The Tucson Poetry Festival 2023-24 Board Members

Melanie Madden 


Melanie (she/her) is a storyteller, essayist, and poet who originally hails from the crossroads desert city of Barstow, California. Madden has called Tucson home since 2012 and is honored and humbled to serve the Tucson Poetry Festival in its 41st year. She also works in curricular affairs at the University of Arizona

Bryanna Botham


Bryanna (she/her) is a freelance editor and substitute teacher. A writer of fiction, memoir, and poetry, her flash fiction has been long and short-listed in several competitions, and she is a previous Grand Prize winner in Tucson's Hearst undergraduate poetry competition.  Most recently, she was nominated for a 2024 Pushcart Prize. Born and raised in Tucson, she holds a Bachelor's degree in English and Creative Writing from the University of Arizona. Bryanna joined the board in 2021 and this is her first year as Co-Director.   

Photo Credit: Kayla Spies

Laura Talarsky Stevens


Laura is a writer, editor, potter, and teacher based in Tucson, AZ for the last quarter century. She writes fiction, personal essays, and poetry. Her prose poems have been published in Sandscript and she was selected as a two-time fiction finalist of the Tucson Festival of Books Literary Awards. Laura hails from the Garden State of New Jersey, graduated with an M.A. in Anthropology from the University of Arizona, and was a Fulbright scholar in India. She’s thrilled to be serving as the treasurer for the Tucson Poetry Festival since October 2015.

Eleanor Kedney 

Active Board Member

Eleanor (she/her) is the author of Twelve Days From Transfer (3: A Taos Press, March, 2024). Her collection, Between the Earth and Sky (C&R Press, 2020), was a finalist forthe 2021 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards and the American Book Fest 2020 Best Book Awards. She is also the author of the chapbook The Offering (Liquid Light Press, 2016). Honors for individual poems include the 2019 riverSedge Poetry Prize (University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.) 

Kedney is the founder of the Tucson branch of the New York-based Writers Studio and served as the director for ten years. She taught all class levels for the school, including the first Tucson Master Class, and retired from The Writers Studio in 2015. Inspired by craft techniques utilized in her books, Eleanor developed the “Writing Toward Forgiveness” Workshop. She joined the Tucson Poetry Festival board in 2021. She lives in Tucson, Arizona, and Stonington, Connecticut, with her husband, Peter Schaffer, their dog, Fred, and their cat, Ivy. Learn more at

Photo Credit: Christ Conforti

Photo Credit: Patri Hadad

Sarah Kortemeier

Active Board Member

Sarah (she/her) is a poet and librarian who has called Tucson home for the last 13 years. Her debut collection of poems, Ganbatte, won the Felix Pollak Prize from the University of Wisconsin Press, and her work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Ploughshares, Alaska Quarterly Review, and The Feminist Wire, among others. She currently serves as Library Director at The University of Arizona Poetry Center. A long-time admirer of the Tucson Poetry Festival, she was delighted to join the Board in 2021.  

TPF is actively seeking new members! We are especially interested in board members with accounting, and/or nonprofit public relations experience. 

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