Dabbler by nature, risk-taker by profession, Bonnie Shiffler-Olsen’s poetry, essays, and photography are published in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, HEX magazine, likewise folio, new bourgeois, Outlet, and Touchstones Journal. In January 2015 she co-founded Rock Canyon Poets with poet Trish Hopkinson, and the companion poetry journal Orogeny. Shiffler-Olsen writes about the mundane, the profane, and the sacred. During the ten years she single-parented two sons and two daughters, Shiffler-Olsen served as editor-in-chief for Touchstones and BYU-Idaho’s Scroll. Her professional credentials include journalist, contemporary dance artist, and founder/director of a non-profit ballet school for low-income children in southeast Idaho. In 2016, following 22 years as a perennial senior at three universities and 200 completed credit hours, Shiffler-Olsen will graduate with a BA in creative writing from Utah Valley University. She may or may not pursue an MFA. She lives with her children and Mark, a very patient philosopher husband in Provo, Utah. Web Site: https://provokabulary.wordpress.com/
Trish Hopkinson is a poet, blogger, and advocate for the literary arts. You can find her online at SelfishPoet.com and provisionally in Utah, where she runs the regional poetry group Rock Canyon Poets and folds poems to fill Poemball machines for Provo Poetry. Her poetry has been published in several lit mags and journals, including Tinderbox, Glass Poetry Press, and The Penn Review; her third chapbook Footnote was published by Lithic Press in 2017. Hopkinson will happily answer to labels such as atheist, feminist, and empty nester; and enjoys traveling, live music, wine-tasting, and craft beer.
(doer of silly things)
Austin Beckstrom is a Graphic Designer and recently reformed eternal student. He is from California, Texas, and Utah in that order- and works to buck the stereotypes of each. He is married to the most talented and beautiful editor in the world, and has a son and a daughter who take after their mother. He loves writing, reading, games, poetry, wordplay, freethinking, and especially when one or more of them intersect.
Boots on the Ground
Darin Whittaker (also known as Father Sluggo) is a former musician turned poet after the music thing didn’t quite work. What he lacks in literary training and formal education he makes up for with enthusiasm and a love for writing. He has lived in Utah County for the last 20 years and can be seen almost daily at a local coffee shop where he spends time growing his beard, smoking cigarettes, drinking coffee, writing, and discussing important things with his friends. Almost in that order, and always with a song in his head.
Woman About Town
(social media curator)
Lisa Wence Connors
Lisa Wence Connors retired from the US Army and is now a mercenary writer and poet. She divides her time between Salt Lake City, UT, Fruita, CO, and the open road. She facilitates creative writing workshops for the Grand Junction VA and is the Editor of High Desert Cadence: A Journal of Veteran Poetry. Her work has been published in Alexandria Quarterly, Bluestem Literary Journal, and Atlas & Alice, among others.
Rock Canyon Poets
Aaron Gates is a Utah Valley University student majoring in Writing Studies. He is Co-Editor-in-Chief of peculiar: A Queer Literary Journal and his poetry has been published in Warp and Weave and Touchstones. Gates has an unhealthy obsession with Channing Tatum, Calvin and Hobbes, and Thai food.
Alyssa Wolf is a poet who focuses on both the mundane and precious things in life. She writes about everything from hot chili peppers and her grandmother’s chicken soup to sacred indigenous ceremonies. About a million years ago, she earned her BA from Wellesley College with a double-major in English and Women’s Studies, and later earned a Masters Degree from Nova Southeastern University. Along the way, she won the Elizabeth Babcock Award for Poetry, the Florence Annette Wing Prize, and the Amanda Butler Sternberg Memorial Award for Poetry. Alyssa currently teaches literature courses at Wasatch Academy, an unusual international boarding school in the middle of rural Sanpete County, Utah, where the only traffic jams occur when herds of baaa-ing sheep flock down Main Street as they are moved on or off the mountain for grazing purposes. Aside from writing, Alyssa loves hiking, art, singing, Native American ceremonies, ice skating, horses, funny movies, and (of course!) chocolate.
Austin Anderson graduated from Utah Valley University with a degree in creative writing. He is currently a student in the super awesome, best of the best Oregon State University-Cascades Low Residency MFA in Creative Writing. He lives with his wife and daughter in Spanish Fork, Utah.
Chris A. Peck
Chris A. Peck is a high school English teacher who tends to wander in his writing. He has published poetry, prose, essays, and science fiction in venues such as, Wilderness Interface Zone, Sci-Phi Journal, Essais, Touchstones, and others. Peck focuses much of his writing in exploring ideas regarding existentialism, the absurd, childhood, and wonder. He has also published a book of poetry called When I Was.
Chris Atkin is an English teacher, writer, and a slam poetry coach and poet who led Utah’s Slam team “Salt City Unified” to a fourth place finish at the National Poetry Slam in Chicago, Illinois in 2018. In addition to being a Rock Canyon Poet, Chris is a board member of the Salt Lake City based Slam organization “The Wasatch Wordsmiths,” and a co founder and Vice President of the Utah High School Poetry Slam Initiative, a group working to make an organized and competitive slam scene available to all Utah High School Students. Chris coaches the American Fork High School slam team, who won the state championship of Slam in 2018.
Claire Åkebrand is a Swede who grew up in Germany and Utah. She has poetry forthcoming in the Manchester Review and BOAAT. Other poems have appeared in the Beloit Poetry Journal, Eunoia Review, and Luna Luna Magazine. She is completing a poetry MFA at the University of Utah and lives in Provo with her husband and two children.
Colin Blaine Douglas was born in 1944 and brought up in Western Washington; is an enrolled member of the Samish Indian Nation; became a Latter-day Saint at the age of sixteen; served in the Brazilian Mission in 1964–1966; served in Military Intelligence in the Regular Army and the Utah National Guard, retiring as a sergeant first class; attended the University of Washington as a journalism major and received a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in American literature at The Brigham Young University; was employed for twenty years as an editor in the Curriculum Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; edited and reported for the Magna (Utah) Times newspaper for two years; with the former Linda Jean Wells, to whom he was married in 1969, is the father of seven; has resided in Utah since 1971; is the author of three volumes of verse (First Light, First Water; Glyphs; and Division by Zero) and one volume of criticism (Six Poems by Joseph Smith: A Dimension of Meaning in the Doctrine and Covenants); as literary mentors names Latter-day Saint scripture (including the Bible), Arthur Rimbaud, André Breton, Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, Kenneth Rexroth, Gary Snyder, and Philip Lamantia.
Dennis Clark should have been locked up long ago, but since, by some bureaucratic oversight, he was allowed to mate and reproduce, the cat is out of the bag and the toothpaste is out of the tube and the cat is playing with the toothpaste so … be careful what you put in your mouth tonight. Put a poem in your mouth!
Diana Dean is a student at Utah Valley University, graduating this semester with a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. She’s been published in Touchstones and Dialogue Journal and is currently the editor in chief of Touchstones Journal and on staff with Intersections and Essais Journal. She feels like she makes bad life decisions and would be happy to pay someone to make her decisions for her if only she earned more than minimum wage. She also thinks she has a smoking body, but has a hard time convincing anybody else of that fact…
A bit of an almost friendly, slightly troll-ish next-door neighbour, Erika enjoys the realm of things that can be done in solitude or silent company; gaming, writing, music, photography. But she also quite enjoys spending time with her curly boys (her husband and poodle).
She is one of the Literature Community volunteers at DeviantArt and you can stalk her at themaideninblack.deviantart.com; her previous homes span Argentina, Italy and England but she seems to have become almost of a sedentary in Provo, Utah.
fish burton is a poet who has lived in over thirty different houses. he has an m.f.a. in poetry from b.y.u. and has been published in inscape and collision magazine. his first chapbook, sonder, is a collection of poem portraits. currently, he is an editor at elsewhere mag (elsewheremag.org) and writes somewhere he has never lived before. find him at fishburton.com.
Heather Holland loves mountains, birds, trees, dogs, raspberries, yoga, and meditation. She completed an MFA in creative writing, with a minor in gender and women’s studies at University of Wyoming. Her poetry and essays have appeared in saltfront, The Found Poetry Review, Segullah, Exponent II, Panorama, and in her chapbook Mastering the Art of Joy.
Jack Garcia is the co-founder and Co-Editor-in-Chief of peculiar: a queer literary journal. Jack has had work published in Touchstones, Essais, Orogeny, Inscape, and Matador Review. When not workshopping his poetry with the Rock Canyon Poets or working his boring day job as a jewelry store manager, Jack enjoys binge-watching The Golden Girls with his boyfriend and paying his student loans until he dies.
Web Site: http://www.peculiarjournal.com/ and https://clippings.me/jackgarcia
Jessica is an English teacher at Slate Canyon, a lockdown facility for incarcerated youth. She loves her job and enjoys spreading her love of literature and poetry to her students. Jessica is co-founder of Speak for Yourself Open Mic, a weekly creative writing open mic in downtown Provo. Community members have made it a success, and she is constantly inspired by local and featuring poets.
Joanna Ellsworth graduated from Utah Valley University with a B.S. in English Education and a minor in creative writing. She’s currently teaching high school English in Utah. She’s a married mother of two who loves playing geeky games with her closest friends, early-morning running, and MMA-based fitness training. Her poetry, short stories, and literary criticism have been published in various journals including Touchstones, Essais, Warp and Weave, and 521 Magazine.
Joe is a Utah Valley University graduate currently kicking his poetry in all directions and hoping it will stick somewhere. As an undergrad, Joe worked as the poetry editor of Touchstones for two semesters and as the managing editor for one. Joe’s favorite poets include e.e. cummings, Robinson Jeffers, and local flavor Rob Carney. Joe enjoys cutting up both magazines and newspapers and rearranging them into things that are less boring. He has no kids, no pets, and doesn’t grow tomatoes.
Josef Firmage is an award winning writer. He has published fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. He was awarded the President’s Writing Award for an essay, “Spartan Decisions,” and was also nominated for a Pushcart Prize for his short story, “A Boy in the Whale.” His poetry and fiction has been published at BSU, in cold-drill, Anemone Sidecar, Prick of the Spindle, and The Doctor T. J. Eckleburg Review. He is currently at work on his first novel.
Kevin Blankinship is Assistant Professor of Arabic at Brigham Young University. He is writing a book about the blind author al-Ma`arri and world-rejection in classical Arabic poetry. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Times Literary Supplement, and more. He tweets at @AmericanMaghreb.
Laura West is a creative writing major at UVU. She has been published in Touchstones and The Weird Reader. Laura lives in Provo with her husband, her four children, and a kitty. In what little free time she has, she likes to read, write, crochet, and occasionally sleep.
Marianne Hales Harding
Marianne Hales Harding is a poet, essayist, and playwright living in Springville, Utah. She has been published in Dialogue, Segullah, The Hong Kong Review, Helicon West, and Rocky Mountain Runners. Her plays have been produced across the U.S. and adapted for film. She is honored to influence writers at Brigham Young University and Western Governors University and co-founded Provo Poetry, a non-profit dedicated to bringing poetry into the community at large in unusual ways, and Speak For Yourself, a creative writing open mic. She is also the Head Curator for the Plein Air Word Gallery.
Web Site: speakforyourselfopenmic.wordpress.com
Matthew A. Jonassaint lives in the heart of the Utah Valley, where he works with high school students. He studied film history and modernist literature as an undergrad while working in editorial positions for the university newspaper. His current writing project is about philosophy, drugs, and comic books.
Michaëlle Martial is a Haitian-born Author & Spoken Word Artist best known as the Caribbean Nightingale Poet. She is a the mother of an infant gone too soon and a domestic violence survivor who is fiercely dedicated to empowering other women through her poetry, personal coaching services on grief and domestic violence, one-on-one narrative consulting sessions, and workshops (Writing Workshop for Domestic Violence Survivors & Plus Size Fashion Workshop). Michaëlle is the Organizer of Relaxation through Verse, a recurring Poetry Salon where local Poets and Artists perform in an intimate setting. The poet is also known for the family-friendly Cupcakes for Breakfast, the only Author Meet & Greet where poetry indulges your sweet tooth. The Caribbean Nightingale supports advocacy for immigrants along with the search for a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. She is a Brigham Young University alumni. The author currently resides in Utah with her family and their cat.
Mike Mortensen is a mental health therapist who specializes in trauma and addiction. Grand Prize Winner of the 1st annual Provo-Poetry competition, his work can be found in various journals such as Ink & Nebula, Gasher Journal, and 15 Bytes. He is a member of Rock Canyon Poetry, and has several pieces published in the group’s annual Anthology—Orogeny. His work has also been displayed in a multiple discipline art gallery at the University of Arizona, Tucson for poetry and printmaking. He lives on a farm in Southern Utah with his family and dog.
Paul Francis is a retired Army colonel and practicing Periodontist in Lehi Utah. He contours gingiva and implants titanium, idolizes Milton and Chaucer, climbs couloirs and routes, then flouts runouts; slogs on snowshoes and hikes hinterlands; writes and rhymes, never mimes but modifies memes and seems sensible. Paul is a member of Rock Canyon Poets and Blazing Words Performing Poets. He regularly perform at Speak for Yourself open mic at Enliten Café in Provo and occasionally performs in slam poetry competitions at Salt City Slam at Weller Book Works and Sugar Slam at Joffee Coffee.
Web Site: www.francisperio.com
Sarah Duffy completed her MFA in Creative Writing at the University of South Florida. She writes poetry, nonfiction, and dabbles in a bit of fiction here and there. Her work has appeared in Tar River Poetry, Fire in the Pasture, Sweet: A Literary Confection, Inscape, and Dialogue. She grew up a bi-coastal resident of New York City and Southern California. She currently resides in Orem, Utah.
Originally a Carbon County native, Shauntel Peterson is currently a senior at Utah Valley University studying English and Creative Writing. She has worked as Poetry Editor for two semesters on Touchstones and has been published in Intersections, Touchstones, and Warp & Weave. Shauntel also presented at the 2015 Writing for Social Change Conference at UVU. Shauntel is also a dancer and is passionate about teaching the next generation of ballerinas.
Steven Duncan is a poet, editor, medical student, and yellow curry enthusiast (not in that order, curry should come first). He grew up in Utah Valley and graduated from BYU in microbiology and Russian. He also weathered two winters in Siberia as a Latter-day Saint missionary and successfully made it back with all his fingers and toes. Steven was the 2018 winner of the Redrock Writers’ Founders Award. His published work can be found at: www.stevenduncan.net.
Tacey M. Atsitty, Diné (Navajo), is Tsénahabiłnii (Sleep Rock People) and born for Ta’neeszahnii (Tangle People). She is a recipient of the Truman Capote Creative Writing Fellowship, the Corson-Browning Poetry Prize, Morning Star Creative Writing Award, and the Philip Freund Prize. She holds bachelor’s degrees from Brigham Young University and the Institute of American Indian Arts, and an MFA in Creative Writing from Cornell University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in POETRY, Crab Orchard Review, Kenyon Review Online, Prairie Schooner, Crazyhorse, New Poets of Native Nations,and other publications. Her first book is Rain Scald (University of New Mexico Press, 2018). Rain Scald was named one of the top ten debut books of poetry in 2018 by Poets & Writers Magazine. She lives in Cottonwood Heights.
Web Site: www.taceymatsitty.com
Teresa Dzieglewicz is an educator, Pushcart Prize-winning poet, and a co-director of the Mní Wičhóni Nakíčižiŋ Owáyawa (Defenders of the Water School) at Standing Rock Reservation. She received her MFA from Southern Illinois University, where she received the Academy of American Poets Prize. She is the winner of the 2018 Auburn Witness Poetry Prize and she has received fellowships from Brooklyn Poets, New Harmony Writer’s Workshop, the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center, and the NY Mills Arts Retreat. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in the Pushcart Prize XLII, Best New Poets, Beloit Poetry Journal, Prairie Schooner, Ninth Letter, Sixth Finch, and elsewhere.