Sawyer Lucas-Griffin, Sara McWhirter, and Seth Taylor have all been awarded scholarships to the 27th Jackson Hole Writers Conference. Sawyer, who will be a senior in the fall at JHHS, received the Catherine McKenzie Scholarship, and Sara McWhirter, a student at Journeys Schools, received a conference scholarship. The third scholarship goes to Seth Taylor, a graduating senior from C-V Schools, but a resident of Sheridan, Wyoming. In May Seth won the Word Duels, a joint “poetry slam” hosted by JHW, The Center and poet Matt Daly.

We are proud of these young writers and look forward to writing with them at the conference next week.

In Sara McWhirter’s request for a scholarship, she easily convinced us that she was a good fit. Last year she fully participated in every workshop she attended which always makes us at the conference happy.

“The Writers Conference, when I attended last year, was the most distilled and powerful poetry education I’ve ever had. I had never had an experience like that, and I value it very highly. In addition, the advice from editors and publishers was essential, and I plan on using what I learned last year throughout my burgeoning writing career. However, I’m still hungry to learn more. I want to continue my creative momentum, and another year of the JH Writers Conference would allow me to do that. I don’t exactly have the resources to pay for full access to the Conference, and a scholarship would give me that access without the strain. I truly would appreciate a scholarship- I cherished every moment of the Conference last year, and I hope to be able to do the same this year. Thank you!”

We look forward to writing again with Sara, who is finishing up her sophomore year at Journeys School. She also will be competing in the second annual Word Duels on May 1 at The Center.


Emily Rose Powers graduates this May with an MFA from the University of Wyoming, where she has been under the mentorship and tutelage of novelists Brad Watson and Alyson Hagy.

“Emily is first rate,” Hagy emailed us. “Talented, bright, social, mature…with interests in the arts and sciences. I’d take her anywhere. She gets high marks from everyone down here.”

After Emily expressed great enthusiasm for this year’s guest and resident faculty, we had to say yes, come. When she was twenty, Emily says she read Peter Heller’s first novel, The Dog Stars. “Five years later, I still recommend it to others,” she wrote in her application. “From sentence level cadence and beauty to his vision of larger scale plot and character development, I have learned a lot about writing.”

She also cited Jon Pineda (poet, novelist and memoir writer) and writer/editor Mark Hummel as great draws. “I have begun to move into hybrid work and I think that both … are beyond equipped to discuss and inform this new stage of writing for me in profound ways.”

–Connie Wieneke

Catherine McKenzie Young Writer Scholarship

Long-time JHWC resident faculty and best-selling author Catherine McKenzie is providing a full scholarship to an area high school student; this will include three one-on-one manuscript critiques as well.

“I’m sponsoring this scholarship because I’ve been extremely fortunate in my writing career and have benefited from feedback and support from other authors,” she emailed from her home in Canada. “It would have been a wonderful experience for me to have attended something like the JHWC when I was young, and I’d like to give that opportunity to a deserving student.”

Read about Catherine at her website. Her next book, The Good Liar, will be released in April. She will be critiquing manuscripts during the 2018 conference, June 28-30.

For this particular scholarship, applicants need to provide a five-page sample of their writing (fiction, poetry or nonfiction). Submission should be double-spaced, 12 point type and sent in either .doc format or as a PDF. Do not embed in an email; send as an attachment. Catherine will read the top five manuscripts.

In the email application, let us know why you want the scholarship, which school you attend, and what grade you are in as of June 2018.


Update: Following the Youth Poetry Slam (Duel) on June 13 we awarded a fifth scholarship to Journeys student Marlie Curren. Read about her and the other scholarship recipients. All seem to be jazzed to come write withus.

Jackson Hole Writers is excited to announce scholarships for four people, who will attend this year’s conference, June 22-24, at the Center for the Arts. Journeys School student Sara McWhirter, JHHS senior Zoe Curran, University of Wyoming MFA candidate Ammon Medina, and disabled Army vet pilot Thomas Parker of Denver, Colorado will be joining the conference this year. Each of these recipients expressed a great love for and commitment to writing. We look forward to having them here in June.

On a side note and before you read about our honorees, Jackson Hole Writers is looking for sponsors for these scholarships. We received no funding this year specifically earmarked to these scholarships, but are still offering them. Please visit us at and consider fostering For The Love Of Writing.

Read on about the scholarship recipients in their own words, either in their bios or in their letters in support of a scholarship.

Malie Curren likes the ocean, coffee, and talking to strangers (all necessary to being a writer). “I write because I’ve noticed that we’re less and less impressed by raw humanity, so I’m really just hoping that my vulnerability will force people to accept their own. I try to make people uncomfortable. Like everyone else, the beauty of emotion and its expression is the greatest inspiration for my writing and other art. Some of my favorite things to read are The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Life of Pi, Harry Potter, Milk and Honey, Where the Sidewalk Ends, Dr. Seuss, and anything by someone I know. My best friends as a writer are the thesaurus on my laptop and a really nice inky pen.”

Journeys School’s Sara McWhirter

Sara McWhirter is 15 years old and attends the Journeys School. She grew up in Cody, Wyoming, but moved back to Jackson to go to Journeys. Her early inspirations included Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Doctor Who, and a first-grade fascination with limericks. Nothing pleases Sara more than spending a Saturday afternoon with a bowl of ramen and an installment in the Harry Potter series. She enjoys lacrosse, cycling, poetry, and cooking. Her favorite bands include Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, and Dire Straits, though she prefers Metallica when struggling with a particularly odious essay.

“I simply have a great passion for writing, and poetry in particular,” she wrote in her request for a scholarship. “I’ve found it to be my most natural form of expression.”

Her enthusiasm for poetry began with her move to Jackson, where she discovered more support for her writing. Her middle school English teacher, Jon Wall, and her current English teacher, Matt Daly, have aided Sara in her development as a writer. Sara’s parents have also supported her poetic endeavors by providing tea, blankets, and regular subscriptions to literary magazines. Sara has been influenced by Mary Oliver in particular and often emulates her simple enchantment with nature. The culmination of her education thus far has been a first place award in the Young Authors poetry section. Sara also plays guitar, piano, and flute. Her Patronus is a white mare, and she’s in Gryffindor. Her favorite color is TARDIS blue, and she may or may not have an unhealthy obsession with all things Doctor Who. Despite this, though, she manages to keep up a semblance of a normal human life. Almost.

JHHS Senior Zoe Curran

Zoe Curran was born and raised in Jackson. Besides being an avid runner, reader, and Pearl Street Bagels enthusiast, taking time to write is a passion. She recently won Wyoming Young Authors at the local and state levels for her fiction piece, Wicked, and received an honorable mention at the local level for her narrative, Down That Street. She comes to the conference as part of a 2015 winner in the Teton County Library Summer Reading Program for teens.

Look for Zoe’s piece during the showcase of Young Authors winning entries during the conference. All 39 pieces will be posted in the conference room and on the walls on the Glenwood Avenue side of the Center for the Arts beginning on June 23.

Ammon Medina, MFA Candidate at University of Wyoming

Ammon Medina’s letter requesting a scholarship was compelling:

“The conference would provide me with a setting to pursue my writing goals and meet other writers around the state in which I live. The small class sizes and availability of a large group of mentors, in my experience, creates an environment that is encouraging and supportive for everyone involved. I hope to meet a group of Wyoming-based writers who I can both support and receive support from after the workshop is over.”

Ammon is at work on a US/Mexican border-based novel, in which he “is trying to humanize the way we see and understand Latinx people in search of opportunity and space to define themselves.” He cited Jamie Ford’s presence as another reason for wanting to network at the conference. He also was drawn by Katie Dublinski’s presence as an editor from Grawolf Press.

“The work they do pushes the boundaries of genre and is always deeply human. As a writer I am always looking for the best way to tell my story. Sometimes this is solidly in the lines of a single genre. The Novel I’m working on now is a diptych that complicates our understanding of the US/Mexico border and how the far border reaches.”

Thomas Parker

“Instead of punching holes in the sky I write all day every day,” writes Thomas Parker from Denver.

Thomas started writing fiction as a teenager. His short stories have been published in descant, Best New Writing 2014, Echo Ink, Picayune, San Miguel Review, and elsewhere, including the now-defunct The Aegean Review and Colorado Monthly Magazine. His drama, The Rings of Saturn.

A disabled Army veteran pilot Thomas underwent flight training, but lost vision in one eye and shifted to Intelligence where he worked several years. In his long and continued recovery from catastrophic injuries, he has been on assisted-living and only this year has advanced to independent living.

According to his letter of request, he “hopes to get his coming of age novel, Five Points, critiqued at this year’s conference and attract the interest of a publisher.”

We wish all of our scholarship recipients an inspiring conference.

–Connie Wieneke, JHW

Jackson Hole Writers is happy to announce the recipients of the Cultural Council of Jackson Hole scholarships for 2016. These scholarships allow three students and two teachers to attend the conference and even receive critiques of their work. It is a great opportunity for them and for us. We are grateful for the Cultural Council for this grant.

The words of scholarship recipient Emma Harrison-Springett inspire us at the conference and highlight why it is important to offer these writing opportunities to the community and our young people. We are always glad to offer this to students who are excited about writing.

“It mattered that we were brought together with a common passion,” Emma wrote in her application, “and that we were all there for the exact same reason – to get better at the thing we loved.”

Last year Emma attended the conference, a gift from her parents. And this year she is coming as a scholarship recipient. She looks forward to spending time with people, like her, who would love to read and write. She is a student at the Journeys School.

Sawyer Skye Lucas-Griffin (pictured below) is a lover of writing and reading. A freshman at Jackson Hole High School, she edits and produces Spark, the school’s evolving news/literary magazine. Her favorite book by far is that all-American classic, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Outside of engaging in literary activities, she plays viola, ski races, marvels at science, and people-watches in grocery store. Like all writers, she probably eaves-drops on conversations at local cafes.


This is Elizabeth Chambers’ third year to receive a scholarship.  She will have finished her junior year at Jackson Hole High School by conference time. A voracious reader, from novels to a dictionary of idioms, she loves to write everything from poetry to speculative short fiction. We are pleased that she wanted to come again this year. She fully participates in the workshops, which is a delight.

JHHS teacher Michelle Roundy wanted to attend the conference for a variety of reasons.

“I have always had a passion for writing but since I have been involved in mainstream public education,” she said in her application,  “I have not been writing like I did in the past. As a mother of an 18-year-old daughter, who is a senior this year and a four-year-old daughter who is in preschool and who has Down syndrome, I feel the need to create my art.”


Michelle is a fifth year instructional coach. She has taught AP Language and Composition at the high school level, as well as English. A teacher who has been involved in literacy education for more than 12 years, she is a perfect candidate for a scholarship.

The last scholarship goes to Lori Clark-Erickson. As the high school Teacher Librarian, she advocates for student writers, poets, History Day competitors, Young Authors, and all humanities endeavors. She is the go-to person if we at the conference are looking for young writers.

“The JH Writers Conference is a wonderful “real life” experience for our creative students,” she wrote in her letter. “The opportunities I’ve had at the last few conferences have inspired me to encourage students to get involved with their writing.”

Lori has come as our guest in the past, helping to shepherd the high school students through the conference and preparing them for full participation. We appreciate that immensely and felt she deserved a scholarship.

Any students or teachers interested in applying for a scholarship, can send an email to us at the contact tab on the conference website. Or if you are at the high school, talk to Lori.