A Night of Poetry with the Pan African Literary Forum

6:30 p.m.

Readings by Sherwin Bitsui, Tonya Foster, Nathalie Handal, Tyehimba Jess, Jacqueline Johnson, David Mills and Cynthia Dewi Oka. 

Moderated by Jeffery Renard Allen, faculty, the School of Writing.

  • Sherwin Bitsui, a Diné (Navajo) from the Navajo Reservation in White Cone, Arizona. He is the author of the poetry collections Shapeshift and Flood Song. Steeped in Native American culture, mythology, and history, Bitsui’s poems reveal the tensions in the intersection of Native American and contemporary urban culture. Bitsui has received a Whiting Writers’ Award, a grant from the Witter Bynner Foundation for Poetry, and a Truman Capote Creative Writing Fellowship. 
  • Tonya Foster’s poetry, fiction, and essays that have been published in a variety of journals such as nocturnes, Callaloo, Traffic, Lungfull, DrumVoices, the Hat, Gulf Coast. Foster was an Art/Poetry columnist for the Poetry Project Newsletter and has published non-fiction essays in NY Arts Magazine, NYFA Quarterly and The Poetry Project Newsletter. Her work has also appeared in the anthologies: Free Radicals: American Poets before their First Books, edited by Jordan Davis and Sarah Manguso; and POeP!, edited by Edwin Torres and Anselm Berrigan, one of the first eBook literary journals dedicated to innovative poetry. Author of A Swarm of Bees in High Court, a Belladonna chapbook, and co-editor of Third Mind: Teaching Creative Writing Through Visual Art, she is currently completing A Mathematics of Chaos – a cross-genre, multi-media piece about New Orleans, home and home-buoys; Monkey Talk – an inter-genre piece about race, paranoia, surveillance, and need; and A History of the Bitch, a collection of poems.

  • Nathalie Handal is an award-winning poet, playwright, and editor. Her newest collection is Poet in Andalucía. Handal’s other works include The NeverField;, The Lives of Rain, shortlisted for The Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize and the recipient of the Menada Literary Award; and Love and Strange Horses, winner of the Gold Medal Independent Publisher Book Award 2011.
  • Tyehimba Jess' first collection of poetry, leadbelly, was chosen for the National Poetry Series by Brigit Pegeen Kelly. He is the author of African American Pride: Celebrating Our Achievements, Contributions, and Enduring Legacy. His work has been featured in numerous anthologies, including Dark Matter 2: Reading the Bones, and Slam: The Competitive Art of Performance Poetry. His honors include a Whiting Writers’Award, a Chicago Sun-Times Poetry Award, and a Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Poetry Award.
  • Jacqueline Johnson is a multi-disciplined artist in both writing and fiber arts. She is the author of A Gathering of Mother Tongues, and is the winner of the Third Annual White Pine Press Poetry Award. She is also the author of Stokely Carmichael: The Story of Black Power. Johnson has received awards from the New York Foundation of the Arts, the Mid-Atlantic Writers Association’s Creative Writing Award in poetry, and McDowell Colony for the Arts. She is a Cave Canem fellow.
  • David Mills, a Brooklyn native, has performed his poems in Helsinki, Finland, in Poland, and with Steve Coleman and BB Duron's RapJazz Band. He has received many fellowships, including from Split Rock Arts and Fundacion Valparaiso. His work can be found in Callaloo and numerous magazines. He is the author of the collection The Dream Detective.  Quincy Troupe selected him as the winner of the Pan African Literature’s Poetry Competition for the 2008 conference in Ghana.
  • Cynthia Dewi Oka is a poet, mother and community educator currently based in New Jersey. Born and raised in Bali, Indonesia, Cynthia migrated to Turtle Island at the age of ten, where she was a visitor in Vancouver, unceded Coast Salish Territories, for many years. nomad of salt and hard water is her first book of poems. Her poems have appeared in both the United States and Canada, including in the publications 580 Split, Kweli Journal, SCHOOL Magazine, Briarpatch, Borderline Poetry, Zócalo Poets, Generations Literary Magazine and the chapbook poems from the cracks. 

Sponsored by The School of Writing and the Pan African Literary Forum (PALF).

PALF is a nonprofit organization started by novelists Jeffery Renard Allen and Arthur Flowers, which engages in many activities that support the creation and development of writers and literature on the African continent.



Wollman Hall, Eugene Lang Building, 65 West 11th Street, 5th floor (enter at 66 West 12th Street)

Free; no tickets or reservations required; seating is first-come first-served

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