Incoming Executive Directors
Please join us in welcoming Jenny and Laura, officially starting in March!
We would like to take this opportunity to introduce to you the new Executive Directors of Woodland Pattern, Jenny Gropp and Laura Solomon! Both Jenny and Laura come to Woodland Pattern from the Georgia Review in Athens, Georgia. They both have backgrounds in education, publishing, and arts administration, and as poets and enthusiasts for small press literature. We are very excited to bring their knowledge and passion to Milwaukee and Woodland Pattern. Please join us in welcoming Jenny and Laura, officially starting in March!
A Brief Introduction:
Laura first fell for Woodland Pattern when she visited in 2011 to give a reading. The next day, she spent hours in the bookstore trying to whittle down what to purchase before finally deciding on the first issue of a slim, stapled journal called Paper Nautilus from the UK that features work by three poets, one of them Alice Notley.
Jenny learned about Woodland Pattern years ago when she met now-former Woodland Pattern employee Robert Baumann through good friends from graduate school. She remembers looking up the center and thinking it was incredibly cool, and has followed its activities from afar ever since.
A few goals Laura and Jenny have as they step into the position are:
- To continue developing the relationships already established by Anne, Karl, WP’s board, and current staff while also seeking new opportunities for local, regional, and national partnerships as well as community participation.
- To work toward chronicling WP’s rich, vibrant history under Anne Kingsbury’s directorship and Karl Gartung’s co-foundership by means of a definitive critical text on the center’s first four decades.
- To celebrate WP’s upcoming 40th anniversary in 2019 as a homecoming for all those who’ve passed through the center’s doors—whether as staff, volunteers, board members, or as visiting writers and artists.
Since 2012, Jenny has served as managing editor of the Georgia Review, a literary quarterly based at the University of Georgia in Athens. There, she has overseen production, edited manuscripts, directed art selection, and help shaped the journal’s mission and programming. She’s also worked for several years as a freelance editor. In her twenties, Jenny studied literature and creative writing at the University of Montana in Missoula and spent several formative years abroad—researching musicology in West Africa and teaching English as a foreign language in Japan—before going on to pursue an MFA in creative writing at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. While teaching and writing there, she also edited Black Warrior Review and directed the Creative Writing Club for high school students. Additionally, she has experience as a senior administrator at the Johns Hopkins Center for Talented Youth.
In addition to her passion for the literary arts, Jenny loves DJing, and has performed occasional live sets and hosted specialty radio shows featuring sound art, electronic music, and spoken word on radio stations in Colorado, Montana, and Alabama. An avid music collector, she enjoys playing drums, and is looking forward to taking in the music scene in the Midwest.
Laura holds degrees from the University of Georgia and the University of Massachusetts–Amherst, where she studied poetry under Peter Gizzi, James Tate, and Dara Wier. After receiving her MFA in 2005, she spent several years abroad in Italy and France as a teacher and translator, as well as time in Philadelphia as an adult literacy tutor and adjunct professor. In 2011, she returned to Athens, Georgia, to teach for UGA before eventually taking on the role of public outreach and digital projects manager at the Georgia Review. Over the years, she’s worked with a number of other literary journals and small presses, including Verse Press (now Wave Books), which she helped launch in 2000, and castagraf, an early online journal she founded in 2002.
Laura is the author of three books of poetry, most recently The Hermit from Ugly Duckling Presse, and two works of translation. A volume of her selected poems was published in Slovene in 2010, the same year she was invited to read at Slovenia’s international literary festival Days of Poetry and Wine. Laura is currently at work on new poems, a translation of Ted Berrigan’s Sonnets into Italian and Natalia Ginzburg’s novella Famiglia from Italian to English. New poetry is forthcoming from the Brooklyn Rail. Beyond these pursuits, Laura has written and performed music with the band pacificUV, touring with them in the US, China, and southeast Asia in 2014. A longtime film buff and lover of the visual arts, she’s especially excited about Woodland Pattern’s experimental film series and ongoing art exhibitions.
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