Oxbow Writers-in-Residence

The Guild prides itself in providing personalized, collaborative opportunities between passionate writers-in-residence and participants. This year, we’re thrilled to host three fantastic writer/teachers.


A. Rafael Johnson

A. Rafael Johnson was born in upstate New York to parents from the Deep South. He grew up in New York, Arkansas, and Texas. He studied drama at The University of Texas at Austin, then lived in Austin for over 20 years. He studied fiction at The University of Alabama, and then became an aid worker in Liberia. After returning and teaching at Alabama, he became a consultant in arts-based evaluation for TerraLuna Collaborative, based in Minneapolis. Johnson became a Kimbilio Fellow in 2014. In 2017, he published his debut novel, The Through (Jaded Ibis Press), which was a finalist for the 2018 Minnesota Book Award.

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Gretchen Marquette

Gretchen Marquette is the author of May Day (Graywolf Press, 2016.) Her poetry has appeared in PoetryHarper's, the Paris Review, Tin House, PBS Newshour, and elsewhere. She was a 2014 recipient of The Loft Literary Center’s Emerging Writer Grant and a 2017 artist-in-residence at The Anderson Center in Red Wing, Minnesota. Her first book was nominated for a 2017 Minnesota Book Award in poetry. Gretchen teaches at various schools, including Hamline University, where she serves as the executive editor of Runestone. She lives in Minneapolis.


John Hildebrand

John Hildebrand is a professor of English at the University of Wisconsin–Eau Claire. He is the author of Reading the River: A Voyage Down the YukonMapping the Farm: A Family Chronicle, A Northern Front: New & Selected Essays, and most recently The Heart of Things.  His articles and essays have appeared in Harper’s magazine, Audubon, Sports Illustrated, OutsideThe Best American Sports Writing―1999, and The Missouri Review. He has been awarded a Minnesota Book Award, Banta Award from the Wisconsin Library Association, Bush Fellowship, Wisconsin Arts Board Fellowship, and a Friends of American Libraries Award.

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BJ Hollars (host/workshop leader)

BJ Hollars is the author of several books, most recently The Road South: Personal Stories of the Freedom Riders Flock Together: A Love Affair With Extinct Birds, From the Mouths of Dogs: What Our Pets Teach Us About Life, Death, and Being Human, as well as a collection of essays, This Is Only A TestHollars serves as a mentor for Creative Nonfictionand the  founder and executive director of the Chippewa Valley Writers Guild. An associate professor of English at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire, he lives a simple existence with his wife, their children, and their dog.