Conference Presenters and Guests


Marilyn Atlas is a talent and literary manager, award-winning producer, and writer. She has produced films such as Real Women Have Curves for HBO, which won the Audience Award at the Sundance Film Festival; a variety of programming for the cable/ pay TV market, and co-produced several live theatre productions, including To Gillian on Her 37th Birthday, which was made into a film starring Michelle Pfeiffer and Peter Gallagher. She is the co-author of the ground-breaking screenwriting guide Dating Your Character (Stairway Press 2016). Marilyn has long been committed to issues surrounding diversity in Hollywood and has been a guest speaker at various colleges and writers’ colleges all over the country. A member of the National Association of Latino Independent Producers, she has spoken at many of their writers’ and producers’ retreats, and is a founding member of Women in Film’s Luminas Committee.

Octavio Quintanilla is the author of the poetry collection, If I Go Missing (Slough Press, 2014). His work has appeared in SalamanderRHINOAlaska  Quarterly ReviewSouthwestern American LiteratureThe Texas Observer, and elsewhere. He is a CantoMundo Fellow and holds a Ph.D. from the University of North Texas. He is the regional editor for Texas Books in Review and teaches Literature and Creative Writing in the M.A./M.F.A. program at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas.

Brian Turner is a poet and memoirist who served seven years in the U.S. Army. He is the author of the memoir My Life as a Foreign Country (2015) and two poetry collections, Phantom Noise and Here, Bullet, which won the 2005 Beatrice Hawley Award and the New York Times “Editor’s Choice” selection, among other distinctions. He is the author of the poem “The Hurt Locker,” which inspired the 2009 Academy-Award-winning film. Turner’s work has been published in National Geographic, The New York Times, and other fine journals.

Patricia Spears Jones is the author of three collections books of poetry: Painkiller, The Weather That Kills, and Femme du Monde. Patricia Spears Jones was the co-editor for Ordinary Women: Poems of New York City Women. Her poem, “Beuys and the Blonde” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. A native of Arkansas, Patricia Spears Jones lives in New York City. She received her BA from Rhodes College in 1973 and her MFA from Vermont College in 1992. She has been a constant presence in the New York writing community.

Helena María Viramontes is the author of The Moths and Other Stories and two novels Under the Feet of Jesus and Their Dogs Came With Them.  She has also co-edited with Maria Herrera Sobek, two collections: Chicana (W) rites: On Word and Film and Chicana Creativity and Criticism. A recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the John Dos Passos Award for Literature, and a United States Artist Fellowship, her short stories and essays have been widely anthologized and her writings have been adopted for classroom use and university study. Her work is the subject of a critical reader titled Rebozos De Palabras  (University of Arizona Press). A community organizer and former coordinator of the Los Angeles Latino Writers Association, she is a frequent reader and lecturer in the U.S. and internationally.  Currently she is completing a draft of her third novel, The Cemetery Boys.

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