Meet Your Facilitators & Guides
Statements and Biographies
Alicia Cahalane lewis
As a writer from the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, I find myself in a unique position to tell my ancestor’s story. I am a ninth generation Quaker deposited here through the good fortune/luck of my mother and father. Hers was not an easy childhood, but my mother’s Quaker family instilled in her, and she in me, a unique perspective to respecting family ties that bind not only one to the other, but each of us to our Valley.
The Valley is shaped by these ancestor’s stories and I have used this narrative and reshaped it into every story, poem, essay, novel, and commentary I make as I reimagine myself in relationship to my world, my Universe. My words become this way for me to rediscover a road map that will take me home again. I am constantly striving to find authentic relationships, not only personal, but cultural, political, scientific, and spiritual.
To me, as I reimagine my story, I take the root of what it means to be an American woman living in a transitional time in our Nation’s history, and seek to rediscover and reimagine this story as it is recurring throughout the world, the Universe. We are all the beneficiaries of what has been. I feel it is time to rediscover what it is.
Raised in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia by a closet physicist father and an eighth generation Valley Quaker mother, Alicia Cahalane Lewis is a poet, novelist, and playwright. In 2013 she graduated from Naropa University with an MFA in Creative Writing.
Alicia’s work centers around themes of place, landscape, and territory. She is driven to find meaning in our relationships to place, to one another, and to the universe at large.
Aware of her tie to the Shenandoah Valley that goes back nine generations, Alicia recently returned after a twenty-five year hiatus in Maine where she raised two daughters.
As witness to the stories of the early settlers’ perseverance and appreciation for the bounty and beauty of the Valley, it is a place where she continues to find inspiration for her creative work.
Her chapbook nebulous beginnings and strings, published October 2017, and the coffee table book of the same name featuring the full length poem, nebulous beginnings and strings, and paintings by local artist Winslow McCagg was published August 2017 by Tattered Press. The Fish Turned the Waters Over So the Birds Would Have a Sky, a meditation on evolution was published by The Lune Chapbook Series Summer 2017. She is the author of the forthcoming poetry performance piece entitled Nefertiti X,a contemporary stage production reuniting Nefertiti, her eldest daughter Meritaten, and Mother Mary on a Brooklyn warehouse stage revealing the secrets of their contribution to religious ideology. She is currently writing a novel about the priestess in ancient Egypt.
Amanda Ngoho Reavey
As a transnational adoptee born in the Philippines and raised in the United States by German-Irish-American parents, I find myself between cultures. Finding deep connection with all of them, but still feeling on the outskirts, this search for identity, origin story and place led me to write my debut book, Marilyn, so named because it’s my birth name. I wanted to explore what happened when, as Sarita Eschavez See asked, “what happens when all you have is the body to articulate loss?”
In the following years since, I’ve realized there are many ways in which we might feel orphaned. Perhaps we don’t know our neighbors, our communities, our families, or our varied histories. How do they converge? And how does this connect to place? This has led me to study botany and herbalism; to be more mindful on backpacking and camping trips; to study wilderness medicine; and change my career from marketing and development to leading outdoor programs and teaching writing.
When leading workshops and trips, I always ask participants, who are you? Answers often include occupation, immediate family, and where they live. But who we are is more than what the official documents do or don’t tell us.
We are an amalgamation of regional and national, and global history; ancestral and personal stories; myths and legends; nature and nurture; dreams; failures and successes. My revised question is, Who your storytelling self? And how does healing, rediscovering or reimagining that self restore the Earth?
Born in the Philippines, raised in Wisconsin, Amanda Ngoho Reavey is a teacher and poet who has taught community workshops since 2006. In 2014, she received her MFA in Writing & Poetics from Naropa University.
Ever curious, Amanda is a seeker and lifelong learner. She believes restoryation is a vital restorative practice because our stories are sacred, and the (r)evolution is somatic. Her work centers around themes of place, identity, landscape and reciprocity.
Her debut experimental poetry novel, Marilyn, was published by the Operating System in 2015 and won the 2017 Best Book Award in Poetry from the Association for Asian American Studies. Amanda’s poems and essays appear in Construction Literary Magazine, Anthropoid, TRUCK, and Evening Will Come, among others.
From 2016-2018, she published chapbooks and one hardcover coffee table book through Tattered Pages, a small press she hopes to revamp. In the meantime, she is working on her collaborative project, RestoryNation, through her Poetry Fellowship at Black Earth Institute, a Wisconsin nonprofit committed to “re-forging the links between art and spirit, earth and society.”
Currently, Amanda is a Teaching Assistant and PhD student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.