Juniper Staff and Teachers
The enthusiasm, knowledge, and sensitivity of our staff is part of what makes Juniper great. Our writing community includes our Visiting Poets and Writers, Creative Writing Instructors, and Program Assistants; they make it fun and inclusive, bringing their own curiosity and exploratory nature as writers into the mix. Staff participate in carefully designed semester-long trainings which emphasize creative writing pedagogy, developing an interactive classroom, mentoring in a residence-life environment, and strategies for supporting students away from home. Creative Writing Instructors design curricula especially for the Institute setting. Each workshop group is assigned a Program Assistant (PA)—an advanced UMass undergraduate studying the literary arts.
Our staff work year-round to shepherd the Juniper experience into being. We're always here for your questions.
Noy Holland, Co-founder
Noy Holland’s I Was Trying to Describe What It Feels Like: New and Selected Stories was published by Counterpoint in January 2017. Her debut novel, Bird (Counterpoint), appeared in 2015, to great critical acclaim. Holland’s collections of short fiction and novellas include Swim for the Little One First (FC2), What Begins with Bird (FC2), and The Spectacle of the Body (Knopf). She has published work in The Kenyon Review, Antioch, Conjunctions, The Quarterly, Glimmer Train, Electric Literature, Publisher’s Weekly, The Believer, NOON, and New York Tyrant, among others. She was a recipient of a Massachusetts Cultural Council award for artistic merit and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. She has taught for many years in the MFA Program for Poets and Writers at the University of Massachusetts. Visit her author website, read an interview at The American Reader, and listen to her read from her novel Bird at Bard College.
Dara Wier, Co-founder
Dara Wier's newest book of poems in the still of the night was released in fall 2017 from Wave Books, which has been her publisher since the book length poem Reverse Rapture. In 2014, The Believer named You Good Thing a reader's choice book of the year. Her poems have been awarded the American Poetry Review’s Jerome Shestack Prize, a Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, a Massachusetts Cultural Council Artists Award, and the San Francisco Poetry Center's Book of the Year Award; are included in the Pushcart Prize and Best American Poetry anthologies; limited editions include (X IN FIX) and the big broadside The Usual Ratio of Banality To Wonder from RainTaxi’s brainstorm series, A Civilian's Diary of the War Years from The Song Cave, and with James Tate, The Lost Epic of Arthur Davidson Ficke, the Author’s Annotations, Commentary, and Notes of Reference for a Millennium’s Teardrop from Waiting for Godot Books. Recent poems can be found in Boston Review, Conduit, Volt, Plume, Poor Claudia, Bat City Review, Divine Magnet, Epiphany, LITERATURA, Hyperallergic, and elsewhere. She's been a poet-in-residence at the University of Montana, University of Texas, Emory University and the University of Utah; she was the 2005 Louis Rubin chair at Hollins University in Roanoke, Virginia and is a member of the poetry faculty of the MFA Program for Poets and Writers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is a publisher and editor of the small independent press factory hollow press, and the literary magazine jubilat. Along with Noy Holland she co-founded the Juniper Initiative for literary arts and action and the Juniper Summer Writing Institute. Dara Wier was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. She writes the ongoing series about reading and writing INSIDE UNDIVIDED.
Jennifer Jacobson, Director
Jennifer Jacobson is Director of the Juniper Summer Writing Institute and the Juniper Institute for Young Writers. She is also Associate Director of the MFA for Poets and Writers at UMass Amherst. She founded the nonprofit organization When Children Save the Day to unite language arts and social action. Her work has been honored with a Creative Teaching Fellowship from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the National Storytelling Network’s Brimstone Award for transformative community projects, along with support from the Solidago Foundation and the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts. Her short story “Heat” received an honorable mention from Glimmer Train, and “Trouble and Bones” was a Tennessee Williams Festival’s Fiction contest finalist. Jennifer teaches creative writing at Smith College’s Young Women’s Writing Workshop, and with Voices from Inside, created the Family Storybook Project curriculum for incarcerated women and their children.
Betsy Wheeler, Managing Director
Betsy Wheeler is the author of the poetry collection Loud Dreaming in a Quiet Room and the poetry chapbooks Start Here and Mental Detours. She earned her MFA in poetry at The Ohio State University in 2005, and held the Stadler Fellowship at Bucknell University from 2005-2007. Her poems have appeared in publications including Tupelo Quarterly, The Journal, Bat City Review, Better, MiPoesias, Forklift Ohio, and Octopus. She lives with her wife and daughter in Northampton, MA. Read some poems in Tupelo Quarterly and a review of her book Loud Dreaming in a Quiet Room from Boston Review.
Crystal Norwood, Residence Director
Crystal Norwood is a full time Residence Director at The University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is origionally from New York. Crystal recieved her masters in Student Affairs and Higher Education from Loyola University of Chicago. Additionally, she is an allumnus of Pace University-Westchester, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Psycology and Human Relations. She enjoys things such as exploring new places and cultures, traveling, shopping, and various other random activities/hobbies.
Carson McGrath, Event Manager
Carson McGrath has a B.A. in English and Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She has a passion for stories, whether they be fact or fiction, and has devoted much of her work to telling them. Writing has taken her to a lot of places, from the streets of Washington D.C. to report on a mass protest, to the little corners of New Hampshire to knock on doors for Bernie Sanders' 2016 campaign to interviewing the Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Jose Antonio Gargas. Her writing has appeared in The Ground Truth Project, The Massachusetts Daily Collegian, The Greenfield Recorder, Amherst Media, MassLive and New England Public Radio. You can find her riding her bike around Northampton or listening to podcasts on her porch.
James Thomson, Director’s Assistant
Jamie is a poet who grew up in Northampton, Massachusetts. He spent the last few years living in Oregon. He is in his first year in UMass Amherst’s MFA program for poets and writers, and he also teaches in the Writing Program.
Amy Diehl, Director’s Assistant
Amy is a fiction writer and second-year MFA student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is originally from Michigan but has lived in Western Mass with her family and poorly-behaved dog for the last ten years. She teaches writing at Umass and also works as a writing tutor at the University's Writing Center. She loves reading and writing across genres and if she could, she would live in a library.
McKayla Lovering, Administrative Assistant
McKayla Lovering is an undergraduate at the University of Massachusetts Amherst studying English. She is from a lot of places, but most recently Eugene, Oregon, where there are endless adventures to find. Short fiction is where she makes her home as both a reader and a writer. Her favorite phrase is ‘cool beans,’ and she uses it as a substitute in her everyday life for almost everything.
Dashnie Francois, Office Assistant
Dashnie Francois is a Boston native and current undergraduate at the University of Massachusettes Amherst mainly studying Biology. In her current spare time, she enjoys reading novels by George Orwell and Toni Morrison.