Writing Contest Judges and Supporting Editors

Our judges and supporting editors are poets, novelists, essayists, playwrights, screenwriters, editors, professors, and journalists, including: Marilyn Kallet, Doris Ivie, Laura Still, Don Williams, Alexis Williams Carr, and others. Together they account for hundreds of published poems, stories, plays, scripts, articles, columns, screenplays, and many prestigious honors.

From time to time, we also welcome celebrated and influential Guest Judges, including:

Nikki Giovanni


Nikki Giovanni, a Knoxville, TN native, is an American poet, writer, commentator, activist, and educator. One of the world’s most well-known African-American poets, her work includes poetry anthologies, poetry recordings, and nonfiction essays, and covers topics ranging from race and social issues to children’s literature.

Giovanni has won numerous awards, including the Langston Hughes Medal, and seven NAACP Image Awards. She has been nominated for a Grammy; been a finalist for the National Book Award three of her many publications were New York Times and Los Angeles Times Best Sellers. 

Additionally, Giovanni has recently been named as one of Oprah Winfrey’s 25 “Living Legends.” She has taught at Queens College, Rutgers, and Ohio State, and is currently a University Distinguished Professor at Virginia Tech.


American Book Award winner Pamela Uschuk graduated with honors with an MFA in Poetry and Fiction from the University of Montana. Called by The Bloomsbury Review, “one of the most insightful and spirited poets today,” she is the author of six books of poems, including the award-winning Finding Peaches in the Desert, and Crazy Love (2010 American Book Award).

Translated into over a dozen languages, Uschuk’s work has appeared in over three hundred journals and anthologies worldwide, and her literary prizes include the War Poetry Prize, New Millennium Poetry Prize, Struga International Poetry Prize, and awards from the Chester H. Jones Foundation, Iris, Ascent, Sandhills Review, and Amnesty International. In Spring 2011, Pam was the John C. Hodges Visiting Poet at University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

She is Associate Professor of Creative Writing in Durango, Colorado.

Pamela Uschuk
David Madden


David Madden is an American writer of novels, short stories, poems, plays, and works of nonfiction and literary criticism. Of his ten novels, both Sharpshooter and The Suicide’s Wife received Pulitzer Prize Nominations, the latter being made into a CBS movie. He also wrote a screenplay for Cassandra Singing for Warner Brothers (not yet filmed).

He has written over sixty short stories, thirteen have appeared in twenty-four Anthologies; two in Best American Short Stories. His poetry also appears in several anthologies. Five plays won state and national contests and have been produced (Yale Drama School, Actor’s Studio, Barter Theater, etc) and published (First Stage, Dramatic Publishing, etc).

Retired as Robert Penn Warren Professor of Creative Writing, Emeritus.


2014 National Book Award Finalist; 2003 National Book Critics Circle’s Balakian Award for Excellence in Book Reviewing. She also served on the Board of Directors of the NBCC, 2007-2010.

McLane is a Contributing Editor at Boston Review, Poetry Editor of Grey, Professor of English at NYU.

Maureen McLane - ©Joanna Eldredge Morrissey
William Pitt Root (Photo Credit: Ricardo Villalobos)


William Pitt Root is an American poet. Raised in Fort Myers, Florida, he studied at the University of Washington, and University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Root was Tucson Poet Laureate from 1997-2002, and taught at Hunter College. He was a US/UK Exchange Artist, Rockefeller Foundation fellow, Guggenheim Fellow, Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, and an NEA fellow.

His work has appeared in Asheville Poetry Review, The Atlantic, New Yorker, Harpers, The Nation, Commonweal, American Poetry Review, Triquarterly, and Poetry.

He is Poetry Editor of Cutthroat Magazine.


Marilyn Kallet was born in Montgomery, Alabama, and grew up in New York. She is the author of 17 books, including recently a translation of Parisian poet Chantal Bizzini’s Disenchanted City, co-edited with J. Bradford Anderson and co-translated with Anderson and D. Jackson, and The Love That Moves Me, poetry from Black Widow Press; Packing Light: New and Selected Poems, Black Widow Press; Circe, After Hours, poetry from BkMk Press; The Big Game, translation of Surrealist poet Benjamin Peret, 2011, and Last Love Poems of Paul Eluard, both from Black Widow Press.

Kallet is Nancy Moore Goslee Professor of English at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. 

She also teaches poetry workshops in Auvillar, France, for the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.

Marilyn Kallet
Allen Wier


Allen Wier is the author of the story collection, Things About to Disappear, and four novels: Blanco, Departing as Air, A Place for Outlaws, and Tehano. His fiction and essays have appeared in The Southern Review, Five Points, The Georgia Review, Ploughshares, New Millennium Writings, and The New York Times.

Awards include the John Dos Passos Prize for Literature, the Robert Penn Warren Award for Fiction, Univ. of TN’s Hodges Chair for Distinguished Teaching, and was the UTC English Department’s 2013-2014 Visiting Scholar.

Wier is Professor Emeritus of English at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville.

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