NJ Literary Artist Fellowship Showcase2016-17 ShowcasePoetry Fellows 2016-17Playwriting Fellows 2016-17Prose Fellows 2016-17Reading Schedules
NJ Literary Artists Fellowship
The New Jersey Literary Artist Fellowship Showcase presents public renderings of the works of the NJ State Council on the Arts Fellowship recipients in Poetry, Prose, and Playwriting. Each genre is presented differently, poets perform readings of their own works, prose writers have an option of performing their own story, or having it performed by a professional actor. Playwrights receive rehearsed concert readings of their plays.
The showcase is presented every three years.  The next set of readings will be presented during the 2016-17 Season. WTNJ attempts to find partners who can assist with promotion and awareness on the project and for whom an association with the NJLAF can raise the awareness of their own efforts. WTNJ currently has a partnership with the MFA Creative Writing Program at William Paterson University to present the program as part of their Spring Writers Conference, and with the Dramatists Guild New Jersey Representative to present a conference on New Jersey writers as part of the presentation of the works of the playwrights. Additional readings are tentatively scheduled for Warren County College and Stockton State University as part of their poetry series. Check back here for details in the Spring of 2016.

Name Town
Nicole Cooley Glen Ridge
Barbara Daniels Sicklerville
Stuart Greenhouse Highland Park
Meghan Privitello Ventnor City
Joseph Rathgeber Clifton
Christopher Salerno Caldwell


Name Town
Yasmine Rana Teaneck
Frank Avella Garfield
Kevin Caruso Spotswood
Rosemary McLaughlin Maplewood
Henry Meyerson New Brunswick
Anthony Pennino Princeton
Kara Shelton Mount Laurel


NJSCA Prose Fellowships will be announced in April 2016. Recipients will be posted as soon as names are available.

Check back in May 2016 for a comprehensive schedule of readings.


Writers Featured in the 2013-14 Showcase
Click on a tab to find out more about the Fellowship recipient.

Claudia Burbank


Claudia Burbank was born in New Haven, Connecticut and raised in Chester Township, New Jersey. She is a graduate of Vassar College and pursued her MBA at New York University. After retiring from AT&T she took up writing poetry. She studied for some years with Lucie Brock-Broido, director of Columbia’s MFA program in Poetry, as well as Ellen Bryant Voigt, Kimiko Hahn, and Brenda Shaughnessy among others. In recent years her focus has shifted to fiction where she is represented by Jenni Ferrari-Adler at Union Literary Agency.
Claudia’s honors include the Poets & Writers Maureen Egen Writers Exchange Award, Fellowships from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and the Jentel Artist Residency, the Inkwell Prize (judged by Alice Quinn, then Poetry Editor at The New Yorker), and several Pushcart Prize nominations. She is the author of The Pleasant Grove Home for Men, Finalist for the the Brittingham Prize, the Kinereth Gensler Award and the Center for Book Arts competition. Her work has been featured on Verse Daily, Best American Poetry, and Poets & Writers websites, and was selected by Matthew Dickman for Best New Poets. Her poetry and fiction appear widely in such journals as The Antioch Review, Washington Square Review, Prairie Schooner, upstreet, Subtropics, and Cream City Review.

Recommended Books by Claudia:

Fiction: Chekhov, Hardy, Faulkner, Nabokov, Updike, Alice Munro, William Trevor, Grace Paley, Donald Barthelme, Junot Diaz. Poetry: Szymborska, Milosz, Zagajewski, Frost, Muldoon, Heaney, Bishop, Anne Carson. Check out our 5 Questions with Claudia Burbank interview.

Jackie Clark

A reading from her book, Aphoria and from a manuscript in progress called Everything is Always Wonderful When it is Almost Over

Jackie Clark is author of Aphoria, a collection of poems from Brooklyn Arts Press. She is the series editor of Poets off Poetry and Song of the Week for Coldfront Magazine, a contributing writer and content manager for The Rumpus, and is the author of three chapbooks: Office Work (Greying Ghost Press), Red Fortress (H_NGM_N), and I Live Here Now (Lame House Press). Some of her writing has recently appeared or is forthcoming from Bone Bouquet, Denver Quarterly, Open Letters Monthly, and Yoga City. Jackie lives in Jersey City and can be found online at nohelpforthat.com.

Recommended Books by Jackie:

The Believer magazine
My Struggle by Karl Ove Knausgaard
The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel
What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver
Up to Speed by Rae Armantrout

Check out our 5 Questions with Jackie Clark interview.

Catherine Doty

Various Poems

Catherine read the following poems:

  • Standing
  • Breathing Under Water
  • The First Time I was Told to Fuck Myself
  • Sweet Ants
  • In Search of the Concrete
  • Momentum
  • Behind Bars
  • Grandma
  • Tumbled
  • Side Effects
  • Lassie Comes Home
  • Middle School
  • Alone in the One Room that Locks
  • Salesman
  • Chance

Catherine Doty, a 2011 NEA Fellow, is the author of Momentum, a volume of poetry, and Just Kidding, a collection of cartoons. Her work has appeared in 180 More Extraordinary Poems for Every Day, Good Poems for Hard Times, and many other magazines and anthologies. Her awards include an Academy of American Poets Prize, a Marjorie J. Wilson Award, and Fellowships from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts. She has taught poetry for the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the Frost Place, and other writing programs and conferences.

Recommended Books by Catherine:

Poems Poets Poetry by Helen Vendler and W.H. Auden’s book of essays The Dyer’s Hand are books I go to again and again. Feasts, both of them.

Little, Big by John Crowley has just come out in a 25th anniversary edition. It’s huge, surreal, serious, wild and has fairies in it. Harold Bloom says he reads it every ten years. I can’t wait that long.

Stephen Burt’s Close Calls with Nonsense is a guide to reading and understanding new poetry. Very enlightening and fun to read, even for fossils writing vaudevillian narrative.

David Wroblewski’s The Story of Edgar Sawtelle is so good I keep a few copies around to give to folks. A story as compelling as any I’ve ever read, in language nothing short of glorious, with an unforgettable protagonist and a peculiar and astonishing breed of dogs. And an ending that’ll take the top of your head off.

The poet Isabella Gardner isn’t as well known as she deserves to be. Her collected poems 1950-65, West of Childhood, is a volume I read almost daily from cover to cover when I was 17 and mad for poetry. I still read and adore it.

I love to read cookbooks, and Dorie Greenspan is one of my favorite cooks/writers. Around My French Table is a mix of wonderful stories and great recipes. For laugh-out-loud cookbooks, no one beats Ann Hodgman. Beat This, Beat That, and One Bite Won’t Kill You (a cookbook for picky kids illustrated by Roz Chast) are wildly, wildly funny and full of over-the-top recipes. Her chat about heirloom apples will make your coffee come out your nose. I give One Bite to friends who don’t ever have kids.

Check out our 5 Questions with Catherine Doty interview.

Peter Murphy

Several poems from his new manuscript ANONYMOUS FEVER

Peter Murphy was born in Wales and grew up in New York City where he operated heavy equipment, managed a night club, and drove a cab. He is the author of a book of poems, Stubborn Child, and a chapbook, Thorough & Efficient. His unique poetry writing assignments have been collected in Challenges for the Delusional Peter Murphy’s Prompts and the Poems They Inspired.

His poems and essays have appeared in The American Book Review, The Atlanta Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Commonweal, Cortland Review, The New York Times, Poetry Daily, The Shakespeare Quarterly, Witness, World Order and elsewhere.

Peter has been an educational advisor to a number of PBS television series on poetry including Moyers: Power of the Word, The Language of Life, Poetry Heaven, and Fooling with Word with Bill Moyers. He has received fellowships for writing and teaching from The Atlantic Center for the Arts, The Folger Shakespeare Library, The National Endowment for the Humanities, The New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Yaddo, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and the White House Commission on Presidential Scholars.

Recipient of a 2009 Poetry Fellowship from the NJ State Council on the Arts, Peter teaches poetry writing at Richard Stockton College and directs the annual Winter Poetry & Prose Getaway and other programs for writers and teachers at home and abroad. Visit his website at www.murphywriting.com

Check out our 5 Questions with Peter Murphy interview.

Kathleen Graber

Kathleen read a selection from her poems.

Kathleen Graber’s second collection of poetry, The Eternal City (Princeton University Press, 2010), was a finalist for The National Book Award, The National Book Critics Circle Award. She is a recipient of fellowships from The New Jersey State Council on the Arts, The National Endowment for the Arts, and The Guggenheim Foundation. She was a Hodder Fellow at Princeton University and an Amy Lowell Traveling Scholar. She teaches in the Creative Writing Program at Virginia Commonwealth University and the low-residency MFA Program at Fairleigh Dickinson University. New poems have appeared recently or are forthcoming in AGNI, The American Poetry Review, and The New Republic.

Check out our 5 Questions with Kathleen Graber interview.


Mihaela Moscaliuc

Mihaela read selected poems.

Mihaela Moscaliuc is the author of Father Dirt (Alice James Books, 2010) and Immigrant Model (University of Pittsburgh Press, forthcoming), the translator of Romanian poet Carmelia Leonte’s The Hiss of the Viper (Carnegie Mellon UP, 2014), and the editor of a collection of critical essays on poet Gerald Stern (Trinity University Press, forthcoming). The recipient of two Glenna Luschei Awards (in poetry and prose, respectively) from Prairie Schooner, a residency fellowship from Le Chateau de Lavigny (Switzerland), and an Individual Artist Fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, Moscaliuc is assistant professor of English at Monmouth University and visiting faculty in the Drew University MFA Program in Poetry and Poetry in Translation.

Be sure to check out our 5 Question Interview with Mihaela.


Michael Waters

Michael read selected poems.

Michael Waters’ ten books of poetry include Gospel Night (2011), Darling Vulgarity (2006—finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize), & Parthenopi: New and Selected Poems (2001) from BOA Editions, & Bountiful (1992), The Burden Lifters (1989) & Anniversary of the Air (1985) from Carnegie Mellon UP. He has edited several anthologies, including Contemporary American Poetry (Houghton Mifflin, 2006) & Perfect in Their Art: Poems on Boxing from Homer to Ali (Southern Illinois UP, 2003). Shoestring Press in the UK published Selected Poems in 2011. His poems have appeared in numerous journals, including Poetry, The American Poetry Review, The Paris Review, The Yale Review, The Kenyon Review, The Southern Review, The Georgia Review, The Gettysburg Review & Rolling Stone. The recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Fulbright Foundation, & the NJ State Council on the Arts, Waters teaches at Monmouth University & in the Drew University MFA Program in Poetry and Poetry in Translation.

Be sure to check out our 5 Question Interview with Michael.

Gaiutra Bahadur

A reading from her book COOLIE WOMAN.

“Into Dark Waters” will be performed by Meera Mohan* and directed by James Glossman

“Into Dark Waters,” the fourth chapter of the book Coolie Woman, is set in the immigrant depots in Calcutta, where indentured recruits for British sugar plantations across the globe waited for ships that would take them to a new world. It launches my great-grandmother, who sailed from those depots in 1903, four months pregnant and traveling alone, on her journey to British Guiana.

Gaiutra Bahadur is an award-winning journalist and book critic who writes frequently about the culture and politics of global migration. Her reporting, criticism and essays have appeared in The New York Times Book Review, Washington Post Book World, The Nation, The Virginia Quarterly Review, The (London) Observer and Ms., among other publications.

She is the author of “Coolie Woman: The Odyssey of Indenture,” due out in mid-November from The University of Chicago Press. A former daily newspaper staff writer, Gaiutra has covered schools, police and local government in South Jersey, politics in Texas, post-Sept. 11 hate crimes, race and demographics and the national debate on illegal immigration. She has told the stories of asylum seekers and immigrants in Philadelphia and its suburbs and reported from Baghdad and the U.S.-Mexico border. Born in Guyana, Gaiutra immigrated to the United States at the age of six. She grew up in Jersey City, and her first job in journalism was at her hometown newspaper, The Jersey Journal, where she wrote the “Dear FIXIT” consumer advocacy column. She now lives in Livingston, NJ with her family.

Gaiutra studied literature at Yale and journalism at Columbia and was a 2007-2008 Nieman Fellow at Harvard. In 2013, she won a fellowship from New Jersey State Council on the Arts and a grant from the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, the national feminist arts organization. Gaiutra has also written a children’s book about the homeland journeys of President Obama and the writer Amy Tan; “Family Ties” (2012) is part of Scholastic’s “On the Record” nonfiction series for middle-school students.

Recommended Books by Gaiutra:

Her favorite books:
The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, by T.S. Eliot
Midnight’s Children, by Salman Rushdie
Speak, Memory, by Vladimir Nabokov

Books that have inspired or influenced her:
In An Antique Land, by Amitav Ghosh
Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire’s Slaves, by Adam Hochschild
Concerning the Bodyguard (short story) by Donald Barthelme; Imaginary Homelands (essay collection), by Salman Rushdie

Books she has used in her research for material she is presenting:
The Swinging Bridge, by Ramabai Espinet
Jahajin, by Peggy Mohan
“Beast” (poem) by Mahadai Das
The Ramayan, by Tulsi Das
A History of the Guyanese Working People, by Walter Rodney Maharani’s Misery, by Verene Shepherd

Books she thinks people should just read:
Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal, by Jeanette Winterson
The Known World, by Edward P. Jones
My Own Country, by Abraham Verghese
Song of Solomon, Toni Morrison
Cereus Blooms at Night, Shani Mootoo

Check out our 5 Questions with Gaiutra Bahadur interview.

*Member of Actors’ Equity Association

Marina Budhos

“Watched” was performed by Jesse Gabriel and directed by James Glossman.

Marina Budhos is an author of fiction and nonfiction for adults and young adults. Her latest book, Sugar Changed the World: A Story of Magic, Spice, Slavery, Freedom & Science, co-authored with her husband Marc Aronson, was a 2010 Los Angeles Times Book Award Finalist. She has published the young adult novels and Tell Us We’re Home, praised by the New York Times as “elevated by writing that is intelligent and earnestly passionate” and Ask Me No Questions, which has received numerous honors, including ALA Best Books and Notable, winner of the first James Cook Teen Book Award, NY Public Library Books for the Teenage, Chicago Public Library’s Best of the Best, is taught in school districts throughout the country. She has also published the adult novels The Professor of Light, House of Waiting, and a nonfiction book, Remix: Conversations with Immigrant Teenagers. Her short stories, articles, essays, and book reviews have appeared in publications such as The Kenyon Review, Ploughshares, The Antigonish Review, The Literary Review, The Nation, Dissent, Marie Claire, Redbook, Travel & Leisure, Ms., Los Angeles Times, and in numerous anthologies. Ms. Budhos is currently an associate professor of English at William Paterson University and lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her family.

Recommended Books by Marina:

Her favorite books:

My favorite ones are often books that I’m reading now. I was tremendously impressed with Khaled Hosseini’s new novel And the Mountains Echoed.
The Lacuna by Barbara Kingsolver
Waiting by Ha Jin

Books that have inspired or influenced her and ones she thinks people should just read :

Sula by Toni Morrison
To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston
Annie John by Jamaica Kincaid
White Teeth by Zadie Smith
Waterland by Graham Swift
Cambridge by Caryl Phillips

Check out our 5 Questions with Marina Budhos interview.

Ruchama King Feuerman

Ruchama’s husband, Simon Yisrael Feuerman, read from her book In the Courtyard of the Kabbalist.

Set in Jerusalem, In the Courtyard of the Kabbalist is the story of former Lower East Side haberdasher Isaac, now an assistant to an elderly rabbi; Mustafa, a physically deformed Arab janitor who works on the Temple Mount; and the beautiful Tamar, a young American woman searching for a righteous man. As these characters – Muslim and Jewish; prophets and lost souls — move through their world, they are never sure if they will fall prey to the cruel tricks of luck or be sheltered by a higher power.

The novel is a thriller, a courtship tale, and a gentle clash between civilizations.

Ruchama King Feuerman was born in Nashville, grew up in Virginia and Maryland, and when she was seventeen, bought a one-way ticket to Israel to seek her spiritual fortune. She is half-Sephardic, half-Ashkenazic, and taught in Jerusalem for ten years. Seven Blessings (St. Martin’s Press), her celebrated first novel about match-making, earned her the praise of the Dallas Morning News and the New York Times for for “capturing the subtlety and magic of [Judaism’s] traditions,” and Kirkus Reviews dubbed Feuerman the “Jewish Jane Austen.” She wrote her second novel, In the Courtyard of the Kabbalist, with the help of grants from the Christopher Isherwood Foundation and New Jersey State Council on the Arts. The New York Review of Books (NYRB Lit) will be publishing her novel in September 2013. Publishers Weekly described her novel as “evocative… a belated coming-of-age novel…[Jerusalem] itself emerges as a character…depicted with a lyricism that contrasts with the area’s political tension….the novel [casts a] quiet, lovely mood.” Her stories and essays have appeared in many publications, including the New York Times, and she is a winner of the 2012 Moment Magazine Short Fiction prize, selected by the novelist Walter Mosley.

Researching In the Courtyard of the Kabbalist led Ruchama to elderly kabbalists, Israeli ex-convicts, Arab construction workers, Temple Mount policemen, and soup kitchens, among other places. Much of her fiction happens in Jerusalem, a city, she finds, where outrageous stories are handed to you, and then you have to tone them down to make them believable.

To learn more about Ruchama, visit her website.

Click here to read more or purchase her books.

Recommended books from Ruchama:

Brick Lane, by Monica Ali (novel)
The First Seven Years, by Bernard Malamud (short story, from The Complete Short Stories)
A Fine Balance, by Rohiton Mistry (novel)
Excellent Women, by Barbara Pym (novel)
A Tale of Love and Darkness, by Amos Oz (memoir)
Papa’s Books, by Jay Neugeoboren (short story)
The Book of Genesis (not by Leon Uris)
The Third Bank of the River: Joao Guimaraes Rosa (short story)
My Father on the Verge of Disgrace, by John Updike (short story)
Guests on a Winter Night, by I.B. Singer (memoir)
Kaaterskill Falls, by Allegra Goodman (novel)

Check out our 4 Questions with Ruchama King Feuerman interview.

Eson Kim

Eson read from her essay Alfresco.

Alfresco (Published in Calyx Journal)
The narrator’s stout and sassy cousin Pree seems to have it all: a posh New York City apartment, a famous sister, and lots of spending money. What she lacks is the ability to acknowledge her own beauty, something the narrator sees but fails to convincingly express.

Eson Kim holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College, and her stories have appeared in magazines such as Calyx Journal, Denver Quarterly, and The Massachusetts Review. After receiving a fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, she earned the David B. Saunders Award for creative nonfiction, was nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and named to the Notable list of Best American Essays. In addition, her work reached the finalist stage for the Arts & Letters Prize, The American Literary Review Award, and the Glimmer Train Family Matters competition. She has served as a reader for Ploughshares Literary Magazine for nearly 15 years, recently focusing on its Solos program for novella-length works. She also supports Untethered Reads, a community book club program where free books are placed in random public locations to promote reading beyond the confines of genre and category.

Recommended books by Eson:

Gift of Rain by Tan Twan Eng
House of Sand and Fog by Andre Dubus III
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled HosseiniThe Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
The Highest Tide by Jim Lynch
Graceling by Kristen Cashore
Woman Warrior by Maxine Hong Kingston

Check out our 5 Questions with Eson Kim interview.

Lee Phillips

Lee read an excerpt from his book The Third Person.

Lee Phillips was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and graduated with a degree in English from Yale. He received his Master of Fine Arts from Cornell, where he studied with Harold Brodkey and worked on short stories and a novel.

After graduate school, he went into training at the National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis in New York and was certified as a psychoanalyst in 1994. He has been in private practice in Manhattan for three decades, with a varied clientele.

Mr. Phillips set writing aside to build his practice and raise a family. Two years ago he returned to his deep love of writing and literature and began work on his current project, a novel called the “The Third Person,” an excerpt from which was awarded a New Jersey State Council on the Arts Fellowship for 2013.

The novel depicts Dr. Roberta Reich, a seasoned New York City psychoanalyst, as she seeks to treat the most unusual patient who has ever come her way. She is determined to maintain her professional authority and reputation but is challenged by her young patient, who in some ways sees her more clearly than she understands herself, and by her peer practice group, who raise increasingly serious questions about both her objectivity in the young man’s case and her unorthodox ideas.

Recommended Books by Lee:

I suppose my education as a writer of fiction began in earnest with my encounter, in college, with some of the classic texts of literary modernism, among which some of my very favorites are:

The Ambassadors by Henry James
To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf
A Passage to India by E.M. Forster
The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford

Since I am a professional psychoanalyst, as is the protagonist of the novel I am writing, readers who are interested might be directed to works by any of the following psychoanalytic thinkers, all of them relevant to my work, and all of them very good writers:

Sigmund Freud
D.W. Winnicott
Alice Miller

As to books that I think people might enjoy reading, I find the period 1945-1970 to have been a very fertile time in American publishing, and what follows is a list of novels from that time which may be a little less well known, but that I think are masterpieces:

Under the Volcano by Malcolm Lowry
The Man Who Loved Children by Christina Stead
The Sheltering Sky by Paul Bowles
Light Years by James Salter
The Catherine Wheel by Jean Stafford
Omensetters Luck by William Gass
Desperate Characters by Paula Fox
The Moviegoer by Walker Percy

Finally, the most accomplished and interesting writer of recent years, in my opinion, is W.G Sebald. I would recommend as an introduction to his works The Emigrants or Austerlitz.

Vanni Thach

Vanni read an excerpt from her book I Heard Ma Swimming Through The Mekong.

Vanni Thach Born in Cao Lanh, Vietnam. Raised in Camden, NJ. Received a BA at Bates College, Lewiston, ME. Graduated from McNeese State University, Lake Charles, LA with an MA in Literature and an MFA in Creative Writing. Recipient of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts Fellowship (Prose). Working to finish, revise, and edit a novel by the end of December (or earlier). Excited and nervous about WTNJ reading.

Recommended Books by Vanni:

Favorite books:
Great Expectations, Charles Dickens
To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee
Catcher in the Rye, J. D. Salinger
Of Mice and Men, John Steinbeck
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Ken Kesey

Books that Inspired or Influenced her:
The Island of the Blue Dolphins, Scott O’Dell
Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson
Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte
Wuthering Heights, Emily Bronte
Monkey, Wu Cheng’en
The Stories of John Cheever, John Cheever

Books she used in her research:
A History of Cambodia, Voices of S-21, David Chandler
When Broken Glass Floats, Chanrithy Him
Children of Cambodia’s Killing Fields, Dith Pran
First They Killed My Father, Loung Ung
The Documentation Center of Cambodia

Books she thinks people should just read:
Classics, World Literature

Check out our 5 Questions with Vanni Thach interview.

Toni De Palma

A selection from Under the Banyan Tree were read by Molly Knapp, directed by James Glossman.

Under the Banyan Tree is a young adult novel about fifteen year old Irena who runs away from her home in the Everglades. After some rough times on the streets of Key West, she discovers a safe haven, a family and herself.

Toni De Palma was born in Brooklyn, New York. As a child she spent many summers in Ischia, the Italian island where her father was brought up. Her first middle grade novel, Under the Banyan Tree, was published in 2007 and selected as a Kirkus New Voices Pick and a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age. Since then, Toni has published another middle grade novel, Jeremy Owl, and two Young Adult novels, The Devil’s Triangle and The Devil’s Temptation. Toni holds her MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College and she is a recipient of a New Jersey Arts Fellowship. She currently resides in New Jersey.

Find out about multi published author Toni De Palma at her site: http://www.tonidepalma.com

Be sure to check out our 5 Question Interview with Toni.

Curt Leviant

Gabor Barabas read a selection from Curt’s GOLDEN NECKLACE.

Curt Leviant is author of eight critically acclaimed works of fiction:

The Yemenite Girl, Passion in the Desert, The Man Who Thought He Was Messiah, Partita in Venice, Diary of an Adulterous Woman, and Ladies and Gentlemen, the Original Music of the Hebrew Alphabet and Weekend in Mustara (two novellas), A Novel of Klass, and the short story collection, Zix Zexy Ztories.

He has won the Edward Lewis Wallant Award and writing fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Jerusalem Foundation and the New Jersey Arts Council.

Curt Leviant’s stories and novellas have appeared in Midstream, Hadassah Magazine, Zoetrope, American Literary Review, Confrontation, North American Review, and many other magazines, and on National Public Radio.

Some of his novels have been translated in Europe and Israel, and his Diary of an Adulterous Woman was a best seller in Europe.

Diary was also singled out as one of the Twenty Best Books of the Year in France and among the seven best novels.

His work has been included in Best American Short Stories, Prize Stories: the O. Henry Awards, and other anthologies – and praised by two Nobel laureates: Saul Bellow and Elie Wiesel.

Critics have compared his fiction to that of Nabokov, Borges, Italo Calvino, Vargas Llosa, even Tolstoy.

But the most memorable praise has come from Chauncey Mabe, Book Editor of South Florida’s Sun-Sentinel, who wrote:

“Curt Leviant is one of the greatest novelists you’ve never heard of. His serio-comic novels, including Diary of an Adulterous Woman (the best novel I’ve read during the past ten years) should place him in company with …Joseph Heller or even Saul Bellow…”

Norman Lock

THE BOY IN HIS WINTER: “AN AMERICAN NOVEL” was read by Reathal Bean* and directed by James Glossman.

The first excerpt is from the novel’s opening pages; the second is set downriver in Baton Rouge, in 1903. Huck is still only 13 years old, having entered the timelessness of myth, or childhood, when he set out with Jim from Hannibal. Tom Sawyer, on the other hand, has aged as he ought, to become an old man on his deathbed in Baton Rouge.

Norman Lock’s newest story collection Love Among the Particles (2013) and novel The Boy in His Winter (2014) were published by Bellevue Literary Press: [http://blpress.org/books/boy-winter/]. The second book in his trilogy of “American novels,” American Meteor, is due in May, 2015, also from Bellevue Literary Press. In 2013-14, his much-produced Absurdist play The House of Correction was performed in Istanbul, Ankara, Athens, and Torun, Poland; his recent radio drama Mounting Panic, broadcast by WDR Germany. He won The Paris Review Aga Khan Prize for Fiction and the Dactyl Foundation for the Arts & Humanities Literary Fiction Award, and writing fellowships from the New Jersey Council on the Arts (1999, 2013), the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts (2009), and the National Endowment for the Arts (2011). He is a frequent contributor of video art installation scenarios to Visual Artbeat Magazine, Austria: [http://visualartbeat.com/category/content/the-cabinet-theatre/]. Norman lives in Aberdeen, NJ, nearby Raritan/Lower New York Bay, with his wife, Helen.

Be sure to check out our 5 Question Interview with Norman.

Pamela Burke

Pamela’s short story, Debris, was read by Bonnie Black* and directed by John Pietrowski.

Pamela Burke writes on the Jersey Shore while also consulting and teaching graduate courses in leading creative collaboration, resolving conflict, and leadership development at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken and at Columbia University in New York. Her poems and articles have appeared in magazines and collections including Mischief Caprice and Other Poetic Strategies (Red Hen Press), Art Calendar Magazine, and in Inspiring Creativity, an anthology published by the Creativity Coaching Association Press. An excerpt from a novel, “Everything I’ve Ever Written is a Lie” appeared in Podium, the Literary Journal of the 92nd Street Y in Manhattan. Pam received a 2009 NJ State Council on the Arts Fellowship for Fiction and is a member of the international writing network, Backspace (http://www.bksp.org).

Be sure to check out our 5 Questions Interview with Pamela.

*Member Actors’ Equity Association

Iyanna L. Jones

Iyanna’s short story Eyes of Xhosa (pronounced Kosa) was read.

Lush with ancient mysticism, heady romance and gripping violence, Eyes of Xhosa (pronounced Kosa) is the story of a young woman who faces the most important choice of her life: honor and fulfill the obligations placed upon her by ancestral birthright or take her destiny into her own hands and blaze a new trail across the world along a path of her own choosing.

Iyanna L. Jones, professionally known as Nana Soul is a writer, filmmaker, media activist and singer. She has a strong background in entertainment and marketing by way of her tenure at media giants such as HBO, MTV and BET. She executive produced and wrote the narration for the provocative and controversial documentary film Disappearing Voices – The Decline of Black Radio. Congressman Bobby L. Rush (1st District, IL) invited Jones to the Congressional Black Caucus’ 39th Annual Legislative Convention to participate on a panel named after the film. She also executive produced, performed on and wrote music for On The Move – Sounds Inspired by Mumia Abu Jamal, which includes music by Public Enemy, Living Colour, Maya Azucena and Abiodun Oyewole of The Last Poets.

She is the host of the television shows Black Agenda TV and The Ghetto Chronicles and author of Business Owner’s Bootcamp, a manual that helped women on public assistance make the transition to entrepreneurship. As a musician she is a two-time winner of the internationally acclaimed John Lennon Songwriting Contest for her songs God is Dead and Black Honey. In 2008 Jones received a New Jersey Council on the Arts fellowship for her science fiction short story, Eyes of Xhosa. She currently hosts her own weekly radio show entitled This is Iyanna Jones every Wednesday on the Go Pro Radio Network at 9pm Eastern Time. Iyanna is a self-proclaimed geek and lover of all things spacy, fantastic and speculative, especially fiction and movies. When she’s not busy writing stories or poems or screenplays or songs, she spends her time reading stories and poems and screenplays and singing songs.

Be sure to check out our 5 Questions Interview with Iyanna.

Emil Draitser

Both Emil Draitser’s short-shorts, Directions and It’s Not a Simple Thing, are about hard things to do: for a poet, to explain his long-time-unseen friend how to find him, and, for a young man, to tell his girl what she would never wanted to hear.  Emil read both of these stories.

A three-time recipient of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts Fellowships in Prose Writing, Emil Draitser is an author and professor of Russian at Hunter College in New York City. Besides ten books of artistic and scholarly prose, his essays and short stories have been published in the Los Angeles Times, Partisan Review, North American Review, San Francisco Chronicle, Prism International, and many other American and Canadian periodicals. His fiction has also appeared in Russian, Polish, Ukrainian, Byelorussian, and Israeli journals. He has also received numerous grants for writing both fiction and non-fiction from the City University of New York. Draitser has given numerous public lectures and book talks at universities, cultural centers, and museums in the United States, Canada, UK, Israel, Australia, New Zealand, and Russia. (For more info, visit: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emil_Draitser).

Be sure to check out our 5 Questions Interview with Emil.

EM Lewis

Magellanica: A New and Accurate Map of the World was read.

In 1985, an international group of scientists travel to Antarctica to find out if there really is a hole in the sky. During the eight and a half months that they spend locked in together at the South Pole Station, they will work and study and love and fight… and try to figure out the life-changing implications of what they find there.

Magellanica: A New and Accurate Map of the World is a fictional account of a very real moment in history, when the existence of a hole in the ozone layer became the subject of international debate. It follows eight scientists and engineers who spend the winter at an international research station at the South Pole — eight and a half months, with no way in or out, and a question of global import looming.

EM Lewis is an award-winning playwright. She’s from Oregon, spent quite a few years in Los Angeles, and now lives and writes in Princeton, New Jersey. Her work has been produced around the world (including productions at the Guthrie and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival), and published by Samuel French.

Lewis received a 2012 fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and was the 2010-2011 Hodder Fellow in Playwriting at Princeton University. She won the 2009 Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award for her play Song of Extinction and the 2008 Francesca Primus Prize for an emerging woman theater artist for Heads, both from the American Theater Critics Association.

In 2012, Lewis taught and mentored young playwrights in the New Voices Program in Richmond, Virginia and reprised her role as host playwright at the Ashland New Plays Festival. She had college productions of her plays Song of Extinction and Heads. She received her first commission, to write a history play for Premiere Stages in New Jersey. She finished a new play called If I Did This (semi-finalist for the Princess Grace Award), that was workshopped at Passage Theater and received a staged reading from Flux Theater Ensemble in New York City. And her play Goodbye, Ruby Tuesday had its world premiere at HotCity Theater in St. Louis in September.

Lewis is now working on an intimate two-hander set in her home state of Oregon, and an epic play set in Antarctica called Magellanica: A New and Accurate Map of the World.

Recommended books by EM:

EM’s favorite books:

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, by Edward Albee
The Fifth of July, by Lanford Wilson
Dispatches, by Michael Herr
A Wrinkle in Time, A Wind in the Door, and A Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L’Engle

Books that have inspired or influenced her:

What We Talk About When We Talk About Love and Cathedral, by Raymond Carver
Mystery and Manners, by Flannery O’Connor
Moby Dick, by Herman Melville
Man’s Search for Meaning, by Victor Frankl
Hamlet, by William Shakespeare

Research for Magellanica: A New and Accurate Map of the World has taken me in many directions. I love using memoirs for research, and have collected quite a few memoirs about the exploration and life experiences of Antarctic adventurers and scientists. One of the characters is a cartographer, and I’ve been reading a lot about maps to understand what he is trying to tell me. Some of the books I’ve read have to do with the backgrounds of my international cast of characters and the time period (1985) in which the play is set. One of the scientific questions that the two climatologists in the play wrestle with is that of the hole in the ozone layer, and eventually, larger questions about climate science.

Ice Bound, by Dr. Jerri Nielsen
Endurance, by Alfred Lansing
The South Pole: A Historical Reader, edited by Anthony Brandt
Alone, by Richard Evelyn Bird
Edge of the World, by Charles Neider
Life on the Ice, by Roff Smith
Global Warming: A Very Short Introduction, by Mark Maslin
End of the Earth, by Peter Matthiessen
Encounters at the End of the World (film), directed by Werner Herzog
The Thing (film)
Race to the End, by Ross D. E. MacPhee
Cartographies of Time, by Daniel Rosenberg and Anthony Grafton
Explore Antarctica, by Louise Crossley
The Image of the World: 20 Centuries of World Maps, by Peter Whitfield
Envisioning the World, by Henry Wendt
Antarctica: The Global Warning, by Sebastian Copeland
The String Quartets (music), by Dmitri Shostakovich (Borodin Quartet/Emerson String Quartet
Born in the USA (music), by Bruce Springsteen

Books she thinks people should just read:

Just Kids, by Patti Smith
A Moveable Feast, by Ernest Hemingway
The Book of Nightmares, by Galway Kinnell
The Things They Carried, by Tim O’Brien
Song of Extinction, by EM Lewis

Check out our 5 Questions with EM Lewis interview.

Deb Margolin

Deb’s play, TURQUOISE, was read.

We’ve been told by physicists that they’ve found a particle that proves the whole universe is connected by an invisible fabric. This physical field theory is comically and painfully illustrated by the way a man with a memory of only 7 seconds, and two fifteen-year-old boys, unknowingly and gracefully share a world with two very old people, awake all night trying to remember the word that is the title of this play.

That word is never spoken.

Deb Margolin is a playwright, actor and founding member of Split Britches Theater Company. She is the author of nine full-length solo performance pieces, which she has toured throughout the United States, the most recent of which is the new solo tragicomedy investigating the mysteries of aging and the Clarence Thomas/Anita Hill hearings. Deb is the recipient of a 1999-2000 OBIE Award for Sustained Excellence of Performance. Her play O Wholly Night and Other Jewish Solecisms, a solo piece investigating the recondite and sexy nature of waiting for the Messiah, was commissioned by the Jewish Museum of New York. PS122 in New York presented Deb’s play Three Seconds in the Key, a meditation on illness, love, basketball and Yiddish, in a workshop production; the play was premiered under the auspices of New Georges at Baruch Performing Arts Center and won the Kesselring Playwriting Prize in 2005. Her play Seven Palestinian Children has been translated into many languages and is performed internationally. Deb has been artist in residence at Hampshire College and University of Hawaii and Zale writer-in-residence at Tulane University, and is currently an Associate Professor of Playwriting and Performance in Yale University’s undergraduate Theater Studies Program. A book of Deb’s performance pieces and plays, entitled Of All The Nerve: Deb Margolin SOLO, was published in 1999 by Cassell/Continuum Press. She was awarded the 2005 Richard H. Brodhead Prize for Teaching Excellence at Yale University, and in 2008 she was honored to accept the Helen Merrill Distinguished Playwright Award. Her recent play, Imagining Madoff, opened the 2011-2012 season at Washington DC’s prominent Theater J, and was nominated this year by the Helen Hayes committee for the Charles MacArthur Award for Outstanding New Play. Ms. Margolin is a proud member of New Dramatists, and lives in New Jersey, which she denies.

Recommended Books by Deb:

These are the books that have inspired or influenced her, she counts among her favorites and recommends others should read:

The Magic Mountain, Thomas Mann
Tropic of Capricorn, Henry Miller
Funeral Rites, Jean Genet
The Counterfeiters, Andre Gide
The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoevsky
The Suffering of Young Werther by Goethe
Mr. Vertigo, Paul Auster
Swann’s Way, Proust
Words Under the Words, Naomi Shihab Nye
The Needle’s Eye, Margaret Drabble
Mrs. Dalloway, Virginia Woolf
The Floating Opera, John Barth
The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge, Rainer Maria Rilke
Bird by Bird, Anne LaMott
Writing Down the Bones, Natalie Goldberg

Books she has used in her research for material she is presenting:
The World’s Best Dirty Jokes
The Yiddish/American Dictionary
The Dancing Wu Li Masters
books from Gary Zukav

Check out our 5 Question Interview with Deb Margolin.

John Pietrowski

His play, DURA MATER, was read.

Paul, a college-educated middle-level manager finds out that his father has hit his mother with a glass below the eye, which puts her in the hospital. His effort to find out the cause of this surprising bit of violence is rebuffed by both his father and mother, though he discovers he only has to look into himself to get the answer.

John Pietrowski is the Artistic Director of Writers Theatre where he has worked for the past 28 years, 23 in his current position, and has directed productions of over 25 new works and countless readings in that time. An actor and playwright as well, he recently performed Seth Rozin’s Two Jews Walk into a War at Shadowland Theatre, Interact Theatre, NJ Rep and Writers Theatre, and in David Wiltse’s Sedition at Shadowland and Playwrights. He is the recipient of a 2012 New Jersey State Council on the Arts Playwriting Fellowship. He teaches Theatre History at Fairleigh Dickinson University and holds an undergraduate degree in Performance Studies from Northwestern University and a Masters in Public Administration in nonprofit management from Seton Hall University.

Recommended Books by John:

Woyzeck by Georg Buchner
Krapp’s Last Tape by Samuel Beckett
Appointment with a High Wire Lady by Russell Davis

Anything by Philip Levine, but especially:
The Angels of Detroit
The Poem Circling Hamtramck Michigan All Night In Search of You
The Doctor of Starlight

Other Books
A Universe from Nothing—Lawrence Krauss
The American Soul: Rediscovering the Wisdom of the Founders—Jacob Needleman
Louder than Words: The New Science of How the Mind Makes Meaning—Benjamin K. Bergen
Our Common Wealth: The Hidden Economy That Makes Everything Else Work—Jonathan Rowe
Follow the Ecstasy: The Hermitage Years of Thomas Merton—John Howard Griffin
Aristotle’s Poetics—Translated by Richard Janko


Cheryl – Eilis Cahill*
Paul – Anthony Blaha*
Bernie – Davis Hall*
Helen – Jane Mandel*

*Members Actors Equity Association

Check out our 5 Question interview with John.

Joanne Hoersch

Her play, Starring Elizabeth, was read.

As the manager of the IT department at Carthage Financial, Elizabeth finds it hard to keep everyone on the right track, especially when her boss cuts back on everyone’s vacation days because of some budget cuts. It would take nothing short of the supernatural to get them to start working well together.

Joanne Hoersch is a recipient of a 2012 grant from the NJ State Council on the Arts for her first play, Jackson is Gone, which was also selected for a roundtable reading at the Lark Theatre in New York. Prior to becoming a playwright, she was a fiction writer. She received a Woolrich fellowship for fiction from Columbia University, was a semi-finalist in the Heekin Foundation’s national short story contest, and was a 1998 grantee from the NJ State Council on the Arts for her short story, “Josie Going Places.” She is currently working on a new play about the Romantic poet Percy Shelley, which will have a round table reading at The Lark Theatre on March 25th. Joanne lives in Weehawken, NJ with her husband, Frank and her son Zachary. Her dog, Freddie and cat, Elizabeth are also in permanent residence.

Directed by Frank Licato


Jasper Donleavy–Vincent Sagona*
Elizabeth Ballen–Bonnie Black*
Maria Sonora–Jenelle Sosa*
Charlton McGalvin–Ryan Scott*
Bethany Spencer-Hogg–Jane Keitel*

*Member Actors’ Equity Association

Benjamin V. Marshall

His play, BUENAS SMOOCHES: PISCATAWAY, NEW JERSEY a comedy in two acts, was read.

19 – year- old Nicole, a recent transplant from the gritty inner city to the NJ suburbs, has lost her bearings. Her brother has died, her mother’s sexually confused, and her father’s financially strapped; so the reckless Nicole strings along both Wyem, a bad boy parolee from juvenile hall, and his humble cousin Sam. In this delightful 21st century Restoration comedy that riffs in hip-hop and verse, Nicole must decide if she’s the wannabe rebel, the dull, dutiful daughter or the responsible young woman who, despite all situations, can control her own life.

Benjamin Vaughan Marshall: Productions and workshops: Boom Box at HBO’s new writers workshop, (CA) Henry’s Bridge Theatre for a New City (NYC), The Red Train Interact Theatre (Philadelphia) and Pride fest (Chicago), One Legged Race, Writers Theatre of NJ, The Balcony Goat at Luna Stage (NJ), and Carlos and LaVonne (Theodore Ward prize, Chicago) Short play festivals in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Alaska, Nebraska and Melbourne, Australia. Purchasing Power a short play was presented as part of WBEZ’s (Chicago) off the air program. A graduate of Kean University, he’s earned an MFA from University of Massachusetts, Amherst, taught English in Arabic speaking countries, conducted writing workshops for women in homeless shelters, published poetry in literary journals around the county. Currently he is an Associate Professor at Middlesex County College in Edison, NJ. A member of the Dramatists Guild, the Alliance of Los Angeles Playwrights, the Playwrights Center in Michigan and The Ninth Floor (NYC), he has received fellowships from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities and four times from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.

Be sure to check out our 5 Question interview with Benjamin V. Marshall.

Dominique Cieri

Dominique is a playwright, teaching artist, and member of the Dramatists Guild. She is the recipient of the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation and New Jersey State Council on the Arts Individual Playwriting Fellowship 2003, and 2009.  A graduate of Rose Bruford College in Kent, England, and the recipient of the State University of New York Chancellor’s Medal of Excellence for Scholarship and Creative Activities, Ms. Cieri holds an MFA in Creative Writing at Goddard College, Vermont.

Ms. Cieri’s plays: Pitz & Joe, For Dear Life, Last Kiss, Medication, Count Down, and, Safe. Her Essays on Arts and Education have been published in the New York Times, and Teaching Artist Journal. Dominique teaches the adaptation of nonfiction based on the Holocaust for the stage at Yavneh Academy in New Jersey where she also developed teaching curriculum (From the Attic to the Classroom to the Stage) published by the New Jersey State Council of the Arts.  Additionally she has taught at the Craig School where she has developed curriculum in playwriting with learning disabled students in the 4th, 5th and 6th grades.

The scope of Dominique’s work has touched on a wide variety of populations which range from abused and neglected girls, boys at risk in juvenile justice programs as well as 17 years of workshops for artists and educators aTi (Artist Teacher Institute). She has been designing and teaching playwriting and theatre workshops for numerous arts organizations, including Writers Theatre of New Jersey, The Juvenile Justice Commission, The New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and Artist Teacher Institute with Arts Horizons.  Dominique received the New Jersey Theatre Alliance Applause Award, 2010, for her artistry and dedication.

Current projects include the implementation of her work for addressing bullying through the art of playwriting; a year-long commitment to the development of new work from grant monies received by Writers Theatre of New Jersey through the New Jersey Arts Council for the program New Jersey Women Playwrights Project.

Pia Wilson

Pia is a 2015 Sundance fellow and the recipient of the 2014 Sarah Verdone Writing Award. She is a 2011 Heideman Award finalist for her short play, TURNING THE GLASS AROUND, and a semi-finalist in the 2011 Bay Area Playwrights Festival.  She is a 2012-13 resident with the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Workspace program, a member of the 2008 Emerging Writers Group at The Public Theater, and a 2009 playwriting fellow with the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. She is also a member of The Passage Theatre Play Lab and a member of the 2009 Project Footlight team of composers and librettists.

Her drama, GENERATION T, was produced at Adelphi University in February 2014. Her full-length play, THE FLOWER THIEF, was an August 2012 co-production between Horse Trade Theater Group and The Fire This Time play festival. Her play, GENERATION T, was featured in The Classical Theatre of Harlem’s Future Classics reading series in June 2012.  Her full-length drama, RED ROOSTER, was likewise a part of  the Future Classics reading series as well as the Emerging Writers Spotlight Series at The Public Theater in 2009. ALL THE PRETTY GIRLS was featured in The Looking Glass Theatre’s Spring 2009 Writer/Director Forum. THE RIVER PURE FOR HEALING was part of the 2008 Resilience of the Spirit play festival. Her play, TREE OF LIFE, received a 2007 workshop production at The Red Room Theater.

In 2003, Pia’s short story, Dressed In Your Dreams, was published by The Summerset Review. The following year, a short film she penned, Blinding Goldfish, debuted at the New Zealand Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. It was also shown at the Pan-African Film Festival in Los Angeles and the Trenton Film Festival in New Jersey.