Presenting our nominees for Bettering American Poetry!

by Mar 24, 2017News

Amir Rabiyah for “Ney”

Amir Rabiyah is a queer, trans, mixed race, disabled, poet and educator currently living in San Diego, California. Amir’s work has been published in Mizna, 580 Split, Flicker and Spark: A Contemporary Queer Anthology of Spoken Word and Poetry, Enizagam, Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics, the Asian American Literary Review, Kweli Journal, Sukoon, Collective Brightness: LGBTIQ Poets on Faith, Religion and Spirituality and more. Amir is a three time VONA (Voices of our Nations) fellow. They were a finalist in the 2008 Joy Harjo Poetry contest, the 2012 Enizagam poetry contest, and the Atlanta Review’s 2013 poetry contest. Amir has travelled extensively all over the United States leading workshops, and sharing their stories and poems. In 2009, Amir had the privilege of being an STP with June Jordan’s Poetry for the People program at UC Berkeley where they supported emerging poets develop their craft and deepen their voice. Amir has participated in residencies at: THIS Bridge: Arab, Middle Eastern & Muslim Artists Series at University of Southern Florida, Hambidge Center for Creative Arts in Northern Georgia, Kimmel Nelson Harding Center in Nebraska, The Guapamacátaro Center for Art and Ecology in Michoacán, Mexico and more. Amir is the co-editor of Writing the Walls Down: A Convergence of LGBTQ Voices published by Trans-Genre Press in October of 2015. They have collaborated with composer Mari Esabel Valverde who created original musical scores of “Our Dangerous Sweetness” for commission with The Esoterics of Seattle, One Voice Chorus of Charlotte, One Voice Mixed Chorus of St. Paul, River City Mixed Chorus of Omaha, Singing Out of Toronto, and Voices of Kentuckiana of Louisville for GALA Choruses Festival 2016. Read “Ney” HERE.

Ching-In Chen for “day 6-10”

Ching-In Chen is the author of The Heart’s Traffic (Arktoi/Red Hen Press, 2009) and a genderqueer and multi-genre writer. Born of Chinese immigrants, they are a Kundiman, Lambda and Callaloo Fellow and a member of the Macondo and Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundations writing communities. A community organizer, they have worked in the Asian American communities of San Francisco, Oakland, Riverside and Boston, as well as helped organize the third national Asian Pacific American Spoken Word and Poetry Summit in Boston. Chen is also the co-editor of The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities (South End Press, 2011) and Here Is a Pen: an Anthology of West Coast Kundiman Poets (Achiote Press, 2009).

Chen’s poetry has been featured at poetry readings across the country, including Poets Against Rape, Word from the Streets, and APAture Arts Festival: A Window on the Art of Young Asian Pacific Americans. Their work has been published in anthologies and journals including Troubling the Line: Trans and Genderqueer Poetry and Poetics, A Face to Meet the Faces: an Anthology of Contemporary Persona Poetry, Quarterly West, Court Green, Indiana Review, Diagram, Iron Horse Literary Review, and BorderSenses. They have won an Oscar Wilde honorable mention for “Two River Girls,” a poem from The Heart’s Traffic.

Their poem-play “The Geisha Author Interviews,” also from The Heart’s Traffic was nominated for a John Cauble Short Play Award. Chen has also been awarded residencies and fellowships from Soul Mountain Retreat, Vermont Studio Center, the Fine Arts Work Center, the Paden Institute, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Millay Colony for the Arts, the Norman Mailer Center, Ragdale Foundation and Can Serrat.

A graduate of Tufts University, they earned an MFA in Creative Writing and Writing for the Performing Arts from the University of California, Riverside and is currently completing a PhD program at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee.

Roberto Santiago for: “A poem, like a lover, is never finished”

Roberto F. Santiago received his MFA from Rutgers University, and BA from Sarah Lawrence College. He is a 2016 Squaw Valley Community of Writers Fellow, 2015 Sarah Lawrence Fellow, 2014 Lambda Literary Fellow, recipient of the Alfred C. Carey Poetry Prize, and his debut book of poetry was a finalist for the 2016 Lambda Literary Award for Poetry. Roberto writes and produces his own music, and likens himself to Tennessee Williams in a poodle skirt, Gloria Anzaldúa in culottes, and/or James Merrill in short-shorts. Currently, he works as an educator in San Francisco and lives in Oakland with a fiction writer and 16 year old cat that edits most of his poetry…whether he asks her to, or not.

His poetry has been published in such anthologies/ journals as Apogee (2016), Foglifter (2016), The Brillantina Project (2016), Assaracus (2014), The Acentos Review (2014) CURA (2014), Hypothetical: A Review of Everything Imaginable (2014), The Waiting Room Reader (2013); Collective Brightness: LGBTIQ Poets on Faith, Religion & Spirituality (2011); Me No Habla With Acento (2011); -gape-seed- (2011); and The Best of Panic: En Vivo From the East Village (2010).

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