meet the authors & artists

See who's coming out.

Siphne A. Aaye

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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.
 

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 fused traditional , anime and digital art styles to create a new vision. NOVI arts was born from this merge, and it has grown into its own landmark name. An alumni of Overton high, Kenneth has had a passion to create at a very young age. As he progressed in his style, so did his imagination. He applied the digital aspect of motion within his signature style. Curating and features in shows garnered him attention from around the nation. He has created artwork for acts like Rick Ross, J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League and even Kanye West's producer: Ken Lewis. Recently, he partnered with Samsung through Blackdove Gallery in New York as one of their featured artists to represent the company. The Brooks Museum has also shown their support for his work. "Surreal Kingdoms", an exhibition by Kenneth himself, was shown in conjunction with the Smithsonian's "The Art of Video Games" in 2015 for 6 months. As the keynote speaker for the 2016 Scholastic art competition, he helped inspire a new generation of artists to pursue their dream and make it a reality. 

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.

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.

 

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.

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

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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

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.

 

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. She is a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and most recently covered county government, schools and religion at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia.

Kiese Laymon

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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 danieljoseolder.net.

 

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. He is Project Pat meets KRS-One, spitting an urban country consciousness with a confidence that could only emerge from coming of age as a Muslim Millennial in North Memphis. As the leader of Radio Rahim Music, Marco is committed to his community as well as his music. He uses his music as a pathway to build partnerships and influence how organizations engage with Memphis communities through art. Memphis’ robust arts community is poised to empower diverse community members to identify local issues and develop ongoing solutions. He has partnered with Memphis grassroots organizations, government officials, schools and universities, activists, and local entrepreneurs on various projects that have transformed how the city of Memphis tackles such issues as literacy and economic development.

 

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.

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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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.

 

sam sax

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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.

Rion Amilcar Scott

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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

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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, TheRoot.com 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.

 

Doreen St. Félix

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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

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Crystal Wilkinson

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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.

 

Moderators

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.

Sara Lewis

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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.

Tundé Wey

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