Writing on the Door:
Health & Healing Conference

Presenter Bios


Faith Adiele was born to a Nigerian father and a Nordic-American mother, and the PBS film My Journey Home documents her travels abroad to find her father and siblings, while the audio and e-book, The Nigerian-Nordic Girl's Guide to Lady Problems, establishes her tri-cultural POV. Her account of flunking out of Harvard and ordaining as the first black Buddhist nun of Thailand, Meeting Faith (W.W. Norton), received the PEN Open Book Award for Memoir. A popular speaker, storyteller, teacher/mentor and emcee, Adiele has presented at universities, churches and community centers around the world; worked as a diversity trainer and community activist; and taught memoir and travel writing in Bali, Chautauqua, Finland, Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, and Switzerland. Her writings on travel and culture have been widely anthologized.


Benjamin Garcia’s first collection,Thrown in the Throat, was selected by Kazim Ali for the 2019 National Poetry Series (Milkweed Editions, August 2020). He works as a Sexual Health and Harm Reduction Educator throughout the Finger Lakes region of New York.


Jackie Polzin lives in St. Paul, Minnesota, with her husband and children. Brood, her first novel, was a New York Times Editors’ Choice and shortlisted for the 2021 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize.


Diane Zinna is originally from Long Island, New York. She received her MFA from the University of Florida and has taught creative writing for over ten years. She was formerly the executive co-director at AWP, the Association of Writers & Writing Programs, which hosts the largest literary conference in North America each year. In 2014, Diane created the Writer to Writer Mentorship Program, helping to match more than six hundred writers over twelve seasons. Diane also has a degree in Psychology and leads a popular grief writing class every Sunday for writers of all levels of experience.

The All-Night Sun, her first novel, was longlisted for The Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize and the Cabell First Novelist Award. In 2020, Diane received the ArtsFairfax Artist Grant, and her work appeared at Electric Literature, LiteraryHub, Brevity, and Monkeybicycle. Diane lives in Fairfax, Virginia, with her husband and daughter.


Chris Martin is the author of The Falling Down Dance (Coffee House, 2015), winner of the 2016 Midwest Independent Booksellers Choice Award; Becoming Weather (Coffee House, 2011); and American Music (Copper Canyon, 2007), chosen by C.D. Wright for the Hayden Carruth Award. He has been a writer-in-residence at the Minnesota History Center's Gale Library, a Bartos fellow at United World College, a reader-in-residence at the South Minneapolis Society Library, and the recipient of a 2017 NEA grant for poetry.

In 2015, Martin cofounded Unrestricted Interest, a consultancy and writing program dedicated to transforming the lives of kids and adults on the autism spectrum through poetry and song. He also coedits Unrestricted Editions, dedicated to transforming poetry and song though the voices of those with autism. He has taught at the Loft Literary Center, the University of Iowa, Hamline University, and Carleton College.

After cofounding one of the first online poetry journals and working as an editor at Futurepoem books, Martin now coedits Society Editions, a publishing concern at the intersection of politics and poetics. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife, the poet Mary Austin Speaker, and their two children.


Anna Leahy is the author of the poetry collections What Happened Was, Aperture and Constituents of Matter and the nonfiction book Tumor.  Her work has appeared in Aeon, Atlanta Review, The Atlantic, Bennington Review, Scientific American, and elsewhere. Her essays have won top awards from Mississippi Review, Los Angeles Review, Ninth Letter, and Dogwood. She edits the international TAB Journal and directs the MFA in Creative Writing program at Chapman University. www.amleahy.com | @AMLeahy on Twitter


Tina Jenkins Bell is a fiction writer, playwright, freelance journalist, and literary activist. She lives in North Beverly with her husband, two sons, and neighborhood dog Bella. Recently, her collaborative hybrid fictitious account of Robert Sandifer’s (the young boy who was murdered by his own gang) last hours, entitled “Looking for the Good Boy” was accepted for publication in a Black Lawrence Press anthology.


Phillip B. Williams was born in Chicago, Illinois and earned his MFA from Washington University, where he was  a Chancellor’s Graduate fellow. He is the author of the poetry collection Thief in the Interior (2016), winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and a Lambda Literary Award, as well as the chapbooks Burn (2013) and Bruised Gospels (2011).

A Cave Canem graduate, Williams is the recipient of a Whiting Award and a Ruth Lilly Fellowship. He is coeditor of the online journal Vinyl and teaches at Bennington College.

Brammer John Paul

John Paul Brammer grew up in rural Oklahoma with aspirations of writing and making art. He started in journalism writing for The Guardian, NBC News, and Teen Vogue. He then moved to Condé Nast as a writer while running my popular LGBTQ and Latino advice column, ¡Hola Papi!. From there, he worked with the Trevor Project to consult on their editorial content. He currently self-publish my column at Substack and have a memoir of the same name set to be published under Simon & Schuster’s flagship imprint in June of 2021. He writes and illustrates for outlets like The Washington Post, Guernica, Catapult, and many more. He is also presently working with Netflix on The Most, a small team that creates content, consults on projects, and builds community based on the company’s LGBTQ material.

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Laurin Bellg is the award-winning author of Near Death in the ICU, a thought-provoking collection of patient’s anomalous experiences during extreme illness and trauma. Working as a critical care physician and writer over the past twenty years, she has helped patients process complex feelings around health crises by encouraging them to share their experiences and write about them as a path to healing. Laurin is presently a creative writing candidate in Fairleigh Dickinson University’s MFA program, pursuing a dual-genre degree in both fiction and creative nonfiction. Her current book project is a collection of stories highlighting the importance of the patient-provider relationship within an increasingly mechanized landscape of modern medicine.


Marggie Hatala Moertl is a former Hospice RN, Life Doula as well as an Inner Life Coach.She is the author of two non-fiction books written to lead the reader to explore their own mortality and to embrace their life more fully. Sally: A Memoir outlines Marggie’s mother’s hospice journey and is filled with her honest journal entries during this time. Life As A Prayer, leads the reader through Marggie’s care of patients as a Hospice RN. Each chapter explores a spiritual value that is common at end of life. There are reflections and questions for the reader to then explore in contemplative writing exercises.

Gould Susan

Susan Gould is dedicated to helping others achieve creative solutions and insights by leading groups in nonprofit organizational development or serving as a personal growth coach through customized workshops and retreats. Susan has worked in a variety of educational settings from high school to higher education, has a Master’s degree in Curriculum & Instruction specializing in adult education, and is a certified IIN Health Coach and trained SoulCollage®️ Facilitator.

Beth Coleman is committed to helping others deepen and integrate life’s experiences on all levels—physical, emotional, mental and spiritual.  Through her gardening design business “The Garden Lady,” she helps ground clients and spaces in the cycles of life; and as a Veriditas-trained labyrinth facilitator, Reiki practitioner, and graduate of The Christine Center’s 3-yr. program “Spiritual Deepening For Global Transformation” she facilitates cultivating daily practices that nurture well-being and compassion.

Lisa Adelle Iverson is an author, intuitive energy healer, massage therapist, and reflexologist. She is also an empath and medium, bringing insight to many situations. When she realized that working on one person at a time in her sacred healing room was no longer enough, she expanded her Solace Cards to bring healing to more people. Lisa is a sister, wife, mother of two boys (one an angel, the other an earthling), and a grandmother.