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Wildfire Reading Series featuring Yesenia Montilla, Raina J. León, and Jasminne Mendez
Wildfire Reading Series featuring Yesenia Montilla, Raina J. León, and Jasminne Mendez

Thu, Feb 23


Black Pearl Books

Wildfire Reading Series featuring Yesenia Montilla, Raina J. León, and Jasminne Mendez

Time & Location

Feb 23, 2023, 6:00 PM CST

Black Pearl Books , 7112 Burnet Rd, Austin, TX 78757

About the event

Torch Literary Arts is proud to present an evening with Yesenia Montilla, author of Muse Found in a Colonized Body, and Raina J. León, author of black god mother this body. Jasminne Mendez, author of City Without Altar, will moderate a Q&A after the reading. 

Raina J. León, PhD is Black, Afro-Boricua, and from Philadelphia (Lenni Lenape ancestral lands). She is a mother, daughter, sister, madrina, comadre, partner, poet, writer, and teacher educator. She believes in collective action and community work, the profound power of holding space for the telling of our stories, and the liberatory practice of humanizing education. She seeks out communities of care and craft and is a member of the Carolina African American Writers Collective, Cave Canem, CantoMundo, Macondo. She is the author of black god mother this body, Canticle of Idols, Boogeyman Dawn, sombra : (dis)locate, and the chapbooks, profeta without refuge and Areyto to Atabey: Essays on the Mother(ing) Self. She publishes across forms in visual art, poetry, nonfiction, fiction, and scholarly work. She has received fellowships and residencies with the Obsidian Foundation, Community of Writers, Montana Artists Refuge, Macdowell, Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, Vermont Studio Center, the Tyrone Guthrie Center in Annamaghkerrig, Ireland and Ragdale, among others. She is a founding editor of The Acentos Review, an online quarterly, international journal devoted to the promotion and publication of Latinx arts. She educates our present and future agitators/educators as a full professor of education at Saint Mary’s College of California, only the third Black person (all Black women) and the first Afro-Latina to achieve that rank there. She supports poets and writers at the Stonecoast MFA at the University of Southern Maine.  She is additionally a digital archivist, emerging visual artist, writing coach, and curriculum developer.

Yesenia Montilla is an Afro-Latina poet & a daughter of immigrants. She received her MFA from Drew University in Poetry & Poetry in translation. She is a CantoMundo graduate fellow and a 2020 NYFA fellow. Her work has been published in Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day, Prairie Schooner, Gulf Coast and in Best of American Poetry 2021 and 2022. Her first collection The Pink Box is published by Willow Books & was longlisted for a PEN Open Book award. Her second collection Muse Found in a Colonized Body published by Four Way Books in 2022 was nominated for an NAACP Image Award. She lives in Harlem, NY.

Jasminne Mendez is a Dominican-American poet, educator, translator, playwright and award-winning author of several books for children and adults. She has had poetry and essays published in numerous journals and anthologies including The New England ReviewThe Acentos Review, Kenyon ReviewGulf CoastThe Rumpus, and others. She is the author of two multi-genre collections Island of Dreams (Floricanto Press, 2013) which won an International Latino Book Award, and Night-Blooming Jasmin(n)e: Personal Essays and Poetry (Arte Publico Press, 2018). Her debut poetry collection City Without Altar was a finalist for the Noemi Press poetry prize and her second YA memoir Islands Apart: Becoming Dominican American (Arte Public Press) are out now and her debut middle-grade novel in verse Aniana del Mar Jumps In (Dial) is forthcoming in 2023. She has translated the work of NYT Best Selling authors Amanda Gorman and Calribel Ortega and the Houston Grand Opera. She has received fellowships from Canto Mundo, Macondo the Kenyon Review Writers Workshop, and the National New Playwrights Network among others. She is an MFA graduate of the creative writing program at the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University and a University of Houston alumni. She lives and works in Houston, TX. 

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. 

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