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we are updating this list daily. check back for more new speakers!

keynote speakers

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Nate Marshall is an award-winning writer, editor, educator, and MC. His most recent book, Finna, was recognized as one of the best books of 2020 by NPR and The New York Public Library. His first book, Wild Hundreds, was honored with the Black Caucus of the American Library Association’s award for Poetry Book of the Year and The Great Lakes College Association’s New Writer Award. He was also an editor of The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop. Marshall co-wrote the play No Blue Memories: The Life of Gwendolyn Brooks with Eve Ewing. He also wrote the audio drama Bruh Rabbit & The Fantastic Telling of Remington Ellis, Esq., which was produced by Make-Believe Association. Marshall records hip-hop as a solo artist and with the group Daily Lyrical Product.

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K-Ming Chang is a Kundiman fellow, a Lambda Literary Award finalist, and a National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 honoree. She is the author of the New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice novel BESTIARY (One World/Random House, 2020), which was longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award. In 2021, her chapbook BONE HOUSE was published by Bull City Press. Her short story collection, GODS OF WANT, is forthcoming from One World, as well as a novel titled ORGAN MEATS. She lives in California.

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Nicole Counts is a Senior Editor at One World, an imprint of Random House, where she works with Fatimah Asghar, Morgan Parker, Kali Fajardo-Anstine, Donovan X. Ramsey, Brittany Packnett, Nate Marshall, Danielle Geller, and Gabriella Burnham, among others. She started her career in marketing and publicity at PublicAffairs and Bold Type Books. She is a member of POC in publishing and a volunteer with Well-Read Black Girl. She was a finalist for the 2020 PW Star Watch.

presenters & panelists

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Saida Agostini is a queer Afro-Guyanese poet whose work explores the ways Black folks harness mythology to enter the fantastic. Her work is featured in Plume, Hobart Pulp, Barrelhouse, Auburn Avenue, amongst others. Saida’s work can be found in several anthologies, including Not Without Our Laughter: Poems of Humor, Sexuality and Joy, The Future of Black, and Plume Poetry 9. She is the author of STUNT (Neon Hemlock, October 2020), a chapbook reimagining the life of Nellie Jackson, a Black madam and FBI spy from Natchez Mississippi. Her first full length collection, let the dead in (Alan Squire Publishing) was released in Spring 2022. A Cave Canem Graduate Fellow, and member of the Black Ladies Brunch Collective, Saida is a two time Pushcart Prize Nominee and Best of the Net Finalist. Her work has received support from the Ruby Artist Grants, and the Blue Mountain Center, amongst others. She lives online at www.saidaagostini.com

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Crisosto Apache is originally from Mescalero, New Mexico (US), on the Mescalero Apache Reservation, currently lives in the Denver metro area in Colorado, with their spouse. They are Mescalero Apache, Chiricahua Apache, and Diné (Navajo) of the 'Áshįįhí (Salt Clan) born for the Kinyaa'áanii (Towering House Clan) and are Assistant Professor of English at the Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design. They hold an MFA from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico. 


Crisosto’s debut collection is GENESIS (Lost Alphabet). Crisosto’s second forthcoming collection is Ghostword out by Gnashing Teeth Publication mid-2022. Some of the poems in this collection have appeared in The Rumpus, Loch Raven Review, the Poetry Foundation’s POETRY Magazine, ANMLY Magazine, Digging Through The Fat, McGraw Hill Publishing, and most recently When the Light of the World was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through (WW Norton), edited by Joy Harjo, et. al. 

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Manuel Aragon is a Latinx writer, director, and filmmaker from Denver, CO. He is currently working on a short story collection, Norteñas. Norteñas is a collection of speculative fiction short stories centered in the Northside, a Mexican and Mexican- American centered part of Denver, and the people, ghosts, and demons that live there.

His work has appeared in ANMLY. His short story, "A Violent Noise," was nominated for the 2020 PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story Prize for Emerging Writers. He is a 2021 Periplus Collective Fellow.

He is a graduate of NYU’s Maurice Kanbar Institute of Film and Television. His film work - writing and directing - has been featured on MTV, Pitchfork, and Stereogum. He most recently won the CineLatino Pitch Latino Award for Emerging Filmmakers with my web series, Welcome to the Northside, a comedic take on gentrification and Latino displacement in North Denver. 

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Tina Athaide is an educator and writer of books for young readers, including Orange for the Sunsets (Geoffrey Bilson Award for Historical Fiction winner) and multiple bilingual leveled readers published by Bebop book. Her newest book is Meena's Mindful, a picture book about mindfulness. Born in Uganda, she grew up in London and Canada. She currently writes and teaches in Southern California.

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Valerie Bolling is the author of LET’S DANCE!, a 2021 SCBWI Crystal Kite award winner and CT Book Award finalist, and TOGETHER WE RIDE, which has received starred reviews from the Horn Book and School Library Journal. Valerie is looking forward to the release of RIDE, ROLL, RUN: TIME FOR FUN! in October. Sequels to these books (TOGETHER WE SWIM and BING, BOP, BAM: TIME TO JAM!) as well as a Scholastic early reader series, RAINBOW DAYS, are slated for 2023.

 

A graduate of Tufts University and Columbia University, Teachers College, Valerie has been an educator for almost 30 years. She currently works as an Instructional Coach for Greenwich Public Schools and teaches picture book writing classes. She is also a WNDB mentor and deeply immersed in the kidlit writing community, particularly involved with SCBWI, the 12X12 Picture Book Challenge, Black Creators HeadQuarters, and Diverse Verse. 

 

Valerie and her husband live in Connecticut and enjoy traveling, hiking, reading, going to the theater, and dancing.  

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Linda Camacho is an agent at Gallt & Zacker Literary Agency, founded in 2000 and home to talents like Rick Riordan and Sophie Blackall. Linda graduated from Cornell with a B.S. in Communication and has held various positions at Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, Writers House, and Prospect Agency. She's done everything from foreign rights to editorial, to marketing, to operations and received her MFA in children's writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Linda represents bestselling and award-winning authors such as Yamile Saied Méndez, K. O'Neill, and Wendy Xu.

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Zeke Caligiuri has won multiple awards from the PEN Prison Writing Contest in fiction, poetry. His work has been published in the collection Prison Noir, edited by Joyce Carol Oates, From Education to Incarceration: Dismantling the School-to-Prison Pipeline, and From the Inside Out: Letters to Young Men and Other Writings. He is incarcerated at the Faribault Correctional Facility in Minnesota, where he continues to write.

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Sonali Chanchani is an agent at Folio Literary Management, where she represents literary and upmarket fiction and narrative nonfiction. In fiction, she’s looking for smart, funny novels about identity and coming of age, braided narratives of friendship and/or family, and nuanced psychological suspense. In nonfiction, she’s drawn to reported narratives that speak to larger social, cultural, and political issues. Across the board, she’s particularly interested in character-driven stories that center historically underrepresented voices. Sonali is a member of the Association of American Literary Agents, where she serves on the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. She earned her degree in English and Narrative studies from the University of Southern California and began her career in publishing at Kaya, an independent press dedicated to publishing authors from the Asian diaspora.

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Jane Chun joined Janklow & Nesbit in May 2019. Prior to working at J&N, she worked on a freelance project for HG Literary and interned at Writers House and Maximum Films. She is particularly interested in stories focused on underrepresented communities and prose that is cinematic and atmospheric with good rhythm. Whether it’s fiction or nonfiction, she is drawn towards compelling, individualistic voices that make her feel as though the writer is in the room with her, telling her their story with intimacy and honesty as if they were already acquainted.

 

For fiction, Jane is seeking commercial, upmarket, and literary works in both adult and MG/YA about the finding and rebuilding of identity, diaspora, family and community, and examinations of power in relationships. She is also looking for fantasy, sci-fi, and speculative fiction that delves into sharp social commentary and has meticulous worldbuilding and settings that don’t feel like Western Europe. For historical fiction, she likes hidden histories and anything set in a time or place she’s not familiar with or focuses on a community that has often been overlooked if it’s a time/place she knows. In terms of nonfiction, she is primarily looking for memoir and narrative nonfiction with similar themes to her interests in fiction. She is also deeply interested in graphic novels and nonfiction.

 

Jane is a native New Yorker and attended NYU, where she received a B.A. in History and M.S. in Publishing. She loves film and TV, avidly follows soccer/football, and enjoys finding restaurants to add to her list of favorite places to eat.

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Jessica Chun I have worked in publishing for about fifteen years with a focus on marketing nonfiction books. I am currently a Senior Director of Marketing at Little, Brown Spark and Voracious, where I focus primarily on books in these categories: social science, health, business, cookbooks, illustrated books, and more.

 

I advise authors on how to build their digital platforms, strategize preorder campaigns, collaborate on social media and digital campaigns, and advise on all aspects of the book marketing campaign. I have the pleasure of working with some amazing authors such as Daniel Kahneman, Marie Kondo, Dr. Mark Hyman, Leah Thomas, Tricia Hersey, Christopher Kimball, Brad Leone, and many more.

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Meca'Ayo Cole (aka Tameca L Coleman) is a singer, multi-genre writer, itinerant nerd and point and shoot art dabbler in Denver Colorado. Their writing and photography have been featured in literary magazines, art exhibits, and other venues and publications. Their first book 'an identity polyptych' debuted from The Elephants on the Salish Sea Fall 2021.

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Priya Doraswamy's love for books, people, and background in law makes her career as a literary agent the perfect fit for her passions and talents. Priya enjoys working with publishers and writers from around the world. Although physically in New Jersey, her work hours are zone-free. She does admit to occasionally losing track of time zones and waking a writer with an early morning phone call.

Priya is drawn to all genre of fiction and nonfiction. Prior to her agency career, she was a practicing lawyer in New Jersey. Originally from Bangalore, India, Priya immigrated to the New York area many moons ago. For a period of time she relocated with her family to Singapore, and there, began her career as a literary agent. She founded Lotus Lane Literary in May 2013 and continues her journey with writers and publishers.

 

Looking for:

Upmarket contemporary womens fiction, romcoms, literary fiction, mystery/thriller/crime, true crime, and historical fiction centered around American  women heroes in all walks of life. Only unpublished manuscripts please.

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Steven Dunn, A recipient of a 2021 Whiting Award, Steven Dunn, a.k.a 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, and shortlisted for Granta Magazine’s Best of Young American Novelists, and adapted to a short film by Foothills Productions. The Usual Route has played at L.A. International Film Festival, Houston International Film Festival, and others. He was born and raised in West Virginia, and teaches in the M.F.A. programs at Regis University and Cornell College.

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Jyoti Gopal, Growing up, Jyoti lived in Thailand, Indonesia, Myanmar, China and India. Fun fact, she speaks five languages and is trying to learn a sixth! She finally settled in New York where she raised two daughters with her husband (who also grew up all over the world). As a child, she adored and devoured books but did not enjoy writing. At all.  As a grown up, she is a forever Kindergarten teacher and mom. She still adores and devours books. But now, she likes to write!

 

Jyoti writes stories that speak to her heart, that reflect her multiple identities, and that she wishes her daughters had growing up, that she wishes her students had now.

 

She is the author of AMERICAN DESI (LBYR, June 2022) and the forthcoming picture books, MY PAATI’ SARIS (Kokila, Nov. 2022), DESERT QUEEN (Levine Querido, Mar. 2023), ONE SWEET SONG, (Candlewick, Fall 2023), SISTER DAY (FSG, Winter 2024) and LOVE IS HERE WITH YOU (Candlewick, Fall 2024).

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Cynthia Harmony is an author and educational psychologist, originally from Mexico City. She has published for the educational market and was awarded the 2020 "We Need Diverse Books" Mentorship. Her picture books MI CIUDAD SINGS (2022) and FLICKER OF HOPE (2023) will be released simultaneously in English and Spanish by Penguin Young Readers. 

When not writing, Cynthia can be found in a museum with her kids, dancing to a Latin beat, daydreaming of tacos, or planning her next family trip.

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Maria Heater studied literature at American University and began her career in education, teaching in South Korea and Singapore before transitioning to the literary world. After attending the Denver Publishing Institute in 2016, she interned for two literary agencies and managed an independent bookstore before joining Nelson Literary Agency as an associate in 2019. She has been a Pitch Wars mentor and a mentee in programs through POC in Pub and SFWA. She enjoys reading in almost every genre, but is most drawn to historical, speculative, and mystery. She loves bad weather, because it’s the best excuse to stay inside and read.

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Josiah Hesse is an author and journalist from Denver, Colorado, whose work has appeared in Vice, Esquire, Politico, and The Guardian. Hesse casts a wide net in his journalistic curiosities, covering everything from science, crime and politics, to pop culture, the arts, sex and drugs. After a decade of covering the slow-burn legalization of marijuana, Hesse wrote “Runner’s High: How A Movement of Cannabis-Fueled Athletes Is Changing The Science of Sports,” released on Putnam in 2021. 

Hesse is also the author of two psychological horror novels, "Carnality: Dancing On Red Lake,” and “Carnality: Sebastian Phoenix and The Dark Star,” both of which focus on the childhood trauma inflicted by evangelical Christian culture.

 

He is currently writing a memoir about the intersection of economics and mental health in the Christian right, which will be released on Pantheon in 2024.

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Sam Hiyate worked at the literary magazines Blood & Aphorisms and The Quarterly in the 90s. He ran the edgy micropublisher, Gutter Press, from 1993 to 2002, as publisher, and launched the literary division of The Lavin Agency in 2003, building a client list and completing his first deals. He's keen to discover and help new writers prepare their works for market, and to help them build lasting careers with their talent. Sam is also the host of the podcast Agent Provocateur, giving a behind-the-scenes view into publishing and agenting.

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André O. Hoilette is a Jamaican-born poet living in Denver, Colorado. He is a Cave Canem alumnus and the former editor of ambulant: A Journal of Poetry & Art and former assistant editor of Nexus Magazine. He earned an MFA in Fiction and Poetry from Regis University’s Mile-High MFA program. 2020 nomination for Pushcart Prize. 2021 Finalist Frontier Poetry Chapbook Prize, 2021 Semi-finalist Cave Canem Book Prize. Previous publications in Role Call, Stand Our Ground, Bum Rush the Page: A Def Poetry Jam and Cave Canem 10-Year Reader anthologies and journals: Inverted Syntax, Cultural Weekly, Rigorous, milk magazine, Nexus magazine, South Broadway Press and Burrow Press.

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Deborah Jang (she/her) is a poet and a visual artist. Her debut poetry collection is Float True (Shanti Arts LLC, 2020) and her forthcoming chapbook is Last Will and Best Guesses  (Finishing Line Press, 2022).  Her assemblage sculpture work is shown throughout the U.S.

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Aruni Kashyap writes in two languages: English and his native language Assamese. He is the author of three books of fiction His Father’s Disease: Stories (2019); and the novels: The House With a Thousand Stories (2013), and Noikhon Etia Duroit (2020). A winner of the Charles Wallace India Trust Scholarship for Creative Writing to the University of Edinburgh, his poetry collection, There is No Good Time for Bad News (2021) was a finalist for the 2018 Marsh Hawk Press Poetry Prize and 2018 Four Way Books Levis Award in Poetry. His short stories, poems, and essays have appeared in Catapult, Bitch Media, The Boston Review, Electric Literature, The Oxford Anthology of Writings from Northeast, The Kenyon Review, The New York Times, The Guardian UK, and others. He is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Georgia, Athens, and an Editor-at-large with the Southern Review of Books.

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Brian D. Kennedy was born and raised in Minnesota and now lives in New York City with his husband and their miniature Schnauzer. When not writing, he can be found working at an
LGBTQ non-profit and buying more books than he can possibly read. A Little Bit Country is his
debut novel. 


PHOTO CREDIT: Sylvie Rosokoff

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Kat Kerr joined Donald Maass Literary Agency in 2019. She graduated from Florida State University with a Bachelors in English in 2009 and is drawn to literary and commercial voices within the adult and YA markets, as well as adult nonfiction. Kat feels strongly about supporting programs like We Need Diverse Books and is passionate about creating space in this industry for those from historically marginalized communities. She is actively seeking to grow her client list and is particularly hungry for magical realism, literary leaning speculative and science fiction, women’s fiction, YA works with a lot of heart, and narrative nonfiction with something to say.

 

For a full list of her submissions interests, please visit www.maassagency.com/kat-kerr

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Ali Lake is a young agent at Janklow & Nesbit Associates building her list in nonfiction, fiction, and YA. She loves books that show her a new corner of the world or an unexpected facet of human experience through an original, surprising voice. Previous to joining J&N, she worked at ICM Partners. She has a BA in English and French Literature from Columbia University.

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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.  LeFebre’s work has appeared in The New York Times, Huffington Post, The Guardian, American Theater Magazine, NPR, and Poets.Org.  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. 

Ivan Lett

Ivan Lett is a Senior Publicist at Basic Books and Seal Press. Previously, he worked in Publicity and Marketing roles at Yale University Press and St. Martin’s Press, and as Director of Communications for Columbia University’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. He lives in New York.

Cheryl Lew

Cheryl Lew Originally from San Francisco, Cheryl Lew began working in publishing almost 10 years ago and is currently a Senior Publicity Manager at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. She specializes in children’s and young adult literature, where she has collaborated with a variety of literary luminaries, public figures, award-winning and bestselling creators, and debut voices. She previously held positions at Holiday House Books for Young Readers and Media Connect, the publishing arm of Finn Partners, one of the largest international PR agencies.

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Henry Lien is a 2012 graduate of Clarion West. He is the author of the Peasprout Chen middle grade fantasy series. His short fiction has appeared in publications including Asimov’s, Analog, and F&SF, and he is a four-time Nebula Award finalist. Henry also teaches writing for institutions including UCLA, the University of Iowa, and Clarion West and won the UCLA Extension Department of the Arts Outstanding Instructor of the Year Award. Henry has previously worked as an attorney and fine art dealer. Born in Taiwan, Henry currently lives in Hollywood. Hobbies include writing and performing campy science fiction/fantasy anthems, and losing Nebula Awards.

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Lena Little I've worked in publicity for 15 years across Alfred A. Knopf & Pantheon, Politics & Prose, National Geographic, and Little, Brown. Some of the authors I’ve worked with include Orhan Pamuk, David Grossman, Esmeralda Santiago, Alan Hollinghurst, Anne Carson, Sharon Olds, Kevin Young, Oliver Sacks, Christopher McDougall, Attica Locke, Beth Macy, Clint Smith, Andrew Sean Greer, James Hannaham, Katie Couric, Chigozie Obioma, Mary Gabriel, Jenny Slate, Jared Diamond, and Daniel Kahneman.

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Sandy Lu  founded Book Wyrm Literary Agency in 2020 after working as a literary agent for more than a decade at other boutique agencies, most recently the L. Perkins Agency. Her client list includes Kindle bestsellers, Stoker Award and Hammett Prize nominees, Goodreads Choice Awards finalists, and New York Times Best of the Year recipient.

Born and raised in Taiwan, Sandy immigrated to the United States in her teens and has lived in New York ever since. She holds BAs in psychology and sociology from Queens College, with minors in music, business, and Japanese.  Prior to becoming an agent, she worked as a business/operations manager in the theater industry.

Sandy’s areas of study and work experience greatly inform her interest in submissions.  In fiction, she is seeking stories that will draw her in with a unique voice, make her miss her bedtime with a thrilling plot, and characters that will stay with her long after she turns the last page. Bonus points if you can make her laugh out loud or unable to hold back tears in public. Sandy especially loves historical fiction and anything dark, twisted, or with a supernatural bent.

In non-fiction, she’s looking for projects that can make connections about different topics in an unexpected way, explicate complex research for a general audience, introduce the reader to cutting-edged science or previously little known historical facts and figures, teach us new ways to think or clever skills that can improve our daily life, and expand our knowledge and understanding of the world—past, present, and future

Sandy is actively looking for new voices in the following:

 

Fiction: literary and commercial fiction, mystery, thriller, suspense, horror, science fiction, fantasy, historical fiction, family saga, upmarket women’s fiction, and YA.

 

Non-fiction: narrative nonfiction, history, biography, science, business, psychology, pop culture, and food writing.

 

Not Looking For: Picture books, graphic novels, religions/spirituality, politics/current affairs, sports, parenting, poetry, or screenplays.

                                                             

Clients: M. H. Boroson, B.J. Graf, Heather Levy, Elizabeth Lewes, Mary Carroll Moore, Jeneva Rose, and Randall Silvis.

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Janae Marks is the author of critically acclaimed middle grade novels, From the Desk of Zoe Washington and A Soft Place to Land, as well as the forthcoming novel On Air with Zoe Washington (2/14/2023). She has an MFA in Writing for Children from The New School, and lives in Connecticut with her family. Learn more at www.janaemarks.com

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Jason Masino is an artist and writer. Born and bred in California, he received his BA in Dramatic Art from the University of California, Davis, and MFA in Poetry from Regis University in Denver, Colorado. His work has been published in Cultural Weekly, Inverted Syntax, Rigorous, Call + Response, Squircle Line Press, and others. His debut book Sinner's Prayer -- a collection of poetry and prose -- will be released at the end of 2022 (Passengers Press). He currently lives in Denver, Colorado.

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M McDonough is a queer and trans poet from Denver, Colorado. They are pursuing a Master of Fine Arts in poetry at Arizona State University. M credits their relationship to poetry with their early exposure to slam and spoken word spaces, growing up in Denver venues like the Mercury Cafe and Slam Nuba. As a writer their work focuses on questions of trans poetics, desire, grief, pop-culture, and humor. In 2020 they received a Pushcart nomination for their poem "Gender Reveal Party" published by Exposition Review. Their poems can be found at Suspect Press, name and none, Button Poetry, and elsewhere. They live in Phoenix, Arizona with their partner and dog and can be found dreaming of snow, cooking, and contextualizing pre-modern critical race studies at their day job.

Caits Meissner

Caits Meissner is the director of Prison and Justice Writing at PEN America where she edited The Sentences That Create Us: Crafting A Writer’s Life in Prison (Haymarket Books, January 2022), which the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation funded 75,000 copies to reach incarcerated people for free. She has taught, consulted, and co-created extensively for over 15 years across a wide spectrum of communities with a focus on prisons, public schools, and college classrooms at The New School and The City College of New York. In 2017, Meissner reenvisioned the concept of book tour for her illustrated poetry collection Let It Die Hungry, pairing public speaking engagements with opportunities to work with incarcerated writers across the United States. Her latest project is Flowers For Linda: A new audiozine (some call it “podcast”) about creative relationship, giving the living their flowers, and the surprising lessons of grief.  

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Adrian Miller is a food writer, James Beard Award winner, attorney, and certified barbecue judge who lives in Denver, Colorado.

Adrian received an A.B in International Relations from Stanford University in 1991, and a J.D. from the Georgetown University Law Center in 1995.  From 1999 to 2001, Miller served as a special assistant to President Bill Clinton with his Initiative for One America – the first free-standing office in the White House to address issues of racial, religious and ethnic reconciliation. Miller went on to serve as a senior policy analyst for Colorado Governor Bill Ritter Jr. From 2004 to 2010, he served on the board for the Southern Foodways Alliance. In June 2019, Adrian lectured in the Masters of Gastronomy program at the Università di Scienze Gastronomiche (nicknamed the “Slow Food University”) in Pollenzo, Italy. He is currently the executive director of the Colorado Council of Churches and, as such, is the first African American, and the first layperson, to hold that position. 

Miller’s first book, Soul Food: The Surprising Story of an American Cuisine, One Plate at a Time won the James Beard Foundation Award for Scholarship and Reference in 2014. His second book, The President’s Kitchen Cabinet: The Story of the African Americans Who Have Fed Our First Families, From the Washingtons to the Obamas was published on President’s Day 2017. It was a finalist for a 2018 NAACP Image Award for “Outstanding Literary Work – Non-Fiction,” and the 2018 Colorado Book Award for History. Adrian’s third book, Black Smoke: African Americans and the United States of Barbecue, will be published Spring 2021.

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Kiana (Kiki) Nguyen  is a literary agent at Donald Maass Literary Agency.

After dropping out of University of Albany in 2015, Kiki Nguyen had her first publishing internship with Wunderkind PR. There, she discovered a practical industry for her codependent love of fiction. In 2016, Kiki went on to intern with DMLA where she soon joined the team full-time as an assistant literary agent.

Kiki is now building her client list within young adult and adult fiction with a focus on queer and BIPOC authors. When not working, she is playing Among Us or shouting about film/tv on Twitter.

Confidence Omenai

Confidence Omenai is a Nigerian-American poet, playwright, voice actor, mother of five, and breaker of chains. Her work explores death, rebirth, racism. fracturing the queen/whore dichotomy, martyrdom on the altar of motherhood and marriage. For fifteen years she has competed, performed and curated shows across the nation. Confidence is an activist facilitating writing workshops, performing, and encouraging radical self-interrogation around the country at universities, high schools, middle schools, maximum security prisons, juvenile facilities and more. She is a TEDxMileHigh Speaker and Emcee, Pink Door Fellow, and Oklahoma State University Alum. Her work appears in A La Palabra: The Word is a Woman: Mothers & Daughters. She currently resides in Denver, creating transformative work across genres, dancing on her dining room table, singing loud, off key and clearing the way for her rebellious great granddaughters, who will defend the earth in her name.

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Amanda Orozco is a literary agent at Transatlantic. She graduated from NYU with her Masters of Science in Publishing: Digital and Print Media. Before joining Transatlantic, she worked in Subsidiary Rights at Little, Brown and at Park & Fine Literary and Media. While at NYU, she interned at the National Book Foundation, Shreve Williams Public Relations, and The Gernert Company. She currently lives and works in Los Angeles.

Angelique Palmer

Angelique Palmer is a performance poet, Kindergarten Teacher and Spoken Word instructor at Wilkes University. A finalist in the 2015 Women of the World Poetry Slam, she is also a member of the 2017 Busboys and Poets/Beltway Poetry Slam Team.

 

After 10 self-published chapbooks, her first full length book, THE CHAMBERMAID’S STYLE GUIDE, debuted on Sargent Press in 2016. Her second book is the 2021 follow-up ALSO DARK on Etruscan Press.

Her publications include Drunk in A Midnight Choir, Wus Good?: A POC Magazine, Borderline, and The Mud Review. The New Orleans native, and Florida State University Creative Writing graduate now calls Northern Virginia home. She makes her own ice cream and yogurt.

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Emilly Prado is an award-winning writer and community organizer based in Portland, Oregon. Her debut essay collection, Funeral for Flaca, has been called, “Utterly vulnerable, bold, and unique,” by Ms. Magazine and is a winner of the 2022 Pacific Northwest Book Award. She moonlights as DJ Mami Miami with Noche Libre, the Latinx DJ collective she co-founded in 2017. Learn more at ww.emillyprado.com or on social media @emillygprado.

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Maya Prasad is a South Asian American author, a Caltech graduate, and a former software engineer. She currently resides in the Pacific Northwest, where she enjoys hiking, canoeing, and raising her budding bookworm kiddo. Drizzle, Dreams, and Lovestruck Things is her debut YA novel, to be published by Disney-Hyperion in October 2022.
Visit her website www.mayaprasad.com or find her on Instagram and Twitter @msmayaprasad.

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Erica Ridley is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of witty, feel-good historical romance novels, including The Duke Heist, first in the Wild Wynchesters series starring caper-committing siblings.  Other fan-favorite series, The Dukes of War, Rogues to Riches, and The 12 Dukes of Christmas, feature roguish peers and dashing war heroes amid the splendor and madness of Regency England. When not reading or writing romances, Erica can be found eating couscous in Morocco, zip-lining through rainforests in Costa Rica, or getting hopelessly lost in the middle of Budapest. 

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Lydia Rogue is a writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. They write stories and nonfiction that centers trans people, when they're not writing sappy love poems for their spouse. Their second book, Trans-Galactic Bike Ride, is a speculative fiction anthology about trans people on bikes in space. It was a 2021 Lammy Finalist for Transgender Fiction. Rogue currently works as an editor at Microcosm Publishing, a non-fiction focused publisher and distributor. They inhabit Twitter at @LydiaRogue and can also be found at www.lydiarogue.com 

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A.E. Rooks hopes to always be a student of history, which hasn’t stopped her from studying everything else.  While her debut, The Black Joke: The True Story of One Ship's Battle Against the Slave Trade, explores a little discussed facet of the transatlantic slave trade and was recently longlisted for the Maritime Foundation's Mountbatten Award for Best Book, previous writing credits also include the column "Between the Briefs," for which she won two national awards for sex positive journalism.  A two-time Jeopardy! champion whose schooling spans theatre, law, library and information science, education, human sexuality, Rooks' literary passions are united by what the past can teach us about the present, how history shapes our future, and above all, really interesting stories.

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Mohamed Shalabi is a Palestinian-American author of literary works, often with a speculative edge. Moe's short stories appear in multiple literary magazines both online and in print and can be found in the Nonbinary Review and Reed Literary. His short story Palestina was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. When he's not working on his many manuscripts, Moe works as a full-time consultant in the Washington D.C. Metro. He is represented by Kat Kerr of the Donald Maass Literary Agency.

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Eric Smith is a literary agent and Young Adult author from Elizabeth, New Jersey.

 

As an agent with P.S. Literary, he’s worked on New York Times bestselling and award-winning books. His recent novels include the YALSA Best Books for Young Readers selection Don’t Read the Comments (Inkyard Press, 2020), You Can Go Your Own Way (Inkyard Press, 2021), and the anthology Battle of the Bands (Candlewick, 2021), co-edited with award-winning author Lauren Gibaldi.

His latest book, Jagged Little Pill: The Novel, written with Alanis Morissette, Academy award-winner Diablo Cody, and Glen Ballard, was published with Abrams in April 2022. It’s an adaptation of the Grammy and Tony award winning musical.

A lifelong lover of writing and books, he holds a Bachelor of Arts from Kean University in English, and a Master’s in English from Arcadia University, where he currently mentors MFA students. He lives in Philadelphia with his wife and son, and enjoys video games, pop punk, and crying over every movie.

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Angela María Spring (she/they) is a poet, journalist, and founder of Duende District, a pop-up bookstore sin fronteras for and by people of color, where all are welcome. She holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College and is the poetry editor at the Washington Independent Review of Books. Their debut poetry collection, Desmadre: Poems, is forthcoming from FlowerSong Press and they have been featured in The Washington Post, Fierce By Mitú, NPR, and Good Company Magazine. You can find recent poems, essays, and reviews in A Public Space, The Slowdown Podcast, Electric Literature, LitHub, Tor.com, The Night Heron Barks, Muzzle Magazine, and PANK and follow her online on Twitter at @BurquenaBoricua.

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Mariah Stovall is an agent at Trellis Literary Management. She has also worked at Howland Literary, Writers House, Farrar, Straus and Giroux and Gallery Books. She represents adult literary and upmarket fiction, narrative nonfiction, essay collections and memoir, and is looking for writers with strong voices and intersectional and interdisciplinary perspectives. She gravitates toward surprising, strange, challenging stories that are obsessive in content and craft, and that center flawed, outsider characters. She’s most passionate about music, mental health/illness, Black America, linguistics, histories of objects and ideas, accessible but accurate science, and deep dives into subcultures and social movements—but great writing can get her interested in any topic. She is MFA-agnostic and has a hands-on, collaborative approach to editing her clients' work.

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Deborah Taffa is the director of the MFA CW program at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, NM. Winner of the PEN Jean Stein Grant, her memoir WHISKEY TENDER is forthcoming from HARPERCOLLINS HARPER in 2023. A MacDowell, Hedgebrook, Tin House, Public Space, and Kranzberg Fellow, she is a citizen of the Quechan (Yuma) Nation and Laguna Pueblo. She earned her MFA in Iowa City.  

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Priyanka Taslim is a writer, teacher, and lifelong New Jersey resident.


Having grown up in a bustling Bangladeshi diaspora community, surrounded by her mother’s
entire clan and many aunties of no relation, her writing often features families, communities, and
all the drama therein.


Currently, Priyanka teaches by day and tells all kinds of stories about Bangladeshi characters by
night. Her writing usually stars spunky Bengali heroines finding their place in the world...and a
little swoony romance, too. THE LOVE MATCH, out January 2023 from Salaam Reads, an
imprint of Simon & Schuster, is her debut YA novel.

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Elaine Tassy is the first Race, Diversity and Equity Reporter at Colorado Public Radio. She began her position in February after working as a newspaper reporter at the Albuquerque Journal, Baltimore Sun, Grand Rapids Press, and Los Angeles Times, and college journalism instructor at schools including Temple University, University of The Bahamas, Temple University and St. Joseph's University. She is also the author of "How The Sun Lost Its Shine: A Newsroom Memoir," about some of the challenges of working in a daily newsroom as a black woman. She has a BA in English from Wesleyan University, and an MA in Journalism from Ohio State University. 

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Hannah VanVels Ausbury is a literary agent with Belcastro Agency. Hannah has worked various bookish jobs including a stint as a bookseller at Barnes & Noble, an editor for scholarly and academic essays and journals, and as an acquiring editor at a young adult imprint with HarperCollins Publishing. Hannah loves working closely with authors and coming alongside them to make their vision come to life on page. She lives on Lake Michigan with her partner, two German Shepherds, and two cats.

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Brittany J. Thurman is author of Fly from Caitlyn Dlouhy Books/ Simon & Schuster. Illustrated by Anna Cunha, Fly follows five-year-old Africa who dreams of competing in double Dutch. 

 

Brittany is a former children's specialist and museum educator, where she focused on early literacy, representation and art across Pittsburgh, PA and in her hometown of Louisville, KY. Brittany has read hundreds of stories to babies, toddlers, and preschoolers. She is dedicated to ensuring children's literature truthfully reflects the world in which we live. Brittany is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University where she studied Dramatic Writing, and Kingston University (London, England) where she studied theater.

Her additional and forthcoming title includes Fearless: Boulevard of Dreams, by Mandy Gonzalez, co-written by Brittany J. Thurman, FOREVER AND ALWAYS, illustrated by Shamar Knight-Justice (Winter, 2024; Greenwillow/Harpercollins), THE FIRST LIBRARY: THE STORY OF THE FIRST LIBRARY BY AND FOR BLACK AMERICA, illustrated by Cozbi Cabrera (2024, Clarion/HarperCollins) and COME CATCH A DREAM, Greenwillow/Harpercollins

Connect with Brittany: 

@janeebrittany (Twitter)

@britjanee (Instagram) 

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Yilin Wang (she/they) is a writer, poet, Chinese-English translator, and editor. Her writing and translations have appeared in Clarkesworld, Fantasy Magazine, POETRY, Guernica, The Common, The Malahat Review, Arc Poetry Magazine, The Toronto Star, Words Without Borders, and elsewhere. Her debut poetry translation chapbook, The Lantern and the Night Moths, which features five modern and contemporary Chinese poets in translation, won the Tafseer Chapbook Prize and is forthcoming with Collusion Books in October 2022. Yilin has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia and is a graduate of the Clarion West Writers Workshop.

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Kaitlyn Wells is an award-winning journalist whose work has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post, among others. Her commentary on diverse literature can be found in The New York Times Book Review, BookPage, and Diverse Kids Books. Her first children's book, A Family Looks Like Love (Penguin Random House/Flamingo Books, May 2022), draws on her painful experiences growing up Black biracial in Texas. She lives in New York City with her wonderful husband, rambunctious dog, and demanding cat. Visit KaitWells.com to subscribe to her newsletter that explores how Black, Indigenous, and womxn of color navigate the world. And follow her on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter.

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Jade Wong-Baxter has been an agent at the Frances Goldin Literary Agency since 2021. She previously worked for three years at Massie & McQuilkin Literary Agents as a junior agent and foreign rights associate. A graduate of Vassar College, Jade got her start in publishing at Writers House, W. W. Norton, and Folio Literary Management. She is looking for adult literary/upmarket fiction and narrative nonfiction, with an emphasis on narratives by and about people of color, as well as the perspectives of marginalized identities. Her other areas of interest include magical realism, memoir, cultural criticism and Asian-American history. Her clients include memoirist Chris Belcher, novelist Delia Cai, and activist/journalist Hannah Matthews.

more presenters & panelists bio's coming soon!