Board Members

Melanie Madden

Melanie Madden | Director | 

Melanie Madden (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 40th year.

Laura Talarsky Stevens | Treasurer |

Laura Talarsky Stevens 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.

Richard Leis | Active Board Member |

Writer of the dark, the difficult, and the inexplicable, Richard Leis’s speculative stories have been published in The Molotov Cocktail and anthologies published by Crone Girls Press and House of Zolo. His literary and speculative poems have been published in Impossible ArchetypeThe Laurel ReviewManzano Mountain ReviewStar*LineEye to the Telescope, and the Adult Children anthology from Wising Up Press. Several of his poems and stories have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. In 2018 and 2021, Richard was a finalist in the Tucson Festival of Books Literary Awards.

Photo Credit: Patri Hadad

Sarah Kortemeier | Active Board Member |

Sarah Kortemeier (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 is delighted to join the Board in 2021. 

Photo Credit: Chris Conforti

Eleanor Kedney | Active Board Member |

Eleanor Kedney is the author of Between the Earth and Sky (C&R Press, 2020), a finalist for the 2021 New Mexico-Arizona Book Awards and the 2020 Best Book Awards. She is also the author of the chapbook The Offering (Liquid Light Press, 2016). Her poems have appeared in journals, magazines, and anthologies, including Fjords Review, Miramar Poetry Journal, New Ohio Review, and Under a Warm Green Linden. She is the recipient of the 2019 riverSedge Poetry Prize (University of Texas Rio Grande Valley) and a 2020 Mslexia Finalist Prize. Kedney is the founder of the Tucson branch of the New York-based Writers Studio and was the director for ten years. She was excited to join the board of the Tucson Poetry Festival in 2021. Learn more at

Bryanna Botham | Active Board Member |

Bryanna Botham is a high school teacher in Tucson and a firm supporter of the Oxford comma. A writer of fiction, memoir, and poetry, she was a 2021 finalist in the Women on Writing summer flash fiction contest and has previously won the Hearst Grand Prize for undergraduate poetry. Having attended the Tucson Poetry Festival for several years, she was pleased to join the board in 2021.