What We Do
Torch Literary Arts is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization established to publish and promote creative writing by Black women. We publish contemporary writing by experienced and emerging writers alike. TORCH has featured work by Colleen J. McElroy, Tayari Jones, Sharon Bridgforth, Crystal Wilkinson, Patricia Smith, Natasha Trethewey, Elizabeth Alexander, and others. Programs include the Wildfire Reading Series, writing workshops, and retreats.
To promote the work of Black women by publishing contemporary creative writing by experienced and emerging writers alike, to archive contributors' literary work for posterity and educational purposes, and provide resources and opportunities for the advancement of Black women through literary arts.
Amanda Johnston earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine. She is the author of two chapbooks, GUAP and Lock & Key, and the full-length collection Another Way to Say Enter. Her work has appeared in numerous online and print publications, among them, Callaloo, Poetry Magazine, Puerto del Sol, Muzzle, and the anthologies, Furious Flower: Seeding the Future of African American Poetry and Women of Resistance: Poems for a New Feminism. She has received fellowships, grants, and awards from Cave Canem Foundation, Hedgebrook, Tasajillo, the Kentucky Foundation for Women, The Watermill Center, and the Austin International Poetry Festival. She is a former Board President of Cave Canem Foundation, a member of the Affrilachian Poets, cofounder of Black Poets Speak Out, and founder of Torch Literary Arts.
Florinda Bryant is an interdisciplinary artist and arts educator who calls Austin home. Holding it down in every aspect of performance, whether writing, performing or directing, Florinda’s passion and dedication to her craft is evident. As a performer and director she is no stranger to many stages in Austin, having worked with Salvage Vanguard Theater, the Rude Mechs, the Vortex, Paper Chairs and Teatro Vivo. Some of her favorite performances include Am I White ( by Adrienne Dawes), The Panza Monologues ( by Virginia Grise), Bright Now Beyond ( By Daniel Alexander Jones and Bobby Halverson) and Fixing King John ( adapted by Kirk Lynn). As a writer and poet, Florinda enjoys engaging audiences in explorations around identity, body and community. Her award winning one-woman show Half-Breed Southern Fried was produced as part of the Performing Blackness Series at UT and was directed by Laurie Carlos.
Dr. Sequoia Maner is an Assistant Professor of English at Spelman College where she teaches classes about 20-21st century African American literature and culture. She is author of the prize-winning poetry chapbook Little Girl Blue (2021, Host Publications) and co-editor of the book Revisiting the Elegy in the Black Lives Matter Era (2020, Routledge). Sequoia’s 33 1/3 book about Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly debuts summer 2022 (Bloomsbury). Her poem “upon reading the autopsy of Sandra Bland” was a finalist for the 2017 Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Prize and her essays, poems, and reviews can be found in venues such as Meridians, Obsidian, The Langston Hughes Review, The Feminist Wire, Auburn Avenue, and elsewhere. She is at work on a poetic memoir about the foster care system in Los Angeles.
Candace Lopez is a non-profit professional with over 14 years of experience in Fundraising and Development. She is a Development Generalist with a specialization in individual giving, program development, and operational efficiency. She is humbled to have raised money for organizations in Austin, San Antonio, Los Angeles, and the San Francisco Bay Area. Her fundraising portfolio is diverse and spans various causes including civil liberties, the arts, higher education, domestic violence, and gender equity. She currently serves as the Chief Philanthropy Officer for Horizons Foundation in San Francisco, the first community foundation of, by, and for LGBTQ people. In her current role, she leads the foundation’s development efforts as well as philanthropic advising. Candace is a member of The Austin Project, a writing project for women of color.
Candace grew up in the Texas panhandle, and her family moved to St. Anthony, Idaho where she attended high school. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication with a minor in Spanish from Pepperdine University. She spent her sophomore year in Argentina as part of a study abroad program, and a summer program in Italy, London, and Greece. Her time in Latin America was so impactful that she attended the University of Texas at Austin and earned her Master of Arts degree in Latin American Studies with a certificate in Women’s and Gender Studies. Her research focused on sexuality, gender, citizenship, and immigration. When not at work, she’s an avid baker, hiker, home chef, traveler, wife to her partner Mars, and dogmom to her two precious babies, Sammy Jr., and Cuca.
Stephanie L. Lang, whose family has lived in Central Texas for multiple generations, is a published writer and community curator who uses the power of storytelling to explore concepts of home and resistance. Previously, Ms. Lang worked for the John L Warfield Center for African & African American Studies at the University of Texas for over 15 years. In her position as Program Administrator, Ms. Lang created community-centered programming; that fostered relationships between the University and Austin community organizations. Currently, she is the Director of Equity and Community Advocacy for The Center for Community Engagement (CCE) in the Office of the Vice President in the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement (DDCE) at The University of Texas at Austin. In 2018, after the success of multiple community curatorial projects, Ms. Lang founded RECLAIM, an organization working to discover, recover, and ultimately showcase the narratives and histories of black people throughout the diaspora, and present these findings through an artistic and thought-provoking lens.
Omi Osun Joni L. Jones brings Black Feminist praxis and theatrical jazz principles to her artmaking, scholarship, and facilitation. Her original performances include sista docta, a critique of academic life, and Searching for Ọ̀ṣun, an ethnographic performance installation around the Divinity of the River. Her dramaturgical work includes August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean and Shay Youngblood’s Shakin’ the Mess Outta Misery—both under the direction of Daniel Alexander Jones, as well as Sharon Bridgforth’s con flama under the direction of Laurie Carlos. Her most recent book is Theatrical Jazz: Performance, Àṣẹ, and the Power for the Present Moment. She the founder of the Austin Project—a collective of Global Majority women and allies who use art for personal and social transformation. Omi holds a Ph.D. from New York University and an Embodied Social Justice Certificate from Transformative Change. She has been shaped by Robbie McCauley’s activist art, Laurie Carlos’s insistence on being present, and Barbara Ann Teer’s overt union of Art and Spirit. Omi is Professor Emerita from the African and African Diaspora Studies Department at the University of Texas at Austin, a mother, a Queer wife, and a curious sojourner.
Hallie S. Hobson contributes to the vitality and health of philanthropic and nonprofit institutions by developing and implementing innovative planning, fundraising, and patron engagement strategies including: philanthropic strategy development and implementation; capital campaign and strategic planning; individual giving program design; major gift pipeline development; department buildout and optimization-staffing and systems; chief development officer coaching; board development.
Clients include Art Basel, Cave Canem Foundation, Destination Crenshaw, The Ford Foundation, The Friends of the High Line, Junebug Productions, The Laundromat Project, the New York Community Trust, and NPower.
Prior to launching her consultancy, Hallie served as the Director of Institutional Advancement for the Studio Museum in Harlem and led that organization’s Capital Campaign. Prior to that she was at The Metropolitan Museum of Art where she served as Deputy Chief Development Officer for
Individual Giving and the Senior Development Officer at The Museum of Modern Art. She has also held roles at several other cultural institutions including the New York Foundation for the Arts and The House Foundation for the Arts/Meredith Monk and has lectured about her profession at New York University, the Yale World Fellows Program, and Sotheby's Institute of Art.
In addition, Hallie is an accomplished poet and playwright. She holds an M.F.A. in Playwriting from UCLA and a B.A. in African-American and Theater Studies from Yale University.
Photo by Julie Skarratt
Raina Fields is a communications strategist, educator and writer with experience in the private sector, higher education institutions and nonprofit organizations. She is accredited in public relations (APR) and has degrees from Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia Tech and Loyola University Maryland.
Raina is passionate about community outreach and the arts. She is a Cave Canem fellow, and has published poetry in Blackbird, Callaloo, The Collagist and Fjords Review, among others. She lives in Richmond, VA.
Jen Margulies brings twenty-five years of experience with nonprofit organizations working for social justice, including ten years as an independent grant writer and consultant. She worked with Six Square to win a major National Endowment for the Arts “Our Town” grant to support cultural placemaking in historic Black East Austin. She is also an editor of several books of poetry through Evelyn Street Press, and of Voices for Racial Justice, a compilation co-edited with Sharon Bridgforth and published in collaboration with the Greater Austin YWCA. Jen was a member of Omi Osun Joni L. Jones’s The Austin Project and has been honored to learn from Black women writers and artists on the page, on the stage, on the screen, and in the world. She is committed to art as a force for liberation.
Sheree L. Ross is an award-winning writer and Wealth Literacy Activist. She is founder of the popular social media platform Women Filmmakers of Color @womenfilmofcolr with over 18,000 followers on Twitter. Sheree is also the author of Affirming Life - A Daily Meditation and Affirming Business: For Career and Entrepreneurial Excellence. She was a co-writer for the Audible narrative drama, Loops, starring Vivica A. Fox, produced by Migrante Media, and her romantic comedy screenplay, Accidental Hearts, is in development with AdeRisa Productions. Sheree’s passion is around financial and wealth literacy, especially as it pertains to artists of color. She uses her metaphysical practice, business degree, and entrepreneurial background to push thought beyond perceived limitations towards more personal empowerment and success for Black women and queer people of color.
Parneshia Jones is an award-winning poet and publisher. Jones serves as Director for Northwestern University Press and acquires poetry for the TriQuarterly Books and Seminary Co-op Offsets imprints. Her acquisitions have garnered some of the highest literary honors, including the National Book Award, Kingsley Tufts, Pulitzer Prize finalists, Hurston Wright Legacy Awards, NAACP Image Awards, L.A. Times Book Award, and others.
Jones is the author of Vessel: Poems (Milkweed Editions), winner of the Midwest Book Award and featured as one of “12 Books to Savor” by O, The Oprah Magazine. She has been honored with the Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Award, the Margaret Walker Short Story Award, and the Aquarius Press Legacy Award. Named one of the “25 Writers to Watch” by the Guild Complex and one of “Lit 50: Who Really Books in Chicago” by Newcity Magazine, her work has appeared in anthologies including, She Walks in Beauty: A Woman’s Journey Through Poems and The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South. Jones has been featured on PBS Newshour, the Academy of American Poets, espnW, and an international poetry exchange in Seoul, South Korea and sponsored by DreamYard. She previously served as Board President for the Cave Canem Foundation and currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Poetry Foundation and advisory board for Shorefront Legacy Center. She resides in her native home, Evanston, IL.
We believe that creative writing by Black women is valuable and necessary.
We believe in preserving our literary legacy by working across generations.
We believe that supporting creative writing adds to the cross-cultural appreciation of the arts.
We believe in utilizing current technology to connect our work to a broader audience.
We believe in meaningful collaboration based on respect, creativity, and freedom.
We believe in the power of community.