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.
Dolores Arden likes to think of herself as a writer deferred. She first discovered her love for the craft many moons ago while taking creative writing classes in college. But then throw in life and distractions and a demanding career in an unrelated field—and it’s taken her more than thirty years to come around to it again. She’s lucky to call the San Francisco Bay Area home, and these days she spends most of her time hiking the trails, digging holes in the garden, or being walked by a large and enthusiastic Great Dane named Remy. Gray Matters is her first novel.
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