Instructors

October 24, 2018

Meet Our Instructors

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Helane Levine-Keating

has lived in New Kingston, New York since 1989. Since 1983, she has been a professor of Literature and Creative Writing at Pace University, New York.

Having written poetry and fiction since childhood, she took her first creative writing workshop with poet Anthony Hecht as an undergraduate at the University of Rochester. After receiving a PhD in Comparative Literature at New York University, where she studied with critic and poet M. L. Rosenthal and semiotician and novelist Umberto Eco, she studied poetry and fiction with Toby Olson, Edward Field, Sharon Olds, Galway Kinnell, and Richard Howard. Since 1971 her poetry has appeared in The New York Quarterly, The Malahat Review, Heresies, Central Park, and Graham House Review, and other journals; thirteen of her poems appear in Women and Stepfamilies: Voices of Anger and Love (Maglin and Schneidewind, eds., Temple University Press, 1988) as well as other anthologies. The recipient of several poetry prizes, she has given numerous poetry and fiction readings in the New York metropolitan area and upstate. Levine-Keating’s other writings include book reviews and scholarly articles on myth and poetry, and she is the co-author, with Walter Levy, of Lives Through Literature: A Thematic Anthology, 3e (Prentice Hall 2001). She is presently completing a novel, Nights of the Black Moon, the story of a labyrinthine female odyssey, and is working on a new collection of poems, Fractal Landscapes. Also a photographer, Levine-Keating is a member of the Longyear Gallery, Margaretville, and her work has appeared in Longyear shows and recent shows sponsored by the Roxbury Arts Group.

 

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Leslie T. Sharpe

lesliesharpeLeslie T. Sharpe is an author, editor, and educator. She began her editing career at Farrar, Straus & Giroux and is currently an editorial consultant specializing in literary nonfiction, literary fiction, and poetry. A member of PEN American Center, she is the author of Editing Fact and Fiction: A Concise Guide to Book Editing (Cambridge University Press), which is regarded as a “modern editing classic.” Leslie has also a been a regular contributor to Newsday’s “Urban ‘I’” column, and her essays and articles have appeared in a wide variety of publications including the Chicago Tribune, Christian Science Monitor, Global City Review, International Herald Tribune, New York Times, New York Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, San Francisco Chronicle, and Village Voice; The Villager; The Writer; and Psychology Today. She recently finished her memoir, Our Fractured, Perfect Selves, and her new book, The Quarry Fox and Other Tales of the Wild Catskills, a lyric, narrative look at the wild animals of the Catskill Mountains, will be published by The Overlook Press. Her poems for children have appeared in Ladybug Magazine, and she is currently at work on a poetry collection, Little Possums Book of Poems. Leslie has taught writing and editing at Columbia University, New York University and the City College of New York.

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Amie Brockway Amie Brockway

AMIE BROCKWAY-HENSON’s play “Pepacton,” based on the writings and life of 19th and early 20th century naturalist John Burroughs, was commissioned by the Catskill Watershed Corporation and produced by The Open Eye Theater in Margaretville, NY, in spring 2011. “Pepacton” was performed for students in grades 3-12, as well as for the general public.  Her stage adaptations of Homer’s “The Odyssey” and Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Nightingale,” (co-authored with William Electric Black), both with music by Elliot Sokolov,  premiered at The Open Eye Theater in New York City, and have been produced in Canada, Europe, and throughout the United States.  They are published by Dramatic Publishing Company.   “The Cricket on the Hearth,” adapted from Charles Dickens’ novel, and “You, Alice, and Me,” based on Lewis Carroll’s “Through the Looking Glass,” have also been produced by The Open Eye Theater.  “Remembering the Valley,” based on oral histories of Denver-Vega Valley in the Catskill Mountains was produced at the Denver-Vega Old School Baptist Church, a National Historic Site.  Curriculum-based plays “I Do Solemnly Swear,” highlighting major challenges faced by Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln, and “Hobo Jungle,” set during the Great Depression, were produced at Margaretville and Andes Central Schools.  Works in progress include “Dulce Domum,” an adaptation of Chapter V from “Wind in the Willows,” and “Ragamuffin,” a collection of monologues based on memoir.

Amie Brockway is producing artistic director of The Open Eye Theater, where she has directed dozens of world premieres and nurtured playwrights through several seasons of Summer Shortcuts at The Open Eye Theater in Margaretville, and the Eye on Playwrights Lab at The Open Eye Theater in NYC.  She has served as Editor of TYA Today, and has had articles published in Dramatists Guild Newsletter, American Theatre Magazine, and Animal Issues. She has served as guest director of new plays at the Bonderman National Youth Theater Playwriting Symposium, New Visions/New Voices at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, and The Coterie in Kansas City, MO.  She has been a Playwright Fellowship Panelist for Ohio Arts Council and Playwrights Center in Minneapolis, MN, and Literary Consultant at Mount Sequoya New Play Retreat.  She has been a script reader/evaluator for Manhattan Theatre Club and Playwrights Horizons in New York City, the Bonderman in Indianapolis, and Write Now in Tempe, AZ.  She was among the judges for the 2013 ALAP Short Play Festival in Los Angeles, CA. In 2015 the American Alliance for Theatre and Education (AATE) awarded her the Sara Spencer Artistic Achievement Award. Amie holds an MFA in directing from Rutgers Mason Gross School of the Arts, and a BFA in theater from SUNY Purchase.

 

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Anique Taylor

Anique Taylor holds an MFA in Poetry from Drew University, and an MFA in Drawing from Pratt Institute as well as a Diplome from Sorbonne University in Paris, France. She’s co-authored works for HBO, Scholastic, Simon & Schuster, a three-act play performed at Playwrights Horizons. She’s given featured readings at St. Mark’s Poetry Project, Dixon Place, the Speakeasy, Cedar Tavern, and group readings at What Happens Next, Tompkin’s Square, Charas, The Knitting Factory. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Rattle, Common Ground Review, Stillwater Review, The World (St. Mark’s Poetry Project), Adanna, Cover Magazine, Cheap Review, Southern Poetry Review, Earth’s Daughters. She’s been anthologized in Veils Halos & Shackles, Pain & Memory. She’s published a chapbook Poems (Unimproved Editions Inc). Her chapbook Where Space Bends was chosen Finalist by both Minerva Rising’s and also in Blue Light Press’ Chapbook Contests. Her chapbook Under the Ice Moon was chosen Finalist by Blue Light Press Chapbook Contest. She’s taught The Creative Journal at Bard LLI and the Poetry Workshop at Benedictine’s Oncology Support Program.

 

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Sharon Ruetenik

Sharon Ruetenik is the author of a poetry chapbook, The Wooden Bowl. She is currently working on a manuscript of sevenlings. Her work has appeared in print and online journals, most recently The Green Door. Ruetenik was awarded a poetry fellowship at the Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts. As a speaker for the the New York Council for the Humanities, she has lectured on short stories, novellas, and poetry. Her day job is working at SUNY Delhi as the coordinator of the Writing Center, the international student advisor, and adjunct instructor in composition and literature. Ruetenik lives in Delhi with her family, which includes many large dogs and several indolent cats.

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Durga Yael Bernhard


D Yael Bernhard is the illustrator of over three dozen children’s books – all of which she designed except for one – including fiction and non-Yael at Huckleberry Pointfiction, natural science titles and multicultural folktales. She has also written several unique concept books for children.  Her illustrated books include A Ride on Mother’s Back (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt); While You Are Sleeping (Charlesbridge Publishing); In the Fiddle is a Song(Chronicle Books); and Never Say a Mean Word Again (Wisdom Tales Press).  Most recently, she has published a calendar of fine art paintings titled The Jewish Eye.  Yael brings unique influences to her work, including a strong grounding in musical rhythm and graphic design, and a deep love of African culture, Eastern and Western religion, and the natural world.  She is a firm believer in blurring the lines between commercial and fine art, and between work and play as an artist.  Yael’s work encompasses several different styles, and has been published on everything from book, magazine and CD covers, to business logos, brochures, websites, corporate promotional materials, and publicity for religious and ecological causes.  As an arts-in-ed teacher, Yael brings creative inspiration into elementary school classrooms, combining illustration and book-making with academic learning.  She enjoys teaching artists of all ages. Her website is http://dyaelbernhard.com.

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Dara Lurie


Dara Lurie is an Author, Workshop leader and Book Coach who helps writers of all levels discover their passionate and original voices in DaraPhotostories.  She received her Bachelor of Arts in Film & Theater from Vassar College and her M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Hunter College. Her first book, “Great Space of Desire: Writing for Personal Evolution” is a memoir and creative guide for writers.  For over 12 years, Dara has facilitated writing workshops and retreats in diverse locations from college classrooms in New York City and the Hudson Valley to an open-air pavilion in the Costa Rican Rainforest. This year, Dara launched a new online mentorship program for small-business owners who want to create inspired content & marketing copy to grow their business. To learn more about Dara, visit http://www.transformative-writing.com/about.

 

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Sari Botton

SB_3906LRSari Botton is a writer, editor and teacher living in Kingston, NY. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, New York Magazine, The Village Voice, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, More, plus other publications and assorted anthologies. She is the editor of the award-winning anthology Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York and its follow-up, the New York Times bestselling Never Can Say Goodbye: Writers on Their Unshakable Love for New York.  She is a columnist at The Rumpus and Longreads, and editorial director for the non-profit TMI Project. Learn more about her at saribotton.com.

 

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Lissa Kiernan

Lissa Kiernan is the founding director of the Poetry Barn, a literary center based in West Hurley, New York, wim-headshotsponsoring workshops, readings, craft talks, and book arts for all ages.  Her first collection of poetry,  Two Faint Lines in the Violet (Negative Capability Press), was a 2014 Foreword Reviews’ INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award Finalist, as well as a finalist for the Julie Suk Award for Best Poetry Book by an Independent Press. Her book-length braided essay, Glass Needles & Goose Quills: Elementary Lessons in Atomic Properties, Nuclear Families, and Radical Poetics, is forthcoming in fall 2016. Individual poems can be found in numerous journals and anthologies including Podium Literary Journal of the 92nd Street Y, and The Yale Journal for the Humanities in Medicines, and have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. She holds her MFA in Creative Writing/Poetry from the Stonecoast, ​the University of Southern Maine, and an MA from The New School. More at lissakiernan.com.

 

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Nina Shengold

NINA SHENGOLD writes in many genres.  Her books include the novel Clearcut (Anchor Books), a Book Sense nina-shengold-by-jennifer-mayNotable Selection; River of Words: Portraits of Hudson Valley Writers, with photographer Jennifer May (SUNY Press); and 13 theatre anthologies for Vintage Books and Viking Penguin.  She won the Writers Guild Award for her teleplay Labor of Love, starring Marcia Gay Harden, and the ABC Playwright Award for Homesteaders.  Nina has taught creative writing at the University of Maine, Manhattanville College, Vermont College of Fine Arts, and locally at Word Cafe, the Omega Institute, and as a visiting guest artist at SUNY Ulster.

 

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Ginnah Howard

 

Ginnah Howard’s work has appeared in Water~Stone Review, Permafrost, Portland Review, Descant 145, Eleven Eleven Journal, The Tusculum Review, and elsewhere. Several stories have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Night Navigation, Book 2 of her upstate novel trilogy, (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009), was a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. Chronogram called Book 3, Doing Time Outside (Standing Stone Books, 2013), “a beautiful read.”  Book 1 of the trilogy, Rope & Bone: A Novel in Stories (Illume, 2014) was listed by Publishers Weekly as one of the “best of the best” Indie books of 2015. In her latest book, I’m Sick of This Already: At-Risk Learning in a High School Class, Howard focuses on a year of working with students in a small rural town. Currently she is putting together a collection of poetry and prose titled An Opera of Hankering. For more information visit: www.GinnahHoward.com

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Dr. Bill Birns

Dr. Bill Birns is the author of three Catskill-themed books: A Catskill Catalog; The Myth in the Mountain; and I Was Corning a Beaver, Like You Do. An active Delaware County citizen for 45 years, Bill taught a couple generations of Catskill Mountain kids, both at Margaretville Central School and Onteora High School. A Doctor of Philosophy in Rhetoric and Linguistics, Bill’s 1986 dissertation is the most in-depth study of the dialect of the Catskills.

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Robert Burke Warren

Robert Burke Warren is a writer, performer, and musician. His work has appeared in Salon, AARP, The Rock & Roll RBWpic copyHall of Fame, Texas Music, Brooklyn Parent, Woodstock Times, Vulture, Paste, The Rumpus, The Bitter Southerner, Chronogram, Longform, and the Da Capo anthology The Show I‘ll Never Forget. His debut novel, Perfectly Broken, is available in paperback. As a songwriter, he has released seven CDs – two as Robert Burke Warren and five as family musician Uncle Rock. His songwriting appears on albums by Rosanne Cash, RuPaul, and rockabilly queen Wanda Jackson. In the mid 1990s, he portrayed Buddy Holly in the West End musical Buddy: the Buddy Holly Story. Prior to that he traveled the world as a rock & roll bass player.

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Sharon Israel

Sharon Israel is the host of Planet Poet-Words in Space, an edition of The Writer’s Voice program on WIOX 91.3 FMSharon Israel in Roxbury, New York. Her first chapbook Voice Lesson was published by Post Traumatic Press in 2017. Her work most recently appeared in Per Contra, SPANK the CARP, 5:2 Crime Poetry Weekly, Medical Literary Messenger, and Spry Literary Journal. In 2016, Ms. Israel appeared as a panelist at the Massachusetts Poetry Festival in Salem, Mass. As a poet and soprano, she collaborates with her husband, composer Robert Cucinotta, on works for voice, live instruments, and electronics. Ms. Israel holds a B.A. from Brooklyn College and an M.S. from the New School of Social Research. She was an early recipient of Brooklyn College’s Leonard Hecht Poetry Explication Award. Ms. Israel is certified in the Amherst Writers & Artists (AWA) method and will incorporate the principles of the AWA into her workshop. AWA, an international writing organization is founded on the belief that everyone is a writer. AWA supports practiced and emerging voices through its proven workshop method.

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Carolyn Bennett

Carolyn Bennett has spent a lifetime in publishing, writing and editing. She is the author of a collection of short fiction, A Thing Among Things (Birch Brook Press), and two poetry collections, The Everyday Way (Slow Motion Press) and Looking for Cold Mountain (Outloud Books). She has an MA in Creative Writing from City College of New York where she studied with Joseph Heller, Susan Sontag and Donald Barthelme. Eventually, she found her way into journalism and grant writing. She is currently the Director of the Zadock Pratt Museum.

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