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Oprah Book Club Star Joins Faculty of Napa Valley Writers' Conference


                 OPRAH BOOK CLUB STAR JOINS FACULTY OF NAPA VALLEY WRITERS' CONFERENCE                 Best-selling author is alumna of conference, which offers poetry and fiction workshops July 27 – Aug. 1

An author whose career began as a student at the Napa Valley Writers' Conference returns this summer as a conference faculty member -- one of eight renowned writers set to lead intimate workshops in poetry and fiction July 27 - August 1, 2014. The conference is hosted and sponsored by Napa Valley College.

Ayana Mathis is the author of The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, a national best-seller named a New York Times Notable Book for 2013 and selected for Oprah Winfrey's Book Club 2.0. Mathis, who attended the 2011 Napa Valley Writers' Conference as a participant, is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and a recipient of the Michener-Copernicus Fellowship. She has taught fiction at Iowa and now serves on the faculty at the MFA in Creative Writing program at the Writer's Foundry. 

"The sense of community the conference fosters is one of our proudest achievements, and Ayana's return as a faculty member will, we hope, provide inspiration to participants past and present as they continue to develop their talents and publish their own works," said conference managing director Andrea Bewick. "The experience of the conference week serves as a touchstone participants can turn to again and again, through the relationships they build and the insights they share."

Joining Mathis on the fiction faculty will be:

   ·  Michael Byers, author of The Coast of Good Intentions, a book of stories, and the novels Long for This World and Percival's Planet. The Coast of Good Intentions won the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award, garnered a Whiting Writer's Award, and was a New York Times Notable Book. Long for This World was also a New York Times Notable Book, won the Virginia Commonwealth University First Novel Award. A former Stegner Fellow at Stanford, he teaches creative writing at the University of Michigan.

   ·   Lan Samantha Chang, who has written three books:  the critically acclaimed novella All Is Forgotten, Nothing Is Lost, the novel Inheritance,  and Hunger: A Novella and Stories. Chang has been honored as the California Book Award Silver Medalist, as a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Award, and with a Bay Area Book Award and literary awards from the Greensboro Review and the Transatlantic Review. She is the recipient of fellowships from Princeton University, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, the NEA, and the Guggenheim Foundation. Chang currently serves as director of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop.

   ·   Justin Torres, whose critically acclaimed novel We the Animals was selected as a 2014 project for the Sundance Institute Screenwriters Lab. He is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a 2010-2012 Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford. He was the recipient of a Rolón Fellowship in Literature from United States Artists and the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award. He is a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard.

Serving on the poetry faculty will be:

   ·   Kazim Ali, a poet, fiction writer, essayist and translator. His books include four volumes of poetry, The Far Mosque, The Fortieth Day, the mixed genre Bright Felon: Autobiography and Cities and Sky Ward. He has published two novels, Quinn’s Passage and The Disappearance of Seth; two collections of essays, Orange Alert: Essays on Poetry, Art and the Architecture of Silence and Fasting for Ramadan: Notes from a Spiritual Practice; as well as translations of poetry by Sohrab Sepehri and a novel by Marguerite Duras. He is an associate professor of Creative Writing and Comparative Literature at Oberlin College.

   ·   Camille T. Dungy, author of Smith Blue, Suck on the Marrow, and What to Eat, What to Drink, What to Leave for Poison. She is the editor of Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry and co-editor of From the Fishouse: An Anthology of Poems that Sing, Rhyme, Resound, Syncopate, Alliterate, and Just Plain Sound Great. Dungy’s honors and awards include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, The Sustainable Arts Foundation, and Cave Canem. She is a professor in the English Department at Colorado State University.

   ·   Brenda Hillman, a long-time conference faculty member, whose most recent work, Seasonal Works With Letters on Fire, is her ninth volume of poetry and a long-list finalist for the National Book Award. Previous titles include Pieces of Air in the Epic, Cascadia and Loose Sugar. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including The Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award for Poetry and the Norma Farber First Book Prize, both from the Poetry Society of America. She has taught at the University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Iowa, among other universities, and is the Olivia Filippi Professor of Poetry at St. Mary’s College.

   ·   Brian Teare, who is a former Stegner Fellow at Stanford University and the recipient of poetry fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the MacDowell Colony, the Marin Headlands Center for the Arts and the American Antiquarian Society. He’s the author of four full-length books, The Room Where I Was Born, Sight Map, the Lambda-Award-winning Pleasure, and Companion Grasses. He has also published seven chapbooks: Pilgrim, Transcendental Grammar Crown, ?, Paradise Was Typeset, Helplessness, [ black sun crown ], and SORE EROS. He is an assistant professor at Temple University in Philadelphia.

During the conference week, faculty members will lead intimate workshops with conference attendees, discuss the craft of fiction and poetry in daytime lectures and read from their works in a series of evening events. Lectures and evening readings will be open to the public.

The conference fee – including workshops, lectures, evening events and meals – is $900. One in six conference attendees receive financial assistance, which is awarded according to merit and need. Rolling admissions open February 26, and applications for financial assistance are due April 1. For application materials and guidelines, visit