Introducing Our Spring 2016 Contributors

6807394220_13543f1212_zSpring is on the way, the days are getting longer, and here at Compose we’re getting excited about our forthcoming issue.

We received nearly 600 submissions across all genres during the past reading period, but we had space to accept only a small percentage of those.

Our senior editors are now working through edits with our contributors to prepare each selection for publication. We’re always encouraged by how much care each writer and editor puts into this collaboration process.

Any pieces that are still in-progress in our submissions system, or those submitted between now and mid-August, will be considered for our Fall 2016 issue.

Now, we’re pleased to share with you a bit of background on the 28 writers, poets, and artists whose work will appear in our Spring 2016 issue.


Ira Sukrungruang is the author of the forthcoming short story collection The Melting Season, the memoirs Southside Buddhist and Talk Thai: The Adventures of Buddhist Boy, and the poetry collection In Thailand It Is Night. He is the coeditor of two anthologies on the topic of obesity: What Are You Looking At? The First Fat Fiction Anthology and Scoot Over, Skinny: The Fat Nonfiction Anthology. He is the recipient of the 2015 American Book Award, New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Nonfiction Literature, an Arts and Letters Fellowship, and the Emerging Writer Fellowship. His work has appeared in many literary journals, including Post Road, The Sun, and Creative Nonfiction. He is one of the founding editors of Sweet: A Literary Confection ( and teaches in the MFA program at University of South Florida.

Dallas Woodburn, a recent Steinbeck Fellow in Creative Writing, has published fiction and nonfiction in Zyzzyva, Conclave: A Journal of Character, Fourth River, The Nashville Review, The Los Angeles Times, North Dakota Quarterly, and Monkeybicycle, among many others. A three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, she won second place in the American Fiction Prize and her plays have been produced in Los Angeles and New York City. Her short story collection was a finalist for the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, the Augury Books Prose Award, and the Horatio Nelson Fiction Prize. She is the founder of Write On! For Literacy, an organization that empowers young people through reading and writing endeavors.

Tawnysha Greene received her PhD from the University of Tennessee where she served as the fiction editor for Grist: The Journal for Writers. Her work has appeared in PANK, Bellingham Review, and Weave Magazine. Her first novel, A House Made of Stars, was released from Burlesque Press in 2015.


J. T. Townley has published in Collier’s, Harvard Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Prairie Schooner, The Threepenny Review, and other magazines and journals. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia and an MPhil in English from Oxford University, and he teaches at the University of Virginia.

Jacqueline Guidry‘s work is forthcoming in China Grove and Still Point Arts Quarterly and has appeared in the Arkansas Review, Crab Orchard Review, Nimrod, The Southampton Review, and elsewhere. In 2015 one of her stories was a finalist in The Saturday Evening Post competition and now appears in a Kindle anthology. Her agent is hunting for a publisher for her second novel, Marking the Division.

James Valvis has placed poems or stories in Arts & Letters, Barrow Street, Louisville Review, Ploughshares, Potomac Review, River Styx, The Sun, and many others. His poetry has been featured in Verse Daily. His fiction was chosen for Sundress Best of the Net. A former US Army soldier, he lives near Seattle and collects toy robots.

Tara Isabel Zambrano lives in Texas and is an Electrical Engineer by profession. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Hayden’s Ferry Review, SmokeLong Quarterly, Bop Dead City, New Plains Review and others. She is a 2015 Pushcart Nominee.

Seyed Ali Shojaei is the recipient of an Excellence Award from The Season Book Festival for The Stars which Are Not Very Far, The Quranic Stories Festival Award for Falling in Love at the Time of Inscriptions, an Excellence Award from The Children and Adolescents Festival for What if the Snowman Won’t Melt?, and a national award from The Iranian Young Festival for Season of Layla’s Loves. He has also had an Individual expo with 25 artworks in conceptual art style (Iran 2005), and 10 workshops on western and Iranian art and story-writing methods for young writers and college students (Iran 2008-2012).

Leonard Kress has published fiction and poetry in Massachusetts Review, Iowa Review, American Poetry Review, Atticus Review, Harvard Review, The Writing Disorder, Barn Owl Review, etc. His recent collections are The Orpheus Complex, Living in the Candy Store, and Thirteens. He teaches philosophy, religion, and creative writing at Owens College in Ohio.


Marty McConnell lives in Chicago, and received her MFA from Sarah Lawrence College. Her work has recently appeared in Best American Poetry, Southern Humanities Review, Gulf Coast, and Mid-American Review. Her first full-length collection, wine for a shotgun, was published by EM Press.

Yuan Changming, eight-time Pushcart nominee and author of six chapbooks, grew up in rural China, began to learn English at 19, and published monographs on translation before moving to Canada. With a PhD in English, Yuan currently edits Poetry Pacific with Allen Yuan in Vancouver, and has poetry appearing in Best Canadian Poetry, BestNewPoemsOnline, Threepenny Review and 1119 others across 37 countries.

Tiffany Melanson‘s poetry has appeared in Coda Quarterly, Bridge Eight and deadpaper, and on Swamp Radio, a live radio show and podcast where she is an occasional co-host, interviewer and frequent contributor. Her work is forthcoming in Eat Poems (an audio chapbook series) and was recently featured in The Cummer Museum of Art and Gardens’ exhibit, Reflections: Artful Perspectives on the St. Johns River. She teaches poetry workshops, magazine production and oral interpretation at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts.

Barbara Costas-Biggs holds a BA in English and an MLIS. She lives in Eastern Kentucky on an organic farm and works as a public librarian. Her work has appeared recently in The Oyez Review and The Pikeville Review.

Lena Khalaf Tuffaha is an American poet of Palestinian, Syrian, and Jordanian heritage. Her poems have been published or are forthcoming from journals including Blackbird, Borderlands Texas Review, Lunch Ticket, Indianola Review, Sukoon, Mizna and the Ofi Press Mexico. Two of her poems have been nominated for the 2016 Pushcart Prize. Her first book of poems, Water & Salt, is forthcoming from Red Hen Press in 2017. She lives in Redmond, Washington with her family and studies Poetry at the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University.

Tonya Sauer is a nurse living near Chicago, Illinois. She has poems published and forthcoming in Red Paint Hill Poetry Journal, Bird’s Thumb, The Tishman Review, and others.

Rebecca Macijeski is a Doctoral Candidate at the University of Nebraska and holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She currently serves as an Assistant Editor in Poetry for Hunger Mountain and Prairie Schooner. She has attended artist residencies with The Ragdale Foundation and Art Farm Nebraska. Poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Poet Lore, Potomac Review, Painted Bride Quarterly, Rappahannock Review, Nimrod, Sycamore Review, Gargoyle, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Storyscape, Border Crossing, and others.

Sierra Jacob is an MFA candidate at the University of Montana, where she received the Richard Hugo Memorial Scholarship for poetry. Her poetry has appeared and is forthcoming in LUMINA, Yemassee, Sonora Review, The Louisville Review, Cream City Review, Pacifica Literary Review, and others. She was born and raised in Ha`iku, Hawai`i.

Ashanti Anderson is an undergraduate student at Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans.

Erin Jones is a third-year poet at the University of Florida. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Fourteen Hills, Parcel, Subtropics, Boxcar Poetry Review, Tar River Poetry, and The Lyric.

Creative Nonfiction

Paul Pekin was born in Blue Island, Illinois, moved to Chicago in 1959, owned and operated a small store, taught writing at Columbia College and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, worked as a police officer for Cook County, and is now retired. His work has appeared in The Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Reader and many literary and commercial magazines, including Cavalier, Swank, Other Voices, The South Dakota Review, and Sou’wester. He has won awards from the Illinois Arts Council and the Chicago Headline Club for his fiction and nonfiction.

Meaghan Hackinen is a Vancouver-born bicycle enthusiast, roller skater, and underwater diver. Currently enrolled in the MFA in Writing program at the University of Saskatchewan, Meaghan’s prose explores relationships, experiences on the road, and encounters with wild places. Her recent work has appeared in The Fieldstone Review, One Throne, and untethered.

Melissa Ballard studied fashion merchandising, worked retail and was a bank teller and a public school camp counselor before attending college. She has written essays for Brevity, Gravel, Full Grown People, and other publications.

Brock Kingsley holds an MFA in creative writing from the Ohio State University. His words and photographs have been published, or are forthcoming, in The Brooklyn Rail, The Nervous Breakdown, Paste, Pleiades, Slant Magazine, Tahoma Literary Review, and elsewhere. He currently teaches in the Department of English at TCU in Fort Worth, Texas.

Anthony J. Mohr‘s nonfiction has appeared in DIAGRAM, Eclectica, Front Porch Journal, Hippocampus, The MacGuffin, Mojo, War, Literature and the Arts, ZYZZYVA, and elsewhere. His works have been anthologized in, among other places, California Prose Directory and Workers Write!. Three of his pieces have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Once upon a time, he was a member of an improv theater company. By day he is a judge on the Los Angeles Superior Court.

Abigail Hickman happily lives with her husband and her Netflix account in North Carolina. Her book, This, That and the Third, will be released this spring. She writes for Asheville’s local, indie paper the Mountain Xpress.


Carla A Royal, a Georgia native, is an artist working in the field of digital photography. She uses archival pigment prints and enjoys experimenting in the digital darkroom. Her interest in photography springs from a connection and love of nature and a desire for people and the earth to heal. Carla co-owns Amblewood Gallery in the new urban community of Serenbe in Chattahoochee Hills, GA and is a board member of Serenbe’s Artist in Residence program.

Christopher Woods is a writer, teacher and photographer who lives in Texas. He has published a novel, The Dream Patch; a prose collection, Under a Riverbed Sky; and a book of stage monologues for actors, Heart Speak. He is currently compiling a book of photography prompts for writers, From Vision to Text.

Allen Forrest, born in Canada and bred in the U.S., creates cover art and illustrations for magazines and books, is the winner of the Leslie Jacoby Honor for Art at San Jose State University’s Reed Magazine, and his Bel Red painting series are part of the Bellevue College Foundation’s permanent art collection. Forrest’s expressive drawing and painting style is a mix of avant-garde expressionism and post-Impressionist elements reminiscent of van Gogh, creating emotion on canvas.

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