Dawn Aldrich is the co-founder of Solutions Cancer Resource Center Inc. a non-profit resource center that provides information and assistance to cancer-diagnosed clients, their families and friends. Dr. Aldrich is a strong advocate for under-served communities, focusing on educating and empowering others to improve their health. She is the author of the audio-book series, The Day That Changed My Life – Cancer An Uncertain Journey, a guide for newly diagnosed cancer patients, their support system and the Parents Edition. They are available worldwide on Audible.com, and Amazon. Dawn Aldrich has brought cancer awareness through the arts – producing the Off Broadway Play The Day That Changed My Life an exploration of those whose lives have been touched by cancer and a documentary of The Day That Changed My Life was shown at the Showcase Cinema De Lux theatre. She is a speaker and mentor who has traveled throughout the country.
Michael Alvarez works in the Bronx, where he is currently the Associate Director for the Central Bronx Community Branches of The New York Public Library. A supporter and facilitator of literacy, lifelong learning and community engagement. He is a founding member of the Bronx Book Fair Committee. With more than 30 years of experience in public service with The New York Public Library, Michael has served the public, primarily in the Bronx and Manhattan in a variety of professional roles from Librarian, Library Manager, and Chief Librarian to Associate Director. He is a leader who is passionate about working with his colleagues in promoting the vast collections, educational programs and services that are expertly and freely offered by the staff at each of the branches of The New York Public Library.
Melissa Coss Aquino, a Puerto Rican from the Bronx, is a writer and an Assistant Professor in the English department at CUNY, Bronx Community College where she also serves as the co-faculty advisor for Thesis, the Literary Journal of BCC. Her work has been published in Callaloo, and The Fairy Tale Review, Hippocampus and Centro, The Journal for the Center for Puerto Rican Studies. Her book 100 years of Jesús Colón: A Radical Puerto Rican in New York is under contract and set to be published in 2018 She has an upcoming essay in Of Color: Poets’ Ways of Making ~ An Anthology of Essays on Transformative Poetics. Her fiction is currently represented by Soumeya Bendimerand Roberts at HSG. She has her MFA from City College, is ABD at the CUNY Graduate Center in English, and is a proud VONA and AROHO alum.
Radhiyah Ayobami born in Brooklyn , writes and workshops with pregnant teens, inmates, and elders. An Africana studies graduate of Brooklyn College and a prose MFA graduate from Mills College in Oakland. Honors awarded from the New York Foundation for the Arts and the Sustainable Arts Foundation. She’s a PushCart Prize
Jennifer Baker is a publishing professional, creator/host of the Minorities in Publishing podcast, and contributing editor for Electric Literature. In 2017, she was awarded a NYSCA/NYFA Fellowship & Queens Council on the Arts New Work Grant for Nonfiction Literature. Jennifer is also the editor of the forthcoming short story anthology Everyday People: The Color of Life with Atria Books. Her writing has appeared in Newtown Literary (for which her short story “The Pursuit of Happiness” was nominated for a 2017 Pushcart Prize), The Offing, Poets & Writers, The Other Stories podcast, Kweli Journal, and The Female Complaint anthology from Shade Mountain Press. She has also contributed to various online publications. Her website is jennifernbaker.com.
GiGi Bella is the tenth ranked female poet in the world (WOWPS 2017) and a national touring artist. She is the current Project X Bronx Poetry Champion and 2018 WOWPS Rep, the 2017 Vox Pop Indie Champion, a 2017 Fem Slam Finalist and a literal mermaid. She is also a 2016 National Poetry Slam Group Piece Champion and 2013 Semi-Finalist as part of The Albuquerque Poetry Slam Team. Her book, 22, is available through Swimming with Elephants Publications.
Steve Bloom is a life-long social activist who lives in Brooklyn, NY and works as a decorative painter and faux finisher. His poetry has been published on line by “roguescholars.com,” “Flutter,” “arthouseproductions.org,” “poetsagainstthewar.org,” and elsewhere. He was a featured poet of the week from September 1-8, 2008, on the Poetry Super Highway website and has his own page at “www.eco-poetry.org.” Poems have appeared in print in many literary and political journals. Performance venues include the Saturn Series, Bar 13, Phoenix reading, and ABC NORIO in New York City, along with the Traveling Poets Series, Bakersfield, CA, Robin’s Bookstore, Philadelphia, PA, and 50 Poets for Oscar Lopez Rivera. Steve has self-published three volumes of his poetry along with an Introduction to Poetry for Social Activists. His latest book, “One Hundred Years” is an epic poem commemorating the centenary of the Russian revolution. Steve makes all of his books by hand.
Rebecca Brooks is a Romance writer and the author of Above All (Ellora’s Cave, 2014)and How to Fall (Entangled, 2015). She lives in New York City in an apartment filled with books. She received a PhD in English but decided it was more fun to write books than write about them. She has backpacked alone through India and Brazil, traveled by cargo boat down the Amazon River, climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, explored ice caves in Peru, trekked to the source of the Ganges, and sunbathed in Burma, but she always likes coming home to the Bronx. More about Rebecca can be found at: rebeccabrooksromance.com
Carolyn A. Butts is the publisher/founder of African Voices, a leading arts magazine devoted to publishing fine art and literature by artists of color. The magazine celebrates 25 years in April 2018. Carolyn is also the founder of the Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival & Lecture Series (www.reelsisters.org), the first annual Brooklyn-based festival that showcases films produced, directed and written by women of color. Reel Sisters is the first Academy Qualifying Film Festival for Shorts devoted to women of color and provides opportunities for women in the film industry. Carolyn was recently featured in 50Bold.com (https://50bold.com/carolyn-butts-builds-bridges-fulfills-dreams/) for her accomplishments. Under Carolyn’s leadership, Reel Sisters has presented over 3,000 films since its inception 21 years ago and given more than $25,000 in scholarship money to aspiring filmmakers. Reel Sisters is on Film Daily’s top best 10 women centered festivals list (https://filmdaily.co/news/female-focused-film-festivals/). The festival will be held on Oct. 20-21, 2018 at Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Brooklyn. For information on African Voices visit http://www.africanvoices.com.
Américo Casiano, Jr. has worked in the nonprofit sector for twenty-three years. He was the former Grants Administrator for the Bronx Council on the Arts overseeing a $350,000 organizational regrants program consisting of both public and private funds. Literary Awards: 2017 Bronx Recognizes Its Own (BRIO) Award for Excellence, 2013 New York Foundation for the Arts Poetry Fellow, and 1974 Creative Artists Public Service Poetry Fellow. Publications: Poetry: On the Stand: Poems by Américo Casiano Jr. New York: IUniverse/Bronx Council on the Arts (released August 2007). Literary Journals: Brujala Compass, Panorama, Greenfield Review, Grub Street, New Rains, Revista Del Instituto De Estudios Puertorriqueño De Brooklyn College, Sombra, Latin NY, among others.
Edward D. Currelley, poet, author and artist is widely anthologized. Publications include but are not limited to, Mom Egg Review, Dove Tales International Journal of the Arts, published by Writing for Peace. Sling Magazine, and Metaphor issue #5, a quarterly magazine of Modern and contemporary poetry. His poem “I America” appears in Split This Rock, as part of their Poems of Resistance, Power & Resilience (2017), Eber & Wein’s “Across the way Mountain”. He received honorable status by Writer’s Digest for stage playwriting in 2008. He is a Push Cart Prize Nominee. He’s authored two children’s books and one young adult novel. He is the President of Pen to Mind Books & Child Development Concepts, Inc. He resides in New York City.
Lorraine Currelley, poet, writer, Pearls of Wisdom storyteller, multimedia artist, mental health and grief and bereavement counselor, advocate for mental health and healthy aging. Executive director for Poets Network & Exchange, Inc., where she curates inter-generational poetry readings and creative writing and poetry workshops (with a focus on seniors), a scholar lecture series and panel discussions. She’s a literary and transformation coach. Recipient of many honors and widely anthologized. In 2017 she made herstory as the first female elected Executive Director for the Bronx Book Fair. She’s the Executive Director for Mental Health & Healthy Aging. To learn more visit: https://mentalhealthandhealthyaging.com) Poets Network & Exchange is the sponsoring organization and host for the Bronx Book Fair. To learn more visit: https://poetsnetworkandexchange.com/
Orlando Ferrand is an award-winning poet, writer, and multidisciplinary artist. A member of PEN America and the National Writers Union, he’s the author of the full-length poetry collections Citywalker and La Otra Isla as well as the memoir Apologia: Cuban Childhood in My Backpack. Ferrand is a contributing writer and artist to PEN America, the Visual AIDS blog, POZ magazine, Linden Lane magazine, Adroit magazine and La Peregrina. His featured TED talk and recital, Underneath the Accent of My Skin, was showcased in 2017. Ferrand has performed at The Whitney Museum of American Art, The Bronx Museum of the Arts, the Miller Theatre at Columbia University, The New York Poetry Festival, and The Poets Network & Exchange, Inc.
Dairanys Grullon-Virgil is a Latina from the Dominican Republic. Dairanys graduated with a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in International Studies from the City College of New York. During her undergraduate years, her studies focused on development, culture and women studies. Dairanys believes that circles allow women to develop a network of support and sisterhood in a society that constantly puts women in a position of competing against each other. She has always been an active participant and organizer within the New York City area, including her work with student organizations, such as Latino Honor Society at Borough Manhattan Community College, CUNY Ambassador and AmeriCorps. Currently, Dairanys is pursuing a Masters in Public Administration at Baruch College.
Jean Harripersaud is currently the Managing Librarian of New York Public Library’s Bronx Library Center. She has been with the New York Public Library for the past 15 years, starting as a Librarian in the Bronx. She has a Master’s in Library Science from Queens College and a Master’s in Public Administration from Baruch College. Jean has a passion to spread the joy of reading to the Bronx and firmly believes that “reading does indeed take you places.”(Dr. Seuss) and a book is a great companion.
Alejandro Heredia is a Queer Afro-Dominican writer from The Bronx. He is a member of Project X’s first Slam team.
Gary Johnston is a New York State Foundation on the Arts Fellow and winner of the William C. Wolfson Award for Poetry, a BRIO Award, Bronx ACE Award for Poetry. And Herbert H. Lehman College Award for Poetry. Mr. Johnston is a member of Poets and Writers, Bronx Council on the Arts and African Diaspora Poets. He has been published in a number of small press publications and in major collections such as “Bum Rush the Page” and “Let Loose on the World, Celebrating Amiri Baraka at 75”. He is co founder of Blind Beggar Press Inc.
Ron Kavanaugh is executive director of the Literary Freedom Project, a Bronx-based 501c3 tax-exempt nonprofit arts organization that seeks to restore the importance of social and cultural identity through reading. Towards this goal, LFP develops literature-based lesson plans; presents One Book One Bronx and Mosaic Literary Conference; publishes Mosaic Literary Magazine; and Bronx Book Fair Planning Committee member.
Alcy Leyva is a Bronx-born multigenre writer. His fiction, personal essays, poetry, and everything in between has been published in over fifteen different websites and magazines. His first book “And Then There Were Crows” (published by Black Spot books) will be released on July 3rd and is the first in the Shades of Hell series. Currently, Alcy teaches 11th and 12th grade English in the Bronx, is a writer for Quiet Lunch Magazine and Brooklyn Magazine, and is most commonly found cooking for his wife and small troupe of boys because he makes a mean chili.
Carmen D. Lucca born in Puerto Rico, Carmen D. Lucca is a bilingual poet, author-translator of the first collection of Julia De Burgos’ poetry. Ms. Lucca, whose poetry has been published in Ireland, Latin America, Puerto Rico and the United States. Awards include the Palma De Burgos, a Silver Medal from the Academie des Arts, Sciences et Lettres, Paris, France, a 108th Wing Essential Piece for her contribution to the National Hispanic Heritage Month events honoring Julia De Burgos at McGuire Air Base, and a Disney Teacher-Award nomination. Ms. Lucca’s most recent poetry book is The Sunset Watcher, a collection of poetic meditations based on her observations of life.
John Maney, Jr. is a Poet, Writer, Workshop Leader, Activist, & Photographer. He has publications in numerous journals and anthologies, including Sufi Magazine; Tiferet: A Journal of Spiritual Literature; and Poets & Writers Magazine. He also has a chapbook entitled Nkatie Wonu. John has been a featured reader at several venues throughout New York City and State. He has also lead poetry/writing workshops at many locations including several New York City Public Libraries, and Parks. He is currently the Poet in Residence at the Huntington Free Library in the Bronx, and a member of the New York Writers Coalitions. John spent two years on the Advisory Board for the BxArts Factory, and is currently on the Planning Committee for the Bronx Book Fair.
The National Writers Union (UAW Local 1981) is a national labor union and advocacy organization for freelance and contract writers in all genres, media, and formats. The NWU works to defend the rights and improve the economic and working conditions of all writers regardless of cultural and racial identity, ethnicity, politics, religion, age, disability, and sexual/gender orientation in all levels of economic and commercial success. The NWU’s members include journalists, book authors, business and technical writers, website and email newsletter content providers, bloggers, academic writers, editors, poets, playwrights, and other writers.
Tiffany Papageorge, the author of My Yellow Balloon, is an award winning actor and author. Her extensive theatre background spans a 25 year period in both the United States and the U.K. She has an M.F.A. from the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco. She has worked with Disney, CBS, and The Sundance Institute. She is a certified Grief Worker and is trained in Trauma First Response. She is the founder of Minoan Moon Publishing, which is dedicated to peace, healing, the advancement of creativity, and the deep honoring of the human spirit. She’s been a featured or keynote speaker at the After School Network of Utah, Annual Symposium for the National Alliance for Grieving Children, the Compassionate Friends National Conference, Head Start, The Utah Board of Education, and Highmark Caring Place for Children’s Grief Awareness Day. Tiffany is also a member of the National Storytelling Network, Healing Story Alliance, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, and SAG-Aftra.
Willie Perdomo is the author of The Essential Hits of Shorty Bon Bon(Penguin Poets), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and Milton Kessler Poetry Award; winner of the International Latino Book Award, and a Hurston/Wright Legacy Award nominee. He is also the author of Smoking Lovely (Rattapallax), winner of the PEN/Beyond Margins Awards and Where a Nickel Costs a Dime (Norton), a finalist for the Poetry Society of America Norma Farber First Book Award. Perdomo is a Pushcart nominee, two-time New York Foundation for the Arts Poetry Fellow and a former Woolrich Fellow in Creative Writing at Columbia University. His work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature, Bomb Magazine, and African Voices. He is currently a member of the VONA/Voices faculty and an English Instructor at Phillips Exeter Academy.
Noel Quiñones is an AfroBoricua from the Bronx. He has received fellowships from Poets House, CantoMundo, and Candor Arts, and his work is forthcoming or published in the Latin American Review, LIT HUB, Rattle & in the Best of Kweli Journal Anthology and ¡Manteca! An Anthology of Afro-Latin@ Poets. Noel is the founder of Project X, a Bronx based arts organization, and was most recently named one of New York State’s 40 Under 40 Rising Latino Stars
Rebecca Rivera is a New York native, Latin-American singer, actress, and spoken-word poet who uses art as a way of understanding herself and the world around her. She has performed her poetry in many spaces including: The Nuyorican Poets cafe, The University of Illinois at Chicago, NYU, Queens College and St. John’s University. In 2017, she was a member of the first ever all-Latino slam team in NYC that competed in the VOXPOP poetry slam regional in New Hampshire, as well as a finalist in the first annual Feminine Empowerment Movement Slam Competition (FEMSlam) in Cambridge, MA. She is a co-founder and organizer at Queens Poetic Alchemy Collective, where her team’s mission is to bring poetry to the Queens community. She is currently enrolled at Stella Adler studio of acting where she is pursuing her acting career while rehearsing for her fourth off-broadway play.
Peggy Robles-Alvarado is a tenured New York City educator with graduate degrees in elementary and bilingual education. Currently she is an MFA candidate in the Performance and Performance Studies Program at Pratt Institute. She is a 2017 Pushcart Prize nominee, a CantoMundo, Academy for Teachers and Home School Fellow as well as a two time International Latino Book Award winner and author of Conversations With My Skin and Homage to the Warrior Women. Through Robleswrites Productions she has produced and edited the following anthologies: The Abuela Stories Project (2016) and Mujeres, The Magic, The Movement and The Muse (2017) and directed the sold- out performance of Live Big Girl at The National Black Theater. For more information please visit Robleswrites.com.
Danyeli Rodriguez Del Orbe is an Afro-Dominican spoken word artist and immigrant rights advocate raised in The Bronx. Her poetry sheds light on issues within the Afro-Dominican diaspora and the immigrant experience. She uses poetry and writing as means of resistance and visibility for Dominican immigrants struggling with issues of race, immigration status, and gender. Currently, she’s a Community Fellow at Immigrant Justice Corps where she represents clients on their legal immigration cases.
Yolanda Rodriguez grew up in Maunabo, Puerto Rico and moved to the Bronx in 1997. She holds a Master’s Degree in Education with a Bilingual Extension from Hunter College. Yolanda is an experienced and passionate educator, with an emphasis on bi-lingual education and Spanish as a second language. She currently works for the White Plains City School District as the Dual Language Second Grade Spanish Zone teacher. She’s the Co-Founder, President/Executive Director for BxArts Factory. She has been writing poetry, reflections and short stories since 1997 and in 2011 began to publish some of her works on her website www.thesoundsofmialma.com.
Oscar Sanders‘ traveling political spoken word social justice play Exposing Politics: A Play of Acts (all political)-Help Together Tour, is a New York Foundation for the Arts Fiscally Sponsored project
*2017 Indie Author Legacy Award “Poet of the Year”
*2016 NYCHA NAACP J.U.S.T. READ Award (Fiction/Final Hearing)
*Multiple awards for filmmaking of Jazz Documentaries
Noëlle Santos is just a few months out from opening The Lit. Bar: the only bookstore (and wine bar) in her native Bronx, New York. Her entrepreneurial journey includes winning the New York Public Library and Citi Foundation’s 2016 business plan competition, operating a 600-member book club, and crowdfunding over $150,000 as a lone campaigner. Noëlle’s hustle has garnered dozens of profiles by media outlets including Forbes, The Today Show, Essence, Glamour, Ebony, Latina, and The Huffington Post. As Noëlle strives to bring a physical bookshop to the Boogie Down, she takes The Lit. Bar mobile to serve the bookselling needs of independent to celebrity authors. Noëlle leverages her platforms on the American Booksellers Association’s Advisory Council and social media to promote book culture in inner cities, diversity in the book industry, and entrepreneurship as a form of activism.
Aisha Sidibe has had a deep love for books her entire life. She was nine when she began toshare her writing. As a multi-ethnic writer, intersectionality has been a driving force behind her work. She is working on her first memoir and learning her fifth language – German. She hopes to perfect both by 2020. Aisha is an adjunct professor at the City University of New York. She lives with her husband, a fiction writer, and two sons in New York.
Sokunthary Svay is a Khmer writer and musician from the Bronx, New York. She and her family were refugees from Cambodia who survived the genocidal Khmer Rouge Regime. She is the poetry editor for Newtown Literary. A founding member of the Cambodian American Literary Arts Association (CALAA), her work has been published internationally in Japan, Malaysia, Indonesia, London and Australia. Svay was a subject in New York Magazine’s “Living in a Sanctuary City” portfolio and featured in the New York Immigration Coalition’s This is Our NY, broadcast in Times Square. She is a past Willow Arts Alliance Residency Fellow and a recipient of the First Friday Residency at the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning. Svay recently received an American Opera Projects’ Composers & the Voice Fellowship for 2017-18, where she will gain experience as a writer for voice and the operatic stage alongside her composer partner Liliya Ugay.
Thelma Ruffin Thomas is Artistic Director of the Pearls of Wisdom, a program that is part of Elders Share the Arts. As an independent storyteller, she performs throughout New York City, along the eastern seaboard and in a myriad of international venues. She is a consultant to the New York City Board of Education for storytelling workshops and presentations. Ms. Thomas is a member of The Storytelling Center and serves as a board member of the African Folk Heritage Circle.
Mercy L. Tullis-Bukhari is a wife, mom of two and writer of fiction and poetry. She finds inspiration from being Bronx-bred, from The Bronx and a feisty woman. She has featured at the Nuyorican Poetry Cafe and The Bronx Book Fair among many venues. A tenured high school English Language Arts teacher and adjunct professor of American Literature and at the College of New Rochelle. Mercy is the author of SMOKE, her first poetry collection published by Blind Beggar Press. When Mercy is not tending to her family or teaching, she’s writing her first novel.
Eartha Watts-Hicks is the founder of Earthatone Publishing, Earthatone Books and the editor-in-chief at Harlem World Magazine. She’s a NYFA (New York Foundation for the Arts) artist, a member of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), and the legendary Harlem Writers Guild. A fiction fellow of the Hurston/Wright Foundation, Center for Black Literature and North Country Institute and Retreat for Writers of Color, Eartha’s writings have appeared in Harlem World Magazine, TheUrbanBookSource.com, and Future Executives.org. She received the Just R.E.A.D. “Game Changer” Award in the fiction category from the NYCHA branch of the NAACP and was named New York City literacy ambassador. In 2014, she was featured in the Congressional Black Caucus as part of the Write It Down panel discussion. A PR writer and affiliate of BlackPR.com, she specializes in press releases for entrepreneurs, ministries, and nonprofits. She also leads writing, self-publishing, and publicity workshops.