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presenters & panelists

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Christine Bollow is the Co-Owner and Director of Programs for Loyalty Bookstores in Washington, DC and Silver Spring, MD. She is a 2022 Publishers Weekly Star Watch Honoree and graduate of Barnard College. As a biracial Filipina who is queer and disabled, Christine is passionate about championing marginalized authors at Loyalty and on her Bookstagram @readingismagical.

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Ariana Brown is a queer Black Mexican American poet from San Antonio, TX, currently based in Houston. She is the author of We Are Owed. (Grieveland, 2021) and Sana Sana (Game Over Books, 2020). Ariana’s work investigates queer Black personhood in Mexican American spaces, Black relationality and girlhood, loneliness, and care. She holds a B.A. in African Diaspora Studies and Mexican American Studies, an M.F.A. in Poetry, and an M.L.S. in Library Science. Ariana is a 2014 national collegiate poetry slam champion and owes much of her practice to Black performance communities led by Black women poets from the South. She has been writing, performing, and teaching poetry for over ten years. Follow Ariana online @ArianaThePoet.

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Calvin Crosby, the majority co-owner of Salt Lake City's, The King's English Bookshop and Executive Director of Brain Food Books, a 501c3 that puts new books into the hands of those without regular access, has been building community in bookselling for almost 30 years. He spent years influencing and leading the California Indie Book channel. He is a Binc Board Member, a 2022 Duende-Word BIPOC Leadership Award winner, and a juror for this year's National Book Award Foundation Award. Calvin's commitment to building equity around books and reading in communities without libraries, bookstores, or access to bookstores has been a lifelong mission. As a member of the Cherokee Nation, he believes in Land Back one Independent Bookstore at a time.

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Steven Dunn, aka Pot Hole (cuz he’s deep in these streets), is the author of two novels from Tarpaulin Sky Press: Potted Meat (2016) and water & power (2018). Potted Meat was a finalist for the Colorado Book Award, shortlisted for Granta Magazine’s Best of Young American Novelists, and adapted into a short film, The Usual Route, by Foothills Productions. The Usual Route has played at the LA International Film Festival, Houston International Film Festival, and others. He was born and raised in West Virginia and teaches in the MFA programs at Regis University and Cornell College.


Amber Flame is is an interdisciplinary creative, activist and educator whose work has garnered residencies with Hedgebrook, Vermont Studio Center, and more. A former church kid from the Southwest, Flame’s work is published widely and explores spirituality and sexuality, cross-woven with themes of grief and loss, motherhood and magic, and interstitial joy. A 2016 and 2017 Pushcart Prize nominee and Jack Straw Writer Program alum, Amber Flame’s first full-length poetry collection, Ordinary Cruelty, was published in 2017 through Write Bloody Press. Flame was a recipient of the CityArtist grant from Seattle’s Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs to write, produce and perform her one-person play, Hands Above the Covers. In early 2018, Flame co-curated the art installation Black Imagination at Core Gallery in Seattle. Her first solo exhibit debuted in 2019 with a project entitled ::intrigue:: 8, a multimedia installation, through Jack Straw Production’s Artist Support and New Media Gallery fellowships. Hugo House’s 2017-2019 Writer-in-Residence for Poetry, Flame’s second book of poetry, titled apocrifa, is forthcoming from Red Hen Press. Flame has created and implemented programming for more than 15 years, working in education equity, Black media, youth empowerment, and with women and youth impacted by incarceration. Recently named Program Director for Hedgebrook, she continues to work as a writing instructor while working on a third collection of poetry, remounting her full-length play, developing a few nonfiction anthologies, and raising her daughter. Amber Flame is a queer Black mama just one magic trick away from growing her unicorn horn.

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Kate Gavino is a writer and illustrator. She is the author of three illustrated books: Last Night's Reading (2015), Sanpaku (2018), and A Career in Books (2022).

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Lizz Huerta is a queer, working class writer. Her first novel THE LOST DREAMER, a young adult fantasy was published in 2022 by FSG Books for Young Readers. Her essays have appeared in the Washington Post, The Cut and other publications.

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Alejandro Jimenez is a formerly-undocumented immigrant, poet, writer, and educator from Colima, Mexico, living in New Mexico. He was featured in TIME Magazine as one of 80 Mexican artists shaping contemporary Mexican culture. His work, and life, are the subject of short documentary on PBS's American Masters In the Making, which highlights emerging cultural icons in the US. His work centers and touches on cultural identity, immigrant narratives, masculinity, memory, and the intersections of them all.


Kalani Kapahua is a bookseller from Seattle. He studied creative writing at Canisius College in Buffalo, New York, and graduated from the University of Denver's Publishing Institute. He currently works as the Store Manager of Third Place Books Ravenna. He was previously a featured playwright at the American Repertory Theater's Annual Young Playwright's Festival and has held roles with the Washington State Book Awards, Seattle City of Literature, and the Seattle Public Library Literature and Humanities Community Advisory Group. He currently is a contributing reviewer at The International Examiner. He is a Korean American adoptee.

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Vi Khi Nao is the author of seven poetry collections & of the short stories collection, A Brief Alphabet of Torture (winner of the 2016 FC2's Ronald Sukenick Innovative Fiction Prize), the novel, Swimming with Dead Stars. Her poetry collection, The Old Philosopher, won the Nightboat Books Prize for Poetry in 2014. Her book, Suicide: the Autoimmune Disorder of the Psyche  is out of 11:11 in Spring 2023. The Fall 2019 fellow at the Black Mountain Institute, her work includes poetry, fiction, film and cross-genre collaboration. She  was the 2022 recipient of the Jim Duggins, PhD Outstanding Mid-Career Novelist Prize.

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Bobby LeFebre is an award-winning writer, performer and cultural worker fusing a non-traditional multi-hyphenated professional identity to imagine new realities, empower communities, advance arts and culture, and serve as an agent of provocation, transformation, equity and social change. In 2019, LeFebre was named Colorado’s 8th Poet Laureate, making him the youngest and first person of color to be appointed to the position in its 100-year history. LeFebre was named a National Catalyst for Change Fellow in 2020 and an Academy of American Poets Poet Laureate Fellow in 2021. LeFebre holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the Metropolitan University of Denver and a master’s degree in Art, Literature and Culture from the University of Denver.

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May-Zhee Lim: Born and raised in Malaysia, May-Zhee Lim is a writer living in New York. She is formerly a publicist for Riverhead Books, an executive assistant for PEN America, and is currently at work on her first novel.

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Veronica Santiago Liu is the founder and general coordinator of the collective that operates Word Up Community Bookshop/Librería Comunitaria in Washington Heights, NYC. She also currently serves as editor at large at Seven Stories Press, and on the board of New Atlantic Independent Booksellers Association. Veronica was an inaugural member of the Committee on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion of the American Booksellers Association (ABA), and has been a Publishers Weekly Star Watch Honoree; an honorable mention for the ABA’s Entrepreneurial Excellence Award; a judge for the Story Prize, Kirkus Prize for Fiction, and Firecracker Award for Fiction; and a literature division panelist for the New York State Council on the Arts.


Kristina Maldonado Bad Hand is a Sicangu Lakota and Cherokee artist that hails from Taos, New Mexico. Her passion for community and social justice has led her to speak on matters of equality and cultural representation in pop culture. She is a graphic designer, illustrator, comic creator, and former co-chair of the Denver American Indian Commission. Kristina grew up traveling, singing and dancing with her family at powwows. She spent most of her high school career independently experimenting with mixed media, participating in youth art shows, painting murals and doing set design for her high school drama class. She entered the realm of comic and book illustration in 2013 and has been published several times since. She remains strongly connected to her artistic network and community and can be found helping out with special events and story-based learning projects.

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Michelle Malonzo is Chief Operating Officer at The Word, A Storytelling Sanctuary. Previously she was a book buyer and bookseller for five years after nearly a decade in publishing. Michelle served on the boards of the American Booksellers Association (ABA), Mountains & Plains Independent Booksellers Association, and ABA Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Committee. She was a judge for the 2023 inaugural Republic of Consciousness U.S. Prize, a 2022 National Book Award Judge for Fiction, a recipient of the 2021 BIPOC Bookseller Award for Leadership, a 2020 Bookselling Without Borders Fellow, and a 2019 Kirkus Judge for Fiction.

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Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton  is an internationally-known writer, librettist, educator, activist, performer, and Poet Laureate Emeritus of Houston, Texas. Formerly ranked the #2 Best Female Performance Poet in the World, Her recent poetry collection, Newsworthy, garnered her a Pushcart nomination and was named a finalist for the 2019 Writer’s League of Texas Book Award and an honorable mention for the Summerlee Book Prize. A German translation, under the title "Berichtenswert," was released in Summer 2021 by Elif Verlag. Her most recent choreopoem, PLUMSHUGA: The rise of Lauren Anderson, debuted at Stages Houston Oct 13 and was recently mentioned in the New York Times Fall preview. And a forthcoming opera, She Who Dared, composed by Jasmine Barnes will be workshopped by the American Lyric theater in May 2023. Her memoir, Black Chameleon (Henry Holt & Co., 2023), explores the use of modern mythology as a path to social commentary.

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Ampara Ortiz is the author of the BLAZEWRATH GAMES duology, LAST SUNRISE IN ETERNA, and SAVING CHUPIE. She was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and currently lives on the island’s northeastern coast. She’s published short story comics in MARVEL’S VOICES: COMUNIDADES #1 and in the Eisner-award winning PUERTO RICO STRONG. She’s also co-editor of OUR SHADOWS HAVE CLAWS, a horror anthology featuring myths and monsters from Latin America. When she's not writing, she teaches ESL as a college professor and watches a lot of Kpop videos. Learn more about her projects at

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Emilly Prado is a writer, speaker, and educator living in Portland, Oregon. Her essay collection, Funeral for Flaca, was a winner of a 2022 Pacific Northwest Book Award and a 2021 bronze winner of Foreward INDIES Book of the Year Award in Essays, amongst other honors. She's the author of Examining Assimilation, a youth non-fiction book at the intersections of identity and U.S. history, and is writing a memoir. Emilly spent half a decade independently reporting on a wide range of topics typically centered on amplifying the experiences of people from historically marginalized communities. Her writing and photographs have appeared in 30+ publications including NPR, Marie Claire, Eater, and was supported by a 2018 Community Stories Fellowship in partnership with Oregon Humanities, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the Pulitzer Prizes. Emilly is a Tin House and Las Dos Brujas Workshop alumna, co-founder of BIPOC arts non-profit Portland in Color and Latinx DJ collective Noche Libre, and graduate of the Randolph College MFA where she earned a Blackburn Fellowship.

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Monica Prince teaches activist and performance writing at Susquehanna University, where she serves as director of Africana Studies. She's the author of Roadmap: A Choreopoem, which dropped July 1st, How to Exterminate the Black Woman: A Choreopoem, Instructions for Temporary Survival, and Letters from the Other Woman. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @poetic_moni, or on her website:

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Arvin Ramgoolam is a writer and co-owner of Townie Books and Rumors Coffee and Tea House in Crested Butte, Colorado. He is the 2020 One Story Adina Talve-Goodman Fellow and a 2022 MacDowell Fellow. For 10 years he and his wife Danica have passionately endorsed books by diverse authors for readers of all ages. His stories can be found in The Normal School and The Jellyfish Review. You can find him on twitter @ArvinRam1. 

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Alyssa Reynoso-Morris is a queer Afro-Latine/x Dominican and Puerto Rican storyteller. Her ability to weave compelling stories has opened many doors for her as an author, speaker, and resume writer. She is also a mother and community organizer. During the day she works with community members, non-profit organizations, and government officials to make the world a better place. Then she puts her writer’s hat on to craft heartfelt stories about home, family, food, and the fun places she has been. Alyssa was born and raised in The Bronx, New York, and currently lives in Philadelphia, PA with her partner and daughter. She is the author of Plátanos Are Love, The Bronx Is My Home, and Gloriana Presente: A First Day of School Book. She hopes you enjoy her stories.

Said Shaiye

Said Shaiye is an Autistic + ADHD Somali Author, Photographer, Professor & Disability Advocate. He is a 2023 Loft Windows & Mirrors Fellow. His debut book, Are You Borg Now?, was a 2022 Minnesota Book Award Finalist in Creative Nonfiction & Memoir. He has contributed essays to the anthologies Muslim American Writers at Home and We Are Meant to Rise: Voices for Justice from Minneapolis to the World. He has published poetry & prose in Indiana Review, Texas Review, Obsidian, Brittle Paper, Pithead Chapel, 580 Split, Entropy, Diagram, and elsewhere. He can be reached at for all inquiries.

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Daisuke Shen is the author of the short story collection Vague Predictions & Prophecies (forthcoming CLASH Books, 2024), and the novella Funeral, co-written with Vi Khi Nao (KERNPUNKT Press, 2023).

Colorful Books

Katie Jean Shinkle’s books and chapbooks include None of This Is an Invitation (coauthored with Jessica Alexander, Astrophil Press at University of South Dakota, forthcoming), Tannery Bay (coauthored with Steven Dunn, FC2/University of Alabama Press, forthcoming), and Thick City (Bull City Press, 2023). Our Prayers After the Fire, originally published on Blue Square Press, was reissued by Spuyten Duyvil in 2022. Other work can be found in or is forthcoming from Flaunt Magazine, Gulf Coast, Denver Quarterly, Fugue, Crazyhorse, Witness, South Dakota Review, and elsewhere. She holds a Ph.D. in Creative Writing and Literature from the University of Denver, and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Alabama. A 2021 Lambda Literary poetry fellow, she serves as co-poetry editor of DIAGRAM, and is an Assistant Professor at Sam Houston State University where she teaches in the MFA in Creative Writing, Editing, and Publishing program.

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Jane Wong is the author of the memoir Meet Me Tonight in Atlantic City (Tin House, 2023). She also wrote two poetry collections: How to Not Be Afraid of Everything (Alice James, 2021) and Overpour (Action Books, 2016). She grew up on the Jersey shore in a restaurant and is an Associate Professor at Western Washington University where she teaches creative writing and Asian American literature.

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