Michelle Alexander is an American-Trinidadian poet and creative nonfiction writer. She is a graduate of NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study with a concentration in “What it Means to be a Poet: Interweaving a Study of the Humanities with the Human Experience.” She has studied under critical thinkers Judith Butler and Avital Ronell at The European Graduate School’s Philosophy, Art, Critical Thought division. As an MFA candidate at Columbia College Chicago, She has begun to explore languages of vulnerability and resistance, American-Trinidadian imaginaries, and perspectives of disorder to poetically evoke a broader history in which ‘ecstatic states’ can be inscribed. Michelle’s chapbook She Takes a Machete As if She Knows Everything has been published by Bottlecap Press. Her nonfiction is forthcoming in Salt Hill.
Fullamusu Bangura is a writer originally from Washington, D.C. and currently residing in Chicago, Illinois. They are the author of the essay-book “…Considers Lil’ Kim’s Hard Core.” Their work has been published in New Delta Review, Apogee Journal, and Cosmonauts Avenue. Fullamusu is an educator at heart, working in various formal and popular education roles since 2015. In 2020, they were selected as a 2020 Best of the Net Poetry finalist.
Emily Beckert is a Chicago poet and somatic artist. Though they’ve also lived in the Northeast and the Southwest, they have always felt pulled back to the city that raised them. Their work is interested in identity as a slippery subject that one can never look directly at: something experiential, time-bound, and relational. They aim to write poetry that acknowledges the limitations of language, but still attempts to break through them, to create something truly embodied. They believe teaching poetry to young people is teaching them how to notice beauty, injustice, spirituality, music, and heart in themselves, in this city, and in the world around them. They hope to foster more receptivity and less reactivity, through building trust and sharing personal narratives crafted into poetry. Emily’s poems can be found in pity milk press and Voicemail Poems. They also host a bi-weekly writers workshop where they facilitate image-making, prompt-generating, and constructive feedback for other emerging writers in Chicago.
Philip Berezney (they/she/he) is an artist-educator with a multidisciplinary background in visual arts and experimental performance and a teaching practice stemming from expressive and open-ended strategies of making. After growing up in the Rochester and Hudson Valley areas of New York State, Philip’s art and teaching work has grown through connections with many different arts organizations and school communities from New Orleans, to New York City, to downeast Maine, to Chicago. Philip’s work with poetry often reflects a focus on expressions of the body, and incorporates references to other artforms (including painting, sculpture, and performance), with latent but not always explicit content related to queer/trans identities and experiences.
Alyx Chandler (she/her) is a writer from the South who received her MFA in poetry at the University of Montana, where she taught composition and creative writing. She lives in Chicago and works as a writing specialist for National Louis University, as well as a remote poetry teacher for Free Verse Writing Project, which hosts workshops for Montana children who are incarcerated or reside in psychiatric in-patient centers. She is a reader for Electric Literature and Poetry Northwest, and a former poetry editor for CutBank. Her poetry can be found in Cordella Magazine, Greensboro Review, SWWIM, Anatolios Magazine, Sweet Tree Review, and elsewhere. Learn more at alyxchandler.com.
Amari Davis is an emerging poet and storyteller with a focus on short stories and African American folktales. Born and raised in Chicago, with roots in Mississippi, Amari captures the culture of the Great Migration in their writing using a mix of Black Chicagoan and Mississippian dialect. Amari graduated from the University of Houston with a Bachelor’s in Teaching and Learning, and a host of awards for stellar teachers. When they are not in the classroom, you can find them skateboarding, attending open mics, and reading at the lake.
LARRY O. DEAN
Larry O. Dean was born and raised in Flint, Michigan. He attended the University of Michigan, where he won three Hopwood Awards in Creative Writing, an honor shared with fellow poets Robert Hayden, Jane Kenyon, and Frank O’Hara, among others; and Murray State University’s low-residency MFA program. He is author of full-length collections Frequently Asked Questions (forthcoming), Activities of Daily Living (2017), and Brief Nudity (2013), as well as numerous chapbooks, including Muse, Um (2022), Basic Cable Couplets (2012), About the Author (2011), Abbrev (2011), and I Am Spam (2004). Selected magazine publications include Statement of Record, Masque & Spectacle, The Berkeley Poetry Review, Passages North, Big Bridge, Keyhole, and OCHO. His poetry has also been internationally translated and anthologized. In addition, he is a singer-songwriter, performing solo as well as with his current band, The Injured Parties; he has released many critically acclaimed CDs, including Good Grief (2015); Product Placement (2019) and Fun with a Purpose (2009) with The Injured Parties; Gentrification Is Theft (2002) with The Me Decade; Fables in Slang (2001) and Public Displays of Affection (1996) with Post Office. Dean was a 2004 recipient of the Hands on Stanzas Gwendolyn Brooks Award, presented by the Chicago Poetry Center. Contact him at larryodean.com.
Teresa Dzieglewicz is a poet, educator, and lover of rivers. She is a Poet-in-Residence with Chicago Poetry Center, part of the founding team of Mni Wichoni Nakicizin Wounspe (Defenders of the Water School) on Standing Rock Reservation, and an Associate Editor with RHINO Poetry Journal. She also volunteers with several Chicago River restoration projects. Her first book, Something Small of How to See a River, was selected by Tyehimba Jess for Tupelo Press’s Dorset Prize and is forthcoming in 2023. Her first children’s book, co-written with Kimimila Locke, is forthcoming in 2025 from Chronicle Books. She has won a Pushcart Prize, Best New Poets, the Palette Poetry Prize, the Jake Adam York Auburn Witness Prize, and the Gingko Prize for Ecopoetry. Her work has been supported with fellowships from the Elizabeth George Foundation, Community of Writers at Tahoe, Brooklyn Poets, the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, and NY Mills Arts Retreat. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Georgia Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Prairie Schooner, Pleiades, and elsewhere.
Ola Faleti is a Chicago-bred writer of poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and all genres in between. As a daughter of Yoruba immigrants, Ola grew up in the (then) ethnically diverse enclave of Uptown. Her work has been featured in Chicago Reader, Hypertext Magazine, Interim Poetics, Jet Fuel Review and elsewhere. The curriculum for Ola’s workshop with 826CHI, “Poets in Revolt!” was distributed nationally and birthed an anthology of youth writing. Currently, she’s the nonfiction editor at Vagabond City Lit. Ola is also working on her first poetry collection. Her favorite number is nine, and she believes there’s no such thing as too many flowers.
Chasity Gunn is a 2021 Academy of American Poet Laureate Fellows. She served as the inaugural Poet Laureate for the city of Elgin from 2019-2021. In 2021, she attended the Anaphora Arts Writing Residency. Gunn is the author of How to Create World. Her work has been published in Bitterzoet Magazine, BRAVO, and Electric Moon. She received a Cultural Arts Commission from the city of Elgin and a Teach for Justice grant from Teachers Pay Teachers. Her spoken word has been featured in the Bedlam Theatre’s 10X10 Fest and the Elgin Fringe Festival. She is an English professor at Elgin Community College.
Brooks Harris is a Chicago-based poet, author, and teacher. Originally from Los Angeles (not the part near the ocean), Brooks has self-published two collections of poems, his most recent one titled *Cowboys On LSD*, has appeared in Eclectica Magazine, the Flagler Review, and elsewhere, and tries to ride his bike every month of the year, even if it’s one time.
Sam grew up in a beach town in northwest Michigan before attending college at the University of Michigan, majoring in Creative Writing & Literature and Biopsychology. There, Sam began to understand how important it is for him to write, and in 2015 Sam won the Hopwood award for his poetry. After graduating, Sam moved to Chicago, where he continues to pursue his artistic passions while working for CPS as a substitute teacher.
MADISON MAE PARKER
Madison Mae Parker is a writer, a performer, and a space-maker. As an MFA Performance Candidate at SAIC, she finds deep belonging in the stretching of language through poetry and questioning where a poem might long to live. Through this exploration of poetics in the material world, she invites desire, curiosity, and play as spiritual practices into her studio. Her previous work has led her to Charlotte Street Foundation as a resident, Mic Check Poetry, serving as President, and Texas Grand Slam Poetry Festival as Director. Having toured and taught internationally with her poetry, she feels most at ease while performing and facilitating rituals and conversations around the things that make us human. Alongside SAIC, she’s at the Tamalpa Institute to receive an Expressive Arts Therapy Certification (Fall 2023). When she is not art-ing, you can find her watching anime and eating Hot Cheetos with her cats MeowZaki and Magic Conch Shell. MadisonMaeParker.com // @MadisonMaeParker
LUZ MAGDALENO FLORES
Luz Magdaleno Flores (She/Her) is a Chicana art curator, poet, textile artist, DJ, and fotógrafa based in Chicago by way of Oxnard, California. She holds a BA in Journalism from Roosevelt University and has self-published La Pera Chapbook, Bajito & Suavecito Foto Zine, and Cultura Mexicana en Pilsen y La Villita Chicago. Her photography can be found in Chicago’s South Side Weekly Newspaper. Luz’s art has been exhibited at 2240 Gallery, The Shudio, Fulton Street Art Collective, San Francisco’s Galeria de la Raza, NYU’s El Zine Exhibition, NYC 7th Annual Zine and Self Published Photo Book Fair, and currently at One City Tap. She is a scorpio who aims to evoke feelings of nostalgia and melancholy in everything she creates.
Maya Odim is a poet and performer who purposefully mounts work in performance spaces that challenge occidental framings—and imaginings, of performance and the performer. Of African American, Igbo and Afro-Cuban lineage, Maya is a dual citizen of Nigeria and the United States who lives in Chicago and travels often. Maya’s self published chapbooks are titled: Places Where We Can Imagine, and Planets, Gourds and Traveling Staffs. More of Maya’s work can be found here: www.mayaodim.com and here: @mayaodim. Maya is currently an MFA Writing candidate at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Poet, writer, and interdisciplinary arts educator Leslie Reese is based between Chicago and Detroit. In the words of one classroom teacher – Leslie has been “galvanizing, clarifying, decorating, and inspiring” students with poetry since her first stint as a poet-in-residence in Detroit Public Schools with the InsideOut Literary Arts Project more than 25 years ago. Holder of a MA in Interdisciplinary Arts from Columbia College, Leslie has been a reading mentor for kindergarteners, a poetry instructor for teens, and a literacy coach facilitating reading and writing workshops for adult learners. She is the founder of folklore & literacy, which uses books, visual art, music, movement, and performance as gateways to literacy, discovery, and self-expression.
TIMOTHY DAVID REY
Timothy David Rey is a writer/ performer who works in poetry, plays, and monologue (both fictional and autobiographical). He teaches creative writing and performance throughout the city of Chicago and suburbs. He is a 2015 Semi-Finalist for the Guild Literary Complex’s Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Poetry Award, and one of the winners of Project Exploration (The Poetry Center of Chicago 2004). He is the co-founder of the LBGT Solo Performance Showcase, Solo Homo (2002-2011). Timothy’s plays and performances pieces have been seen and heard at venues throughout Chicago as well as out of state and in Panama. Timothy’s writing has appeared in magazines and journals including ‘60 Inches From Center,’ and ‘After Hours: The Chicago Journal of Writing & Art.’ His book of poetry and performance, Little Victories, was published in 2012 by NewTown Writers Press. Timothy has performed at Steppenwolf Theater (Lookout Series), New York City’s International Fringe Festival as well as The Kennedy Center For The Performing Arts.
C. RUSSELL PRICE
C. Russell Price is originally from Glade Spring, Virginia, but now lives in Chicago. They are a Lambda Fellow in Poetry, a Ragdale Fellow, a Windy City Times 30 Under 30 honoree, an essayist, and a poet. They are the author of a chapbook, Tonight, We Fuck the Trailer Park Out of Each Other. Their debut collection oh, you thought this was a date?!: Apocalypse Poems was published in June by Northwestern University Press. They currently serve on the curatorial board for The Ragdale Foundation and as a member of the editorial collective for The Anarchist Review of Books.
Caroline Stevens is a poet and educator from Minneapolis. She holds an MFA from Vanderbilt University, where she won the 2022 & 2023 Academy of American Poets University Prize and served as the Editor in Chief of Nashville Review. Her work can be found in Flypaper Lit, Parentheses Journal, and Buffalo Journal.
Luis Tubens, a.k.a “Logan Lu”, was born in Chicago’s West Town neighborhood and raised in Logan Square. In 2014, he earned a B.A. in Communications, media and theater from Northeastern Illinois University. He is the 2017 Artists in Residence at Oak Park Public Library. Luis has performed poetry across the United States including with the GUILD COMPLEX, Tia Chucha Press, and the National Museum of Mexican Art. He has toured Mexico City in 2016 and 2018 presenting his work at the acclaimed “Show Socrates MX” (2016) and the National Book Fair of Leon GTO (2018) and featured in Puerto Rico at “Poets Passage” and “Gathering of Cities” at Libros AC (2019). He has also held workshops for the residents of the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center and students in the Chicago Public Schools. On stage, he has opened for notable acts including Saul Williams and Calle 13. He is the author of Stone Eagle (2017) published by Bobbin Lace Press, Chicago. Currently, Luis is the resident poet for ESSO Afrojam Funkbeat (2016 Best New Band and Best International Music Act, Chicago Reader) and represented Chicago in the 2014 and 2018 National Poetry Slam.
Christie Valentin-Bati is suburban kid now mostly grown up with an MFA from Columbia College. She is an interdisciplinary poet and artist who’s creative work and pedagogy emphasizes the quotidian as the bulk of life resides in the ordinary. Her work has received honorable mention in the 2022 and 2021 Academy of American Poet’s Poetry Contest, has been commissioned by the ACLU of Illinois, and exhibited in Porous Gallery Davis Street Drawing Room. More of her work can be found at @christie.vbati or https://bit.ly/christievb.
Mayda del Valle was born and raised on the Southside of Chicago. She is the author of The University of Hip Hop and a winner of the 2016 Drinking Gourd Chapbook Poetry Prize from Northwestern University Press. Her full-length collection, A South Side Girl’s Guide to Love and Sex, was published on Tia Chucha press. She appeared on six episodes of the HBO series Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry, and was a contributing writer and original cast member of the Tony Award winning Def Poetry Jam on Broadway.
Tor Warren (he/him) is an interdisciplinary artist and educator living in Chicago. He received his BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2020. His work spotlights his intersectional experience of growing up Mixed Vietnamese, trans and gay. His self-published work includes Constants and Variables and Sticks and Stones, and has had poetry featured in Legends, From Storybook to Heart (2021), a collection about Asian mythology. He seeks to uplift LGBT+ youth in every capacity he can.
Joy Young is a Chicago-based poet and educator, who holds a BA in Fiction from Columbia College Chicago and MA in Writing and Publishing from DePaul University. Her work has appeared in the literary journals Poetry East and Lunch Ticket, as well as an collaborative art therapy project at the InnerSpace Studio of Homan Square and LOCUS: VIII Gallery Showcase at The Martin. When she’s not teaching, you can usually find her at open mics and performance arts venues.