Ben Will is an artist who uses poetry, musical performance, and storytelling to guide audiences into creative moments of self-discovery where they feel worthy of their joy. A native to Detroit, MI., Ben’s empathetically invigorating performance style has been seen on local and international stages for a variety of audiences, including a recent cultural ambassador partnership with the US Embassy in Belgium and opening for New York Times bestselling author Rupi Kaur. He is also the 2022 Motown Mic Spoken Word Artist of the Year and a 2022 Poetry Foundation Equity in Verse recipient. He also serves as the founding executive director of Motor City Sings a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that utilizes musical performance to remove stigma from the topics of mental health and suicide prevention within the Black/African American community of Detroit.
Born and raised in Queens, NYC, Daemond Arrindell is a multi-genre writer, film maker, educator, performer, and equity consultant. His work has appeared in City Arts, Specter, Crosscut, Poetry NorthWest, Seattle Review of Books and The Pitkin Review. Daemond is a Jack Straw Writer and a Jack Straw Writers Program curator, a Mineral School fellow and a VONA/Voices Writer’s Workshop fellow. He co-adapted the acclaimed novel “Welcome To Braggsville,” by T. Geronimo Johnson into a stage production for Book-It Repertory Theater. In 2019, he performed his first one-man show, “Frozen Borders,” a performative exploration in imagery, poetry and emotion on the subject of the United States’ southern border. Daemond received his MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. Whether facilitating groups of high school students, adult educators or incarcerated populations, Daemond’s objectives for participants remain the same: to think critically and creatively; to honor individual voices, especially those of the disenfranchised; and to reflect on what makes us unique and celebrate it.
Hailing from Fort Worth, Texas, Isabel Lucía Guinn is a writer, dancer, and teaching artist. Isabel is a graduate of The New School, holding a BFA in Literary Studies and Creative Writing, and has experience teaching as a high school English student teacher at Mann UCLA Community School in Los Angeles as well as being a dance educator. Isabel has worked with several NYC literary and educational programs including the “I Have A Dream” Foundation, HOPE Farm Inc., The Academy Project and Belladonna Collaborative*. She continues to pursue her own dance education writing having previously read her works at The Poetry Project in NYC and dancing at Dallas Black Theater, Joffrey School of Ballet, and Mark Morris Dance Group. Isabel deeply enjoys creative education and is thrilled to be working with the National Book Foundation and BookUp. She is currently based in Brooklyn, NY.
Rajdeep Paulus is an award-winning young adult fiction author. Her first book in her trilogy, Swimming Through Clouds, won several writing contests, and Amazon featured Rajdeep on International Women’s Day in 2017. Raj also has two nonfiction titles published on women in politics and the opioid epidemic. Rajdeep studied English Literature at Northwestern University and has an MFA in Creative Writing and Literature from Stony Brook University. In Raj’s free time, she likes to watch movies, play basketball, and spend time with friends and family. Raj lives in New York with her Sunshine and four daughters.
Susie Wilde is passionate about igniting readers and writers of all ages. For thirty years, she has reviewed books for children 0-young adult in magazines and papers across the country. Currently she listens to audios, reviews and interviews for AudioFile Magazine. A teaching artist for 30 years, Susie has been a writer-in-residence in schools and has published 5 collaborative picture books with children and families. Presently, she teaches adults how to write children’s books, runs critique groups, edits for other children book writers and works on her memoir when she can find time.
Carolyn Ferrucci is a poet originally from New York City currently based in Queens. Her poems can be found in Field Notes Journal (UK), Form IV, Wendys Subway’s The Quick and The Dead, No Dear, The Felt, and forthcoming from Changes Press and The Brooklyn Rail. Carolyn has an MFA from Bard College Milton Avery School of the Arts in Writing and a BA in Literary Studies from The New School. A teaching artist and educator for several years, she has also been an advocate and paralegal for migrants held in detention centers in Arizona and New York.
Viviana Prado-Núñez is an author, theatre-maker, and teaching artist born in San Juan, Puerto Rico in a hospital with a 4.0 Google review rating and a view of the ocean. She has never seen Star Wars, eaten a grasshopper, or written a poem without the letter ‘e,’ though she hopes to do all three of those things in the future. Previous credits include winning the 2017 Burt Award for Caribbean Young Adult Literature, longlisting for the 2020 International Dublin Literary Award, and appearing on the New York Public Library’s recommended reading list for 2020 National Caribbean American Heritage Month for her novel, The Art of White Roses. She has also developed plays with The Center at West Park, Echo Theater Company’s National Young Playwrights in Residence program, Corkscrew Theater Festival, and The Parsnip Ship–and is also an alumnus of CWP’s Teaching Artist Project along with having done educational work in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago on behalf of the Jamaica Library Service and the NGC Bocas Lit Fest. She is currently based in NYC. BA: Columbia University, 2020. (www.vivianapradonunez.com)
Jordan E. Franklin is a poet and educator from Brooklyn, NY. Her work has appeared in the Southampton Review, Breadcrumbs, easy paradise, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, Frontier, and elsewhere. She is the winner of the 2017 James Hearst Poetry Prize offered by the North American Review, and a finalist of both the 2018 Nightjar Review Poetry Contest, and the 2019 Furious Flower Poetry Prize.
Her first poetry collection, when the signals come home, was selected as the winner of the 2020 Gatewood Prize and was published by Switchback Books in March 2021. Recently, her poetry chapbook, boys in the electric age, was published Tolsun Books in August 2021. Besides writing, she enjoys teaching it, performing poetry, video games, cartoons and movies.
Fatima Farheen Mirza was born in 1991 and raised in California. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a recipient of the Michener-Copernicus Fellowship.