Our Instructors.

Durga Yael Bernhard

D Yael Bernhard is the illustrator of over three dozen children’s books – all of which she designed except for one – including fiction and non-fiction, natural science titles and multicultural folktales. She has also written several unique concept books for children.  Her illustrated books include A Ride on Mother’s Back (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt); While You Are Sleeping (Charlesbridge Publishing); In the Fiddle is a Song(Chronicle Books); and Never Say a Mean Word Again (Wisdom Tales Press).  Most recently, she has published a calendar of fine art paintings titled The Jewish Eye. 

Yael brings unique influences to her work, including a strong grounding in musical rhythm and graphic design, and a deep love of African culture, Eastern and Western religion, and the natural world.  She is a firm believer in blurring the lines between commercial and fine art, and between work and play as an artist.  Yael’s work encompasses several different styles, and has been published on everything from book, magazine and CD covers, to business logos, brochures, websites, corporate promotional materials, and publicity for religious and ecological causes.  As an arts-in-ed teacher, Yael brings creative inspiration into elementary school classrooms, combining illustration and book-making with academic learning.  She enjoys teaching artists of all ages.

Her website is durgabernhard.com.

Robert Burke Warren

Robert Burke Warren is a writer, performer, and musician. His work has appeared in Salon, AARP, The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Texas Music, Brooklyn Parent, The Woodstock Times, Vulture, Paste, The Rumpus, The Bitter Southerner, Chronogram, Longform, and the Da Capo anthology The Show I‘ll Never Forget. His debut novel, Perfectly Broken, is available in paperback. As a songwriter, he has released seven CDs – two as Robert Burke Warren and five as family musician Uncle Rock. His songwriting appears on albums by Rosanne Cash, RuPaul, and rockabilly queen Wanda Jackson. In the mid-1990s, he portrayed Buddy Holly in the West End musical Buddy: the Buddy Holly Story. Prior to that, he traveled the world as a rock ’n’ roll bass player.

Dr. Bill Birns

Dr. Bill Birns is the author of three Catskill-themed books: A Catskill Catalog; The Myth in the Mountain; and I Was Corning a Beaver, Like You Do. An active Delaware County citizen for 45 years, Bill taught a couple generations of Catskill Mountain kids, both at Margaretville Central School and Onteora High School. A Doctor of Philosophy in Rhetoric and Linguistics, Bill’s 1986 dissertation is the most in-depth study of the dialect of the Catskills.

Sari Botton

Sari Botton is a writer, editor and teacher living in Kingston, NY. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, New York Magazine, The Village Voice, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire, More, plus other publications and assorted anthologies. She is the editor of the award-winning anthology Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York and its follow-up, the New York Times bestselling Never Can Say Goodbye: Writers on Their Unshakable Love for New York.  She is a columnist at The Rumpus and Longreads, and editorial director for the non-profit TMI Project. Learn more about her at saribotton.com.

Ginnah Howard

Ginnah Howard’s work has appeared in Water~Stone Review, Permafrost, Portland Review, Descant 145, Eleven Eleven Journal, The Tusculum Review, and elsewhere. Several stories have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Night Navigation, Book 2 of her upstate novel trilogy, (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009), was a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice. Chronogram called Book 3, Doing Time Outside (Standing Stone Books, 2013), “a beautiful read.”  Book 1 of the trilogy, Rope & Bone: A Novel in Stories (Illume, 2014) was listed by Publishers Weekly as one of the “best of the best” Indie books of 2015. In her latest book, I’m Sick of This Already: At-Risk Learning in a High School Class, Howard focuses on a year of working with students in a small rural town. Currently she is putting together a collection of poetry and prose titled An Opera of Hankering.

For more information visit: ginnahhoward.com

Sharon Israel

Sharon Israel hosts the radio program Planet Poet-Words in Space, an edition of The Writer’s Voice program on WIOX 91.3 FM in Roxbury, New York. As a poet and soprano, Sharon collaborates with composer Robert Cucinotta on works for voice, live instruments, and electronics and has premiered several of his works in New York. She was an early recipient of Brooklyn College's Leonard Hecht Poetry Explication Award.  Her poem “Melodrama at the Biograph” was nominated for Sundress Publication’s “2016 Best of the Net” and her debut chapbook Voice Lesson was published by Post Traumatic Press in 2017. Sharon is certified in the Amherst Writers & Artists (AWA) method.


Lissa Kiernan

Lissa Kiernan is the founding director of the Poetry Barn, a literary center based in West Hurley, New York, sponsoring workshops, readings, craft talks, and book arts for all ages.  Her first collection of poetry,  Two Faint Lines in the Violet (Negative Capability Press), was a 2014 Foreword Reviews’ INDIEFAB Book of the Year Award Finalist, as well as a finalist for the Julie Suk Award for Best Poetry Book by an Independent Press. Her book-length braided essay, Glass Needles & Goose Quills: Elementary Lessons in Atomic Properties, Nuclear Families, and Radical Poetics, is forthcoming in fall 2016. Individual poems can be found in numerous journals and anthologies including Podium Literary Journal of the 92nd Street Y, and The Yale Journal for the Humanities in Medicines, and have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. She holds her MFA in Creative Writing/Poetry from the Stonecoast, ​the University of Southern Maine, and an MA from The New School. More at lissakiernan.com.

Sharon Ruetenik

Sharon Ruetenik is the author of a poetry chapbook, The Wooden Bowl. She is currently working on a manuscript of sevenlings. Her work has appeared in print and online journals, most recently The Green Door. Ruetenik was awarded a poetry fellowship at the Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts.

As a speaker for the the New York Council for the Humanities, she has lectured on short stories, novellas, and poetry. Her day job is working at SUNY Delhi as the coordinator of the Writing Center, the international student advisor, and adjunct instructor in composition and literature. Ruetenik lives in Delhi with her family, which includes many large dogs and several indolent cats.

Leslie T. Sharpe

Leslie T. Sharpe is an author, editor, and educator. She began her editing career at Farrar, Straus & Giroux and is currently an editorial consultant specializing in literary nonfiction, literary fiction, and poetry. A member of PEN American Center, she is the author of Editing Fact and Fiction: A Concise Guide to Book Editing (Cambridge University Press), which is regarded as a “modern editing classic.” Leslie has also a been a regular contributor to Newsday’s “Urban ‘I’” column, and her essays and articles have appeared in a wide variety of publications including the Chicago Tribune, Christian Science Monitor, Global City Review, International Herald Tribune, New York Times, New York Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, San Francisco Chronicle, and Village Voice; The Villager; The Writer; and Psychology Today. She recently finished her memoir, Our Fractured, Perfect Selves, and her new book, The Quarry Fox and Other Tales of the Wild Catskills, a lyric, narrative look at the wild animals of the Catskill Mountains, will be published by The Overlook Press. Her poems for children have appeared in Ladybug Magazine, and she is currently at work on a poetry collection, Little Possums Book of Poems. Leslie has taught writing and editing at Columbia University, New York University and the City College of New York.

Nina Shengold

NINA SHENGOLD writes in many genres.  Her books include the novel Clearcut (Anchor Books), a Book Sense Notable Selection; River of Words: Portraits of Hudson Valley Writers, with photographer Jennifer May (SUNY Press); and 13 theatre anthologies for Vintage Books and Viking Penguin.  She won the Writers Guild Award for her teleplay Labor of Love, starring Marcia Gay Harden, and the ABC Playwright Award for Homesteaders.  Nina has taught creative writing at the University of Maine, Manhattanville College, Vermont College of Fine Arts, and locally at Word Cafe, the Omega Institute, and as a visiting guest artist at SUNY Ulster.

Anique Taylor

Anique Sara Taylor’s full-length poetry book Where Space Bends was released in June 2020 with Finishing Line Press. She holds a Poetry MFA (Drew University), a Diplôme (The Sorbonne), a Painting BFA (Highest Honors/Pratt) and Drawing MFA (Pratt Institute). Her work has appeared in Rattle, Common Ground Review, Adanna, Stillwater Review, Earth’s Daughters, The World (St. Mark’s Poetry Project), The National Poetry Magazine of the Lower East Side among others. Her chapbook Poems is published by Unimproved Editions Press. She’s co-authored works for HBO, Scholastic, Simon & Schuster and a three-act play that was performed by Playwrights Horizons and Williamstown Theatre Festival. In 2014 her chapbook was chosen Finalist by both Minerva Rising and Blue Light Press’ 2014 Chapbook Competitions. In 2015 her next book Under the Ice Moon was chosen a Finalist by Blue Light Press’ Chapbook Competition. Her work has appeared in several anthologies: The Lake Rises (Stockport Flats Press), Pain and Memory (Editions Bibliotekos, Inc.), Veils, Halos and Shackles: International Poetry on the Oppression and Empowerment of Women (Kasva Press). An award-winning artist, Taylor’s art has been featured in numerous galleries including The Bruce Museum, CT, The Monmouth Museum, NJ, The Noyes Museum, NJ, The Puffin Foundation, NJ, The Cork Gallery at Avery Fisher Hall, NYC, The Bronfman Center Gallery, NYC. She teaches/taught Creative Writing for Benedictine Hospital’s Oncology Support Program, Bard LLI and Writers in the Mountains. Her website is AniqueSaraTaylor.com.

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