In the Spotlight

Every day AWP members are making amazing contributions to the literary community that speak to AWP’s mission. In the Spotlight honors these members’ valuable contributions—learn more about them below!

  • Tom Lutz Dyssou

    Tom Lutz and Nanda Dyssou

    “But I am also trying to get at something else about the process of writing: that it is always at once both planned and unplanned, intended and unintended, motivated, of course, but so multiply motivated that we might almost say unmotivated. ” —Tom Lutz

    About: Tom Lutz is the founding editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books and founder of the LARB Publishing Workshop, LARB Radio Hour, and LARB Books. He is the American Book Award-winning author of Born Slippy: A Novel, Aimlessness, And the Monkey Learned Nothing, Drinking Mare’s Milk,Crying, Doing Nothing, and other books. He has published over a hundred pieces in journals, magazines, newspapers, and collections and has written for TV and film. He has taught at Iowa, Stanford, CalArts, and Copenhagen and is now distinguished professor and chair at UC Riverside’s Department of Creative Writing.

    About: Nanda Dyssou is a Hungarian Congolese writer, entrepreneur, and publicist living in Los Angeles. She holds an MFA in creative writing (fiction) from the University of California in Riverside. Her work has been published in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Locale Magazine, Nonbinary Review, Flashes, and others. She is the founder of Coriolis Company, a literary publicity and marketing agency serving professors, public intellectuals, and thought leaders.


Previously in the Spotlight

  • Eileen Cleary Rebecca Connors

    Eileen Cleary & Rebecca Connors

    “One of the greatest gifts poetry has given me is that it collapses distance and time. Poets around the world over various centuries can be in conversation with one another simply by being read by the same person. ” —Eileen Cleary

    “Yes, I agree. I looked to an MFA as a way to learn the language to talk about poetry– being able to point to a specific line and know that it was impacting me because of the diction or the metaphor or the line break before it..” —Rebecca Connors

    “I met Eileen Cleary, poet and editor, in a Grub Street Master Poetry Workshop in 2014. I have always been impressed with her dedication to her craft and her generosity to other poets. Her work in the literary community has been remarkable, and she is always finding new ways to connect poets and amplify their work. This conversation took place through email over the course of a few months. ” —Rebecca Connors

    About: Eileen Cleary is the author of Child Ward of the Commonwealth (Main Street Rag Press, 2019), which received an honorable mention for the Sheila Margaret Motton Book Prize, and 2 A.M. with Keats, forthcoming from Nixes Mate. Her poems have appeared in Sugar House Review, West Texas Literary Review, The American Journal of Poetry, JAMA, Right Hand Pointing, and other journals. Cleary founded the Lily Poetry Review and Lily Poetry Review Books, and she hosts/curates the Lily Poetry Salon..

    About: Rebecca Connors' poems can be found in Glass, Rogue Agent, Lily Poetry Review, and Tinderbox Poetry Journal, among others. Her chapbook, Split Map (Minerva Rising Press), won the Dare to Speak Chapbook competition and was published in 2019. She lives with her family in Boston, where she received her MFA at the Solstice Creative Writing Program at Pine Manor College. Follow her on Twitter @aprilist or visit her site at


  • LeAnne Howe

    LeAnne Howe

    Athens, Georgia       Member Since: 1998

    “Do something that takes you out of your comfort zone. Do something that you can write about later. Otherwise your fiction will not grow, you will not get a publisher, and you will give up creative writing because you will have nothing interesting to say.”

    About: LeAnne Howe, an enrolled citizen of the Choctaw Nation, teaches at the University of Georgia. Traveling the world has been her greatest joy; while in Japan in 1993, she made nearly everyone she met cry. Savage Conversations, Coffee House Press, 2019, is Howe’s most recent book.


  • Melissa Fraterrigo, Carol D. Guerrero-Murphy & Yiyun Li

    Melissa Fraterrigo, Carol D. Guerrero-Murphy & Yiyun Li

    October Members in the Spotlight, AWP Pandemic Series

    About: AWP is proud of the support and amazing contributions that our members are making to the literary community as writers, educators, organizers, and publishers in spite of our current climate. Over the next few months, AWP will be shining a spotlight on these members to recognize and honor their valuable contributions. Our October members in the Spotlight are Melissa Fraterrigo, Carol D. Guerrero-Murphy and Yiyun Li.


  • Martha McPhee

    Martha McPhee

    New York       Member Since: 1998

    “Hearing that I have moved a reader is the most powerful compliment. That’s what I want to accomplish after all with my storytelling, take the reader into emotional terrain and have her/him feel it, connect to it viscerally.”

    About: Martha McPhee is the author of the novels An Elegant Woman, Dear Money, L’America, Gorgeous Lies, and Bright Angel Time. Her work has been honored with fellowships from the National Endowment of the Arts, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and a National Book Award nomination. She teaches Creative Writing at Hofstra University and lives in New York City with her children and husband, poet and writer Mark Svenvold.


  • Hélène Cardona & Laura J. Braverman

    Hélène Cardona & Laura J. Braverman

    “Whether writing or acting, I find myself in an exalted state of concentration and consciousness, like a meditation or trance. It’s as if time stops or expands, and I’m able to touch other worlds and keep a sense of connection with what is bigger than me.” —Hélène Cardona

    “There is intensity and ‘headiness’ that can come about when writing, the experience of which is very satisfying but also sometimes draining. Painting helps to bring me back to my body, and to the nonverbal.” —Laura J. Braverman

    About: Hélène Cardona is a poet, editor, and literary translator. Her recent books include Life in Suspension and Dreaming My Animal Selves and the translations Beyond Elsewhere (Gabriel Arnou-Laujeac), ce que nous portons (Dorianne Laux), Birnam Wood (José Manuel Cardona), and Walt Whitman’s Civil War Writings for WhitmanWeb. The recipient of over 20 honors & awards, she holds an MA in American Literature from the Sorbonne and taught at Hamilton College and LMU. She is Cultural Editor of Levure Littéraire and Contributing Editor to Cervena Barva Press. Hélène has also served as a mentor for children in the schools in Los Angeles and for AWP's Writer to Writer mentorship program and co-wrote the screenplay Primate with John FitzGerald, based on his novel. Hélène has been a member of AWP since 2005. Find Hélène in the Directory of Members.

    About: Laura J. Braverman’s debut poetry collection, Salt Water, came out in 2019. Her poetry has also appeared in Levure Litteraire, Live Encounters, and Sky Island Journal, among other journals, and in the anthology Awake in the World, Volume II by Riverfeet Press. She received her BFA from Rhode Island School of Design and studied poetry and essay at Stanford University, Bennington College, and the New School. She lives in Lebanon with her family and has been a member of AWP since 2013. Find Laura in the Directory of Members.


  • Joanne Veal Gabbin & Lauren K. Alleyne

    Joanne Veal Gabbin & Lauren K. Alleyne

    “I advise my students to live their lives with passion, to find a job that they would do without pay and then make a career of that, and finally to be committed.” —Joanne Veal Gabbin
    “...I would say my mother who, despite her trepidation about what the future would hold for me, encouraged me along the path I’d chosen.” —Lauren K. Alleyne


  • Sherwin Bitsui & Allison Adelle Hedge Coke

    Sherwin Bitsui & Allison Adelle Hedge Coke

    “Navajo poets have attempted to define or locate the meaning or phrase(s) for Poetry in Navajo language, but we are constantly debating whether one person’s name for it, which then also houses meaning, is also shared by someone else. In that sense poetry is continually mysterious—a depth within language, it beautifies and generates thought and connection to a moment in time and connects us again to some truth of an experience. It’s energy, carried into the world through utterance and song.” —Sherwin Bitsui
    “Poets, if equipped, if so moved, have the same essential responsibility as any critical time implicates; to address, articulate, call, summon, insist, portray. The entire planet is endangered, in crisis. The consuming empires are literally killing us. To not speak would seem to some criminal” —Allison Adelle Hedge Coke


  • Emma Bolden

    Emma Bolden

    Alabaster, Alabama       Member Since: 2006

    “Now more than ever, it is crucial to support, celebrate, and promote works written, edited, and compiled by underrepresented and marginalized identities. Literature is, in my opinion, the clearest, most intimate representation of the human experience. I feel that it is the responsibility of the publishing industry in general—and small presses in particular—to uplift the voices of the full spectrum of human experience.”


  • Octavio Quintanilla

    Octavio Quintanilla

    San Antonio, TX      Member Since: 2016

    “Polish your craft. Spend time reading. Talking about what you read and about what you write. Publication will come and you’ll be happy you were not in a rush.”


  • James McNulty

    James McNulty

    Austin, TX      Member Since: 2016

    “Read as much as you can, and when you do read, don’t just read for the content. Pay attention to the language, the paragraphs, the punctuation: the execution. Don’t write sentences just for their content; instead, look at a sentence as a piece of art that belongs to a larger work of art.”


Nominate a Member

In the Spotlight highlights AWP members who are making exceptional contributions to the literary community. Help us honor these generous individuals by sending your nomination today!

You now have the opportunity to write your own interview with the person you are nominating. See our new guidelines.

Spotlighted Members

View a complete list of In the Spotlight AWP members.