Becky Mandelbaum is the winner of our second annual UC Davis Fiction Contest for her story “Queen of England.” She is a first-year MA student in the creative writing program at UC Davis. She is originally from Wichita, Kansas, but spent the last five years in Lawrence, where she received the Lawrence Arts Center’s 2013 Langston Hughes Award for Fiction. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in South Dakota Review, Midwestern Gothic, and Kansas City Voices.
Dr. Andy Jones will read “Queen of England” by Becky Mandelbaum. Jones is a poet, faculty member at UC Davis, radio talk show host, and public speaker. He has taught writing and literature classes at the University of California, Davis since 1990, and since 2000 has hosted “Dr. Andy’s Poetry and Technology Hour” on radio station KDVS. The Poet Laureate of Davis, Jones coordinates and hosts the Poetry Night Reading Series at the John Natsoulas Gallery in Davis. Combining poetry, painting, audience participation and song, his experimental play, Ephemera, premiered in December 2002.
As an actor, Jones has performed in television commercials, in a made-for-TV film that aired on PBS, and in films directed by his Technocultural Studies students. In recent years he has appeared on local television to discuss Maya Angelou, social media, teaching with iPads, and public poetry. He has told stories on the BBC World Service, and on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Growing up in a theatre family, he is the son of the late UNLV playwriting and directing professor Davey Marlin-Jones, winner of the Margo Jones Award for the Advancement of American Theatre.
Lissa Miller is the runner-up in our second annual UC Davis Fiction Contest for her story “The Armadillo.” She is a second-year MA student in the creative writing program at UC Davis and holds a BA in English Literature from the University of Redlands. After working for twenty-five years in the field of adult secondary education, she now writes both fiction and poetry and lives in Martinez, California, with her family.
Joyful Simpson will read “The Armadillo” by Lissa Miller. Simpson is an actress, writer, and creativity educator. As an artist, she combines physical theater, storytelling, and stand-up comedy to devise unique solo performances. As an educator, she leads invigorating improvisation and storytelling workshops for non-actors. Born into an entertainment family, she has been performing professionally since childhood. She studied theater and dance at Sarah Lawrence College in New York and is currently pursuing her MFA in Dramatic Art from UC Davis. She spent five years as a member of the improv cabaret troupe Rococo Risqué, which was awarded Best Theater Ensemble by SF Weekly. In addition to her solo and collaborative work, Simpson has appeared as an actor in a diverse range of projects, including Odyssey Works, an immersive theater project; The Pursuit of Happyness with Will Smith; and Spring Awakening with Stafford Arima. Her essay “The Procedure” was recently published in Whore Magazine, and she just completed a successful run of her most recent solo project, Tales of a Sexual Tomboy.