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Novus Spring 2021 Contributors


  • Olivia Allen is a student at Cumberland University where she focuses on Creative Writing and Criminal Justice.


  • Preeta Kuhad Balia lives and works as a lawyer in Jodhpur, Rajasthan, with her lawyer husband and two sons and travels a fair bit with them. The number of weddings, birthday parties, and celebratory congregations that she attends would together be more than what an average human does in ten lifetimes. This is her first publication credit.

  • Brendan Bense is a recent American University graduate with a focus in creative writing and poetry. His work has been featured in Columbia Journal and The Crab Orchard Review.

  • Srabani Bhattacharya is a writer, editor and translator. She completed her Master’s in literature and is currently working as a copyeditor and script writer. She writes poetry to be in touch with the natural and human world. Poetry helps her experience, and to observe to live more consciously and deeply.

  • Delaney Brandon is a senior at Cumberland University, currently double-majoring in English and Creative Writing. She has had two other poems published in Novus, “The Trail” and “Zipcode,” and enjoys writing in both poetry and fiction.

  • Brianna Bruce is a recent graduate of Cumberland University, where she studied English and Creative Writing. While she worked as an assistant managing editor at Novus and as a writing specialist in Cumberland University’s writing center during her time as an undergraduate student, she now focuses on her work in the horror genre—specifically short screenplays, for which she has received several nominations and official selections from film festivals. Although much of her time is spent working on her applications for MFA programs in Popular Fiction, she also enjoys watching horror films, listening to comedy podcasts, and collecting mystery toys.

  • Renee Boyer is a Cumberland University senior majoring in Creative and Imaginative Writing.

  • Morgan Bishop is a two-year student at Cumberland University and has a strong passion for poetry. She believes it shares the things we can not say on our own. Morgan one day wishes to publish her own book and to share her work globally.


  • Anders Carlson-Wee is the author of THE LOW PASSIONS (W.W. Norton, 2019), a New York Public Library Book Group Selection, and DYNAMITE (Bull City Press, 2015), winner of the Frost Place Chapbook Prize. His work has appeared in The Paris Review, BuzzFeed, Ploughshares, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Sun, New England Review, The Southern Review, Best American Nonrequired Reading, and many other publications. The recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Poets & Writers, Bread Loaf, Sewanee, and the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference, he is the winner of the 2017 Poetry International Prize. His work has been translated into Chinese. Anders holds an MFA from Vanderbilt University and is represented by Massie & McQuilkin Literary Agents.

  • J.C. Cordova is a medical student at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, TX, class of 2021. He previously served in the U.S. Army as a military police officer and is pursuing a career in anesthesiology. He thoroughly enjoys spending time with his wife and two dogs, and his hobbies include reading, baseball, and specialty coffee. He has been previously published in Progress Notes Literary Review, in-Training, and The Oslerian.

  • Sara Reynolds Cox is a recent graduate of Cumberland University and has spent the majority of her life in Middle Tennessee. She has previously been published in Novus– both in 2019 and 2020. Before transferring to Cumberland in 2018, Sara was awarded the John MacDougall Literary Award through Volunteer State Community College for one of her poems. When she’s not in class, you can find her working in the Writing Center, reading anything by Kurt Vonnegut, or swimming laps.

  • Nicole Carey is double-majoring in English and Creative Writing at Cumberland. She is a Junior at the university and is part of the Women’s Volleyball team. Her preferred genres are Poetry and Creative Non-fiction. 


  • German Dario resides in Tempe, Arizona with his wife, two sons, three dogs, a guinea pig, many plants, and sometimes a fish. He has recently published work in Gargoyle Magazine, Anacua Literary Arts Journal, Gyroscope Review, San Pedro River Review, and Into The Void.

  • Dakota Delk is a Secondary English Education major at Cumberland University and a past editor of Novus. Her writing typically focuses on her personal experience with physical and mental health, family, and relationships. When she is not in a classroom, she can be found working in her university’s writing center, reading, watching Netflix, or taking a nap.

  • Laine Derr holds an MFA from Northern Arizona University and has published interviews with Carl Phillips, Ross Gay, and Ted Kooser. Recent work appears or is forthcoming from Barzakh, Santa Clara Review, North Dakota Quarterly, Prairie Schooner, and elsewhere.

  • Thad DeVassie is a multi-genre writer and painter from Columbus, Ohio. He is a recipient of the 2020 James Tate International Poetry Prize for his manuscript SPLENDID IRRATIONALITIES. His chapbook, THIS SIDE OF UTOPIA, will arrive in 2021 from Cervena Barva Press.

  • Leslie Dianne is a poet, novelist, screenwriter, playwright and performer whose work has been acclaimed internationally in places such as the Harrogate Fringe Festival in Great Britain, The International Arts Festival in Tuscany, Italy and at La Mama in New York City. Her stage plays have been produced in NYC at The American Theater of Actors, The Raw Space, The Puerto Rican Traveling Theater and The Lamb’s Theater. She holds a BA in French Literature from CUNY and her poems have appeared in The Lake, Ghost City Review, The Literary Yard, About Place Journal and Kairos and are forthcoming in Hawai’i Review. Her poetry was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize.


  • Brianna Fay is a once published author with another pending publication in the She Speaks Anthology. She lives in Rochester, New York with her puppy but can be found currently at a treatment center for women with trauma. When not writing, Brianna can be found playing with dogs, enjoying a cup of coffee, or avidly knitting.

  • Francis Flavin’s poetry has appeared in Poetry Quarterly, Blueline, Pacific Review, Blue Collar Review, La Piccioletta Barca, Three Line Poetry, The Closed Eye Open and Tempered Runes. His work has received recognition in the Soul-Making Keats Competition, Chicagoland Poetry Contest, Working People’s Poetry Competition and the 2020 Writer’s Digest awards.


  • Jesse Graves is the Poet-in-Residence and Professor of English at East Tennessee State University. He was awarded the 2015 James Still Award for Writing about the Appalachian South from the Fellowship of Southern Writers and the 2014 Phillip H. Freund Award in Creative Writing from Cornell University. Recent poems appear or are forthcoming in issues of Prairie Schooner, Blackbird, Carolina Quarterly, Southern Cultures, andThe Missouri Review. Graves’ first poetry collection, Tennessee Landscape with Blighted Pine, was published in 2011, and was awarded the Weatherford Award in Poetry from Berea College, and the Book of the Year Award in Poetry from the Appalachian Writers’ Association. He is the co-editor of three volumes of The Southern Poetry Anthology, and of the forthcoming Complete Poems of James Agee. Basin Ghosts, his second book of poems, was released in spring of 2014, and received the Weatherford Award for Poetry that year. His third collection of poems, Specter Mountain, co-authored with William Wright, was published by Mercer University Press in 2018; and his fourth collection, Merciful Days, was released in 2020. Graves holds a Ph.D. in English from the University of Tennessee.

  • Steve Gerson writes poetry and flash about life’s dissonance and dynamism. He’s proud to have published in Panoplyzine, Route 7, Poets Reading the News, Crack the Spine, Montana Mouthful, the Decadent Review, Indolent, Rainbow Poems, Snapdragon, The Underwood Press, Wingless Dreamer, Gemini Ink, the Dillydoun Review, In Parentheses, and more.


  • Briana Grace Hammerstrom is a poet currently residing in Chico, CA. She has participated in the Individual World Poetry Slam, the National Poetry Slam, and ran the Flagstaff Poetry Slam from 2016 to 2019. Her poetry is varied- from queer joy to sheer outrage, Hammerstrom aims to showcase the disparity between what we think of words and how we use them. You can buy her first chapbook “What Else Can Grow” on Amazon.

  • Matthew Hummer writes poetry and nonfiction. He paints and draws. He teaches Latin and English. He really does like reading Heidegger, but he can see where he disagrees with Sartre a paragraph ahead of what he says and stops reading. He likes the Mennonites that live and work around him. The ones that drive buggies, not Audis. He prefers “Wind in the Willows” to anything Lewis Carrol wrote. He likes Mole and Rat. If he is Rat, his wife is Mole.


  • Sam Kaspar was born in Canada, is of Lebanese heritage, and works in Iowa as an orthopedic surgeon. He writes part-time and prefers topics of nature, existentialism, social justice, emotion, heritage, memory, etc. He’s had over 30 publications so far of his poetry & prose in Snapdragon, Decomp, Tiny Seed, Rigorous, Burnt Pine, Weasel, Tower, Wingless Dreamer, and others. In 2020, he was a finalist in Vallum’s poetry contest, and Iron Horse’s year-end ekphrastic challenge as well as their prose chapbook contest. He also sees literary value in his previous scientific publications, although the language there is in part statistical – he’s okay with that because he definitely ‘speaks math’ as well as loving wordplay and concept-rich poetry. Facebook page reading: Sam Kaspar the writer @MightySamster

  • Christ Keivom is an Indian poet currently studying as an undergraduate literature student at Delhi University. His work has been previously published on Pangolin Review, Eve Poetry Magazine, and All Ears Literary Magazine.

  • Thomas Ketchersid is an unpublished writer and public education administrator in weird-ass Fort Worth, TX.

  • Jerry Krajnak is retired in the North Carolina mountains after fifty years of accumulating degrees and teaching English. At age 74, he is both tickled and honored to be seen as an “emerging” writer, a gleeful feeling akin to being asked to show his ID in the liquor store. During isolation, he has been writing new poems as well as editing older ones, some of them long caged in file folder and flash drive, thinking it is time to set a few free.


  • W. F. Lantry spent many years walking the deserts and climbing the mountains of Southern California. Now he spends time roaming the Eastern Forests from Maryland to Vermont and gardening beside Washington, DC’s Anacostia River. His poetry collections are The Terraced Mountain (Little Red Tree 2015), The Structure of Desire (Little Red Tree 2012), winner of a 2013 Nautilus Award in Poetry, and The Language of Birds (2011). He received his PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Houston. Honors include the National Hackney Literary Award in Poetry, CutBank Patricia Goedicke Prize, Crucible Editors’ Poetry Prize, Lindberg Foundation International Poetry for Peace Prize (Israel), Comment Magazine Poetry Award (Canada), Paris/Atlantic Young Writers Award (France), Old Red Kimono Paris Lake Poetry Prize and Potomac Review Prize. His work has appeared widely online and in print. He is the editor of Peacock Journal.

  • Originally from Texas, Shannon Lise lived in Turkey for twelve years and is currently located in Québec City. She is a 2020 Pushcart Prize nominee and recent work has appeared in The Sunlight Press, Sandy River Review, Rising Phoenix Review, Foundling House, The Ekphrastic Review, Tiny Spoon and Ink in Thirds.


  • Patrick Maynard was born in Michigan and grew up near the banks of the Red Cedar River. His writing has been featured in more than a dozen publications. He lives in Berlin.

  • Mariel McSherry is a poet from Tucson, Arizona. She grew up on a remote ranch property in Clifton, Texas and graduated from the University of Arizona’s Creative Writing program in 2018. She believes poetry and fiction are paramount to strengthening empathy and imagination in the pace of the digital age.


  • Andre Peltier is a Lecturer III at Eastern Michigan University where he has taught African American Literature, Afrofuturism, Science Fiction, Poetry, and Freshman Composition since 1998. He lives in Ypsilanti, MI with his wife, children, turtles, dog, and cat. His poetry is forthcoming in The Great Lakes Review, La Piccioletta Barca, Big Whoopie Deal, Prospectus, and an anthology from Quillkeepers Press. In his free time, he obsesses about soccer and comic books. Twitter: @aandrefpeltier

  • Bangladeshi-born Sujash Purna is a graduate student at Missouri State University. A poet based in Springfield, Missouri, he serves as an assistant poetry editor to the Moon City Review. His poetry appeared in Naugatuck River Review, Kansas City Voices, Poetry Salzburg Review, English Journal, Stonecoast Review, Red Earth Review, Emrys Journal, Prairie Winds, Gyroscope Review, and others. His chapbook collection Epidemic of Nostalgia is coming out from Finishing Line Press in July 2021.


  • Charissa Roberson is a student of Creative Writing at Roanoke College with a minor in Screen Studies. Her previous work has finalized in the Lex Allen Literary Festival at Hollins University and been published in The Elevation Review and in Roanoke College’s student literary magazine. When not writing, Charissa loves reading, spending time with friends and family, traveling, and playing her fiddle.

  • Alyssa Ross was born in Guntersville, Alabama but spent over a decade in Northern Virginia. She holds an MFA from George Mason University and a PhD from Auburn University. She currently lectures in creative writing, composition, and literature at Auburn University.


  • Travis Stephens is a tugboat captain who resides with his family in California. A University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire alumni, recent credits include: Gyroscope Review, 2River, Sheila-Na-Gig, GRIFFEL, Offcourse, Crosswinds Poetry Journal, Gravitas and The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature.

  • Shelby Summar is a sophomore at Cumberland University studying English Education. Shelby’s poetry focuses on the expression of her experiences with mental illness and the effects it has had on her relationships, identity, and life overall. She writes in hope of reaching audiences with similar stories and raising awareness on mental health issues.


  • Diane Thiel is the author of ten books of poetry and nonfiction, including Echolocations and Resistance Fantasies, among others. Her new book of poetry, Questions from Outer Space, is forthcoming from Red Hen Press. Thiel’s work has appeared in many journals, including Poetry, The Hudson Review, Rattle and the Sewanee Review and is re-printed in over sixty major anthologies. Her awards include a PEN award, the Robinson Jeffers Award, the Robert Frost Award, the Nicholas Roerich Award, an NEA Award, and she was a Fulbright Scholar. Thiel received her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Brown University and is Professor of English and Associate Chair at the University of New Mexico. Thiel has traveled and lived in Europe, South America, Asia, and Australia, working on literary and environmental projects.

  • North Dakota based writer and photographer Tara Thiel describes her work as recontextualized nonfiction. Her art and stories examine the fragility of life and temporality of man-made objects. She is a US Navy veteran, a Southern transplant to the Midwest, and a Visual Artist pursuing a Master’s in Creative Writing & Literature. Her work has been published in anthologies and periodicals including Twyckenham Notes, Variant Literature, Blue Mountain Arts, and Inkwell Journal.

  • Julián Esteban Torres López (he/him/his/él) is a bilingual, Colombia-born culture architect with Afro-Euro-Indigenous roots. For two decades, Julián has worked toward humanizing those Othered by oppressive systems. He is the founder of the social justice storytelling organization The Nasiona, where he also hosts and produces The Nasiona Podcast. He’s a Pushcart Prize and Best Small Fictions nominee, a Trilogy Award in Short Fiction finalist, and the author of Marx’s Humanism and Its Limits and of Reporting On Colombia. His work appears in PANK Magazine, Into the Void Magazine, The Acentos Review, among others. Twitter + Instagram: @JE_Torres_Lopez Website:


  • Christian Umbach is an urban planner/designer by trade residing in his hometown of Pittsburgh, PA. Christian has always enjoyed writing both personally and professionally. His passion culminated in completing a Creative Writing minor at Allegheny College, in Meadville, PA. Christian’s poems are highly influenced by sense of place. As a diligent observer of all things both remarkable and mundane, Christian enjoys discovering the poetic images hidden within old plat maps, building facades, and astronomy textbooks.


  • Cleo-Valentin (they/them) is a makeshift kind of artist: picking up words pieces of string, trash, glitter and memories to put together in order to form a messy sort of confessional communion; they are nineteen and live in the secret corner of the world in California’s grassy ol’ valley from where they derive much hope.


  • Silver Webb is the editrix of the Santa Barbara Literary Journal. She is a food writer for Food & Home and various Websites. Her poetry and fiction have been featured in Peregrine, Hurricanes & Swan Songs, Delirium Corridor, Still Arts Quarterly, Danse Macabre, and is forthcoming in The Tertiary Lodger, Underwood, Burgeon, and Running Wild Anthology of Stories, Vol. 5.

  • Grace Willis is an undergraduate at Missouri State University in Springfield, Missouri where she is studying English Literature with a certificate in literary publications. She is a student editor for the Moon City Review, a literary press based out of Missouri State University.


  • Brian Yapko is a lawyer who writes poems, a number of which have been published. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

  • Grant Young recently graduated from the University of Washington, earning a degree in biochemistry and a minor in English writing. He is an emerging poet who has most recently been published by In Parentheses Literary Magazine, and has a publication with Poor Yorick Magazine forthcoming. Currently, Grant is a QA associate at a pharmaceutical company. Grant is a brother of the Zeta Psi fraternity. He enjoys playing and watching as much soccer as he can.

Art Contributors

  • Cora Green is an artist from Nolensville, Tennessee.

  • Phyllis Green is the author of 16 books for young people and over 50 stories in literary magazines. She began painting five years ago and her art can be found at ArLijo 123, The Revolution, Earth and Altar, ThereAfter, Superpresent, and soon in New Plains Review.

  • Serge Lecomte was born in Belgium. He came to the States where he spent his teens in South Philly and then Brooklyn. After graduating from Tilden H. S. he worked for New York Life Insurance Company. He joined the Medical Corps in the Air Force and was sent to Selma, Alabama during the Civil Rights Movement. There he was a crewmember on helicopter rescue. He received a B.A. in Russian Studies from the University of Alabama. Earned an M.A. and Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University in Russian Literature with a minor in French Literature. He worked as a Green Beret language instructor at Fort Bragg, NC from 1975-78. In 1988 he received a B.A. from the University of Alaska Fairbanks in Spanish Literature. He worked as a language teacher at the University of Alaska (1978-1997). He was the poetry editor for Paper Radio for several years. He worked as a house builder, pipefitter, orderly in a hospital, gardener, landscaper, driller for an assaying company, bartender in one of Fairbanks’ worst bars, and other jobs. He resided on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska for 15 years and recently moved to Bellingham, WA.

  • KJ Hannah Greenberg tilts at social ills and encourages personal evolutions via poetry, prose, and visual art. Her images have appeared in various places, including in: Bewildering Stories, Les Femmes Folles, Mused, Tuck, vox poetica, and Yellow Mama. She uses her trusty point-and-shoot camera to capture the order of G-d’s universe, and Paint 3D to capture the chaos of her universe. Sometimes, it remains insufficient for her to sate herself by applying verbal whimsy to pastures where gelatinous wildebeests roam or fey hedgehogs play.

  • Hamilton Matthew Masters is a photographer and writer currently living and working in Middle Tennessee. His work in part aims to record, understand and interpret contemporary Southern identity, and some of that work can be seen in newspapers, magazines, galleries and in permanent collections in the region.

  • Heather McCormick is an abstract acrylic painter who makes her home in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Born in Anchorage, Alaska, she always loved to draw but fell in love with the painting process in college at Mississippi State University while taking watercolor classes as part of her pursuit of the study of Architecture. For Heather, painting is a form of art therapy. In 2018, she began showing her art and has seen her work featured at MTSU’s Todd Art Gallery, the Linebaugh Public Library in Smyrna, Tennessee, and most recently as part of a community mural sponsored by the Rutherford Arts Alliance and the Walnut House in Murfreesboro. She’s passionate about art as a relaxing healing process and enjoys teaching art therapy workshops and private lessons. Her work can be found on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, or her website at

  • Edward Michael Supranowicz is the grandson of Irish and Russian/Ukranian immigrants. He grew up on a small farm in Appalachia. He has a grad background in painting and printmaking. Some of his artwork has recently or will soon appear in Fish Food, Streetlight, Another Chicago Magazine, The Door is a Jar, The Phoenix, and other journals. Edward is also a published poet who has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize multiple times.

  • Isabelle Osburn is an Art Major at Cumberland University.

  • Timothy F. Phillips is considered to be a naive artist who adds a splash of realism. Little cats become symbols that portray that “another reality is hidden behind appearances,” and enchanted paths to the beach suggest evocative images of a better world for all to enjoy and live in contentment. Occasionally, he frames his vision of the artwork with bright foliage through which the skies glimmer and the moons glow in an evening hue. Timothy believes that with the publication of his words and his works he is bringing to light the essence of the work of a true master who achieves with his art a transformation not of the world, but of the way we see it. For this and many other reasons, when one speaks of Timothy F. Phillips, one describes an artist truly committed to his body of work – composed with a precise hand and great use of colors and hues, shading, and shapes, and forms – which brings us a vision of a more human world.

  • Josh Stein is a lifelong multi-mode creative artist, musician, writer, professor, and adult beverage maker. With formal training in calligraphy, graphic design, and color work; more than two decades as a researcher, teacher, and writer in cultural analysis in the vein of the Birmingham and Frankfurt Schools; and a decade and a half as a commercial artist and designer for multiple winery clients; he brings his influences of Pop art, Tattoo flash and lining techniques, and Abstract Surrealism and Expressionism to the extreme edge where graphic design and calligraphy meet the Platonic theory of forms. The resulting metallic inks and acrylics on canvas delight and perplex, moving between the worlds of solidity and abstraction.

  • Chelsea Walker is a photographer and student at Cumberland University where she is pursuing an Art Degree.