The Elk River Writers Workshop is a program of Elk River Arts & Lectures

The Elk River faculty is comprised of some of the finest nature writers in the country, teachers who are dedicated to providing a supportive and inclusive classroom environment.



Taylor Brorby

Taylor Brorby is the author of Boys and Oil: Growing up gay in a fractured landCrude: PoemsComing Alive: Action and Civil Disobedience, and co-editor of Fracture: Essays, Poems, and Stories on Fracking in America. His work has been supported by grants and fellowships from the National Book Critics Circle, the MacDowell Colony, the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture, Mesa Refuge, Blue Mountain Center, and the North Dakota Humanities Council.

Taylor’s work has appeared in The New York TimesThe Huffington Post, LitHubOrion MagazineThe Arkansas InternationalSouthern Humanities ReviewNorth Dakota Quarterly, and has appeared in numerous anthologies. He is a contributing editor at North American Review and serves on the editorial boards of and Hub City Press.

Taylor regularly speaks around the country on issues related to extractive economies, queerness, disability, and climate change. He teaches nonfiction writing at the University of Alabama.


Debra Magpie Earling

Debra Magpie Earling is the author of Perma Red and The Lost Journals of Sacajewea. An earlier version of the latter, written in verse, was produced as an artist book during the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark expedition. She received the Mountains and Plains Best First Novel Award, the Western Writer’s Association Spur Award for best first novel and the Award for best novel of the year, and is the winner of the American Book Award.

She has received both a National Endowment for the Arts grant and a Guggenheim Fellowship. She retired from the University of Montana where she was named professor emeritus in 2021. She is Bitterroot Salish.


Jamie Ford

Jamie Ford is the great-grandson of Nevada mining pioneer, Min Chung, who emigrated from Hoiping, China to San Francisco in 1865, where he adopted the western name “Ford,” thus confusing countless generations.

His debut novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet, spent two years on the New York Times bestseller list and went on to win the 2010 Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature.

Jamie’s latest novel, The Many Daughters of Afong Moy, was published August 2022 by Simon & Schuster.

His work has been translated into 35 languages. (He’s still holding out for Klingon, because that’s when you know you’ve made it).


Sean Singer

Sean Singer is the author of Discography (Yale University Press, 2002), winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize, selected by W.S. Merwin, and the Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America; Honey & Smoke (Eyewear Publishing, 2015); and Today in the Taxi (Tupelo Press, 2022). He runs a manuscript consultation service at


Ana Maria Spagna

Ana Maria Spagna is the author, most recently, of PUSHED: Miners, a Merchant and (Maybe) a Massacre. Her previous books include Uplake: Restless Essays of Coming and GoingReclaimers, stories of elder women reclaiming sacred land and water, Test Ride on the Sunnyland Bus, winner of the River Teeth literary nonfiction prize, 100 Skills You’ll Need for the End of the World (as We Know It) a humor-infused exploration of how to live more lightly on the planet, as well as a middle-grade novel, The Luckiest Scar on Earth, and a poetry chapter, Mile Marker Six. Ana Maria’s work has also been recognized by the Society for Environmental Journalists, and as a four-time finalist for the Washington State Book Award. She lives in Stehekin, Washington with her wife, Laurie.

Featured Guests

Scott Carrier

Scott Carrier is a writer, photographer, and radio producer born and raised in Salt Lake City, Utah. A former journalism instructor at Utah Valley University, his pieces have been featured on radio programs including This American Life, The Savvy Traveler, Marketplace, Day to Day, All Things Considered, and NPR’s Hearing Voices.

In 2015, Carrier began producing a podcast entitled “Home of the Brave.” He’s the author of two books of essays, Running After Antelope and Prisoner of Zion. His print articles and photos have appeared in Harper’s, Esquire, GQ, Rolling Stone and Mother Jones.

Bruce Gourley

Bruce Gourley (PhD, Auburn), a historian of American history and Islamic history, is editor of Church & State Magazine, the publication of Washington, D.C.-based Americans United for Separation of Church and State. AU is America’s leading organization in advocating for religion-state separation, demanding equal freedoms for all persons, and fighting against Christian nationalism.

Bruce also teaches lifelong learning courses at Montana State University and is the author of 9 books. His current project, a history of Christian nationalism, is nearing completion. Bruce lives near Bozeman with his wife and daughter.

Sean Hill

Sean Hill is the author of two poetry collections, Dangerous Goods, awarded the Minnesota Book Award in Poetry, and Blood Ties & Brown Liquor, named one of the Ten Books All Georgians Should Read in 2015 by the Georgia Center for the Book. He’s received numerous awards including fellowships from Cave Canem, the Region 2 Arts Council, the Bush Foundation, Minnesota State Arts Board, The Jerome Foundation, The MacDowell Colony, the University of Wisconsin, a Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University, and a Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Hill’s poems and essays have appeared in Callaloo, Harvard Review, New England Review, Orion, Oxford American, Poetry, Tin House, and numerous other journals, and in over a dozen anthologies including Black Nature and Villanelles.

He has served as the director of the Minnesota Northwoods Writers Conference at Bemidji State University since 2012, and is a consulting editor at Broadsided Press. He has taught at several universities, including at the University of Alaska – Fairbanks and Georgia Southern University as an Assistant Professor. Hill lives in Montana where he is the Visiting Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Montana.

Max Hjortsberg

Max Hjortsberg is a poet and grassroots conservationist residing in Livingston, MT with his family. He has called Montana home for most of his life, living and working with his feet in the water and his head in the clouds. He is the author of the chapbook, Bonnie & Clyde (An American Daydream).  His poems have appeared in the collections Privacy Policy: The Anthology of Surveillance Poetics, and An Elk River Books Reader, as well as in Talking RiverThe Big Sky JournalThe Whitefish ReviewCirque Journal, and The Café Review

He currently serves as the Conservation Director for Park County Environmental Council, where he leads their Healthy Landscapes program area, focusing on water resources, wildlife and habitat related issues. He helps PCEC tell the story of this place to inspire people to show up and advocate for the people, wildlife and landscape that is the northern Yellowstone ecosystem.

Eva Lighthiser

Eva Lighthiser is a youth plaintiff in the landmark lawsuit Held v. Montana and was recognized as USA Today’s Woman of The Year in Montana. She enjoys writing and is working on her first novel as well as spending time in her literary community and all the wild places around her home in Livingston.

Nick Mott

Nick Mott is a journalist and podcast producer based in Livingston, MT who focuses on public lands, climate, and wildlife. He’s host and creator of “The Wide Open Season One: Threatened,” an upcoming podcast about the Endangered Species Act that’s both about living with wildlife and living with each other. His first book, This is Wildfire, came out last year.

His work has been published in High Country News, The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Outside, and NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered, among other outlets. His podcast productions have received some of the most prestigious awards in audio journalism, including a Peabody and two national Edward R. Murrows. But mostly, he just likes being out in the mountains.

Laura Pritchett

Laura Pritchett is an American author whose work is rooted in the natural world. She began her writing journey with the short story collection Hell’s Bottom, Colorado, which won the PEN USA Award for Fiction and the Milkweed National Fiction Prize. This was followed by the novels Sky Bridge, Stars Go Blue, Red Lightning, and The Blue Hour, which garnered numerous literary awards, including the High Plains Book Award and the WILLA.

Laura’s work has appeared in The New York Times, O Magazine, Salon, High Country News, The Sun, Orion, Pinch, High Desert Journal, Lit Hub, Publisher’s Weekly, The Normal School, Writers on the Range, OnEarth, Brain, Teen, and many others. She has been recognized by several organizations for environmental stewardship. She holds a PhD from Purdue University and teaches at various writing conferences around the country. When not writing or teaching, she can generally be found outside in Colorado’s mountains.

Betsy Gaines Quammen

Betsy Gaines Quammen is a historian and writer. She received a PhD from Montana State University where she studied religion, history and the philosophy of science. Her dissertation focused on Mormon history and the roots of armed public land conflicts occurring in the United States. She is fascinated at how religious views shape relationships to landscape.

Her work has appeared in the New York Times, New York Daily News, and the History News Network. She is the author of American Zion: Cliven Bundy, God, and Public Lands in the West and True West: Myth and Mending on the Far Side of America. Betsy lives in Montana with her husband, writer David Quammen, two giant dogs, a sturdy cat, and a lanky rescue python.

Francine Spang-Willis

Francine D. Spang-Willis is of Cheyenne, Pawnee, and settler descent. She is an oral historian, educator, and strategist based in Bozeman, Montana. As the founder of Appearing Flying Woman Consulting, she collaborates with diverse organizations, communities, and individuals to create and implement community-centered oral history projects.

Spang-Willis is an Emerson Collective Fellow in the Community Champions cohort. She was an Obama Presidency Oral History Project Fellow from 2019 to 2020 and a supervisor of the editorial team from 2021 to 2022. She serves as an elected member of the Oral History Association Council.

Spang-Willis earned an M.A. from Columbia University in 2021. Her award-winning thesis, Becoming Wild Again in America: The Restoration and Resurgence of the Pablo-Allard Bison Herd, is a website and three-part podcast. She also has an M.A. in Native American Studies from Montana State University and a B.S. in Business Management from Rocky Mountain College. 

Maryanne Vollers

Maryanne Vollers is an author, journalist, producer, and ghostwriter/collaborator Her first book, Ghosts of Mississippi: The Murder of Medgar Evers, the Trials of Byron De La Beckwith, and the Haunting of the New South, was a finalist for the 1995 National Book Award. In 2006 she published Lone Wolf, an exploration of domestic terrorism told through the saga of the Olympic Park bomber, Eric Rudolph. Her journalism has appeared in Rolling Stone, Mother Jones, the New York Times Magazine and many more. She has written about the Ku Klux Klan, the Symbionese Liberation Army, the violent antiabortion movement, and other expressions of American extremism. Vollers has also collaborated on memoirs with Hillary Clinton, Billie Jean King and Ashley Judd, among others.




CMarie Fuhrman

CMarie Fuhrman is the author of Camped Beneath the Dam: Poems (Floodgate 2020) and co-editor of Native Voices: Indigenous Poetry, Craft, and Conversations (Tupelo 2019). She has forthcoming or published poetry and nonfiction in multiple journals including Emergence Magazine, Platform Review, Yellow Medicine Review, Cutthroat a Journal of the Arts, Whitefish Review, Poetry Northwest, as well as several anthologies. CMarie is a regular columnist for the Inlander, translations editor for Broadsided Press, and nonfiction editor for High Desert Journal and Upstreet. She is the Director of Poetry and is on the Nature Writing faculty at Western Colorado University. She is the 2021-2023 Idaho Writer in Residence, and resides in the mountains of west-central Idaho.


Marc Beaudin

Workshop staffer Marc Beaudin is a former Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness Foundation artist-in-residence, a poet, theatre artist and co-owner of Elk River Books in Livingston, Montana. He is the author of Life List: Poems (named a 2020 Honor Book Winner by the Montana Book Award), the hitchhiking memoir, Vagabond Song: Neo-Haibun from the Peregrine Journals, and the album From Coltrane to Coal Train: An Eco-Jazz Suite. His work has appeared in numerous journals, and has been widely anthologized in publications dedicated to environmental and social justice. A frequent performer of poetry and spoken word, Beaudin has worked and recorded with a variety of musicians at venues across the country, including Billy Conway and Dana Colley (of Morphine), Bill Payne (of Little Feat), The Northwoods Improvisers and the Big Sky Jazz Trio. Despite all available evidence, he believes the Brahms’ Violin Concerto in D is more powerful than all the guns, smokestacks and coal trains in the world.


Stephen Brown

Stephen Brown is a graduate of Colorado State University where he was the recipient of the first place in the nonfiction category of CSU’s 2014 Creative Writing Scholarship. His short work has appeared in Cirque Journal, Canary Literary Magazine, and Apeiron Review.

In 2017 he was awarded The Montana Arts Council’s Developing Artist Grant, which helped to fund his participation in NEA Fellow and Novelist, Karen Fisher’s yearlong workshop through the Fishtrap Writer’s Conference. Most recently he was awarded the The Montana Quarterly’s 2023 Little Snowy Prize for short fiction.


Andrea Peacock

As a journalist, workshop staffer Andrea Peacock has covered Montana politics and Western environmental news for alternative newsweeklies across the West, as well as Mother Jones, Amicus Journal, Counterpunch and High Country News. A former editor of the Missoula Independent, she received an Alicia Patterson Fellowship for her work on a project about the ways oil and gas development affects communities in the West. She is the author of Libby, Montana: Asbestos and the Deadly Silence of an American Corporation (finalist for the Mountains & Plains Bookseller Reading the West 2004 award in nonfiction) and the co-author of The Essential Grizzly: The Mingled Fates of Men and Bears (winner of Foreword Magazine’s 2006 Gold Award for Nature Book of the Year), with her husband Doug. She is the co-owner of Elk River Books in Livingston, Monana, and co-founder of Elk River Arts & Lectures.

Join Us

The Elk River Writers Workshop accepts applications from October through May each year. We make decisions on a rolling basis, and strongly encourage interested writers to apply early as classes fill up fast.