Born and raised in New York City from Puerto Rican and Jewish parents, Denice Frohman is a poet, writer, educator, and performer who uses her multi-cultural background as a queer woman — she describes this amalgamation as “NuyoJewricanqueer”1 — to explore intersections of race, gender, sexuality, and identity in her writing.
After earning her master’s degree in education at Drexel University, Denice worked as a director and organizer at The Philly Youth Poetry Movement, a creative, “literary and youth empowerment”2 non-profit organization she is still involved with today. Over the years, Denice has worked, featured, and performed at many other colleges/universities, schools, youth detention centers, and conferences, spreading her message of claiming the power to be your authentic self and celebrating what makes you unique and worthy.23
Her writing has garnered a large mass of attention across the country, as her poems have collected over 7 million views online. Companies ranging from Twitter to mitú to ESPN to the Huffington Post have commissioned and featured her work. In 2013, Denice won the Women of the World Poetry Slam (WOWPS) Championship as well as the Southern Fried Poetry Slam Championship, the same year she released her debut album Feels Like Home. In 2014, she became a CantoMundo Fellow as well as a recipient of the National Association of Latino Arts & Cultures Fund for the Arts grant. In 2016, she performed at the White House.2
Denice is also a member of the spoken word duo known as Sister Outsider with fellow WOWPS champion Dominique Christina.3
Denice is currently touring.
1 Personal Twitter: www.twitter.com/denicefrohman (@denicefrohman)
2 Personal Site Bio: www.denicefrohman.com/bio
3 Wikipedia Page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denice_Frohman
Jessica's post is at her blog, which you can see here.
Sam Sax is an educator and writer currently based in Brooklyn, NY. Sax primarily considers himself a writer—rather than a performer, poet, or performance poet—and he is a particularly prolific one: He is the author of 4 chapbooks (All the Rage, Straight, sad boy/detective, and A Guide to Undressing Your Monsters) and 2 full-length collections (madness and Bury It, which will be published in 2018); has been published on Buzzfeed, in The New York Times, and in various poetry journals; and has received fellowships from Lambda Literary, The MacDowell Colony, & the National Endowment for the Arts. Despite his rejection of the performer label, he has also found success in the performance poetry world, earning the title of two-time Bay Area Grand Slam Champion and booking features and shows both as an individual and as a member of the poetry collective Sad Boy Supper Club. Currently, he is performing mainly in the NYC area and serving as the poetry editor of BOOAT Press.
Saul Williams is a jack-of-all-trades. Along with doing slam poetry, Williams raps, writes music and prose, and acts. He was born in New York in 1972. He earned a BA in philosophy and acting from Morehouse college and an MFA in acting from NYU. It was during his time in New York City that he entered the cafe poetry scene that sparked his interest in the art. Since then, he’s won the title of “Grand Slam Champion” of the Nuyorican Poet’s Cafe. He also competed in National Poetry Slam in Portland and was featured as the lead role in the movie Slam.
Suheir Hammad, the child of Palestinian refugees, immigrated with her parents to Brooklyn, New York City when she was just 5 years old. She was heavily influenced by the vibrant hip-hop scene and the stories she learned of family’s experience in the 1948 Palestinian exodus. For Suheir Hammad and the rest of the country, life was altered after the September 11th terrorist attacks. In response, she drafted a piece titled, “First Writing Since” which detailed her reactions to the attacks. She emailed it to a few friends and the poem took on a life of its own, traveling across the country and ending up on several websites until it reached the casting scouts for HBO’s “Def Poetry Jam”. Suheir Hammad, a Brooklyn-reared Palestinian American, read her piece “First Writing Since” in the 2001 premiere of “Def Poetry Jam”. Since that moment, she has gone on to perform original works on tour, had a role in the Palestinian film Salt of this Sea (2008), and published various works. Her perspectives as an immigrant, a Muslim and a Palestinian, and as a woman are weaved to form the narrative styles that stimulate her poetry.
Elizabeth Acevedo was born and raised in New York City and her poetry is infused with Dominican bolero and her beloved city’s tough grit. She holds a BA in Performing Arts from The George Washington University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Maryland. With over twelve years of performance experience, Acevedo has been a featured performer on BET and Mun2, as well as delivered several TED Talks. She has graced stages nationally and internationally including renowned venues such as The Lincoln Center, Madison Square Garden, the Kennedy Center of the Performing Arts, and South Africa’s State Theatre, The Bozar in Brussels, and the National Library of Kosovo; she is also well known for poetry videos, which have gone viral and been picked up by PBS, Latina Magazine, Cosmopolitan, and Upworthy. Acevedo is a National Slam Champion, Beltway Grand Slam Champion, and the 2016 Women of the World Poetry Slam representative for Washington, D.C, where she lives and works. Her poems have been published or are forthcoming in Puerto Del Sol, Callaloo, Poet Lore, The Notre Dame Review, and others. Acevedo is a Cave Canem Fellow, Cantomundo Fellow, and participant of the Callaloo Writer's Workshop. She is the author of the chapbook, Beastgirl & Other Origin Myths (YesYes Books, 2016) and the forthcoming novel, The Poet X (HarperCollins, 2018).
Jermaine Eric Shute (born December 15, 1984), better known by his stage name Starlito (formerly All $tar Cashville Prince), is an American rapper from Nashville, Tennessee. He is best known for the 2005 song, "Grey Goose" which featured artists Young Jeezy and Yo Gotti. His second single, released in 2007, was Champagne Crazy featuring then labelmate Lil Wayne. His third radio single was "I Go Ham" and would later also feature the Atlanta rapper Gucci Mane. He is also known for working with rapper Young Buck and the Ca$hville Records label earlier in his career. 2010-Present, taking on the moniker “Starlito” he now has various mixtapes and has become a fully independent artist and his content has gained over 10 million Youtube views.
Porsha O is a Chicago born and bred poet who uses spoken word not only as a form of art and self-expression, but also as a platform to spread awareness for social justice. While the content of most spoken word pieces revolves around identity and intersecting issues of race, class, and gender, Porsha takes these intersecting identities to another level of critical thought “by applying advanced political analysis to examine injustice while providing perspective on concrete solutions” (STRENGTH OF DOVES). Porsha uses her own identities and struggles as word fire that ignites a revolution of critical pedagogy within spoken word performance. As per her Facebook biography, she is “black, poet, dyke-god, hip-hop feminist, womanist, friend ….. performance artist who believes in pixie dust and second chances….. her intention is to speak, love, praise, and maintain a cypher that is undocumented, uncontrollable and just plain ole dope” (FACEBOOK).
While Porsha was at the University of Illinois she wrote and performed but “never slammed.” It wasn’t until her move to Boston in 2010 that she began to venture into slam events. In the four years following her move, Porsha made her name in the spoken word community. She became a regular at the Lizard Lounge and began participating in slam competitions. Her greatest awards are the 2014 Individual World Poetry Champion, the 2015 National Poetry Slam Champion, and the 2015 Rio II International Slam Finalist. Porsha currently resides in Boston where she organizes and advocates for social justice, writes, and teaches.
Taylor Mali, born on March 28, 1965, is a poet, teacher, author, and voice-over artist. Originally from New York and known to be a proud WASP (White Anglo-Saxon Protestant), Mali attained his Bachelor’s degree from Bowdoin College and his Master’s from Kansas State University. Mali then began teaching in 1990. For over nine years, Mali’s subjects ranged from English to History to Math to SAT preparatory classes. He is known to be an avid advocate and defender of this profession, especially through his various works. This includes one of his most popular books entitled What Teachers Make: in Praise of the Greatest Job in the World. Mali is also the author of various books from 2002 to 2014, including Bouquet of Red Flags, The Last Time As We Are, and What Learning Leaves. In the year 2000, Mali started a twelve-year “Quest for One Thousand Teachers” which was fully accomplished in April 2012. Through this challenge, Mali established “one thousand new teachers through ‘poetry, persuasion, and perseverance.” He marked this triumph by cutting and donating twelve inches of his hair to the American Cancer Society. In addition, the New York Foundation for the Arts Grant helped Mali to begin his “one-man show about poetry, teaching, and math” in 2001 called Teacher! Teacher! This show won “best solo performance at the 2001 Comedy Arts Festival.” Mali is also credited as the former president of Poetry Slam, Inc. and has been the National Poetry Slam Champion a whopping total of four times. He has also appeared on Def Jam Poetry, SlamNation, and Slam Planet. These days, Mali is solely dedicated to his family (his wife and son) as well as his spoken word and voiceover career. Mali travels the country for performances, workshops, and narrations.
Nayo Jones was born on March 19, 1996 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and more particularly, on the West Side. Jones was born to a black mother and a white father, but was mainly raised by her father after her parents divorced when she was young. Her upbringing played a key role in the development of her racial identity as a young adult. Today, she is a spoken word poet and musician. She is a part of the Philadelphia Youth Poetry Movement. Jones makes note that she belongs to the Slytherin house from Harry Potter and she takes ultimate pride in her sexuality, coining herself as a queer black girl. Her intersecting identities are focal points in her work.
ENGL4302 Spoken Word Poetry & Pedagogy at LSU