Editorial Team

Looking at Appalachia’s Call and Response Editorial Team.



Courtney Balestier is a writer whose work focuses on the intersection of place and identity, particularly in her native Appalachia. Her writings on these and other subjects — including Detroit's post-bankruptcy art scene, tournament pinball and David Lynch's quinoa recipe — have appeared in a variety of publications, including The New Yorker online, Lucky Peach, the New York TimesBon Appetit online, Food & Wine online, SaveurOxford American, New York and Wired. Her writing has been anthologized in Cornbread Nation 7: The Best of Southern Food Writing (UGA Press, 2014) and nominated for a James Beard Foundation Journalism Award and a Pushcart Prize. She is a board member of the Appalachian Food Summit.

Courtney holds a bachelor's degree in news journalism from West Virginia University and a master's degree in magazine journalism from New York University. A native West Virginian, she is at work on a novel about identity, class and the Appalachian "Hillbilly Highway" migration to Detroit, where she is currently based. 


Crystal Wilkinson is an award-winning feminist poet, novelist, memoirist, and professor from Indian Creek, Kentucky. A founding member of the Affrilachian Poets Collective, she is currently Associate Professor of English in the MFA in Creative Writing Program at the University of Kentucky.

Wilkinson’s first book, Blackberries, Blackberries won the Chaffin Award for Appalachian Literature; her second book, Water Street, was a finalist for both the Orange Prize and the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award; her third book, The Birds of Opulence, won the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence, The Judy Young Gaines Prize for Fiction, The Appalachian Book of the Year and the Weatherford Award. Her work—fiction, poetry, memoir—has been widely anthologized and published in countless journals and she was recently named a Southerner of the Year. She and her partner, Ron Davis co-own and run the beloved independent bookstore, Wild Fig Books and Coffee in Lexington, Kentucky.


Gina Mamone (at left with Kayleigh Phillips of Queer Appalachia) is an audio engineer and artist living in the coalfields of West Virginia. Mamone engineered and produced some of the first Riot Grrrl albums to come out of the Pacific Northwest. Until 2014, Mamone was President of Riot Grrrl Ink., the largest queer record label in the world, with an artist roster of over 200 that ranged from the Gay Ole Opry to Andrea Gibson. In 2014, in a act of solidarity with the emerging #BLM movement and in an intentional act of reparations and redistribution of wealth, Mamone gave RGI to Awqward, the first queer POC/ indigenous talent agency. These days, they produce and engineer music festival live streams all over the world. Mamone is the Creative Director of the Queer Appalachia Project, which communicates with over 90,000 people a day via social media who call below the Mason-Dixon home. Mamone’s art will be featured in a solo show this fall at the Sheheradaze Gallery in Louisville, Kentucky.