2016 Conference Contest Judges


Dr. Anne Meek's career began when she started teaching kindergarten in Memphis. Subsequently she taught Summer Head Start, first grade, then Title I reading, then middle school. Eventually she became an elementary principal and then a central office supervisor in Knoxville, where she also conducted poetry workshops at various schools. She served as editor of Tennessee Educational Leadership; published articles or chapters in various publications; then became managing editor of Educational Leadership for ASCD in Alexandria, VA; and presented dozens of professional development programs for teachers and administrators in locations throughout the USA.

Anne has had something like 75 poems published in Tennessee Poetry Journal; The Small Farm; Skipping Stones; The Poet’s Domain; In Good Company; Southern Poetry Anthology, Volume VI: Tennessee; and Joys of the Table, plus two or three pieces of creative nonfiction published in In Good Company. She loves holding poetry workshops for all age groups. She still wants to finish her Southern Gothic novel, but her editorial work for R. Lynn Canady (retired from U.VA) takes most of her writing time. His latest book, Assessing Grading Practices: The Role of Standards in the Debate, is scheduled for publication by Solution Tree Press in 2016; and Anne is now beginning editorial work for Canady’s next book manuscript, which will feature an early childhood program known as “Literacy for All,” which Lynn and his daughter Carol Canady are already presenting in several locations throughout the country.


Clifford Garstang received a BA from Northwestern University. After serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer in South Korea, he earned an MA in English and a JD, both from Indiana University, and practiced international law in Singapore, Chicago, and Los Angeles with Sidley Austin, one of the largest law firms in the United States. Subsequently, he earned an MPA in International Development from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and worked for Harvard Law School as a legal reform consultant in Almaty, Kazakhstan. From 1996 to 2001, he was Senior Counsel for East Asia at the World Bank in Washington, D.C., where his work concentrated on China, Indonesia and Vietnam.

Garstang received an MFA from Queens University of Charlotte. His award-winning collection of linked short stories, In an Uncharted Country, was published by Press 53 in 2009. Press 53 also published his second book, What the Zhang Boys Know, a novel in stories that won the 2013 Library of Virginia Literary Award for Fiction. Garstang’s work has appeared in Bellevue Literary Review, Blackbird, Virginia Quarterly Review, Shenandoah, Cream City Review, Tampa Review, Los Angeles Review, and elsewhere and has received Distinguished Mention in the Best American Series. He won the 2006 Confluence Fiction Prize and the 2007 GSU Review Fiction Prize, and has had a Walter E. Dakin Fellowship to the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and scholarships to both Sewanee and the Indiana University Writers’ Conference, as well as residencies at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, the Ragdale Foundation, Hambidge Center for the Arts, and Rivendell Writers’ Colony.

Garstang’s most recent book is one that he edited. Everywhere Stories: Short Fiction from a Small Planet is an anthology of 20 stories by 20 authors set in 20 countries. It is the first in a series, with the second volume planned for 2016.

He is the editor of Prime Number Magazine and currently lives in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia.


Dr. Michael Pearson teaches courses in creative nonfiction and American literature at Old Dominion University.

He has published essays and stories in The Boston Globe, The Baltimore Sun, The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Southern Literary Journal, Shenandoah Review, and Creative Nonfiction, among many others. He is the author of six nonfiction books - Imagined Places: Journeys into Literary America (1991 -- listed as a notable book by The New York Times Book Review), A Place That's Known: Essays (1994), John McPhee (1997), Dreaming of Columbus: A Boyhood in the Bronx (1999) and, most recently, Innocents Abroad Too (2008), which recounts two journeys around the world by ship on the Semester at Sea Program, and Reading Life: On Books, Memory, and Travel (2015). Pearson has also written a novel, Shohola Falls (2003), a coming-of-age narrative that imagines the hidden life of Mark Twain and the journal of Thomas Blankenship, the real-life Huck Finn. Willie Morris, the former editor of Harper's said, "Michael Pearson is one of our nation's finest memoirists."

Website: www.mppearson.com

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