Kathy Jennings, Poet, Journalist (Second Wave Media)

Kathy Jennings is a poet whose work has appeared in the Smoking Poet and been presented at many readings in Kalamazoo. She is managing editor of Southwest Michigan’s Second Wave, a weekly online magazine dedicated to social and business innovations across the region ( She is a freelance writer, editor and marketing consultant for the Kalamazoo Poetry Festival, Michigan Festival of Sacred Music, and Partners in Housing Transition. She worked 25 years at the Kalamazoo Gazette.

Michelle Johnson, Poet, Historian, Founder of FIRE, Kalamazoo Valley Community College Professor

Michelle S. Johnson, a public scholar in the fields of African American history, literature and cultural production, co-founded Fire for emerging artists and cultural producers, youth development and creative social justice.  As radio’s DJ Disobedience, she hosts Slip Back Soul weekly and is developing a radio/video documentary series, Syncopate, to accompany her forthcoming collection of oral testimonies from Aquarius Press/ AUX Media Imprint

Arnold Johnston, Poet, Previous Professor Western Michigan University

Arnold Johnston lives in Kalamazoo and South Haven, MI. His plays, and others written in collaboration with his wife, Deborah Ann Percy, have won awards, production, and publication across the country. Their individually and collaboratively written plays have won some 100 productions, as well as numerous awards and publications across the country and internationally; and they’ve written, co-written, edited, or translated nearly twenty books. His poetry, fiction, non-fiction, and translations have appeared widely in literary journals and anthologies. His books include two poetry chapbooks—Sonnets: Signs and Portents and What the Earth Taught UsThe Witching Voice: A Play about Robert Burns; Of Earth and Darkness: The Novels of William Golding; and The Witching Voice: A Novel from the Life of Robert Burns. His translations of Jacques Brel’s songs have appeared in numerous musical revues nationwide (including acclaimed Chicago productions Jacques Brel: Songs of Love and War and Jacques Brel’s Lonesome Losers of the Night), and are also featured on his CD, Jacques Brel: I’m Here! Commissioned by the Kalamazoo Civic Theatre, Arnie and Debby’s interactive drama The Night Before Christmas had its highly successful world premiere in December 2012. The New Vic Theatre premiered their chilling comedy Giving Up the Ghosts in October 2013.  Their award winning one-act “Steering into the Skid” appears in The MemoryCare Plays (2014), an anthology of plays about Alzheimer’s Disease that won a 2014 Independent Publishers Book Award. Their one-act “Love Is Strange” appears in Art & Understanding: The Twentieth Anniversary Anthology (2015), a collection of AIDS-related work. From 2009-2012 they were joint Arts and Entertainment columnists for the award-winning national quarterly journal Phi Kappa Phi Forum. A performer- singer, Arnie has played many solo concerts and some 100 roles on stage, screen, and radio; he has also done individual dialect coaching and group workshops in a range of accents. He is a member of the Dramatists Guild, The Playwrights’ Center, Theatre Communications Group, Poets & Writers, the Associated Writing Programs, and the American Literary Translators Association. He was chairman of the English Department (1997-2007) and taught creative writing for many years at Western Michigan University. He is now a full-time writer.

Dr. Elizabeth Kerlikowske, Poet, Author, President – Friends of Poetry, ALCHEMY Workshop Facilitator, ALCHEMY Workshop Consultant

Dr. Elizabeth Kerlikowske is the author of six chapbooks of poetry (Postcards, Her Bodies, Last Hula, Suicide Notes, Rib, Chain of Lakes), a collection of children’s stories (Before the Rain), and a prose poem memoir of her father (The Shape of Dad). Her first full length book of poetry is now available from Mayapple Press (Dominant Hand.) Her work has also been featured in several recent anthologies including Nothing to Declare: a Guide to the Flash Sequence, Solace, and the Michigan writers anthology published by WMU.

She has won the Detroit Auto Dealers Short Story Contest twice, the So To Speak magazine poetry award in 2004, The Binnacle’s 2008 Ultra-short Fiction Grand Prize, and numerous other prizes. She has received fellowships to the Atlantic Center for the Arts twice,  Ragdale twice,  the Georgia Arts and Letters Conference. She has been publishing poetry and fiction in journals and magazines for over twenty years as well as children’s stories in Guideposts for Kids (online) and New Moon, A Magazine for Girls. Most recently poems have appeared in “The Way We Work” an anthology of work-related literature, New Verse News, Tattoo Highway, Iguana Review, nimble, The Binnacle, Poetry Midwest, Quiddity, Red-headed Stepchild, Poetry Repairs, Third Wednesday, Weathervane, Canary, and Farrago’s Wainscot, right hand pointing, Postcards Poetry and Prose, and Driftwood. She has had four Pushcart nominations.

Elizabeth recently retired from Kellogg Community College and completed her doctorate at Western Michigan University in 2007. She is president of Friends of Poetry, an organization in Kalamazoo dedicated to the enjoyment of the reading and writing of poetry. The group runs the annual POEMS THAT ATE OUR EARS contest, sponsors a reading series, and chooses one poem each year, which becomes a poetry mural on a downtown Kalamazoo wall. She also makes visual art that is usually big or illuminated.

Elizabeth King, Artist, Graphic Designer, ALCHEMY Project Consultant

From early explorations in handmade paper and printmaking, Elizabeth King now works with colorful translucent forms using encaustigraphics, a process she developed and teaches through the Kalamazoo Book Arts Center, where she is also a founding member of their Board. As a professional graphic artist, she focuses on educational and non-profit clients, most notably designing and producing the original 30 issues of Museography (now “Muse”), the magazine of the Kalamazoo Valley Museum.

Allison Lee, Poet, Photographer

Allison Lee has been a meeting planner, a copy editor, a greenhouse worker, a baker of bread, and a New York City dog walker. She is the recipient of a  2013 Gwen Frostic Poetry Prize at Western Michigan University. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Fiction Southeast, The Madison Review, Cheap Pop, Gargoyle Magazine, Texas Review, and others. She lives in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Honore Lee, Artist, ALCHEMY Workshop Facilitator, Kalamazoo Valley Community College Educator

Honore Lee has exhibited her mixed media work in one-person and group shows throughout the U.S. Since 1995, her work has been represented in numerous galleries including Gallery KH in Chicago and the Center of the Earth Gallery in Charlotte, NC.  She has been the recipient of several artist grants from the Arts Council of Greater Kalamazoo and arts educator grants from Education for the Arts, including a support grant as a Teaching Artist studying with the Lincoln Center Institute for Education’s Aesthetic Education program, NYC.  Since 2013, she has been studying and developing various handmade book forms with the Kalamazoo Book Arts Center and at Oxbow Artist’s Retreat. Most recently she was awarded a KADI grant to develop a body of work, “AfterImage” which was exhibited at the Arts Council of Kalamazoo and combines book arts with printmaking, encaustic, drawing and hand-dying and stitching techniques.  Her work is in both corporate and private collections.


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