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Creative Writing Instructors

Will Amato

Will Amato is a creative comedy writer, director, and producer in Atlanta, GA. He holds a masters degree in Professional Writing from Kennesaw State University and a BFA in Music Theatre from Elon University.

Will studied Improv and Sketch Comedy Writing at the UCB theatre in New York City, worked as a story editor on the feature film Easter, Bloody Easter, and created the award winning short film, Funky Chicken. 

In addition to teaching, Will writes and develops scripts for the stage, screen, and ear buds with his company, Draft Horse Productions. He also wrote a fabulous novella that was greatly enjoyed by the ten people who read it.  

Will won the Exceptional Excellence in Creative Writing award at Kennesaw State University in 2023 and is delighted to bring his love or writing and telling great stories to Emory. You might find Will on the weekends hiking in the woods with his wonderful wife, Lily, and their dog Big Daddy.

Patrice Grell Yursik

  • BS Film Scriptwriting, Creative Writing, University of Miami
  • MFA Creative Writing
  • 2021 Brooklyn Caribbean Literary Festival's Elizabeth Nunez Caribbean-American Writer's Prize

Trinidadian-born writer Patrice Grell Yursik earned a BS in film scriptwriting, double majored in Creative Writing at the University of Miami, then went on to receive an MFA in Creative Writing, fiction. Post-graduation, she became the calendar editor at popular alt-weekly newspaper, the Miami New Times.

In 2006, she created a website called and inadvertently became an online pioneer. Today, she is often called the "godmother of brown beauty blogging." has received a variety of online awards including inclusion in the Ebony Power 100 (2011), The Root 100 (2016), and the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Black Weblog Awards/ Blogging While Brown (2010). In 2015, she was named one of WWD's 50 Most Influential in Multicultural Beauty.

The award-winning blog remains one of the most highly respected in African American beauty, natural hair, and culture. has been featured in Essence, Ebony, Glamour, Trinidad Guardian, the Chicago Tribune, and Fast Company. Patrice Yursik has covered red carpets at the BET Awards, New York Fashion Week, Essence Black Women in Hollywood, and the Academy Awards. In 2011 Afrobella partnered with MAC Cosmetics to create a custom lipglass called "All Of My Purple Life," part of the Bloggers' Obsession collection (which debuted on June 21, 2011; and then sold out in a week). This collection became revolutionary in the world of influencer partnerships. In 2010 Yursik helped to launch Vogue Italia's Vogue Black online and created the Natural Hair Diary feature on

Today, in addition to her continued work with, she offers copywriting services to mainstream and independent brands in the beauty, hair, fashion, and food industries and contributes writing to a variety of notable publications including Food and Wine, Oprah Daily, Travel and Leisure, TripAdvisor, and Better Homes and Gardens. In 2021 she won the Brooklyn Caribbean Literary Festival's Elizabeth Nunez Caribbean-American Writer's Prize for her short story, Daughter 4. She currently lives in downtown Chicago with her husband and two tabby cats.

Patrice taught college-level English and Creative Writing classes at the University of Miami and currently teaches courses as part of Emory Continuing Education's Creative Writing Certificate.

Tamlin Hall

  • Humanitas Prize
  • Georgia House of Representatives honoree for advocacy and arts
  • MFA Screenwriting, UCLA
  • Member SAG/AFTRA

Tamlin Hall is a Humanitas Prize winning writer and a Southeast Emmy® Award-winning producer. As a director, his projects have won top prizes at the Dances With Films, Atlanta Film Festival, Breckenridge Film Festival, and his feature film "Holden On" garnered a Georgia Film Critics Association Nomination. Hall received his MFA from the renowned UCLA MFA Screenwriting Program.

Hall has been a fellow for the National Association of Theatre Owners, Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation, and Mandela Washington Fellowship Reciprocal Exchange Program. His work has been supported by the National Endowment for the Arts.

Hall is a member of the Writers Guild of America (WGA). He is part-time screenwriting faculty at the University of Georgia.

Upcoming projects include Hope Givers (PBS), a film adaptation of the New York Times bestseller, A Child Called "It", the documentary Hope Street set in Sierra Leone, Africa, and the small-town whodunit mystery drama, Red Camellia.

Alison Ross

Alison Ross (MFA in Creative Writing, University of Greensboro at North Carolina) has been an English teacher to high school, college, and adult students for 23 years. She has also taught ESOL and Spanish. In addition to teaching, Alison publishes poetry in a range of publications, and has several chapbooks from reputable small press publishers to her name. Her verse, celebrated for its surrealist phrasing and imagery, has been nominated three times for Best of the Net, and is featured in the highly regarded Maintenant: A Journal of Contemporary Dada Writing And Art. Alison also writes book, film and music reviews for PopMatters and sociopolitical editorials for a variety of websites, and publishes and edits a small press literary magazine. Alison has been a featured reader for the Brownstone Poets in New York City, and a panelist at The New Orleans Poetry Festival.

Nicki Salcedo

Nicki Salcedo has a degree in English and Creative Writing from Stanford University. She is the author of "All Beautiful Things" and three books of essays. The title piece from “In My Father’s Shoes” is based on the bittersweet experience she had wearing her father’s shoes after he died. Her work has appeared in the Atlanta Journal Constitution, Good Housekeeping, and Decaturish. Her writing career has led her to opportunities on stage, podcasts, and TV. She is a two-time Maggie Award recipient and a Golden Heart Finalist. Nicki is active in many writing communities. She has taught creative writing across the country at Decatur Writers Studio, CNN, Turner Broadcasting, Hub City Writers, and The Ripped Bodice Bookstore. She is also a freelance writer, movie reviewer, and journalist.

Nicki is the Vice President of Strategic Partners at a global digital healthcare company. She is a mental health ally and health care strategy expert. In her spare time, she teaches Adult Mental Health First Aid. Nicki lives in Atlanta with her husband, four kids, and cats.

Alexa Selph

  • MA English, Georgia State University

A native of Atlanta, Alexa Selph works as a freelance book editor and indexer. Since 2001 she has taught poetry workshops in the Continuing Education Program at Emory University. She has an M.A. in English from Georgia State University and serves on the advisory board for Five Points literary journal. Her poems have been published in a number of literary journals, including Poetry magazine, Smartish Pace, Blue Mesa Review, the Asheville Poetry Review, Connecticut Review, and Modern Haiku.

Kate Sweeney

  • 2007-2008 Robert H. Byington Leadership Scholarship in Creative Writing
  • The 2008-2009 Lavonne Adams Award
  • The 2008-2009 Outstanding Thesis Award for Nonfiction

Kate is a freelance journalist, writer, and podcast/radio producer living in Atlanta. Kate wrote American Afterlife, a book about why we do what we do when it comes to death and dying in this country, which won a Georgia Author of the Year Award in 2015. Her writing has appeared in Full Grown People, Oxford American, Atlanta magazine, Utne Reader, and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution among other outlets. Kate was the host and creator of four seasons of What's Next ATL, a podcast from the Atlanta Regional Commission about the challenges facing metro Atlanta. She also produced the first season of Buried Truths for 90.1 WABE, which won a Peabody Award and a Robert F. Kennedy Award. She was a reporter, producer, and host at 90.1 WABE, Atlanta's NPR station, for more than a decade, and her radio stories have appeared on Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Weekend Edition, and The World. Her other projects have included Tantrum, a podcast and live literary event for parents, and True Story!, which was one of Atlanta’s first dedicated nonfiction reading series, attracting authors from around the country. She has taught creative writing and English at Hub City Writers Conference, Emory Continuing Education, Clayton State University, the University of North Carolina Wilmington, and a number of independent intimate writing workshops through the True Story! reading series.

Jennifer Taylor, MFA

Jennifer Taylor is a book reviewer, editor, and writer based in Georgia. Most of her life has been spent moving from place to place, as evidenced by the fact that she has moved 35 times. Jennifer's favorite city is Chicago where she found her niche in the Ukrainian Village with a colorful cast of characters including a 70-something bikini-clad woman who pruned her grass with scissors, and a former day trader turned motorized rickshaw owner, both of whom have been chronicled in Jennifer's essays. Her writing has appeared in Chicago Sun-Times, Fiction Writer's Review, H2O Magazine, Bookslut, Pittsburgh Magazine, Publishers Weekly, Savannah Magazine and several additional publications. Her creative work has appeared in Hobart, Pif, Southern Women's Review and Shaking Like A Mountain, The Pinch with more forthcoming. She has an MFA with a double concentration in Fiction and Nonfiction. 

Jennifer was the fiction and nonfiction editor of Damselfly Press for 12 years. She served as a reader for Tin House Magazine for a decade and was an acquisitions editor for Leapfrog Press. She was a preliminary film judge for Aspen Shortsfest.

Austin Tremblay

  • MFA Creative Writing, New Mexico State University
  • PhD Literature & Creative Writing, University of Houston

Austin Tremblay earned an MFA in Creative Writing at New Mexico State University and a PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Houston. His work has been featured in Smartish Pace, Gulf Coast, New South, and other esteemed publications. He has taught creative writing in a higher ed setting for more than a decade, including workshop courses in: fiction, poetry, screenwriting, playwriting, and nonfiction.

John Verlenden

John taught creative writing for 25 years at LSU, UNO, and American University in Cairo. He introduced the Writing Workshop to Jordan as a Fulbright Fellow. He is co-translator of three award-winning books, Arabic to English. He publishes in many journals including The Missouri Review, Brevity, Fourth Genre, Exquisite Corpse, and New Orleans Review. His story "Lost Text: Hotel St. Pierre" was anthologized in French Quarter Fiction. Memoir/creative nonfiction/fiction are favorite genres.