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Words Awake!

A Celebration of Wake Forest Writers and Writing!



WORDS AWAKE2! features outstanding alumni/ae writers who will inspire in public schools, interact with fellow students, and offer wisdom and insight to all event attendees.  Scheduled to appear are:

Helen Anders (’74) is a freelance writer and editor based in Austin, Texas. A lifelong journalist, she has worked as a reporter, editor, and columnist for newspapers and magazines in Virginia, Georgia, Florida, Illinois, and Texas. She is also the author of two books: Fixin’ to be Texan and Fixin’ to Party Texas Style.

Carol Barbee (’81) is a television writer, actress, and producer. She has received acting roles on shows such as “LA Law,” “JAG,” and “Ellen,” among others. Carol wrote her first script for NBC’s “Providence” in 2001, and has since written for “Judging Amy” and “Close to Home.” She is currently an executive producer for the new Fox pilot, “Touch.”

jane-bianchi-sentJane Bianchi(’05) is a freelance magazine writer who has written, edited, and produced health-related publications in online and print forms.  In the past she has worked and written for magazines such as Seventeen, Family Circle, Good Housekeeping, Glamour, and Esquire.

Blake Brandes (’06), a Marshall Scholar, has dedicated his life to exploring the intersection of music, academics, and youth achievement. As President of Decrypt Productions LLC, Blake has produced Top 40 radio singles, in addition to being an active musician and performer of piano, rap, and beatbox. Blake has performed numerous hip-hop workshops all over the world at which he teaches young people how to beatbox and helps them create connections between their passion and their academic studies.


Emily Brewer (’98) is an author, researcher, and book designer of Legacy Storybooks.  She completed the PhD in English at UNC-CH.

 Paul Bullock (’02) is a television writer and producer. He’s worked on ABC’s “Desperate Housewives,” Syfy’s “Defiance,” Lifetime’s “Devious Maids,” and many others. He’s also a frequent contributor to Under the Radar magazine and owns an absurd number of records.

Davis Bunn (’74) is a writer of historical fiction and legal thrillers. Honored with three Christy Awards for excellence in historical and suspense fiction, his bestsellers include The Great Divide, Winner Take All, The Meeting Place, The Warning, The Book of Hours, and The Quilt. A sought-after speaker in the art of writing, Davis serves as Writer In Residence at Regent’s Park College, Oxford University.


Back cover head shotLamaya Covington Williams (’01, ’05 MALS) teaches English and writing at Forsyth Technical Community College, and is the author of Quite Happy, a collection of poems.


Steve Duin (’76, MA ’79) has been The Oregonian’s Metro columnist, a post he held for 15 years. He has twice been named the nation’s best local columnist by the Society of Professional Journalists. He has written or co-authored five books, including Comics: Between the Panels, a history of comics, and Father Time, a collection of columns on fatherhood and family.  His novel, The Less We Touch, about predatory sports coaches in Portland youth programs, was published in 2015.


Julie Dunlop (’95) teaches creative writing and English in New Mexico.  Her poetry is published regularly in JAMA and other medical periodicals. Her latest complete book of poems is Breath, Bone, Earth, Sky.

Eric Ekstrand (’07) is a poet living and working in North Carolina. His first full-length collection, Laodicea, was selected by Donald Revell for the Omnidawn 1st/2nd Book Prize.  He is the recipient of a 2009 Ruth Lilly Fellowship awarded by the Poetry Foundation and graduated with his MFA from the University of Houston in 2010. He teaches creative writing and composition at Wake Forest University.  His poems can be found in Poetry, jubilat, Black Warrior Review, Indiana Review, Bat City Review, and elsewhere.

Laura Elliott (’79) is the author of young adult historical novels, including Under a War-Torn Sky, A Troubled Peace, and Flying South, which won the Joan G. Sugarman Children’s Literature Award.  Elliott has authored four picture books with New York Times best-selling illustrator, Lynn Munsinger. A long-time writer for The Washingtonian magazine, Elliott was twice a finalist for the National Magazine Award.  Her latest work, DaVinci’s Tiger, imagines the life of Leonardo DaVinci’s first portraiture muse.

Brent Filson (’61) is an award-winning novelist/playwright/leadership authority who has published 23 books: children’s, young adult, adult; fiction and non-fiction. His publishers include Doubleday, Houghton Mifflin, John Wiley, Scholastic, Simon & Schuster, and The Dial Press. His play On A Cambodian Highway ran at Clay Stevenson’s Third World Theater in New York.  A folk musical, The Great High Wind, has been produced by Glenn Carlson of One Act Audio Theater in San Francisco (and may head to Broadway).  His book, Executive Speeches: 51 CEOs Tell You How To Do Yours, has been called “a classic” by the Public Relations Journal and is being used in many educational venues worldwide.  His leadership book,The Leadership Talk, was a national finalist for the Independent Book Publishers Association and won “Best Personal Growth Book of the Year” awarded by the San Francisco Independent Publisher Association.  His children’s book, Yagua Days, co-authored with his wife, won a Special Award from the Council on Interracial Books for Children.   As founder and president of The Filson Leadership Group, Inc., he has published six books on leadership methodologies, six study guides, and hundreds of articles.  He has been on more than 150 radio/tv programs talking about his special leadership vision.

Matt Gallagher (’05) joined the U.S. Army in 2005 and received a commission in the armored cavalry. Following a fifteen-month deployment in Iraq, Gallagher left the army and now lives in New York City, where he works at Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America (IAVA) as a Senior Fellow. He published his war memoir, Kaboom, in 2010, and is an MFA candidate at Columbia University. His Youngblood:  A Novel will be published in April, 2016.

 Daveed Gartenstein-Ross (’98) is a counter-terrorism expert and attorney whose writing has appeared in Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, Reader’s Digest, and The Wall Street Journal Europe, among others. He is the Vice President of Research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and the author of My Year Inside Radical Islam. Daveed’s most recent book, Bin Laden’s Legacy, examines the evolution of al Qaeda’s strategy.

Joy Goodwin (’95) is the author of The Second Mark, a Sports Illustrated Best Book of the Year and a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. Her nonfiction and criticism have appeared in The New York times, The New Yorker, The Village Voice, The New York Sun, Elle, among others. A television and film producer, her credits include an Emmy award and six independent films. Joy also writes screenplays, including the forthcoming adaptation of Intruder in the Dust.

Maria Henson (’82) has served as a general assignment reporter, statehouse reporter, Washington correspondent, editorial writer, assistant managing editor and deputy editorial page editor from North Carolina to California and many states in between. She won the 1992 Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing and, while at The Sacramento Bee, edited the series about Yosemite National Park that won a 2005 Pulitzer Prize. In 2010, she returned to her alma mater where she oversees the Wake Forest Magazine and teaches Journalism.  She will be inducted into the Wake Forest University Writers Hall of Fame in 2016.

Trice Hickman (MALS ’98) is a self-proclaimed Southern girl and an award-winning, bestselling author. Trice’s love of reading and the power she recognized in the written word inspired her to become a writer. After receiving rejection letters from every agent and publisher she submitted her work to, Trice was determined to bring her stories to life. She self-published her first three novels to great success and shortly thereafter, landed a multi-book deal with Kensington Publishing Co. (Dafina Books) where she is currently published. Her 8th, novel, Deadly Satisfaction, released January 2016. Learn more about Trice at


Candide Jones (’72, MA ’78) has published In the Tree-Tops:  A New Lullaby (illustrations by Steve Emery).  Candide served as manager of the Wake Forest University Press for thirty years.

Malcolm Jones (’74) writes about books, music, and photography for The Daily Beast and Newsweek. He is the author of a memoir, The Little Boy Blues, and collaborated with the songwriter and composer Van Dyke Parks and the illustrator Barry Moser on Jump!, a retelling of Brer Rabbit stories.

Helen Losse (MALS ’00) is a Winston-Salem poet, the author of two full-length books, Seriously Dangerous and Better with Friends, and two chapbooks. Helen’s poems have been nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize and three times for a Best of the Net award. Helen, a former English teacher, is the Poetry Editor for the online literary magazine The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature.

Clint McCown (’74) is the only two-time winner of the American Fiction Prize. He has written three novels and recently completed a fourth, Haints. Clint has also published three volumes of poetry and received the Academy of American Poets Prize, among other honors. In journalism, he received the Associated Press Award for Documentary Excellence. He has worked with HBO Television, Warner Bros., and the National Shakespeare Company. Clint currently directs the creative writing program at Virginia Commonwealth University.


Aimee Mepham grew up in Dearborn, Michigan. She holds a BA in English from Albion College and an MFA in Creative Writing from Washington University in St. Louis. She has taught creative writing workshops at Indiana University, Washington University in St. Louis, Salem College, and Wake Forest University. Her work has appeared in Meridian, River Styx, Opium Magazine, and Pinball Magazine, and has been performed twice by Liars’ League NYC. She is currently the Program Coordinator for the Humanities Institute at Wake Forest University.


joan mitchellJoan Mitchell earned her doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction in Secondary English from the University of Alabama and currently serves as an adjunct professor of English Education at Wake Forest University. After completing her MAEd in English Education at Wake Forest, she taught a diverse group of North Carolina and Colorado students in courses ranging from regular English 9 to AP Literature. Her research focus is the pedagogy of revision and its impact on student writing. She is co-author of the English Education textbook Bridging English and a regular presenter at both NCTE’s and the North Carolina English Teachers Association’s annual conferences. Her presentations and articles have examined topics such as mentoring pre-service teachers, examining inequities in students’ opportunity to learn, embracing Young Adult literature, and revitalizing nonfiction in the classroom.

Elizabeth Norfleet (’85) is a magazine editor, cookbook editor and writer, and regional critic on food and home style.  She has collaborated with the North Carolina Museum of Art and with artist Bob Timberlake.

Temple Northup (’99) is the Director of the Jack J. Valenti School of Communication at the University of Houston. He is also the Co-Director of the Gulf Coast Food Project—an interdisciplinary project that promotes the study of food in the Texas Gulf Coast region—for which he oversees the production of the documentary films and multimedia stories. Temple’s research broadly seeks to understand how the media can influence our attitudes and behaviors and has been published in a wide array of respected journals, including Media Psychology and Applied Cognitive Psychology. Popular with the media, he is a regular guest on Houston Matters and his research has been featured everywhere from the Los Angeles Times to USA Today. Temple has also made an in-studio appearance in New York City as a guest on the nationally televised Fox & Friends. Before coming to UH, Temple worked in Los Angeles as a sitcom writer and was part of over 180 episodes of primetime television.


Diana Peacock (’98) is Senior Vice President of FirstBook, Inc., of Washington, DC, one of the largest non-profit distributors of books and other needed educational and public health items to pre-school, primary, and middle school children in the United States.  FirstBook works especially with Title I schools and school systems.

Mike Riley (’81) is CEO and Publisher of the Chronicle of Higher Education.  Prior to that position, he was Managing Editor of Bloomberg Government, the Editor and Senior Vice President of Congressional Quarterly, and the Editor of The Roanoke Times. He created and launched, a leading political Internet site founded by TIME Magazine and CNN. Riley spent a Nieman Fellowship at Harvard University learning about digital technology and the online world.

Gail Segal (’74) is a writer, filmmaker, and teacher. Her film work includes the Peabody Award winning documentary, Arguing the World, (Co-Prod.) and a 15-part PBS television series The Shakespeare Hour. The documentary short, Soapy (producer/director) aired on the PBS series Southern Lens. Recent films include Meanwhile in Turkey, a documentary about the agency of women artisans during contemporary political unrest in Turkey and the award winning narrative short, Filigrane, set in the Empty Quarter of the UAE. Her published writing includes the essay, “A Praise of Doubt,” anthologized in the book entitled, Artistic Citizenship: A Public Voice for the Arts and two collections of poetry: In Gravity’s Pull (2002) and The Discreet Charm of Prime Numbers (2013).  Translations of Italian poet, Alfredo de Palchi appear in his collected works, Paradigm and in the FSG Book of Twentieth Century Italian Poetry. For 20 years Gail has been training young directors in the Graduate Division of Film and Television at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.

Carter Smith (’99) is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Writing Program at Wake Forest. His poems have appeared in Pleiades, cream city review, Pequod, and elsewhere. His book Rounds was published earlier this year.


Ed Southern (’94) worked at the Reynolda House Museum of American Art before working for a major bookselling chain for which he opened the company’s first London store on Oxford Street. Shortly after he served as Sales Director for John F. Blair, Publisher. Today, Ed is the Executive Director of the North Carolina Writers Network.  His much-praised collection of short stories is Parlous Angels.

Erica Still is an Assistant Professor of English at WFU. Her areas of interest are African American Literature, Trauma Studies, Religion and Literature, and Critical Theory. Past courses she has taught include “We Got Next: Contemporary African American Fiction” and “Making Memories.

Paul Tuttle (’91), Director of Proposal Development in the Office of Research Services and Project Management at NC A&T State University, is a grant writer with 15 years’ experience in proposal development in a variety of fields including health, education, STEM, the humanities, institutional capacity building, community programming, and international development.


Melissa A Venable PhDMelissa Venable (’90) has a background in higher education as an instructional designer and curriculum developer as well as an academic advisor and career counselor. She is an Education Writer for, and her work has been published in The Career Development Quarterly, TechTrends, the Journal of Computing in Higher Education, and the Journal of Online Learning and Teaching.

Elizabeth Watson (’74) is a principal in the consulting firm Heritage Strategies, LLC, and a co-author of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s award-winning guide to rural conservation, Saving America’s Countryside (Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997, 2nd ed). She co-produced the 1992 award-winning environmental film made for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Chesapeake: Living off the Land. She has planned more than a dozen heritage areas and scenic byways, most recently the Outer Banks National Scenic Byway and the Crossroads of the American Revolution National Heritage Area.


Ty West (’79)
is a veteran television news producer, writer and executive who creates programming across multiple platforms, including network and public television, cable and the web. A native of North Carolina, he is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists, the Investigative Reporters and Editors, and the Writer’s Guild of America. He currently lives outside New York City with his wife and two children.

D. Quincy Whitney (’74) was the primary arts feature writer for the Boston Sunday Globe New Hampshire Weekly for fourteen years. Her first book, Hidden History of New Hampshire (2008), was a research project for the Smithsonian Institution’s American Folklife Festival. As a Research Fellow at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney completed research for American Luthier, the biography of pioneering female American violinmaker Carleen Hutchins, a work published this spring.  She has also written a memoir about her life as an estranged identical twin.


Melynda Wilcox (’85 ) writes a blog about local education issues (30,000 views in the past 2-1/2 years) in Alexandria, Virginia. She also does freelance editing for Virginia Theological Seminary. Her blog has been recognized by the American Press Institute’s Fact-Checking Project with its “Fact Check of the Week.”

George Williamson (’61) has been College Chaplain and Religion Professor at Vassar; Senior pastor, First Baptist, Granville, Ohio;  and founding President, Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America.  A memoir, Born in Sin, Upended in Grace, traces his collision with the signature contemporary social movements, beginning with the 1960 Winston-Salem sit-in, in which he was catapulted from one side to the other by each of them.  Books include Holding out for a Biblical Life, Radicals, an Anabaptist Manifesto, and Quintessentially George, his sermons.

Ed Wilson (’43) is Provost Emeritus and former English Professor of WFU. In 2002, Ed received the North Carolina Award for Public Service for his enormous contributions to WFU and his devotion to North Carolina, and in 2004 he received the WFU Medallion of Merit. He frequently delivers speeches and essays on the values of Wake Forest and recently completed The History of Wake Forest University, Volume V.

John York (’77), who was born in Winston-Salem and grew up in Yadkin County, has taught English for over thirty years and in 2003 was named Teacher of the Year by the N.C. English Teachers Association. At WFU, John studied with poets A.R. Ammons and Emily Wilson. In 2011, he received the James Applewhite Poetry Prize from the North Carolina Literary Review. He published his first full-length collection, Cold Spring Rising (Press 53) in 2012. In 2014, he won the Linda Flowers Literary Award from the North Carolina Humanities Council for “O Beautiful Bug,” a memoir which was published online by Indy Week and in a chapbook by Jacar Press. His poetry has recently appeared in Appalachian Journal, Kenyon Review Online, and Tar River Poetry.

Phoebe Zerwick is a prize-winning investigative journalist, narrative writer, and now lecturer at WFU. Her most recent work includes a multimedia documentary about the Yadkin River. Phoebe’s work has been recognized by The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, Investigative Reporters and Editors, the Society of Professional Journalists, and the HBO documentary The Trial of Darryl Hunt.

Lovers of the written word unite!