Meet the Writing Competition 2017 Judges

Click the name of a judge to visit their website

Gisele Firmino is the author of The Marble Army (Outpost19, March 2016). She earned her B.A. from Pepperdine University and an MFA in Fiction from Queens University of Charlotte. Born and raised in the south of Brazil, Gisele’s writing has also appeared in such journals as Necessary FictionExpressionists and Rose & Thorn. She works as a writing instructor, a freelance translator and lyricist and is also the program coordinator for Queens University’s Creative Writing MFA program.





Soniah Kamal is a Pushcart Prize nominated essayist and fiction writer. Her debut novel, An Isolated Incident, was a finalist for the Townsend Award for Fiction, the KLF French Fiction Prize, and is an Amazon Rising Star pick. Her short story ‘Fossils’, judged by Claudia Rankine, won the 2017 Agnes Scott Festival Fiction Award, and her short story ‘Jelly Beans’ is selected for the 2017 Best of Asian Fiction Anthology. Soniah’s 2017 TEDx talk, Redreaming Your Dream, is about giving yourself the gift of a second chance. Her work has also appeared in The New York Times, The Guardian, Catapult, The Chicago Quarterly Review, The Missing Slate, BuzzFeed, The Atlanta Journal Constitution, Huffington Post, Literary Hub, The Rumpus, The Normal School and more. Soniah is currently working on her second novel.



Jessica Handler is the author of Invisible Sisters: A Memoir, named by the Georgia Center for the Book, one of the “Twenty Five Books All Georgians Should Read.” Atlanta Magazine called it the “Best Memoir of 2009.” Her second book, Braving the Fire: A Guide to Writing About Grief and Loss, was praised by Vanity Fair magazine as “a wise and encouraging guide.” Her nonfiction has appeared on NPR, in Tin House, Creative Nonfiction, Brevity, The Bitter Southerner, Drunken Boat, Newsweek, The Washington Post, More Magazine, and elsewhere. Honors include residencies at the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, a 2010 Emerging Writer Fellowship from The Writers Center, the 2009 Peter Taylor Nonfiction Fellowship for the Kenyon Review Writers’ Workshop, a Georgia Author of the Year award, and special mention for a 2008 Pushcart Prize. She teaches at Oglethorpe University and lectures internationally on writing about trauma.