meet the authors & artists

See who's coming out.

Siphne A. Aaye


Memphis-based emerging artist Siphne A. Sylve is best known for her creative, exploration of Southern American identity, womanhood, and racial justice. A Louisiana native and rising star in the Memphis arts community, Siphne is profiled in the 2017 Memphis Flyer's "Young, Gifted and Black" cover story and the publication’s 2013 edition of "20 under 30.”

Hanif Abdurraqib

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Hanif Abdurraqib is a poet, essayist, and cultural critic from Columbus, Ohio. His first collection of poems, The Crown Ain’t Worth Much was released in 2016 and was nominated for the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award. His first collection of essays, They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us, was released in fall 2017 by Two Dollar Radio.

Ekpe Abioto


Ekpe Abioto is a “musical philanthropist” and artistic director of Genius Unlimited. He specializes in children’s music and cultural entertainment through music performances, recordings, workshops, and lectures. 

Founded by percussion maestro Ekpe Abioto, the Afrikan Jazz Ensemble is comprised of some of the most dynamic and legendary jazz artists to emerge from the city. The ensemble's liberatory sounds trace resistance practices from Africa to the Americas and back again. 


Courtney Alexander

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Courtney Alexander is an interdisciplinary artist and creative director with a Bachelor’s in Studio Art from the University of South Florida. She is the artist, designer, and author behind Dust II Onyx: A Melanated Tarot as well as owner of Black & Sage Publishing, which caters to marginalized artists and writers.

Kenneth Wayne Alexander

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Kenneth Wayne Alexander is an artist who fuses traditional, anime and digital art styles to create a new vision, dubbed NOVI arts. An alumni of Overton high, Kenneth has created artwork for acts like Rick Ross, J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League and  Kanye West producer: Ken Lewis. Recently, he partnered with Samsung through Blackdove Gallery in New York as one of their featured artists to represent the company. His exhibition, "Surreal Kingdoms," was shown in conjunction with the Smithsonian's "The Art of Video Games" in 2015 for 6 months. 

Eloisa Amezcua

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Eloisa Amezcua is an Arizona native. Her debut collection, From the Inside Quietly, is the inaugural winner of the Shelterbelt Poetry Prize selected by Ada Limón. A MacDowell fellow, she is the author of three chapbooks and founder/editor-in-chief of The Shallow Ends: A Journal of Poetry.


Chanelle Benz

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Chanelle Benz has published short stories in Guernica,, Electric Literature, The American Reader, Fence, and The O. Henry Prize Stories 2014. Her story collection The Man Who Shot Out My Eye Is Dead was published in 2017 by Ecco. She lives in Memphis and teaches at Rhodes College.

Destiny O. Birdsong

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Destiny O. Birdsong is a poet, fiction writer, and essayist whose work has either appeared or is forthcoming in African American Review, The BreakBeat Poets Volume 2: Black Girl Magic, The Cambridge Companion to Transnational American Literature, storySouth, and other publications. Destiny has received fellowships from Cave Canem, Callaloo, The MacDowell Colony, and elsewhere.

Yasmin Boakye

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Yasmin Boakye is a St. Louis-based essayist and fiction writer raised in the Maryland suburbs of DC. A Callaloo Fellow and VONA/Voices alumna, her prose has appeared in Refinery29, TRACK/FOUR, Puerto del Sol's Black Voices series, and Bird's Thumb.


Alice Bolin

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Alice Bolin's first collection of essays is Dead Girls, published by Morrow/HarperCollins in June 2018. Her nonfiction has appeared in ELLE, the Awl, the LA Review of Books, and many other publications. She currently teaches creative nonfiction at the University of Memphis.

Addie Citchens

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Addie Citchens is a fiction writer from Clarksdale, Mississippi. Her work covers the performance of blackness, sexuality, sexual violence, generational trauma, and personal healing/liberation/triumph.

Heather Dobbins

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Heather Dobbins’s poems and poetry reviews have appeared in The Potomac Review, Raleigh Review, The Rumpus, and Women’s Studies Quarterly, among others. She is author of two collections, In the Low Houses (2014) and River Mouth (2017), both by Kelsay Books. She's been a teacher for twenty years and served as co-chair for the Mid-South Book Festival in 2015 and 2016. A flatlander native of Memphis, she recently moved to the hills of Fort Smith, Arkansas.


Alice Faye Duncan


Alice Faye Duncan writes for young readers. Her book, Honey Baby Sugar Child, is a mother's love song to her baby boy. The story swings like music. In August, Alice will debut her picture book, Memphis, Martin and the Mountaintop.It is the story of Dr. King's last crusade for justice. Gregory Christie is the illustrator. 



Osayi Endolyn

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Osayi Endolyn is a writer and editor whose work often explores food and identity. She’s written for The Washington Post, Oxford American, Food52, Garden & Gun, and The Cut, among others. She is deputy editor at Gravy, where her column “Missed Cues” received the 2018 James Beard Award for columns.

Madeline Faber

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Madeline Faber is a local editor and award-winning reporter. Prior to joining High Ground News as managing editor, she worked as a staff reporter for The Daily News. She has also written for HuffPost and contributes to several local publications. Her experience as a development reporter complements High Ground's mission to write about what's next for Memphis.


Arthur Flowers

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Arthur Flowers, native of Memphis, author of novels and other texts, is a bluesbased performance poet/delta griot. He has been Exec. Dir. of The Harlem Writers Guild and various nonprofits. He is webmaster of Rootsblog, Assoc Professor, Fiction, Syracuse University and a practitioner of literary hoodoo.

Minda Honey

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Minda Honey does not think it's a coincidence that she was raised and resides in Louisville, KY, the same city that gave the world Muhammad Ali. Her writing has been featured by Longreads the Los Angeles Review of Books, the Washington PostThe GuardianThe Oxford American, and every other week she tackles the dating woes of strangers as her city's relationship advice columnist. She's working on her memoir, An Anthology of Assholes, about dating as a woman of color in Southern California.

Ravi Howard

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Ravi Howard is the author of two novels, Like, Trees, Walking and Driving the King. He was a finalist for the Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award and winner of the Ernest J. Gaines Award. He has received fellowships and awards from the Hurston-Wright Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts.


S. Jae-Jones

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S. Jae-Jones, called JJ, is an artist, adrenaline junkie, and New York Times bestselling author of Wintersong and Shadowsong.

Barb Johnson

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Barb Johnson’s work has appeared in such magazines as Guernica, Glimmer Train Stories, The Southern Review, and Oxford American, as well as in a number of anthologies, most recently Monday Nights. She is the author of the award-winning short story collection, More of This World or Maybe Another

Jenny Johnson

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Jenny Johnson is the author of In Full Velvet (Sarabande Books, 2017). Her honors include a 2015 Whiting Award and a 2016-17 Hodder Fellowship at Princeton University. Her poems have appeared in The New York Times, Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics, New England Review, and elsewhere. She teaches at the University of Pittsburgh and at the Rainier Writing Workshop's MFA Program.


Laura Faith Kebede

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Laura Faith Kebede covers Memphis schools for Chalkbeat. She is a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and loves her native South even though it doesn’t always love her back. She recently won second place for non-deadline reporting from the Green Eyeshade Awards for excellence journalism in the South for her feature of Tami Sawyer, the Memphis educator who led the charge to take down the city's Confederate monuments. 

Kiese Laymon


Born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi, Kiese Laymon, Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing and English at the University of Mississippi, is the author of the novel, Long Division and a collection of essays, How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America. He is also the author of the forthcoming memoir Heavy.

Sarah Nicole Lemon

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Sarah Nicole Lemon is the author of the young adult novels Done Dirt Cheap and Valley Girls. After an unconventional girlhood, she now lives outside of Washington D.C. with her husband, three children and snuggly Pit Bull, Maggie. When not writing, you can find her sweating profusely in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.


Andrea Morales

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Peruvian-born, Miami-bred and Memphis-based. As an independent photographer in the Delta South, Andrea Morales focuses on editorial work through a journalistic and documentary lens. After years of existing in spaces heavy with the constructs of socioeconomic binaries, her work moves with the hope of observing the things in between. Her photos have appeared in the New York TimesTime Magazine, and elsewhere.

Daniel José Older

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Daniel José Older is the award-winning author of YA series Shadowshaper Cypher (Scholastic), the Bone Street Rumba adult series (Penguin), Star Wars Last Shot (Del Rey), and the upcoming middle-grade historical fantasy Dactyl Hill Squad. Find him online at

Christina Olivares

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Christina Olivares is the author of No Map of the Earth Includes Stars, winner of the 2014 Marsh Hawk Press Book Prize and of the chaplet Interrupt, published by Belladonna* Collaborative. She is the recipient of two Jerome Foundation Travel and Study Grants and of a 2015-2016 LMCC Workspace Residency.


Kaitlyn Sage Patterson

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Kaitlyn Sage Patterson grew up with her nose in a book outside the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. She now lives in Memphis with a long dog, a fluff dog, and her husband. The Diminished was published by HarlequinTEEN in April 2018, followed by its sequel in 2019.

Marco Pavé

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Memphis native Marco Pavé sits at the intersection of hip-hop, arts communities, technology, and local activism, harnessing the power of music to transform his city. Founder of Radio Rahim Music, Marco is committed to his community as well as his music, using his music as a pathway to build partnerships and influence how organizations engage with Memphis communities through art. 

Ann Powers


Ann Powers is a critic and correspondent for NPR Music and World Cafe and the author/editor of five books, most recently GOOD BOOTY: Love and Sex, Black and White, Body and Soul in American Music (Dey Street, 2017).


Ashanté M. Reese

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Ashanté M. Reese is an ethnographer who researches and writes about blackness and space in the context of the food system. Her book, Between a Corner Store and a Safeway: Race, Self-Reliance, and Food Access in the Nation's Capital, will be published by the University of North Carolina Press in early 2019.

Desmond Robinson

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Chef Desmond Robinson (Chef D.Arthur) is Memphis native, food blogger, and owner of D.Arthur’s Catering. Hailing from a family of amazing culinary talent, Chef D.Arthur travels the world serving up #deliciousthings, southern style.

Maurice Carlos Ruffin

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Maurice Carlos Ruffin’s work has appeared in Callaloo, the LA Times, and Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas. He received the Iowa Review Award in fiction and is the nonfiction columnist for Virginia Quarterly Review. One World Random House will publish his novel We Cast A Shadow in 2019.


Talibah Safiya

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Rion Amilcar Scott

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Talibah Safiya is a Singer, Writer and Performer who shares her message through her melodies. Known to express her rebuttals to standard portrayals of women with her poetic, visual and provocative lyricism. Talibah is a thought leader on the topics of relationship with self, intimacy and everyday magic.

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sam sax is the author of Madness (Penguin, 2017) winner of The National Poetry Series and Bury It (Wesleyan University Press, 2018) winner of the James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets. He’s the two-time Bay Area Grand Slam Champion & his poems have appeared in BuzzFeed, The Nation, The New York Times, Poetry Magazine—This fall he'll be a Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University.

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Rion Amilcar Scott’s short story collection, Insurrections (University Press of Kentucky, 2016) was awarded the 2017 PEN/Bingham Prize for Debut Fiction. His work has been published in journals such as The Kenyon Review, Crab Orchard Review, and The Rumpus, among others. The World Doesn't Require You, his sophomore story collection, is forthcoming from Liveright.


Mychal Denzel Smith

Doreen St. Félix

Adia Victoria

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Mychal Denzel Smith is the New York Times bestselling author of Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching and a 2017 NAACP Image Award Nominee. His work has appeared in publications such as the Washington Post, New Republic, New York Times Book Review, The Nation, The Atlantic, Paris Review, Complex, GQ, Guernica, Literary Hub, Pitchfork, Buzzfeed, The Guardian, and many others. He has appeared as commentator or MSNBC, CNN, Democracy NOW!, NPR, and numerous other national/local radio and television outlets. In 2014 and 2016, named him one of the 100 Most Influential African-Americans in their annual The Root 100 list. He is a fellow at The Nation Institute.

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Doreen St. Félix is a writer at The New Yorker. In 2017, she was a finalist for a National Magazine Award in Columns and Commentary.


Adia Victoria is a songwriter, poet, and performer. Her first full length album, Baby Blues, was released by Atlantic Records. She is currently based in Nashville, TN. 


Crystal Wilkinson

Raven Writes

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Crystal Wilkinson is an award-winning feminist poet, novelist, memoirist. Her debut novel, The Birds of Opulence, received the 2016 Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. Her other works include the short-story collections Blackberries, Blackberries and Water Street. Wilkinson co-owns, with her partner, artist Ronald Davis, the Wild Fig Books & Coffee in Lexington and she is a professor at University of Kentucky.

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Raven Writes is a native Memphian and no stranger to the spoken word scene in Memphis. Currently, she is on her way to publishing her first novel Keeper of the Warren.



George Arnett Dowdy

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George Arnett, born in Memphis, TN, is a writer, composer, and social media stunt queen. His musical compositions have received premieres at the University of Memphis and Vanderbilt Divinity School. Arnett’s words have appeared on,, and he has appeared on BBC Radio discussing race and pop culture.

Jamey Hatley


Jamey Hatley is a native of Memphis, TN and one of the co-founders of the Center for Southern Literary Arts. Her writing has appeared in the Oxford American, Torch, The Account, Long Hidden: Speculative Fiction From The Margins of History, Memphis Noir, and elsewhere. She has attended the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop, the Voices of Our Nation Writing Workshop and received scholarships to the Oxford American Summit for Ambitious Writers and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. She received an MFA in Creative Writing from Louisiana State University. She made her home in Louisiana for a decade. She wrote her way home to Memphis. She was a 2016 Prose Fellow for the National Endowment for the Arts and a 2016 Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award Winner.

Charles L. Hughes

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Charles L. Hughes is a historian, teacher, musician, Memphian. Author of Country Soul. Writing about 1968 albums here.


Danielle Littlefield

Sara Lewis

Carolyn Matthews

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Memphis native Danielle Littlefield is a writer of short fiction, a professor at Rust College, and founder of The Veil Public.

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Sara A. Lewis earned her PhD from the University of Southern Mississippi's Center for Writers. She is Associate Editor of the Oxford American.

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Carolyn Matthews is a Memphis poet, educator, and Cave Canem Fellow. Her poetry and prose have appeared in The Laurel ReviewJewels MagazineHomespun Images: An Anthology of Black Memphis Writers, and Cave Canem Anthology XIII. She studied creative writing at University of Memphis and received her MFA from University of Southern Maine.



Elle Perry

Zandria F. Robinson

Micaela Watts

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Elle Perry is sometimes a writer, sometimes a photographer. As a journalist, her work has appeared in a variety of local, regional and national publications. Chief to Elle’s key interests are art, music and delicious food and drink.


Zandria F. Robinson, PhD is one of CSLA’s co-founders and a writer and sociologist whose work focuses on race, popular culture, and the U.S. South. She is the author of This Ain’t Chicago: Race, Class, and Regional Identity in the Post-Soul South, co-editor with Sandra L. Barnes and Earl Wright II of Repositioning Race: Prophetic Research in a Postracial Obama Age, and co-author with Marcus Anthony Hunter of Chocolate Cities: The Black Map of American Life. Her work appears or is forthcoming in the Rolling Stone, Hyperallergic, The Oxford American, Scalawag, and The Believer

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A lifelong Memphian, Micaela Watts has reported on economic justice, education, race and grassroots organizing for and for the Memphis Flyer, Chalkbeat, High Ground News and the Memphis Daily News. She served as a communications fellow for the Center for Community Change in 2017. Find her on Twitter @megawatts2000.


Marcus Wicker

Tundé Wey


Marcus Wicker is the recipient of a Ruth Lilly Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation, a Pushcart Prize, The Missouri Review's Miller Audio Prize, as well as fellowships from Cave Canem, and the Fine Arts Work Center. His first collection Maybe the Saddest Thing (Harper Perennial), a National Poetry Series winner, was a finalist for an NAACP Image Award. Wicker's poems have appeared in The NationPoetryAmerican Poetry ReviewOxford American, and Boston Review. His second book, Silencer—also an Image Award finalist—was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt in 2017 and won the Society of Midland Authors Award, as well as the Arnold Adoff Poetry Award for New Voices. Marcus teaches in the MFA program at the University of Memphis, and he is the poetry editor of Southern Indiana Review.


Dr. Cookie Woolner is a cultural historian of race, gender, and sexuality in the modern U.S. She is an Assistant Professor in the History department at the University of Memphis. Her current manuscript, “The Famous Lady Lovers:” African American Women and Same-Sex Desire Before Stonewall, is the first in-depth examination of black women who loved women in the nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries in the U.S.

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Tundé Wey is a Nigerian immigrant chef/writer working at the intersection of food and social politics. His work engages systems of exploitative power, particularly race, global capitalism, from the vantage point of the marginalized other. Tundé’s food work has been written about in the New York Times, Washington Post, NPR, among other media outlets. His own writing has been featured in the Boston Globe, Oxford American, and CityLab. He writes a column in the San Francisco Chronicle.