Jerilynn Jones Henrikson
Like First Citizen William Allen White, Jerilynn is proud to be from Emporia. Her schooling is of this place. Here, she met and married her husband, Duane Henrikson, also an Emporia native. Their four children were raised here, and two of them have returned to raise their families here. One of her seven grandkids attended ESU. Jerilynn says she’s addicted to this town, this prairie and its sky. She is also addicted to words and the stories they build. She taught Language Arts at Emporia High School for 20 years, and after retiring in 2003 began tending to her desire to be a writer. She has written eight children’s picture books, a humorous memoir, and two historical fiction YA novels, including her award-winning Meadowlark book, A Time for Tears.
Julie Sellers was born and raised in the Flint Hills near the small town of Florence, Kansas. Those great expanses of tallgrass prairie and reading fueled her imagination, and she began writing at an early age. After living in several states and countries, Julie is happy to make her home in Atchison, KS. She has published three academic books, and her creative prose and poetry have appeared in publications such as 105 Meadowlark Reader, Wanderlust, Kansas Time + Place, and more. Julie was the Kansas Author’s Club Prose Writer of the Year in 2020 and 2022. In the Kansas Voices Contest, she was the Overall Poetry Winner in 2022 and the Overall Prose Winner in 2017 and 2019. Her collection Kindred Verse: Poems Inspired by Anne of Green Gables (Blue Cedar Press) was released in 2021. Her debut novel, Ann of Sunflower Lane, was released by Meadowlark Press in 2022.
Duane L. Herrmann
Duane L. Herrmann’s family has lived in Kansas since the 1860s. His poetry celebrates the prairie and life on the prairie. He is an internationally published, award-winning poet and historian and the author of 11 books, including Family Plowing, a poetry collection published by Meadowlark in 2019. This book consists of new unpublished poems, published but previously uncollected poems, and some poems from previous collections, many revised. In addition to writing, he has carried baby kittens in his mouth, pet snakes, and has conversations with owls, but is careful not to anger them! Duane is an important voice in poetry, honoring the Midwest, its culture, its wildlife, and its people.
At 54, Lisa Stewart set out to regain the fearless girl she once had been. Hot, homeless, and horseback, she snapped back into every original cell—riding her horse, Chief, 500 miles home. On an extraordinary homegoing from Kansas City to Bates and Vernon Counties in Missouri, Lisa exhausted herself, faced her past, trusted strangers, and stayed in the middle of her frightened horse to learn, perhaps for the first time, that this world was out to protect her. You can read all about it in her memoir, The Big Quiet, published by Meadowlark in 2021.
Olive Sullivan holds an MFA from Stonecoast at the University of Southern Maine and an MA from the University of Colorado-Denver. A bookbinder, she lives in Pittsburg, KS, where she grew up. She loves taking long walks on the prairie with dogs and traveling anywhere that requires a passport–and almost anywhere that doesn’t. Olive’s Meadowlark books include Skiving Down the Bones, published in 2022, and Wandering Bone, published in 2017.
A’Kena LongBenton is a metro Detroit native, who recently moved to Emporia (with her husband, Larry Benton) to teach instructional design and technology courses at Emporia State University. As a Harvard-trained college educator, A’Kena specializes in video productions of classic/cultural literature and other disciplines. She has written for a professional development magazine, academic/literary journals, and print/online educational newsletters in the disciplines of English, language arts, instructional technology, and distance learning. Her work has been featured in a regional criminology college textbook regarding multicultural issues facing America. A’Kena has written an academic-related booklet on public speaking, two books of poetry, and two booklets of short stories using only six words or less. Most of her 20+ writings have been in academia, but A’Kena takes immense joy in the moments when she can write for pleasure. Specifically, A’Kena was asked to write a poetic piece on Summer Palace (an imperial garden created by the Qing Dynasty) when she was teaching college professors in Beijing, China.