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2021 Juniper Literary Festival

The World and The Word: Literature of the Ecological Crisis

The 2021 Juniper Literary Festival will be held on March 12–13, 2021. 

Inaugurated in 2001, the Juniper Literary Festival showcases exciting new writing and explores issues vital to the literary arts, helping to ensure their vitality, plurality, and accessibility. This year's Juniper Literary Festival, The World and The Word: Literature of the Ecological Crisis, is part of TRANSFORMING CRISIS, an interdisciplinary, semester-long series devoted to illuminating ecological crises and addressing climate injustice.  

Readings and conversations are free and open to the public, pre-registration is required.

Schedule of Events

Friday, March 12: Reading, 8pm EST 

Prose writer Toni Jensen and poet Juliana Spahr read from their work and discuss their commitment to art and climate activism. Malcolm Sen will moderate a conversation following the reading. Laura Furlan and Francis Lo will introduce our readers.

Toni Jensen is the author of Carry, a memoir-in-essays about gun violence, land and Indigenous women’s lives (Ballantine 2020). An NEA Creative Writing Fellowship recipient in 2020, Jensen's essays have appeared in Orion, Catapult and Ecotone, among others. She is also the author of the story collection From the Hilltop. She teaches in the MFA Programs at the University of Arkansas and the Institute of American Indian Arts. She is Métis.

Juliana Spahr's most recent book of poetry is That Winter the Wolf Came.

Malcolm Sen teaches in the Department of English at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. His research focuses on questions of sovereignty, sustainability, migration, and race as they emerge in climate change discourse. His monograph, entitled Unnatural Disasters: Literature, Climate Change and Sovereignty, will be published by Syracuse University Press in 2021. Sen is co-editor of Postcolonial Studies and the Challenges for the New Millennium (Routledge, 2016), and a co-editor of Race in Irish Literature and Culture (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2022). He is the editor of The History of Irish Literature and the Environment (New York: Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2021). Other recent publications include essays on SARS CoV2’s intersectional effects, and modernist apocalypses in poetry and prose.

Laura M. Furlan is an associate professor of English at the University of Massachusetts and the current Director of American Studies. She is also affiliated with the Five Colleges Native American Indian Studies Certificate Program. She is the author of Indigenous Cities: Urban Indian Fiction and the Histories of Relocation, published in 2017 by the University of Nebraska Press. Her creative work has appeared in Yellow Medicine Review, Sentence, jubilat, and in the collection Sovereign Erotics.

Francis Lo is the author of A Series of Un/Natural/Disasters (Commune Editions, 2016), as well as the chapbooks NO FILTER (Aggregate Space, 2016) and Ephemera & Atmospheres (Belladonna*, 2014). They are the program coordinator for the MFA for Poets and Writers at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.


Saturday, March 13: Alumni Reading and Conversation, 8pm EST 

Readings & conversation with renowned alumni Sueyeun Juliette Lee (MFA '06), Travis Nichols (MFA '04), Jason Schwartz (MFA '06), and Leni Zumas (MFA '04). Molly Dorozenski (MFA '04) will moderate a conversation following the reading. Madden Aleia (MFA '23), Colin Drohan (MFA '22), Jane Feinsod (MFA '23), and Mary Kate Scraggs (MFA '21) will introduce our readers.

Sueyeun Juliette Lee grew up 3 miles from the CIA and currently lives in Denver, Colorado, where she works as a nonprofit director for progressive social justice funder Chinook Fund. A former Pew Fellow in the Arts for Literature, she's held international artist residencies in video art, poetry, and dance. Her books include Solar Maximum (Futurepoem, 2015), No Comet, That Serpent in the Sky Means Noise (Kore, 2017), and Aerial Concave Without Cloud (Nightboat, 2021). Her essays and reviews explore race, contemporary poetics, and the avant garde. Find her at

Travis Nichols is the author of two novels, Off We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder and The More You Ignore Me, as well as two poetry collections, Iowa and See Me Improving. With Katie Geha, he co-edited the anthology Poets on Painters from Wichita State University Press. He currently lives in Georgia and is the Media Director for Greenpeace USA.

Jason Daniel Schwartz is a strategic communicator focusing on climate, economic justice, and workers’ rights. For ten years, he has developed and executed national and state-level campaigns to change policy and pressure corporations while on staff at numerous environmental and labor organizations. Now working as a consultant, Jason helps lead campaigns to hold Amazon accountable for its harms, to push large financial institutions to take responsibility for their impact on climate and human rights, to organize a multiracial working class coalition across rural America, and in multiple fights to defeat oil pipelines in North America. His fiction has appeared in Black Warrior Review, Denver Quarterly, Elimae, in a chapbook from Corollary Press, and others. He is a founder of New Herring Press. He also collaborates with his wife, the artist Sara Jimenez. In 2020 they exhibited public pieces at the Brooklyn Gallery Five Myles, the Pelham Art Center, and as part of the international Art-Off Screen Exhibition. Jason lives in Brooklyn.

Leni Zumas is the author of Farewell Navigator: Stories and the novels The Listeners and Red Clocks, which won the 2019 Oregon Book Award and was shortlisted for the Orwell Prize for Political Fiction and the Neukom Award for Speculative Fiction. Her fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Granta, The Times Literary Supplement, Guernica, BOMB, The Cut, Tin House, and elsewhere. She lives in Oregon and teaches in the creative writing program at Portland State University.

Molly Dorozenski is a writer living in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. She has a BA in English from Yale University and an MFA in Creative Writing from UMASS Amherst. Her poems have been published in places like The Boston Review, Sixth Finch, Spinning Jenny, American Letters and Commentary and Notnostrums. She works as a Managing Campaigns Director at, where she supports people who start petitions to make change happen. Some successful campaigns include a campaign for Justice for George Floyd, that broke records with 20 million signatures, a campaign that persuaded TripAdvisor to make sure travelers could see reports of sexual assault on their site, and a campaign that prevented the execution of Rodney Reed. She previously worked at Greenpeace in a variety of communications and campaigning roles to fight climate change and fix American democracy. She is currently working on an experimental memoir.

Madden Aleia is a writer and musician living in Northampton, MA. She is a student in the English MFA for Poets & Writers, a founding member of Dana Common Collective, and the composer of Plants of the Bible (Feeding Tube Records, 2018). 

Colin Drohan is from Chicago. He is a poetry candidate in the MFA program at UMass Amherst and is the writing programs manager at Catapult.

Jane Feinsod is a first year MFA candidate in poetry at UMass Amherst. She is a recipient of the Hong Kim Czuprynski Fellowship and a founding member of the Dana Common Collective.

Mary Kate Scraggs is a writer and teacher from Denver, Colorado. She is a third-year poetry candidate in the MFA for Poets and Writers at UMass Amherst and enjoys wandering between genres in her work.


About Transforming Crisis

The University of Massachusetts Fine Arts Center (FAC) in partnership with the Master of Fine Arts for Poets and Writers (MFA), and the School of Earth & Sustainability (SES) is hosting a semester-long series, Transforming Crisis, devoted to illuminating ecological crises and addressing climate injustice. With support from the Chancellor's Sustainability Advisory Committee, the series includes performances, readings, and discussions with prominent scholars, scientists, and artists, along with students and community members about pressing environmental issues, promising solutions, and the power of creative arts to inspire collective action. 

TRANSFORMING CRISIS seeks to precipitate action, transformation, collaboration, even joy. What can we learn from the tumult of the moment? What is the solace of beauty? What are the possibilities of action?

For all events in the series, visit the Fine Arts Center: TRANSFORMING CRISIS: Art, Science, & Activism.

Sponsors for the 2021 series are the University of Massachusetts Amherst Office of the Provost, College of Humanities and Fine Arts, the Arts Extension Service’s Arts Entrepreneurship Initiative, CSAC: Sustainability, Innovation & Engagement Fund, English Department, Daily Hampshire Gazette, Department of Comparative Literature, Environmental Humanities Program, The Feinberg Series, The Massachusetts Cultural Council, New England Foundation for the Arts, New England Public Media, UMass Arts Extension Service, Women of Color Leadership Network.

Photo credit: Peter Mills