Who’s Behind WTAW

The people behind Why There Are Words

Peg Alford Pursell is the founder and director of Why There Are Words and of WTAW Press. She coordinates and hosts the monthly Sausalito reading events. The author of Show Her a Flower, a Bird, a Shadow (forthcoming from ELJ Editions), Peg has published work in Permafrost, Joyland Magazine, RHINO, the Cortland Review, the Journal of Compressed Creative Arts, and many other journals and anthologies. She holds an MFA from the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers.

Michael Collins is the coordinator of Why There Are Words-New York City. His poems have received Pushcart Prize nominations and appeared in more than 60 journals and magazines, including Grist, Kenning Journal, Pank, and Smartish Pace. His first chapbook, How to Sing when People Cut off your Head and Leave it Floating in the Water, won the Exact Change Press Chapbook Contest in 2014. He is also the author of the chapbooks Harbor Mandala and the full-length collection, Psalmandala. He lives in New York with his wife and son and teaches creative and expository writing at New York University.

Patrick O’Neil  and Ashley Perez coordinate Why There Are Words-Los Angeles. Patrick O’ Neil is an author, musician, and filmmaker. The author of the memoir Gun, Needle, Spoon (Dzanc Books), his writing has appeared in numerous publications, including Juxtapoz, Salon, The Nervous BreakdownRazorcake, and he has been nominated twice for Best of the Net. He is a regular contributor to AfterPartyMagazine, a contributing editor for Sensitive Skin Magazine, and a PEN Center USA Professional and a former Emerging Voices Fellowship Mentor. Patrick holds an MFA in creative writing from Antioch University Los Angeles and teaches in AULA’s Inspiration2Publication program. He recently relocated from the glittery sleaze of Hollywood to live in L.A.’s monument to broken dreams, the über hip downtown district, with his fiancé and two giant Maine Coons.

Ashley Perez lives, writes, and causes trouble in Los Angeles. She has a strong affinity for tattoos, otters, cat mystery books, and actual cats, but has mixed feelings about pants.  She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles. She runs the literary site Arts Collide and does work of all varieties for Jaded Ibis Press, and Midnight Breakfast. Her work can be found at The Rumpus, The Nervous Breakdown, The Weeklings, Red Light Lit, and others. Find her on Twitter at @ArtsCollide.

Sara Quinn Rivara is the coordinator for Why There Are Words-Portland. Writers Helping Writers:As a writer, feminist, & author on two small presses, I am a fierce believer in the power of a community of writers, and of writers helping other writers. When my first book came out in a tiny press, it felt overwhelming to find places to read. As the coordinator for the WTAW Portland reading series, I am thrilled to help other writers on small presses–and WTAW authors–find a Pacific Northwest audience for their work. I can’t wait to hear your words!

Sara Quinn Rivara is the author of the chapbook Lake Effect (Aldrich Press, 2013) and the forthcoming collection Animal Bride (ELJ Editions, 2017). Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Fem, Devil’s Lake, RHINO, Word Riot, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, Blackbird, Midwestern Gothic, Cream City Review, Bluestem, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Poemeleon, 32 Poems, The Cortland Review, HerKind, and many others. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart, won Midwestern Gothic’s Lake Prize, and been featured at Late Night Library. She holds an MFA from Warren Wilson College, and lives in Portland, Oregon with her family.

Nancy Koerbel is the Coordinator for Why There Are Words-Pittsburgh. Writer, Teacher, Editor. Tender of Horses. Friend of Dogs. As a lifelong resident of Pittsburgh, I’m thrilled to help channel the energy and excitement of WTAW to our thriving and diverse literary community. Nancy has written everything from award-winning editorials to instructions on preparing frozen French fries, and had one of her poems made into an animated 60-second short for Lifetime TV. She teaches writing to undergrads at the University of Pittsburgh, and works as a copyeditor for a large tech company. She writes poems and essays, has a black and white rescue dog from Baton Rouge named Baru, and is married to the narrative consultant, Frank Lehner. On Sunday mornings Nancy tends her friend’s 16 horses, who have taught her more than she can say. She holds an MFA from the Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College, and is a former recipient of a grant from the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.

Alison Moore  is the Coordinator for Why There Are Words-Austin. She lives in Austin, Texas, when she’s not on the road. Alison is a graduate of the Warren Wilson MFA Program for Writers and a former Assistant Professor of English/Creative Writing in the MFA Creative Writing Program at the University of Arizona. She is the author of four books, Riders on the Orphan Train (Roadworthy Press, 2012) completed through a fellowship from The National Endowment for the Arts, a collection of short stories entitled The Middle of Elsewhere (Phoenix International / University of Arkansas Press), a novel, Synonym for Love (Penguin/Plume, 1996), and a collection of short stories, Small Spaces between Emergencies (Mercury House, 1993), one of the Notable Books of 1993 chosen by The American Library Association.

She has developed educational outreach programs for the National Orphan Train Museum, and for ArtsReach, a Native American literacy project in Southern Arizona. Since 1999, after leaving a tenure-track job, she has been an itinerant performer with singer/songwriter Phil Lancaster. Together, they perform a multi-media program called “Riders on the Orphan Train” in museums and libraries in the West.

Haldane King is an intern at Why There Are Words-Sausalito. Haldane earned his Master of the Fine Arts degree in Writing and Consciousness from the California Institute of Integral Studies in 2012.  Since then he has been presenting his fantasy and science fiction tales at local readings while working on a collection of short stories. He currently works as a data analyst and helps the Why There Are Words Literary Reading Series bring literature to the people in Sausalito.

Linda Michel-Cassidy is an intern at Why There Are Words-Sausalito. Her writing can be found in Harpur Palate, Electric Literature, Jabberwock, the anthology Seeking Its Own Level, and others. She is a contributing editor at Entropy Magazine, and starting this fall, will be conducting author interviews for the Mill Valley Library’s podcast. She recently guest-edited The Notebook, a publication of the Grassroots Women’s Project.  In addition, she is an installation artist, and has shown work throughout the U.S. and abroad. She holds an MFA in writing from Bennington, and another, in visual arts, from the California College of the Arts. She has taught writing and art for the last fifteen years, including four years as a resident artist in Taos, New Mexico.