Community Voices: Poets Speak – Closing Reception

February 24, 2022 @ 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Museum of the African Diaspora
685 Mission Street San Francisco
CA 94015

In this weekly series, seven Bay Area poets share new poems created in response to the current exhibitions. They will also describe the processes they employ in writing ekphrastic work. Come and listen, and experience art that moves your spirit to consider power and liberation.

These readings and discussions culminate tonight in the MoAD Salon with an evening of performances by the participating poets.

The exhibitions on view are Amoako Boafo: Soul of Black Folks and Billie Zangewa: Thread for a Web Begun.

Participating Poets

Siara Edmond Is a 2019, 2020 and 2021 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate Finalist. Before the pandemic, she did a lot of volunteering with the homeless. She is 17 and going into her senior year at Skyline High School where she plays the trumpet in the jazz band. She’s performed at the Laurel Street Fair, the De Young museum, and Chapter 510. When not writing she enjoys biking and socially distancing in Barnes and Noble.



Meilan Carter-Gilkey is a writer-in-progress. Her work has appeared in Huffington Post, mater mea, Mutha Magazine, The Tishman Review and the anthologies  “All the Women in My Family Sing” and “Who’s Your Mama?: The Voices of Unsung Women and Mothers and elsewhere. In 2015, she won a James D. Phelan Literary Award. Meilan is a two time Voices of Our Nation Alum and she holds a MFA in Creative Writing from Mills College. Currently, she is working on a family memoir. Meilan lives in the Bay Area with her family.


Yeva Johnson, a Pushcart Prize-nominated poet, musician, and physician whose work appears or is forthcoming in the Bellingham Review, Essential Truths:  The Bay Area in Color Anthology, Sinister Wisdom, Yemassee, and elsewhere, explores interlocking caste systems and possibilities for human co-existence in our biosphere.  Yeva is a past Show Us Your Spines Artist-in-Residence (RADAR Productions/SF Public Library), winner of the 2020 Mostly Water Art & Poetry Splash Contest, and poet in QTPOC4SHO, a small and sustaining San Francisco Bay Area artists’ collective.

Michal ‘MJ’ Jones is a Pushcart Prize nominated poet & parent in Oakland, CA. Their poems have appeared in Anomaly, Borderlands Texas Poetry Review, & TriQuarterly Review. They are the Managing Poetry Editor at Foglifter Press, a journal for queer & trans writers, and have received fellowships from Hurston/Wright Foundation, VONA/Voices, & Kearny Street Workshop. They received their MFA in Creative Writing – Poetry from Mills College. Their debut poetry collection HOOD VACATIONS is forthcoming from Black Lawrence Press in 2023.


Aqueila M. Lewis-Ross uses poetry as a catalyst for healing. Her performative narrative pedagogy is centered around themes ranging from personal topics, religion, identity, women’s empowerment, and social justice. In her decades-spanning practice, Aqueila has explored the power of sharing personal stories towards overcoming trauma. Using her poetry collection, Stop Hurting and Dance, and her performance art workshop, “From a Victim to a Thriving Survivor: Learning How to Revive the Soul”; she honors what it means to live with resilience, love and prosperity. Aqueila has studied and performed throughout the United States, Europe, and Japan, and is a graduate of Napa Valley College and University of California, Berkeley. Most recently, she anticipates receiving a Trauma Prevention and Recovery Certificate of Achievement in preparation [for work] within the field of violence prevention and trauma response.

shah noor is a writer, visual artist, and scholar crafting narratives at the nexus of Black feminist thought, Queer diaspora studies, and liberatory pedagogies. shah’s poetry has been featured in the LA Review of Books (2020), Umber (2019), and CUNJUH (2017) as well as performed at the Museum of the African Diaspora (2020), Berkeley Art Museum & Pacific Film Archive (2018), and the African American Arts & Culture Complex (2018), to name a few. shah has taught courses and led writing workshops at Stanford University (2020), Laney College (2019), and UC Berkeley (2018). They have served as a Writing Fellow at the California Institute of Integral Studies (2016 – 2017), a Teaching Fellow for the Peralta Community College System in Oakland (2018 – 2019), and a Pedagogy Fellow with the Center for Innovations in Teaching and Learning (2020 – 2021) at UC Santa Cruz. shah’s cultural work aims to (re)center marginalized voices in dialogues on alternative epistemologies and cultural reproduction through a multimedia study of popular culture and women’s music in their home country, Sudan. In their leisure, shah enjoys talking to their plants, doing yoga, and finding the best mocha lattes in Oakland.

Interdisciplinary artist, poet and scholar Ronaldo V. Wilson, PhD is the author of Narrative of the Life of the Brown Boy and the White Man (University of Pittsburgh 2008), Poems of the Black Object(Futurepoem Books 2009), Farther Traveler: Poetry, Prose, Other (Counterpath Press, 2015), and Lucy 72 (1913 Press, 2018). Wilson’s Carmelina: Figures (Wendy’s Subway, 2021) and Virgil Kills: Stories(Nightboat Books, 2022) are forthcoming. Wilson is the recipient of fellowships from Cave Canem, Kundiman, MacDowell, the Center for Art and Thought, and the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation. He is Professor of Creative Writing and Literature at UC Santa Cruz, serving on the core faculty of the Creative Critical PhD Program, and principal faculty of Critical Race and Ethnic Studies.