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 |

Richard Leis (he/him) is a poet and writer in Tucson, Arizona where he teaches writing workshops at The Writers Studio and works for a team at the University of Arizona with a camera in Mars orbit. His poetry has been published in Impossible Archetype, The Laurel Review, Manzano Mountain Review, MarsPoetica, and Star*Line. He has been a poetry finalist of the Tucson Festival of Books Literary Awards and a winner of the Hattie Locket Undergraduate Student Poetry Award. Richard earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and Creative Writing from the University of Arizona. He is excited to join the Tucson Poetry Festival as a Board Member as of November 2019.

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), Finalist for the
2021 New Mexico-Arizona Book Award and the 2020 Best Book Award. 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 serves on the board of the Tucson Poetry Festival. Learn more at