LANGSTON HUGHES STAGE
Meet the Authors
DEAN ATTA was named as one of the most influential LGBT people in the UK by the Independent on Sunday. His debut poetry collection, I Am Nobody’s Nigger, was shortlisted for the Polari First Book Prize. His debut novel, The Black Flamingo, was awarded the 2020 Stonewall Book Award, and shortlisted for the CILIP Carnegie Medal, YA Book Prize and Jhalak Prize. His writing dealing with themes of race, gender and sexuality has appeared on the BBC and Channel 4, and in his regular column for Attitude magazine. You can find him online at www.deanatta.com.
MAHOGANY L. BROWNE is a writer, organizer & educator. Executive Director of Bowery Poetry Club & Artistic Director of Urban Word NYC & Poetry Coordinator at St. Francis College. Browne has received fellowships from Agnes Gund, Air Serenbe, Cave Canem, Poets House, Mellon Research & Rauschenberg. She is the author of Woke: A Young Poets Call to Justice, Woke Baby & Black Girl Magic (Macmillan), Kissing Caskets (Yes Yes Books) & Dear Twitter (Penmanship Books). She is also the founder of the Woke Baby Book Fair (a nationwide diversity literature campaign) & as an Arts for Justice grantee, is excited to release her first YA Novel Chlorine Sky in January 2021. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.
JERRY CRAFT is the New York Times bestselling and Newbery Medal winning author of the graphic novel, New Kid. His second graphic novel, Class Act, publishes on October 6, 2020. Craft is also the creator of Mama’s Boyz, an award-winning comic strip which won the African American Literary Award five times. He is a cofounder of the Schomburg Center’s Annual Black Comic Book Festival. He received his BFA from the School of Visual Arts.
RIO CORTEZ is a Pushcart-nominated poet, who has received fellowships from Poet's House, Cave Canem and Canto Mundo Foundations. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in a number of journals, including The Miami Rail, Los Angeles Review of Books, and The New Yorker. Cortez was selected by Ross Gay as the inaugural winner of the Toi Derricotte & Cornelius Eady Chapbook Prize for her manuscript, I Have Learned to Define a Field as a Space Between Mountains, available from Jai-Alai Books. Born and raised in Salt Lake City, she now lives, writes, and works in Harlem and serves as the Creative Coordinator and Manager of The Schomburg Shop.
British writer BERNARDINE EVARISTO is the award-winning author of eight books and numerous other published and produced works that span the genres of novels, poetry, verse fiction, short fiction, essays, literary criticism, and radio and theatre drama. Her writing and projects are based around her interest in the African diaspora. She is Professor of Creative Writing at Brunel University London. Bernardine’s novel Girl, Woman, Other won the Booker Prize 2019, and in 2020, the British Book Award’s Author of the Year and Fiction Book of the Year, and the Indie Book Award for Fiction. The novel has been nominated for many other awards and is currently on the Women’s Prize shortlist. The novel was a #1 Sunday Times bestseller for five weeks, the first woman of colour to achieve this position in the paperback fiction chart, and it has been the Top 10 for thirty weeks. Bernardine was chosen as one of The Vogue 25 list of Britain’s most influential women for 2020.
PATRISSE CULLORS is an artist, organizer, and freedom fighter from Los Angeles, CA. Cofounder of the Black Lives Matter Global Network and Founder of the Los Angeles-based grassroots organization Dignity and Power Now, she is also a performance artist, Fulbright scholar, popular public speaker, and a Sydney Peace Prize recipient. For 20 years, Patrisse has been on the frontlines of criminal justice reform and is currently leading Reform L.A. Jails, a ballot initiative that was won in March 2020. Patrisse is currently the Faculty Director of Arizona’s Prescott College new Social and Environmental Arts Practice MFA program, which she developed nesting a curriculum focused on the intersection of art, social justice and community organizing that is first of its kind in the nation.
CORNELIUS EADY is the author of eight books of poetry, including Hardheaded Weather: New and Selected Poems (Putnam, April 2008). His second book, Victims of the Latest Dance Craze, won the Lamont Prize from the Academy of American Poets in 1985; in 2001 Brutal Imagination was a finalist for the National Book Award. His work in theater includes the libretto for an opera, “Running Man,” which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama in 1999. His play, “Brutal Imagination,” won Newsday’s Oppenheimer award in 2002. In 1996 Eady co-founded, with writer Toi Derricotte, the Cave Canem summer workshop/retreat for African American poets. More than a decade later, Cave Canem is a thriving national network of black poets, as well as an institution offering regional workshops, readings, a first book prize, and the summer retreat.
GREG ANDERSON ELYSÉE is a Brooklyn, NY born Haitian-American writer, educator, filmmaker, and model. He has been teaching various forms of filmmaking, including narrative and documentary, from elementary level to the elderly since 2012. A former journalist for theOuthousers.com, he also ran his own column, (Heard It Thru) The Griotvine, where he showcased independent creators of color and LGBTQ creators. He is known through the community for doing this on a broader scale, all while presenting his thoughts on diversity. He is currently a journalist for Bleeding Cool.
AKWAEKE EMEZI is the author of the novel Freshwater, which was named a New York Times Notable Book and shortlisted for the PEN/Hemingway Award, the NYPL Young Lions Fiction Award, the Lambda Literary Award, and the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize, and longlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award, the Women’s Prize for Fiction, the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, the Brooklyn Public Library Literary Prize, the Wellcome Book Prize, the Aspen Words Literary Prize, and the VCU Cabell First Novelist Award. Freshwater was also named a Best Book of the Decade by BuzzFeed and a Best Book of the Year by The New Yorker, NPR, and the Chicago Public Library. Emezi’s second book, Pet, was a finalist for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature. Selected as a 5 Under 35 honoree by the National Book Foundation, Emezi has been profiled by Vogue (for which they were photographed by Annie Leibovitz) and by Vanity Fair as part of “The New Hollywood Guard.” Freshwater has been translated into ten languages and is currently in development as a TV series at FX, with Emezi writing and executive producing with Tamara P. Carter.
NICOLE R. FLEETWOOD is a critic, curator, and Professor of American Studies and Art History at Rutgers University. She is co-editor of Aperture magazine’s “Prison Nation,” a special issue focusing on photography’s role in documenting mass incarcerations. She has co-curated exhibitions and public programs on art and mass incarceration at the Andrew Freedman Home, Aperture Foundation, the Zimmerli Museum of Art, the Eastern State Penitentiary Historic Site, and the Cleveland Public Library. Her exhibitions have been praised by The Nation, the New York Times, and The New Yorker. She is the author of Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration, On Racial Icons, and Troubling Vision, which won the Lora Romero Prize from the American Studies Association.
ROXANE GAY’s writing appears in Best American Mystery Stories 2014, Best American Short Stories 2012, Best Sex Writing 2012, Harper’s Bazaar, A Public Space, McSweeney’s, Tin House, Oxford American, American Short Fiction, Virginia Quarterly Review, and many others. She is a contributing opinion writer for The New York Times. She is the author of the books Ayiti, An Untamed State, the New York Times bestselling Bad Feminist, the nationally bestselling Difficult Women and New York Times bestselling Hunger: A Memoir of My Body. She is also the author of World of Wakanda for Marvel and the editor of Best American Short Stories 2018. She is currently at work on film and television projects, a book of writing advice, an essay collection about television and culture, and a YA novel entitled The Year I Learned Everything.
BRIAN GILMORE is a poet, writer, public interest attorney, and columnist with the Progressive Media Project. He is a Cave Canem Fellow (1997), Kimbilio Fellow (2014), Literature Fellow for the D.C. Commission on Arts and Humanities (1997), Pushcart Prize nominee (2007), and winner of the Maryland State Arts Council's Individual Artist Award (2001 and 2003). Gilmore has been a contributing writer for Ebony-Jet.com, and JazzTimes Magazine. He is the author of three collections of poetry, elvis presley is alive and well and living in harlem (Third World Press, 1993), Jungle Nights and Soda Fountain Rags (Karibu Books, 2001), and We Didn’t Know Any Gangsters (Cherry Castle, 2014). His poems and writings are widely published and have appeared in The Progressive, The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun, and many other publications. He teaches law at the Michigan State University College of Law, where he lectures and writes on contemporary issues relating to housing and economic inequality, dividing his time between Michigan and his beloved birthplace, Washington, D.C
EDDIE S. GLAUDE JR. is the James S. McDonnell Distinguished University Professor and chair of the Department of African American Studies at Princeton University. He is the former president of the American Academy of Religion, the largest professional organization of scholars of religion in the world. Glaude is the author of a number of books, including Democracy in Black. He hails from Moss Point, Mississippi, a small town on gulf coast, and is a graduate of Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia.
SHAUNA J. GRANT is a cartoonist and illustrator with the magical power to create cuteness. Born and raised in NYC during the boom of Japanese anime and manga, her artwork is heavily influenced by shoujo and magical girls, with a mix of Western cartoon flare. Adding diversity into the comic world is her biggest goal and she’s on a mission to create stories starring Black girls being the adorable heroines of their own tales.
ELIZABETH HINTON is Associate Professor in the Department History and the Department of African and African American Studies at Harvard University. Hinton’s research focuses on the persistence of poverty and racial inequality in the 20th century United States. Her current scholarship considers the transformation of domestic social programs and urban policing after the Civil Rights Movement.
DEIRDRE HOLLMAN Ed.M is an avid educator with over twenty years of experience engaging youth and teachers in the study of black history, art, and culture. She is the founder of The Black Comics Collective, a NYC-based community of black comics enthusiasts who create and consume captivating stories featuring characters of color. The Black Comics Collective celebrates cultural diversity in comics and seeks to amplify awareness of creators, writers, illustrators, and publishers who are producing independent comics that depict a dynamic range of global black experiences, aesthetics, and social issues in both earthly and other-worldly realms.
CANDICE ILOH is a first generation Nigerian-American writer, teaching artist, and youth educator. She has performed her work around the country, most notably at Nuyorican Poets Café in New York City, the Women in Poetry & Hip Hop celebration at the Reginald F. Lewis Museum in Baltimore (where she performed as Nikki Giovanni), and as part of the Africa In Motion performing arts series at the National Museum of African Art in Washington, DC. She is a graduate of Howard University and holds an MFA in writing from Lesley University. Her work has earned fellowships from Lambda Literary and VONA among many others. This is her first novel. www.becomher.com
BRIAN JONES is the Associate Director of Education and a former scholar-in-residence at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Brian taught elementary grades in New York’s public schools for nine years before completing a PhD in Urban Education at the CUNY Graduate Center. He writes about education policy and history, most recently contributing a chapter to An Uprising for Educational Justice: Black Lives Matter at School (forthcoming, Haymarket Books). Brian is also working on a book about the 1960s Tuskegee student movement.
DIMITRY ELIAS LÉGER is a novelist, journalist, and humanitarian. He is the author of the novel GOD LOVES HAITI, which the New York Times praised as “a powerful portrait of a nation in peril and the citizens who inhabit it.” He is a former staff writer and editor at Fortune magazine, the Miami Herald, and the The Source magazine. Since 2010, he works as an advocacy advisor to United Nations agencies around the world. A father of two teenagers, he lives between New York City and the French Alps.
WANDA SMALLS LLOYD is a retired newspaper editor and leader in journalism education. As executive editor of the Gannett-owned Montgomery Advertiser, she was the first African American responsible for the news content of that daily newspaper and several weeklies, and she wrote commentary about local issues. In previous Gannett experience, she was a senior editor at USA Today, and then managing editor at the Greenville (S.C.) News. She has also worked as an editor at the Washington Post, Providence Evening Bulletin, Miami Herald, and Atlanta Journal. Most recently she was associate professor/chair of journalism and mass communications at Savannah State University. She is an alumna and former trustee of Atlanta’s Spelman College, which awarded her a 2016 honorary doctorate. She has been a four-time juror for the Pulitzer Prize, co-edited The Edge of Change: Women in the 21st Century Press, and served on the journalism advisory boards at Virginia Commonwealth, Auburn, Alabama State, and Savannah State universities. Her expertise on media diversity led to her role as the founding executive director of the Freedom Forum Diversity Institute at Vanderbilt University. For the National Association of Black Journalists, she directed the landmark study and report Muted Voices: Frustration and Fear in the Newsroom, a survey of black journalists and newsroom managers. The NABJ inducted Lloyd into its Hall of Fame in August of 2019. She has served with the Accrediting Council on Education for Journalism and Mass Communications and is a former director of the American Society of News Editors (ASNE) and was co-editor of the ASNE Bulletin. Lloyd also previously served as a member of the advisory boards of the Dow Jones Newspaper Fund and the Alfred Friendly Press Foundation.
SHANE MCCRAE is the author of several books of poetry: The Gilded Auction Block; In the Language of My Captor, which was a finalist for the National Book Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and the William Carlos Williams Award; The Animal Too Big to Kill, winner of the 2014 Lexi Rudnitsky / Editor’s Choice Award; Forgiveness Forgiveness; Blood; and Mule. He is the recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship. He teaches at Columbia University and lives in New York City.
JOANNE MCFARLAND is an artist, poet, and curator and is the Artistic Director of Artpoetica Proj- ect Space in Gowanus, Brooklyn that showcases combinations of text and visual art. McFarland has exhibited widely, both nationally and internationally, for more than thirty years. Her artwork is in the permanent collections of the Library of Congress, the Columbus Museum of Art, the Dept. of State, and Dynegy, Inc. among others. She is the author of 18 poetry books and libretti, including a recent series of innovative digital bookworks. Her curatorial project, SALLY, a ti- tle referencing Sarah ‘Sally’ Hemings, explores how contemporary conceptions of white/black, male/female, young/old, rich/poor reflect or disrupt earlier cultural norms, and how connection, which all humans crave, happens across differences. Past residencies include: KALA Art Insti- tute, Berkeley, CA (2018), and The Bard Graduate Center Library, NYC (2019).
LIZ MONTAGUE is a cartoonist and illustrator from New Jersey whose work focuses on the intersection of self and social awareness. She began contributing to The New Yorker in 2019 as a cartoonist and has illustrated for the U.S. Open. Food Network, and Google. She’s been profiled by The Washington Post, ABC News, and the Today Show among other media outlets. Liz is the creator of the popular Liz at Large cartoon series which previously ran in Washington City Paper and now can be seen @lizatlarge. She is currently working on her first book, a young adult graphic novel for Penguin Random House, with publication planned for Fall 2022. She fundamentally believes in representation, accessible information and drawing your feelings.
ELOGHOSA OSUNDE is a Nigerian writer and multidisciplinary artist whose work often explores mental health, sexuality and the psychology of identity and interpersonal intimacies. She is an alumna of the Farafina Creative Writing Workshop (2015), the Caine Prize Workshop (2018) and the filmmaking and screenwriting programs at New York Film Academy. Following the Farafina workshop, her selection of vignettes ‘Shapes’ was edited and published online by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Eloghosa's short story ‘And Morning Will Come,’ was longlisted for the 2017 Writivism Short Story Prize and her writing has since been published by multiple publications including Paris Review, Longreads, Catapult & Berlin Quarterly. Eloghosa's visual art has also appeared in Vogue, The New York Times and Paper Magazine. She is a 2019 Lambda Literary Fellow and a 2020 MacDowell Colony Fellow.
YOLANDA SEALEY-RUIZ is an award-winning associate professor at Teachers College, Columbia University. Her research focuses on racial literacy in teacher education, Black girl literacies, and Black and Latinx male high school students. A sought-after speaker on issues of race, culturally responsive pedagogy, and diversity, Sealey-Ruiz works with K-12 and higher education school communities to increase their racial literacy knowledge and move toward more equitable school experiences for their Black and Latinx students. Sealey-Ruiz appeared in Spike Lee's "2 Fists Up: We Gon' Be Alright", a documentary about the Black Lives Matter movement and the campus protests at Mizzou. Her first full-length collection of poetry is Love from the Vortex & Other Poems (Kalediscope Vibrations LLC), for which the Audible audiobook will be released in fall, 2020. Yolanda is at work on her second volume of poetry: The Peace Chronicles.
TRACY K. SMITH is one of the most celebrated poets of our time. She served as the 22nd United States Poet Laureate from 2017 to 2019, and is the author of the critically acclaimed memoir Ordinary Light and several books of poetry, including her Pulitzer Prize-winning collection Life on Mars. She is the director of the Creative Writing Program at Princeton University and the chair of the University’s Lewis Center for the Arts.
SALAMISHAH TILLET is the Henry Rutgers Professor of African American and African Studies and Creative Writing at Rutgers University-Newark. She is a contributing critic-at-large for the New York Times and the director of the New Arts Justice, an art and activist initiative at Express Newark. She is the author of "Sites of Slavery: Citizenship and Racial Democracy in the Post-Civil Rights Imagination" and the cultural memoir, "In Search of The Color Purple: The Story of Alice Walker's Masterpiece" which comes out in January 2021. She is currently working on "All The Rage: 'Mississippi Goddam and the World Nina Simone Made." In 2003, she and her sister, Scheherazade Tillet, founded the leading black women's organization A Long Walk Home, which empowers young people to use art to end violence against all girls and women.
EMIL WILBEKIN is a Creative and Strategic Media, Marketing and Branding Professional and On-Air TV personality living in New York City. He is also the President and Chief Creative Office of World of Wilbekin (WOW!) a multimedia content brand – digital, print, social media, video, live events. Wilbekin is also the Founder of Native Son, a platform created to inspire and empower Black Gay Men.
JACQUELINE WOODSON is the recipient of the 2020 Hans Christian Andersen Award, the 2018 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, and the 2018 Children’s Literature Legacy Award, and she was the 2018–2019 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. Her New York Times bestselling memoir, Brown Girl Dreaming, won the National Book Award, as well as the Coretta Scott King Award, a Newbery Honor, and the NAACP Image Award. She also wrote the adult books Red at the Bone, a New York Times bestseller, and Another Brooklyn, a 2016 National Book Award finalist. Her dozens of books for young readers include New York Times bestseller Harbor Me, Newbery Honor winners Feathers, Show Way, and After Tupac and D Foster, and the picture books Each Kindness and The Day You Begin, which both won the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award.