Syncretism & survival: forums on poetics (april 2018)

ELMAZ ABINADER is a poet whose work has been inspired by the dislocation of her parents from Lebanon to the US, and has radiated outward to dislocations, occupations, and disenfranchisement of other people in the Arab World and Diaspora.

Her first book, a memoir, The Children of the Roojme: A Family’s Journey from Lebanon was the story of three generations of Lebanese and their various challenges in finding a home away from their country. Based on diaries, interviews and letters, the book covers two centuries, ending in 1947. Her second publication, a poetry collection, In the Country of My Dreams…. Provides a collection of very specific dislocations—not only the family immigration but her own transition from New York to the Midwest and the shock of the open terrain of Nebraska and the intimate relationships with natural elements.

In addition to these publications, Elmaz has written and performed several one-women plays: Country of Origin, Ramadan Moon, 32 Mohammeds, Voices from the Siege and The Torture Quartet. Each uncovers a personal perspective on the lives of Arabs in the middle of political trauma. For instance, 32 Mohammeds is an intersection with the death of Mohammed al-Durra, a boy killed in Palestine before the second Intifada; Ramadan Moon explores the mythology associated with women who are veiled and the different reasons and responses to the veil.

Her latest poetry collection, This House, My Bones draws parallels between the changes of the earth through natural means to the changes in our bodies during unnatural traumas and how that trauma moves through generations. (Willow Press, 2014). Her current project is a novel: When Silence is Frightening (working title).

ELIZABETH ACEVEDO was born and raised in New York City and her poetry is infused with her Dominican parents’ bolero and her beloved city’s tough grit. She holds a BA in Performing Arts from The George Washington University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland. With over twelve years of performance experience, Acevedo has graced stages nationally and internationally including renowned venues such as The Lincoln Center, Madison Square Garden, the Kennedy Center of the Performing Arts, and South Africa’s State Theatre. Acevedo is a National Slam Champion. She has been published or has poems forthcoming in The Acentos Review, The Ostrich Review, Split This Rock, Callaloo, Poet Lore and The Notre Dame Review. 

Acevedo is a Cave Canem Fellow, Cantomundo Fellow, and participant of the Callaloo Writer’s Workshop. She has written two collections of poetry, her chapbook Beastgirl & Other Origin Myths and Medusa Reads La Negra’s Palm. The Poet X is her debut novel. She lives with her partner in Washington, DC. Find her online at

JAMES E. ALLMAN JR. is a poet with credentials—degrees in biology and business—that qualify him for an altogether different trade. However, he easily tires of the dissected and austerely economized. He is a dabbler with an expensive photography-habit and a poetry-dependency. Nominated for three Pushcart Prizes, his work appears, or is forthcoming, in Black Warrior Review, Los Angeles Review, Nimrod, Prairie Schooner, Sugar House Review, and Third Coast, among others. He’s written reviews for Rattle as well as other journals, blogs and sundries and is the co-founder of an artist community called Continuum.

SANDRA BEASLEY is the author of three poetry collections—Count the Waves, I Was the Jukebox, and Theories of Falling—and a memoir, Don’t Kill the Birthday Girl: Tales from an Allergic Life. Honors for her work include a 2015 NEA fellowship, the Center for Book Arts Chapbook Prize, and two DCCAH fellowships. She lives in Washington, D.C., and teaches with the University of Tampa low-residency MFA program.

DANIEL BORZUTSKY’s books and chapbooks include, among others, The Performance of Becoming Human (2016); In the Murmurs of the Rotten Carcass Economy (2015); Memories of my Overdevelopment (2015); Bedtime Stories For The End of the World! (2015), Data Bodies (2013), The Book of Interfering Bodies (2011), and The Ecstasy of Capitulation (2007). He has translated Raúl Zurita’s The Country of Planks (2015) and Song for his Disappeared Love (2010), and Jaime Luis Huenún’s Port Trakl (2008).  His work has been supported by the Illinois Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Pen/Heim Translation Fund. He lives in Chicago.

DERRICK WESTON BROWN holds an MFA in Creative Writing from American University. He has studied poetry under Dr. Tony Medina at Howard University and Cornelius Eady at American University. He is a graduate of the Cave Canem Summer workshop for black poets and the VONA summer workshop. His work has appeared in such literary journals as The Little Patuxent Review, Mythium, The Tidal Basin Review, DrumVoices, The Columbia Poetry Review, and the online journals Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Howard University’s Amistad, LocusPoint, MiPOesias,Vinyl Poetry, Borderline, ThisMag and most recently had a poem go viral through Colorlines. He’s also performed at many poetry venues around the country, from The Nuyorican Poets Café and The Bowery in NYC to Beyond Baroque in Los Angeles. He is a former publications advocate and book buyer for a bookstore which was operated by the social justice nonprofit Teaching for Change, and which located within the restaurant, bar, coffee shop and performance space known as Busboys and Poets. He has appeared on Al-Jazeera America’s “The Stream,” and VOA (Voice of America), Rwanda Radio.

As the first Poet-in-Residence of Busboys and Poets, he is the founder and host of The Nine on the Ninth, the very first and longest running poetry series of the Busboys and Poets, and currently helps coordinate the poetry programming at the 14th & V Street location. He teaches Poetry and Creative Writing to a small but gifted class of high schoolers at Emerson Preparatory School. He was the visiting Writer-in-Residence of Howard County Maryland for the 2012-2013 academic year and the 2015 Spring Semester Writer-in-Residence of The University of The District of Columbia. He is also a participating DC area author for the PEN/Faulkner foundation’s Writers-in-Schools program. He’s performed at such esteemed venues as The Nuyorican Poets’ Cafe and the Bowery. He has lead workshops and performed at Georgetown University, George Washington University and Chicago State. He has appeared on Al-Jazeera and NPR as well.  In May of 2014 he was also the recipient of a Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Grant.  He is a native of Charlotte, North Carolina, and resides in Mount Rainier, Maryland. His debut collection of poetry, entitled Wisdom Teeth, was released in April 2011 on Busboys and Poets Press/PM Press.

You can follow him on social media on Facebook and on Instagram @theoriginalDerrickWestonBrown.

JERICHO BROWN is the recipient of a Whiting Writers Award and fellowships from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University and the National Endowment for the Arts. His poems have appeared in The New Republic, The New Yorker, and The Best American Poetry. His first book, Please, won the American Book Award, and his second book, The New Testament, won the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award and the Thom Gunn Award, and it was named one of the best books of the year by Library Journal, Coldfront, and the Academy of American Poets. Brown is the director of the Creative Writing Program at Emory University and lives in Atlanta, Georgia.

KARLA CORDERO is the 2015 recipient of the Spoken Word Immersion Fellowship for writers of color from The Loft Literary Center (Minnesota, Minneapolis) and recipient of the Global Diversity Award at San Diego State University. Cordero curates, Voice For Change, a reading series inviting award winning spoken word artists to share their narratives on survival, and she hosts writing workshops for undocumented migrants in shelters located in Mexicali, Mexico.

She is the founder and editor of Spit Journal, an online literary review for poetry and social justice. Cordero is the 2013 Grand Slam Champion and the first Latina female to be part of the San Diego Elevated slam team, which placed 4th in the nation at the National Poetry Slam in Boston. She received her Masters of Fine Arts in 2015 and currently teaches at San Diego City College.

Cordero’s work has been published in the Acentos Review, Word Riot, Toe Good Poetry and elsewhere. Her chapbook, Grasshoppers Before Gods (2016), was published by Dancing Girl Press.

CYNTHIA CRUZ is the author of four collections of poems: How the End Begins (Four Way Books, 2016),  Wunderkammer (Four Way Books, 2014), The Glimmering Room (Four Way Books, 2012), and Ruin (Alice James Books, 2006). Her fifth collection, Dregs, as well as a collection of essays on silence and marginalization are both forthcoming in 2018, as well as an anthology of Latina poetry she is editing.

Her essays and art writings have been published in The Los Angeles Review of Books, The American Poetry Review, Guernica, and The Rumpus. She is currently at work on two poetry anthologies: one of Latina poets and the other, a collection of poetry by female poets around the issue of consumption and nourishment. She is a regular contributor for the art journal Hyperallergic. She has received fellowships from Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony as well as a Hodder Fellowship from Princeton University. She has an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College in writing and an MFA in Art Criticism & Writing from the School of Visual Arts. In the fall, she will be pursuing a PhD in German Studies at Rutgers University. She teaches at Sarah Lawrence College and is currently at work on a collection of essays on language and iterations of silence.

KYLE DARGAN is the author of four collections of poetry, Honest Engine (2015), Logorrhea Dementia (2010), Bouquet of Hungers (2007) and The Listening (2003), all published by the University of Georgia Press. For his work, he has received the Cave Canem Poetry Prize, the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and grants from the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Dargan has partnered with the President’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities to produce poetry programming at the White House and Library of Congress. He’s worked with and supports a number of youth writing organizations, such as 826DC, Writopia Lab and the Young Writers Workshop.

Dargan’s poems and non-fiction have appeared in publications such as Callaloo, Denver Quarterly, Jubilat, The Newark Star-Ledger, Ploughshares,, and Shenandoah. While a Yusef Komunyakaa fellow at Indiana University, he served as poetry editor for Indiana Review. He is the founding editor of Post No Ills magazine and was most recently the managing editor of Callaloo. He is currently an Associate Professor of Literature and Director of Creative Writing at American University.

Originally from Newark, New Jersey, Dargan is a graduate of Saint Benedict’s Prep, The University of Virginia and Indiana University.

MEG DAY is the author of Last Psalm at Sea Level (Barrow Street, 2014), winner of the Barrow Street Press Poetry Prize and The Publishing Triangle's 2015 Audre Lorde Award, and a finalist for the 2016 Kate Tufts Discovery Award from Claremont Graduate University, a 2015 Lambda Literary Award in Poetry, and Jacar Press' Julie Suk Award. Day is the author of two chapbooks: When All You Have Is a Hammer (winner of the 2012 Gertrude Press Chapbook Contest), and We Can't Read This (winner of the 2013 Gazing Grain Chapbook Contest). Day's poems appear or are forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, AGNI, Beloit Poetry Journal, cream city review, Drunken Boat, and Vinyl, among other journals, and in recent anthologies, including Best New Poets of 2013, Wingbeats II: Exercises & Practice in Poetry, We Will Be Shelter: Poems for Survival edited by Andrea Gibson, and Troubling the Line: Trans & Genderqueer Poetry & Poetics.

Day was raised in northern California's Bay Area. Day holds a B.A. from the University of California, San Diego, an M.F.A. from Mills College, and a Ph.D. in Literature and Creative Writing with an emphasis on Disability Poetics from the University of Utah where Day was a Steffensen-Cannon Fellow, a United States Point Foundation Scholar, and Poetry Editor for Quarterly West. The 2015-2016 recipient of the Amy Lowell Poetry Traveling Scholarship and a 2013 recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry, Day has also received awards and fellowships from the Association of Writers & Writing Programs, the Sewanee Writers' Conference, Lambda Literary Foundation, Hedgebrook, Squaw Valley Writers, the Taft-Nicholson Center for Environmental Humanities, and the International Queer Arts Festival. Day is Assistant Professor of English & Creative Writing at Franklin & Marshall College and lives in Pennsylvania.

NATALIE DIAZ was born and raised in the Fort Mojave Indian Village in Needles, California, on the banks of the Colorado River. She is Mojave and an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Tribe. Her first poetry collection, When My Brother Was an Aztec, was published by Copper Canyon Press. She is a 2012 Lannan Literary Fellow and a 2012 Native Arts Council Foundation Artist Fellow. In 2104, she was awarded a Bread Loaf Fellowship, as well as the Holmes National Poetry Prize and a Hodder Fellowship, both from Princeton University, a Civatella Ranieri Foundation Residency, and a US Artists Ford Fellowship.

Diaz teaches at the Institute of American Indian Arts Low Rez MFA program and lives in Mohave Valley, Arizona, where she directs the Fort Mojave Language Recovery Program, working with the last remaining speakers at Fort Mojave to teach and revitalize the Mojave language.

JILL ALEXANDER ESSBAUM is the author of several collections of poetry and her work has appeared in The Best American Poetry, as well as its sister anthology, The Best American Erotic Poems, 1800-Present. She is the winner of the Bakeless Poetry Prize and recipient of two NEA literature fellowships. A member of the core faculty at the University of California, Riverside’s Palm Desert Low-Residency MFA program, she lives and writes in Austin, Texas.

TARFIA FAIZULLAH is the author of Register of Eliminated Villages (Graywolf 2017) and Seam (SIU 2014), the 2015 winner of a VIDA Award, GLCA New Writers’ Award, and the Milton Kessler First Book Award. Recent poems appear in Poetry Magazine, jubilat, New England Review and are anthologized in Best New Poets 2013, The Breakbeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop, Please Excuse This Poem: 100 New Poets for the Next Generation, and elsewhere. Tarfia is the Nicholas Delbanco Visiting Professor of Poetry at the University of Michigan and co-directs Organic Weapon Arts with Jamaal May.

CARMEN GIMéNEZ SMITH is the author of a memoir and four poetry collections—including Milk and Filth, finalist for the 2013 NBCC award in poetry. A CantoMundo Fellow, she teaches in the creative writing programs at New Mexico State University, while serving as the editor-in-chief of the literary journal Puerto del Sol and the publisher of Noemi Press.

THOMAS HAYDEN (1939-2016) was a radical anti-war and civil rights activist in the 1960s, eventually serving a combined 18 years in the California State Assembly and State Senate. After his political career, Hayden wrote for major publications and advance his ideals for social reform as director of the Peace and Justice Resource Center.

A co-founder of Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) in 1961, Hayden also joined the Freedom Riders in the South after authorities refused to enforce desegregation of public buses. He was jailed in Albany, Georgia, for attempting to desegregate a railway station. While incarcerated, he began drafting the famed Port Huron Statement, which introduced the concept of "participatory democracy" to a wider audience. Hayden later became president of SDS and helped form the Economic Research and Action Project to spur civil rights progress. During the mid-1960s, Hayden worked with inner-city New Jersey residents as part of the Newark Community Union Project and began traveling to Hanoi, Vietnam. He was arrested for protesting at the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, becoming one of the "Chicago Seven" defendants who were convicted for conspiracy to incite violence but later had their convictions overturned.

Having already published several books, including his 1988 autobiography, Reunion: A Memoir, Hayden focused more on writing in the new millennium with regular contributions to such publications as The New York Times, The Huffington Post and The Nation. He also became the director of the Peace and Justice Resource Center in Culver City, California, through which he continued to share liberal ideas, support social and environmental and animal welfare causes, and speak out against wars for the remainder of his life. In 2015, he published Listen, Yankee!: Why Cuba Matters.

LAUREN JENSEN-DEEGAN lives in Eugene, Oregon. Among other publications, her poetry has been included in The Best American Poetry, been featured as a Poet’s Sampler in the Boston Review and selected as a finalist for the James Wright Poetry Award and Fineline Competition in which both selections appeared in the Mid-American Review.

CLAIRE KAGEYAMA-RAMAKRISHNAN (1969-2016) was a full-time English instructor at Houston Community College in Houston, Texas, a graduate of the Ph.D. in Literature and Creative Writing program at University of Houston, where she was a Cambor Fellow; a graduate of the M.A. literature program at University of California at Berkeley, and graduate of the M.F.A. in poetry program at University of Virginia, where she was a Henry Hoyns Fellow.  Her first book, Shadow Mountain, won the Four Way Books Intro Book Prize, and was published by Four Way Books; her second book, Bear, Diamonds and Crane was published by Four Way Books in 2011. 

ILYA KAMINSKY is a poet, translator, and essayist who lives in San Diego.

JOAN NAVIYUK KANE is the author of Milk Black Carbon, The Straits, The Cormorant Hunter’s Wife and Hyperboreal. She has received a Whiting Writer’s Award, the Donald Hall Prize in Poetry, the USA Projects Creative Vision Award, an American Book Award, the Alaska Literary Award, and fellowships from the Rasmuson Foundation, Alaska State Council on the Arts, Alaska Arts and Cultures Foundation, the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation and the School for Advanced Research.

 Kane graduated from Harvard College, where she was a Harvard National Scholar, and Columbia University’s School of the Arts, where she was the recipient of a graduate Writing Fellowship. Inupiaq with family from King Island and Mary’s Igloo, she raises her children in Anchorage, Alaska, and is a faculty mentor with the low-residency MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

MARIAMA J. LOCKINGTON is a writer, nonprofit educator, and transracial adoptee who calls many places home. Her poetry chapbook The Lucky Daughter is now available from Damaged Goods Press, and her middle grade novel-in-verse QUESTIONS I HAVE FOR BLACK GIRLS LIKE ME is forthcoming from Farrar, Straus, and Giroux for Young Readers in 2019. Her essay “What A Black Woman Wishes her Adoptive White Parents Knew” trended on Buzzfeed News Reader in August 2016.

Mariama has edited and contributed to many youth-centered book projects including: Be Honest and Other Advice from Students Across the Country (2011, The New Press), Growing Our Hearts and Brains: Poems on love, technology, and success (2014, 826NYC), Chicken Makes the Ice Cream Taste Better: Stories on Food and Community (2015, 826NYC), and her co-authored lesson plan “The Science of Superpowers” is included in STEM to Story: Enthralling and Effective Lesson Plans for grades 5th-8th (2015, Jossey-Bass).

She is a Bread Loaf Scholar, Voices of Our Nation Arts Alumni, a Literary Death Match Champion, and she earned her Masters in Education from Lesley University and her MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University.

Mariama lives in Lexington, KY with her partner and their dapple-haired dachshund, Henry. When she is not writing or teaching, you’ll find Mariama singing karaoke, watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer, or re-reading her favorite book, Sula by Toni Morrison.

DAVID MADULI is a writer, veteran public school teacher, active deejay and father. Born in San Francisco, he is a longtime resident of Oakland and winner of the 2011 Joy Harjo Poetry Prize.

NICK MAKOHA represented Uganda at Poetry Parnassus as part of the Cultural Olympiad held in London. A former Writer in Residence for Newham Libraries, his 1-man-Show My Father & Other Superheroes debuted to sold-out performances at 2013 London Literature Festival and is currently on tour. He has been a panelist at both the inaugural Being a Man Festival (Fatherhood: Past, Present & Future) and Women of the World Festival (Bringing Up Boys). In 2005 award-winning publisher Flippedeye launched its pamphlet series with his debut The Lost Collection of an Invisible Man. Part of his soon to be published first full collection The Second Republic is in the anthology Seven New Generation African Poets (Slapering Hol Press). Nick recently won the Brunel African Poetry prize and has poems that appear in the The Poetry Review, Rialto, The Triquarterly Review and Boston Review.

SALLY WEN MAO is the author of Mad Honey Symposium (Alice James Books, 2014). She is the current Singapore Creative Writing Residency 2015 Resident.

LO KWA MEI-EN is the author of Yearling (Alice James Books, 2015), which received the Kundiman Poetry Prize, The Bees Make Money In the Lion (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 2016), winner of the CSUPC Open Competition, and The Romances, a chapbook forthcoming from The Lettered Streets Press. She is from Singapore and Ohio, where she currently lives and works in Cincinnati.

MICHAEL MLEKODAY is the author of The Dead Eat Everything (Kent State University Press, 2014), a National Poetry Slam Champion, and a doctoral student at the University of California, Davis. Mlekoday’s poems have appeared in Verse Daily, The BreakBeat Poets, cream city review, Salt Hill, and other venues. 

DAVID MURA is a poet, creative nonfiction writer, critic, playwright and performance artist. A Sansei or third generation Japanese American, Mura has written two memoirs: Turning Japanese: Memoirs of a Sansei (Anchor-Random), which won a 1991 Josephine Miles Book Award from the Oakland PEN and was listed in the New York Times Notable Books of Year, and Where the Body Meets Memory: An Odyssey of Race, Sexuality and Identity (1996, Anchor). Mura’s second book of poetry, The Colors of Desire (1995, Anchor), won the Carl Sandburg Literary Award from the Friends of the Chicago Public Library. His first, After We Lost Our Way (Carnegie Mellon U. Press), won the 1989 National Poetry Series Contest. He has also written the chapbook, A Male Grief: Notes on Pornography & Addiction (Milkweed Editions). His book of critical essays, Song for Uncle Tom, Tonto & Mr. Moto: Poetry & Identity, was published by the U. of Michigan Press in its Poets on Poetry series in 2002. His third book of poetry, Angels for the Burning, was published by Boa Editions Ltd. in 2004.

Mura has received a Lila Wallace-Reader’s Digest Writers’ Award, a US/Japan Creative Artist Fellowship, two NEA Literature Fellowships, two Bush Foundation Fellowships, four Loft-McKnight Awards, several Minnesota State Arts Board grants, and a Discovery/The Nation Award. He teaches at Hamline University, VONA (Voices of the Nation Association), and the Stonecoast MFA program. Mura lives in Minneapolis with his wife, Dr. Susan Sencer, and three children.

DIANA KHOI NGUYEN is a native of California, Diana Khoi Nguyen’s poems appear in Poetry, Denver Quarterly, Gulf Coast, Kenyon Review Online, and PEN America, among others. She has also received the Fred and Edith B. Herman Award from the Academy of American Poets and Scotti Merrill Award from the Key West Literary Seminars, as well as four Bread Loaf Writers Conference scholarships, an Archie D. and Bertha H. Walker Scholarship from the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, and the Lucille Clifton Scholarship from the Community of Writers at Squaw Valley. A Ruth Lilly Fellowship finalist and Bread Loaf Bakeless Camargo fellow, she earned her MFA from Columbia University and was recently the Roth Resident in poetry at Bucknell University. Currently, she is a PhD candidate in creative writing at the University of Denver. 

CRAIG SANTOS PEREZ is a native Chamoru from the Pacific Island of Guåhan/Guam. He is the co-founder of Ala Press, co-star of the poetry album Undercurrent, and author of three collections of poetry: from unincorporated territory [hacha], from unincorporated territory [saina], and from unincorporated territory [guma’]. He is an Associate Professor in the English Department and affiliate faculty with the Center for Pacific Islands Studies and the Indigenous Politics Program at the University of Hawai’i, Manoa.

MICHAEL SHEEHAN is a former fellow of the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, and currently an assistant professor of creative writing at Stephen F. Austin State University. While editor-in-chief of Sonora Review, he curated a tribute to David Foster Wallace, which included Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers, Michael Martone, Sven Birkerts, Charles Bock, and many others. His collection of stories, Proposals for the Recovery of the Apparently Drowned, was published by Colony Collapse Press in late 2012. His work has appeared in Black Warrior Review, Conjunctions, Necessary Fiction, The Collagist, and Terrain, among other places.

MATTHEW SHENODA is a writer and professor whose poems and essays have appeared in a variety of newspapers, journals, radio programs and anthologies. He has been twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize and his work has been supported by the California Arts Council and the Lannan Foundation among others.

His debut collection of poems, Somewhere Else (Coffee House Press), was named one of 2005's debut books of the year by Poets & Writers Magazine and was winner of a 2006 American Book Award. He is also the author of Seasons of Lotus, Seasons of Bone (BOA Editions Ltd.), editor of Duppy Conqueror: New & Selected Poems by Kwame Dawes, and most recently author of Tahrir Suite: Poems (TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press), winner of the 2015 Arab American Book Award and with Kwame Dawes editor of Bearden’s Odyssey: Poets Respond to the Art of Romare Bearden (TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press, 2017).

Shenoda teaches in the fields of ethnic studies and creative writing and has held several faculty and administrative positions at various institutions. Formerly the Assistant Provost for Equity and Diversity at CalArts he is currently the Dean of Academic Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion and Special Advisor to the President at Columbia College Chicago where he is also Professor of English and Creative Writing. Additionally, Shenoda has served on the Board of Directors of several arts and education organizations and is a founding editor of the African Poetry Book Fund. He lives with his family in Evanston, Illinois.

DAVID SHOOK is a poet and translator in Los Angeles, where he runs Phoneme Media. His book Our Obsidian Tongues was long-listed for the International Dylan Thomas Prize in 2013. His many translations include books by Mario Bellatin, Tedi López Mills, and Víctor Terán. In addition to his writing, Shook has produced literary films in places like Bangladesh, Cuba, and Equatorial Guinea. He recently edited Like a New Sun: New Indigenous Mexican Poetry, featuring poetry from six different indigenous Mexican languages. 

JAVIER SICILIA is a founder and leader of the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity in Mexico. Sicilia is a renowned poet, essayist, activist and journalist in Mexico and writes for various print media outlets such as Processo and Reforma. Sicilia was founder and director of Él Telar and has coordinated many literary workshops as well as writing for film and television and editing for the magazine Poesía. He is a member of the editorial board for Los Universitarios y Cartapacios and a member of the Sistema Nacional de Creadores de Arte.

Sicilia has also been a professor of literature, aesthetics and screenwriting at the University La Salle of Cuernavaca and was the director for the now defunct magazine Ixtus. He currently directs the magazine Conspiratio, from which he engages various philosophical, artistic and literary topics. In 2009 he was awarded the National Aguascalientes Prize for Poetry, one of the most important awards for Mexican poetry.

Read some of his poems and a commentary on his work from translator David Shook here.

BRIAN TEARE is a former Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, and a recipient of poetry fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the MacDowell Colony, the Fund for Poetry, the Marin Headlands Center for the Arts, and the American Antiquarian Society. He was also a 2015 Pew Fellow in the Arts. He’s the author of five full-length books, The Room Where I Was Born, Sight Map, the Lambda-Award-winning Pleasure, Kingsley Tufts finalist Companion Grasses, and The Empty Form Goes All the Way to Heaven. He’s also published seven chapbooks, including Paradise Was Typeset, Helplessness, [ black sun crown ], and SORE EROS. In 2018, DoubleCross Press will publish Headlands Quadrats, a new chapbook, and in 2019 Nightboat Books will publish Brian’s sixth book, Doomstead Days.

After over a decade of teaching and writing in the San Francisco Bay Area, he’s now an Associate Professor at Temple University in Philadelphia, where he makes books by hand for his micropress, Albion Books. Brian is available for readings, lectures, workshops, and classroom visits. Should you have any questions, please browse the website, then contact for more information.

TRUTH THOMAS is a singer-songwriter and poet born in Knoxville, Tennessee and raised in Washington, DC. He is the founder of Cherry Castle Publishing and studied creative writing at Howard University under Dr. Tony Medina. Thomas earned his MFA in poetry at New England College. His collections include: Party of Black, A Day of Presence, Bottle of Life, My TV is Not the Boss of Me (a children’s book, illustrated by Cory Thomas) and Speak Water, winner of the 2013 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work in Poetry. He serves on the editorial board of Tidal Basin Review and is a former writer-in-residence for the Howard County Poetry and Literature Society (HoCoPoLitSo). His poems have appeared in over 100 publications, including The 100 Best African American Poems (edited by Nikki Giovanni).

SARAH VAP is the author of six books of poetry and poetics. She is the recipient of a National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship, and her most recent collection, Viability (Penguin 2016), was selected for the National Poetry Series by Mary Jo Bang. Her other books include Arco Iris (Saturnalia Books, 2012) and End of a Sentimental Journey (Noemi Press, 2013).

PHILLIP B. WILLIAMS is a Chicago, Illinois native. He is the author of the book of poems Thief in the Interior (Alice James Books, 2016). He’s also co-authored a book of poems and conversations called Prime (Sibling Rivalry Press). He is a Cave Canem graduate and received scholarships from Bread Loaf Writers Conference and a 2013 Ruth Lilly Fellowship. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Callaloo, The Kenyon Review, Poetry, The Southern Review, West Branch and others. Phillip received his MFA in Writing from the Washington University in St. Louis. He is the poetry editor of the online journal Vinyl Poetry and the 2015-2017 Creative Writing Fellow in Poetry at Emory University.

MONIKA ZOBEL is a poet whose writing has appeared in The Cincinnati Review, Redivider, DIAGRAM, Beloit Poetry Journal, Mid-American Review, Guernica Magazine, West Branch, Best New Poets 2010, and elsewhere. Her book, An Instrument for Leaving, was selected by Dorothea Lasky for the 2013 Slope Editions Book Prize. A Senior Editor at The California Journal of Poetics and Fulbright alumna, Zobel currently lives in Bremen, Germany.