Amy C. Evans is an award-winning artist, writer, and documentarian based in Houston, Texas. She graduated from the city’s acclaimed High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (HSPVA), holds a BFA in Printmaking from the Maryland Institute College of Art, and an MA in Southern Studies from the University of Mississippi. Amy’s paintings have appeared in Southern Living, Southern Cultures, and on CNN’s Eatocracy and the Oxford American blog. Her writing has appeared in Saveur, The Bitter Southerner, The Local Palate, and Cornbread Nation 5: The Best of Southern Food Writing. Amy built the documentary program at the Southern Foodways Alliance, headquartered at the University of Mississippi, where she served as their lead oral historian for more than a decade. The Mississippi Historical Society has twice recognized her work, and Food & Wine magazine named Amy one of the “most fearsome talents” in the culinary world. She returned home to Houston in 2014 and embarked on an exciting freelance career, utilizing her varied skills and interests to explore new methods of storytelling. This experimentation birthed Amy’s groundbreaking multimedia project, “My Houston,” which documents her hometown through original paintings, photographs, and oral history interviews. Her first book, co-authored with Martha Hall Foose and published by Chronicle Books, A Good Meal Is Hard to Find: Storied Recipes from the Deep South, is set for release in early 2020.
Amy Lin is celebrating almost 20 years in education and returning to WITS! She worked nine years in elementary school, and taught reading, writing, science, and Mandarin. Previous to that, she also worked as a high school teacher, tutor, and freelance writer. Amy enjoys being creative through her writing and acting with Houston Playback Theatre.
Angélica Hernández-Viera earned her B.A. in Spanish Modern Languages and Literature in Monterrey, México, and her Masters in Education from Sam Houston State University in 2013. Angélica, who joined WITS in 2013, is a bilingual teacher with 8 years of public school experience, teaching such courses as Latin American literature and English as a Second Language to high school students. Her poems, interviews, and short stories have appeared in various newspapers and university publications.
Autumn Hayes is a freelance writer, poet, and educator; her poetry and prose have appeared or are forthcoming in Storm Cellar, The Washington Spectator, 3:AM, African American Review, Teachers & Writers Magazine, and the Houston Poetry Festival anthology, among others. Her poem “On Them” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and her choreo-poem, Δεν ‘Ηχω (Then Echo), is available on YouTube. She holds an MFA in poetry from Texas State University and teaches in her hometown of Houston.
AYOKUNLE FALOMO is Nigerian, American, a TEDx speaker, and the author of AFRICANAMERICAN’T (FlowerSong Press, 2022), two self-published collections: KIN.DREAD (2017) and thread, this wordweaver must! (2014) and African, American (selected by Selah Saterstrom as the winner of New Delta Review’s annual chapbook contest in 2019).
His work has been anthologized and published in print and online — The New York Times, Houston Chronicle, Houston Public Media, New England Review, Write About Now, Michigan Quarterly Review, Glass Mountain, Berkeley Poetry Review, Santa Fe Writers Project, The Texas Review among others.
A recipient of fellowships from MacDowell and Vermont Studio Center, his poems have been selected as finalists or winners for Fourteen Hills Press’ Stacy Doris Memorial Award, Flypaper Magazine‘s Music Poetry Contest, The OffBeat‘s Poetry Contest, and Nimrod Journal‘s The Pablo Neruda Prize in Poetry.
He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from University of Houston, a Specialist in School Psychology degree from Sam Houston State University and is currently a Zell Postgraduate Fellow at the University of Michigan’s Helen Zell Writers’ Program, where he obtained his MFA in Creative Writing — Poetry.
Baylea Jones holds an MFA in fiction from Western New England University. Her short story “The Girl from Montana” was a finalist for the 2017 New Letters Prize for Fiction, and her story “Dad & I” received an honorable mention in Glimmer Train‘s Family Matters contest. Publications include Autostraddle.com, Leur Magazine, and Cactus Heart. She enjoys bourbon, brunch, bow ties, and spending time with her wife, Britney.
Bill Moran is a performance poet and former medic from Houston, TX. He is a two-time Austin Poetry Slam Champion, and has an MFA Poetry degree from Louisiana State University. He has toured regularly since 2011, performing and teaching throughout Europe, Australia, Southeast Asia, and the US. His work has been featured on Button Poetry (video), University of Hell Press, Alien Mouth, Pressure Gauge Press, and Phoebe. He currently lives and works in Houston as a teaching artist for Writers in the Schools, and his solo debut book ‘Oh God Get Out Get Out’ is now available through Write Bloody Publishing.
Brooke Summers-Perry grew up in the woods in Kentucky and reconnects to these roots through contemplative looking, listening, and responding in poetry and visual arts. She holds degrees in psychology and architecture and certification as a spiritual director. In 2005, halfway through her 20 year career in architecture, she founded itscool2care. By managing peer lead teams in grades K-12, this community service group engaged youth in designing and executing advocacy and fundraising projects. Inspired by the fruits of the itscool2care team, in 2015 she shifted away from design to become the founding director of the Hines Center for Spirituality and Prayer. She is the author of four children’s books and a book of compassionate practices, Transforming Habits. She is currently illustrating the latest version of her children’s book, Made of Stardust, and is working on the essays Architecture of Spirituality and a memoir piece, How to Burn Out.
Cameron Dezen Hammon’s writing has appeared in Ecotone, The Rumpus, The Literary Review, The Butter, NYLON, Them, The Houston Chronicle, and elsewhere. Her essay “Infirmary Music” was named a notable in The Best American Essays 2017, and she is a contributor to The Kiss: Intimacies from Writers (W.W. Norton), My Caesarean: Twenty Mothers on the Experience of Birth by C-Section and After (The Experiment) and Common Prayer: Reflections on Episcopal Worship (Wipf & Stock). She is co-founder of The Slant reading series, host of The Ish podcast, and her debut book This Is My Body: A Memoir of Religious and Romantic Obsession is forthcoming from Lookout Books on October 22, 2019.
Born in Kansas City, Mo. and raised in Mexico City, Carmen Erna Jacobsen is a non-fiction, poetry writer and a teacher. She has written education articles for The Rice Entrepreneurship Educational Program Blog known as REEP in 2012. She has published poems in magazines such as Harbinger Assylum, Houston and Nomadic Voices Magazine and Degenerates by Weasel Press. She has been a featured guest poet at the Barnes & Noble Poetry Series and is a constant participant in different literary events. She has published 2 books of poems. Saudade published in 2013 and Men of Fish a collaborative work with an Alaskan photographer David Little now available through Amazon.
Carol Denson spent 11 years teaching 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade in Austin, Texas. She earned an MA in Creative Writing from the University of Houston, and has published poems in The Adirondack Review, Gulf Coast, J Journal, and Literary Mama. Her essay “Transfertle the Plum” on poetry and parenting was published in Rattle, and is available online. Her chapbook, Across the Antique Surface, was published in 2013. Her work has been supported by the Jentel Foundation and The Cultural Arts Council of Houston and Harris County. She has lived in Bhopal, India, Mexico City, Chicago, Columbia, Missouri, and Austin, before returning to her hometown of Houston. She works at Writers in the Schools, volunteers for Citizens’ Climate Lobby, cares for her 91-year-old mom, takes classes at Grackle and Grackle, and writes poems, stories, and essays.
Catherine Gentry graduated from Princeton University with a degree in English, and after practicing law in Houston for several years, retired to raise her three now nearly grown children. She currently works as a writing instructor and freelance writer, and her work has been featured in online publications including Grown and Flown, Literary Mama, and The Princeton Alumni Weekly, as well as the Houston Chronicle and the book, Women Under Scrutiny: An Anthology of Truths, edited by Nancy MacDonald. Her love of literature has inspired her to encourage students of all ages through creative writing and she is excited to continue this journey with WITS. A native Houstonian, Catherine loves exploring her city to find new places and inspiration. Catherine believes in compassionate creativity and is committed to changing the world one word at a time.
David LaDuca is a playwright, poet, lyricist and author of short stories, as well as being a professional actor, singer, producer, and musician. He received his Bachelor of Professional Studies in Theatre from Empire State College in New York. As an educator, David loves his work with schools for students with special needs. His work with Texas Children’s Hospital working with oncology patients is especially rewarding. David enjoys empowering youth to express themselves through various genres, and sharing a lifetime of diverse creative endeavor.
Poet Laureate of Montgomery County, Dede Fox is the 2016-2019 DOJ/NEA Artist in Residence at Bryan Federal Prison Camp for Women. She also teaches with WITS-Houston at Texas Children’s Hospital. In 2019 Lamar University Literary Press published her fourth book On Wings of Silence: Mexico ’68, a novel in verse.
Dillon Scalzo is a poet and translator with a passion for working back and forth between the mediums of Spanish and English. For 12 years he was based on the U.S./Mexico border in San Diego, CA/Tijuana y Tecate, Baja California, where he completed a B.A. in English and Spanish at the University of San Diego and later an MFA in Creative Writing at San Diego State University. He has studied in México, Spain, and most recently in 2016 completed a U.S. Fulbright grant in Uruguay where he taught English and Creative Writing while working on translations of Uruguayan poets. Dillon is interested in all things transfronterizo, especially the movement of poetry and art across physical and imaginal borderlands. He is an enthusiastic newcomer to Houston and currently works as an ESL teacher for adults, as well as a translator and member of the FAQ Team at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston (CAMH).
Dinorah Pérez-Rementería received a B.A. in Theater from the Higher Institute of Arts in Havana, Cuba, and an M.A. in Latin American studies from the University of Miami. As a teacher, she considers how ethics and aesthetics can have a positive impact on youth education. Her articles have appeared in such magazines as Art Nexus, Arte al Día International, ArtPulse, and others. Dinorah has worked with Writers in the Schools for many, many years, facilitating creative workshops for writers, teachers, and students as well as mentoring new teaching artists.
Doni Wilson teaches literature and writing at Houston Baptist University and freelances for publications such as Houstonia and The Houston Chronicle.
Emanuelee “Outspoken” Bean was ranked 9th in the Individual World Poetry Slam in 2012 and appeared at TEDxHouston in 2013. His one-man show “Converse” went to Theatre Row in New York City in November 2013, as part of the United Solo Theatre Festival. Bean coaches the WITS youth poetry program, Meta-Four Houston. He recently co-authored a peer-reviewed article on performance poetry in Children at Risk’s Journal of Applied Research on Children. Bean has taught with WITS since 2010.
“Be the person you needed when you were younger” is the quote that Erica Nicole lives life by. Originally from New York, Erica Nicole is a nationally ranked poet, adolescent psychiatric Registered Nurse, Certified Child & Adolescent Trauma Professional, American Sign Language Interpreter student and has a post-graduate certificate in LGBT Health Policy & Practice. Erica Nicole is a Program Manager for Houston VIP Slam and serves on the Board as Community Relations Director for Invisible Strings Bookshop-a bookstore and community space for queer youth in Oregon. Erica Nicole found healing in poetry and hopes to facilitate healing in others through words.
Erika Jo Brown is the author of I’m Your Huckleberry and co-editor of Beatrice Hastings: On the Life & Work of a Lost Modern Master. She earned her PhD in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Houston. Organizer of the Poison Pen reading series, she teaches poetry at UH and MD Anderson Children’s Cancer Hospital through WITS.
Fern Brady is a former public school teacher and journalist turned author and publisher. She has various short stories and poetry published in anthologies as well as two picture books. Her full length science fantasy novel is nearing publication this year.
Florence Miyamoto is a wife, mother, retired teacher, and writer. A graduate of Fresno State College with a B.A. in Social Science, she later received Texas Lifetime Certification in Elementary Education (EC-8), Early Childhood Education, and English as a Second Language (ESL). Reading Recovery-trained through the University of Houston-Clear Lake, most of her teaching experience has been with the young, struggling reader and writer, working as an Intervention Specialist in Humble ISD and Spring Branch ISD. Florence is the author of Easy-to-Make Books That Target Specific Reading Needs (Pre-Kindergarten-1st Grade) published by Scholastic. She joined WITS in the fall of 2012.
Gabriella Adriana Iacono is a first year MFA candidate in poetry at the University of Houston. She grew up in Staten Island, New York, where she earned her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing from the College of Staten Island CUNY. She has worked in public education since 2014, and has served as an editor for NYSAI Press. Iacono is currently working on her first collection of poems.
Gigi Airheart has taught WITS Summer Creative Writing Camp for several years. She says, “I enjoy finding avenues for students to express themselves through visual arts and the written word. Facilitating a means of connecting with a student’s own ideas, feelings, and imagination by playing with words and art is exciting. We learn much from one another as we share an environment Where Words Fly!” She has earned a Bachelor of Science in Education degree from Baylor University and a Master’s degree in Counseling from the University of Houston – Victoria. She holds teaching certificates in Counseling, Art, Spanish, Elementary – K through 8, Secondary Art and Spanish, Special Education and English as a Second Language. This will be her third year to work with WITS as a writer at The Menil Collection. In her spare time, she paints, draws, writes poetry, and has recently begun to play violin.
Graciela Martinez graduated from the University of Houston in Spring 2015 with her Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology with a Minor in Medicine & Society. When she is not reading or writing, she is working with parents and students throughout the Greater Houston area. Her hope is to help student’s develop creative outlets that will continue beyond their school years.
Jasminne Mendez is an award-winning author, performance poet, and educator. She received her B.A. in English Literature and her M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Houston. Mendez has performed her poetry in venues all around Houston, including Rice University, the Alley Theatre, the Museum of Fine Arts, the University of Houston, and Barnes & Noble. She has shared the stage with respected writers and poets such as Sandra Cisneros and Taylor Mali. Mendez has been published both nationally and internationally. Her multi-genre memoir Island of Dreams was published by Floricanto Press and was awarded Best Young Adult Latino Focused Book by the International Latino Book Awards in 2015.
Joseph Roberts loves the theater of teaching and has a strong passion for writing, joining WITS has provided him a happy marriage of the two. He is now afforded the opportunity to serve the greater Houston area, to support and encourage those in their creative journey, and see that the disadvantaged in Houston are provided the means they are owed to express themselves.
Joshua Nguyen is an alumnus of the Meta-Four Houston Youth Slam Team (2008-2012) and competed in the international youth slam, Brave New Voices. An alumnus of UT Austin, Joshua was a member of their Spitshine slam team (2014-2016), where he served as co-president and led weekly writing workshops for the public. He placed #1 in the nation in 2014, won ‘Best Writing as a Team’ in 2015, and was the 2015 CUPSI Haiku Champ. Joshua also participated in the Word Around Town Poetry Tour (WAT) in Houston. In 2016, he traveled to Washington D.C. as a member of Future Corp to organize the Brave New Voices International Poetry Festival. Joshua was a judge for the 2016 Houston Youth Poet Laureate, and has been published in Freezeray Poetry and Button Poetry. His work was nominated for ‘Best of the Net’ in 2016.
Joshua Burton is a poet and educator from Houston, TX. He received his B.A. from the University of Houston and his MFA in poetry at Syracuse University. His work seeks to navigate the way historical, generational, and familial trauma crosses wires with mental illness. His main poetry influences are Elliott Smith, Marie Howe, Norwegian Wood, Terrance Hayes, Moonlight, Kendrick Lamar, Grave of the Fireflies, James Baldwin, and Songs of Solomon. He is a 2019 Tin House Winter Workshop Scholar, 2019 Juniper Summer Writing Institute scholarship winner, 2019 Center for African American Poetry and Poetics fellowship finalist, and received the Honorable Mention for the 2018 Toi Derricotte and Cornelius Eady Chapbook Prize. His work appeared in Figure1, BODY Literature, Mississippi Review and is forthcoming in Gulf Coast.
Joshua Gottlieb-Miller holds an MFA in poetry from the University of Houston, where he has returned to pursue his PhD in Creative Writing. Joshua most recently served as Gulf Coast’s Online Nonfiction Editor, and his own writing can be found in New Delta Review, Pacifica Lit Review, Grist, Four Way Review, Pleiades, Indiana Review and elsewhere. Previously Joshua served as Gulf Coast’s Print Poetry Editor, and has won the Inprint Barthelme Prize in Poetry, as well as the Inprint Robert J. Sussman Prize. Joshua has also been a Fellow at The MacDowell Colony and the Tent Writing Conference at the Yiddish Book Center. Currently Joshua teaches for Inprint, as well as Writers in the Schools at The Menil Collection, and he lives in Houston with his wife, Lauren, and son, Owen.
Josie Mitchell is a graduate of the University of Houston’s MFA program in fiction. Before moving to Houston, she worked as a preschool teacher in Dalian, China, where her Chinese name translated to “Dumpling”. Josie was a Non-Fiction Editor for Gulf Coast and student advisor to the UH undergraduate literary magazine, Glass Mountain and the Boldface Conference for Emerging Writers. She teaches creative writing at the University of Houston and Fifth Ward’s Finnigan Park, with Project Row Houses, inprint and WITS. She is from San Diego, California, and is at work on a story collection set there.
Justin Jannise studied poetry at Yale and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. A native of the Houston area, he is a Ph.D. candidate in literature and creative writing at the University of Houston, where he serves as Editor-in-Chief of Gulf Coast. His work has appeared in Columbia Journal, The Yale Review, North American Review, and The Awl.
K.C. Sinclair is a fellow in Fiction and Screenwriting at the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas at Austin. Her short works have appeared in the Texas Observer and the New Guard Literary Journal. She has been a finalist for the Master’s Review New Writers’ Competition, the Glimmer Train New Fiction Prize, and New Letter’s Short Story Award. Before her MFA, she was an elementary school teacher and vice principal for ten years. She left that beloved career to pursue a lifelong dream to write. Now, she lives in a Mont Belvieu with her husband, adorable dog, and self-absorbed kitty, and is working on a novel set in Houston about a group of four friends who have dreams of becoming astronauts. K.C. also teaches writing at Lee College in Baytown.
Katherine Elliott grew up in Richmond, Virginia and received a BA in literature and art history from the University of Virginia. She attended the University of Houston’s MFA program in creative writing. This is her eleventh year teaching with WITS.
Kathryn Peterson a.k.a. “Doctor Kat” holds a Ph.D. in Creative Writing and Literature and an MFA in Fiction from the University of Houston, where she received a Barthelme and Glenn C. Cambor Fellowship. She also has an M.A. in playwriting from the University of Cincinnati, where she won the Elsie B. Westheimer Award for Playwriting and the Graduate Prize in Fiction. Originally from Virginia and trained as a journalist, Kathryn is a columnist for the Houston Chronicle’s online blog, Gray Matters. When she is not teaching for WITS, you can find her offering manuscript consultations, managing social media and blogs for business, or working on her novel.
Kelsie Cleboski writes as Kelsie Hahn, and her published work includes the dinosaur-themed prose chapbook “Last Days of the Microsaurs” and another prose chapbook, “Responsibility.” Her fiction has also appeared in Passages North, Caketrain, Cartridge Lit, NANO Fiction, and others. She holds an MFA in fiction from New Mexico State University.
In the early days of WITS writers sat around a table and brainstormed all the places WITS could go, all the ways WITS could change the world for young writers. Kiki Przewlocki was part of that broad conversation and has remained a part of WITS long enough to see those dreams become reality. Her passion for writing songs and performing fuels Third Ear Caravan Band www.thirdearcaravan, her dramatic nature nurtures an after school theatre troupe, and her art has been displayed on the walls of the Jung Center, in Santa Fe, NM, and in her upcoming line, Blue Raven Designs. This year she’s immersed in editing her novel, La Mia Sorella, My Sister, and in her playfully therapeutic card deck/book, Soul Dusters. Inspiring writers is as much a part of her as breathing.
Kimberly Povloski is a poet from Houston, Texas. She received her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Eastern Washington University. She is a former poetry editor of Willow Springs Magazine. She currently teaches at the University of Houston. Her first collection of poems, Hell of Birds, was chosen by Erica Dawson as the winner of the 2018 Adrift Chapbook Contest and published by Driftwood Press. Other work appears in Gris-Gris.
Kristi Pewthers is a fiction writer who finds inspiration in the mundane. She believes kernels of magic can be uncovered anywhere, even in the most ordinary of places. A native Houstonian, Kristi graduated from Sharpstown High School and, after receiving her B.A. in English Literature from the University of Houston, she returned to her alma mater to teach high school English and AP literature and composition. While there, she created the literary club and produced Follow the Fire, Sharpstown’s literary magazine. Kristi’s debut novel was published in March of 2015, and she is hard at work on its follow-up. Her manuscript Tracing Ursa won the New Adult category in the LERA 2015 Rebecca Contest and finaled in the Emily Contest 2016. In her spare time, she’s an imp wrestler, music geek, and tabletop gamer. This is her seventh year with WITS.
Layla Al-Bedawi is a writer, teacher, and community builder. Born in Germany to Kurdish and Ukrainian parents, she immigrated to the US in 2006 and currently lives in Houston, TX, where she is an active and passionate member of the city’s literary community. She is one of the founders of Fuente Collective, an organization that facilitates experimentation, collaboration, and hybridity in writing and other arts. Her work has been published in Bayou Magazine, Winter Tangerine, Juked, Strange Horizons, Fireside Fiction, Liminal Stories, Mithila Review, Crab Fat Magazine, and elsewhere. She is currently working on a collection of interconnected flash fiction. You can find her on Twitter under @frauleinlayla and at laylaalbedawi.com.
Leah Madof is a seasoned educator, writer, and parent. Originally from Chicago, Leah holds a B.A. in English and Journalism from the University of Iowa and an M.A. in Education from Teachers College, Columbia University. Certified to teach English and ESL in K-12 classrooms, Leah developed much of her teaching skills at an international high school in Queens, NY, where she created curriculum for 9th and 10th grade Humanities classes and developed a writing center for struggling writers. Leah looks forward to developing the future writers of Houston. This is her first year with WITS.
Matthew Krajniak was born and raised in Cleveland, OH, and after ten years of working in social services, he returned to school to pursue his love of literature and creative writing. He earned his MFA in Creative Writing (Fiction) at the University of Memphis in 2016, and is currently a PhD candidate in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Houston. He has published work in The Avalon Literary Review and elsewhere.
Mauricio Patrón Rivera (México City, 1984) works with the text and its relationship with the community. With his work, he tries to travel from critical thinking to the streets. The outputs of his work are short stories, essays, curatorial projects, academic research, and collaborative processes. He is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Creative Writing in Spanish at the University of Houston. His writing explores the outsiders’ corporalities
Miranda Ramírez is a multidisciplinary artist and author residing in Houston, Texas. You may find her publications in Ripples in Space, Glass Mountain, Shards, The Bayou Review, Coffin Bell, Puro Chicanx Writers of the 21st Century, Cowboy Jamboree. Recently, she was a semi-finalist in the Ember Chasm Review’s Winter Fiction Contest (2020) and a runner-up in the Sad Girl Club Short Story Contest (2021). She is a founding editor of Defunkt Magazine and a visual artist whose works have been exhibited at Williams Tower Gallery, Tea+Art Gallery, and Insomnia Gallery. She is currently drafting her first novel as an MFA candidate and fellowship awardee at Sam Houston State University
Monica Davidson is a youth activist, social justice change agent, TedX speaker, published author, spoken word poet, facilitator and educator from Madison, WI. Monica is a two-time member of Houston VIP Slam team, ranked 5th in the Nation. In Monica served as one of the inaugural Future Corps Fellows for Youth Speaks & worked collaboratively with Writers in the Schools in HTX. Countless high school, grade school, professional and community programs have worked with Monica to help facilitate and develop spoken word and writing curriculum. Monica believes we all deserve to help each-other out, every day.
Nancy Barnhart earned her Ed.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Houston, where she also taught as an adjunct instructor. Currently, she enjoys sharing the joy of writing with children in the classroom and at Texas Children’s Hospital Cancer and Hematology Center. Her poetry is published in Saudade, and she has journal articles published in Affective Reading Education Journal, Teachers and Writers, The Ohio Journal of the English Language Arts, The English Record, and RDH National Magazine. Nancy is beginning her 11th year with WITS.
Natasha Carrizosa is a poet, writer, and spoken word artist. In 2013, she won the National Poetry Award for multi-cultural poet of the year. Raised as the daughter of an African-American mother and Mexican father, her writing reflects the dichotomy of those two rich cultures. Natasha is a published author of several projects – including heavy light, mejiafricana, and Of Fire and Rain (co-authored with Joaquin Zihuatanejo). She has performed her work and conducted workshops for audiences in Madrid, Paris, St. Lucia, New York, Chicago, Houston, and elsewhere, appearing at over one hundred schools, colleges, and universities. Her love for the arts inspired the creation of natty roots & rhyme. Since 2009, she has hosted one of the most dynamic poetry open mics in the country.
Obi Umeozor received his B.A. in English from the University of Port Harcourt, Nigeria and taught English Literature before moving to the States in 2015, where he obtained an MFA in Creative Writing from Florida State University. His work has appeared and is forthcoming in the New Orleans Review, adda, Shift and others. He has been shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize and nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and is currently a PhD (Fiction) candidate at the University of Houston’s Creative Writing Program.
Omer Ahmed (Pronouns: He/Him) is an educator, writer, and performer. He explores the intersectionality of identity, which yields to his writing style. Omer is a National Poetry Slam semi-finalist for Houston’s Write About Now 2018 slam team. He is proud to have placed 5th in the nation with his team. He currently works for Writers in the Schools and hopes to expand his love of writing to many more.
Paige Quiñones is currently pursuing a PhD in poetry at the University of Houston while serving as a graduate fellow with the Center for Mexican American Studies. She earned her MFA from the Ohio State University with a focus in Latinx Studies, where she continued teaching as a Senior Lecturer the following year. Her work has appeared in Barrow Street Review, McSweeney’s, Southeast Review, and elsewhere.
Rama Yousef graduated from the University of Houston with a BA in Creative Writing. While at the University of Houston, she wrote for the opinion column for The Cougar. She also holds teaching certification in English and ESL for grades 7-12, and has taught English at the middle and high school levels. She currently works as a teaching assistant at the Arabic Immersion Magnet School in HISD. She writes short fiction, but would like to explore personal essay and memoir writing.
Reyes Ramirez is a Houstonian. Reyes won the 2019 YES Contemporary Art Writer’s Grant, 2017 Blue Mesa Review Nonfiction Contest, 2014 River Sedge Poetry Prize and has poems, stories, essays, and reviews (and/or forthcoming) in: Cosmonauts Avenue, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, Deep Red Press, The Latinx Archive, december magazine, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Texas Review, TRACK//FOUR, FIVE:2:ONE Magazine, Houston Noir, Gulf Coast Journal, Origins Journal, The Acentos Review, Cimarron Review, and elsewhere. Reyes has been awarded grants from the Houston Arts Alliance and The Warhol Foundation’s Idea Fund. He’s also been a finalist for several contests, including: Cosmonauts Avenue’s 2018 fiction prize; december magazine’s 2018 poetry prize; Texas Review Press’, Iron Horse Literary Review’s and Gold Line Press’ poetry chapbook competitions.
Sabino Luévano-Ortega was born in México. He has a bachelor’s in Hispanic Literature from the University of Sonora, in Mexico, and a PhD in Hispanic Studies from the University of Houston. Sabino specializes in Mexican Literature and Cinema. He has published articles on Mexican cinema. He is also a columnist in two Mexican Newspapers; El Nopal and La Jornada. Sabino has been teaching for the past 7 years in Mexico and the United States. In Mexico he taught courses of Spanish, Human Development and English. At the University of Houston, he has been teaching for 6 years courses of Spanish, Oral Communication and Hispanic Cinema. He is currently working on a short story collection. He writes in Spanish and English. His teaching methods are informed by the works of Paulo Freyre and Robert E. Slavin.
Sharon Ferranti has been with WITS since 2002. She holds an MFA in filmmaking from CalArts. She made one feature film that is distributed by Wolfe Video and she just shot her second feature in May. It’s called The Queen of Cups and will be in post production until May of 2020. Sharon is a self-employed commercial filmmaker and she teaches because it is an essential pathway to a better world.
Shiarnice Taylor, better known as Lyric the poet, was born and raised by a single mother in Houston, TX. She began writing at 7 years old, her love for poetry at a youth center in the 5th Ward. There she found her passion for writing about personal experiences from her childhood. At the age of 17 she began attending college at Sam Houston State University where she became a part of Sam Houston’s Slam Poetry Team traveling to national competitions in Philadelphia and Corpus Christi. Her poetic stage name is Lyric as she’s known for combining singing and song lyrics into her poetry. She is active in Houston’s poetry scene and is also a Professor of Psychology at Houston Community College. Lyric released her first solo musical/poetic album in May 2014 and her first poetry book in 2016 called The Released. In 2018, she completed her 2nd book, a series of letters as poems called The Forgiveness Letters. She is currently working on her 3rd book, From Bitter to Better scheduled for release in 2019.
Summer Magee has a passion for teaching creative writing. After studying English Literature at Trinity University, she went on to earn her Masters in Education, specializing in Literacy and Language Arts, from The University of Texas at Austin. Summer taught middle school English for 11 years in HISD, and continues to grow her craft through her work with Writers in the Schools. When she is not teaching, or planning for teaching, you can find her happily wandering the cheese section at Whole Foods, or attempting to entertain her 3 busy children and unruly airedale puppy, Ivy.
Tanesha Morris is a writer and filmmaker from Shreveport, LA. She’s an award-winning writer and director with a degree in Creative Writing from Full Sail University. Tanesha’s writings demands a call to action and draws in an audience through her authentic storytelling. She founded and created the annual Shreveport Urban Film Festival to help share these stories. Tanesha has been featured on popular sites such as Afropunk and New Black Culture. Writer. Teacher. Student. Lover. Friend. MFA candidate in Creative Writing at the Mississippi University for Women.
Treva McKissic is a WITS Writer and art teacher who holds both a B.A. in English and an M.Ed. in Curriculum & Instruction for Reading and Writing from the University of Houston. With over 19 years experience in education, she has worked with students and teachers of all ages and experience levels to help spread the love of writing and art. Recently, Treva was selected to present workshops for the SXSWedu Conference and the Florida Creativity Conference about creativity, writing, and art. Her winding artistic journey has led her to copyright and self-publish her first poetry book, Erratic Epiphanies. In Treva’s spare time, she can often be found in her family room, on the chaise lounge, writing and doodling, all while watching her daughter play her guitars, paint masterpieces, and make hand-crafted jewelry.
Tria Wood is a writer who helps children and their teachers become confident creative writers through the Writers in the Schools program in Houston, Texas. She earned her M.A. in English from Texas A&M University and her M.Ed. in Art Education from the University of Houston. She also served for several years as Visual Arts Editor for ArtsHouston magazine. Her poetry, fiction, and reviews appear in a variety of publications such as Painted Bride Quarterly, Pithead Chapel, Cheap Pop, Corvid Queen, and Sugar House Review, as well as in public art installations in Houston.
Valerie Sweeten, a native Houstonian, has over 25 years as a published writer in major news publications and is the founder/owner of the lifestyle blog, Hot in Houston Now. She is also the author of the children’s books, Shh, Listen: In the Rainforest and Shh, Listen: On a Safari. Living in northwest Houston, Valerie, along with her husband, their four kids and three mini dachshunds can be found out and about enjoying life as much as possible.
Vincent “BlackBluez” Johnson is a writer and spoken word artist who has been performing in Houston since 2002. His love for acting and writing is the perfect reason that he became a performance poet. He spent the last 3 school years teaching slam poetry residences in the city.
Mix media artist and conceptual photographer, Violette Bule studied at the Escuela Activa de Fotografía in Mexico City. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally at art galleries, museums, and art fairs. Her social engagement work has been presented in several academic institutions such as Brown University, Pittsburg University, Rutgers University, Musashino Art University (Tokyo), among others. Violette’s work is part of private and institutional collections, including the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Caracas, Venezuela. Among other recognitions for my work, she received a SOME SUMMER grant awarded by the Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros. Her projects have appeared in both print and online books and magazines such as Marking Time Prison (Rutgers University), Sueño de La Razón Latinamerican Photography Book, Analytic Room, Creator Projects, among others. Violette is also a founding member of www.dismantlingthesimulation.com, a visual arts collective formed in 2014 responding to student protests in Venezuela and engaging in critical dialogue about the country’s polarized political environment.
Born and raised in Mexico, Yolanda Schulte-Ladbeck, received an Associate’s degree in Audio Engineering from Houston Community College, where she interned and assisted with music recordings at a local studio. She worked as a substitute teacher in Spring Branch ISD for four years, where she had the great fortune of gaining valuable experience with all grade levels, elementary through high school . Yolanda has been a part of the WITS family for over ten exciting years teaching creative writing. In addition, she has held a variety of placements with WITS including the Menil Collection, The Arboretum, and participated with Art League Houston’s ArtBound! Project to create whARTon nARraTives. Yolanda is currently working on her own poetry, drafting her first children’s book, while raising three wonderful children with her husband.