Tanya Evanson is an Antiguan-Canadian poet, performer, producer and arts educator from Tiohtià:ke/Montreal. She is also director of The Banff Centre Spoken Word Program, an arts residency for spoken word artists in the Rocky Mountains of Banff, Canada.
A graduate of Concordia University Creative Writing and English Literature, she has been performing spoken word internationally for 20 years. In 2013, she received The Golden Beret Award for her contribution to the spoken word genre and was Poet of Honour at the Canadian Festival of Spoken Word. Notable performances include Vancouver Writers Festival, Bowery Poetry (New York), Story-Fest (Australia), Ubud Writers Festival (Indonesia), Word n Sound Festival (Johannesburg), Edinburgh Book Festival and Glastonbury Festival.
With four studio albums of spoken word and music under her belt, her latest project ZENSHIP (2016 Mother Tongue Media), has received critical acclaim for pushing the boundaries between oral poetry and music. Following six artist books, Bothism (2017 Ekstasis Editions)—an experimental Sufi text—is her first published poetry collection and Nouveau Griot (2018)—collected texts from her four albums—is fresh from Frontenac House. Other recent print publications include Arc Poetry Magazine, WSQ-Feminist Press, Making Room-40 Years of Room Magazine (Caitlin Press), and Resist Much/Obey Little (Dispatches Editions). She moonlights as a whirling dervish.
Rajiv Mohabir, Mentor
Rajiv Mohabir is the author of The Cowherd’s Son (Tupelo Press 2017, winner of the 2015 Kundiman Prize; Eric Hoffer Honorable Mention 2018) and The Taxidermist’s Cut (Four Way Books 2016, winner of the Four Way Books Intro to Poetry Prize, Finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry in 2017). His book of translations I Even Regret Night: Holi Songs of Demerara (1916) is forthcoming from Kaya Press in March 2019. His poems appear in Best American Poetry, Guernica, POETRY, New England Review, Kenyon Review, and Quarterly West. He received his MFA in Poetry and Translation from at Queens College, CUNY and his PhD in English from the University of Hawai`i. Currently he is an Assistant Professor of poetry at Auburn University and translations editor at Waxwing Journal.
Steven Sanchez, Mentor
Steven Sanchez is the author of Phantom Tongue (Sundress Publications 2018), selected by Mark Doty as the winner of Marsh Hawk Press’ Rochelle Ratner Memorial Award. A CantoMundo Fellow and Lambda Literary Fellow, he is the author of two chapbooks and his poems have appeared or are forthcoming in journals that include North American Review, Poet Lore, Nimrod, Muzzle, and Glass: a journal of poetry.
Chen Chen, Recurring Mentor
Chen Chen is the author of When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities, winner of the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize and forthcoming spring 2017 from BOA Editions, Ltd. A Kundiman and Lambda Literary Fellow, Chen’s work has appeared in two chapbooks as well as in publications such as Poetry, The Massachusetts Review, The Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day, Best of the Net, and The Best American Poetry. Chen helps edit Iron Horse and Gabby. He also works on a new journal called Underblong, which he co-founded with the poet Sam Herschel Wein. Chen received his MFA from Syracuse University and is currently pursuing a PhD in English and Creative Writing at Texas Tech University. He lives in Lubbock with his partner Jeff Gilbert and their pug dog Mr. Rupert Giles. For readings, workshops, and conversations about Tuxedo Mask, please send an email: chenchenwrites [at] gmail [dot] com.
Rosebud Ben-Oni, Mentor
Born to a Mexican mother and Jewish father, Rosebud Ben-Oni is a recipient of the 2014 NYFA Fellowship in Poetry and a 2013 CantoMundo Fellow; her most recent collection of poems, turn around, BRXGHT XYXS, was selected as Agape Editions' EDITORS' CHOICE, and will be published in 2019. She was a Rackham Merit Fellow at the University of Michigan, a Horace Goldsmith Scholar at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She is an Editorial Advisor for VIDA: Women in Literary Arts. Her work appears or is forthcoming in POETRY, The American Poetry Review, Tin House, Black Warrior Review, TriQuarterly, Prairie Schooner, Arts & Letters, among others; recently, her poem "Poet Wrestling with Angels in the Dark" was commissioned by the National September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York City. She writes weekly for The Kenyon Review blog, and teaches creative writing at UCLA Extension's Writers' Program. Find her at 7TrainLove.org
George Abraham, Recurring Mentor
George Abraham is a Palestinian-American Poet, Activist, and Engineering PhD Candidate at Harvard University. He is the author of two chapbooks: al youm (the Atlas Review, 2017), and the specimen’s apology (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2019). He is the recipient of fellowships from Kundiman, the Watering Hole, and Brooklyn Poets, as well as the honor of "Best Poet" at the 2017 College Union Poetry Slam Invitational. His poetry and nonfiction have appeared or are forthcoming in Tin House, Rattle, Nashville Review, the Rumpus, Washington Square Review, Puerto del Sol, and anthologies such as Bettering American Poetry, Nepantla, and the Ghassan Kanafani Palestinian Literature Anthology.
Donald Quist, Recurring Mentor
Donald Edem Quist is author of the essay collection, Harbors—Foreword INDIES Bronze Winner and International Book Awards Finalist. His writing has appeared in AGNI, North American Review, The Rumpus Cleaver, The Nervous Breakdown, Vol. 1 Brooklyn and several other print and online publications. He’s creator of the online micro essay series, PAST TEN, and co-host of the Poet in Bangkok podcast. He’s received fellowships from Sundress Academy for the Arts and Kimbilio Fiction. He earned his MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and is currently a Gus T. Ridgel fellow in the English PhD program at University of Missouri.
Julian Randall, Mentor
Julian Randall is a Living Queer Black poet from Chicago. A Pushcart Prize nominee, he has received fellowships from Callaloo, BOAAT, and The Watering Hole, and was the 2015 National College Slam (CUPSI) Best Poet. Julian is the curator of Winter Tangerine Review’s Lineage of Mirrors and is a poetry editor for Freezeray Magazine. He is a cofounder of the Afrolatinx poetry collective Piel Cafe. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in publications such as Nepantla, Rattle Poets Respond, Ninth Letter, Vinyl, Puerto del Sol, and African Voices, among others. He is a candidate for an MFA in Poetry at The University of Mississippi.
Christopher Soto, Mentor
Christopher Soto (b. 1991, Los Angeles) is a poet based in Brooklyn, New York. He is the author of Sad Girl Poems (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2016) and the editor of Nepantla: An Anthology Dedicated to Queer Poets of Color (Nightboat Books, 2018). He cofounded the Undocupoets Campaign and worked with Amazon Literary Partnerships to establish grants for undocumented writers. In 2017, he was awarded “The Freedom Plow Award for Poetry & Activism” by Split This Rock and he was invited to teach a “Poetry and Protest Movements” course at Columbia University, as part of the June Jordan Teaching Corp. In 2016, Poets & Writers honored Christopher Soto with the “Barnes & Nobles Writer for Writers Award.” He frequently writes book reviews for the Lambda Literary Foundation. His poems, reviews, interviews, and articles can be found at The Nation, The Guardian, The Advocate, Los Angeles Review of Books, American Poetry Review, Tin House, and more. His work has been translated into Spanish, Portuguese, and Thai. He has been invited to speak at university campuses across the country. He is currently working on a full-length poetry manuscript about police violence and mass incarceration. He received his MFA in poetry from NYU, where he was a Goldwater Hospital Writing Workshop Fellow.
Camonghne Felix, Mentor
Camonghne Felix, M.A. has received fellowships from Cave Canem, Callaloo, Poets House and is an alumnus of the NYU Arts Politics M.A. program and the Bard MFA program. The 2012 Pushcart Prize nominee is the author of the chapbook Yolk, was recently listed by Black Youth Project as a "Black Girl from the Future You Should Know," and has been published in various publications, including Poetry Magazine, Academy of American Poets, Buzzfeed Reader, Teen Vogue, PEN America, The Brooklyn Rail, The Offing and The Shallow Ends. A political strategist during the day, Camonghne represents high profile individuals, nonprofits, and advocacy organizations in all media and government interactions, helping clients influence the local and national issues that matter most to their communities. Her debut collection of poems, Build Yourself a Boat, was a 2017 University of Wisconsin Press Brittingham & Pollak Prize finalist, a 2017 Fordham University Poets Out Loud semi-finalist, and is forthcoming from Haymarket Books in 2019.
Shira Erlichman, Mentor
Shira Erlichman is a visual artist, writer and musician. A three time Pushcart Prize nominee, her work can be found in The Huffington Post, BuzzFeed Reader, and PBS NewsHour’s Poetry Series, among others. She was awarded fellowships fromthe Millay Colony, the Vermont Studio Center, and AIR Serenbe. She is the author of Odes to Lithium (Alice James Books, 2019) and her first picture book Be/Hold (Penny Candy Books, 2019). Israeli-born, raised in Massachusetts, she lives with her partner and big orange cat in Brooklyn. Be/hold is her first picture book. Learn more at www.officialshira.com
Paige Lewis, Mentor
Paige Lewis is the author of the chapbook Reasons to Wake You (Tupelo Press, 2018). Their poems have appeared in Poetry, American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, The Georgia Review,Best New Poets 2017, andelsewhere.
Javier Zamora, Mentor
Javier Zamora was born in La Herradura, El Salvador in 1990. His father fled El Salvador when he was a year old; and his mother when he was about to turn five. Both parents' migrations were caused by the US-funded Salvadoran Civil War (1980-1992).
In 1999, Javier migrated through Guatemala, Mexico, and eventually the Sonoran Desert. Before a coyote abandoned his group in Oaxaca, Javier managed to make it to Arizona with the aid of other migrants. His book Unaccompanied(Copper Canyon Press, Fall 2017), explores how immigration and the civil war have impacted his family.
Zamora is a 2016-2018 Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University and is a 2016 Ruth Lilly/Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellow. He holds fellowships from CantoMundo, Colgate University (Olive B. O'Connor), MacDowell, Macondo, the National Endowment for the Arts, and Yaddo. In 2016, Barnes and Noble granted him the Writers for Writers Award for his work in the Undocupoets Campaign.
He currently lives in San Rafael, CA.
Leila Chatti, Mentor
Leila Chatti is a Tunisian-American poet and author of the chapbooks Ebb (Akashic Books, New-Generation African Poets Series) and Tunsiya/Amrikiya, the 2017 Editors’ Selection from Bull City Press. She is the recipient of fellowships, scholarships, and awards from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Tin House Writers’ Workshop, The Frost Place, the Key West Literary Seminar, Dickinson House, the Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, and the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, where she is the 2017-2018 Ron Wallace Poetry Fellow. Her poems have appeared in Ploughshares, Tin House, The Georgia Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, New England Review, Kenyon Review Online, Narrative, The Rumpus, and elsewhere.
Hanif Abdurraqib, Mentor
Hanif Abdurraqib is a poet, essayist, and cultural critic from Columbus, Ohio. His first collection of poems, The Crown Ain't Worth Much was released in 2016 and was nominated for the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award. His first collection of essays, They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us, was released in fall 2017 by Two Dollar Radio.
Angel Nafis, Mentor
Angel Nafis is the author of BlackGirl Mansion (Red Beard Press/ New School Poetics, 2012). She earned her BA at Hunter College and is an MFA candidate in poetry at Warren Wilson College. Her work has appeared in The Rattling Wall, The BreakBeat Poets Anthology, MUZZLE Magazine, The Rumpus, Poetry magazine, and elsewhere. Nafis is a Cave Canem fellow, the recipient of a Millay Colony residency, an Urban Word NYC mentor, and the founder and curator of the Greenlight Bookstore Poetry Salon. In 2011 she represented NYC at both the Women of the World Poetry Slam and the National Poetry Slam. She is half of the ODES FOR YOU TOUR with poet, musician and visual artist Shira Erlichman and with poet Morgan Parker, she runs The Other Black Girl Collective, an internationally touring Black Feminist poetry duo. Facilitating writing workshops and reading poems globally, she lives in Brooklyn. In 2016, Nafis was a recipient of the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation and in 2017 she was awarded a Creative Writing fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Paul Tran, Recurring Mentor
Paul Tran is a Best of the Net and Pushcart Prize-nominated poet. Their work appears in MTV, Prairie Schooner, The Cortland Review, RHINO, which gave them a 2015 Editor's Prize, and elsewhere. A recipient of fellowships from Kundiman, VONA, Poets House, Lambda Literary Foundation, Napa Valley Writers Conference, Home School Miami, Vermont Studio Center, and the Conversation, Paul is also the first Asian American in almost twenty years to represent the Nuyorican Poets Cafe at the National Poetry Slam and Individual World Poetry Slam, where they placed Top 10. Paul lives in Brooklyn, where they serve as Poet-In-Residence at Urban Word NYC and Poetry Editor at The Offing.
Luther Hughes, Recurring Mentor
Luther Hughes is a Seattle native, but is currently an MFA candidate in the Writing Program at Washington University in St. Louis. He is the Founder/Editor-in-Chief of The Shade Journal and Associate Poetry Editor for The Offing. Winner of Blueshift Journal's Brutal Nation Poetry Prize and Windy City Times Chicago, 30 Under 30 Honoree, Luther’s work has been published or is forthcoming in Columbia Poetry Review, Vinyl, NAILED, Winter Tangerine, Solstice Literary Magazine, and others. You can follow him on Twitter @lutherxhughes. He thinks you are beautiful.
Emily O'Neill, Mentor
Emily O'Neill teaches writing and tends bar in Boston, MA. Her debut poetry collection, Pelican, is the inaugural winner of YesYes Books' Pamet River Prize for women and nonbinary writers as well as the winner of the 2016 Devil's Kitchen Reading Series. Her second collection, a falling knife has no handle, is forthcoming from YesYes in 2018. She is the author of four chapbooks and her recent work has appeared in Cutbank, Jellyfish, Redivider, Salt Hill, and Washington Square.
Eloisa Amezcua, Mentor
Eloisa Amezcua is an Arizona native. Her debut collection, From the Inside Quietly, is the inaugural winner of the Shelterbelt Poetry Prize selected by Ada Limón. She is the author of three chapbooks and is the founder and editor of The Shallow Ends: A Journal of Poetry. You can find her at www.eloisaamezcua.com.
Khadijah Queen, Guest Lecturer
Khadijah Queen is the author of the poetry collections Conduit (Akashic Books 2008), Black Peculiar (Noemi Press 2011), Fearful Beloved (Argos Books 2015) and a verse play, Non-Sequitur, which won the Leslie Scalapino Award for Innovative Women Performance Writers and was published by Litmus Press. The Relationship theater company also staged a full production in December 2015 at Theaterlab NYC. Her fifth book, I'm So Fine: A List of Famous Men & What I Had On, was a finalist for the National Poetry Series and published by YesYes Books in 2017. Individual poems and prose appear in Fence, Tin House, Gulf Coast, Buzzfeed, The Poetry Review (UK), Best American Nonrequired Reading, Fire & Ink: A Social Action Anthology and widely elsewhere. She teaches in the low residency Mile-High MFA program at Regis University, and is a Visiting Scholar in Creative Writing at University of Colorado, Boulder. Visit her website: khadijahqueen.com.
Mahogany Browne, Mentor
Mahogany L. Browne is a California-born, Brooklyn-based writer, educator, activist, mentor, and curator. The Cave Canem and Poets House alumnae is the author of several books, including Dear Twitter: Love Letters Hashed Out On-line, recommended by Small Press Distribution & About.com's Best Poetry Books of 2010. She has released five LPs, including the live album Sheroshima. As co-founder of the Off-Broadway poetry production, Jam On It, and co-producer of NYC’s 1st Performance Poetry Festival: SoundBites Poetry Festival, Mahogany bridges the gap between lyrical poets and literary emcee. Browne has toured Germany, Amsterdam, England, Canada, and recently Australia as 1/3 of the cultural arts exchange project Global Poetics. Her journalism work has been published in magazines such as Uptown, KING, XXL, The Source, Canada’s The Word, and UK’s MOBO. Her poetry has been published in the literary journals Pluck, Manhattanville Review, Muzzle, Union Station Mag, Literary Bohemian, Bestiary, Joint, and The Feminist Wire. In 2015, she released several poetry collections, including Smudge (Button Poetry), Redbone (Willow Books), and the anthology The Break Beat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop (Haymarket). She is an Urban Word NYC mentor, as seen on HBO’s Brave New Voices, and facilitates performance poetry and writing workshops throughout the country. Brown is also the publisher of Penmanship Books, the Nuyorican Poets Café Poetry Program Director and Friday Night Slam curator, and currently an MFA Candidate for Writing and Activism at Pratt Institute.
Danez Smith, Mentor
Danez Smith is the author of [insert] boy (2014, YesYes Books), winner of the 2016 Kate Tufts Discovery Award and the 2014 Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry. Their second collection, Don't Call Us Dead, will be published by Graywolf Press in 2017. They are also the author of two chapbooks, hands on ya knees and black movie, winner of the Button Poetry Prize. Their work has published and featured widely, including in Poetry Magazine, Beloit Poetry Journal, Buzzfeed, Blavity, & Ploughshares. They are a 2014 Ruth Lilly - Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellow, a Cave Canem and VONA alum, and a recipient of a McKnight Foundation Fellowship. Danez is a two-time Individual World Poetry Slam finalist, placing second in 2014. They edit for The Offing are a founding member of two collectives, Dark Noise and Sad Boy Supper Club. Danez lives in the midwest most of the time.
Danez was featured in the American Academy of Poet's Emerging Writers Series by National Book Award Finalist Patricia Smith. Like her, Danez bridges the poetics of the stage to that of the page. Danez's work transcends arbitrary boundaries to present work that is gripping, dismantling of oppression constructs, and striking on the human heart. Often centered around intersections of race, class, sexuality, faith, and social justice, Danez uses rhythm, fierce raw power, and image to re-imagine the world as takes it apart in their work.
Natalie Scenters-Zapico, Mentor
Natalie Scenters-Zapico is from the sister cities of El Paso, Texas, U.S.A. and Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, México. In 2015, she published her debut poetry collection The Verging Cities (Center For Literary Publishing), which won the PEN American/Joyce Osterweil Award, the GLCA’s New Writers Award, the National Association of Chicana/o Studies Book Award, and the Utah Book Award. The Verging Cities was also featured in Poets and Writers, LitHub, and The Los Angeles Times. A CantoMundo fellow, her poems can be found in POETRY, Best American Poetry 2015, American Poets, The Believer, The Boston Review, and more. Learn more at nataliescenterszapico.com or follow her on twitter @nascenters.
Fatimah Asghar, Mentor
Fatimah Asghar is a nationally touring poet, performer, educator, and writer. Her work has appeared in many journals, including POETRY Magazine, Gulf Coast, BuzzFeed Reader, The Margins, The Offing, Academy of American Poets, and many others. Her work has been featured on new outlets like PBS, Teen Vogue, Huffington Post, and others. In 2011, she created Bosnia and Herzegovina’s first Spoken Word Poetry group, REFLEKS, while on a Fulbright studying theater in post-genocidal countries. She is a member of the Dark Noise Collective and a Kundiman Fellow. Her chapbook, After, came out on Yes Yes Books in fall 2015. She is the writer of Brown Girls, a web series that highlights friendships between women of color. Currently, she is an MFA candidate at the Helen Zell Writers’ Program at the University of Michigan.
Melissa Lozada-Oliva, Mentor
Melissa Lozada-Oliva is a spoken word poet and bookstore babe living in Boston. A gap-toothed bruja, Melissa believes in awkward silences, being loud, and saying no. Her poetry tries to capture the feeling her parents get when they meet someone from their home country and the feeling she gets when she’s late to a party. She is a National Poetry Slam Champion (2015) and a Brenda Mosey Video Slam Winner (2015). She has previously been published in Electric Cereal, Jaded Ibis Press, Microchondria, and The Guardian.
Cynthia Cruz, Mentor
Cynthia Cruz is the author of four collections of poetry, including three with Four Way Books: The Glimmering Room (2012), Wunderkammer (2014), and How the End Begins (2016). Cruz 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 and Writing from the School of Visual Arts. Cruz is currently pursuing a PhD in German Studies at Rutgers University and teaches at Sarah Lawrence College.
Cynthia Dewi Oka, Mentor
Cynthia Dewi Oka is a poet and author of Nomad of Salt and Hard Water (Thread Makes Blanket, 2016). A Pushcart Prize Nominee, her poems have appeared online and in print, including in Guernica, Black Renaissance Noire, Painted Bride Quarterly, Dusie, The Wide Shore, The Collapsar, Apogee, Kweli, As Us Journal, Obsidian, andTerrain.org. She is a contributor to the anthologies Read Women (Locked Horn Press, 2014), Dismantle (Thread Makes Blanket, 2014), and Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Frontlines (PM Press, 2016). Cynthia has been awarded the Fifth Wednesday Journal Editor’s Prize in Poetry, scholarships from the Voices of Our Nations (VONA) Writing Workshop and Vermont Studio Center, and the Art and Change Grant from Leeway Foundation. An immigrant from Bali, Indonesia, she is now based in South Jersey/Philly. Her second poetry collection is forthcoming in 2017 from Northwestern University Press.
Jennifer Givhan, Mentor
Jennifer Givhan is a Mexican-American poet from the Southwestern desert. She is the author of the full-length collectionsLandscape with Headless Mama, which won the 2015 Pleiades Editors' Prize, and Protection Spell, winner of U. of Arkansas Press's 2016 Miller Williams Series Prize, and two poetry chapbooks, Curanderisma (Dancing Girl Press, forthcoming 2016) and The Daughter's Curse (ELJ, forthcoming 2017). Her honors include an NEA Fellowship, a PEN/Rosenthal Emerging Voices Fellowship, The Frost Place Latin@ Scholarship, The 2015 Lascaux Review Poetry Prize, The Pinch Poetry Prize, and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Best of the Net 2015, Best New Poets 2013, AGNI, TriQuarterly, Crazyhorse, Blackbird, The Kenyon Review, Rattle, Prairie Schooner, Indiana Review, and Southern Humanities Review (where she was a finalist for the 2015 Auburn Witness Prize). She is Poetry Editor at Tinderbox Poetry Journal and teaches online workshops at The Poetry Barn.
Cathy Linh Che, Mentor
Cathy Linh Che is the author of the poetry collection, Split (Alice James Books), winner of the Kundiman Poetry Prize, the Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America, and the Best Poetry Book Award from the Association of Asian American Studies. Contact Cathy at cathylinhche [at] gmail [dot] com.
Kaveh Akbar, Mentor
Kaveh Akbar's poems appear recently or soon in The New Yorker, Poetry, APR, Ploughshares, PBS NewsHour, and elsewhere. His debut full-length collection, Calling a Wolf a Wolf, will be published by Alice James Books in Fall 2017; he is also the author of the chapbook Portrait of the Alcoholic. A recipient of the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation and the Lucille Medwick Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, Kaveh was born in Tehran, Iran, and currently lives and teaches in Florida.