MoAD and Litquake present an interactive performance and panel with Raina J. León, Yesenia Montilla, and Jasminne Mendez, where the three authors will share work from new collections that experiment and play across poetic forms and genres.
These authors will speak to embracing the embodied truth, moving with the waters that connect us, recognizing work in relationship to cultural communities, and dancing in boldness of the swagger of creation. They call out to you, “Come. Creation is the gift of your being!” Come and know: you never need permission to be the artist you already are.
Raina J. León, PhD is a Black and Afro-Boricua Philadelphian (living for many years in the Chochenyo Ohlone territory of Berkeley). She is a mother, daughter, sister, madrina, comadre, partner, poet, writer, and teacher educator. She seeks out communities of care and craft and is a member of the Carolina African American Writers Collective, Cave Canem, CantoMundo, Macondo. Her first collection of poetry, Canticle of Idols, was a finalist for both the Cave Canem First Book Poetry Prize (2005) and the Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize (2006). Her second book, Boogeyman Dawn (2013, Salmon Poetry), was a finalist for the Naomi Long Madgett Prize (2010). Salmon Poetry also published sombra : (dis)locate. Her first chapbook, profeta without refuge was a finalist for the Council of Literary Magazines and Presses Firecracker award. Her second chabbook, Areyto to Atabey: Essays on the Mother(ing) Self, was published by Alley Cat Books (2019). She has received fellowships and residencies with the Obsidian Foundation, Community of Writers, Montana Artists Refuge, Macdowell, Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, Vermont Studio Center, the Tyrone Guthrie Center in Annamaghkerrig, Ireland and Ragdale, among others. She is a member of the SF Writers Grotto and The Ruby in San Francisco. She also is a founding editor of The Acentos Review, an online quarterly, international journal devoted to the promotion and publication of Latinx arts. She educates our present and future agitators/educators as a professor of education at Saint Mary’s College of California.
Yesenia Montilla is an Afro-Latina poet & a daughter of immigrants. Her poetry has appeared in the Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day, as well as the literary journals The Gulf Coast, Prairie Schooner, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, & others. She received her MFA from Drew University in Poetry and Poetry in Translation & is a 2014 CantoMundo Fellow & a 2020 NYFA Fellow. Her first collection The Pink Box is published by Willow Books & was Longlisted for a PEN award in 2016. Her second collection Muse Found in a Colonized Body is forthcoming in 2022 from Four Way Books. She lives in Harlem NY.
Jasminne Mendez is a Dominican-American poet, playwright, translator and award winning author of several books for children and adults. She is the author of two hybrid memoirs, Island of Dreams (Floricanto Press) and Night-Blooming Jasmin(n)e: Personal Essays and Poetry (Arte Público Press). Her second YA memoir, Islands Apart: Becoming Dominican American (Arte Público Press) is forthcoming in May 2022 and her debut poetry collection, City Without Altar, was a finalist for the Noemi Press Book Award for Poetry and will be released in August 2022. Her debut middle grade book Anina del Mar Jumps In (Dial) is a novel in verse about a young girl diagnosed with Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis and is set to release in 2023. Her debut picture book Josefina’s Habichuelas (Arte Público Press), was released last year.