James Benger is the author of two fiction ebooks, and three chapbooks, one full-length, and coauthor of three split books of poetry. He is on the Board of Directors of The Writers Place and the Riverfront Readings Committee, and is the founder of the 365 Poems In 365 Days online workshop, and is Editor In Chief of the subsequent anthology series. He lives in Kansas City with his wife and children.
Huascar Medina is a poet, writer, and performer who lives in Topeka. He currently works as a freelance copywriter and as the Literary Editor for seveneightfive magazine publishing stories that spotlight literary and artistic events in northeast Kansas. His poems can be found in his collection How to Hang the Moon published by Spartan Press. He is the winner of ARTSConnect’s 2018 Arty Award for Literary Art. His forthcoming book Un Mango Grows in Kansas will be released in 2019. Huascar is the current Poet Laureate of the state of Kansas.
Lindsey Weishar earned an MFA in Poetry from UMKC. She writes for Verily and Ploughshares, and her chapbook, Matchbook Night, was published in 2018. Travel and tea delight her immensely.
Jermaine Thompson was born in Louisville, Mississippi. He learned language from big-armed women who greased their skillets with gossip and from full-bellied men who cursed and prayed with the same fervor. He moved to Kansas City in August of 2015 to complete an MFA in Poetry from the University of Missouri--Kansas City. He has publications in The Pinch, Memorious: A Journal of New Verse Fiction, Sprung Formal, Whale Road Review, and Southern Indiana Review. He currently teaches freshman and junior English at Pembroke Hill Upper School and Black Studies at UMKC. The views and opinions expressed here tonight are solely those of the author and do not reflect the official policies or positions of his employers. Jermaine is also a board member of The Writers Place—a nonprofit organization dedicated to serving the literary community in Kansas City, Missouri.
Eliza Beth Whittington is a poet, parent, painter, carpenter, singer/songwriter, queerdo and event organizer out of Denver, Colorado. They like to hike, garden, and scream with the punk band Black Market Translation. Their first collection, Treat Me Like You Treat The Earth, was released this July through Suspect Press.
Brice Maiurro is a poet and writer from Denver, Colorado. He is the author of Hero Victim Villain (Stubborn Mule Press) and Stupid Flowers (Punch Drunk Press). He is the Poetry Editor for Suspect Press, the Editor-In-Chief of South Broadway Ghost Society and the Founding Editor of Punch Drunk Press. His writing has been featured by The Denver Post, Boulder Weekly, Birdy Magazine, Pussy Magic and Poets Reading the News. He is the co-founder of Punketry! and was recognized by Denver Westword as a Colorado Creative. He believes that artists should focus more on self-discovery than self-destruction. He has so many things that he is grateful for.
Sharon Eiker, founder of the Jump Start Art Foundation, is an Artist, Poet, Singer, and Songwriter. While Sharon loves creating Art her passion is creating space for our community to share their Art with each other. Building an Arts Foundation to assist emerging Artists by connecting them with the many resources available in the Kansas City Area, will be a real joy to participate in for the years to come. To hear a demo by a new songwriter, read a first chap book, view a first showing of a visual artist, attend a first dance recital, teach a poetry class or a drawing class, or view a newly written never been seen play, are some of the things Sharon is looking forward to as a member of the Jump Start Art Foundation. Sharon was part of The Writer’s Place while it was still an idea and a dream among several Kansas City poets. She served on its board for more than 20 years and continues to host its monthly open mic. She also hosts the Uptown Arts Bar Blue Monday open mic.
Phillip Emanuel Frost Bounds is a poet, pilot, and a pundit for perplexity (with an emphasis on the pun). He is also an attorney, axe throwing coach, swing dancer, and intellectual adventurer with a penchant for precise word usage and an affinity for antinomies. He is a transplant from Colorado but is glad to call Kansas City home. He has a bachelor's degree in philosophy from the University of Colorado in Colorado Springs and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Denver. You can find more of his writing online at ifbrevity.com or on instagram @ifbrevity_poetry
Waco Porter was born in Galveston, TX in 1974 and raised by the Marines. He met his wife in 1996 and has not looked back. She and his daughters have reinvigorated his pen and have been the backbone of his writing. They are the anchor for his wandering mind. Waco uses poetry to get a clear image of what he sees. When he is not writing, Waco likes to swim, bike, run, and ride around the city looking for pancakes. Thoughts on life? In his own words: youngest of four, only boy, daddy’s son, mama’s joy. His book of poetry, Total Eclipse, was sponsored by Jump Start Art.
Polly Alice McCann is at the heart and soul of Flying Ketchup, Press ® as our managing editor. Polly has been a professor, writer, curator, and illustrator for over twenty years. Her family has been in publishing and the book business since the 1970s. Growing up was spent mostly taking art lessons at the Nelson, or hiding under the book table at many publishing events. She began writing novels and short stories when she was introduced to NaNoWriMo in 2006. She received her MFA in writing for children and young adults from Hamline University in St. Paul in 2011. She often says, "Poetry saved my life." As a leader of many SCBWI groups for writers and illustrators, she saw writers and publishers process a great deal of change in the business over the past decade. She said, "Sure I'd love to stay in my studio and just do my own thing, but I can't let a generation of good literature go to waste. It's time to catch up." Find her lyrical memoir poetry online "Kinlight" and "Tea with Alice."
TL Sanders, AKA Àtwist – The Language Artist, is an educator, poet, and performer. This former high school English teacher is now a curriculum writer. A National Writing Project teacher consultant and Paper Birch Landing’s 2019 Poet in Residence Recipient, Sanders has performed to diverse audiences everything from performing modern dance to his many awards through NPC Championship Bodybuilding. In 2019 he has performed at The Kauffman Performing Arts Center in the Lyric Opera ’s production of "The Pearl Fishers;" The Gem Theater in Take the Stage’s Production of "A Night at the Museum"-- which was sponsored by the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art's Kauffman Future Stages; and he won Producer's Choice Award at the 2019 KC Fringe Festival where he performed a one hour rendition of his biopic poetic screenplay, "kNew" released this October 2019 from Flying Ketchup Press. With his BA from UCM in Elementary Education, Sanders is an educational speaker and a spoken word artist at many state events and conferences. He has a passion for empowering people. His goal is to inspire, evolve and expand language one word at a time. Find him on YouTube under Bethephenom and on Twitter @PoetTLSanders or www.poetTLSanders.com
Kēvin Callahan has a BFA from Drake University, post-grad work at San Francisco Art Institute, Larry Abramson, The Ox-Bow School, Art Institute Chicago, and Phil Hanson/Michelle Grabner. His award-winning artwork hangs in collections throughout the United States, and in Canada, Europe, and Israel. After a career in graphic design, he has published a novel and two short story collections, plus numerous poems often in conjunction with his art. He maintains a studio and gallery, the Elegant Line, in Parkville, MO. His book, "Road Map," released this October 2019 by Flying Ketchup Press, is a poetic journey through an American Artists' life well-lived. With a keen eye for wisdom, wit, and historically hilarious self-portraits illustrating his travels, you'll want to grab a walking stick and join Kévin for a globe-trekking adventure from African Safari to the old family farm. You'll have a good time.
Jason Ryberg is the author of thirteen books of poetry, six screenplays, a few short stories, a box full of folders, notebooks and scraps of paper that could one day be (loosely) construed as a novel, and, a couple of angry letters to various magazine and newspaper editors. He is currently an artist-in-residence at both The Prospero Institute of Disquieted P/o/e/t/i/c/s and the Osage Arts Community, and is an editor and designer at Spartan Books. His latest collection of poems is Standing at the Intersection of Critical Mass and Event Horizon (Luchador Press, 2019). He lives part-time in Kansas City with a rooster named Little Red and a billygoat named Giuseppe and part-time somewhere in the Ozarks, near the Gasconade River, where there are also many strange and wonderful woodland critters.
Onnissia Harries is a KC based visual artist whose work is featured on the 2019 FV poster. One can find her work exclusively represented by The Smalter Gallery. Also a poet, Harries treasures the raw and vulnerable in life fearlessly. Find more about Harries at onnissiaharries.com.
John Burroughs of Cleveland is the 2019-2021 Beat Poet Laureate for the state of Ohio. He is a dynamic performer who has wowed audiences from Oakland to New York City and myriad points in between. His more than a dozen books include Rattle and Numb: Selected Poems, 1992-2019 (2019, Venetian Spider Press) and Loss and Foundering (2018, NightBallet Press). He hosts the monthly Poetry+ reading series at Art on Madison in Lakewood, Ohio, and has served since 2008 as the founding editor for Crisis Chronicles Press, publishing over one hundred books by esteemed writers from around the world. Find him on Facebook, Twitter (@jesuscrisis) or at www.crisischronicles.com.
Jessica Ayala is a published author, spoken word artist, and writer-in-residence at Charlotte Street Foundation. Her work is a fusion of her Colombian American heritage merging oral tradition, storytelling, poetry, and native percussion. As a writer, she hopes to create spaces for dialogue, education, and reflection hoping all who engage leave more aware by the stories told. Her recent book, Huelga, takes a critical look at the social, political and cultural injustices of Latin America shining light on the stories of those she calls los invisibles, the invisible. She is currently on tour with Huelga and working on publishing her second book of poetry, Just A Kid From Ipiales, a poetic memoir documenting her unique journey as an immigrant youth living in the United States to debut April 11, 2020. Ayala immigrated to the United States from Colombia, South America at the age of three publishing her first series of poems for the Young Authors Conference at the age of eight. Her current poetry has been published in two anthologies winning an Honorable Medal in the 2017 International Latino Book Awards. Additionally, Miss Ayala is the recipient of the 2018 Pitch Magazine Best Kansas City Spoken Word Artist Award. Recently Miss Ayala's poetry has merged into songwriting joining bands Arquesta Del SolSoul and the Kansas City Rumba Collective. Ayala is also a founding member of the poetic collective La Resistencia.
José Faus is writer, performer, visual artist, and independent teacher/mentor. He is a founder of the Latino Writers Collective and sits on the boards of the UMKC Friends of the Library, The Latino Writers Collective and Charlotte Street Foundation. His writing appears in a variety of anthologies and journals including Luces y Sombras Journal, Raritan. His chapbook This Town Like That was released by Spartan Press. His second book of poetry The Life and Times of Jose Calderon was published by West 39 Press.
Sheri Purpose Hall is a spoken word artist, author, radio personality, educator, and minister who uses her work to provide perspective and engage conversational empathy. She has Four books: a book of poetry, epistles and essays titled "Black Girl Shattered"(2017); two poetry chapbooks “Mélange du Femme Noir” (2019) and “Chosen for Both” (2015); and a workbook/workshop "Writing Wrongs: Writing to Heal" (2016) which won an award from Bike for the Brain, a non-profit organization that works to reduce mental health stigma. She is the founder of Arsyn Spit Fire, East of Red ArtHouse, and PenFire Publishing; Interim CEO for Poetry for Personal Powe; and provides consulting and assistance for many other non-profit, community-based, and arts organizations. Sheri Purpose Hall is a 2019 Charlotte Street Generative Performing Artist Awardee and Studios Resident Artist in her 2nd year, 2019 Art in the loop grant recipient, 2019 and 2017 Arts KC Inspiration Grant recipient, and the 2017 ArtsKC Inspiration Breakfast featured artist. She won the Poet and Activist award at the Music and More Foundation Poetry Awards 2 years in a row, and was nominated for best spoken word artist in the KC People's Choice awards, Pitch Best KC, and the National Spoken Word awards. She has also earned the opportunity to represent Kansas City Nationally as an individual competitor at the Women of the World Poetry Slam 2 years in a row (2017/18) and as a team competitor at the National Poetry Slam 4 years in a row
Abby Bland has a B.A. in English from William Jewell College and is working on her masters in Public Administration and Nonprofit Management at the University of Missouri Kansas City and currently serves as the Program Director for Kansas City Poetry Slam and Poetic Underground. She is a multi-time finalist on the Kansas City Poetry Slam stage and was a competing member of the 2018 KC Poetry Slam nationals team and the 2019 Rustbelt Regional Team. Her work focuses on exploring topics such as intimacy, vulnerability, and cultural expectations of the feminine.
Adrianna “AP” Schoonover is a poet of mixed up emotions and mixed up ethnicity. She started poeting at the ripe age of 13. She competed in LTABKC and Brave New Voices with the Lincoln Poets team for several years. She was a semifinalist at Texas Grand Slam in 2018 and the KCPS Grand Slam Champ for 2019. She was nominated for Best Newcomer by the Music and More Poetry Foundation in 2019. Her poetry explores the complexities of race, family, relationships, femininity, and culture.
J. Cartwright Metje (They/Them) is a Poet? from Kansas City, Missouri. They have an age, have done things (in the past), and also have accomplishments. A psychology major (?) without a college at the moment, their work is often autobiographical in nature, and they share their story in order to serve as an example of survival and continued strength that others may look to when in need.
Macey Webb settled in Lawrence, Kansas in 2012, and has been writing since childhood. There was, however, a brief slackening when all of the best kid’s literary magazines refused to publish a 12-year-old’s musings on farm chores. In the whirlwind of the last four years, Macey has used poetry to process mental illness, loss, joy, kitties, interconnectedness, and survival. Macey tries to remain a simple human who enjoys simple things, like the very pleasant weight of a plastic bag full of mannequin heads. “Crying at Walls” is Macey’s first full-length.
Steph Castor is a poet, freelance publicist, music journalist, and content writer currently living on a farm in Eudora, KS, A long time poet and community builder in the Lawrence and KC areas, notably they helped to establish the #LFK Poetry Slam back in 2014. Steph has written for several websites and magazines, but perhaps most notable include GuitarWorld.com, Curve Magazine, Outburn Magazine, RevolverMag.com, AudioBaby.com, Tattoo.com and most recently Guitar Girl Magazine. Steph has workshopped and performed with outstanding writers including Andrea Gibson, Robb Q. Telfer, Jack McCarthy, Tara Hardy, Sonya Renee, John Sinclair and many more. Their first full length book of poetry is “Bedroom Music”. "I believe that people should be living to their fullest potential and not selling themselves short." --Steph Castor
Leza Cantoral is the Editor in Chief of CLASH Books. She is the author of Trash Panda & Cartoons in the Suicide Forest & editor of Tragedy Queens: Stories Inspired by Lana Del Rey & Sylvia Plath. You can find her poetry & nonfiction at Luna Luna Magazine, Entropy, Philosophical Idiot, Breadcrumbs Magazine, Cultured Vultures, Vitamin Shoppe, Quail Bell Magazine, Verse, & A Shadow Map: An Anthology of Survivors of Sexual Assault (CCM). She is the host of Get Lit With Leza where she talks to cool ass writers. Follow her on Twitter, IG & FB @lezacantoral
Jessica Drake-Thomas is a poet, fiction writer, and blogger. She’s the writer of a collection of poems, Burials (CLASH Books, 2020), and a chapbook, Possession (dancing girl press, 2018). Her short stories and poems have been featured in or are forthcoming from Ploughshares, Grimoire Magazine, X-R-A-Y Literary Magazine, Coffin Bell Magazine, PVSSYMAGIC, and Three Drops from a Cauldron.
Kim Vodicka is the spokesbitch of a degeneration and heart-reactionary at the rearguard of the rose arts. She is the author of three full-length poetry collections— Aesthesia Balderdash (Trembling Pillow Press, 2012), Psychic Privates (White Stag Publishing, 2018), and The Elvis Machine (CLASH Books, 2020). She is also the creator of a poetic comic book series, a chapbook of sound poems on vinyl, and an illustrated book of poetry. Her poems, art, and essays have been featured in Tenderloin, Spork, Queen Mob’s Teahouse, Makeout Creek, Luna Luna Magazine, Paper Darts, Best American Experimental Writing, Nasty! and many others. For the past decade, she has toured the country performing spoken word with musical accompaniment in bookstores, dive bars, art galleries, cafes, diners, festivals, pinup clubs, vintage clothing shops, rooftops, backyards, and places of worship. Originally from south Louisiana, she currently lives in Memphis, Tennessee with her beloved cat, Lula. Cruise her at kimvodicka.com.
Madison Mae Parker
Missy T. Ferrari
Kyle J. Osborne
Joseph Anthony Davis
Miguel M. Morales
Gabriela Ybarra Lemmons