase from the renowned poet whose writing and performances have captured the hearts of millions. An artful and nuanced look at gender, romance, loss, and family, this is also a book of protest. While rioting against gun violence, homophobia, and white supremacy, Gibson celebrates gender expansion, queer love, and the will to stay alive. Each emotion in Lord of the Butterflies is deft and delicate, resting within imagery heavy enough to sink the heart, while giving the body wings to soar.

Winner of the first ever Women of the World Poetry Slam in 2008, Andrea Gibson remains one of the most captivating performers in the spoken word poetry scene today.




( orlando, florida )
Kristen Arnett is the New York Times bestselling author of the debut novel Mostly Dead Things (Tin House, 2019). She is a queer fiction and essay writer. She was awarded Ninth Letter’s Literary Award in Fiction and is a columnist for Literary Hub. Her work has appeared at The New York Times, Guernica, Buzzfeed, McSweeneys, PBS Newshour, The Guardian, Salon, and elsewhere.

Her story collection, Felt in the Jaw, was published by Split Lip Press and was awarded the 2017 Coil Book Award. She is a Spring 2020 Shearing Fellow at Black Mountain Institute. Her next two books (Samson: A Novel and With Foxes: Stories) will be published by Riverhead Books. You can find her on Twitter here: @Kristen_Arnett



( santa cruz, california )
Olivia Gatwood has received international recognition for her poetry, performances, and work as an educator in sexual assault prevention and recovery. As a spoken word poet, performer and educator, Olivia’s work has lived on a myriad of stages—first poetry slams, then YouTube videos, then lecture halls, bookstores and now, music venues. In her first, full-length collection of poems, LIFE OF THE PARTY, she confronts what it means to be a woman in a society obsessed with women’s death.

She is the author of the poetry chapbook New American Best Friend and has had her work featured on MTV, HBO, and the BBC, among others. Her poems have appeared in such publications as Muzzle, Winter Tangerine, Poetry City, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, and The Missouri Review. She is from Albuquerque, New Mexico.




( las cruces, new mexico )
Brandon Hobson is the author of, most recently, Where the Dead Sit Talking, which was a finalist for the National Book Award, a finalist for the St. Francis College Literary Prize, and Winner of the Reading the West Award. His writing has received a Pushcart Prize and has appeared in such places as The Believer, Conjunctions, NOON, Publisher’s Weekly, and elsewhere. Ecco/Harpercollins will publish his new novel next year.

He is currently an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at New Mexico State University and also teaches creative writing in the MFA Program at the Institute of American Indian Arts. Hobson is an enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation Tribe of Oklahoma.




( los angeles, california )
Fran Tirado is a writer and speaker on all things queer. He’s also the host of Food 4 Thot and other queer podcasts, a strategist behind Pride campaigns, the former deputy editor at Out, and executive editor of Hello Mr. He currently makes queer shit happen at Netflix and is generally very loud on Twitter and Instagram.

Last year, Fran quit his full-time ad job to put full-time efforts into writing, editing, researching, documenting, convening, and uplifting the lives of queer people. Fran has been invited to speak at establishments like Juilliard, Harvard, Yale, Vassar, and for companies like Urban Outfitters, Buzzfeed, NYC Pride, Out in Tech, and Instagram. He is also hired to write, create content, and develop experiences for brands like Airbnb, Ace Hotel, Cadillac, Nike, The Standard, HBO, Banana Republic, Express, Sephora, Truth, Squarespace, Indigo Hotel Group, and The Jane Goodall Institute.



( boston, massachussetts )
Jennifer Haigh’s novel Heat and Light won a Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and was named a Best Book of 2016 by the New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and NPR.

Previous books include Faith, The Condition, Baker Towers and Mrs. Kimble, winner of the PEN/Hemingway Award, and the story collection News From Heaven, winner of the Massachusetts Book Award and the PEN New England Award in Fiction. Her short fiction was first published in The Idaho Review and has since appeared in The Atlantic, Granta, The Best American Short Stories and many other places.




( los angeles, california )
Julia Claiborne Johnson grew up on a farm in Tennessee, lived and wrote for magazines in New York City for many years and now lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two children.

Her first novel, Be Frank with Me, was a Los Angeles Times bestseller, as well as one of six finalists chosen by the American Booksellers Association for Best Debut of 2016, and was recently a #1 bestseller in Humorous Literary Fiction on Amazon. Be Frank also won an Audie Award for Best Female Narrator from the American Audio Publishers Association.

She has just finished her second novel. Even so, none of this seems very real to her.




( los angeles, california )
Lydia Fitzpatrick’s work has appeared in The O. Henry Prize Stories, The Best American Mystery Stories, One Story, Glimmer Train, and elsewhere. She was a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, a fiction fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a recipient of an Elizabeth George Foundation Grant.

She graduated from Princeton University and received an MFA from the University of Michigan. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two daughters. Lights All Night Long (Penguin Press) is her first novel, and is a Winter/Spring 2019 Indies Introduce selection and an April Indie Next List pick from American Booksellers Association.




( philadelphia, pennsylvania )
Much of 2018 saw Michelle Zauner on the road, further honing her live show and performing for massive audiences. All the while, she kept busy — not only as Japanese Breakfast, but as Michelle Zauner: video game composer, prolific music video director, and author.

Between tours, studio sessions, and video shoots, Zauner has long been working on a memoir of her early childhood, time spent between the U.S. and South Korea, and the split heritage that has shaped so much of her life. An excerpt from that book, Crying in H-Mart, was published in The New Yorker at the end of 2018. A reflection on grief and a tribute to both biracial and immigrant families, Zauner’s essay is full of beautifully rendered, heartbreaking detail. The full book, also titled Crying in H-Mart, will be released via Knopf.




( columbus, ohio )
Eloisa Amezcua is from Arizona. Her debut collection, From the Inside Quietly, is the inaugural winner of the Shelterbelt Poetry Prize selected by Ada Limón.

A MacDowell fellow, she is the author of three chapbooks and founder/editor-in-chief of The Shallow Ends: A Journal of Poetry.

Her poems and translations are published in New York Times Magazine, Poetry Magazine, Kenyon Review, Gulf Coast, and others. Eloisa’s second collection of poems, Fighting Is Like a Wife, is forthcoming from Coffee House Press.

She is the founder of Costura Creative and lives in Columbus, OH.




( los angeles, california )
Xuan Juliana Wang was born in Heilongjiang, China, and moved to Los Angeles when she was seven years old. A Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, she received her MFA from Columbia University. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, Ploughshares, The Best American Nonrequired Reading and the Pushcart Prize Anthology. Her debut collection of short stories, Home Remedies, was published in 2019 and hailed as the arrival of ‘an urgent and necessary literary voice’ by Alexander Chee, and ‘tough and luminous’ by The New York Times Book Review. Home Remedies was named as one of the Most Anticipated Books of 2019 by Nylon, Electric Literature, The Millions, and LitHub, and one of the Best Books of the Season by Elle, Publishers Weekly, The Daily Beast, and New York Observer. She currently teaches creative writing at UCLA.



( boise, idaho )
Mary Pauline Lowry‘s novel The Roxy Letters will be published by Simon & Schuster in April 2020. She is the author of the novel Wildfire. A native Austinite, she has an MFA from Boise State University and is a regular contributor to O Magazine. Her work has also appeared in The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, The Millions, and other publications.

Joy Williams, author of The Quick and the Dead, said of Lowry’s The Roxy Letters, “Naughty, effervescent fun. A novel abounding in dauschunds, tweakers, real fulfillment centers, aisles of strange beer, and shrines to Venus (they work!). Roxy rocks Austin. And rights the world.”



( fairlawn, ohio )
James Renner is the author of True Crime Addict and host of Discovery ID’s “Lake Erie’s Coldest Cases.” He performs a true crime standup routine about his misadventures as a journalist trying to solve mysteries. You can find his podcast, The Philosophy of Crime, on your favorite streaming platform.

James Renner is mostly known for his true-crime journalism. As a reporter for Cleveland Scene, he uncovered new clues and suspects in the cold-case murder of Amy Mihaljevic. His work led to the successful closure of the Tina Harmon case in 2009. He spent months researching the Amanda Berry and Gina DeJesus abductions when the girls were still missing and is haunted by the fact that he had Castro’s name in his notes. His true crime writing has been featured in the Best American Crime Reporting anthology.



( bainbridge, washington )
Jonathan Evison is the New York Times Bestselling author of All About Lulu, West of Here, The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, This is Your Life, Harriet Chance! and Lawn Boy. School Library Journal called Lawn Boy “Eminently readable and deeply thought-provoking, Evison’s deceptively simple novel takes on tough issues such as race, sexual identity, and the crushing weight of American capitalism.

He has written for The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, NPR, and Salon. His work, often distinguished by its emotional resonance and offbeat humor, has been compared by critics to a variety of authors, most notably J.D. Salinger, Charles Dickens, T.C. Boyle, and John Irving. Sherman Alexie has called Evison the most honest white man alive.



( boise, idaho )
J. Reuben Appelman’s true-crime memoir, The Kill Jar, was published by Simon & Schuster in 2018 and inspired the Investigation Discovery television series, Children of the Snow, with Appelman serving as on-camera investigator and Executive Producer (Hulu, 2019).

Appelman has written for a variety of film projects including the Netflix-streamed documentaries, Jens Pulver: Driven and Playground, produced by George Clooney and Steven Soderbergh. He hosts the true-crime podcast, You Know They Know: The Oakland County Child Killer, and is at work on a crime drama for television.



( los angeles, california )
As part of a writing team with Sam Johnson, Chris Marcil has written for some of the most notable TV comedies of the past 25 years, including “Beavis and Butt-head,” “NewsRadio,” “Frasier,” “How I Met Your Mother,” and “What We Do In The Shadows.” They were showrunners of TV Land’s “Hot In Cleveland” and wrote the pilot to the animated show “Daria.” Chris has contributed humor pieces to McSweeney’s, The New Republic, and The New York Times.

He is married to the novelist Julia Claiborne Johnson, who is also at Storyfort, perhaps looking over your shoulder as you read this. He currently teaches television writing at the USC School of Cinematic Arts.



( boise, idaho )
Lyd Havens is a nationally touring queer poet and performer currently living in Boise, Idaho. Their work has previously been published in Winter Tangerine, Glass: a Journal of Poetry, and Tinderbox Poetry Journal, among others. The winner of the 2018 Ellipsis Poetry prize, and a 2019 Write Bloody finalist, they are the author of the chapbook I Gave Birth to All the Ghosts Here (Nostrovia! Press, 2018), as well as multiple self-published chapbooks.

Lyd is currently working towards a BFA in Creative Writing and History at Boise State University, and serves as a co-organizer for the Boise Poetry Slam. They were born on their due date, and have been intensely punctual to everything since.



( oakland, california )
Nick Jaina is an author and musician born in Sacramento and currently residing in no particular place. His first book, the memoir Get It While You Can, was a finalist for the 2016 Oregon Book Award. It is a warm, hopeful book about finding freedom and claiming it every day of your life, despite all the traps along the way.

He has been published in McSweeney’s and Atlantic Monthly. He has composed music for feature films and documentaries.

He is finishing a new novel, titled Hitomi, which will be published in early 2020. It is a gorgeous portrait of a band going through the chaos of touring the United States while breaking up and falling in love.



( rexburg, idaho )
Quinn Grover’s first book, Wilderness of Hope: Fly Fishing and Public Lands in the American West, was published by University of Nebraska Press in 2019. Quinn teaches English at BYU-Idaho and his work has appeared in literary, scholarly, and popular publications.

Longtime fly fisherman Quinn Grover had contemplated the “why” of his fishing identity before more recently becoming focused on the “how” of it. He realized he was a dedicated fly fisherman in large part because public lands and public waterways in the West made it possible. In Wilderness of Hope Grover recounts his fly-fishing experiences with a strong evocation of place, connecting those experiences to the ongoing national debate over public lands.


For full Storyfort lineup, click here.