THE 2016 KIMBILIO FELLOWS

Katherine Agard

Katherine Agard thinks about color. She writes and she paints and she performs her relationship to color. It is troubled. She is currently an MFA student at the University of California, San Diego.

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Desiree Bailey was born in Trinidad and Tobago, and grew up in Queens, NY. Her poetry and fiction has been published in Best American Poetry, Callaloo, The Rumpus and Transition, among other publications. Her fiction chapbook In Dirt or Saltwater will be published by O’Clock Press in 2016. She has a BA from Georgetown University, an MFA from Brown University and has received fellowships from Princeton in Africa, The Norman Mailer Center and the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop. She has also received the Poets and Writers Amy Award. Desiree currently lives in Harlem, where she is a writing instructor at an afterschool arts program and the fiction editor of Kinfolks Quarterly. Her work can be found at desireecbailey.com.

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Tara Betts is the author of Break the Habit and Arc & Hue. Her chapbooks include Never Been Lois Lane7 x 7: kwansabas, and THE GREATEST!: An Homage to Muhammad Ali. Her writing has appeared in POETRYCrab Orchard ReviewObsidian, and Callaloo. Her prose has recently appeared in NYLONCicada MagazineSounding Out!, and Bitch Flicks. Her stories have been anthologized in Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice MovementsBest Women’s Erotica of the Year Vol. 1, and Best Black Women’s Erotica 2. Betts earned her MFA at New England College and her Ph.D. in English at Binghamton University. She teaches at University of Illinois-Chicago.

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Ayana Byrd graduated from Barnard College and is the co-author of Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America and the anthology Naked: Black Women Bare All About Their Skin, Hair, Hips, Lips and Other Parts. Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies, including The Fire This Time: Young Activists and the New Feminism, as well as publications such as The New York Times, GlamourEssence and O magazineA Philadelphia native, she has also lived in Brussels, Florence and Barcelona. After starting her career as a journalist, she now also writes fiction and graduated in 2016 with an MFA from the Writer’s Foundry at St. Joseph’s College (Brooklyn). She is currently living between Brooklyn and Lisbon and writing her first novel.

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Lakiesha Carr is a journalist and writer from East Texas. She’s held various editorial and production positions with CNN, The New York Times and Honey Magazine. She is a graduate of Southern Methodist University and received her MFA at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop where she was a Maytag fiction fellow. She’s currently holds the Jeff and Vicki Edwards post-graduate fellowship in fiction and is completing her debut story collection.

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Tyrese L. Coleman is a writer, wife, mother, and attorney. She is also the fiction editor for District Lit, an online journal of writing and art. Her essays have appeared in Buzzfeedmater mea, a website that celebrates black women at the intersection of career and motherhood, Brain, Child MagazineThe Rumpus, and elsewhere. A lover of flash fiction, her short stories have appeared or are forthcoming in [PANK] Magazine OnlineQueen Mob’s Tea House, the Tahoma Literary ReviewHobart, and elsewhere. Tyrese grew up on a dirt road in Ashland, Virginia, the self-proclaimed “center of the universe.” She received her masters in writing from Johns Hopkins University and a B.A. in English Language and Literature from the University of Maryland in College Park. A member of the Maryland State Bar, she received her J.D. from the University of Baltimore.  She lives in the Washington D.C. metro area but is still a country girl at heart. Read more about her or reach her at tyresecoleman.com.

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Akwaeke Emezi is an Igbo/Tamil writer and filmmaker based in liminal spaces. She was born in Umuahia and raised in Aba, Nigeria. In 2015, Akwaeke was awarded a Morland Writing Scholarship and shortlisted for the Wasafiri New Writing Prize. She was a 2015 Writer-In-Residence at the Hub City Writers Project and a 2014-15 Harriet’s Gun Media QBWT-Artist. Her writing has been published by Commonwealth Writers, Sable Literary Magazine, and the 2015 Caine Prize Anthology (Lusaka Punk & Other Stories). Her work is available online www.akwaeke.com.

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Wandeka Gayle is a final year PhD English student at UL Lafayette, emphasizing in Creative Writing Fiction. The former journalist and lecturer from Jamaica received her MA in English from Andrews University in Michigan in 2011. Her writing can be seen in the Jamaica Gleaner, the Jamaica Business Journal, Life-Info Magazine, and Spectrum. While primarily a writer of short stories and novels, she released a chapbook of her poetry and art – Jamaican Inspiration – in 2012. Gayle is also an artist, who has since 2005, exhibited her watercolor and acrylic paintings in Jamaica and the US and whose art has been featured in Focus Magazine, The Sunday Gleaner, DaVibe magazine, on Television-Jamaica (TVJ), and on her website: www.wandekagayle.com.  When she isn’t painting or writing, she is making books from scratch or composing piano instrumentals.

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Rachel Eliza Griffiths is a poet, writer, and visual artist. She’s a Sagittarius who often lives and conjures starry worlds at the bottom of the sea. When she’s not exploring the galaxy you can find her in Brooklyn where she lives with her family and her beloved dog, Hero. Griffiths’ recent collection of poetry, Lighting the Shadow (Four Way Books), was published in 2015. Griffiths has received fellowships from Yaddo, Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, Vermont Studio Center, and Cave Canem Foundation. Griffiths has a pet unicorn. Her literary and visual work has appeared widely including The New York Times, Poets & Writers, American Poetry Review, Guernica, Lit Hub, Apogee, Transition, Black Renaissance Noire, and many others. Griffiths’ video project, P.O.P (Poets on Poetry), gathers more than 100 contemporary poets in a series of micro-interviews, and is featured online by the Academy of American Poets. Some of Griffiths’ heroes include Zora Neale Hurston, James Baldwin, Frida Kahlo, Carrie Mae Weems, Henry Dumas, Prince, Lucille Clifton, Diana Ross, Edwidge Danticat, Alabama Shakes, her sister Melissa, and her late mother. Currently, Griffiths teaches at the Institute of American Indian Arts and Sarah Lawrence College. She is working on her first novel.

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Avery Irons is a writer and advocate for the rights of systems-involved children. She loves cooking, knitting, and swimming. Her writing has appeared in the African American Review and Ragazine.cc. She has a J.D. from the Columbia University School of Law and an M.F.A. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Born in central Illinois, she currently lives in Los Angeles, CA.

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Jade Jones was born and raised in Southern New Jersey. She graduated from Princeton with a BA in English and certificates in African American Studies and Creative Writing in 2014. She is currently a first-year fellow in fiction at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. She enjoys writing stories that celebrate the vibrancy, creativity, and complexity of black communities in the United States.

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Hayward Leach is an actor and writer from Brooklyn, NY. He graduated from Brown University in 2014 with honors in Comparative Literature, where he studied the connections between early 20th-century Cuban American and Black American fiction. His non-fiction writing has appeared in Narrative.ly online magazine and the Blog Daily Herald. He is starting his MFA program in Acting at The Juilliard School.

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Born and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Danielle Lomas is a recent graduate of Georgetown University where she studied Accounting and English. She was a member of Georgetown University’s Black Theatre Ensemble; her theatre credits include In the Red and Brown Water by Tarell Alvin McCraney and Insurrection: Holding History by Robert O’Hara. Danielle enjoys attending acting workshops, playing the piano, and running in her free time. She works as an accountant at a private equity firm and resides in Washington, D.C.

Jenni McFarland

Jeni McFarland holds an M.F.A. in Fiction from the University of Houston, where she served as a fiction editor for Gulf Coast magazine. Her work has appeared in Crack the Spine, Forge, and Spry, which nominated her for the story South Million Writers Award.

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Nana Nkweti is a Cameroonian-American writer, a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, a MacDowell Fellow, and Clarion West alum. As a Professor of English at Coe College, she teaches fiction and special topics courses that explore her eclectic literary interests: ranging from graphic novels to medical humanities on to exploring works by female authors in genres such as horror, afrofuturism, and mystery. Nkweti’s writing has been featured in numerous magazines, journals, and online publications. She recently completed Like Walking on Cowry Shells – a linked short-story collection that focuses on the lives of hyphenated-Americans who share her multi-cultural heritage in the United States and Africa. The book features complex, fully-embodied characters: murderous nurses, tongue-tied linguistic anthropologists, comic book enthusiasts and even alleged sex-ring operators. She hopes her stories entertain readers while also offering them a counterpoint to prevalent “heart of darkness” writing that too often depicts a singular “African” experience plagued by locusts, hunger, and tribal in-fighting.

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Enuma Okoro is a Nigerian-American writer and speaker. She has written and co-authored four books of nonfiction, and her poetry has been published in two anthologies. Her essays and articles have been featured on ABC’s Good Morning America and NPR, and in The New York TimesThe UK GuardianCNNThe Atlantic MonthlyThe Washington Post and other media portals. With a professional background in Communications, Psychology and Theology, and her diverse global and cultural experience, Enuma’s work centers on issues of narrative identity and cultural boundaries, and spiritual formation. In 2014, she delivered a TED talk in London, entitled “How Cultural Collisions Crack Open New Sides of Our Own Stories.” In June 2012, Enuma had the honor of being the first woman of African descent to preach at the historic 200-year old American Church in Paris, France. (Martin Luther King, Jr. was the first man of African descent to preach there in October of 1965). Enuma recently relocated to Nigeria and is currently working on her first novel.

Donald Quist

Donald Edem Quist is a writer and English lecturer living in Bangkok, Thailand. He is author of the short story collection Let Me Make You a Sandwich and the nonfiction collectionHarbors (fall 2016). His work has appeared in North American ReviewThe Rumpus,Hunger MountainJ JournalVol. 1 BrooklynQueen Mob’s TeahouseCleaverKnee-Jerk,The Adroit JournalPithead ChapelPublishers Weekly and other print and online publications. He is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee, runner-up for the Howard Frank Mosher Short Fiction Prize, and a winner of the E.L. Doctorow and Peter Matthiessen Authors Competition from the Writers’ Workshop of Asheville. He earned his MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. Find him online at iamdonaldquist.com.

Icess Fernandes Rojas

Icess Fernandez Rojas is a writer, blogger, teacher, and former journalist. She earned her BA in Communications from the University of Houston and her MFA from Goddard College. Her journalism has been published in USAToday and NBCNews.com. Her commentary has been published in HuffingtonPost and the Guardian. Her fiction has been anthologized in Soul’s Road: A Fiction Collection and published in literary journals including Minerva Rising and The Fem Lit Magazine. She is the most recent recipient of the Owl of Minerva Award, which allowed her to create a writing retreat for Afro­Latina writers.In addition, she is a VONA/Voices of Our Nation Foundation alum. She’s an adjunct professor at Lone Star College-North Harris and San Jacinto College­North.

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Gabrielle Octavia Rucker is a fiction writer hailing from the Great Lakes region (Detroit & Chicago). She has been featured in Strolling Series (USA), a short documentary series that aims to connect the scattered and untold stories of the Black/African diaspora. Her writing has appeared in Two Serious Ladies, Sunday Kinfolk and mater mea. Gabrielle currently lives in Brooklyn, NY where she can often be found on the subway aggressively cursing under her breath.

James Bernard Short

Writing under the pseudonym Bernard James, James Bernard Short is a published novelist, essayist and poet.  His primary goal as a writer is to produce smart, expressive and culturally authentic content that captures the wide spectrum of aspirations and challenges encountered by persons of color.  Notions of what define the cultural and geographic boundaries of the Black diaspora are of particular interest, as well as pieces that explore the dynamics of love, loss and personal transition.  James’ work has appeared in sx salon, a Small Axe Literary Platform, the Killens Review of Arts & Letters and the Columbia Journal of Literature and Art.  He is a 2015 Givens Writing Fellow and a current Kimbilio Fellow.  James currently resides in the Minneapolis area.

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Brandon Taylor is a Ph.D. candidate in biochemistry at The University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he studies stem cells in tiny animals. His work has appeared in Chicago LiteratiNoble Gas QuarterlyWildness, and Queen Mob’s Teahouse. He was a 2015 Lambda Literary Fellow in Fiction, and he’s currently Assistant Editor at Electric Literature’sRecommended Reading. A native of Alabama, he currently lives in a Midwestern state that is abundantly populated by the dairy industry.

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