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The Pioneering Women of Black Mountain College: Looking Back + Looking Forward

Mildred Barya, Melanie McGee-Bianchi, Alli Marshall, and Brit Washburn read some of their own poems and some by their favorite women poets and artists of Black Mountain College. Organized by writer and teacher Eric Steineger.

Brit Washburn was born and raised in Northern Michigan, and educated at Interlochen Arts Academy, The New School, University of Hawaii, and Goddard College. She works as a writer, editor, indexer, cook, and baker, and lives with her four children in Asheville, North Carolina. Her poems and essays can be found in various magazines, journals and reviews, and at, which consists of a reader’s reflections on religion and relationship, with recipes. Her debut poetry collection, Notwithstanding, was published by Wet Cement Press in November of 2019.

Mildred Kiconco Barya – Assistant professor at UNCA, directs the creative writing program, besides teaching poetry, fiction, innovative hybrids, and world literature. Her publications include three poetry collections: Give Me Room to Move My Feet, The Price of Memory after the Tsunami, and Men Love Chocolates But They Don’t Say. She has also published prose, poems or hybrids in Tin House magazine, poets.orgAsymptote Journal, Matters of Feminist Practice, Prairie Schooner, Per ContraNortheast Review, and Poetry Quarterly. She received her Ph.D. in English from the University of Denver, Colorado, MFA in creative writing from Syracuse University, New York, and B.A in Literature, Makerere University, Uganda. She is a board member of the African Writers Trust, and coordinates the Poetrio Reading Events at Malaprop’s Independent Bookstore/Café in Asheville, NC. She blogs on literary matters at:

Alli Marshall is a poet, fiction writer, and spoken word artist based in Asheville. She’s the author of the 2015 novel “How to Talk to Rockstars” and the 2017 chapbook “It All Comes Rushing Back,” as well as a number of zines. She’s the arts editor at alternative newsweekly Mountain Xpress. Alli won the 2018 Ramsey Library Community Author Award and the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize (judged by Ron Rash) for her short story “Catching Out.” She performed her solo show “The Oracle of Everything,” which combines spoken word and divination, at the 2018 Asheville Fringe Arts Festival and received a 2019 Regional Artist Project Grant from the Asheville Area Arts Council for a collaborative performance about the Lilith archetype. Her most recent one-woman production, “Sweetheart / Bitter Heart,” is an audience participation Valentine’s Day party delving into various aversions to intimacy.

Melanie McGee Bianchi has been a features reporter and editor for more than 20 years. She currently manages three lifestyle magazines: the monthlies Asheville Made and Bold Life and the quarterly Carolina Home + Garden. Melanie has also published personal essays, short stories, and poetry in print and online outlets including Scary Mommy, Gateways magazine, Citron Review, and Asheville Poetry Review. Her work has appeared in the Irish fiction-and-art journal The Moth Magazine (distributed in Europe, Australia, and in NYC). She has been nominated for a Best of the Net award and a Pushcart Prize for poetry, and was recently named a finalist for the Mississippi Review’s annual literary prize; her short story “Ballad of Cherrystoke” will be published in the magazine’s summer issue.