Kimbilio Fellows come from across the diaspora and represent a wide range of visions and voices.  Among their ranks are people from many generations, who have distinguished themselves in an array of professions, and who bring to the community a wealth of knowledge and resources.  Some arrive early in their careers; others arrive with impressive publication credentials and prizes already under their belts.

 Kimbilio Fellows are (in alphabetical order, with their residency years in parentheses):

Selena Anderson (’13)





Selena Anderson is a PhD candidate at the University of Houston and holds an MFA from Columbia University, where she was the recipient of the Transatlantic/Henfield Prize. She has held fellowships at the MacDowell Colony, the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, and the Carson McCullers Center. She is working on a collection of short stories and a novel.











Lesley Arimah (’15)






Lesley Nneka Arimah lives in Minneapolis, MN. Her work can be found in Granta, Pank, Mid-American Review and elsewhere. When not writing, she works in the accounting industry and spends her days longing for the Enugu sun.

Gila Berryman (’15)

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Gila Berryman lives in Brooklyn New York where she teaches English Composition at New York City College of Technology. She has earned a BA from Hunter College, and an MFA from New York University. She has received two Starworks fellowships from the Starlight Starbright Foundation and, a scholarship for a residency at the Vermont Studio Center. She is working on her first novel.

Julia Brown (’13)

Julia Brown is a Richmond, Virginia native who spent her formative years in New York City before moving to Houston, Texas in 2012. She’s a logic puzzle fanatic and constructor, a lover of 80’s New Wave, and a singer-songwriter who’s released two albums (with a third in the works). She recently earned her MFA at the University of Houston where she was a fiction editor for Gulf Coast: A Journal of Literature and Fine Arts and the winner of the Inprint Robert J. Sussman Prize for Fiction.

Jamel Brinkley (’14)


Born in Virginia, Jamel Brinkley was raised in Brooklyn and the Bronx, New York. He has undergraduate and graduate degrees from Columbia University and has worked as a high school academic advisor and English teacher. He has attended the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop, and has been awarded scholarships from the Napa Valley Writers’ Conference, the Tin House Writers’ Workshop, and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. He graduated as a Dean’s Fellow from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and is the 2015-16 Provost’s Postgraduate Visiting Writer in Fiction at the University of Iowa. His short stories have appeared in A Public Space.

Christi Cartwright (’13)

Christi Cartwright: An island girl from The Bahamas who spent her years in Hong Kong, England and Jamaica, before returning home to Nassau, Christi Cartwright studied at the University of Sussex and the University of The West Indies. In 2008, she began working as an associate at J.P. Morgan Chase and realized shortly after starting her job that banking was not her passion.  A few years into banking she decided to make the transition from reading stories to writing them. In 2010, she was accepted into the Callaloo Writers Workshop and realized that she found an extended family and her calling. She currently resides in Syracuse, New York and is a second year MFA Fiction candidate at Syracuse University.

Angie Chatman (’13, ’15)


Angie Chatman writes both fiction and creative nonfiction and is the book reviews editor for Fifth Wednesday Journal. Her essays have appeared in  Hippocampus Magazine , fwriction: review, and elsewhere.  Born and raised in Chicago, Angie currently lives outside of Hartford, Connecticut, where she is Director of Communications at Covenant Preparatory School for Boys. She also teaches at the University of Hartford and Tunxis Community College.  Her MFA is from Queens University in Charlotte and she holds an MBA from the Sloan School at MIT.

Desiree Cooper (’13, ’15)

Fellow Desiree Cooper

Desiree Cooper is a journalist, author, blogger and former co-host of American Public Media’s Weekend America. A 2002 Pulitzer Prize nominee for her column in the Detroit Free Press, Cooper graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Maryland with degrees in journalism and economics. She earned a law degree from the University of Virginia in 1984. She now serves as the communications director for Planned Parenthood Mid and South Michigan, and is the owner of Detroit Snob, an apparel company dedicated to Detroit positivity. She is a founding board member of Cave Canem, a national residency for emerging black poets. Cooper was born in Japan to a military family and now makes her home in metro Detroit.

Jason Darcy (’15)

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Jason Darcy has always felt like a citizen of the crevasses between worlds. He was born and raised on the Bahamian island of New Providence. He is the son of a Bahamian mother and an American father. An unhealthy portion of his childhood was spent watching American movies and dreaming of being a Hollywood writer/director. He eventually earned his MFA in creative writing from Minnesota State University Mankato, where he currently spends his time teaching composition while writing scripts and short stories.

Nicole Dennis-Benn (’13)


Nicole Dennis-Benn is a writer from Kingston, Jamaica who now calls Brooklyn, NY, home.  She is an Adjunct Professor in Writing at CUNY.  A graduate of Sarah Lawrence College MFA in Fiction program, she describes herself as a quirky free spirit who collects books and gemstones.  Her writing journey began as a homesick freshman at Cornell University; Ithaca’s weather was the perfect back drop for melancholic stanzas laced with random bursts of introspection.  She cites Toni Morrison as her inspiration; hearing the author speak Nicole understood that that “mysterious thing” the venerated elder author described a “need to write” as lived somewhere inside her. Nicole lives with her wife in Brookyn.

Tope Folarin (’15)




Tope made his fiction debut in Transition with ‘Miracle’ in 2012, for which he won the Caine Prize for African Writing in 2013. In 2014 he was named to the Africa39 list of the most promising African writers under 39. His work has also been published in Callaloo and The Virginia Quarterly Review. He is a graduate of Morehouse College and the University of Oxford, where he earned two Master’s degrees as a Rhodes Scholar. He lives in Washington DC.

Kim Coleman Foote (’13)


Kim Coleman Foote, originally from New Jersey, is a 2014 National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellow. She spent a year in Ghana, West Africa, as a Fulbright Fellow, conducting research on the trans-Atlantic slave trade for her novel, “Salt Water Sister.” She has also written a memoir about her experiences in Africa. Her fiction, essays, and experimental prose have appeared in Crab Orchard Review, Potomac Review, The Literary Review, Black Renaissance Noire, The Places We’ve Been: Field Reports from Travelers Under 35,Homelands (Seal Press), and elsewhere.  Kim is also the recipient of an NEA Fellowship from the Hambidge Center, Rona Jaffe Foundation/Vermont Studio Center Fellowship, Pan African Literary Forum Africana Creative Nonfiction Award, Illinois Arts Council Fellowship for creative nonfiction, and fellowship residencies at Hedgebrook and VCCA. She received an MFA in Creative Writing from Chicago State University and currently lives in Brooklyn.
For more information, visit




Amina Gautier(’13)


Dr. Amina Gautier is the author of two short story collections: Now We Will Be Happy (University of Nebraska Press, 2014), which won the Prairie Schooner Book Prize and At-Risk (University of Georgia Press, 2011), which won the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. More than eighty of her short stories have been published or are forthcoming in journals such as Antioch Review, Callaloo, Chattahoochee Review, Crazyhorse, Glimmer Train, Iowa Review, Kenyon Review, North American Review, Notre Dame Review, and Southern Review among others. Her stories have also been reprinted in several anthologies, including Best African American Fiction, Discoveries: New Writing from The Iowa Review, The Lineup: 25 Provocative Women Writers, New Stories from the South, Notre Dame Review: The First Ten Years, The Sincerest Form of Flattery: Contemporary Women Writers on Forerunners in Fiction, and Voices. Gautier’s individual stories have won the Crazyhorse Fiction Prize, the Danahy Prize, the Jack Dyer Prize, the Lamar York Prize in Fiction, the Schlafly Microfiction Award, and the William Richey Award. Her work has received scholarships and fellowships from the American Antiquarian Society, Breadloaf Writer’s Conference, Callaloo Writer’s Conference, Hurston/Wright Foundation, Kimbilio, Prairie Center of the Arts, Sewanee Writer’s Conference, and Ucross Foundation, as well as artist grants from the Illinois Arts Council and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts. She received her BA and MA in English Literature from Stanford University and her MA and Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Pennsylvania. Both a writer and a scholar, her critical essays and reviews appear in African American Review, Daedalus, Journal of American History, Libraries and Culture, Nineteenth Century Contexts and Whitman Noir: Black America and the Good Gray Poet, and have been supported with fellowships from the Northeast Modern Language Association, the Social Science Research Council, and the Woodrow Wilson Foundation.


Brian Gilmore (’14, ’15)


Brian Gilmore is a poet, writer, public interest attorney, and columnist with the Progressive Media Project. He is a Cave Canem Fellow (1997), Kimbilio Fellow (2014), Literature Fellow for the D.C. Commission on Arts and Humanities (1997), Pushcart Prize nominee (2007), and winner of the Maryland State Arts Council’s Individual Artist Award (2001 and 2003). Gilmore has been a contributing writer for, and JazzTimes Magazine. He is the author of two collections of poetry: elvis presley is alive and well and living in harlem, and Jungle Nights and Soda Fountain Rags: Poem for Duke Ellington. His poems and writings are widely published and have appeared in The Progressive, The Washington Post, The Baltimore Sun, and many other publications. He teaches law at the Michigan State University College of Law, where he lectures and writes on contemporary issues relating to housing and economic inequality, dividing his time between Michigan and his beloved birthplace, Washington, D.C.

Jason Harris (’15)






Jason Harris lives in Baltimore, Maryland with his wife, a sculptor, and his son, an emerging violinist.

Jason was born and raised in Connecticut and attended Morehouse College in Atlanta, GA. After relocating to Oakland, California in 1994, he embarked on an IT career as a network administrator, systems engineer and support “tech”. In addition to his IT experience, Jason organized the Baltimore chapter of the International Capoeira Angola Foundation, a cultural arts group that teaches and propagates the martial art Capoeira Angola.

Born into a long line of Baptist deacons , Jason is currently a PTO officer at a charter school and a community partner at the Living Well in Baltimore, where he is actively involved in a variety of cultural and educational projects with the intent of making the quality of life better for all of Baltimore. He is a writer whose work has appeared in Black Enterprise magazine, Catalyst Literary journal, and various online publications. Jason self-published a speculative fiction anthology entitled, “Redlines: Baltimore 2028″ in 2012. He is currently working on his first novel, “Fly, Girl”, which he will publish in the fall of 2015. His work can be found online at

Andy Johnson (’14, ’16)

Andy Johnson’s work has been seen in Kweli, Lunch Ticket, Echolocation, African-American review (forthcoming), and Tuscaloosa Writes This. Andy received a BA in Drama from the University of Texas, where he studied under performance artist Linda Montaino. He began pursuing writing as a profession after a workshop and performance with Sekou Sundiata. After entering the MFA program at The University of Alabama, Andy edited for Black Warrior Review and Fairy Tale Review. He interrupted his studies to teach in post-conflict Liberia as part of USAID-funded reconstruction efforts. Andy returned and completed his MFA. He currently lectures in creative writing and literature at The University of Alabama, where he also directs the Study Abroad: UA in Zanzibar program. Andy is a popular presenter and spoken word artist. He’s worked with the Southern Fried Scribes writing camp in Greensboro, Alabama, the Poetry Out Loud competition sponsored by the city of Tuscaloosa, and is a writer-in-the-schools at Central High School. He has been a guest speaker for Creative Campus’ Object X lecture series and performed spoken word at Au Chat Noir (Paris). His current projects include Small Small, a novel of Liberia, and Okahika, a collection of short stories.

Kima Jones (’14)





Kima Jones has received fellowships from PEN Center USA Emerging Voices, Kimbilio Fiction and The MacDowell Colony. She has been published at Guernica,NPR, PANK and The Rumpus among others. Her short story “Nine” was named Best American Science Fiction 2014-Honorable Mention. She is the founder of Jack Jones Literary Arts, a book publicity company.  Kima lives in Los Angeles and is writing her first poetry collection,The Anatomy of Forgiveness.

George Kevin Jordan (’15)





George Kevin Jordan is an Atlanta-based novelist. His first book That Moment When and followup Hopeless were both released via Kensington Publishiing. He received his MFA in Creative Writing from Antioch University in 2014. He is currently working on his third novel Martin Mills Loves Musical Theatre.

Nicole Kelly (’13, ’15)

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Nicole Kelly earned a BA in Film History & Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College and an MFA from the University of California at Irvine. Nicole is an enthusiastic travel evangelist who has lived in Brooklyn, Berlin, Barcelona, and Los Angeles, with frequent sojourns to Latin America; her work often engages with themes of displacement, movement, assimilation, and identity. She has been a volunteer teacher and/or staff member at organizations including A Gathering of the Tribes, Right to Write (the prison writing initiative of SLC), The Rock N Roll Camp for Girls, TRAMA Textiles, and GrrlFair. In 2012, she co-founded Summer Commune, a summer-long intentional community in Moscow, Idaho, where she produced & hosted the Summer Commune Reading Series at Book People of Moscow.

Jacqueline Jones LaMon (’15)





Jacqueline Jones LaMon is the author of two collections, LAST SEEN, a Felix Pollak Poetry Prize selection, and GRAVITY, U.S.A., recipient of the Quercus Review Press Poetry Series Book Award; and the novel, IN THE ARMS OF ONE WHO LOVES ME. A finalist for the NAACP Image Award in the category of Outstanding Literature: Poetry, she lives in Brooklyn, New York and teaches at Adelphi University.

Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa (’14)

Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa is a novelist, memoirist and short story writer whose work is grounded in the Puerto Rican communities on the island and in New York City. Her longer narratives, though universal in nature, are heavily influenced by West African mystical symbology and 20th century Latin American magical realism, while her shorter pieces are grounded in urban realism. Her first novel, Daughters of the Stone was shortlisted for the 2010 PEN America Bingham Literary Award. She has won the Bronx Council for the Arts BRIO and ACE awards and their Literary Fellowship Award. Dahlma is presently working on her second novel, A Woman of Endurance.   Carisa Stories, a collection of short fiction and Writing on the Road, a collection of travel memoirs are also works in progress. For further information refer to her website

Kecia Lynn (’13)

Kecia Lynn is a native of Cleveland Heights, Ohio. A graduate of Case Western Reserve University and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, she has worked as a technical writer, editor, computer programmer, arts administrator, summer camp director, and television host. In 2013, 25 years and two months after she first left home, she returned to attend a self-funded “residency of one” during which she completed a draft of a novel.

Nicole Martinez (’13, ’14)


Nicole Lavalais Martinez received her M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Chicago State University where she served as Senior Editor of the Warpland Literary Journal.  She received a Ph.D. in English from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is also a proud fellow of the Callaloo and VONA summer writer’s workshops.

Though born and raised in the Midwest, her roots flow from a bit further down the Mississippi. Her formative summers were spent in a reverse migration south to her grandmother’s home in Alabama. Those southern roots can easily be traced in her debut novel  Summer of the Cicadas. Her fiction has appeared in several literary journals, as well as anthologies.  She is currently working on a short story collection. When she is not writing, she can be found sitting at someone’s dining room table laughing and debating with the folks she loves the most. She calls the south side of Chicago home, which she shares with her husband, son, and English Mastiff.

Jamie Moore (’14)

Jamie Moore is the author of Our Small Faces (ELJ Publications, 2013). She received her MFA in Fiction from Antioch University Los Angeles. Her stories have been published in Blackberry: A Magazine, Mojave River Review, and Emerge Lit Journal, among others. She is a Literary Coordinator for the Mixed Remixed Festival and is dedicated to sharing stories about the mixed experience. She is a big sister to six younger siblings, and lives in a house that is full of random lego pieces, kid art, and more laundry than you can imagine. She grew up in Santa Rosa, California, but now resides in the  Central Valley. She is obsessed with books, old maps, and coconut oil for her Afro. Jamie is working on starting a prose reading series in the Central Valley and currently works as an English professor at the local community college.  You can find  her on her blog, Mixed Reader, or scanning the fiction shelves at the local library.

Miranda Mcleod (’13, ’14)


Miranda McLeod’s fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Willow Springs, The Sunday Times, Epiphany, Confrontation, The Bridport Anthology, Evolver, and elsewhere. She won the Bridport Flash Fiction Prize and was shortlisted for the Glimmer Train and Tanne Foundation awards. She is a Fellow of the Kimbilio Center for African American Fiction, the Pirogue Collective and the Hurston/Wright Foundation. Miranda earned a BA in History and Sociology at Columbia University, an MFA in Fiction at New York University and is currently earning her PhD in Literature at Rutgers University. She teaches writing at Rutgers and the Bryant Park Word for Word series.

Dennis Norris II (’15)

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Dennis is a graduate of Haverford College and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. He’s won several awards and fellowships for his short fiction, and his short story, “Solitaire,” was recently published by Bound Off—a long-running online literary audio magazine. He is currently working on a novel. When not writing, he coordinates curriculum for the after-school division of the Harlem Children’s Zone as a member of the Writing Corps Team. In this role, he supervises the collaboration between teaching artists and other career-writers in the design and teaching of project-based curricula intended to support creative-learning, critical thinking, and literacy. Being a former competitive figure skater, he also works as a Basic Skills Instructor for Figure Skating in Harlem, an amazing organization that seeks to empower young women through instilling educational and athletic discipline. In May of 2015, he will begin a new role as a co-curator for the second season of the Brooklyn-based live storytelling series, “How To Build A Fire.” He lives for bacon.

Adrienne Perry (’13, ’14)

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Adrienne Perry grew up in Cheyenne, Wyoming, the daughter of a rolling stone from Southern California and a mother whose family homesteaded outside of Gillette, Wyoming. Adrienne serves as the current Editor of Gulf Coast and her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Tidal Basin Review, Indiana Review, Copper Nickel, and Siecle 21. While Adrienne finishes her PhD in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Houston, she is at work on a novel and a collection of short stories.

Deesha Philyaw (’15)






Deesha Philyaw is a Pittsburgh-based freelancer who writes about race, gender, parenting, and pop culture. Along with her ex-husband she is the co-founder of and the co-author of Co-Parenting 101: Helping Your Children Thrive in Two Households After Divorce (New Harbinger). She is currently at work on her first novel.

Her writing has been published in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and Essence and Bitch magazines. Other recent work includes contributions to the collections When We Were Free to Be: Looking Back at a Children’s Classic and the Difference It Made (The University of North Carolina Press), Motherhood Memoirs: Mothers Creating/Writing Lives and The Cassoulet Saved Our Marriage: True Tales of Food, Family, and How We Learn to Eat (Roost Books).

Deesha is originally from Jacksonville, Florida. She graduated from Yale in 1993 with a BA in economics. She also holds a MA in Teaching from Manhattanville College. She loves to read, dance, and cook; she’s only good at two of these. Deesha and her husband have a combined total of four daughters ranging in age from 11 to 18. They are also parents to two pugs and an Old English bulldog.

Dianca Potts (’14)

Fellow Dianca Potts

Dianca London Potts is a writer, music blogger, and follower of the fictive craft. She is an alumna of Temple University and holds an MA in English and an MA in Humanities from Arcadia University. She is currently pursuing her MFA in Fiction from the New School. Her work has been featured in Philadelphia City Paper, Hyphen, APIARY Magazine, xoJane, Bedfellows Literary Magazine, and is forthcoming from theNewerYork. She is the prose editor of LIT, an accepted VONA / Voices 2014 fellow for Speculative Fiction, and a selected Riggio Teaching fellow at the New School. She currently conjures short stories and flash narratives focused on identity, collective memory, and ghosts. Her evolving novel is set in the post-antebellum South and explores the significance of embodiment, Sankofa, and the supernatural. She resides in Brooklyn.

Rion Scott (’13)

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Rion Amilcar Scott lives in Beltsville, MD with his wife and 2-year old son. He was raised in Silver Spring, MD.  He earned an MFA at George Mason University and now teaches English at Bowie State University.

Talisha Shelley(’15)






Talisha Shelley was raised in Atlanta, Georgia. She has worked behind-the-scenes at ESPN and Tribune Company, but currently resides in Lake Charles, Louisiana, where she is a teaching assistant and MFA candidate at McNeese State University. She was awarded a scholarship to the 2014 New York State Summer Writers Institute, and her first story, “There Have Been Fires,” is forthcoming in CALYX Journal. You can follow her on Twitter @tshellmichelle.

Renee Simms (’13, ’15)

Renee Simm’s writing appears in All About Skin: Short Fiction by Women of Color (University of Wisconsin Press). She received a 2009 Notable Story mention in storySouth for fiction republished in the Hawai’i Review. Her fiction has been supported by fellowships from Vermont Studio Center, PEN Center, VONA, and by contributorships from Bread Loaf and Sewanee Writers’ conferences. She’s the recipient of literary grants from the Arizona Humanities Council and Greater Tacoma Community Foundation.

Her creative and critical essays have appeared on Salon, Full Grown People, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, as well as Brain, Child Magazine and Forty-four on 44 (Third World Press), an anthology on the election of Barack Obama. Ms. Simms has an MFA from Arizona State University, a JD from Wayne State University, and BA in literature from University of Michigan.  She teaches writing and African American Studies at University of Puget Sound.

Sanderia Smith (’13)

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Sanderia Smith is a PhD. student in the School of Arts and Humanities at the University of Texas at Dallas.  She received an MFA in Creative Writing/Fiction from Arizona State University, and a BS degree in Accounting from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.  She taught English Composition for The United States Navy (The Navy College Program for Afloat Education, NCPACE) for Central Texas College.

Her novel Mourner’s Bench has a publication date of 2015 with The University of Arkansas Press.  An excerpt from the novel appeared in Mythium Literary Journal, and in Arsnick:  The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in Arkansas, by Dr. Jennifer Wallach and Dr. John Kirk, historians, that led to her moderating the grassroots panel for the Arkansas Civil Rights Symposium during the Freedom Riders 50th Anniversary.  Her work received “Best Of” honors at the 2011 Eckerd College Writers’ Conference, Co –Directors Dennis Lehane and Sterling Watson, where her winning excerpt from the novel was published in SABAL Literary Journal. She received honorable mention in the 2013 Hurston/Wright Award for College Writers, and was a 2013 Kimbilio Center for Fiction fellow and is a member of the Kimbilio Advisory Board

She received grants and scholarships offers from Hurston/Wright Writers Conference, Eckerd College Writers’ in Paradise Conference, Callaloo Writers Workshop, and Vermont, Writers Studio.  She attended The Writers’ Colony at Dairy Hollow and Martha’s Vineyard Writers Residency.

Rosalyn Story (’13, ’16)

Rosalyn Story

Rosalyn Story is a professional classical violinist, journalist, and author of both fiction and non-fiction. A member of the violin section of the Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra in Fort Worth, Texas, she divides her time between performing and writing about the visual and performing arts, and has penned three books. Her articles have appeared in numerous magazines including Essence, Stagebill (the magazine of Lincoln Center), The Crisis (the magazine of the NAACP), and Opera News. Her first book, And So I Sing: African American Divas of Opera and Concert, the first comprehensive book on the history of black women in opera, was the inspiration for the PBS documentary Aida’s Brothers and Sisters: Black Voices in Opera. Her first novel, More Than You Know, was published in 2004. Her novel Wading Home, set in post-Katrina New Orleans, was an Essence magazine book club pick and ‘recommended read,’ and was also a 2011 nominee for the Hurston Wright Foundation Legacy Award.

In 2012, Wading Home was chosen by Clemson University (Clemson, SC) as the ‘common read’ book, and was distributed to 3500 freshmen and new students. In August 2012, she presented Wading Home before an assembly of all freshmen and new students at Littlejohn Coliseum on the campus.

In 2012, she was inducted into the Texas Literary Hall of Fame by the Friends of the Fort Worth Public Library in Fort Worth, Texas.

She has performed with the Sphinx Symphony Orchestra, the accompanying orchestra of the Sphinx International Competition for African American and Latino string players, since 2000. In 2014, she received a $40,000 MPower artists’ grant from the Sphinx Organization based in Detroit, MI to produce Wading Home: an Opera of New Orleans, based on her novel. With a cast, orchestra and chorus of internationally recognized artists, it was performed in Dallas and New Orleans.

Rosalyn is a resident of Dallas, Texas.

Darlene Taylor (’15)


Darlene Taylor is a cultural advocate and provides strategic advice on government relations, cultural preservation, advocacy and communications strategies.

Recognized for building bridges between sectors and creating initiatives of shared interest and value, she is committed to public service and cultural heritage. Darlene has held senior roles in the U.S. Congress and in municipal government.
An MFA candidate at Stonecoast, she writes fiction and is dedicated to promoting literature with support from the American Association of University Women. She is an Advisory Editor of Callaloo Visual Arts, and Chair of the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation. She is the Edna Clarke Fellow to A Room of Her Own and is a former fellow of the National Museum of Women in the Arts.

She resides in Washington, DC and lovingly cares for an 1860 waterman’s house on the historic Chesapeake Bay. She is a graduate of American University and serves as the Managing Director of the Waterman Steele Group in Cultural Heritage and Community Development.

Diana Veiga (’13, ’15)

Diana Veiga is from Silver Spring, Maryland and currently resides in Northeast D.C. She is a graduate of Spelman College and American University. Diana is the Program Manager of the African American Religious Affairs Department for People For the American Way. As Program Manager, she works with a network of progressive African American clergy on an array of social justice issues ranging from civic engagement to marriage equality. When not working or writing, she is daydreaming about Paris or buying cute shoes and sparkly things.

Esme-Michelle Watkins (’15)






Esme- Michelle Watkins is an attorney based in Los Angeles. Born to parents of African-American and Sicilian decent, she is the fiction editor of BLACKBERRY: A Magazine and a fiction reader at Callaloo. She is also a co-literary coordinator of the Mixed Remixed Festival, an annual film and literary showcase dedicated to the mixed experience. Esme-Michelle’s fiction is inspired by literature of the Afro-Italian diaspora and has appeared or is forthcoming in Boston Review, Word Riot, Voices de la Luna, 4’33” and elsewhere. She is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley and an MFA Fiction candidate at Columbia University.

LaToya Watkins (’14)

LaToya Watkins is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Texas at Dallas. Her stories have appeared in online and print publications, including Joyland Magazine, Lunch Ticket: Antioch, Los Angeles, Kweli Journal, Ruminate Magazine, and Potomac Review. Most recently, she was awarded a 2015 Pushcart Prize for short fiction. LaToya resides in Texas with her family.

Monica West (’14)


Born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio, Monica left home to attend Duke University. Upon receiving her B.A., she moved to Phoenix, Arizona to join Teach for America. After her two-year commitment there, she went to NYU for graduate school and then worked in the publishing industry for three years. While working as an editor, Monica had a part-time job as an adjunct professor at a college in Harlem—it was there that she re-committed herself to the teaching profession. In 2006, she moved to Baltimore to pursue teaching full time. In 2011, Monica made one last move—packing all of her belongings into her car and driving west—to the Bay Area to be exact. Currently, Monica calls Oakland home. By day, Monica works as a high school English teacher—a profession that she has held for eight years. In addition to writing, Monica enjoys traveling, reading, running, cycling, and exploring the beautiful Bay Area. Some of Monica’s favorite current authors are Toni Morrison, Barbara Kingsolver, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Junot Diaz, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Zadie Smith. Monica has already finished one novel and is hoping to finish her second—tentatively titled Revival Season—this summer.

Khaliah Williams (’13, ’15)

Originally from Philadelphia, Khaliah Williams resides in Baltimore where she works as a college counselor and English teacher. She is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College and received an MFA in Fiction Writing from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Currently working on a novel and collection of short stories, she occasionally blogs about her travels, writing, knitting, and her obsession with subscription boxes

Steven Wright (’15)




Steven Wright teaches at the University of Wisconsin Law school, where he is a clinical instructor at the Wisconsin Innocence Project. Steve specializes in cases that apply DNA technology to exonerate the wrongfully convicted. He is a former trial attorney in the Voting Section of the United States Department of Justice. During his five years in the section, Wright ligated cases to enforce both the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Acts.

He holds an MA in creative writing from Johns Hopkins University and an MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he won the creative-writing teaching award his first year and the fiction-writing award his second year. He contributes to the New York Review of Books online, where he writes essays discussing race, civil rights, and the law. He’s currently writing a novel that he hopes to finish before he dies.




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