Kweli International Literary Festival Presenters

Saturday, jULY 20, 2019

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Dr. Grisel Y. Acosta is an associate professor in the English Department of the City University of New York-BCC. She is the editor of Latina Outsiders Remaking Latina Identity. Other select scholarly or creative works are in: American Studies Journal, Chicana/Latina Studies, The Routledge Companion to Latino/a Literature, African American Women’s Language, Western American Literature, Diálogo, Kenyon Review, VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, The Lauryn Hill Reader, and Paterson Literary Review.


mikael awake, co-author of dapper dan: made in harlem

Mik Awake’s work has appeared in Popula, ArtNews Magazine, The Awl, and elsewhere. With Daniel R. Day, he is the co-author of Dapper Dan: Made in Harlem, forthcoming from Random House.




Senior Editor Caroline Bleeke is acquiring upmarket fiction for Flatiron Books, with an emphasis on underrepresented voices, innovative structure and style, writing with a strong sense of place, and heart. Her list includes Anuk Arudpragasam’s The Story of a Brief Marriage (DSC Prize winner and Dylan Thomas Prize finalist), Neel Patel’s If You See Me, Don’t Say Hi (NYT Book Review Editor’s Choice and NPR Best Book of the Year), Yangsze Choo’s The Night Tiger (NYT bestseller and Reese Witherspoon x Hello Sunshine Book Club Pick), and forthcoming titles from IMPAC Dublin Award finalist Angie Cruz and White Review Short Story Prize winner Julia Armfield. Bleeke has a Master’s degree in Eighteenth-Century and Romantic Literature.

@cableeke (Twitter and Instagram)



Angeline Boulley (Bahweting Anishinaabe) is an enrolled citizen of the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians. She was selected as a Young Adult mentee for the 2019 We Need Diverse Books (WNDB) Mentorship Program. By day, she is a federal programs director who has worked in Indian education at the tribal and national level. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Management and Psychology and a Master of Public Administration degree, both from Central Michigan University. Angeline lives and works in the Washington, DC area. Firekeeper’s Daughter is her debut novel.


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susan muaddi darraj, author of a curious land

Susan Muaddi Darraj is the author of A Curious Land, which won a 2016 American Book Award. It also received the 2016 Arab American Book Award and the Grace Paley Award for Short Fiction, and it was shortlisted for a Palestine Book Award. Her previous short story collection, The Inheritance of Exile, was published in 2007 by University of Notre Dame Press. In 2018, she was named a 2018 Ford Fellow by USA Artists. Susan also is a two-time recipient of an Individual Artist Award from the Maryland State Arts Council.

She teaches in Fairfield University's MFA program as well as in the MA in Writing Program at Johns Hopkins University.

In January 2020, Capstone Books will launch her debut children’s chapter book series, Farah Rocks, about a smart, brave Palestinian American girl named Farah Hajjar.

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Jaquira Díaz is the author of Ordinary Girls, a memoir, forthcoming from Algonquin Books. She’s the recipient of two Pushcart Prizes, an Elizabeth George Foundation Grant, and fellowships from the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, Kenyon Review, and The MacDowell Colony. Her work appears in The Best American Essays, Rolling Stone, The Guardian, The FADER, Longreads, T: The New York Times Style Magazine, and others. She teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s MFA Program in Creative Writing and is a Consulting Editor at the Kenyon Review.
@jaquiradiaz on Twitter

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Kali fajardo-anstine, AUTHOR OF sabrina & corina

Kali Fajardo-Anstine is from Denver, Colorado. She is the author of the debut short story collection, Sabrina & Corina from One World/ Random House, a historical novel to follow. Her fiction has appeared in The American Scholar, Boston Review, Bellevue Literary Review, The Idaho Review, Southwestern American Literature, and elsewhere. Kali has been awarded fellowships from Yaddo, MacDowell Colony, and Hedgebrook. She has an MFA from the University of Wyoming.
IG: Kalimaja | Twitter: KaliMaFaja

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kelli jo ford, author of crooked hallelujah

Kelli Jo Ford's debut novel-in-stories, Crooked Hallelujah, will be published by Grove Atlantic next year. She is the recipient of The Paris Review’s 2019 Plimpton Prize, the 2019 Everett Southwest Literary Award, and The Missouri Review’s 2018 Peden Prize. She has been awarded a Native Arts & Cultures Foundation Fellowship, an Elizabeth George Foundation Grant, a Dobie Paisano Fellowship, and a Katherine Bakeless Nason Award in Fiction by Bread Loaf. A citizen of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, she served as Indigenous Writer-in-Residence at Santa Fe's School for Advanced Research in 2016. She lives in Richmond, Virginia, with her family.



Serene Hakim has been with Ayesha Pande Literary since 2015. A child of immigrants, she grew up straddling cultures and languages. She is looking for both adult fiction and non-fiction as well as YA (all genres) with international themes or a focus on LGBTQ+, feminist issues and underrepresented/marginalized voices. She is especially interested in stories dealing with the Middle East and is specifically looking for writing that explores meanings of identity, home, family and parenthood/motherhood.
Twitter: @serenemaria

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bassey ikpi, author of i’m telling the truth but i’m lying

Bassey Ikpi is an American-Nigerian writer and mental health advocate. Her debut essay collection, I’m Telling the Truth but I’m Lying, is forthcoming in August 2019 from Harper Perennial. An active voice in pop culture commentary and the mental health community, Bassey’s essays have been published by The Root, Ebony, Huffington Post, and Essence, as well as in the anthologies Rookie On Love and Who Will Speak For America. She was also the resident pop culture critic for Philly’s WURD FM radio station and is currently a contributing editor for Catapult. Bassey is the founder of The Siwe Project, a mental health organization that centers Black and Brown people in an effort to spread mental health awareness.

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john paul infante

John Paul “JP” Infante is a writer and teacher in New York City. He teaches writing workshops, has taught at Lehman College of CUNY and hosts the C@P Book Club and art events. He’s a contributing editor for Dominican Writers and holds an MFA from the New School.

Infante’s writing can be found in The Poetry Project, Uptown Collective, Bronx Free Press, Manhattan Times, and elsewhere. His personal essay “All About Your Mother” is forthcoming in Post [Blank]Magazine. His short story "Without a Big One,” published in Kweli, won the 2019 PEN/Robert J. Dau Short Story award.
@infanteJP (Instagram & Twitter)

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Mitchell S. Jackson’s debut novel The Residue Years (Bloomsbury) received wide critical praise. Jackson is the winner of a Whiting Award. His novel also won The Ernest J. Gaines Prize for Literary Excellence and was a finalist for The Center for Fiction Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize, the PEN / Hemingway Award for Debut Fiction, and the Hurston / Wright Legacy Award. Jackson’s honors include fellowships from the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center, the Lannan Foundation, the Ford Foundation, PEN America, TED, NYFA (New York Foundation for the Arts), and The Center for Fiction. His writing has appeared in The New Yorker, Harpers, The New York Times Book Review, The Paris Review, The Guardian, Tin House, and elsewhere. His nonfiction book Survival Math: Notes on an All-American Family (Scribner) was published in the spring of 2019. He is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Chicago.

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stephanie jimenez, AUTHOR of they could have named her anything

Stephanie Jimenez is the author of novel They Could Have Named Her Anything. She is a former Fulbright recipient, and her fiction and nonfiction have been featured in Joyland, Barrelhouse, The Guardian, The New York Times, and elsewhere. She is based in Queens, New York.

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chelcee johns, editorial, 37 ink/simon & schuster 

In the fall of 2017, Chelcee Johns joined the 37 Ink/Simon & Schuster editorial team. Alongside Vice President Dawn Davis she has worked with the National Book Award longlisted Nafissa Thompson-Spires’ Heads of the Colored People and Alice Walker’s Taking the Arrow Out of the Heart among others. Her recent titles include the critically acclaimed We Speak for Ourselves by NY Times bestseller D. Watkins. Chelcee spent the last seven years of her career in both book publishing and digital media as an editor and content strategist. Chelcee’s interests include compelling literary and upmarket commercial fiction from diverse voices and fresh perspectives in narrative nonfiction on social justice, feminism, and pop culture.

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edyson julio

Edyson Julio is a native of the South Bronx, and a recent graduate of Harvard's School of Education, where he was selected as an Urban Scholars Fellow. At Harvard, Edyson worked on a social theory that examines the relationship between urban culture and civic duty. Since its finding, his PTS theory has been cited by academics at universities and educators across the country. Before making the move to Cambridge for graduate school, Edyson was a creative writing instructor on Rikers Island, and helped direct a series of workshops on identity in prisons across New York State. Outside of his commitment to the incarcerated, Edyson has worked as an educational consultant for EmpowerEd, offering best practices for Culturally Responsive Teaching in public schools. He was awarded the Paul Afolabi Award for Commitment to Educational Justice at Harvard, and was the commencement speaker for the 2018 graduating class. Edyson also holds an MFA in Fiction from Hunter College. His work has been profiled by the New York Times and the Bronx Documentary Center.

Instagram: @ProfessorEdd Facebook: Edyson King Julio

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eunice kim

Eunice Kim is a second-generation Korean-American and native New Yorker. She graduated from Fordham University magna cum laude, with a B.A. in Sociology, and currently resides on Long Island with her family. When Eunice isn’t writing, she’s watching period dramas, playing the harp, or still on the hunt for the next great baked confectionery. Learn more about her at
Twitter: @eunicekimwrites

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iwalani kim, Assistant to a Literary Agent / Sanford J. Greenburger Associates

Iwalani got her start in publishing at Ayesha Pande Literary, Don Congdon Associates, and Kweli Journal before joining Sanford J. Greenburger Associates. She was born and raised in Hawai'i and received degrees in Political Science and German Studies from Vassar College. Iwalani enjoys reading character-based upmarket and literary fiction that reflects the rich diversity of the communities that raised her on the islands. She loves coming of age stories, family dramas, and stories about queer friendship and love, whether they are told with poignant, wry humor or lush, haunting prose. She also enjoys lyrical, genre-bending non-fiction. Iwalani is committed to making the world of publishing a better place for people of color through her work with Kweli.

@IwalaniKim (Twitter)

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rachel kim, agent at 3 Arts entertainment

Rachel Kim is a book agent at 3 Arts. She represents titles in adult literary fiction and narrative non-fiction. She has special interest in stories that speak to underrepresented and marginalized voices and explore cultural identity.

Photo credit: Beowulf Sheehan

Photo credit: Beowulf Sheehan

samuel kolawole

Samuel Kóláwolé was born and raised in Ibadan, Nigeria. His work has appeared in AGNI, Gulf Coast, and Kweli, amongst other literary journals. Samuel was a finalist for the Graywolf Prize for Africa last year, and he was awarded the 2019 Marguerite and Lamar Smith Fellowship for Writers at Columbus State University’s Carson McCullers Center for Writers and Musicians in Columbus, Georgia. His fiction has also been supported with fellowships, residencies, and scholarships from the Norman Mailer Centre, International Writing Program at the University of Iowa, Clarion West Writers Workshop, Wellstone Centre in the Redwoods California, and Island Institute, Alaska. Samuel studied at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria and holds a Master of Arts degree in Creative Writing with distinction from Rhodes University, South Africa and an MFA in Writing and Publishing at Vermont College of Fine Arts, USA.


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kevin noble maillard, author of fry bread 

Kevin Noble Maillard is a professor and journalist who lives with his family on the 13th floor of a 115-year old bank in the heart of Manhattan. He is a regular writer for the New York Times, and has interviewed politicians, writers, tribal leaders, and even some movie stars. When he was 13 years old, he won a fishing derby for catching 72 fish in two hours. Originally from Oklahoma, he is a member of the Seminole Nation, Mekusukey band.



sheila maldonado, author of one bedroom solo

Sheila Maldonado is the author of the poetry collection one-bedroom solo (Fly by Night Press, 2011). Her 2nd publication, that's what you get, is still forthcoming from Brooklyn Arts Press. She is a CantoMundo fellow and a Creative Capital awardee as part of desveladas, a visual writing collective. She has served as an artist-in-residence on Governors Island, New York for the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and a Cultural Envoy to Honduras for the U.S. State Department. She lives in uptown Manhattan where she is working on an ongoing project about a lifelong obsession with the ancient Maya.;
@shelamal (FB/IG/Twitter)

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anna qu   

Anna Qu is a Chinese-American writer. Her essays have been published in Threepenny Review, Kartika, Kweli, Vol.1 Brooklyn, Jezebel, among others. She serves as the Nonfiction Editor at Kweli Journal and teaches at Sackett Street Writers’ Workshop. She is currently working on a memoir.
Instagram: @annaqu / Twitter: @quillingit

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emily raboteau, author of searching for zion: The Quest For home in the african diaspora 

Emily Raboteau is the author of a the novel, The Professor's Daughter, and a work of nonfiction, Searching for Zion: The Quest for Home in the African Diaspora, winner of a 2014 American Book Award. Her short fiction and essays have been widely published and anthologized in such places as Callaloo, Tin House, The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Guardian, The New York Review of Books, Ploughshares, McSweeney's, Freeman's and elsewhere. She is a professor of creative writing in the English Department at the City College of New York.

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melissa rivero, author of the affairs of the falcóns

Melissa Rivero was born in Peru and raised in Brooklyn. She is a former Emerging Writers Fellow at the Center for Fiction, and a graduate of NYU and Brooklyn Law School. The Affairs of the Falcóns is her first novel.


novuyo rosa tshuma, author of house of stone 

Novuyo Rosa Tshuma is the author of the novel House of Stone, winner of the 2019 Edward Stanford Writing for Fiction with a Sense of Place Award, shortlisted for the 2019 Dylan Thomas Prize as well as the 2019 Orwell Prize for Political Fiction, and longlisted for the 2019 Rathbones Folio Prize. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and serves on the advisory board of the Bare Life Review, a journal of refugee and immigrant literature based in San Fransisco.
Twitter: @NovuyoRTshuma instagram: _novuyorosatshuma


vincent toro 

Vincent Toro is a Boricua poet, playwright, and educator. His book Stereo.Island.Mosaic. received the Poetry Society of America’s Norma Farber First Book Award. He has been published in dozens of magazines and journals, including Washington Square, BOAAT, Rattle, The Acentos Review, and Best American Experimental Writing 2015. Vincent is a professor at Bronx Community College, poet in the schools for Dreamyard and the Dodge Poetry Foundation, writing liaison for The Cooper Union’s Saturday Program, and a contributing editor at Kweli Literary Journal. His second collection, Tertulia, is forthcoming from Penguin Random House in June 2020.

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weike wang, AUTHOR OF chemistry

Weike Wang is the author of Chemistry and her work has appeared in Glimmer Train and The New Yorker, among other publications. She is the recipient of the 2018 Pen Hemingway, a Whiting award and a National Book Foundation 5 under 35. She currently lives in New York City.

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tiphanie yanique, author of land of love and drowning

Tiphanie Yanique is the author of the poetry collection, Wife (Peepal Tree Press UK, 2015), winner of the 2016 Bocas Prize in Caribbean poetry and the 2016 Forward/Felix Dennis Prize for a First Collection. Her debut novel, Land of Love and Drowning (Riverhead Books, 2014), won the 2014 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Award from the Center for Fiction, the Phillis Wheatley Award for Pan-African Literature, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Rosenthal Family Foundation Award, among other honors. Her debut collection of stories, How to Escape from a Leper Colony, (Graywolf Press, 2010) was a 2010 National Book Foundation 5 Under 35 honoree.


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