Director and Final Judge
Lorian Hemingway is the author of three critically acclaimed books: Walking Into The River, Walk On Water and A World Turned Over. She was nominated for the Mississippi Arts and Letters Award for Fiction for her novel Walking Into The River. Her nature essays have been widely anthologized in Uncommon Waters, A Different Angle, Headwaters, The Gift of Trout, and Randy Wayne White’s Ultimate Tarpon Book, among others. Her work has also appeared in GQ, The New York Times Magazine, Esquire, Westchester Magazine, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Scholia Satyrica, The Waterfront Review, and numerous others. She is the only woman to have received The Conch Republic Prize for Literature — other recipients include Russell Banks, John Updike, James Dickey and Harry Crews — for her dedication to encouraging the work of new writers of fiction.
Dr. Rob Merritt
The longtime judging panel includes: Dr. Rob Merritt, Dean of the College of Arts and Letters at Bluefield College. Dr. Merritt is the author of The Language of Longing, Landscape Architects and the critical book Early Music and the Aesthetics of Ezra Pound. His poetry and essays have appeared in the journals Kestrel, Pine Mountain Sand and Gravel, and The Asheville Poetry Review, among others and the collections The Southern Poetry Anthology, Vol. VII: North Carolina, Wild Sweet Notes II: Contemporary West Virginia Writers and Coal: An Anthology. He offers workshops on the healing power of expressive writing and is currently researching connections between Chinese poetry and contemporary Appalachian writers.