Kazim Ali was born in the United Kingdom and has lived transnationally in the United States, Canada, India, France, and the Middle East. His books encompass multiple genres, includingthe volumes of poetry Inquisition, Sky Ward, winner of the Ohioana Book Award in Poetry; The Far Mosque, winner of Alice James Books’ New England/New York Award; The Fortieth DayAll One’s Blue; and the cross-genre texts Bright Felon and Wind Instrument. His novels include the recently published The Secret Room: A String Quartet and among his books of essays are the hybrid memoir Silver Road: Essays, Maps & Calligraphies and Fasting for Ramadan: Notes from a Spiritual Practice. He is also an accomplished translator (of Marguerite Duras, Sohrab Sepehri, Ananda Devi, Mahmoud Chokrollahi and others) and an editor of several anthologies and books of criticism. After a career in public policy and organizing, Ali taught at various colleges and universities, including Oberlin College, Davidson College, St. Mary’s College of California, and Naropa University. He is currently a Professor of Literature at the University of California, San Diego. His newest books are a volume of three long poems entitled The Voice of Sheila Chandra and a memoir of his Canadian childhood, Northern Light.

Betts_GlitterGuts.SQUAREjpgTara Betts is the author of Break the Habit, Arc & Hue, and the forthcoming Refuse to Disappear. She’s a co-editor of The Beiging of America: Personal Narratives about Being Mixed Race in the 21st Century and editor of the critical edition of Philippa Duke Schuyler’s memoir Adventures in Black and White. In addition to her work as a teaching artist and mentor for young poets, she’s taught at Rutgers University, University of Illinois-Chicago, and Chicago State University’s MFA Program.


avatarEmmy-nominated producer Sidney Clifton has over twenty years of experience as an executive producer, producer, casting director, voice director, and creative development executive in animated and live-action content across multiple platforms. In her career to date, Ms. Clifton has worked with artists and creators including comic book legend Stan Lee, Dr. Maya Angelou, Ringo Starr, BB King, comedian Jeff Dunham, Tyler Perry, Leann Rimes, Naomi Judd, and Harry Connick, Jr.  Her credits include Celebration Table with Maya Angelou, Tripping the Rift, Stan Lee’s The Condor, Hellboy: Sword of Storms, Rob Zombie’s The Haunted Movie of El Superbeasto, Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Tough Love; Me, Eloise, and BET’S animated series Marvel’s Black Panther. She currently serves as Executive Producer at Deluxe Animation Studios, Series Producer at The Jim Henson Company, and as a Senior Consultant with Black Women Animate. As a mentor and recruiter, she has been a featured speaker at colleges and universities across North America, including California Institute of the Arts,  Pratt Institute, Maryland Institute of Arts, NYU-Tisch,  Sheridan College, Savannah College Art and Design, George Mason University, and Ringling College of Art & Design. Ms. Clifton’s passion for developing and supporting the underserved community of writers, artists, storytellers, and creators was the catalyst for her launching The Clifton House, a writer’s and artist’s workshop and retreat space centered at her childhood home in Baltimore Maryland—the home she shared with her five siblings and parents, educator/activist Fred J. Clifton and National Book Award winning poet and author Lucille Clifton.

G_M_DudleySQUAREGabrielle M. Dudley is Instruction Archivist at the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library at Emory University. In this role, she partners with faculty to develop courses and archives research assignments for both undergraduate and graduate students. Additionally, she teaches the “Introduction to Black Print Culture” course for the California Rare Book School and is part-time faculty at Clayton State University. Gabrielle has taught classes, written successful grants, curated exhibitions, and led community programming related to lives and work of Black women writers. Gabrielle earned her M.A. in Public History and MLIS with a concentration in Archival Studies and Preservation Management from the University of South Carolina. She also holds a B.A. in History from the University of Montevallo.

AshleyJonesSQUARE.jpgAshley M. Jones holds an MFA in Poetry from Florida International University, and she is the author of Magic City Gospel and dark / / thing. Her poetry has earned several awards, including the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers Award, the Silver Medal in the Independent Publishers Book Awards, the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Prize for Poetry, a Literature Fellowship from the Alabama State Council on the Arts, the Lucille Clifton Poetry Prize, and the Lucille Clifton Legacy Award. Her poems and essays appear in or are forthcoming at CNN, The Oxford American, Origins Journal, The Quarry by Split This Rock, Obsidian, and many others. She teaches at the Alabama School of Fine Arts, she co-directs PEN Birmingham, and she is the founding director of the Magic City Poetry Festival.

Shara SQUAREFrom Jamaica, Shara McCallum is the author of five books of poetry, published in the US and UK, most recently Madwoman (2017), which won the 2018 OCM Bocas Prize for Caribbean Literature Poetry Prize. Her work has been widely published in the US, the Caribbean, and Europe, has been translated into several languages, and has received such recognition as a Witter Bynner Fellowship from the Library of Congress and an NEA Poetry Fellowship. From 2003-17 she directed the Stadler Center for Poetry and is now a Liberal Arts Professor of English at Penn State University.


KamilahAishaMoonSQUARE.jpgThe author of Starshine & Clay and She Has a Name, Kamilah Aisha Moon teaches creative writing at Agnes Scott College and has been published widely, including in Best American Poetry and Poem-A-Day.