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Sarah Ladipo Manyika

Sarah Ladipo Manyika is a writer of novels, short stories and essays translated into several languages. She is author of the best-selling novel In Dependence (2009) and multiple shortlisted novel Like A Mule Bringing Ice Cream To The Sun (2016), and has had work published in publications including Granta, The Guardian, the Washington Post and Transfuge among others. Named one of the "100 Most Influential Africans” by New African in 2022, Sarah has served on a number of non profit Boards including as Board Director for the Museum of the African Diaspora, San Francisco, and as Board Chair for the women’s writing residency, Hedgebrook. She has been a judge for the Goldsmiths Prize, California Book Awards, Aspen Words Literary Prize, and Chair of judges for the Pan-African Etisalat Prize. Sarah is a San Francisco Library Laureate, an Audie finalist, a Mary Carswell MacDowell fellow, and a fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Her most recent book is Between Starshine and Clay: Conversations from the African Diaspora.

Mahogany L. Browne

Mahogany L. Browne

Mahogany L. Browne, selected as Kennedy Center's Next 50, is the Executive Director of JustMedia, Artistic Director of Urban Word, an writer, playwright, organizer, & educator. Browne has received fellowships from Arts for Justice, Air Serenbe, Cave Canem, Poets House, Mellon Research & Rauschenberg. She is the author of recent works: Vinyl Moon, Chlorine Sky, Woke: A Young Poets Call to Justice, Woke Baby, & Black Girl Magic. Founder of the diverse lit initiative Woke Baby Book Fair, Browne's latest poetry collection Chrome Valley (Norton) due to drop Spring 2023 is a promissory note to survival. She is the first-ever poet-in-residence at the Lincoln Center and lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Cynthia Manick

Cynthia Manick

Cynthia Manick is the author of No Sweet Without Brine (Amistad-HarperCollins, forthcoming 2023), editor of The Future of Black: Afrofuturism, Black Comics, and Superhero Poetry (Blair Publishing, 2021), and author of Blue Hallelujahs (Black Lawrence Press, 2016). She has received fellowships from Cave Canem, Hedgebrook, MacDowell Colony, and Château de la Napoule among others.  Winner of the Lascaux Prize in Collected Poetry, Manick is Founder of the reading series Soul Sister Revue; and her poem "Things I Carry Into the World" was made into a film by Motionpoems, an organization dedicated to video poetry, and has debuted on Tidal for National Poetry Month. A storyteller and performer at literary festivals, libraries, universities, and most recently the Brooklyn and Frye museum’s, Manick’s work has appeared in the Academy of American Poets Poem-A-Day Series, Callaloo, Los Angeles Review of Books (LARB), The Wall Street Journal, and elsewhere. She currently serves on the board of the International Women’s Writing Guild and the editorial board of Alice James Books.


Photo by Robin-Martin 

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Regis and Kahran Bethencourt

Regis and Kahran Bethencourt are a husband-and-wife duo and the imaginative forces behind CreativeSoul Photography. With more than ten years of working with hundreds of children, families and brands, they specialize in child and lifestyle photography while incorporating authentic visual storytelling. As artists, CreativeSoul Photography is committed to helping kids and brands create fascinating imagery by operating as a one-stop shop offering expert creative direction, vision, planning, strategy, and execution. They've worked with brands small and large around the globe such as Disney, Amazon, Just for Me, CurlyKids Haircare, CamilleRose Haircare and more.

Photo by Mary Ellen Mark

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Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond

Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond is the author of the children’s picture book BLUE: A History of the Color as  Deep as the Sea and as Wide as the Sky, illustrated by Caldecott Honor Artist Daniel Minter. Named among the best books of 2022 by NPR, New York Public Library, Chicago Public Library, Kirkus Reviews, and The Center for the Study of Multicultural Literature, BLUE was honored with the 2023 NCTE Orbis Pictus Award® recognizing excellence in the writing of non-fiction for children and nominated for an  NAACP Image Award. Brew-Hammond also wrote the young adult novel Powder Necklace, which Publishers Weekly called “a winning debut”, and she edited RELATIONS: An Anthology of African and  Diaspora Voices, of which Kirkus Reviews said in a STARRED review: “This smart, generous collection is a true gift.” Every month, Brew-Hammond co-leads a writing fellowship whose mission is to write light into darkness.

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Vanessa Walters

Vanessa Walters is the author of The Nigerwife currently being developed into a drama series for HBO by Insecure's Amy Aniobi. Her previous books are Rude Girls, Best Things in Life and Smoke! Othello! She also writes plays, the most recent of which was Michael X.

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Arao Ameny

Arao Ameny is a Ugandan-born, Maryland-based poet and writer from Lira, Lango region, Northern Uganda. She spent her early childhood in Uganda and grew up in the US. She earned her MFA in Fiction at University of Baltimore. She is a former journalist and communications professional. She has a MA in Journalism from Indiana University and a BA in Political Science from University of Indianapolis. Her first published poem “Home is a Woman” appeared in The Southern Review in 2020 and won the James Olney Award. She was a winner of the 2020 Brooklyn Poets Fellowship, a finalist for the 2021 Brunel International African Poetry Prize, and a nominee for the 2021 Best New Poets Anthology. She is an alumna of the 2021 Tin House workshop (fiction writing) and the 2021 Kenyon Review Writers Workshop (poetry). Currently, she has a one-year contract role as a Biography Writer and Editor at the Poetry Foundation.

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Kim Coleman Foote

Kim Coleman Foote is the author of Coleman Hill: A Biomythography. Born and raised in New Jersey, she is a writer of fiction, essays, and experimental prose. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Rumpus, Ecotone, Iron Horse Literary Review, Green Mountains Review, Prairie Schooner, and elsewhere. She is the recipient of the 2021-22 George Bennett Fellowship at Phillips Exeter Academy and several other writing fellowships, including from the NEA, NYFA, Center for Fiction, and Illinois Arts Council. Recent writing residencies include MacDowell, the Anderson Center, and Hambidge. Kim was a Fulbright Fellow in 2002-03 in Ghana, where she conducted research for a novel about the trans­-Atlantic slave trade.  She received an MFA in creative writing from Chicago State University.

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Nancy Naomi Carlson 

Nancy Naomi Carlson is a translator, poet, essayist, and author of twelve titles (eight translated), including Khal Torabully’s Cargo Hold of Stars: Coolitude (Seagull Books, 2021). An Infusion of Violets (Seagull, 2019), her second full-length poetry collection, was named “New & Noteworthy” by The New York Times. A recipient of two translation grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, she was a finalist for the Best Translated Book Award and the CLMP Firecracker Poetry Award. Decorated with the rank of Chevalier in the Order of the French Academic Palms, she is the translation editor for On the Seawall.

Hasna Muhammad

Hasna Muhammad

Hasna Muhammad is a visual artist, writer, and educator whose work focuses on family, social justice, education, and the human condition. Her photography has been exhibited in various cities in the United States, and her writing has been published in Medium, Essence Magazine, at, and in Crisis Magazine. Hasna recently published her first book, Breathe In the Sky: Poems Prayers & Photographs. Hasna is a 2018-2019 Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture Fellow, a Moth Storyteller, and a member of the Harlem Writers Guild. 

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