Skip to main content
online degree program - how online learning works
educating armed forces and veterans
Contact Admissions for how to enroll at Saint Leo University.
Contact Admissions to discuss financial aid options.
Click here to schedule a campus visit!
Learn more about how to start an online degree today!
Talk to us today: (877) 622-2009
Sandhill Writers Retreat - Faculty & Staff

Sandhill Writers Retreat - Faculty & Staff

    About Books:   

    Faculty Books may be purchased from Tampa Bay’s independent bookstore Tombolo Books or by calling 727-755-9456. 

    2021 Faculty


    Anne Barngrover - Publishing Poetry

    Anne Barngrover’s most recent poetry collection, Brazen Creature was published with The University of Akron Press in 2018 and was a finalist for the 2019 Ohioana Award for Poetry. Her new poems are featured or forthcoming in Boulevard, The Los Angeles Review, Arts & Letters, Waxwing, Verse Daily, and on the Slowdown podcast, curated by former US poet laureate Tracy K. Smith. Anne is an assistant professor of English and Creative Writing at Saint Leo University, where she is on faculty in the low-residency MA program in Creative Writing.


    Learn more about the Author >>


    Patrick Crerand - Fiction, Nonfiction

    Patrick Crerand is an Associate Professor of English in the Department of Language Studies and the Arts. A member of the Saint Leo faculty since 2008, he received his Ph.D. in English and Creative Writing from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, his MFA in Fiction from Bowling Green State University, and his BA in English from The Ohio State University. His short stories have appeared in literary magazines such as McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, Conjunctions, New Orleans Review, Ninth Letter, Indiana Review, Cimarron Review, Knee Jerk, Monkeybicycle, among others. Two of his stories have been short-listed in The Best American Nonrequired Reading and Best American Fantasy anthologies. His creative nonfiction essays have appeared in New Ohio Review, North American Review, The Collagist, Midway Journal, and the Tampa Bay Times. Recently, Arc Pair Press published a collection of his stories entitled, The Paper Life They Lead.

    Learn more about the Author >>

    Yolanda J. Franklin

    Yolanda J. Franklin - Poetry

    Yolanda J. Franklin’s debut poetry collection Blood Vinyls (Anhinga Press) is a book that Roxane Gay insists is a "must-must-must read." A three-time Fulbright Scholar Award Finalist (’19, ’18 & ’17), Franklin is also a Cave Canem and Callaloo Fellow. Her poems appear or are set to appear in Sugar House Review, Southern Humanities Review, and The Langston Hughes Review. Franklin's poetry also appears in the recent anthology It Was Written: Poetry Inspired by Hip Hop. Also, she is a two-time recipient of the J.M. Shaw Academy of American Poets Award. Franklin is a proud third generation Floridian, born in the state's capital—Tallahassee. She received a McKnight Dissertation Fellowship and a Kingsbury Writing Award at Florida State University. Currently, Franklin is a visiting professor at Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University (FAMU), where she teaches Writing Across the Curriculum certified courses, and has been nominated for a Teaching Innovation Award.

    Learn more about the Author >>


    Walter B. Jennings - Spoken Word and Performance

    Walter “Wally B.” Jennings is an ordained minister, published poet, spoken word artist, radio personality, community organizer, instructor and strawberry Fruit Roll-Up enthusiast! Wally B. has conducted over 1000 performances, workshops and mentorship sessions in the national spoken word community over his 20-year career. He is an award winning, 4-Time Finalist of the Southern Fried Regional Poetry Competition. Wally currently serves as a Poet Artist in Residence for Hillsborough County Schools and the Arts Council of Hillsborough County-reaching over 800 students and teachers per year. Wally B. is one of the founding members of Back Talk Poetry Troupe (the organization responsible for Black on Black Rhyme) and founder of “Black on Black Rhyme-Tampa”, one of Central Florida’s largest and longest running open-mic poetry shows since September 2001. Also, he is founder of the “Heard ‘Em Say Youth Arts Collective” “Heard ‘Em Say”, created in May 2007 was established to identify, cultivate and empower youth in activism and advocacy through artistic education and expression. In addition to this, Wally has served as youth director and coach of 3 Semi-Finalist youth poetry slam teams for the Brave New Voices International spoken word competition.

    Wally B. is a former cohost of “Poetry Is…”: an interactive radio broadcast based out of Tampa on WMNF 88.5 FM and was honored by Creative Loafing in their 2011 Best of Bay as the area’s “Best Spoken Word Artist”. Walter currently serves as Assistant Director for the University of South Florida FoundationDiversity Initiatives and Scholarship Office. He has been married to his wife, Charmaine for 21 years and they have two children.


    Steven Kistulentz - Fiction

    Steve Kistulentz is the author of the novel Panorama (Little, Brown & Co., 2018), named a must read by publications as diverse as Entertainment Weekly and the New York Post. He is also the author of two collections of poetry, Little Black Daydream (2012), an editor’s choice selection in the University of Akron Press Series in Poetry, and The Luckless Age (2010), selected from over 700 manuscripts as the winner of the Benjamin Saltman Award. He teaches and serves as director of the graduate MA program for Creative Writing at Saint Leo University in Florida.

    Learn more about the Author >>

    Bob Kunzinger

    Bob Kunzinger - Nonfiction, Memoir

    Bob Kunzinger's work has appeared in many publications, including The Washington Post, World War Two History, Southern Humanities Review, and more, including several notations in Best American Essays. He is the author of nine collections of essays, including A Third Place: Notes in Nature, which author Tim O'Brien (The Things They Carried) calls "A beautifully written book; and a beautifully thought book." His latest book The Iron Scar: A Father and Son in Siberia, launches from Madville Press in July 2022. He is currently at work on a memoir, Completely Unqualified, about his thirty years teaching college.

    Learn more about the Author >>

    Susan Lilley

    Susan Lilley, Poetry

    Susan Lilley is a Florida native and is currently serving as Orlando’s inaugural Poet Laureate. Her poetry and non-fiction have appeared in American Poetry Review, Gulf Coast, Poet Lore, The Southern Review, Drunken Boat, Saw Palm, The Florida Review, Sweet, and other journals. Her two chapbooks are Night Windows and Satellite Beach. She is a past winner of the Rita Dove Poetry Award and has held a State of Florida Individual Arts Fellowship. She has taught at University of Central Florida and Rollins College, and currently teaches literature and creative writing at Trinity Preparatory School in Winter Park. Her new full collection, Venus in Retrograde, was published spring of 2019 by Burrow Press.

    Learn more about the Author >>


    Janisse Ray, Nonfiction, Nature Writing

    Janisse Ray’s first book, Ecology of a Cracker Childhood, a memoir about growing up on a junkyard in the longleaf pine ecosystem, was named a New York Times Notable Book and the Book All Georgians Should Read. Ray is author of four other books of literary nonfiction and a collection of poetry. Another book of poems, Red Lanterns, is due out this spring from Iris Press. She recently won the Donald L. Jordan Literary Prize for a collection of essays to be released in the fall. Ray’s work often grapples with the beauty, intricacy, and heartbreak of the biosphere. Ray has won a Pushcart Prize, an American Book Award, and a Southern Environmental Law Center Writing Award, among others. She had been inducted into the Georgia Writers Hall of Fame. She lives and works in coastal Georgia.

    Learn more about the Author >>


    Tiffany Razzano, Creating Literary Community

    Tiffany Razzano, based in St. Petersburg, is an editor at Patch. She's also the founder of the literary arts organization Wordier Than Thou. She organizes virtual and in-person events for writers and readers throughout Florida and beyond.

    Learn more about upcoming events >> 


    Brian Turner

    Brian Turner - Poetry, Writing for Veterans

    Brian Turner is a poet and memoirist who served seven years in the US Army. He is the author of two poetry collections, Phantom Noise and Here, Bullet, which won the 2005 Beatrice Hawley Award, the New York Times “Editor’s Choice” selection, the 2006 PEN Center USA “Best in the West” award, the 2007 Poets Prize, and others. In addition to his poetry, he is the editor of the anthology The Kiss (2018), a diverse anthology of essays, stories, poems, and graphic memoirs. Turner’s work has been published in National Geographic, the New York Times, Poetry Daily, Harper’s Magazine, and other fine journals. Turner has been awarded a United States Artists Fellowship, an NEA Fellowship, a Lannan Foundation Fellowship, and more. His recent memoir, My Life as a Foreign Country, has been called, “achingly, disturbingly, shockingly beautiful.”

    Learn more about the Author >>

    Helen Pruitt Wallace

    Helen Pruitt Wallace - Poetry

    Helen Pruitt Wallace is the Poet Laureate of Saint Petersburg, Florida. Former Professor of Creative Writing at Eckerd College, Wallace received her Ph.D. in English/Creative Writing from Florida State University. The winner of a Florida Book Award, Shimming the Glass House, Wallace’s first collection of poems, was chosen for the Richard Snyder Prize and published by Ashland Poetry Press. Her chapbook, Pink Streets, was published in 2016 by YellowJacket Press. Individual poems and essays are published or forthcoming in Harvard Review Online, The Literary Review, The Midwest Quarterly, Nimrod International, Tampa Review, Plume, River Teeth, Sweet: A Literary Confection, and other journals and anthologies. Wallace served as co-editor of the anthology Isle of Flowers published by Anhinga Press. She received a McKay Shaw Academy of American Poets Award, The dA Center for the Arts Poetry Award, a residency fellowship from the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and a Tennessee Williams Scholarship from the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. She and her husband Peter both grew up in St. Petersburg, and raised their children there. As Poet Laureate, Wallace hosts the Dalí Poetry Series at the Dalí Museum.

    Learn more about the Author >>

    Sterling Watson

    Sterling Watson - Fiction

    Sterling Watson is the author of eight novels, including Deadly Sweet, Sweet Dream Baby, Fighting in the Shade, and Suitcase City. Watson’s short fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Prairie Schooner, the Georgia Review, the Los Angeles Times Book Review, the Michigan Quarterly Review, and the Southern Review. He was director of the creative writing program at Eckerd College for twenty years and now teaches in the Solstice MFA Program at Pine Manor College in Boston. Of his sixth novel, Suitcase City, Tom Franklin said, “If this taut literary crime novel doesn’t center Sterling Watson on the map, we should change maps.” Watson lives in St. Petersburg, Florida.

    Learn more about the Author >>

    Retreat Staff


    Gianna Russo

    Gianna Russo

    Retreat Director

    Gianna Russo is Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing at Saint Leo University, where she teaches in the undergraduate and graduate programs. She is editor-in-chief of Saint Leo’s Sandhill Review and director of the Sandhill Writers Retreat.

    Russo is the author of the full-length poetry collection, One House Down (Madville Publishing, 2019) and Moonflower, (Kitsune Books, 2011), winner of a Florida Book Awards bronze medal, Florida Publishers Association Presidents’ Award silver medal, and was an Eric Hofer First Horizons finalist award. She is also the author of two chapbooks, Blue Slumber (YellowJacket Press, 2006), and The Companion of Joy (Green Rabbit Press, 2014). She is founding editor of YellowJacket Press, Florida’s premiere publisher of poetry chapbook manuscripts. She has published poems in Green Mountains Review, Negative Capability, Crab Orchard Review, Apalachee Review, The Sun, Poet Lore, saw palm, The MacGuffin, Florida Review, Tampa Review, Ekphrasis, Florida Humanities Council Forum, Karamu, The Bloomsbury Review, and Calyx, among others. She was named Creative Loafing’s Best of the Bay Local Poet in 2017. Russo holds an MFA in Poetry from The University of Tampa.

    Angel Jimenez

    Angel Jimenez

    Associate Director

    Angel Jimenez has been a faculty member of Saint Leo University since 2011, providing writing support services for Cannon Memorial Library, and teaching academic writing and literature for the Department of Language Studies and the Arts. He dreams of a world free of exploitation, warfare, and the word “amazeballs.”

    John David Harding

    John David Harding

    Assistant Director

    John David Harding teaches writing and research as a faculty member in the Cannon Memorial Library at Saint Leo University. His creative work includes publications in fiction, poetry, and visual art. He co-edits Lightning Key Review and Orange Blossom Review.

    More About Brian Turner's Work

    turner21-200x200THE KISS  (Anthology, 2018)
    A deliciously diverse anthology of essays, stories, poems, and graphic memoirs, where writers explore the deeply human act of kissing. From Sioux Falls to Khartoum, from Kyoto to Reykjavik; from the panchayat forests of India to the Giant’s Causeway on the coast of Northern Ireland; in taxis and at bus stops, in kitchens and sleigh beds, haystacks and airports around the globe—people are kissing one another. The sublime kiss. The ambiguous kiss. The devastating kiss. The kiss we can’t take back. The kiss we can never give. The kiss that changes a life. In this anthology, writers and thinkers share their thoughts on a specific kiss—the unexpected and unforgettable—in an attempt to bridge the gulf, to connect us to one another on a deeply human level, and to explore the messy and complicated intimacies that exist in our actual lives, as well as in the complicated landscape of the imagination. This is a book meant to be read from cover to cover, just as much as it’s meant to be dipped into—with each kiss pulling us closer to the moments in our lives that matter most.

    “My Life as a Foreign Country is brilliant and beautiful. It surely ranks with the best war memoirs I’ve ever encountered—a humane, heartbreaking, and expertly crafted work of literature.” —Tim O’Brien, author of The Things They Carried
    A war memoir of unusual literary beauty and power from the acclaimed poet who wrote the poem “The Hurt Locker.” In 2003, Sergeant Brian Turner crossed the line of departure with a convoy of soldiers headed into the Iraqi desert. Now, each night beside his sleeping wife, he imagines himself as a drone aircraft, hovering over the terrains of Bosnia and Vietnam, Iraq and Northern Ireland, the killing fields of Cambodia and the death camps of Europe—a landscape of ongoing violence, revealing all that man has done to man. In this breathtaking memoir, Turner retraces his war experience—pre-deployment to combat zone, homecoming to aftermath. Free of self-indulgence or self-glorification, his account combines recollection with the imagination’s efforts to make reality comprehensible. Across time, he seeks parallels in the histories of others who have gone to war, especially his taciturn grandfather (World War II), father (Cold War), and uncle (Vietnam). Through it all, Turner paints a devastating portrait of what it means to be a soldier and a human being.

    PHANTOM NOISE  (Poetry, 2010)
    “With courage and an uncommon willingness to see the world as it actually is, Brian Turner returns with a bullet-borne language in which helicopters hover like spiders over a film of water. His poem “Al-A’imma Bridge” alone proves his mastery, and joins him to the tradition of Wilfred Owen and David Jones, for he is their descendent, his poetic gifts detonated into a spray of lyric force that will mark what is possible in poetry for years to come, a chiseling of agony onto paper and a poignant  cri de Coeur to the republic of conscience.” — Carolyn Forché
    “Shaped by his time spent serving in Iraq, American soldier Brian Turner’s first collection, Here, Bullet, depicted combat with a mixture of bleak reality and disturbing surrealism. His second, Phantom Noise, also bristles with war’s devastations, but here conflict appears in flashbacks set against the backdrop of the poet’s Californian home. Turner’s is a world where even a visit to the local hardware shop opens on to artillery fire: a spilled “50-pound box of double headed nails” that pour on to the floor “constant as the shells / falling south of Baghdad.” The poems often read as an attempt to explain, understand and come to terms with the terrible things soldiers witness and are party to: the language sparse and precise, the tone questing and urgent. Yet the writing is rarely prescriptive, leaving interpretation open. Almost miraculously, there is also much sensitivity: “Al-A’imma Bridge” is a nightmarish account of the 2005 Tigris River disaster, yet finds “flowers that may light the darkness” to commemorate those who lost their lives. Turner’s resilient, humane poems remind us of war’s impact but also provoke and question.” —The Guardian

    HERE, BULLET (Poetry, 2005)
    A harrowing, beautiful first-person account of the Iraq War by a soldier-poet. The poems in Here, Bullet were written in his notebooks while he served in Iraq. Adding his voice to the current debate about the US occupation of Iraq, in poems written in the tradition of such poets as Wilfred Owen, Yusef Komunyakaa (Dien Cai Dau), and Bruce Weigl (Song of Napalm), Iraq war veteran Brian Turner writes powerfully affecting poetry of witness, exceptional for its beauty, honesty, and skill. Based upon Turner’s year-long tour in Iraq as an infantry team leader, the poems offer gracefully-rendered, unflinching description but, remarkably, leave the reader to draw conclusions or moral lessons. Here, Bullet is a must-read for anyone who cares about the war, regardless of political affiliation.

    New Call-to-action