2021 Presenters

Photo Credit: Rachel Eliza Griffiths

PATRICIA SMITH is the author of eight books of poetry, including Incendiary Art, winner of the 2018 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award, the 2017 Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the 2018 NAACP Image Award, and finalist for the 2018 Pulitzer Prize; Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah, winner of the Lenore Marshall Prize from the Academy of American Poets; Blood Dazzler, a National Book Award finalist; and Gotta Go, Gotta Flow, a collaboration with award-winning Chicago photographer Michael Abramson.  Her other books include the poetry volumes Teahouse of the AlmightyClose to DeathBig Towns Big TalkLife According to Motown; the children’s book Janna and the Kingsand the history Africans in America, a companion book to the award-winning PBS series. Her work has appeared in Poetry, The Paris Review, The Baffler, The Washington Post, The New York Times, Tin House and in Best American Poetry, Best American Essays and Best American Mystery Stories. She co-edited The Golden Shovel Anthology—New Poems Honoring Gwendolyn Brooks and edited the crime fiction anthology Staten Island Noir

She is a Guggenheim fellow, a Civitellian, a National Endowment for the Arts grant recipient, a finalist for the Neustadt Prize, a two-time winner of the Pushcart Prize, a former fellow at both Yaddo and the MacDowell Colony, and a four-time individual champion of the National Poetry Slam, the most successful poet in the competition’s history. Patricia is a Distinguished Professor for the City University of New York and an instructor in the MFA program at Sierra Nevada University and in the Vermont College of Fine Arts Post-Graduate Residency Program.

* IN CONVERSATION WITH *

Tyehimba

Tyehimba Jess is the author of two books of poetry, Leadbelly and OlioOlio won the 2017 Pulitzer Prize, the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, The Midland Society Author’s Award in Poetry, and received an Outstanding Contribution to Publishing Citation from the Black Caucus of the American Library Association.  It was also nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN Jean Stein Book Award, and the Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award.  Leadbelly was a winner of the 2004 National Poetry Series. The Library Journal and Black Issues Book Review both named it one of the “Best Poetry Books of 2005.” Jess, a Cave Canem and NYU Alumni, received a 2004 Literature Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and was a 2004–2005 Winter Fellow at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. Jess is also a veteran of the 2000 and 2001 Green Mill Poetry Slam Team, and won a 2000–2001 Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Poetry, the 2001 Chicago Sun-Times Poetry Award, and a 2006 Whiting Fellowship. He presented his poetry at the 2011 TedX Nashville Conference and won a 2016 Lannan Literary Award in Poetry. He received a Guggenheim fellowship in 2018. Jess is a Professor of English at College of Staten Island.  

Jess’ fiction and poetry have appeared in many journals, as well as anthologies such as Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American PoetryBeyond The Frontier: African American Poetry for the Twenty-First Century, Role Call: A Generational Anthology of Social and Political Black Literature and Art, Bum Rush the Page: A Def Poetry Jam, Power Lines: Ten Years of Poetry from Chicago’s Guild Complex, and Slam: The Art of Performance Poetry.

* * *

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

Mark Oshiro is the award-winning author of ANGER IS A GIFT (2019 Schneider Family Book Award) and EACH OF US A DESERT, both with Tor Teen. Their middle grade debut, THE INSIDERS, is out in 2021. When not writing, they run the online Mark Does Stuff universe and are trying to pet every dog in the world.

* IN CONVERSATION WITH *

ADIB KHORRAM is the author of DARIUS THE GREAT IS NOT OKAY, which earned the William C. Morris Debut Award, the Asian/Pacific American Award for Young Adult Literature, and a Boston Globe–Horn Book Honor, as well as a multitude of other honors and accolades. His followup, DARIUS THE GREAT DESERVES BETTER, received three starred reviews and was an instant Indie Bestseller.His debut picture book, SEVEN SPECIAL SOMETHINGS: A NOWRUZ STORY will be released February 16, 2021. When he isn’t writing, you can find him learning to do a Lutz jump, practicing his handstands, or steeping a cup of oolong. He lives in Kansas City, Missouri, where people don’t usually talk about themselves in the third person.You can find him on Twitter (@adibkhorram), Instagram (@adibkhorram), or on the web at adibkhorram.com.

* * *

An absolute Fremd favorite, Sierra DeMulder is an internationally touring performance poet, mental health advocate, two-time National Poetry Slam champion, and a four-time published author (The Bones BelowNew Shoes on a Dead Horse, We Slept HereToday Means Amen). She is the co-host of the relationship advice podcast Just Break Up and lives in Minneapolis with her dog, Opal.

* IN CONVERSATION WITH *

At only 23 years old, Blythe Baird is already one of the most recognizable names in spoken word and slam poetry. A graduate of Fremd High School, the viral and award-winning writer has garnered international recognition for her poems that speak out on sexual assault, mental illness, eating disorder recovery, sexuality, and healing. Her work has been featured by Glamour, ELLE India, TedxMinneapolis, The National Eating Disorder Association, Mic, The Huffington Post, EverydayFeminism, Medium, The Mighty, The Body Is Not An Apology, Write Bloody, Button Poetry, A-Plus, and more. Baird graduated from Hamline University in 2018 with a dual degree in Creative Writing and Women’s Studies. In 2020, she became the recipient of the prestigious McKnight Artist Fellowship for Spoken Word, administered by The Loft Literary Center. Blythe’s highly anticipated full-length collection, IF MY BODY COULD SPEAK, is out now with Button Poetry. Get your copy here.

* * *

Gloria Chao is the critically acclaimed author of American Panda, Our Wayward Fateand Rent a Boyfriend. When she’s not writing, you can find her with her husband on the curling ice or hiking the Indiana Dunes. After a brief detour as a dentist, she is now grateful to spend her days in fictional characters’ heads instead of real people’s mouths. Her award-winning books have been featured on the “Best of” lists of SeventeenBustle, Barnes & NoblesPopSugarPaste Magazine, and more. American Panda received four starred trade reviews, was on the Amelia Bloomer list, and was a Junior Library Guild Selection, Indie Next Pick, and YALSA Teen’s Top 10 Pick.

* IN CONVERSATION WITH *

Rachel Lynn Solomon writes, tap dances, and collects red lipstick in Seattle, Washington. She is the author of the YA novels Today Tonight Tomorrow, You’ll Miss Me When I’m Gone, Our Year of Maybe, and We Can’t Keep Meeting Like This (June 2021). Her debut adult romantic comedy, The Ex Talk, will be published in January 2021. She has written for newspapers, produced a radio show that aired in the middle of the night, and worked for NPR. Rachel has been a Pitch Wars mentor since 2014 and currently serves on the Pitch Wars leadership committee.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s