Events and Conferences

Respondents, Panelists and Poets

David E. Kirkland is Assistant Professor of English Education at New York University.  His work focuses on youth popular culture; Black culture, language and literacy; and urban teacher education.  For five years, Dr. Kirkland taught secondary reading and English language arts in Detroit and Lansing, Michigan.  Currently, he is writing three books: A Search Past Silence: Exploring Literacy in the Life of a Young Black Man, The Promise in their Eyes: Using Youth Culture to Teach Secondary English, and Narratives of Social Justice Teaching: Negotiating Preservice and Inservice Spaces (with others).

Queen GodIs- an esteemed artisan whose features have included the Trans Atlantic Music Festival (France), BAM Opera House, Nokia Theater, Apollo Theater Sound Stage, Kennedy Center, artistic residency (India) and The Royal Shakespeare Company (UK).  Her work is a dynamic fusion of Hip Hop, Theater, Spoken Word & Soul Music. Her celebrated debut album, POWER U!  highlights GodIs as producer, engineer, MC and vocalist. Her poetry has been featured live at HBO's Def Poetry Jam, Robert Townsend's Spoken and appears on two major releases by Afro-European singing duo Les Nubians. Queen has also had spotlight segments on prestigious radio stations such as  BBC, MTV radio, NPR and WBAI. Queen originally debuted her musical theater piece BIRTH of POWER U! off-Broadway in 2007 followed by an international mini-tour of her work.  Currently she is the artist-in-residence of the Dance Theater Workshop / Urban Word NYC  joint fellowship series which will produce five new solo theater works including her own in 2008 and 2009. She will also be debuting her new theater piece 'Untitled # 69 (an excerpt)' with the Hip Hop Theater Festival on Tour this fall.

Jen Weiss, Ph.D. is the founder and former director of Urban Word NYC,  co-author of Brave New Voices: Guide to Teaching Spoken Word Poetry (Heinemann, 2001) and Theory and Educational Research: Toward Critical Social Explanation (Routledge, 2008). She received her doctorate in 2008 from the Urban Education Doctoral program at the City University of New York. Her graduate research was on the topic of high school surveillance policies and is the author of forthcoming publications on the topic, including how youth poetry and spoken word serves as vehicle of resistance for urban teens. She has taught undergraduate and graduate courses in writing, journalism, and education, and is the Development Director at Team-Up for Youth in Oakland, CA. 

Christina Marín, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Program in Educational Theatre. She has been teaching at NYU for three years and teaches Theatre of the Oppressed, Applied Theatre, Methods and Materials of Research in Educational Theatre, and Exploring Social Issues and Conflict Resolution through Drama, among other courses. Her research interests include Theatre of the Oppressed methods as educational tools for Human Rights Education, and bringing light to the femicide taking place in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico.

Carlos REC McBride is a third year Doctoral student in the Language, Literacy and Culture program in the School of Education at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.  His studies focus on social justice in education through Hip Hop culture. Mr. McBride is an adjunct faculty member at Greenfield Community College, Holyoke Community College and Hampshire College. He also a part of Student Bridges at The University of Massachusetts, Amherst and teaches a year long honors course entitled Engaging in the Community. Mr. McBride is also co-founder of TRGGR Media Group, an organization that blends Hip Hop, cultural history and media literacy towards the cultivation of intellectual thought.

Tara Betts teaches creative writing at Rutgers University. Her work has appeared in several publications, including Essence, Callaloo, Obsidian III, Bum Rush the Page, The Spoken Word Revolution, Spoken Word Revolution Redux and Poetry Slam.  Her work has also been adapted for the Steppenwolf Theatre production “Words on Fire” and plays adapted from Fingernails Across a Chalkboard and That Takes Ovaries!  She represented Chicago twice at the National Poetry Slam and performed on HBO’s “Def Poetry Jam” and the Black Family Channel's “SPOKEN” with Jessica Care Moore-Poole.  She received her MFA from New England College and is a graduate of the Cave Canem retreat. www.tarabetts.net

Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai is a Chicago-born Brooklyn-based Chinese Taiwanese American spoken word artist who has featured at over 275 performances worldwide including 3 seasons of "HBO Def Poetry."  Her formative experiences as a community organizer, domestic violence counselor, oral historian, and youth worker ground her commitment to social justice, non-violence, and the uplift of youth voices through the arts and entertainment. Her poetry can be found in numerous journals and anthologies including We Don't Need Another Wave: Dispatches from the Next Generation of Feminists (Seal, 2006), We Got Issues!: A Young Woman's Guide to a Bold, Empowered, and Courageous Life (Inner Ocean, 2007), and the Spoken Word Revolution Redux (Sourcebooks Mediafusion, 2007).  For more info, go to www.yellowgurl.com.

Alexis Marie Wint is a junior at Stuyvesant High School. Along with being a membe of Urban Word NYC’s Youth Leadership Board (Word Wide), she was also a member of the 2008 Urban Word NYC Teen Poetry Slam Team that took second place at the national competition in Washington, D.C. This past year she also took second place at the NY Knicks Poetry Slam, and premiered her first one-woman show, Diary of a Young Black Girl, at Dance Theater Workshop. Diary of a Young Black Girl will also be a part of this year’s Hip-Hop Thetaer Festival youth night, on Tuesday Sept. 30th. Please visit www.hiphoptheaterfest.org for more details.

Jamilla Lyiscott is a poet and youth mentor for Urban Word NYC. She was a long-time member of Urban Word’s Youth Leadership Board, as well as a member of the 2006 Urban Word NYC Teen Poetry Slam Team. She was currently awared a full scholarship to Baruch College’s Emerging Leaders Porgram to further her work and leadership at Urban Word NYC.

Zora Howard is a junior at LaGuardia High School. She has been a member of UW’s youth board for the past 2 years, and was a member of the 2006 Urban Word NYC Teen Poetry Slam Team that took 2nd at the national competition. This year, she also won the NY Knicks Poetry Slam, and was the UW slam team youth coach for the past 2 years.

Janine Simon was a member of the 2007 Urban Word NYC Teen Poetry Slam team that took 3rd in the Brave New Voices National Teen Poetry Slam.

Marne Bruckner is a senior at Beacon School and has been a member of the Urban Word NYC Youth Leadership Board for the past two years. She was a member of the 2007 Urban Word NYC Teen Poetry Slam Team and took 3rd place in this year’s NY Knicks Slam. She also premierred her first one-woman show, The Insides Aint Pink Enough, at Dance Theater Workshop.

Workshop Presenter Bios/Pedagogues of the Next:

David E. Kirkland is Assistant Professor of English Education at New York University.  His work focuses on youth popular culture; Black culture, language and literacy; and urban teacher education.  For five years, Dr. Kirkland taught secondary reading and English language arts in Detroit and Lansing, Michigan.  Currently, he is writing three books: A Search Past Silence: Exploring Literacy in the Life of a Young Black Man, The Promise in their Eyes: Using Youth Culture to Teach Secondary English, and Narratives of Social Justice Teaching: Negotiating Preservice and Inservice Spaces (with others).

Marcella Runell Hall is currently completing her doctoral studies in the Social Justice Education Program at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.  Marcella's dissertation is entitled: Education in a Hip-Hop Nation: Identity, Politics and Pedagogy. Marcella serves as the campus-wide Diversity Educator and Trainer in the Center for Multicultural Education and Programs at New York University. Marcella has also worked as a freelance writer for the New York Times Learning Network and VIBE magazine. In addition, Marcella served for two years as the Director of Education for the Hip-Hop Association.  Marcella recently co-edited her first book with Martha Diaz entitled, The Hip-Hop Education Guidebook, as well as Conscious Women Rock the Page: Using Hip-Hop Fiction to Incite Social Change with.  Forthcoming  book publications include: The Ten Most Influential Hip-Hop Artists (Scholastic/Rubicon 2008) and The Hip-Hop Education Guidebook Volume 2 (Lulu/August 2008). Marcella can be contacted at Marcella@nyu.edu.

Orisanmi Burton is an educator, student, and writer living in Harlem, NY. In 2003 he graduated from Hampshire College with a Liberal Arts degree. He currently works full-time as a Youth Worker/Media Arts Coordinator at The Brotherhood-Sister Sol. He has developed and facilitated workshops on a variety of topics including human rights, Hip-Hip history, police brutality, and the global AIDS crisis. He is working toward a Master’s Degree in Library & Information Science at Long Island University’s Palmer School. Additionally, his writings have appeared in The Village Voice, The Green Magazine, The Ave Magazine, Allhiphop.com, and Set Magazine. He has traveled extensively throughout Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean.

Geoffrey Enriquez is a high school math teacher at Vanguard High School and a member of NYCoRE

Edwin Mayorga is a former elementary school teacher; currently a student at the CUNY Graduate Center and a member of NYCoRE

Willie Perdomo is the author of two books of poetry: Where a Nickel Costs a Dime and Smoking Lovely.  He received a PEN/America Beyond Margins Award, a Woolrich Fellowship in Creative Writing at Columbia University, and a 2008 Urban Initiative Grant/NYC. Perdomo is co-publisher of Cypher Books.

Under the name JLove, Jennifer Calderon is the author That White Girl, a novel inspired by her own coming-of-age under the influence of hip hop in the Midwest and confronting such issues as racism and white privilege.  She is the co-producer of the We Got Issues! National Arts and Civic Engagement Tour as well as the co-creator, facilitator, and life coach of the We Got Issues! Leadership Institute for Young Women.
 
Elisha Miranda is the author of The Sista Hood, a four-part young adult series she writes under the pen name E-Fierce.   She calls her series The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants for urban girls of color. That is, their experiences are central to the narrative and not tokenized for diversity's sake.  She is the co-founder of Chica Luna Productions which develops identifies, develops and supports socially conscious women of color in popular media as well as the CEO of Sister Outsider Entertainment.
 
Under the pen name Black Artemis, Sofía Quintero is the author of three feminist hip-hop novels:  Explicit Content, Picture Me Rollin' and Burn.  She is also the co-founder of Chica Luna Productions and the President of Sister Outsider Entertainment, a multimedia production company that produces progressive entertainment for multicultural audiences and through a feminist lens.
 
Kersha Smith's primary research interests involve exploring the role of schooling and education in the lives of marginalized students.  More specifically her research investigates curricula and pedagogies responsible for the construction of critical knowledge and community stewardship.  She also is interested in analyzing the role students' culture plays in fostering their educational development.  Kersha is the recipient of the Spencer Foundation's Discipline Based Studies in Education Fellowship.  She was granted the Calvin W. Ruck award, which recognizes young scholars committed to social justice.  Recently she was awarded The Instructional Staff Fund by the College of New Rochelle for her work on transformative learning in non-traditional student populations.   Kersha received her doctorate in Social/Personality Psychology from The Graduate Center of The City University of New York (CUNY).   She presently holds a joint position as Chair of Psychology, at the College of New Rochelle School of New Resources, Brooklyn Campus and as Education Studies Faculty at Eugene Lang College, the liberal arts division of The New School University where she currently teaches a course on Hip-Hop as Pedagogy.

Celena Glenn is a ballet-toed bulldozer shoveling blankets off the ice-covered lakes of the heart’s malfunctions. Glenn is a former host at the Nuyorican poets’ café and two-time National Poetry Slam champion. She is featured in “Urban Scribe,” a documentary about the lives of contemporary poets, as well as Spoken Word Revolution, an anthology narrated by the creator of the poetry slam, Marc Smith. Celena urges that every ghetto, every suburb, every mansion recognize the relativity of circumstance and allow those elements that discriminate to unify the world as a humanity of oppressed souls.

Erica Miriam Fabri is a graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and received her MFA in poetry from The New School. She is the author of the chapbook, High Heel Magazine (winner of the 2006 Belle Letter Press Chapbook Contest on the theme of "WORD AND WOMAN") and her work has appeared in The Texas Review, The Spoon River Poetry Review, The New York Quarterly, Good Foot Magazine and Paper Street. She has performed in a wide range of venues and facilitated poetry workshops for a variety of organizations such as The Brooklyn Public Library, Poet's House, Urban Word NYC, The Fortune Society, The Robin Hood Foundation, and the PEN Prison Writing Program. She is the Creatively College Bound Coordinator at Urban Word NYC and currently teaches creative writing at The School of Visual Arts, Cooper Union School of the Arts and for the City University of New York (CUNY).  www.ericafabri.com

Effective Alternative in Reconciliation Services (EARS) is a Bronx based youth organization with a citywide reputation in Youth Empowerment Training and Conflict Management. Our focus is on youth 12 to 21 years old, that we train to be Peer Mediators and Teen Trainers. Over the years, our expert staff and our teams of youth leaders have trained over 23,000 youth and adults across New York City in conflict resolution, leadership development, and violence prevention issues. EARS has become an invaluable resource in youth empowerment and conflict resolution for hundreds of schools, community, foster care and youth organizations citywide and nationally.

Carlos REC McBride is a third year Doctoral student in the Language, Literacy and Culture program in the School of Education at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.  His studies focus on social justice in education through Hip Hop culture. Mr. McBride is an adjunct faculty member at Greenfield Community College, Holyoke Community College and Hampshire College. He also a part of Student Bridges at The University of Massachusetts, Amherst and teaches a year long honors course entitled Engaging in the Community. Mr. McBride is also co-founder of TRGGR Media Group, an organization that blends Hip Hop, cultural history and media literacy towards the cultivation of intellectual thought.

Kelly Zen-Yie Tsai is a Chicago-born Brooklyn-based Chinese Taiwanese American spoken word artist who has featured at over 275 performances worldwide including 3 seasons of "HBO Def Poetry."  Her formative experiences as a community organizer, domestic violence counselor, oral historian, and youth worker ground her commitment to social justice, non-violence, and the uplift of youth voices through the arts and entertainment. Her poetry can be found in numerous journals and anthologies including We Don't Need Another Wave: Dispatches from the Next Generation of Feminists (Seal, 2006), We Got Issues!: A Young Woman's Guide to a Bold, Empowered, and Courageous Life (Inner Ocean, 2007), and the Spoken Word Revolution Redux (Sourcebooks Mediafusion, 2007).  For more info, go to www.yellowgurl.com.