Cathy Linh Che is the author of Split (Alice James, 2014), winner of the Kundiman Poetry Prize and the Norma Farber First Book Award from the Poetry Society of America. A Vietnamese American poet from Los Angeles and Long Beach, CA, she received her BA from Reed College and her MFA from New York University. She has been awarded fellowships and residencies from Poets & Writers, The Fine Arts Work Center at Provincetown, Kundiman, Hedgebrook, Poets House, The Asian American Literary Review, The Center for Book Arts, The Lower Manhattan Cultural Council’s Workspace Residency, and a Jerome Foundation Travel Grant. She was also a Writer in Residence at Sierra Nevada College’s MFA Program. A founding editor of the online journal Paperbag, she is Managing Director at Kundiman.
Lorraine Currelley is an award-winning poet, writer, educator, mental health counselor, and advocate. She’s the Founder/Executive Director of Poets Network & Exchange, Inc, positive and supportive space for poets and writers at all levels. Poets Network & Exchange, Inc. produces poetry and creative writing workshops, featured poetry readings, panel discussions, an open mic and a Scholar Lecture Series. Scholars of various disciplines are invited to lecture and facilitate workshops. She is a member of the Pearls of Wisdom Storytellers. She’s widely anthologized and has read her poetry and lectured extensively.
Dahlma Llanos Figueroa was born in Puerto Rico and raised in New York City. She is a product of the Puerto Rican communities on the island and in the South Bronx. She attended the NYC public school system and got her academic degrees from SUNY-Buffalo and Queens College. As a child she was sent to live with her grandparents in Puerto Rico where she was introduced to the culture of rural Puerto Rico, including the storytelling that came naturally to the women, especially the older women, in her family. Much of her work is based on her experiences during this time. Dahlma taught creative writing, language and literature in the New York City School system before becoming a young adult librarian. She has also taught creative writing to teenagers, adults and senior citizens throughout NYC while honing her own skills as a fiction writer and memoirist. Since her retirement, she has dedicated herself to her writing. Dahlma lives in the Bronx with her husband, Jonathan Lessuck.
The Five Boro Story Project, created by artist Bridget Bartolini, produces live events to showcase stories and art inspired by the neighborhoods of New York City. Our free, hyper-localized public programs create opportunities for New Yorkers to connect to our neighborhoods and our neighbors through stories, song, poetry, dance, film, and discussion about the places where we live. The programs aim to strengthen community connections, preserve personal histories, challenge negative perceptions of the outer boroughs and marginalized areas, and celebrate the diverse neighborhoods of NYC.
Brian Francis is a Cave Canem fellow from New York City. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in Creative Nonfiction and has an MFA in Poetry NYU. His poetry has been featured or is forthcoming in Fledgling Rag, Cave Canem Anthology XIII and Tupelo Quarterly.
J. Ivy is a Grammy Award-winning performance poet, author & motivational speaker, and when it comes to the art of Hip-Hop Poetry, J. Ivy is considered a visionary, a pioneer, and trendsetter who has crossed artistic lines to deliver the Art of Poetry and Spoken Word directly to the doors of mainstream music and television. “Dreams Don’t Come True, They Are True” is a quote from his 2006 poem entitled “Dream Big” and serves as J’s motivational credo. As a native Chicagoan, J. Ivy had Big Dreams for his future but never imagined that it would include a Grammy Award and the opportunity to collaborate with the likes of Deepak Chopra, Stevie Wonder, Kanye West, Jay-Z, John Legend, Jill Scott and countless others. From voice openings for sporting events such as: NFL’s Sunday Night Football on NBC and ESPN’s US Open, to sharing stages with the likes of Doug E. Fresh, to writing a rap for Martha Stewart, to collaborating with singers like John Stephens, who J. Ivy renamed John Legend (featured on Oprah’s Next Chapter, The Howard Stern Show, and in The Ebony/Jet & Vogue Magazine), to being awarded a Gold Clio Award for his National Ad Campaign with Verizon, to voice-over commercials for Benjamin Moore Paint and Nissan. J continues to motivate and inspire all walks of life. Not only is he a poet, writer, and voice-over artist, he also integrates song, music, and art with poetry. In addition, J is humbly a superb photographer. After touring with his first book, HERE I AM: Then & Now, which is a follow up to his album HERE I AM, J. Ivy recently inked a book deal with Beyond Words Publishing, an imprint of Atria Books & Simon and Schuster, for the January 27, 2015 release of his new book Dear Father: Breaking the Cycle of Pain.
Legacy Women is an all-women’s traditional musical group rooted in Afro-Dominican and Afro-Puerto Rican traditions. Our women are the next generation of NYC’s most gifted drummers, singers, and dancers of Afro-Caribbean music, including Palos, Congos, Slaves, and Bomba, the Afro-Indigenous roots music of the Caribbean. Our group makes music that celebrates the fiery, nurturing, defiant, yet wise touch that mujeres (women) have. We recognize that we possess feminine power that holds up our community, and honor the immense contributions women make every day. Our performances are only part of our process of building sisterhood with each other and imbuing our audiences with joy and strength. Featuring original and traditional songs, our sultry and booming vocals, precision drumming and expressive dances encourages everyone to dance and celebrate heritage.
Urayoán Noel is a poet, performer, scholar, translator, and assistant professor of English and Spanish at NYU. He is the author of the critical study In Visible Movement: Nuyorican Poetry from the Sixties to Slam (University of Iowa Press, 2014) and several books of poetry in English and Spanish, the most recent of which are Hi-Density Politics (2010), Los días porosos (2012; second edition 2014), and EnUncIAdOr (2014). His forthcoming books include the poetry collection Buzzing Hemisphere ≠Rumor Hemisférico (University of Arizona Press) and a bilingual edition of the poetry of Pablo de Rokha (Shearsman Books). He has also produced poetry in a range of alternative formats, including the CD and DVD, the artist book, the digital archive, and the multimedia installation. A contributing editor of NACLA Report on the Americas, Noel has been a fellow of the Ford Foundation and Canto Mundo, and his creative and critical writings have appeared in Bomb, Contemporary Literature, Fence, Lana Turner, Latino Studies, Small Axe, and in numerous anthologies. Originally from San Juan, Puerto Rico, Urayoán Noel earned his B.A. from the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras, his M.A. from Stanford, and his Ph.D. from NYU. He lives in the Bronx.
NuyoRican School Poetry Jazz Ensemble, Inc. is a not-for-profit incorporated performance ensemble, Inc. grounded in the idea of providing creative literature in performance. Our mission is to promote the creative literature of Puerto Rican and Latin American writers in the United States while providing artistic opportunities to performing artists of color. The ensembles founder, Americo Casiano Jr. is a recipient of the New York Foundation for the Arts Poetry Fellow whose poetry has appeared in 5 anthologies. He is the author of On the Stand, (Iuniverse, 2007). He has presented his works in major commercial and cultural venues throughout the Tri-State. Among the New York City venues he has presented and/or performed his works are Smalls Paradise, The Baby Grand, the Corso, Fashion Moda Gallery, Mi Gentes, the Bronx Museum for the Arts, Hostos Center for the Arts and Culture, the Museum of New York City, El Museo Del Barrio, Snag Harbor, Camaradas el Barrio, Nuyorican Poets’ Café, Aaron Davis Hall, Acentos, Galeria Morivivi, the New Rican Village, Vamos A La Peña Del Bronx, El Taller Boricua: The Puerto Rican Gallery & Workshop, The State University of New York, the City University of New York, Columbia University, New York University, Rutgers University, among many others.
Nahshon Ratcliff was born in Los Angeles, California and is an artist, writer, and model with a diverse background in film and television broadcasting. He worked as a production assistant on The Keenan Ivory Wayans Show (1997), and was production coordinator for Russell Simmons’ One World Music Beat (1998), Naughty by Nature’s music video “Jamboree” (1999), and the documentary 1 More Hit by Shuana Garr of Smart Girl Productions (2007). Nahshon has been a Sag-Aftra actor since 1999 and has performed in several television series and national commercials, and was featured in Diana Krall’s music video “Let’s Face The Music and Dance” (1999). He was selected to perform in drag with recording artist Sheryl Crow at the 26th Annual American Music Awards, and was mentioned in Terrance Dean’s memoir Hiding In Hip-Hop: On the Down Low in the Entertainment Industry. Nahshon is currently developing his first short film, Shooting Range.
Peggy Robles-Alvarado is a tenured New York City educator and award winning author of Conversations With My Skin and Homenaje A Las Guerreras/ Homage To The Warrior Women. Peggy has been featured on HBO Habla Women, Lincoln Center Out of Doors, as well as other culturally notable venues throughout the tri-state area. She has been published in Letras, a publication by the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College, Upliftt.com, Dealmas.org and Sofrito For Your Soul. She has also participated in several panel discussions focused on contemporary Latina writers through the Sangre Viva Arts Alliance, Fordham University’s Office of Multicultural Affairs, Comadres y Compadres Writer’s Conference and The New York City Latina Writers Group. Peggy is continuously generating and supporting literary events that provide a platform for emerging artists though Robleswrites Productions. In 2013, she co-wrote and co- produced Soledad Speaks: A Theatrical Spoken Word Journey that successfully debuted at The Iati Theater. She also created and produced Women In Creative Rebellion: An Annual Spoken Word Poetry and Networking Event. Peggy also co- produced several installments of Canvas Of Words: A Queens Art and Poetry Festival. Presently, she is working on The Abuela Stories Project that highlights the essence of Abuelas through photography, poetry, and prose. For more information please visit http://www.robleswrites.com.
Thelma Ruffin Thomas storyteller, performs throughout New York City and along the eastern seaboard. She has traveled all over the world telling stories in Tanzania, Brazil, Ghana, Coast Rica, South Africa, Russia, and Australia. Her extraordinary storytelling skills provide a uniquely entertaining and educational experience. Thelma is a founding member of the African Folk Heritage Circle, along with being a member of the Network of Biblical Storytellers, The Storytelling Center, the National Association of Black Storytellers, and the Harlem Arts Alliance. She says with enthusiasm, “Go out and tell your stories wherever you go.”
Charlie Vázquez is the Director of the Bronx Writers Center and the author of the novels Buzz and Israel (2004) and Contraband (2010). He co-authored the erotic poetry collection Hustler Rave XXX: Poetry of the Eternal Survivor with the San Juan-based writer and translator David Caleb Acevedo in 2013 and has edited two anthologies of Latino fiction and poetry. He works as a freelance editor for younger and emerging writers and is the NYC coordinator for Puerto Rico’s Festival de la Palabra, an international literary celebration.