The son of an African-American father and a Mexican mother, poet and playwright John Murillo grew up in Los Angeles. He was educated at Howard University and New York University, where he earned an MFA. Murillo makes use of both formal and free verse as he engages themes of family history and personal identity. In a Q&A with the Poetry Society of America, Murillo states, “I write, first of all, in the tradition of the witness.”
Murillo’s debut poetry collection, Up Jump the Boogie (2010) was a finalist for the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and the PEN Open Book Award, and was also named one of Huffington Post’s “Ten Recent Books of Poetry You Should Read Right Now.” Murillo’s poetry has also been included in Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of African American Poetry (2013, edited by Charles Henry Rowell). His choreo-play Trigger premiered with the Edgeworks Dance Theater in 2011.
Murillo’s additional honors include two Larry Neal Writers Awards, a Pushcart Prize, and fellowships from the Cave Canem Foundation, the Bread Loaf Writers Conference, the Fine Arts Work Center, the Wisconsin Institute of Creative Writing, and the New York Times. Murillo lives in Brooklyn.
Caits Meissner is a poet and transformative facilitator invested in the rehabilitative capacity of art. Her poems have been published in various journals and anthologies including Drunken Boat, Duende, The Offing, Radius, The Feminist Wire, Amazon.com’s Day One and The Literary Review.
Neil Hilborn is a College National Poetry Slam champion and a 2011 graduate with honors from Macalester College. In 2013, his poem “OCD” went viral, garnering over ten million views, making it one of the most-viewed slam poems ever. He has performed in 37 states and four countries, and he is the author of Our Numbered Days on Button Poetry Press. Originally from Houston, Texas, he now lives in St Paul, Minnesota.
Jared Singer is a poet and audio engineer who lives in New York City. While he may have physically grown up with his peers, he has never forgotten the imagination, magic, and nerdiness that were corner stones of his childhood. He hopes to remind others of these more creative times. He is a well respected poetry organizer, mentor, and coach.
I’ve been wanting to get Adrian Matejka in a pairing since I came on board in 2013, and when Taylor mentioned he was hoping to get someone paired with Qunicy Troupe, I couldn’t believe our good fortune. Both poets compose incredibly musical verse lines, both often make music their subject matter – music not just as entertainment or a vehicle for celebrity, but music that connects deeply to the soul and is engaging in the forming and articulating of identities. Both poets are lyrical historians of a sort, examining both the communal past and their own personal pasts, often weaving these together, and employing wordplay, rhythm and the verse line’s internal resonances to wrestle meaning from within meaning. Hope is what often arises, even amidst the most tragic and sorrowful of narratives. Hope, and a reach for glory, a willingness to find glory everywhere. So I am beyond excited to see these two daring, deft writers converse, to see what resonances we’ll encounter when their work shares the same space. – John Paul Davis
Adrian Matejka was born in Nuremberg, Germany and grew up in California and Indiana. A graduate of the MFA program at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, he is the author of The Devil’s Garden (Alice James Books, 2003) which won the New York / New England Award and Mixology (Penguin, 2009), a winner of the 2008 National Poetry Series. Mixology was subsequently nominated for an NAACP Image Award. His new collection, The Big Smoke (Penguin, 2013), examines the life of the boxer Jack Johnson and is a finalist for the 2013 National Book Award. He is the recipient of two Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards and fellowships from Cave Canem and the Lannan Foundation. His work has appeared in American Poetry Review, The Best American Poetry 2010, Gulf Coast, Ploughshares, and Poetry, among other journals and anthologies. He teaches creative writing and literature at Indiana University in Bloomington.
Quincy Troupe is an awarding-winning author of ten volumes of poetry, three children’s books, and six non-fiction works; Earl the Pearl: My Story, a memoir of legendary NY Knicks basketball star, Earl Monroe, (Rodale, April 2013) is Troupe’s newest non-fiction work. In 2010 Troupe received the American Book Award for Lifetime Literary Achievement. Among Troupe’s best-selling works are Miles: The Autobiography of Miles Davis and his memoir, Miles & Me soon to become a major motion picture.
Other notable works are The Pursuit of Happyness, an autobiography with written with Chris Gardner that became a major motion picture and that was a New York Times bestseller for over 40 weeks; The Architecture of Language, a book of poems, that won the 2007 Paterson Award for Sustained Literary Achievement, and Transcircularities: New and Selected Poems, which won the 2003 Milt Kessler Poetry Award and was selected by Publishers Weekly as one of the ten best books of poetry in 2002.
Errançities is his most recent book of poetry. A new children’s book, Hallelujah: The Story of Ray Charles with illustrations by Brian Pinkney, will be published by Disney/Hyperion.
Quincy Troupe is professor emeritus of the University of California, San Diego, and editor of Black Renaissance Noire, a literary journal of the Institute of Africana Studies at New York University.
Born in Detroit, Tyehimba Jess is the rare poet who bridges slam and academic poetry. His first collection, leadbelly (2005), an exploration of the blues musician Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter’s life, was chosen for the National Poetry Series by Brigit Pegeen Kelly, and was voted one of the top three poetry books of the year by Black Issues Book Review. A two-time member of the Chicago Green Mill Slam team, Jess was also Chicago’s Poetry Ambassador to Accra, Ghana. A former artist-in-residence with Cave Canem, Jess has taught at the Juilliard School, the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, and at the College of Staten Island in New York City.
Nkosi Nkululeko, the 2016 NYC Youth Poet Laureate, is a Callaloo and The Watering Hole fellow. A nominee for the American Voices Award, Independent Best American Poetry Award, and the Pushcart Prize, Nkululeko was a member of the 2014 Urban Word NYC Slam Team and 2015 NYC-Urbana Slam Team. His work is published currently or is forthcoming in No Token, Rose Red Review, Hobart, decomP and elsewhere. He lives in Harlem, New York, listening to jazz.
Tim Seibles, born in Philadelphia in 1955, is the author of several poetry collections including Hurdy-Gurdy, Hammerlock, and Buffalo Head Solos. His first book, Body Moves, (1988) has just been re-released by Carnegie Mellon U. Press as part of their Contemporary Classics series. His latest, Fast Animal, was one of five poetry finalists for the 2012 National Book Award. In 2013 he received the Pen Oakland Josephine Miles Award for poetry—also for Fast Animal. Tim was given an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Misericordia University for his literary accomplishments. Most recently, he received the Theodore Roethke Memorial Poetry Award for Fast Animal, a prize given triennially for a collection of poems.
During the spring semester of 2010, Tim was poet-in-residence at Bucknell University. A National Endowment for the Arts fellow, he also enjoyed a seven-month writing fellowship from the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center in Massachusetts. His poetry is featured in several anthologies; among them are: Rainbow Darkness; The Manthology; Autumn House Contemporary American Poetry; Black Nature; Evensong; Villanelles; and Sunken Garden Poetry. His poem “Allison Wolff” was included in Best American Poetry 2010 and, most recently, his poem “Sotto Voce: Othello, Unplugged” was featured in Best American Poetry 2013.
He has been a workshop leader for Cave Canem, a writer’s retreat for African American poets, and for the Hurston/Wright Foundation, another organization dedicated to developing black writers. He lives in Norfolk, Virginia, where he is a member of the English and MFA in writing faculty at Old Dominion University.
William Evans is a writer, instructor and performer from Columbus, OH. As the founder of the Writing Wrongs Poetry Slam (September ’08), William has created the largest weekly poetry open mic currently operating in the city. William also founded the NuGrowth Youth Poetry Slam in Columbus, OH in addition to hosting the first ever Columbus All District High School Poetry Slam in April 2009.
As an artist, William is one the most successful performance poets to come from Columbus and the state of Ohio as a whole. He has made three finals stages at the National level, most recently finishing fifth overall at the Individual World Poetry Slam. In 2011, he was a member of the first Columbus Team to make a Finals at the National Poetry. He has performed on eight Columbus National Teams while being an artist in residence for both the Columbus Wexner Center and Columbus City Schools in 2012.
William released his first full-length manuscript, In the Event You are Caught Behind Enemy Lines in August 2009 on Penmanship Books of Brooklyn, NY. Previous to that, he released a chapbook, Humble Shell Casings on JK Publishing in addition to two poetry CDs: Living in the Hour Glass (2006) and Measure (2007).
Currently, William Evans tours the country and facilitates writing workshops thru Projecting Murals LLC, a non-profit organization that connects facilities such as schools, community centers & correctional facilities to artists from the community. He founded the company in April 2009.
When we first thought of pairing Thomas Fucaloro and Nick Flynn together, my heart nodded in agreement. One thing I love about both of these poets is their uncanny sense of surprise. These poets are risk takers. They demand their readers take leaps. There is also a deep sense of play in each of their writing, (and I don’t mean silly, as each poet explores trauma and grief with rooted authority,) I mean a true humorous eye, a willingness to flip an image upside down so we can finally recognize it. Each poet is devoted in his own way to irreverence, and I’m excited to witness the way their poems will spark back and forth. – April Ranger
Thomas Fucaloro‘s latest book is out now by Three Rooms Press called It Starts From the Belly and Blooms. He is a founding editor for Great Weather for Media and editor for Staten Island’s new literary magazine NYSAI. He teaches poetry workshops at the NEON Bronx Probation Center, Writopia Lab, The Acorn Youth Treatment Center and the Staten Island LGBTQ Community Center. He just received his MFA in creative writing from the New School. He has a new chapbook coming out soon through Tired Hearts Press called Mistakes Disguised as Stars.
Nick Flynn is the author of three memoirs, The Reenactments, The Ticking is the Bomb: A Memoir of Bewilderment, and Another Bullshit Night in Suck City, which has been made into a film, Being Flynn, starring Robert DeNiro as Flynn’s father, Julianne Moore, and Paul Dano. He is also the author of three books of poetry, The Captain Asks For a Show of Hands, Some Ether, which won the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award, and Blind Huber. His fourth book of poetry, My Feelings, is forthcoming in 2015. He has been awarded fellowships from The Guggenheim Foundation, The Library of Congress, The Amy Lowell Trust, and The Fine Arts Work Center. His poems, essays, and non-fiction have appeared in The New Yorker, the Paris Review, National Public Radio’s “This American Life,”and The New York Times Book Review.
Born in St. Thomas, U.S.V.I. and raised in Apopka, Florida, Nicole Sealey is a Cave Canem graduate fellow. The recipient of a 2014 Elizabeth George Foundation Grant, she is the author of The Animal After Whom Other Animals Are Named, winner of the 2015 Drinking Gourd Chapbook Poetry Prize, forthcoming from Northwestern University Press.
Additional honors include the 2014 Stanley Kunitz Memorial Prize from The American
Poetry Review, a 2013 Daniel Varoujan Award and the 2012 Poetry International Prize.
Her work has appeared in Best New Poets, Copper Nickel, Ploughshares, Third Coast and elsewhere. Nicole holds an MLA in Africana Studies from the University of South
Florida and an MFA in creative writing from New York University. She is the Programs Director at Cave Canem Foundation.
Megan Falley is the author of two full-length collections of poetry on Write Bloody Publishing, After the Witch Hunt (2012) and Redhead and the Slaughter King (2014). Her chapbook Bad Girls, Honey [Poems About Lana Del Rey] is the winner of the Tired Hearts Press Contest. She is a Women of the World and National Poetry Slam finalist, winner of the 2015 Rustbelt Regional Poetry Slam and has been featured on TV One’s Verses & Flow. Her work has been published in Rattle, PANK, Pen Center USA’s The Rattling Wall among other literary journals. She is the creator of the online writing course, Poems That Don’t Suck. Megan is currently on tour with poet Olivia Gatwood as a part of Speak Like A Girl, an interactive, educational, feminist spoken word show. When she is not writing and touring the country, she is singing dirty songs sweetly on her ukulele.