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Wed, Apr 26



1619 Speaks Virtual Launch + Reading

Join us in celebrating the launch of "1619 Speaks" -- an anthology of African-American poets. This event will be on Zoom -- please register to receive link.

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1619 Speaks Virtual Launch + Reading
1619 Speaks Virtual Launch + Reading

Time & Location

Apr 26, 2023, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM PDT


About the Event

Since August 20, 1619, African American poets have expressed the trials, tribulations, and triumphs of their people’s resilience. The incredible poets included in 1619 Speaks stand on the shoulders of giants, embodying their imagination, inspiration, and investigation.

Our readers:

Traci Neal

Karla Tiffany

Brittany Engram

Kindall Gant

Kaylin Moss

Yinka Olu

Ja'Net McDonald

Stacy Vargas

Marlana-Patrice Pugh Hamer

Tyren Thompson

Bob McNeil

James Banks

Aiyana Sha'niel


Ashante Ford

Lyn Patterson

Pharoah Davis

Hosted by Woodrow Bailey

About the readers:

Traci Neal lives in Columbia, SC as a spoken word artist and is listed as such on Poets&Writers. She is featured in The New York Times, Storyberries, InspireMore, Sheen Magazine, and other media publications. She is the 2022 third-place poetry winner in the Global Arts and Poetry Competition for the UK Thalassemia Society, the 2022 poetry winner of Empowering Justice Foundation poetry contest, the 2022 third-place state winner of the SCCDA Poetry and Art Contest, and the 2021 second-place winner of the virtual poetry slam “Taking It Global” in Toronto, Canada. To find out more about Traci Neal, visit the website

Karla Tiffany is a Black poet and fiction writer from Oakland, CA. She holds a BA in Writing and Literature from California College of the Arts. She is a recipient of the San Francisco Foundation/Nomadic Press Literary Award for Poetry (2021). Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in the San Francisco Public Library’s Poem of the Day series, Second Stutter, Gulf Coast Journal, Augur Magazine, When We Exhale (Black Freighter Press), and midnight & indigo.

brittany stubblefield-engram (she/they) is a neurodivergent, multidisciplinary artist, hip hop scholar, and sage from the city where everything ismbigger and better Dallas, Texas. A summa cum laude graduate of the University of North Texas at Dallas, Brittany is currently working towards a Master of Education in Curriculum & Instruction in English at UT-Rio Grande Valley. Her work speaks to the Black femme experience and narrative of womxnhood in the South. Her accolades include KERA Marjorie Welch Fitts Louis fellow, The Bridge Student Newspaper 2021 Best Editorial, City of Arlington Unity Art and Poetry Contest winner, JAG Arts Poetry: 1st Place winner, UNT Dallas School of Liberal Arts and Sciences Spring Commencement Speaker, and Messy Love and Burning Woman with Over the Bridge Arts as a featured spoken word artist. She enjoys eating pickled beets and watching cartoons with husband Edwin and son Legacy. Follow on Twitter and Instagram at @thebritofdallas.

Kindall is a poet and New Orleans native based in Brooklyn. She holds a BA from Sarah Lawrence College where she received the Lucy Grealy Prize for Poetry. Kindall finds herself in evolution through lyrical storytelling and her main inspirations are rooted in relationships, home, and heritage. She has participated in literary offerings with The Poetry Foundation, Cave Canem Foundation, Roots. Wounds. Words. Inc., Obsidian Literature & Arts in the African Diaspora, and more. With upcoming residencies at the Writer's Colony at Dairy Hollow and MASS MoCA, Kindall is excited to continue her writing journey and pursue an MFA. She currently serves as the founder and Editor-in-Chief for Arcanum Magazine, a newly established literary magazine featuring the visual art and writing of Black creatives. In her free time, she volunteers reading poetry manuscripts for the Tenth Gate Prize and at Ugly Duckling Presse.

Kaylin Moss is a poet, web developer and model from Charleston South Carolina. She studied computer science at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York. Her poetry explores the intersection of beauty standards, mental health, and racism. She uses unconventional forms that vary between verse and prose to create immersive narratives.

Yinka Olu is a Nigerian-American poet and writer who believes in the immense power and magic of words. As a government affairs leader and advocate by day, Yinka views writing as an outlet for creative expression and exploration. Her writing is inspired by the voices and untold

stories of women, immigrants, and first-generation Americans who straddle the space between the dreams of their immigrant parents and their lived experience growing up in America. She explores these themes in her works along with motherhood, love, sexuality and connection  to home. Yinka is Hurston Wright Foundation poetry fellow and a Watering Hole fellow. Yinka’s writing has appeared in The Fire Inside,Volume 2: Collected Stories & Poems from Zora’s Den. Yinka lives in Maryland, with her family, where she is currently working on her debut poetry collection.

Ja'Net McDonald, poet-by-providence, has been expressing herself through poetry for as long as she can remember. During her sophomore year in high school, she wrote the Black History play for the annual Black History month showcase. More recently she was honored by receiving the Poem of the Week on the UK blog "Write Out Loud", for her poem "Man" in March 2017. Ja'Net, pen name "Dyphrent," spent 2018 performing at numerous open Mic nights in Fayetteville, NC, garnering her first feature in August of that same year at "Poetry Under the Stars." Mrs. McDonald’s work has also been published in “Unyielding Roots: What Is Your Hair Story” edited by Kiana Davis. In the fall of 2021, this widowed mother of four entered Community Literature Initiative and completed her first full-length manuscript of poetry, “Embryo,” which will be published in the summer of 2023.

Stacy Vargas was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. During her undergraduate years at Brooklyn College, she was a member of a literary club called Guava Shakti which she was able to publish her writing at the club’s magazine. Vargas graduated last year at St. Francis College with a Master Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing, focused on Poetry. She had self-published a collection of poetry in 2018 called: Fight, Survive and Thrive. She had published some of her poems in Feminessay, Wingless Dreamer, Spoke Black Girl, A Plate of the Pandemic, Alternative Field and Poetrae Books: Roar Series. She’s currently a fellow with Anaphora Literary Arts.

Marlana-Patrice Pugh Hamer is a poet and writer who performs as “Marlana-Patrice.” She has a BA in English. Also, an M ED. This Cleveland, OH native penned her first poems at just age 9! Throughout the years, she has contributed poetry and nonfiction to anthologies. One of her

poems appears in Say It Loud: Poems about James Brown (Whirlwind Press, 2011). Marlana has also won writing and public speaking competitions. After working as an English teacher for several fulfilling years, Marlana is finally invested in her ultimate Langston Hughes deferred dream: writing her own poetry books! Real time, this Arizona resident remains focused. Still reading and writing. Still performing her poems at public events and still giving back to her community, especially to young people. Marlana is a proud Community Literature Initiative Alumnus. Also, a proud member of the Langston Hughes Society and the Haiku Society of America. Instagram: @marlanapph.

Bob McNeil, writer, editor, cartoonist, and spoken word artist, is the author of Verses of Realness (  Hal Sirowitz, a former Queens, NY Poet Laureate, called the book “a fantastic trip through the mind of a poet who doesn’t flinch at the truth.” Among Bob’s recent accomplishments, he found working on Lyrics of Mature Hearts to be a humbling experience because of the anthology’s talented contributors. Copies of that collection are available here:

Tyren Thompson is a Los Angeles, California based poet who studies cultures and the people who make them exciting - then write about it! His previous work has been featured in the Rise Up Review, Rigorous Magazine, and the George Floyd Poetry Anthology. When he is not writing, he is a resourceful human behind a computer screen. Some of his work is shared on Instagram @_TyWriter.

Aiyana Sha’niel is a 20 year old Black poet born and raised in Los Angeles, California. She has been writing for over seven years, beginning at Hamilton High School, where she wrote on the school’s poetry team, Hamlit, and competed in Get-Lit competitions from 2017-2020. She was Poetry Out Loud 2020 County representative for Los Angeles and placed second in the State competition. Sha’niel was also the Youth Poet Representative for the LA Arts Recover Fund Donors Banquet at the Getty Museum. She hosted an open mic in collaboration with Nate Davis, The BackYart Show from 2018 to the beginning of the pandemic. She now works at Street Poets Inc. as a teaching artist. She is a 2021 graduate of the Community Literature Initiative program (CLI). She culminated from the program at 18 years old, with her own full body of work. Sha’niel signed to World Stage Press and released her first collection of poems, Little Black Poetry Book, on September 25th, 2022.

James Douglas Banks was raised in La Grange, Illinois. He was an athlete in school and always had a yearning towards language. To this end he majored in English at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater and also received a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. James has been an advocate for Social Justice and he has spent most of his professional career in higher education working at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, U.C.L.A., UC-Irvine, and UC-Riverside. Additionally, he has worked the last 27 years in the California Community College system at San Bernardino Valley College and he is currently a professor of Social Work at Moreno Valley College.

flyy high is a first generation, jamaican-american writer and poet, based in los angeles. her passion for writing began early in childhood and continued through her studies at prairie view a&m university and in her work as a former high school teacher. flyy’s poetic influences and inspirations include names such as audre lorde, d’bi young anintafrika, lucille clifton, and staceyann chin. similarly, her work speaks to her journey into womanhood, encompassing themes such as childhood trauma, healing, and liberation. she hopes to provoke thought and lead others to taking inspired action, directed towards becoming the best version of themselves, via self awareness, discovery, and daily consciousness practices. she is currently working on her first collection of poetry called metamorphosis, set to release in 2023. to keep up with her, follow her on instagram @flyyhigh2wise.

In her sought-after role as an internationally recognized Performance Artist and Creative Flow Strategist, Rev. Iyana “YaNi” Davis, is helping a broad range of humans across the globe to not only tap into their innate greatness, which is what most coaches’ chant, but to unleash their sacred creative savvy. With this unique proposition, YaNi has built a brand that is steeped in community, compassion, creativity, and collaboration. Affectionately known as the PeacePastor, she is the mastermind behind the Peace People's Movement, which seeks to bring people together using hip-hop, healing, and wholeness as instruments of activation. YaNi has traveled the world as a teaching artist, motivational speaker, poet/musician and educator. As a performer, she has headlined for music powerhouses like Janelle Monae, PJ Morton, Jars of Clay, Bone Crusher, Jay Holiday, and Dwele, to name a few. She is the founder of My SupaNatural Life (MSNL), a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing wholistic and communal care for persons living with chronic and mental health conditions.

Ashante J. Ford, also known as Angel Ash (They/She) is a queer poet, blogger, singer, and interdisciplinary artist residing in Oakland, California. In her writing, she focuses on themes of healing, growth, and community. Their work also reflects their spiritual journey and her poems often fall into the category of spiritual surrealism. From December 2022- February 2023, two of her poems, “The Navigator'' and “Furiously shaking my hips'' will be displayed in the Multi Cultural Center in Berkeley, California. This year, she was also named a semi-finalist for the Poetry Nation competition and was awarded her first fellowship from the Writer’s Grotto in San Francisco called “Rooted and Written.” More of their work can be found in Antifragile Magazine, Petrichor Magazine, Pensive Journal, Sad Girl Review and on her personal blog at

Lyn Patterson is an artist, educator, dancer, poet, and MFA student originally from Seattle, Washington. She is a deeply invigorated storyteller who delves into themes such as identity, equity, overcoming trauma, accepting your wild and learning to listen to your intuition. Lyn is specifically inspired to write about ancestors and others who have been historically and politically marginalized in our society, as a means of empowering future generations with their stories.

Born in 1968 and raised in Queens, N.Y. Pharoah is a poet, songwriter, playwright, screenwriter, author, historian and teacher. As the product of two parents who are educators, Pharoah has an appreciation for education as a student and educator. Listening to stories and firsthand accounts of the segregated, Jim Crow, south told to him by his grandparents, gave him a deeper understanding and appreciation for Black life in America. He is the son of an acclaimed poet (Abiodun Oyewole of ‘The Last Poets’). Pharoah attended (HBCU) Benedict College in Columbia, South Carolina. He did his last years of college at City College of New York as an African American studies major, along with English, and early childhood education minor studies. As a member of a four man singing group named Asante, Pharoah was a Columbia Records recording artist in the mid 1990’s. He is a proud dad of 6 and a lover of his people more than anything.

About the host:

Woodrow Bailey was born in New Orleans and raised in South Central Los Angeles and from the time he could pick up a pencil to put his ideas on paper he has explored his environment. Every aspect of his life has been a canvas to create his vision of his surroundings. His main thrust is to represent those with no voice or choice in this society. Woodrow Bailey’s philanthropy, his professional career, his writing with filmmaking has given a window to open toward the neglect that his neighborhood has experienced. As that neighborhood continues to suffer that ongoing film he sees brings his writing to an awareness few have witnessed. “I probe my environment for answers to questions long ignored or overlooked.” His education did not allow him to turn his back but build bridges going forward. These lessons fuels what he stands for: Peace and Faith.

Link to purchase book coming soon.

This project was made possible with support from California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit

Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in 1619 Speaks do not necessarily represent those of California Humanities or the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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