2022 Presenters

Photo by Zoraida Córdova | https://zoraidacordova.com

Mark Oshiro is the award-winning author of the young adult books ANGER IS A GIFT (2019 Schneider Family Book Award) and EACH OF US A DESERT, both with Tor Teen, as well as their middle grade debut, THE INSIDERS, with Harper Collins. They are also the co-author (with Rick Riordan) of the upcoming PERCY JACKSON novel centered on Nico di Angelo and Will Solace. When not writing, they are trying to pet every dog in the world.

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Kwame Mbalia is a husband, father, writer, #1 New York Times bestselling author, and former pharmaceutical metrologist, in that order. He is the author of the Tristan Strong trilogy, The Last Gate of the Emperor duology, and Black Boy Joy—an anthology of 17 stories celebrating Black boyhood. His work has received numerous starred reviews and a Coretta Scott King honor. A Howard University graduate and a Midwesterner now in North Carolina, Kwame survives on dad jokes and Cheez-Its.

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Joshua Nguyen is a queer Vietnamese-American writer, a collegiate national poetry slam champion (CUPSI), and a native Houstonian. He is the author of the chapbook, “American Lục Bát for My Mother” (Bull City Press) and has received fellowships from Kundiman, Tin House, Sundress Academy For The Arts, and the Vermont Studio Center. He has been published in The Offing, Wildness, American Poetry Review, The Texas Review, PANK, Auburn Avenue, Crab Orchard Review, and Gulf Coast Mag. He has also been featured on both the “VS” podcast and Tracy K. Smith’s, “The Slowdown”. He is a bubble tea connoisseur and loves a good pun. His debut poetry collection, “Come Clean” (University of Wisconsin Press), was the winner of the 2021 Felix Pollak Prize in Poetry. He is a PhD student at The University of Mississippi, where he also received his MFA. 

Joshua Nguyen began writing with the Meta-Four Houston Youth Slam Team from 2008-2012 and competed in Brave New Voices. He is an alumnus of the University of Texas at Austin and was part of the UT Spitshine slam team from 2014-2016. He placed #1 in the nation in 2014, won ‘Best Writing as a Team’ in 2015, and was the 2015 CUPSI Haiku Champ. In 2016, he traveled to Washington D.C. as a member of Future Corp to organize the 2016 Brave New Voices International Poetry Festival. He was a featured poet in a commercial for the National Education Association’s ‘Do You Hear Us?’ campaign. 

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A Chicago based rapper, producer, and visual director, Matt Muse burst onto the Chicago music scene with his performance at the 2016 “AAHH Fest!” alongside J. Cole, Common, Vic Mensa, The Roots, and more. With dynamic lyricism, his signature crown of “nappy” hair, and a one-of-a-kind live performance, Matt has become a mainstay in Chicago Hip-Hop.

Following the release of his first two EP’s, The SiKK Tape (2017) & Nappy Talk (2018), Matt released his latest and most vulnerable EP LOVE & NAPPYNESS on August 9th, 2019 to a host of praise and acclaim. He collaborated with Apple to premiere the self-directed music video for the EP’s single ‘MYSELF’ at Chicago’s Apple Michigan Avenue flagship store on  August 11th, and the EP was featured as Bandcamp Daily’s ‘Album of the Day’ upon its release.

On August 17, 2019, Matt performed in front of a sold out crowd at Chicago’s famed Schubas Tavern for the release show of LOVE & NAPPYNESS, with the show receiving praise from the Chicago Sun Times & the Chicago Reader.

With the help of phenomenal co-directors, Matt released a total of four self-directed music videos from LOVE & NAPPYNESS. The most recent of these four visuals was for the remix to SHOTGUN which released on September 22, 2020 and features Chicago based rapper Femdot. SHOTGUN was called Pitchfork’s “must-hear rap song of the day” on September 24th, 2020 and featured on Lyrical Lemonade’s September Spotify playlist.

Matt Muse stands as one of Chicago’s most exciting blossoming stars, as his stellar, honest, & engaging music and growing listenership continues to catapult him toward national recognition.

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A 2002 Fremd graduate, Teresa Dzieglewicz is an educator, Pushcart Prize-winning poet, a Poet-in-Residence with the Chicago Poetry Center, and an organizer with the Mní Wičhóni Nakíčižiŋ Wounspe (Defenders of the Water School) at Standing Rock Reservation. Her first book, Something Small of How To See a River, is forthcoming from Tupelo Press. She received her MFA from Southern Illinois University, where she received the Academy of American Poets Prize. She is the winner of the 2018 Auburn Witness Prize and the 2020 Palette Poetry Prize and has received fellowships from the Elizabeth George Foundation, New Harmony Writer’s Workshop, the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center, the NY Mills Arts Retreat, and Brooklyn Poets. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in the Pushcart Prize XLII, Best New Poets, Beloit Poetry Journal, Georgia Review, Prairie Schooner, Ninth Letter, Sixth Finch, and elsewhere.

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Born in the suburbs of Chicago, JORDY is an up and coming singer-songwriter now based in Los Angeles. Drawing influences from Lauv and Troye Sivan with catchy melodies and unforgettable hooks, JORDY has been releasing a steady supply of pop hits and features. He has been taking over media, first as one of Radio Disney’s featured artists with the release of his song “Tomorrow feat. OSTON,” and most recently on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon where he participated in and won the Songwriter’s Challenge.

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Mary Fons is a writer, quilter, editor and lecturer with experience creating original content across a variety of media. She’s lived in New York City and in Washington, D.C., but she belongs in Chicago and is never leaving.

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​​FAISAL MOHYUDDIN is a writer, artist, and educator. The child of immigrants from Pakistan, he is the author of The Displaced Children of Displaced Children (Eyewear Publishing, 2018), which won the 2017 Sexton Prize in Poetry, and was selected as a 2018 Summer Recommendation of the Poetry Book Society and named a “highly commended” collection of the year by the Forward Arts Foundation; it went on to receive an Honorable Mention in the Association of Asian American Studies 2020 Book Award for Poetry. Faisal is also the author of the chapbook The Riddle of Longing (Backbone Press, 2017), and his work has received Prairie Schooner‘s Edward Stanley Award, a Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Prize from the Illinois State Library, and an Illinois Arts Council Literary Award. His recent work appears in Poetry MagazineKweliThe MarginsPleiadesThe Forward Book of Poetry 2019Chicago Quarterly Review, and RHINO. An alumnus of the U.S. Department of State’s Fulbright Teachers for Global Classrooms program, Faisal is a graduate of Carleton College, Northwestern University, and Columbia College Chicago. An educator adviser and master practitioner for the global-not-for-profit Narrative 4, he teaches English at Highland Park High School in Illinois and at the School of Professional Studies at Northwestern University. 

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Hot Alice is a 4-piece rock band from the suburbs of Chicago. Spawned from multiple other successful Chicago bands, they’re lifelong friends who have decided to try something new. 

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Sam Weller is a two-time Bram Stoker Award-winner and an authorized biographer of legendary writer Ray Bradbury. Weller’s book, The Bradbury Chronicles: The Life of Ray Bradbury (William Morrow) was a national bestseller and winner of the 2005 Society of Midland Authors Award for Best Biography. The companion book, Listen to the Echoes: The Ray Bradbury Interviews, was published by Melville House/Stop Smiling Books in 2010. With Mort Castle, Weller co-edited the short fiction anthology Shadow Show: All-New Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury (William Morrow Paperbacks, 2012). In 2014, Weller and Castle’s graphic novel adaptation of Shadow Show was published by IDW. In 2015, Weller edited Ray Bradbury: The Last Interview as part of Melville House Publishing’s critically lauded “Last Interview” series. Weller is the former Midwest Correspondent for Publishers Weekly magazine. His personal essays have appeared in the Paris Review, on the National Public Radio Program All Things Considered, Slate magazine and others. He is a regular blogger for the Huffington Post. His short fiction has appeared in numerous books, anthologies, literary journals, and magazines, including Printer’s Row Journal, Rosebud, the Chicago Reader others. Weller’s short story collection, Dark Black, was published in 2020.

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