SLS Georgia 2019 will be the last program—after 21 years and 32 successful events on 3 continents. Come join us for what will be a fantastic farewell experience!

Meet the SLS Georgia 
2019 Faculty

Polina Barskova was born in then Leningrad in 1976, began writing poetry at the age of eight and since then during many years had been attending a legendary studio (“kruzhok”) for writing children led by poet Viacheslav Leikin. She published her first book of poetry, Christmas, in 1991—now her tenth book of poetry, A Sunny Morning in the Square has been published in Saint Petersburg.

Barskova left Russia at the age of twenty to pursue a PhD in Russian Studies at UC Berkeley, having already earned a graduate degree and become an accomplished poet in her homeland. Three books of Barskova’s poetry were translated into English: This Lamentable City (Tupelo Press, 2010), The Zoo in Winter: Selected Poems (Melville House, 2011), and Relocations (Zephyr Press) 2015. As a professor of Russian literature at Hampshire College, Barskova began an archival project that resulted in Written in the Dark: Five Poets in the Siege of Leningrad (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2016), an anthology of work written during the siege that remained unknown for decades.

Now Barskova lives in Amherst (MA) with her daughter Frosia where she is teaching Russian literature at Hampshire College and working on a number of projects dedicated to culture and poetry in the besieged Leningrad (1941-44). At the end of 2015 Barskova received Andrey Bely Prize for her book of prose, Living Pictures. Her play with the same title is staged in Moscow Theatre of Nations.

Polina Barskova
Poet, Writer

Tara Isabella Burton
Novelist, travel writer

Tara Isabella Burton is the author of the novel Social Creature, praised by The New York Times’ Janet Maslin as one of the best books of 2018. Her travel writing and essays have appeared in National Geographic Traveler, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist’s 1843, and more. A former religion correspondent for Vox.com, she is currently working on a book about the religiously unaffiliated in America for Public Affairs, for publication in 2020. She has taught writing for Catapult as well as at the University of Oxford. Burton also serves as an Expedition Expert on Georgia for National Geographic tours.

Based in Sonoma, California, Elaine Chukan Brown serves as the American Specialist for JancisRobinson.com, a contributing writer to Wine & Spirits, and a columnist for Wine Business Monthly. She is one of the leading wine experts and educators in the US and abroad. Her work has been featured in The World of Fine Wine, Decanter, The Robb Report, MensHealth.com, among others, and appears on her own website, WakawakaWineReviews.com. Elaine is known for having created illustrated tasting notes, which have been described by @KermitLynchWine as “a new standard in wine reviews.” Prior to her career in wine, Elaine served as a philosophy professor at Northern Arizona University. She was Dartmouth College’s Charles A. Eastman Fellow, and a Tomlinson Fellow at McGill University, where she did her doctoral work. Prior to her career in philosophy, Elaine was a commercial salmon fisherman in Bristol Bay, Alaska, where the rest of her family still operate their businesses.

Elaine Chukan Brown
Wine Expert

Ru Freeman

Ru Freeman
Writer, activist

Ru Freeman is a Sri Lankan born writer and activist whose creative and political work has appeared internationally, including in the UK Guardian, The Boston Globe,and the New York Times. She is the author of the novels A Disobedient Girl (2009), and On Sal Mal Lane (2013), a NYT Editor’s Choice Book. Both novels have been translated into multiple languages including Italian, French, Turkish, Dutch, and Chinese. She is editor of the anthology, Extraordinary Rendition: (American) Writers on Palestine (OR Books, 2015), a collection of the voices of 65 American poets and writers speaking about America’s dis/engagement with Palestine, and co-editor of Indivisible: Global Leaders on Shared Security (2018).  She is working on a collection of essays, Memory, Loss: Essays on life, Books & Politics, and a collection of poetry, Open Carry. She is a contributing editorial board member of the Asian American Literary Review, and a fellow of the Bread Loaf Writer’s ConferenceYaddo,Hedgebrook, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and the Lannan Foundation. She holds a graduate degree in labor studies, researching female migrant labor in the countries of Kuwait, the U.A.E, and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and has worked at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC, in the South Asia office of the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL/CIO), and the American Friends Service Committee in their humanitarian and disaster relief programs and, presently, in general international programs on global security and restricted spaces. She teaches creative writing in the MFA program at Columbia University.

Sergey Gandlevsky, Russian poet and writer, graduated Moscow State University in 1977, faculty of philology. In the 70s, Sergey was a member of poetic group “Moskovskoe Vremja” with Aleksandr Soprovsky, Aleksey Tsvetkov and Bakhit Kenzheev. He has published 20 books, including poetry, prose, essay volumes and translations. He has received several important awards: Little Booker Prize (1996), Anti-Booker (1996),  Moskovskii Schet (2009), Kievskie Lavry (2009), Russian National “Poet” Prize (2010). Sergey has participated in many literary festivals in Austria, England, Germany, Georgia, Italy, the Netherlands, Ukraine, Lithuania, Turkey, France, Switzerland, Croatia and Japan. Since 1992 he has given invited lectures and readings at Yale University, Stanford University, Harvard University, Princeton University, University of Pennsylvania, and many others.

Sergey Gandlevsky
Poet, Writer

Linor Goralik
Poet, Writer,artist

Linor Goralik is a writer, poet and artist living between Israel and Russia. Published a number of novels, short prose and poetry collections, children’s books, and non-fiction, and translates prose and poetry from Hebrew and Engilsh. She teaches costume theory at Russian State University for Humanities and Higher School of Economics in Moscow. Ms. Goralik is the Laureate of the Joseph Brodsky Poetry Prize, as well as a large number of other literature awards.

Steven Heighton’s most recent books are The Nightingale Won’t Let You Sleep, a novel, and The Waking Comes Late, which received the 2016 Governor General’s Award for Poetry. His novel Afterlands has appeared in six countries, was a New York Times Book Review editors’ choice, and was cited on best-of-year lists in publications in the USA, the UK, and Canada. An adaptation is in pre-production for film. His short stories and poetry have received four gold National Magazine Awards and have appeared in Tin House, Zoetrope, London Review of Books, Best American Mystery Stories, Poetry (Chicago), Best American Poetry, TLR, Agni, Best English Stories, New England Review, and five editions of Best Canadian Stories. Heighton also translates poetry, and he writes occasional fiction reviews for the New York Times Book Review.

Steven Heighton

Steven Heighton
poet, writer

Phillip Lopate
Poet, Writer, essayist, filmmaker

Phillip Lopate was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1943, and received a BA from Columbia in 1964, and a doctorate from the Union Graduate School in 1979.

His essays, fiction, poetry, film and architectural criticism have appeared in The Best American Short Stories (1974), The Best American Essays (1987), several Pushcart Prize annuals, The Paris Review, Harper’s, Vogue, Esquire, Film Comment, Threepenny Review, Double Take, New York Times, Harvard Educational Review, Preservation, Cite, 7 Days, Metropolis, Conde Nast Traveler, and many other periodicals and anthologies.

He has been awarded a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship, a New York Public Library Center for Scholars and Writers Fellowship, two National Endowment for the Arts grants, and two New York Foundation for the Arts grants.  He received a Christopher medal for Being With Children, a Texas Institute of Letters award in the best non-fiction book of the year category for Bachelorhood , and was a finalist for the PEN best essay book of the year award for Portrait of My Body.

He is currently a Professor of Writing at Columbia University, where he directs the graduate nonfiction program.

Fiona McCrae, editor-in-residence, has been publisher of Minneapolis-based Graywolf Press since 1994, following 11 years with the British publishers Faber and Faber, of which the last three were spent in Faber’s office in Boston.

Authors that McCrae has published at Graywolf include Anna Burns, Daisy Johnson, Elizabeth Alexander, Charles Baxter, Per Petterson, Salvatore Scibona, and Percival Everett. She currently serves on the boards of the National Book Foundation and the Anderson Center. McCrae received the Editor’s Award from Poets & Writers in 2017 and the Golden Colophon Award for leadership from the Community of Literary Magazines and Presses in 2014.

Fiona McCrae

Nina Murray

Nina Murray, poet-in-residence, is author of Minimize Considered, a chapbook, and her poetry has appeared in numerous journals, including Ekphrasis and The Harpoon Review. Her translations from Russian and Ukrainian include Peter Aleshkovsky’s Stargorod, and Oksana Zabuzhko’s award-winning The Museum of Abandoned Secrets.She grew up in Lviv, in Western Ukraine, and holds advanced degrees in linguistics and creative writing.  Her newest collection of poetry is Alcestis in the Underworld, published by Circling Rivers Press.

Geoffrey Nutter is originally from California but has lived in New York for many years. He has published five books: A Summer Evening (winner of the Colorado Prize, 2001); Water’s Leaves & Other Poems (winner of the Verse Prize, 2005); Christopher Sunset (winner of the 2011 Sheila Motton Book Award); The Rose of January (Wave Books, 2013); and Cities at Dawn, and his work has also appeared in many journals and anthologies. Geoffrey studied poetry at the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop, where he was awarded the Academy of American Poets Prize, and has taught poetry classes at Princeton University, The New School, New York University, Columbia University School of the Arts, and was a visiting professor at the University of Iowa in 2011. He has also taught poetry-writing to children in Harlem, the Bronx, and Paris. Geoffrey’s poems are currently being translated into French by poets Julien Marcland and Molly Lou Freeman for a forthcoming collection of poems from his four books. Geoffrey has collaborated with many artists, including the composers Brent Arnold and Brandon Scott Rumsey and the artist David Scher.

Geoffrey Nutter

Dawn Raffel

Dawn Raffel is the author of five books, most recently The Strange Case of Dr. Couney: How a Mysterious European Showman Saved Thousands of American Babies. NPR described it as “a mosaic mystery told in vignettes, cliffhangers, curious asides, and some surreal plot twists.” Previous books include a memoir, The Secret Life of Objects, a novel, and two critically acclaimed story collections. Her work has been published in O, The Oprah MagazineBOMBNew PhilosopherConjunctionsNOONThe Anchor Book of New American Short Stories, and many other anthologies. She served for many years as a senior-level magazine editor, most notably at O, The Oprah Magazine. She now works as an independent book editor and teaches at the Center for Fiction in New York.

Named one of Flavorwire’s 100 best living writers and “a crucial voice of her generation” by Michael Silverblatt, Ariana Reines lives in Queens, mostly. Her books include The Cow (Alberta Prize, 2006), Coeur de Lion(2007); Mercury (2011), A Sand Book (2017), from FENCE, and The Origin of the World (2014) from Semiotext(e). TELEPHONE, her first play (2009) was commissioned by The Foundry Theatre and received two Obie Awards; a Norwegian translation will premiere in Mollebyen, Norway in 2017. FRANCESCA, a play by Nathalie Rozanes based on writings & performances by Reines premiered at the National Theatre of Belgium in 2016. Other performance & theatrical works include: MORTAL KOMBAT (2015), commissioned by Le Mouvement Biel/Bienne & performed at The Whitney Museum, New York, NY, USA, & Gallery TPW, Toronto, CA, and LORNA (2013) at Martin E. Segal Theatre, New York, USA, both in collaboration with Jim Fletcher, The Origin of the World (2013) at Modern Art, London UK, & many others. Art exhibitions include PUBIC SPACE (2016), a collaboration with Oscar Tuazon at Modern Art in London, UK, EXHAUST (2016) at Contemporary Art Tasmania, AU, and JANE DARK (2014) at Western Front, Vancouver, CA. Reines is the translator of Baudelaire’s My Heart Laid Bare (Mal-O-Mar, 2009); Jean-Luc Hennig’s The Little Black Book of Grisélidis Réal: Days and Nights of an Anarchist Whore (Semiotext(e) 2009); and Tiqqun’s Preliminary Materials Toward a Theory of the Young-Girl (Semiotext(e) 2012). She has taught at Columbia University, the European Graduate School, NYU, Tufts, Naropa, and The New School. In 2009 she was Roberta C. Holloway Lecturer in Poetry at the University of California-Berkeley.


Ariana Reines
poet & Playwright

Stuart Ross
Writer, editor, teacher, publisher

Stuart Ross is a writer, editor, writing teacher, and small press activist living in Cobourg, Ontario. He got his start selling his self-published chapbooks on the streets of Toronto, and is now the prize-winning author of more than twenty books of poetry, fiction, and essays, most recently the poetry collection A Sparrow Came Down Resplendent (Wolsak and Wynn, 2016) and the novel in prose poems, Pockets (ECW Press, 2017). In 2019, Anvil Press will publish Stuart’s eleventh poetry book, Motel of the Opposable Thumbs. Stuart has given readings and taught writing workshops across the country and beyond. He was the 2010 Writer-in-Residence at Queen’s University, and has won the ReLit Award for Short Fiction, the Elaine Mona Adilman Award for Fiction on a Jewish Theme, the Canadian Jewish Literary Award for Poetry, the Battle of the Bards, the award for best Anglo book from L’Académie de la vie littéraire, and the Kitty Lewis Hazel Millar Dennis Tourbin Poetry Prize. Stuart recently appeared at the Toronto International Festival of Authors and the Vilenica International Literary Festival in Slovenia. His poems have been translated into French, Spanish, Nynorsk, and Slovenian. Stuart is currently working on a dozen different poetry, non-fiction, and fiction manuscripts.

Kevin Sessums has written two New York Times bestselling memoirs, Mississippi Sissy and I Left It on the Mountain. He was the Executive Editor of Andy Wahol’s Interview magazine and both Fanfair Editor and a Contributing Editor of Vanity Fair. His work has appeared in those two magazines as well as Elle, Allure, Parade, Playboy, Marie Claire, Travel+Leisure, and OUT. He has also contributed to The Daily Beast website and has created a far-reaching social media following on Facebook. Sessums currently lives in Hudson, New York, and is the Editor in Chief of sessumsMagazine.com.

Kevin Sessums
Writer, editor

Alexandr Skidan
poet, critic, translator

Alexandr Skidan was born in Leningrad in 1965. Poet, critic, translator. Author of five collections of poetry and four books of essays. He translated Paul Bowles’s novel “The Sheltering Sky”, poetry of Charles Olson, Susan Howe, Rosmarie Waldrop, Michael Palmer and other contemporary American poets, as well as theory and art criticism. Winner of Andrey Bely Prize in poetry for collection “Red Shifting” (2006), Joseph Brodsky Memorial Fellowship Fund fellow (2018). His poetry is translated into many languages and published in different anthologies. In 2008 his book “Red Shifting” was published in USA by Ugly Duckling Press. Co-editor of the Moscow-based “New Literary Review” magazine. He lives in Saint-Petersburg.

More instructors and writers and residency to be announced soon.

Past SLS faculty members include Poet Laureates of the US, winners of the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the MacArthur Foundation Genius Award — luminaries such as:

Aimee Bender
Christian Bok
Amy Bloom
George Elliot Clarke
Billy Collins
Robert Coover
Robert Creeley
Toi Derricotte
Stephen Dobyns
Cornelius Eady
Dave Eggers
Stephen Elliot
Tibor Fisher
Mary Gaitskill
Vivian Gornick
Saskia Hamilton

Robert Hass
Steve Heighton
Brenda Hillman
Edward Hirsch
Tony Hoagland
Fanny Howe
Denis Johnson
Wayne Johnston
Joe Kertes
Sam Lipsyte
Phillip Lopate
Glyn Maxwell
William Meredith
Erin Moure
Eileen Myles
Padgett Powell

Francine Prose
Claudia Rankine
Dawn Raffel
George Saunders
Lynne Shareon Schwartz
Rebecca Seiferle
Gary Shteyngart
Johanna Skibsrud
Christopher Sorrentino
Anthony Swofford
Lynne Tillman
William T. Vollman
Binyavanga Wainaina
Mac Wellman
C. K. Williams
Lawrence Wright