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The Poetry Stage Redux

2020 L.A. Times Festival of Books Poets & New Writers

This November and December, Beyond Baroque presented The Poetry Stage Redux, a presentation of readings by over forty acclaimed poets from the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books Poetry Stage. Every year, the Poetry Stage at the Festival of Books forms a major part of Los Angeles’ literary calendar. Poets with new or recent books gather from across the country to read from their work. This year, due to COVID-19, the Festival of Books, and the Poetry Stage, had to be canceled.

In the spirit of keeping new poetry visible during COVID-19, Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center and the L.A. Times Festival of Books Poetry Stage curator and moderator, Elena Karina Byrne, presented a majority of the festival’s originally scheduled lineup along with a selection of additional writers celebrating their new books.

Note: though Los Angeles Times Festival of Books is supportive of the Poetry Stage Redux, this presentation is not produced or funded by the Festival.

Click here for the Poetry Stage Redux playlist on Youtube.

Participating Authors

  Kazim Ali

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, including several volumes of poetry, novels, and translations. 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: Power, Land, and the Memory of Water.

  Francisco Aragón

Francisco Aragón is the son of Nicaraguan immigrants. His books include, After Rubén (Red Hen Press, 2020), Glow of Our Sweat (Scapegoat Press, 2010), and Puerta de Sol (Bilingual Press, 2005). He’s also the editor of, The Wind Shifts: New Latino Poetry (University of Arizona Press, 2007). His work has appeared in numerous anthologies, as well as various literary journals, both print and online. A native of San Francisco, CA, he is on the faculty of the University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Latino Studies (ILS), where he teaches courses in Latinx poetry and creative writing. He also directs the ILS’ literary initiative, Letras Latinas. A finalist for Split This Rock’s Freedom Plow Award for poetry and activism, he has read his work widely, including at universities, bookstores, art galleries, the Dodge Poetry Festival and the Split This Rock Poetry Festival. A CantoMundo fellow, he is also a member of the Macondo Writers’ Workshop. For more information, visit:

  Jubi Arriola-Headley

Jubi Arriola-Headley (he/him) is a Black queer poet, storyteller, & first-generation United Statesian who lives with his husband in South Florida & whose work explores themes of manhood, vulnerability, rage, tenderness & joy. He’s a 2018 PEN America Emerging Voices Fellow, holds an MFA from the University of Miami,  & his poems have been published with Ambit, Beloit Poetry Journal, Nimrod,  Southeastern Humanities Review, The Nervous Breakdown, & elsewhere. Jubi’s debut collection of poems, original kink, is available now from Sibling Rivalry Press.

  Sarah Arvio

Sarah Arvio’s Poet in Spain: New Translations of the poetry of Federico García Lorca, garnered wide acclaim. Her previous book, night thoughts:  70 dream poems & notes from an analysis, is a hybrid work:  poetry, essay and memoir.  Earlier books of poems are Visits from the Seventh and Sono: cantos; a new volume is forthcoming.  Arvio, who attended the School of the Arts in New York, has won the Rome Prize and fellowships from the Guggenheim and Bogliasco foundations and National Endowment for the Arts. For many years a translator for the United Nations in New York and Geneva, she has also taught poetry at Princeton.  A longtime New Yorker, she has resided in Paris, Rome, Madrid, Mexico City and Caracas.

  Joshua Bennett

Dr. Joshua Bennett is the author of The Sobbing School (Penguin, 2016)— which was a National Poetry Series selection and a finalist for an NAACP Image Award. He is also the author of Being Property Once Myself: Blackness and the End of Man (Harvard University Press, 2020), Owed (Penguin, 2020), and Spoken Word: A Cultural History, which is forthcoming from Knopf. He is an Assistant Professor of English at Dartmouth College.

  Reginald Dwayne Betts

Reginald Dwayne Betts is a poet and lawyer. He is the Director of the Million Book Project, an initiative out of the Yale Law School’s Justice Collaboratory to radically transform the access to literature in prisons. For more than twenty-years, he has used his poetry and essays to explore the world of prison and the effects of violence and incarceration on American society. The author of a memoir and three collections of poetry, his latest collection of poetry, Felon, explores the post incarceration experience and lingering consequences of a criminal record. In 2019, Betts won the National Magazine Award in the Essays and Criticism category for his NY Times Magazine essay that chronicles his journey from prison to becoming a licensed attorney. He is a 2018 Guggenheim Fellow and a 2018 Emerson Fellow at New America and holds a J.D. from Yale Law School.

  Sara Borjas

Sara Borjas is a Xicanx pocha, is from the americas before it was stolen and its people were colonized, and is a Fresno poet. Say their names. Her debut collection of poetry, Heart Like a Window, Mouth Like a Cliff was published by Noemi Press in 2019 and was the recipient of a 2020 Before Columbus American Book Award. Breonna Taylor. Sara was named one of Poets & Writers 2019 Debut Poets, is a 2017 CantoMundo Fellow, and the recipient of the 2014 Blue Mesa Poetry Prize. Ahmaud Arbery. Her work can be found in The Breakbeat Poets Anthology V.4: LatiNext, Ploughshares, The Rumpus, and Poem-a-Day by The Academy of American Poets, amongst others. Sandra Bland. She teaches at UC Riverside, believes that all black lives matter and will resist white supremacy until Black liberation is realized, lives in Los Angeles, and stays rooted in Fresno. Abolish the police. Find her @saraborhaz or at Say their names.

  Nickole Brown

Nickole Brown is the author of Sister and Fanny Says. She lives with her wife, poet Jessica Jacobs, in Asheville, North Carolina, where she volunteers at three different animal sanctuaries. Since 2016, she’s been writing about these animals, resisting the kind of pastorals that made her (and many of the working-class folks from the Kentucky that raised her) feel shut out of nature and the writing about it. Her work speaks in a queer, Southern-trash-talking way about nature beautiful, damaged, dangerous, and in desperate need of saving. To Those Who Were Our First Gods, a chapbook of these first nine poems, won the 2018 Rattle Prize, and her essay-in-poems, The Donkey Elegies, was published by Sibling Rivalry Press in 2020.

  Shonda Buchanan

Author of five books, Shonda Buchanan was born in Kalamazoo, Michigan, a daughter of Mixed Bloods, tri-racial and tri-ethnic African American, American Indian and European-descendant families who migrated from North Carolina and Virginia in the mid-1700 to 1800s to Southwestern Michigan. Black Indian, her memoir, which won the Indie New Generation Book Award for Memoir and was chose by PBS NewsHour, as top 20 books to read to learn about institutional racism begins the saga of these migration stories of Free People of Color communities exploring identity, ethnicity, landscape and loss. Her collection of poetry, Who’s Afraid of Black Indians?, was nominated for the Black Caucus of the American Library Association and the Library of Virginia Book Awards. An award-winning poet and educator, Shonda is a Sundance Writing Arts Fellow, a California Community Foundation Fellow, a PEN Emerging Voices Fellow and Literary Editor of Harriet Tubman Press. In addition to her work as a literary activist, a teaching artist and a mentor for young writers, she's taught at Hampton University, William & Mary College (Writer-in-Residence), California State University, Northridge and Mt. San Antonio College. An active board member of Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center, Columnist for the LA Weekly, Shonda received an MFA at Antioch University. She lives and writes in Los Angeles. Follow @shondabuchanan or contact Shonda at or visit

  Cyrus Cassells

A 2019 Guggenheim fellow, Cyrus Cassells has won the National Poetry Series, a Lambda Literary Award, a Lannan Literary Award, two NEA grants, a Pushcart Prize, and the William Carlos Williams Award. His 2018 volume The Gospel according to Wild Indigo was a finalist for the NAACP Image Award and the Balcones Prize. Still Life with Children: Selected Poems of Francesc Parcerisas, translated from the Catalan, was awarded the Texas Institute of Letters’ Soeurette Diehl Fraser Award for Best Translated Book of 2018 and 2019. His 7th book, More Than Watchmen at Daybreak, a lyric cycle about his stay in a Benedictine desert monastery in northern New Mexico, was published by Nine Mile Books in April 2020. His eighth book, The World That the Shooter Left Us will be published by Four Way Books in March 2022.

  Victoria Chang

Victoria Chang’s poetry books include OBIT, Barbie Chang, The Boss, Salvinia Molesta, and Circle. Her children’s picture book, Is Mommy?, was illustrated by Marla Frazee and published by Beach Lane Books/S&S. It was named a New York Times Notable Book. Her middle grade novel, Love, Love was published by Sterling Publishing. She has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Sustainable Arts Foundation Fellowship, the Poetry Society of America’s Alice Fay Di Castagnola Award, a Pushcart Prize, a Lannan Residency Fellowship, and a Katherine Min MacDowell Colony Fellowship. She lives in Los Angeles and is the Program Chair of Antioch’s Low-Residency MFA Program.

  Maxine Chernoff

Maxine Chernoff is a professor and former Chair of the Creative Writing program at San Francisco State University. She has edited the long-running literary journal New American Writing and is the author of six books of fiction and fourteen books of poetry, most recently Here (Counterpath, 2014). In 2013 she won an NEA Fellowship in Poetry and in 2009 the PEN USA Translation Award for her co-translated Selected Poems of Friedich Hӧlderlin. Her collection of stories, Signs of Devotion, was a New York Times Notable Book of 1993. Both her novel American Heaven and her book of short stories, Some of Her Friends That Year, were finalists for the Bay Area Book Reviewers Award. Her collection of poetry, New Faces of 1952 (Ithaca House), won the 1985 Carl Sandburg Award for Poetry. She has read her poetry in Belgium, England, Australia, Germany, Brazil, Scotland, China, The Czech Republic, and Russia.

  Tiana Clark

Tiana Clark is the author of the poetry collection, I Can’t Talk About the Trees Without the Blood (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2018), winner of the 2017 Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize, and Equilibrium (Bull City Press, 2016), selected by Afaa Michael Weaver for the 2016 Frost Place Chapbook Competition.

  Cathy Colman

Cathy Colman’s first book Borrowed Dress won the Felix Pollak Prize for Poetry and was on the The Los Angeles Times Bestseller List. Her second collection, Beauty’s Tattoo, was published by Tebot Bach. Her new book, Time Crunch, is just out from What Books Press. Her poetry has appeared in The Colorado Review, Ploughshares, The Huffington Post, The Gettysburg Review, Prairie Schooner, The Southern Review, Barrow Street, Writers on Writing (Putnam), and elsewhere.  She has done readings/lectures at Cambridge University (UK), MOCA, LACMA, The Getty Museum, University of Southern California, The College of Arts and Crafts and at many other colleges and venues.

  Gillian Conoley

Gillian Conoley’s A Little More Red Sun on the Human: New and Selected Poems, with Nightboat Books, won the 39th annual Northern California Book Award in 2020. She received the 2017 Shelley Memorial Award for lifetime achievement from the Poetry Society of America, and was also awarded the Jerome J. Shestack Poetry Prize, a National Endowment for the Arts grant, and a Fund for Poetry Award. She is the author of seven previous books, including PEACE, an Academy of American Poets Standout Book and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. Conoley’s translations of three books by Henri Michaux, Thousand Times Broken, appeared in 2014 with City Lights. Conoley is Poet-in-Residence and Professor of English at Sonoma State University where she edits Volt.

  Travis Denton

Travis Denton lives in Atlanta where he is the Associate Director of Poetry @ TECH at Georgia Tech. He is also founding editor of the literary arts publication, Terminus Magazine. His poems have appeared in numerous journals, magazines and anthologies, such as Barrow Street, Five Points, Ghost Town, MEAD: a magazine of literature and libations, The Greensboro Review, Washington Square, Forklift, Rattle, Birmingham Poetry Review, and the Cortland Review. His third full-length collection of poems My Stunt Double was published by C&R Press.

  Timothy Donnelly

Timothy Donnelly is the author of The Problem of the Many (Wave Books, 2019), winner of the inaugural Big Other Book Award for Poetry; The Cloud Corporation (Wave Books, 2010), winner of the 2012 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award; and Twenty-seven Props for a Production of Eine Lebenszeit (Grove, 2003). He is a recipient of The Paris Review’s Bernard F. Conners Prize and the Poetry Society of America’s Alice Fay Di Castagnola Award as well as fellowships from the New York State Writers Institute and the Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. He is Director of Poetry in the Writing Program at Columbia University’s School of the Arts and lives in Brooklyn with his family.

  Heid E. Erdrich

Heid E. Erdrich grew up in Wahpeton North Dakota and is Ojibwe enrolled at Turtle Mountain. Her new poetry collection Little Big Bully won a National Poetry Series award for 2020. Heid’s awards include a Native Arts and Cultures Foundation Fellowship and she has twice won a Minnesota Book Award for poetry. Heid teaches in the low-residency MFA Creative Writing Program of Augsburg University. In 2021 she is the Glasgow Visiting Professor at Washington and Lee University. Heid edited the 2018 anthology New Poets of Native Nations from Graywolf Press. Her forthcoming poetry/mixed genre collection is Verb Animate, from Tinderbox Editions.

  Megan Fernandes

Megan Fernandes is a writer living in New York City. Her work has been published in The New Yorker, Tin House, Ploughshares, Chicago Review, Boston Review, Pank, The Common, among others. Her second book of poetry, Good Boys, was published with Tin House Books in February 2020. She lives in NYC.

  Katie Ford

Katie Ford is the author of four books of poems, most recently, If You Have to Go (Graywolf Press). Her third, Blood Lyrics, was a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize and the Rilke Prize. Her second, Colosseum, was named among the “Best Books of 2008” by Publishers Weekly and the Virginia Quarterly Review, and led to a Lannan Literary Fellowship and the Larry Levis Prize. Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, The Paris Review, The American Poetry Review, and The Norton Introduction to Literature. Ford is also a librettist whose poetry has been set by composer David Serkin Ludwig, then performed at Carnegie Hall, the Kimmel Center, and on tours in Asia and Europe. She is currently working with composer Katherine Balch on a libretto for the Brooklyn Art Song Society. Links to work can be found at Ford teaches at University of California, Riverside, and lives in South Pasadena with her daughter. Together they stand in solidarity with Black Lives Matter.

  Forrest Gander

Forrest Gander, a writer and translator with degrees in geology and literature, was  born in the Mojave Desert and lives in northern California. His books, often  concerned with ecology, include Be With, winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize, the novel  The Trace, and Core Samples from the World. Gander’s translations include Alice Iris Red  Horse: Poems by Gozo Yoshimasu and Then Come Back: the Lost Neruda Poems. Often  collaborating with artists such as Ann Hamilton, Sally Mann, Graciela Iturbide, and  Vic Chesnutt, he has received grants from the Library of Congress, the Guggenheim,  Howard, Whiting and United States Artists Foundations.

  Carmen Giménez Smith

  Jane Hirshfield

Jane Hirshfield’s most recent, ninth poetry collection is Ledger (Knopf, 2020), a book centered on the crises of the biosphere and social justice. The founder of #PoetsForScience, Hirshfield is also the author of two now-classic books of essays, Nine Gates and Ten Windows, and four book collecting and co-translating the work of world poets from the past. A finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, long-listed for the National Book Award, and winner of the Poetry Center, Donald Hall/Jane Kenyon,  and California Book Awards, Hirshfield’s other honors include fellowships from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller foundations and the National Endowment for the Arts, and ten selections for The Best American Poetry. Her work appears in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New York Review of Books, The Times Literary Supplement, Poetry, et al, and has been translated into over a dozen languages. A former chancellor of The Academy of American Poets, she was inducted in 2019 into the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

  Mark Irwin

Mark Irwin’s ten collections of poetry include the recently published Shimmer (2020), winner of the Philip Levine Prize for Poetry, A Passion According to Green (2017), American Urn: New & Selected Poems (1987- 2014), Tall If (2009), and Bright Hunger (2004). He recently completed a long translation project entitled Zanzibar: Selected Poems & Letters of Arthur Rimbaud, with an afterword by Alain Borer. His collection of essays, Monster: Distortion, Abstraction, and Originality in Contemporary American Poetry, appeared in 2017. Recognition for his work includes The Nation/Discovery Award, two Colorado Book Awards, four Pushcart Prizes, the James Wright Poetry Award, and fellowships from the Fulbright, Lilly, and NEA. He is a professor in the Creative Writing & Literature Program at the University of Southern California.

  Didi Jackson

Didi Jackson is the author of Moon Jar (Red Hen Press, 2020). Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, New England Review, Ploughshares, Kenyon Review, and the Academy of American Poets' Poem-a-day. After having lived most of her life in Florida, she currently lives in Vermont where she teaches creative writing at the University of Vermont.

  Jessica Jacobs

Jessica Jacobs is the author of Take Me with You, Wherever You’re Going (Four Way Books), one of Library Journal’s Best Poetry Books of the Year and winner of the Goldie Award in Poetry from the Golden Crown Literary Society. Her debut collection, Pelvis with Distance (White Pine Press), a biography-in-poems of Georgia O'Keeffe, won the New Mexico Book Award in Poetry and was a finalist for the Lambda Literary and Julie Suk Awards. An avid long-distance runner, Jessica has worked as a rock-climbing instructor, bartender, and professor, and now serves as the Chapbook Editor for Beloit Poetry Journal. She lives in Asheville, NC, with her wife, the poet Nickole Brown, with whom she co-authored Write It! 100 Poetry Prompts to Inspire (Spruce Books/PenguinRandomHouse), and is at work on parallel collections of essays and poems exploring spirituality, Torah, and Midrash.

  Elizabeth Jacobson

Elizabeth Jacobson is the Poet Laureate of Santa Fe, New Mexico and an Academy of American Poets 2020 Poet Laureate Fellow.  Her most recent book, Not into the Blossoms and Not into the Air, won the New Measure Poetry Prize, selected by Marianne Boruch (Free Verse Editions/Parlor Press, 2019), and the 2019 New Mexico-Arizona Book Award for both New Mexico Poetry and Best New Mexico Book.  She is the Reviews Editor for the on-line literary journal and she teaches poetry workshops regularly in the Santa Fe community.

  Karen Kevorkian

Karen Kevorkian has three collections of poems, the newest, Quivira, published in 2020 by 3: A Taos Press. Her other collections are Lizard Dream (What Books Press, 2009) and White Stucco Black Wing (Red Hen Press, 2004). Recent publications include poems and reviews in Antioch Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Witness, Denver Quarterly, Spillway, LA Review of Books, Colorado Review, and Poetry Northwest. She teaches at UCLA.

  Sally Wen Mao

Sally Wen Mao is the author of Oculus, out now from Graywolf Press on January 15th, 2019, a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Poetry. Oculus was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Must-Read Books of 2019, a Best Reviewed Poetry Book of 2019 from Book Marks, an NPR Favorite Book of 2019, a Library Journal’s Best Poetry Book of 2019, a Best Poetry Book of 2019 from Entropy Magazine, and a Best Poetry Book of 2019 from Marie Claire. Oculus has been featured or reviewed by Nylon, The Washington Post, Lit Hub, NPR, Vulture, O Magazine, The Millions, The Rumpus, Electric Literature, Poets&Writers, and The New Yorker, among others. Her first book, Mad Honey Symposium (Alice James Books, 2014), was the winner of the 2012 Kinereth Gensler Award, a Poets & Writers Top Ten Debut of 2014, a Publishers Weekly Top Ten Anticipated Pick of Fall 2014, and one of Bustle’s 14 Best Debut Collections of the Last Five Years.

  Sandra Meek

Sandra Meek is the author of six books of poems, most recently Still (Persea Books, 2020), named a “New & Noteworthy Poetry Book” by The New York Times Book Review. Of Still, The New York Times writes: “Meek’s prescient poetry has long dwelled darkly on humanity’s environmental impact; in this book, her sixth, the tone has grown urgent, even apocalyptic.” Library Journal, in naming Still a “Top Spring Poetry Title,” writes: “Sandra Meek treats her elegantly crafted poems as still-lifes displaying the catastrophes of history...Absorbing reading.” A recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry, an Independent Publisher Book Award Gold Medal, the Dorset Prize, and the Lucille Medwick Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, she has three times been awarded Georgia Author of the Year in Poetry and twice the Peace Corps Writers Award in Poetry. She is co-founding editor of Ninebark Press, poetry editor of the Phi Kappa Phi Forum, and Dana Professor of English, Rhetoric, and Writing at Berry College. Visit her at

  John Murillo

John Murillo is the author of the poetry collections, Up Jump the Boogie (Cypher 2010, Four Way Books 2020), finalist for both the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and the Pen Open Book Award, and Kontemporary Amerikan Poetry (Four Way 2020).  His honors include two Larry Neal Writers Awards, a pair of Pushcart Prizes, the J Howard and Barbara MJ Wood Prize from the Poetry Foundation, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Cave Canem Foundation, and the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing.  Recent poems have appeared, or are forthcoming, in such publications as American Poetry Review, Poetry, and Best American Poetry 2017, 2019, and 2020.  He is an assistant professor of English and director of the creative writing program at Wesleyan University and also teaches in the low residency MFA program at Sierra Nevada University.  He lives in Brooklyn.

  Aimee Nezhukumatathil

Aimee Nezhukumatathil's newest book is a collection of illustrated nature essays, and finalist for the Kirkus Prize in non-fiction– World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments (Milkweed Editions, 2020). She is also the author of four books of poetry, most recently, Oceanic, winner of the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award. She was recently named a 2020 Guggenheim Fellow in poetry and is professor of English and Creative Writing in the University of Mississippi’s MFA program.

  Judith Pacht

Judith Pacht’s book Summer Hunger (Tebot Bach), won the 2011 PEN Southwest Book Award for Poetry. Her new book of poems, Infirmary for a Private Soul (Tebot Bach) and her chapbook A Cumulus Fiction were published in March 2019. A three-time Pushcart nominee, Pacht was first place winner in the Georgia Poetry Society’s Edgar Bowers competition. Her work has appeared in journals that include Ploughshares, Runes, Nimrod and Phoebe, and her poems have been translated into Russian where they were published in Foreign Literature (Moscow, Russia). Her work appears in numerous anthologies. Pacht reads at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, at Charleston’s Piccolo Spoleto Festival and has read and taught Political Poetry at Denver’s annual LitFest at the Lighthouse.

  Deborah Paredez

Deborah Paredez is a poet and performance scholar. She is the author of the poetry volumes, Year of the Dog (BOA Editions 2020) and This Side of Skin (Wings Press 2002), and the critical study, Selenidad: Selena, Latinos, and the Performance of Memory (Duke 2009). She is the Co-Founder and for a decade served as Co-Director (2009-2019) of CantoMundo, a national organization for Latinx poets. She lives in New York City where she teaches creative writing and ethnic studies at Columbia University.

  Eleni Sikelianos

Eleni Sikelianos was born and grew up in California, and has lived in New York, Paris, Athens, Colorado, and now, Providence, where she teaches at Brown. She is the author of nine books of poetry, most recently What I Knew (Nightboat, 2019), and two hybrid memoirs (The Book of Jon, City Lights, and You Animal Machine, Coffee House Press). Five of these have appeared in French, one in Greek, and work has been translated into a dozen other languages. She herself has translated books by Jacques Roubaud and Mohamed Leftah. She has been the happy recipient of two awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, a Fulbright Fellowship, The National Poetry Series, New York Foundation for the Arts, Princeton University’s Seeger Fellowship, and the Gertrude Stein Awards for Innovative American Writing, among others.  

  Patricia Smith

Patricia Smith is the author of eight books of poetry, including Incendiary Art, winner of the 2018 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, the 2017 Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the 2018 NAACP Image Award, and finalist for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize; Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah, winner of the Lenore Marshall Prize from the Academy of American Poets; Blood Dazzler, a National Book Award finalist; and Gotta Go, Gotta Flow, a collaboration with award-winning Chicago photographer Michael Abramson. Her other books include the poetry volumes Teahouse of the Almighty, Close to Death, Big Towns Big Talk, Life According to Motown; the children's book Janna and the Kings and the history Africans in America, a companion book to the award-winning PBS series. Her work has appeared in Poetry, The Paris Review, The Baffler, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Tin House and in Best American Poetry, Best American Essays and Best American Mystery Stories. She co-edited The Golden Shovel Anthology - New Poems Honoring Gwendolyn Brooks and edited the crime fiction anthology Staten Island Noir.

  David St. John

David St. John is the author of twelve collections of poetry (including Study for the World’s Body, nominated for The National Book Award in Poetry), most recently, The Last Troubadour: New and Selected Poems, as well as a volume of essays, interviews and reviews entitled Where the Angels Come Toward Us. He has written two libretti: for the opera based on his book, The Face, by Donald Crockett, and the choral symphony, The Shore, by Frank Ticheli. He is also the co-editor of American Hybrid: A Norton Anthology of New Poetry. A chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Science, David St. John is University Professor and chair of English at The University of Southern California, where he teaches in the Ph. D. Program in Creative Writing and Literature.

  Page Starzinger

Page Hill Starzinger’s second poetry collection, Vortex Street, launched in June 2020 from Barrow Street Press. Her first book, Vestigial, selected by Lynn Emanuel to win the Barrow Street Book Prize, was published in Fall 2013. Her chapbook, Unshelter, chosen by Mary Jo Bang as winner of the Noemi contest, was published in 2009. Her poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Kenyon Review, Fence, West Branch, Pleiades, Volt, and others. Starzinger was Copy Director at Aveda for almost twenty years, and co-authored A Bouquet from the Met (Abrams, 1998). She lives in New York City.

  Chad Sweeney

Chad Sweeney has published six books of poetry, including Little Million Doors (Nightboat Books Prize) and Parable of Hide and Seek (Alice James Books)—as well as two books of translation, the Selected Poems of Iranian Dissident H.E. Sayeh and Pablo Neruda’s final book The Call to Destroy Nixon. Sweeney led workshops with San Francisco “youth at risk” and in bilingual classrooms for fifteen years before earning his PhD and becoming an associate professor at California State University San Bernardino. He describes poetry and Buddhism together as “his life boat in living with autism in an often confusing and hostile world.” In this way he has meditated in much of South America, India, China, Tibet, Israel, Thailand and Laos, as well as in California where he lives with his partner in life and poetry, Jennifer K. Sweeney.

  Arthur Sze

Arthur Sze’s tenth book of poetry, Sight Lines, received the 2019 National Book Award for Poetry. His new and collected poems, The Glass Constellation, will be published by Copper Canyon Press in April 2021. He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

  Tess Taylor

Tess Taylor is the author of five collections of poetry, including The Misremembered World, selected by Eavan Boland for the Poetry Society of America’s inaugural chapbook fellowship, and The Forage House, called “stunning” by The San Francisco Chronicle. Work & Days was named one of The New York Times best books of poetry of 2016. In spring 2020 she published two books of poems: Last West, commissioned by the Museum of Modern Art as a part of the Dorothea Lange: Words & Pictures exhibition, and Rift Zon, from Red Hen Press, hailed as “brilliant” in the LA Times. She is currently on the faculty of Ashland University’s Low-Res MFA Creative Writing Program.

  Imani Toliver

Imani Tolliver is an award-winning poet, educator, and artist. She is a Cave Canem Fellow and served as Poet Laureate for the Watts Towers Arts Center. Tolliver is a recipient of the Avest Award for Literary Arts, the Howard University John J. Wright Literary Award, and the Lannan Literary Fellowship at the Folger Shakespeare Library. She has also been recognized by the City of Los Angeles for her work as a promoter, host, and publicist in support of the literary arts in Southern California.

  Mariano Zaro

Mariano Zaro is the author of six books of poetry, most recently Decoding Sparrows (What Books, Los Angeles, CA) and Padre Tierra (Olifante, Zaragoza, Spain). His poems have been included in multiple anthologies and literary magazines in Spain, Mexico and the United States. He is a professor of Spanish at Rio Hondo Community College (Whittier, California).