Stephanie Andrea Allen, Ph.D. is a Postdoctoral Fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor of Gender Studies at IU-Bloomington and her scholarship examines how Black lesbian literature and film responds to and resists the heteropatriarchal systems that contribute to the invisibility of Black lesbians in popular and literary culture. Her research interests include Black lesbian literary history, LGBTQ representation in the South, ethnography, Black feminism, sexual citizenship, lesbian print culture, writing communities, and popular culture.
Her current project “Marginal and Forbidden”: Black Lesbians, Contemporary American Culture, and the Politics of Representation, examines Black lesbian literature and film from 1972-2012 and argues that Black lesbian literature and other cultural artifacts mirror Black lesbians’ social, political, and cultural statuses, in that they are marginalized and often excluded from both Black and lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) communities. She contends that Black lesbian cultural texts have two main goals: 1) to lay bare the experiences of Black lesbians in a raced, gendered, classed, and homophobic society; and 2) to challenge the notion that the claiming of a Black lesbian identity is “marginal and forbidden.”
Dr. Allen is also Founder, Publisher, and Editor-in-Chief at BLF Press, and co-directs a literary non-profit for Black women writers. Her creative work can be found in Lez Talk: A Collection of Black Lesbian Short Fiction, Sinister Wisdom, and in her debut collection of short stories and essays, A Failure to Communicate. She co-edited Solace: Writing, Refuge, and LGBTQ Women of Color, and Black From the Future: A Collection of Black Speculative Writing. She is a Hurston/Wright Foundation Workshop Alum, and 2019 Kimbilio Fellow (deferred). Stephanie is currently working on a collection of Black speculative short fiction and her first novel.
K. Ancrum, is the author of the award winning thriller THE WICKER KING, the brilliant lesbian romance THE WEIGHT OF THE STARS and the upcoming Peter Pan thriller DARLING. K. is a Chicago native passionate about diveristy and representation in young adult fiction. She currently writes most of her work in the lush gardens of the Chicago Art Institute.
Zaina Arafat is an LGBTQ Arab/Muslim-American fiction and nonfiction writer. She is the author of the novel, You Exist Too Much, which was selected as a most anticipated book for 2020 by O, The Oprah Magazine, Good Morning America, Vogue, Elle and Harper’s Bazaar. Her stories and essays have appeared in publications including The New York Times, Granta, The Believer, Virginia Quarterly Review, The Washington Post, The Atlantic, The Christian Science Monitor, BuzzFeed, VICE, Guernica, Literary Hub and NPR. In recognition of her work, she was awarded the Arab Women/Migrants from the Middle East fellowship at Jack Jones Literary Arts. She holds an M.A. in international affairs from Columbia University and an M.F.A. from Iowa. She lives in Brooklyn and is currently at work on a collection of essays.
Zaina has taught writing at the University of Iowa, The School of the New York Times, the International Writing Program and Sackett Street Writers, as well as abroad in Jordan, Egypt and Eritrea, where she taught creative writing as part of a U.S. State Department/International Writing Program delegation. She has also led workshops for dreamers and DACA recipients through the Writer’s Guild Initiative.
As an editor, she curated a portfolio of prose and poetry in response to the travel ban, as well as a Q & A series with Muslim writers for The Margins. She also served as the managing editor of VinePair, the largest online publication on wine news and culture.
LaSHONDA KATRICE BARNETTwas born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1974, and grew up in Park Forest, Illinois. She is the author of the award-wining debut novel JAM ON THE VINE(Grove 2015; paperback 2/2016) and a story collection (1999). Designated a Stonewall Honor Award by the American Library Association (2016), Jam was an Editor’s Choice pick at the Chicago Tribune; won ElIe Magazine‘s Belle Lettres 2015 Reader’s Prize and earned Barnett the Emerging Writers Award at the 2015 Tennessee Williams Literary Festival. The novel was shortlisted for the Crook’s Corner Book Prize and is a 2016 Lambda Literary Award finalist.
Barnett has received grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the New York Money for Women/Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, and the College Language Association. She has held residences at the Noepe Center for Literary Arts-Martha’s Vineyard, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, where she was a Tennessee Williams Fellow, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown.
Her short fiction has appeared in The Chicago Tribune, Guernica Magazine, Callaloo, New Orleans Review, SN Review, Juked, C4: Chamber Quarterly Literary Review, Gemini Magazine and elsewhere. She was twice-nominated for the 2015 Pushcart prize.
A lover and scholar of music of the African diaspora and an avid interviewer, Barnett has conducted over one hundred interviews with women musicians and edited the volumes, I GOT THUNDER: Black Women Songwriters On Their Craft (2007) and SOUNDING OFF: Conversations With African American and Brazilian Women Musicians (forth, University of North Texas Press). She has hosted her own jazz radio program on WBAI (99.5 FM, NYC); taught ‘Women in Jazz’ at New York City’s Jazz at Lincoln Center; and lectured on the music nationally and internationally. A graduate of the University of Missouri, Sarah Lawrence College and the College of William and Mary, where she received a B.A.; M.A. in Women’s History and the Ph.D. in American Studies, respectively. Barnett has held visiting professorships (in a range of academic disciplines, including African American Studies, history, literature and Women’s and Gender Studies) at Northwestern University; Brown University; Columbia University’s Institute for Research in African American Studies; Sarah Lawrence College; and Hunter College. For the 2018/19 academic year, she was a visiting lecturer in the history department at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst.
LaShonda Katrice Barnett is an American author, radio host, teacher, lecturer. Her fiction, music books and plays are known for their themes about the African diaspora and race. She has a collection of short stories, three music books, a trilogy of full-length plays. Her 2015 debut novel Jam! On the Vine, drew attention to the author and scholar. In 2014, Barnett’s short stories were featured in The Chicago Tribune, Gemini Magazine and Guernica Magazine. She’s been nominated twice for the 2015 Pushcart Prize.
LaShonda Katrice Barnett was born in Kansas City, Missouri in 1974. She grew up on Park Forest, Illinois. Barnett has identified herself as a lesbian and often writes with same-sex female characters in mind in her short stories, plays and her first novel Jam! On the Vine. She’s held residencies at the Noepe Center for Literary Arts-Martha’s Vineyard, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and the Fine Arts Work Center. She’s been a Tennessee Williams Fellow and received a Standards Best Small Press Book Award for her short stories collection “Callalou & Other Lesbian Love Tales” in 2007.
Barnett has a love for music, as evidenced with her jazz program for WBAI (99.5 FM, NYC). She hosted a jazz show. In 2007, Barnett interviewed female musicians about the African diaspora and edited “I Got Thunder: Black Women Songwriters On Their Craft and “Off The Record: Conversations With African American & Brazilian Women Musicians” in 2015. Barnett lectured on women in jazz at the Lincoln Center and in on jazz as a whole in several countries.
Barnett taught at Columbia University and Sarah Lawrence College on history and literature.
Barnett received her B.A. from the University of Missouri, a M.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and a Ph. D. in American Studies from the College of William and Mary. She earned a B.A. in Women’s History from the University of Missouri and an M.A. in Women’s History from Sarah Lawrence College. Barnett received grants for her work from National Endowment for the Humanities, the New York Money for Women/Barbara Deming Memorial Fund, and the College Language Association.
Barnett lives in upper west side Manhattan as a full-time writer.
Kalynn Bayron is an author and classically trained vocalist. She grew up in Anchorage, Alaska. When she’s not writing you can find her listening to Ella Fitzgerald on loop, attending the theater, watching scary movies, and spending time with her kids. She currently lives in San Antonio, Texas with her family.
S. Renée Bess is a Philadelphia bred former high school teacher, who has been writing fiction, in one form or another, for many years. Her short stores have been published in the “Labyrinth Newspaper”, Piece of My Heart, A Lesbian of Colour Anthology, and Ma-Ka Diasporic Juks: Contemporary Writings by Queers of African Descent. She is thrilled to have had the opportunity to publish her novels. Renée is dedicated to crafting well-written books about diverse characters, as well as telling stories that explore personal and societal issues.
“It’s important for us to tell our own stories because we need to affirm our right to exist in the world and in the body of lesbian and gay literature…many times we are not only invisible to the non-black gay and lesbian community. We are invisible to each other.”
As a writer, I’m the author of three books for adults: two collections of short stories and a volume of poetry. My short stories have been widely anthologized, and some of my writing has appeared in textbooks. More recently, I’ve written two children’s picture books. I’m also a parent, a Quaker, was an adoption worker for many years, and currently live in Delaware County, PA, just outside Philadelphia. I enjoy visiting schools to share about my books.
As a reader, I got my first library card at age seven, and I still approach books in much the same way that I did as a kid. I go to the library a lot. I pick out books on the shelf by the author, or the topic, or– yes, often, the cover. Usually I skip the jacket copy because I don’t want the story spoiled– I want to make up my own mind about the book. And though I’ve read plenty of adult books in my lifetime, I mostly read children’s books these days– probably because that’s also what I’m writing these days. I’m especially interested in books by other African American writers and with African American, black, or biracial kids as characters. I read lots of picture books. Few things are better than having a bag full of picture books to savor, one a night, before going to sleep.
Laurinda D. Brown uses her writing to tell universal stories that apply to all cross-sections of society. A graduate of Howard University, she writes about life, not lifestyles. She currently resides in the Atlanta metro area with her two daughters.
Brown was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, where she currently resides with her partner.
Brown is involved with the gay community and was co-creator, with Betty Couvertier, of the annual Rock, Rhythm, and Rhyme Artist Explosion, a concert of independent singers, bands, poets, and dancers that has taken place during the Atlanta Pride Festival since 2003. She was named the female grand marshal of the 2008 Atlanta Pride Festival.
Brown wrote and published her first novel, A Deeper Love, in 2002. Her writings have appeared in the anthology Ma-Ka Diasporic Juks: Contemporary Writing by Queers of African Descent, among other publications. She founded and maintained an arts and entertainment, technology company designed to market and promote emerging artists. In 2007, Brown released the first anthology in her Nghosi Books New Voices Series, Longing, Lust and Love: Black Lesbian Stories, a collection of African-American lesbian erotica under her Nghosi Books imprint
In 2005, Brown was awarded the Community Builder Award from the Atlanta Pride Committee. In 2008, she received recognition from the National Black Justice Coalition through their annual Black LGBTIQ History Month campaign as an example of an accomplished Black LGBTIQ individual.
Darlene has been across the United States and back in her lifetime. Unbeknownst to her in a friendly conversation, she decided to take up her love of writing again. Her first novel was published in 2012 and has been received with rave reviews. She is a mother of three beautiful, young adults.
The 2nd Installment was released in March 2019.
In her own words…
“My sole purpose in life from this point on is to educate, network, and fight for my beliefs. I finally found my truth and I have never been happier. It something to be said about living your life everyday as if it’s your last day on earth. I love to share ideas and engage in thought provoking dialogue. It is my goal to become more than a writer. I am well-rounded enough to pursue several interest and enjoy the fruits of my labor.”
Her hobbies include but not limited to;
Reading, writing, scuba diving, traveling and she is seriously addicted to Pinterest.