Our Judges


Vivé Griffith Vivé Griffith is a graduate of the Michener Center for Writers at UT, where she held a fellowship in poetry and began her work bringing arts and education to the community. She’s taught poetry to everyone from kindergarteners to typing service edit my essa veterans to retirees, and currently directs the Free Minds Project, which offers free college humanities classes to low-income adults. She is the author of the poetry chapbook Weeks in This Country. Her essays and poems have appeared in publications including The Sun, Oxford American, and Gettysburg Review, as well as at the Blanton Museum http://howloseweightquick.org/.
Ray Shea Ray Shea is a graduate of Rice University, a former ACC student and a frequent reader at ACC’s Literary Coffeehouse. His poetry has appeared most recently in Fourteen Hills, The Collapsar, and Sundog Lit, and he is a regular contributor to The Rumpus. A native of Boston and New Orleans, he has called Austin home for more than twenty years.
Mary Helen Specht Mary Helen Specht’s fiction and nonfiction have appeared in numerous publications, including The New York Times, and her debut novel, Migratory Animals, will be published by Harper Perennial in early 2015.  A former Fulbright Scholar to Nigeria and Dobie-Paisano Writing Fellow, she currently teaches creative writing at St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas.
Mary Helen Specht W. Joe Hoppe received his MA in English at the University of Texas, and had a post-graduate fellowship in poetry at the Michener Center for Writers. He has been working as an English and Creative Writing Professor at Austin Community College since 1996. His two full-length books of poetry are Galvanized from Dalton Publishing in 2007, and Diamond Plate from OBSOLETE! Press in 2012. A long time member of the Austin poetry community, he is currently the host of the monthly poetry reading, W. Joe’s Poetry Corner, at Malvern Books.
Louisa Jackson Spaventa Louisa Jackson Spaventa received her MA in English/Creative Writing from UT Austin. She has taught English at ACC since 2003, tutored writing and literature in the ACC learning labs since 2006, was a judge for ACC’s Balcones Prize in Poetry, and is the faculty adviser for ACC’s GSA. Most recently, Louisa’s piece on roller derby was included in the anthology Bring the Noise: The Best Pop Culture Essays from Barrelhouse.
John Herndon John Herndon is a poet, filmmaker and professor at Austin Community College. He has published eight books of poetry, including “Proof that the World is Real” (Tantrum Press) and “Road Trip Through the Four Spheres” (Skanky Possum). His script “Bikes and Trikes” was produced in 2009, and a feature “Frame Switch” is scheduled for a 2014 release.
Nikki Bruns Nikki Bruns is an author of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry. She lives in Austin, Texas and is a graduate of Texas State University. Her poem, “Fat Teenager Lovesong” was selected by Persona Magazine as Poem of the Year in 2012. Her work has been featured in the Rio Review, Feministing.com, and xoJane.com.
Ken Fontenot Ken Fontenot has an MA in German Language and Literature from UT Austin. He has published a novel with Slough Press called For Mr. Raindrinker.
His most recent book of poems is In a Kingdom of Birds from Pinyon Publishing, won the Texas Institute of Letters 2012 Poetry Award. His poems have been published in American Poetry Review, Kenyon Review, Georgia Review, Southern Review, New Orleans Review, North American Review, Texas Observer, and others. His literary translations from the German have appeared widely.
Schandra Abigail Madha Schandra Abigail Madha is a senior at the University of Texas at Austin pursuing a BA in English with a minor in Russian Language. In 2012, Schandra spent a semester at ACC where she wrote two monologues for the annual Austin original theater production In2theWest and was recognized in the ACC Arts & Humanities article “Four ACC Students Who Are Making A Difference.” Last year, she worked as the production and writing assistant for The Telling Project, a theater experience designed to bridge the gap between veterans and the community. Schandra’s poetry submission was recently nominated for the 2014 UT Regents’ Outstanding Arts and Humanities Award and some of her work will be in the upcoming issue of Hothouse Literary Magazine. She intends to begin her Masters in Creative Writing in Fall 2015.