Nikema Bell

Nikema Bell was raised in the quaint town of Linstead, Jamaica. She graduated from the University of the West Indies in 2022 with a BA in Literatures in English and a Minor in Creative Writing. Currently, Nikema is continuing her academic journey, pursuing a master's degree in English, specializing in Victorian and Postcolonial Caribbean Literature.

Beyond her scholarly pursuits, she finds solace in the art of poetry, singing, and exploring an eclectic range of music genres. Additionally, she possesses a penchant for uncovering random facts online, embarking on lengthy walks and expressing her creativity through painting.

As a first-generation college student, Nikema harbors aspirations of attaining a Ph.D. in English, with a specific focus on exploring the connection between mental health and creativity in literature. With a distinctive blend of academic depth and creative pursuits, Nikema Bell hopes to make a meaningful impact in the field of literature and beyond.

Jessica Carter

Jessica Carter grew up in Northern Virginia and graduated from James Madison University in 2020 with a BA in English Literature and minors in Creative Writing and African/African-American/Diaspora studies. She is passionate about all forms of speculative fiction, and its propensity to enrich interdisciplinary criticism. She is both grateful and enthusiastic to continue her work with the Furious Flower Poetry Center. Besides learning, she enjoys watching and reading horror, writing poetry, and painting.

Ben Cook

Ben Cook grew up in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He graduated from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2018 with a BA in English and in 2020 with an MT in English Education. After graduating with his MT, he spent three years teaching High School in central Virginia. His research interests are historicism, gender and sexuality, medievalism, the English Civil War, and the Early Modern period. Outside of the classroom, Ben is likely painting miniatures or hosting a role-playing game event. At any given moment Ben is likely thinking about a Star Trek episode that applies to the issues of the day.

Haylee Edwards

Haylee Edwards considers herself to be from Northern Virginia despite moving around most of her younger years, as she spent most of her teen and early adult years in Stafford, Virginia.  She graduated from James Madison University in December 2022 with a BA in English Literature and a minor in Medieval and Renaissance Studies.  Her passion for literature drives both her academic and her extracurricular lives!  Haylee has been involved with the English Student Ambassador program on campus, as well as Sigma Tau Delta, the National English Honor Society.

She loves all things British literature--from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and The Faerie Queene to J. R. R. Tolkien and Neil Gaiman.  Her specific passion for literature of the olden times revolves around making connections between the distant historical context of an author and their world to our modern understanding of the era.  Whether it be in the classroom or a book club, she loves to take any opportunity to discuss author mindsets and motives.

Haylee is an aspiring writer and educator who plans to continue her ventures into greater academia with the ultimate goal of obtaining a Ph.D. in English someday.

Emma Gentry

Emma Gentry grew up near Richmond, Virginia. She graduated from JMU in 2022 with a double major in English and Religion. She wanted to attend graduate school at JMU because she loves living in the Harrisonburg area and deeply enjoyed her academic experiences at JMU. As an undergraduate, she was particularly interested in reading literature that explores gender, sexuality, and race; Victorian literature; and literature from around the world where she can learn about different cultures! She hopes to continue these passions in her master’s program and find even more things she is passionate about. In her free time, Emma enjoys reading (obviously), listening to music, writing music of her own, hiking, enjoying a good meal, and having deep conversations with her friends! 

Richard Hollis

Hello, my name is Richard Hollis, and I am originally from Ottawa, Canada, but I grew up for many years in Charlottesville, VA. I graduated from JMU in 2021 with a BA in English. Through my undergraduate studies, I covered anything and everything from medieval stories such as Sir Gawain and the Green Knight to postcolonial literature like Okurut’s The Invisible Weevil. Through the variety of pieces I covered, I developed a greater passion for the historical influence behind the lines of literature. Currently, my passions involve writing poetry, reading anything from Nabokov or Kosiński, going to the gym, and playing soccer. I am grateful and excited that I can continue my studies at JMU while obtaining my MA and diving deeper into literature and its historical inspiration.

Ava Jacobs

Ava Jacobs grew up in the small town of Culpeper, Virginia and after taking some time off from school, enrolled in JMU where she graduated with her B.A. in English in 2022. Her fascination with storytelling and the complex roles it plays in culture has propelled her down a path that she has only become more enamored with as time goes on. Overall, she loves examining how stories are told, the histories and intersections of different mediums, as well as all things queer (whether that be authorial intent or the various readings that a particular text has inspired). Outside of school, she enjoys hiking and writing short fiction in her free time (with a particular penchant for science fiction and horror). She has also become increasingly interested in archival and preservation work and is hoping to use her Master’s degree as a jumping off point to continue exploring the field and its opportunities.

Callista Mayberry

Callista Mayberry grew up in Front Royal, a small town about an hour outside of Washington D.C. She graduated from Shenandoah University in 2023 with a B.A. in English and B.S. in Information Technology. She is passionate about examining literature through the lens of feminist and psychoanalytical theories. Callista plans to pursue a Ph.D. after completing her graduate studies at James Madison University. She enjoys reading comics and fantasy novels in her free time (her favorite book is Vicious by V.E. Schwab). She also enjoys playing video games, listening to music, and going to the movies. 

Kara Miller

Kara Miller grew up in Elkton, VA (just 30 minutes outside Harrisonburg). She graduated from JMU with a Bachelor’s in English in 2019 with minors in secondary education, Spanish, and philosophy. As an undergraduate, she also led a student writing organization Word is Born Writers’ Society, which is associated with Furious Flower here at JMU. Kara went on to attend JMU for a Master’s in Education, graduating in 2020. She currently works as an 8th grade English teacher in Albemarle County. Her love for English literature is rooted deeply in postmodernism and 19th century British literature, specifically anything and everything Oscar Wilde related. Kara is a first-generation college student and is hoping to earn a doctorate degree in either English or education. In her free time, Kara enjoys spending as much time as possible surrounded by her pets, including her dogs, cats, fish, and chickens. She also enjoys reading and playing games (PC, Nintendo Switch, board games, card games).

Tiff Polzin

Tiff Polzin grew up in rural Wisconsin and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in May 2022. She then spent a service year working as an AmeriCorps member for City Year Milwaukee. Throughout her collegiate experience, she became fascinated by exploring and writing about theatre from a literary perspective, especially early modern theatrical works, and this continues to be her greatest area of interest today. However, she is also an avid reader of all types of literature. Outside of reading, Tiff enjoys biking, playing piano, going to musicals and plays, spending time with her cat, Juliet, and journaling.

Madeline Spivey

Madeline Spivey hails from Camp Hill, Pennsylvania. She graduated from Messiah University in December of 2019 with a BA in both Sociology/Anthropology and English Literature, along with a minor in music. In undergrad, she spent her time studying abroad at the University of Oxford, working in the Office of Sustainability and the library, and performing with the department of dance. A gal of many research interests, Madeline is particularly intrigued by the writings of medieval women mystics (shout out to Julian of Norwich), theology of embodiment and the body, and ways of knowing, as well as children’s literature. Outside of the classroom, she enjoys playing the piano, dancing, gardening, baking cakes, and writing poetry. Madeline has hopes of teaching at the college level and perhaps starting a small-scale farm, too, with a cow and a few ducks for good measure. 

Rita Stephan
Jacob Stephens

Jacob Stephens grew up in the small town of Rose Creek, Minnesota. He received his bachelor’s degree in English Literature from the University of Minnesota, where he also earned a minor in Medieval Studies. As an undergraduate, Jacob developed interests in Early Modern, Romantic, and Modernist Literature, with a liking for grotesque aesthetics and wordsmiths, and a partiality for such writers (among others) as Thomas Nashe (wordsmith par excellence), Sir Thomas Browne (prose stylist par excellence), Samuel Taylor Coleridge, A.E. Housman, Sherwood Anderson, Nathanael West, and so on. Jacob hopes to concentrate on Expressionism and better understand its development out of Romanticism. He has read Robert Browning’s “The Pied Piper of Hamelin” more than any other poem, and occasionally writes in his free time, though has never been published due to the stymying effect of editors who enjoy suppressing his art.  

Samantha Wilber

Prior to JMU, Sam double majored in English and Biblical Studies at Palm Beach Atlantic University. During her undergraduate years, she wrote for a live sketch comedy club called Monday Night Live and published several original works in the Living Waters Review, PBA's creative writing publication. Her senior research project focused on expanding the coming-of-age genre to include multicultural protagonists and authors. When she's not reading or writing, she is most likely watching the Red Sox, New England Patriots, or old SNL skits with her family. Originally from Orlando, FL, Sam enjoys being outside or near the water in her free time. 


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