Raina J. León, Cave Canem graduate fellow (2006), CantoMundo fellow, Macondo fellow, and member of the Carolina African American Writers Collective, has been published in numerous journals as a writer of poetry, fiction and nonfiction. Her first collection of poetry, Canticle of Idols, was a finalist for both the Cave Canem First Book Poetry Prize (2005) and the Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize (2006). Her second book, Boogeyman Dawn (2013, Salmon Poetry), was a finalist for the Naomi Long Madgett Prize (2010). Her third book, sombra : (dis)locate, was published in 2016 as well as her first chapbook, profeta without refuge. She has received fellowships and residencies with Cave Canem, CantoMundo, Montana Artists Refuge, the Macdowell Colony, Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, Vermont Studio Center, the Tyrone Guthrie Center in Annamaghkerrig, Ireland and Ragdale. She also is a founding editor of The Acentos Review, an online quarterly, international journal devoted to the promotion and publication of Latino and Latina arts. She is an associate professor of education at Saint Mary’s College of California.
Marcelo Castillo, Guest Lecturer
Marcelo Hernandez Castillo is a poet, essayist, and translator. He is the author of Cenzontle, which was chosen by Brenda Shaughnessy as the winner of the 2017 A. Poulin, Jr. prize (BOA editions 2018). His first chapbook, DULCE, was chosen by Chris Abani as the winner of the Drinking Gourd Prize published by Northwestern University Press. His memoir, Children of the Land is forthcoming from Harper Collins Publishers. He was born in Zacatecas, Mexico. He holds a B.A. from Sacramento State University and was the first undocumented student to graduate from the Helen Zell Writers Program at the University of Michigan. He cofounded the Undocupoets campaign which successfully eliminated citizenship requirements from all major first poetry book prizes in the country and was recognized with the Barnes and Noble “Writers for Writers” award. His work appeared or is featured in The New York Times, The Paris Review, People Magazine, PBS Newshour, Fusion TV, New England Review, Gulf Coast, Buzzfeed, Indiana Review, and Southern Humanities Review, among others. He lives in Marysville, California and teaches at the Ashland University MFA program.
Vanessa Mártir, Guest Lecturer
Vanessa Mártir is a NYC based writer, educator and writing coach. She is currently completing her memoir, A Dim Capacity for Wings, and chronicles the journey at vanessamartir.blog. A five-time VONA/Voices and two-time Tin House fellow, Vanessa’s work has appeared in The Butter, Smokelong Quarterly, Kweli Journal, As/Us Journal, the VONA/Voices Anthology, Dismantle, and Roxane Gay's anthology Not that Bad, among others. She is the creator of the Writing Our Lives Workshop and the Writing the Mother Wound Class, which she teaches in NYC and online. When not writing or teaching, you can find Vanessa either on a dance floor, in a gym punching a bag or hiking in the woods. vanessamartir.com
J. K. Fowler, Guest Lecturer
J. K. Fowler is the founder and executive director of Nomadic Press, a community-focused literary and arts non-profit with operations in Oakland, CA, Des Moines, IA, and Brooklyn, NY. He also serves as the Director of Operations at Harm Reduction Coalition, a national advocacy and capacity-building organization that promotes the health and dignity of individuals and communities impacted by drug use. He is a part-time lecturer in the Sociology and Anthropology Department at Rutgers University Newark where he teaches on issues ranging from postcolonialism to deviance and the nature of work, and serves on Cogswell College's English and Humanities Professional Advisory Board. He also sits on the board of North Atlantic Books, headquartered in Berkeley. He has been published in a wide range of publications, including Bay Area Reporter, Eleven Eleven, Foglifter, COG Magazine, and elsewhere, has performed across the Bay Area and Brooklyn, and has been featured in a number of radio shows and online podcasts, including KPFA, Fuel My Fiction, StoryCorps, and others. He is the recipient of the 2016 Alameda County Arts Leadership Award and travels this world with a Kelpie named Stella.
Kima Jones (Jack Jones Literary Arts), Guest Speaker
Kima Jones has received fellowships from PEN Center USA Emerging Voices, Kimbilio Fiction, Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, and was included on the inaugural Bitch 50 list in 2017 as a "shape-shifter who pushed pop culture to be more representative, inspiring, and meaningful for communities who are typically ignored by mainstream media." The Los Angeles Times called Kima "2018's literary breakthrough" and "an important new voice on the national stage." She has been published at Poets and Writers, GQ, Guernica, NPR, PANK and the Rumpus and in the anthologies Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction from the Margins of History, Her Own Accord: American Women on Identity, Culture, and Community and the New York Times Best Seller, The Fire this Time, edited by Jesmyn Ward. Her short story "Nine" received notable mention in Best American Science Fiction 2015, and her hybrid poem "Homegoing AD" appears in Best American Nonrequired Reading 2017. She serves as an advisory board member forthe Rumpus, theAnisfield-Wolf Fellowship and the World Play Literary Festival. Kima founded Jack Jones Literary Arts in March 2015 and works as lead strategist on all publicity campaigns and is especially proud of her work on the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry winner, Olio, by Tyehimba Jess; the 2017 PEN America Robert W. Bingham Emerging Fiction Prize winner, Insurrections, by Rion Amilcar Scott; and the 2017 Midland Authors Award winner in Adult Fiction, Know the Mother, by Desiree Cooper. Kima divides her time between Los Angeles and New York. She writes poetry and prose.
Serene Hakim (Ayesha Pande Literary), Guest Speaker
Prior to joining Ayesha Pande Literary, Serene Hakim worked at Laura Gross Literary Agency in Boston. She has also interned at David Godine Publisher and Chase Literary Agency. Serene holds an M.A. in French to English translation from NYU and a B.A. in French and Women’s Studies from the University of Kansas. She loves to read a variety of genres, but is particularly drawn to fiction with strong female voices, both YA and adult fiction and non-fiction with international themes, and LGBTQ and feminist issues. She is always on the lookout for great YA sci-fi and fantasy, realistic YA, and anything that gives voice to those whose voices are underrepresented and/or marginalized. As a child of Lebanese immigrants, she is especially interested in stories dealing with the Middle East and the variety of immigrant experiences out there.
A.J. Alana Ka'imi Bryce, Guest Lecturer
A.J. Alana Ka'imi Bryce is a musician and multimedia artist. As creative director of Trans-Genre, a transgender artists showcase, and publisher of Trans-Genre Press, he has produced CDs, and published queer/trans people of color–centered books by Ryka Aoki, Kit Yan, Helen Klonaris, and Amir Rabiyah.
Arisa White, Guest Lecturer
Arisa White is a Cave Canem fellow and the author of You’re the Most Beautiful Thing That Happened, Black Pearl, Post Pardon, Hurrah’s Nest, and A Penny Saved. With funding from the City of Oakland, Post Pardon was adapted into an opera. As a 2013-14 recipient of an Investing in Artists grant from the Center for Cultural Innovation, Arisa self-published dear Gerald, a collection of epistolary poems addressed to her estranged father, and then traveled to Guyana to give him a copy of the book. Her debut collection, Hurrah’s Nest, won the 2012 San Francisco Book Festival Award for poetry and was nominated for a 44th NAACP Image Award, the 82nd California Book Awards, and the 2013 Wheatley Book Awards. Member of the PlayGround writers’ pool, her play Frigidare was staged for the 15th Annual Best of PlayGround Festival. She has received residencies, fellowships, or scholarships from Headlands Center for the Arts, Port Townsend Writers’ Conference, Rose O’Neill Literary House, Squaw Valley Community of Writers, Hedgebrook, Atlantic Center for the Arts, Prague Summer Program, Fine Arts Work Center, and Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. Arisa’s poetry is featured on the album WORD with the Jessica Jones Quartet.
Ahimsa Timoteo Bodhrán, Guest Lecturer
Ahimsa Timoteo Bodhrán is the author of _Antes y después del Bronx: Lenapehoking_, winner of the New American Press Chapbook Contest; and the editor of an international queer Indigenous issue of _Yellow Medicine Review: A Journal of Indigenous Literature, Art, and Thought_. A Brooklyn College M.F.A., he is an American Studies Ph.D. candidate at Michigan State University. A community organizer for over two decades, his award-winning poetry and nonfiction appear in over a hundred seventy publications in twenty nations in Africa, the Américas, Asia, Australia, Europe, and the Pacific. Places of publication include Aotearoa/New Zealand, Australia, Austria, Barbados, Canada, England, France, Hawai'i, Hong Kong, Ireland, Morocco, Northern Ireland, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Scotland, South Africa, St. Croix, Sweden, and Wales. The author of a second poetry collection, _South Bronx Breathing Lessons_, he is completing _Yerbabuena/Mala yerba, All My Roots Need Rain: mixed-blood poetry & prose_ and _Heart of the Nation: Indigenous Womanisms, Queer People of Color, and Native Sovereignties_.
Sarah Rafael García, Guest Lecturer
Sarah Rafael García was born in Brownsville, Texas and raised in Orange County, California. She started writing after her father's passing in 1988. She obtained a Bachelors of Science in Sociology at Texas State University, is bilingual in Spanish and knows enough Mandarin to speak to pre-k students and taxi drivers in China. She has lived in Beijing and has traveled to various countries including a three-month backpacking adventure in Australia. She is an active writer, blogger, community educator and published author who strives to advocate for human rights. Since the publication of Las Niñas, A Collection of Childhood Memories in 2008, she has continued to share her writings and community outreach by founding Barrio Writers in 2009, a reading and writing program aimed to empower youth through creative writing, higher education and the cultural arts and Wild Womyn Writers in 2010, community workshops that create spaces that help womyn explore their creative spirits, free themselves from societal restrictions and learn to embrace their natural instincts. Most recently, her essay “Crossing Borders” was published in Connotation Press in April 2011. Her writings, workshops and lifestyle promote community empowerment, cultural awareness and global sharing.