Poetry Reading - Raina J. León, Alexandra Mattraw, and Kevin Simmonds
Tuesday, April 8, 2014, 7:00 P.M., City Lights Bookstore. 261 Columbus Avenue, San Francisco

About the poets:

Raina J. León, Cave Canem graduate fellow (2006), CantMundo fellow and member of the Carolina African American Writers Collective, has been published in Danse Macabre, Mandala, Connotation Press, Contrary Press, The Holly Rose Review, Bosphorus Art Project Quarterly, The Osprey Journal (Scotland), Verdad Magazine, The Sixers Review, The Externalist, Minglewood, The Cherry Blossom Review, Natural Bridge, African American Review, OCHO, Spindle Magazine, Black Arts Quarterly, Poem.Memoir.Story, Womb, Boxcar Poetry Review, Salt Hill Journal, Xavier Review, MiPoesias, Torch, Poetic Voices without Borders, Gathering Ground: A Reader Celebrating Cave Canem's First Decade, Growing Up Girl: An Anthology of Voices from Marginalized Spaces, AntiMuse, Farmhouse Magazine, Furnace Review, Constellation Magazine and Tiger's Eye Journal,  among others.  Her first collection of poetry, Canticle of Idols, was a finalist for both the Cave Canem First Book Poetry Prize (2005) and the Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize (2006) and is now available through Wordtech Communications.  Her second manuscript, Boogeyman Dawn, was a finalist for the Naomi Long Madgett Prize (2010) and is forthcoming from Salmon Poetry (2013).  She has received fellowships and residencies with Cave Canem, CantoMundo, Montana Artists Refuge, the Macdowell Colony, Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, Vermont Studio Center, the Tyrone Guthrie Center in Annamaghkerrig, Ireland and Ragdale.  She headed the High School Literacy Project at the University of North Carolina where she recently received her doctorate in education and is currently an assistant professor of education in the Kalmanovitz School of Education at St. Mary's College of California. She also is a founding editor of The Acentos Review, an online quarterly, international journal devoted to the promotion and publication of Latino and Latina arts.

Alexandra Mattraw is a third generation Northern Californian. A former resident of Vermont Studio Center, she received her MFA in poetry from University of San Francisco. Alexandra's two new chapbooks, In the Way of Harbors and These Threads a Sound, are forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press and Beard of Bees this spring.  Her recent chapbook, Projection, is available from Achiote Press. Alexandra's poems and reviews have appeared in American Letters and Commentary, Denver Quarterly, alice blue, Seneca Review, Word For/Word, Cultural Society, Shampoo, Verse, VOLT, and elsewhere.  Her work has also been featured in several art shows and nominated for a Pushcart Prize.  Her manuscript, Honest as Any Treeless Place, has been named a finalist in three separate competitions through Nightboat Books, 1913 Press, and the May Sarton New Hampshire Poetry Prize.  Alexandra earned her BA in English from UCLA and her MA in Humanities from The University of Chicago.  She lives with her husband in Oakland, where they run a writing and art lecture and reading series called Lone Glen.

Kevin Simmonds is a writer and musician originally from New Orleans. He has authored three books:  Mad for Meat (Salmon Poetry), Collective Brightness: LGBTIQ Poets On Faith, Religion & Spirituality (Sibling Rivalry Press) and Ota Benga Under My Mother's Roof (University of South Carolina). His writing appears in the anthologies War Diaries, To Be Left with the Body, The Ringing Ear and Gathering Ground. A frequent collaborator with Kwame Dawes, he has set several of his poems to music, including the children's book I Saw Your Face and Hope, A Meditation on HIV and AIDS in Jamaica (commissioned by the Pulitzer Center). Another, the performance Wisteria: Twilight Songs from the Swamp Country, chronicles the lives of black women growing up in the Jim Crow South and opened the 2006 Poetry International Festival at Royal Festival Hall. Simmonds has received fellowships from the Atlantic Center for the Arts, Cave Canem, the Fulbright Foundation, Jack Straw Writers Program and the San Francisco Arts Commission.