Jerid P. Woods, also known as Akili Nzuri, is a writer, educator, PhD Candidate, and literary influencer. He was born and raised in Natchez, MS and survives on an unwavering commitment to ignite a passion for reading in the youth; he also exists as a living testimony to the power of shared stories and knowing one’s self. He is the owner and creator of Ablackmanreading.com and the Instagram blog: @ablackmanreading. He is also one half of the dynamic podcast duo, @booksarepopculture available for streaming on all services.
Glory Edim is an author, activist, and the founder of Well-Read Black Girl, a nationwide book club-turned-literacy nonprofit that celebrates the life changing power of literature. Well-Read Black Girl’s mission is to use storytelling as a tool for advocacy and collective empowerment. Glory has won numerous awards for her work supporting and sustaining writers, including the 2017 Innovator’s Award from the Los Angeles Times Book Prizes and the Madam C.J. Walker Award from the Hurston/Wright Foundation. She also serves on the board of Baldwin for the Arts. Her best-selling anthology, Well-Read Black Girl: Finding Our Stories, Discovering Ourselves, was published by Penguin Random House in 2018. She is currently working on a memoir that explores the intimate relationship between reading and self-healing. She resides in Washington, DC with her son, Zikomo.
Dennis James Sweeney is the author of In the Antarctic Circle, winner of the 2020 Autumn House Rising Writer Prize, as well as four chapbooks of poetry and prose, including Ghost/Home: A Beginner’s Guide to Being Haunted. His writing has appeared in Five Points, Ninth Letter, the New York Times, and The Southern Review, among other publications. A Small Press Editor of Entropy and former Fulbright Fellow in Malta, he has an MFA from Oregon State University and a PhD from the University of Denver. Originally from Cincinnati, he lives in Amherst, where he teaches at Amherst College.
Joanna Harris has worked at DC Public Library for the past nine years in various roles serving young people. As the Teen Services Coordinator, she helps the Library’s 26 locations offer programs and services to customers ages 13-19. She particularly enjoys working with the Library’s teen employees to create fun programs that connect teens to literacy. She likes to read as much as she can in her spare time and favors mystery, thriller, and horror novels.
Nadine Farid Johnson serves as the Managing Director of PEN America Washington and Free Expression Programs, where she leads the organization’s high-level governmental engagement on a broad range of global and domestic free expression issues. An attorney and advocate with a focus in democracy, human rights, and governance, she has a breadth of experience across the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. She is a former Foreign Service Officer whose work spanned the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and multilateral affairs. Previously, she served as executive director of the ACLU of Kansas, and led operations and community engagement at Google L.A. Nadine was a professor of law and political science at Gonzaga University and a Climenko Fellow at Harvard Law School. She is a graduate of DePauw University and Tulane Law School, and studied at the U.S. Naval War College.
Idra Novey is the author of Ways to Disappear, a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize for First Fiction and Those Who Knew, a finalist for the 2019 Clark Fiction Prize and a Best Book of the Year with NPR, Esquire, BBC, and over a dozen media outlets. Her co-translation with Ahmad Nadalizadeh of Iranian poet Garous Abdolmalekian, Lean Against This Late Hour was longlisted for the 2021 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation. She teaches fiction at Princeton University and in the MFA Program at NYU. Her forthcoming novel Take What You Need will be out from Viking Books in 2023.
Brandi Wilkins Catanese is an Associate Professor at the University of California, Berkeley in the Departments of African American Studies and Theater, Dance, and Performance Studies. She writes and teaches about race and the politics of representation, and is the author of The Problem of the Color[blind]: Racial Transgression and the Politics of Black Performance.
Bernard Clay is a Louisville, Kentucky, native who received an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Kentucky, and is a member of the Affrilachian Poets collective. His work has been published in various journals and anthologies. He currently resides on a farm in eastern Kentucky. English Lit is his first book.
Jamaica Baldwin hails from Santa Cruz, CA by way of Seattle. Her first book, Bone Language, will be published by YesYes Books in 2023. Her work has appeared in Prairie Schooner, The Adroit Journal, Guernica, and The Missouri Review, among others. She is a 2021 National Endowment for the Arts Fellow and winner of the 2021 RHINO Poetry Editors’ Prize. Jamaica is currently pursuing her PhD in English at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln with a focus on poetry and Women’s and Gender Studies.