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Featured Speakers

Who We Are

Who We Are

Mahogany BrowneMahogany Browne - The Cave Canem, Poets House & Serenbe Focus fellow is the author of several books including Redbone (nominated for NAACP Outstanding Literary Works), Dear Twitter: Love Letters Hashed Out On-line, recommended by Small Press Distribution & Best Poetry Books of 2010. Mahogany bridges the gap between lyrical poets and literary emcee. Browne has toured Germany, Amsterdam, England, Canada and recently Australia as 1/3 of the cultural arts exchange project Global Poetics. Her journalism work has been published in magazines Uptown, KING, XXL, The Source, Canada's The Word and UK's MOBO. Her poetry has been published in literary journals Pluck, Manhattanville Review, Muzzle, Union Station Mag, Literary Bohemian, Bestiary, Joint & The Feminist Wire. She is the author of several poetry collections including: Smudge (Button Poetry)  & is a part of the groundbreaking anthology The Break Beat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop (Haymarket), as well as the editorial team for forthcoming Black Girl Magic. She is an Urban Word NYC Poet-in-Residence (as seen on HBO’s Brave New Voices), founder of Women Writers of Color Reading Room (housed on Pratt Institute) and facil! itates performance poetry and writing workshops throughout the country. Browne is also the publisher of Penmanship Books, the Nuyorican Poets Café Poetry Program Director and Friday Night Slam curator and recent graduate from Pratt Institute MFA Writing & Activism program.

Kathryn Gines

Kathryn T. Gines is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Penn State University and a Registered Yoga Teacher (RYT 500).  She combines philosophy and yoga in her workshops and coaching in the areas of work, life, wellness, balance, and bliss. ( Professor Gines' primary research and teaching interests lie in Continental philosophy (especially Existentialism and Phenomenology), African American/Africana Philosophy, Black Feminist Philosophy, and Critical Philosophy of Race.  She  co-edited an anthology titled Convergences: Black Feminism and Continental Philosophy (SUNY Press, 2010) and is author of Hannah Arendt and the Negro Question (Indiana University Press, 2014).  Professor Gines is the founding director of the Collegium of Black Women Philosophers (CBWP), the former director (2010-2016) of Cultivating Underrepresented Students in Philosophy (CUSP), and a founding co-editor (2013-2016) of the journal Critical Philosophy of Race (CPR).

John Keene

John Keene is the author of the novel Annotations (New Directions); the art-poetry collection Seismosis (1913 Press) with artist Christopher Stackhouse; and the short fiction collection Counternarratives (New Directions), which has been named to "Best Fiction of 2015" lists by New York Magazine, Vanity Fair, LitHub, Flavorwire, and other publications. His art-text collaboration with photographer Nicholas Muellner, GRIND, is forthcoming from ITI Press in 2016. He has also published a translation of Brazilian author Hilda Hilst’s novel Letters from a Seducer (Nightboat Books / A Bolha Editora), and has exhibited his artwork in Brooklyn and Berlin.  A longtime member of the Dark Room Writers Collective and a graduate fellow of Cave Canem, he currently serves on the board of the African Poetry Book Fund, and teaches in the departments of English and African American and African Studies, which he chairs, and also is a core faculty member in the MFA Program in Creative Writing, at Rutgers University-Newark.  (Photo by Nina Subin).


Carmen KynardCarmen Kynard is associate professor of English at John Jay College of Criminal Justice (CUNY) where she interrogates race and the politics of writing instruction. She has taught high school with the New York City public schools/Coalition of Essential Schools, served as a writing program administrator, and worked as a teacher educator.  She has led numerous research and professional development projects focused on language, literacy, and learning and has published in Harvard Educational Review, Changing English, College Composition and Communication, College English, Computers and Composition, Reading Research Quarterly and more. Her first book, Vernacular Insurrections: Race, Black Protest, and the New Century in Composition-Literacy Studies won the 2015 James Britton Award and makes Black Freedom a 21st century literacy movement. Her current project focuses on Black female college students’ literacies and learning as critical sites of recursive memory. Carmen traces her research and teaching at her website, “Education, Liberation, and Black Radical Traditions” (


Will LangsfordA native son of Detroit, Will Langford is a poet, educator, and Fulbright Scholar who has worked extensively in East Africa. Will continues his work with rural Kenyan communities and serves on the Board of the Zawadi Fund International nonprofit organization, which helps rehabilitate former street children.  Will's writing has appeared as required reading at Harvard University and has also garnered four Emmy Awards, a Golden American Advertising Award, and The Richard Lee Featherstone Prize. Will is a graduate of Michigan State University, where he founded the MSU Slam Poetry Team and is also a graduate of The Pennsylvania State University. Will is an insideOut Citywide Poets alum whose poetry and reviews have appeared in/are forthcoming from PANK Magazine, Rain Taxi Review of Books, TIME Magazine Online, The Detroit Metro Times, and 2 Bridges Review. 

Joycelyn MoodyJoycelyn Moody is Sue E. Denman Distinguished Chair in American Literature at the University of Texas at San Antonio, where she teaches and researches 19th-century African American literature. She is also Founding Director of UTSA’s African American Literatures and Cultures Institute. Her recent articles have appeared in a/b: Auto/Biography and Legacy: A Journal of American Women Writers, and she is currently editing A History of African American Autobiography, under contract with Cambridge University Press.


Mendi + KeithMendi + Keith Obadike make music, art and literature. Their works include The Sour Thunder, an Internet opera (Bridge Records), Crosstalk: American Speech Music (Bridge Records), Black.Net.Art Actions, a suite of new media artworks (published in re:skin on M.I.T Press), Big House / Disclosure, a 200 hour public sound installation (Northwestern University), Phonotype, a book & CD of media artworks, and a poetry collection, Armor and Flesh (Lotus Press). They have contributed sounds/music to projects by wide range of artists including loops for soul singer D'Angelo's first album and a score for playwright Anna Deavere Smith at the Lincoln Center Institute. They were invited to develop their first "opera-masquerade" by writer Toni Morrison at her Princeton Atelier. Their other honors include a Rockefeller New Media Arts Fellowship, Pick Laudati Award for Digital Art, a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Fiction, and a Vectors Fellowship from USC. Their intermedia work has been commissioned by The NY African Film Festival and Electronic Arts Intermix, The Yale Cabaret, Whitechapel Art Gallery (London), and The Whitney Museum of Art, among other institutions. Their music has been featured on New York and Chicago public radio, as well as on Juniradio (104.5) in Berlin.  Keith received a BA in Art from North Carolina Central University and an MFA in Sound Design from Yale University. He is an associate professor in the College of Arts and Communication at William Paterson University and serves as an art advisor for the Times Square Alliance. Mendi received a BA in English from Spelman College and a PhD in Literature from Duke University. After working as a Cotsen Postdoctoral Fellow at Princeton University, she became a poetry editor at  Fence Magazine and an assistant professor in the Department of Humanities and Media Studies at Pratt Institute.

Mary Helen WashingtonMary Helen Washington is Professor of English at the University of Maryland, College Park, specializing in 20th and 21st century African American literary studies. Her 2014 monograph, The Other Blacklist: The African American Literary and Cultural Left of the 1950s (Columbia University Press), won honorable mention for the MLA William Sanders Scarborough Prize. She edited three collections of short stories, Black-Eyed Susans: Classic Stories By and About Black Women (1976);Midnight Birds: Stories Of Contemporary Black Women Writers (1980); Invented Lives: Narratives of Black Women, 1860-1960 (1987); and Memory of Kin: Stories About Family by Black Writers (1991). She was president of The American Studies Association from 1996 to 1997, and in 2014 was awarded the Carl Bode-Norman Holmes Pearson Prize honoring lifetime achievement in and contribution to the field of American Studies. Her monograph in progress, Post-Memory, Narrative, and The (Long) Civil Rights Movement, examines the literary after-life of the 1950s Literary Left. She is producing a digital, interactive map of the Black Popular Front, which will be online in the spring of 2016.