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Oktavi Allison

Oktavi Allison is a native of New York. She began writing in the mid-90s as a poet. She moved to North Carolina in 1995 and began her long-time association with the Carolina African American Writers’ Collective, which allowed her opportunities to perform and publish. Subsequently, she returned to LA to write and conduct journal seminars in her community. In 2015 she was gifted a PEN Center USA Emerging Voices Fellow. Oktavi currently resides in Louisville, KY. 

Kim Arrington

Kim Arrington is a teaching and performing artist using writing, theatre, and music to tell stories. Her first volume of poetry, the lapis dwellers, was released in August 2005, which was voted the Independent Weeklyʼs Best Poetry Book. Kim has taught poetry, playwriting, and songwriting to thousands of youth as artist-in-residence with North Carolina Wolf Trap, Durham Arts Council, Carrboro ArtsCenter, and Duke University Young Writers Camp. Kimʼs writing has appeared in Black Arts Quarterly, Southern Quarterly, and Drumvoices Revue.

Valeria Bullock

Valeria Bullock a native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is an Occupational Therapist and holds a degree in Psychology. She uses her gift of writing to make a difference in individuals and communities. “If I can write an inspiring poem that evokes a personal healing journey to improve their quality of life, mission accomplished!” Ms. Bullock’s Poetry has been featured in the Michael Harris radio show, Poetry anthologies, Christian Drama Ministry, and Diversity Performances in North America.

Beverly Fields Burnette

Beverly Fields Burnette lives in Raleigh, NC. Now retired, she did a combined 40 years of Social Work service with the State of NC and Wake County Public Schools. Burnette is a founding member of both CAAWC and the NC Association of Black Storytellers, Inc., (NCABS’ current president); and a member of the National Association of Black Storytellers, Inc. (Board Member). In 2019, Burnette received NABS, Inc’s highest honor, the Zora Neale Hurston Award. Burnette is published in several national poetry anthologies.

Christian Campbell

Christian Campbell is the author of the widely acclaimed poetry collection Running the Dusk (2010), which won the Aldeburgh First Collection Prize and was a finalist for the Forward Prize for the Best First Collection and the Cave Canem Prize among other awards. Running the Dusk was also translated into Spanish by Aida Bahr and published in Cuba as Correr el Crepúsculo (2015). 

Adrienne Christian

Adrienne Christian is a poet, writer, and fine art photographer. Her work has appeared in CALYX, phoebe, The Los Angeles Review as The Editor’s Choice, and dozens of other literary journals and magazines. She is the author of two poetry collections, 12023 Woodmont Avenue (Willow Books, 2013) and A Proper Lover (Main Street Rag, 2017). In 2007, she won the University of Michigan’s Five Under Ten Young Alumni Award. In 2016, she was a finalist for the Rita Dove International Poetry Award. 

Dr. L. Teresa Church

Dr. L. Teresa Church has been a member of the Carolina African American Writers’ Collective since 1995. Her writings have appeared in publications such as Simply Haiku,The Heron’s Nest,Obsidian: Literature in the African Diaspora,Solo Café,Nocturnes: (Re)view of the Literary Arts,African American Review,North Carolina Literary Review, her chapbooks Hand-Me-Down Calicos and Beyond the Water Dance, and One Window’s Light: A Collection of Haiku.

DéLana R.A. Dameron

DéLana R.A. Dameron’s most recent collection of poetry is Weary Kingdom (University of South Carolina Press, 2017), a Palmetto Poetry Series book edited by Nikky Finney. Her first book, How God Ends Us (University of South Carolina Press, 2009) was selected by Elizabeth Alexander for the South Carolina Poetry Prize. Dameron is the founder and chief strategist for Red Olive Creative Consulting, a boutique firm whose focus is fundraising for arts and culture organizations. 

celeste doaks

Poet and journalist celeste doaks is the author of Cornrows and Cornfields, and editor of the poetry anthology Not Without Our Laughter. Her chapbook, American Herstory placed first in Backbone Press’s 2018 chapbook contest; it contains poems about Michelle Obama. Her work has appeared in multiple on-line and print publications including The Rumpus, The Millions, Huffington Post, Chicago Quarterly Review, and Asheville Poetry Review among others. Currently, she teaches creative writing at University of Delaware.

Camille T. Dungy

Camille T. Dungy is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently Trophic Cascade, and the essay collection Guidebook to Relative Strangers: Journeys into Race, Motherhood, and History, a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. She’s edited three anthologies, including Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry. Dungy’s work is in Best American Poetry, 100 Best African American Poems, and over 30 other anthologies. Her honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship, an American Book Award, a Colorado Book Award, two NAACP Image Award Nominations, and fellowships from the NEA in both prose and poetry.

Angela Belcher Epps

Angela Belcher Epps’ work has appeared in the North Carolina Literary ReviewGumbo for the Soul: The Recipe for Literacy in the Black CommunityEssencemoonShine Review, When Women Awaken, Obsidian: Literature in the African DiasporaReflections, Pembroke Magazine #39, and others. Salt in the Sugar Bowl, a novella, was released in 2014 by Main Street Rag Publishing Company. Two essays are forthcoming in the 2020 anthology: Heartspace: Real Life Stories on Death and Dying.

Tracie M. Fellers

Tracie Fellers is a writer and editor whose fiction has appeared in Obsidian, Long Story Short: Flash Fiction by Sixty-Five of North Carolina’s Finest Writers, and roger, the art and literary magazine of Roger Williams University. She has published creative nonfiction in Walter magazine, 27 Views of Raleigh and the journal Sing Heavenly Muse!  She is a native of Durham, NC, and currently teaches at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC.

Cynthia M. Gary

Cynthia M. Gary is a native of Greenwood, S.C. and has lived in the Raleigh-Durham area for several years. She received her bachelor’s degree from Shaw University and master’s degrees from UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke University. Currently, she is a physician assistant at a public health department where she serves patients with socioeconomic challenges. Apart from her career, Cynthia is an avid writer, dancer, and triathlete. She dedicates all of her accomplishments in memory of her mother!

Ashley Harris

Ashley Harris is a biomedical sciences graduate student, poet and Aquarius from Virginia who has an interest in medicine. She has a published short story called “Black Wall Street” in both Spanish and English in an online magazine entitled Aguas de Pozos. Harris also has a poetry book called If the Hero of Time was Black (2018) published by Weasel Press. She also has poems displayed in Cartridge lit, Yellow Chair Review, and WusGood.

Janice W. Hodges

Janice W. Hodges is a high school librarian and associate minister at Friendship Chapel Baptist Church, in Wake Forest, N.C. She is married to  her childhood sweetheart, Tom Hodges, Jr., of 33 years,  a retired  N.C. attorney, and  is the mother of two children, Marcus Hodges, married to Aurielle, and Danielle Hodges Driver, married to Blake, and grandmother to Karter (5), and Nova, 5 months, with one on the way. She is Founder of Sunshine Drama Ministries.

Brian H. Jackson

Brian H. Jackson, bhenrY, is a native of Jacksonville, NC, where he currently serves on the City Council and various advisory boards. His writings have appeared in Obsidian:  Literature In The African Diaspora (Volume 10, Issue 2 Fall/Winter 2009 and Volume 11, Issue 1 Spring/Summer) and Fertile Ground: Memories & Visions 1996.  He is also the author of the chapbook More Than Words Creations: A bhenrY Sampler.  

Chantal James

Chantal James has been the recipient of such honors as a Fulbright fellowship in creative writing to Morocco, a full fellowship in fiction to the Vermont Studio Center, first prize at the Hollins University Literary Festival, and finalist in the Alex Albright Creative Nonfiction prize from the North Carolina Literary Review. She’s published across genres in The Torch Magazine, Paste Magazine, Transition Magazine, Catapult, The Bitter Southerner, and more.

Valjeanne Jeffers

Valjeanne Jeffers is a speculative fiction writer, a graduate of Spelman College, and a member of the Horror Writers Association. She is the author of nine books, including her Immortal and her Mona Livelong: Paranormal Detective series. Valjeanne has been published in numerous anthologies including Steamfunk!; The Ringing Ear; Luminescent Threads: Connections to Octavia E. Butler; Fitting In; Sycorax’s Daughters; Black Magic Women; and The Bright Empire. Preview or purchase her novels at:

Patricia A. Johnson

Patricia A. Johnson is the daughter of George C. and Alice P. Johnson. She was born and raised and now lives in Elk Creek, VA. Called to missions, she is a member of Greater Emmanuel Apostolic Church. Her collection of poems, Stain My Days Blue, won the BMa Sonia Sanchez Poetry Award. Patricia is also a former National Poetry Slam Champion.

Fred Joiner

Fred Joiner is a poet and curator based in Chapel Hill, NC. He is the poet Laureate of Carrboro, NC and 2019 Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellow.  His work has appeared or is forthcoming in FURIOUS FLOWER: Seeding the Future of African American Poetry, Callaloo, Gargoyle, and Fledgling Rag, among other publications. Joiner has read his work and curated exhibitions and public programming nationally and internationally.

Diane Judge

Diane Judge lives in Durham, NC. Her poems have been published in Black MagnoliasBackbone Poetry Journal34th ParallelObsidianFrogpond, and Poetry South. She also has poems in these anthologies: Remembrances of Wars Past, ed. Henry Tonn; Black Gold: An Anthology of Black Poetry, ed. Ja A. Jahannes; Obama-Mentum: An Anthology of Transformational Poetry, ed. Abdul-Rasheed Na’Allahand The Elizabeth Keckley Reader: Volume Two, ed. Sheila Smith McKoy.

Bridgette A. Lacy

Bridgette A. Lacy is an award-winning journalist and author. She served as a longtime features writer for the Raleigh News & Observer. She’s the author of Sunday Dinner, a part of the Savor the South series by UNC Press and a finalist for the Pat Conroy Cookbook Prize. Lacy is also a contributor to The Carolina Table: North Carolina Writers on Food (Eno Publishers, 2016) and 27 Views of Raleigh: The City of Oaks in Prose & Poetry, (Eno Publishers, 2013). Her work has appeared in Our State Magazine, Salt, and O.Henry magazines. 

Raina J. León

Raina J. León, PhD is an Afro-Latina and native Philadelphian who believes in collective action and community work and the liberatory practice of humanizing education. She is a member of the Carolina African American Writers’ Collective, Cave Canem, CantoMundo, Macondo. She is the author of three collections of poetry, Canticle of Idols, Boogeyman Dawn,and sombra: (dis)locateand the chapbooks, profeta without refuge and Areyto to Atabey:  Essays on the mother(ing) self in the Afro-Boricua. She is a founding editor of The Acentos Review.

Mélina Mangal

Working at the intersection of nature, literature, and culture, Mélina Mangal highlights those whose voices are rarely heard, and the people and places that inspire them to explore their world. A graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill’s School of Information and Library Science, she has authored short stories and biographies for youth, including The Vast Wonder of the World: Biologist Ernest Everett Just, winner of the Carter G. Woodson Award. 

Maiisha L. Moore

Poet and Visual Artist Maiisha L. Moore was born in 1982, in Raleigh, North Carolina. She graduated from Garner Senior High School, in June 2000. She wrote her haiku “the dark rock-road” at a very early age. The poem has been reprinted a number of times. She died in June 2004 and was posthumously awarded the Bachelor of Science Degree in Environmental Health from East Carolina University in 2005.

Grace C. Ocasio

Currently, Grace C. Ocasio serves as a Gilbert-Chappell Distinguished Poet. A three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, her second full-length volume of poetry, Family Reunion (Broadstone Books), received honorable mention in the Quercus Review Press Fall 2017 Book Award Contest. She also placed as a finalist in the 2016 Aesthetica Creative Writing Award in Poetry and was a recipient of the 2014 North Carolina Arts Council Regional Artist Project Grant.  Her first full-length collection, The Speed of Our Lives, was published by BlazeVOX Books in 2014.  She has published poetry in Rattle, Court Green, Black Renaissance Noire, The Chaffin Journal, Minerva Rising, and many other journals. Her chapbook, Hollerin from This Shack, was published by Ahadada Books in 2009.  

Lauri Scheyer

Lauri Scheyer is Xiaoxiang Scholars Distinguished Professor and Director of the British and American Poetry Research Center at Hunan Normal University (China). She has previously published essays subtitled “Report from Part I” and “Report from Part 2” about CAAWC’s history, impact, and participants. Her books include A History of African American Poetry (Cambridge University Press), Slave Songs and the Birth of African American Poetry (Palgrave Macmillan), and The Heritage Series of Black Poetry, 1962-1975 (Routledge). 

Evie Shockley

Evie Shockley’s most recent poetry collections are the new black (Wesleyan, 2011) and semiautomatic (Wesleyan, 2017); both won the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, and the latter was a finalist for the Pulitzer and LA Times Book Prizes. Among her honors are the Lannan Literary Award for Poetry, the Stephen Henderson Award, the Holmes National Poetry Prize, and fellowships from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and Cave Canem. She is Professor of English at Rutgers University. 

Crystal Simone Smith

Crystal Simone Smith is the author of two poetry chapbooks, Routes Home (Finishing Line Press, 2013) and Running Music (Longleaf Press, 2014). She is also the author of Wildflowers: Haiku, Senryu, and Haibun (2016). Her work has appeared in numerous journals including: Callaloo, Nimrod, Barrow Street, and African American Review. She is an alumna of the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop and the Yale Summer Writers Conference. She is also the founder of Backbone Press.

Dr. Sheila Smith McKoy

Dr. Sheila Smith McKoy is Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Holy Names University in Oakland, California. A poet, critic, fiction writer, and documentary filmmaker, she is co-author of the award-winning collection, One Window’s Light: African American Haiku, and editor emeritus of Obsidian: Literature in the African Diaspora. Smith McKoy has recently completed a poetry collection entitled “Last Drink of Water.” A native of Raleigh, NC, she lives in Oakland, CA.

Darrell “SCIPOET” Stover

True griot—a performance poet and historian. He teaches “Black Popular Culture: From the Blues to Afrofuturism” and “Introduction to Science, Technology, and Society” at North Carolina State University. His MA is from Johns Hopkins University. He served as program director at the Hayti Heritage Center and the North Carolina Humanities Council. Published in the Washington Post, the Indy, the Hip Hop Tree and in several poetry anthologies. His latest book is Somewhere Deep Down When

Gina Streaty

Gina Streaty’s poetry and prose appear in numerous publications including BMa: The Sonia Sanchez Literary Review; Treetops (World Haiku Review); Black Arts Quarterly; Role Call: A Generational Anthology of Social and Political Black Literature and ArtI’ve Known Rivers: The (MoAD) Story Project; Martin Luther King Jr: An Anthology of Multicultural Poetry; Hurricane Blues; Solo Café; and TEMBA TUPU! (WALKING NAKED). She also earned the Zora Neale Hurston Literary Award and the HAND poetry prize.

Cedric Tillman

Cedric Tillman holds a BA in English from UNC Charlotte and graduated from American University’s Creative Writing MFA program. Cedric’s poems appear in several publications including Pleaides, Rove, and The Manhattanville Review. His debut collection, entitled Lilies in the Valley, was published by Willow Books in 2013. His latest offering, In My Feelins, was published by WordTech in 2019. Cedric hails from Lilesville and Charlotte, NC. He currently lives with his family in northern Virginia.

Afefe Lana Tyehimba

Afefe Lana Tyehimba is an award-winning journalist and Open Society Institute Community Fellow Alumnus who enjoys working with at-risk youth to promote literacy. She is a Charter Member of the Carolina African-American Writers’ Collective and is currently working on a poetry collection based on the lives of seven iconic musicians spanning a century of Black American Music titled Under the Influence.

Karen Wade

Karen Wade is a retired teacher/media specialist who lives in Cobb County, Georgia. She is a native of Roanoke, Virginia. She has an Ed.S in Educational Leadership from Lincoln Memorial University. In the late 1990s, Karen participated in CAAWC. In 2001 and 2005, she attended Cave Canem Summer Workshop/Retreats. More recently she graduated from Charis Bible College in Atlanta, Georgia.

Jacqueline D. Washington

Jacqueline D. Washington was born in St. Paul’s, North Carolina. She is the eldest of six siblings. A graduate of Meredith College, she loves music, traveling, reading, cooking and writing poetry. She lives in Raleigh, NC, and has worked for the State of North Carolina for 20 years.

Carole Boston Weatherford

Carole Boston Weatherford is one of the leading poets and biographers writing for young people today. She has authored more than 50 books, including three Caldecott Honor winners: Freedom in Congo Square, Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer: Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement, and Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom. She recently received the Arnold Adoff Poetry Award for The Legendary Miss Lena Horne, and a Golden Kite and Walter Award for Schomburg: The Man Who Built a Library. Her latest releases are Be a King: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Dream and You and The Roots of Rap: 16 Bars on the 4 Pillars of Hip Hop. A North Carolina Literature Award recipient and an NAACP Image Award winner, she teaches at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina.

L. Lamar Wilson

L. Lamar Wilson’s documentary poetics have been featured in two poetry collections, a stage production, and a film: Sacrilegion (Carolina Wren Press, 2013); Prime (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2014); The Gospel Truth (2017); and The Changing Same (PBS/POV Shorts, 2019)a documentary co-produced with Rada Film Group. He teaches creative writing and literature at Wake Forest University and The Mississippi University for Women.

Gideon Young

Find Gideon Young’s forthcoming writing in Journal of Black Mountain College Studies, Modern Haiku, North Carolina Literary Review and WALTER. Gideon’s debut haiku collection my hands full of light was published by Backbone Press in April 2021. He is author of Prince Rivers: A Leader for Justice and Art For Change, both for young readers and forthcoming from Gibbs Smith Education in 2022. Nominated for the 2022 Pushcart Prize and Orison Anthology, Gideon is a Fellow for A+ Schools of North Carolina, a K-12 Literacy Specialist, and stay-at-home Dad. Discover more at

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