Founder, Executive Director
Amanda Johnston earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine. Her poetry and interviews have appeared in numerous online and print publications, among them, Kinfolks Quarterly, Muzzle, Pluck! and the anthologies, Small Batch, di-ver-city and The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South. The recipient of multiple Artist Enrichment grants from the Kentucky Foundation for Women and the Christina Sergeyevna Award from the Austin International Poetry Festival, she is a member of the Affrilachian Poets and a Cave Canem graduate fellow. Johnston is a Stonecoast MFA faculty member, a co-founder of Black Poets Speak Out, and founding executive director of Torch Literary Arts.
Staff Writer, Copy Editor
L. Lamar Wilson is the author of Sacrilegion (2013)—the 2012 selection for the Carolina Wren Press Poetry Series, a 2013 Independent Publishers Group bronze medalist, and a 2013 Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry finalist—and co-author of Prime: Poetry and Conversation (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2014), with the Phantastique Five. Individual poems and scholarly essays have appeared in African American Review, Black Gay Genius (2014), Callaloo, Crab Orchard Review, Cream City Review, jubilat, Muzzle, Rattle, The 100 Best African American Poems (2010), Please Excuse This Poem: 100 Poets for the Next Generation (2015), Vinyl,and elsewhere. The poem from which Sacrilegion's title emerged, "Resurrection Sunday," was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Wilson, a Cave Canem and Callaloo graduate fellow, holds an MFA from Virginia Tech and is completing a doctorate in African American and multiethnic American poetics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Rachel Eliza Griffiths
Rachel Eliza Griffiths is a poet and visual artist. Her most recent collection of poetry, Lighting the Shadow (Four Way Books), was published in 2015. A Kimbilio and Cave Canem Fellow, Griffiths' visual and literary work has appeared widely including The New York Times, Poets & Writers, American Poetry Review, Guernica, Lit Hub, Transition, and many others. Currently, Griffiths teaches at the Institute of American Indian Arts and Sarah Lawrence College. She lives in Brooklyn.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
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 favorite recent 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 wad directed by Laurie Carlos. As a facilitator and arts educator, Florinda has worked with at risk communities, young men and women, and adults – using performance as a social justice tool for empowerment and change for over 18 years. Florinda is also the Operations Manager of Creative Action, one of the nation’s leading arts education organizations and Managing Director of nationally acclaimed Salvage Vanguard Theater. A member of the Austin Project, sponsored by the John L. Warfield Center for African and African American Studies, UT at Austin. Florinda is also a 2013 Woman of the Year for Racial Justice award recipient from the YWCA. Be sure to catch Florinda in Denim Doves, produced by Salvage Vanguard Theatre ( Performing and Co-Directing) and Stories of Us, produced by Teatro Vivo ( Directing ) Spring 2016.
As a 5th generation Austinite, Stephanie Lang has worked to do her part in keeping her family’s legacy alive through community activism and outreach. In her current position as Senior Program Coordinator for The John L. Warfield Center for African & African American Studies at the University of Texas Ms. Lang has created community outreach programming that works to foster relationships between UT and Austin community organizations through collaborations, sharing of resources, and other forms of support as needed. Ms. Lang has also presented, and facilitated several workshops on issues such as female empowerment, healthy choices, and self esteem building at UT and around the state. Ms. Lang hosted a radio show for the Warfield Center called ZUMBI on KAZI community radio. This program showcases the work of faculty, and community members focusing on bettering the lives of people of African descent. In her personal life Ms Lang continues to work as an artist, activist, and organizer working for the mobilization and liberation of Black people locally as well as globally.
Sheree L. Ross is an award winning screenwriter and director. She is the author of Affirming Life: A Daily Meditation,Affirming Business: For Career and Entrepreneurial Excellence and is in 50 Seeds of Greatness, the largest global collaboration on any book in publishing history. Sheree is the fashion advisor for the revolutionary brand Saint Harridan, the masculine clothing and accessories company for women and transmen. She is also founder and writer of the popular fashion blog Preppybaba, - for Masculine of Center Fashion Enthusiasts. She has served on the Boards of Scriptworks, a playwright-driven service organization and theatrical producing company, The Higher Power Foundation - serving spiritual education and growth, and UBetter Sing! - a children's music education company. She consults businesses on branding, marketing and product development, and holds a business degree from Baylor University with concentrations in Marketing, Film and Theater.
2016 - 2017
Featured in The Guardian, Chicago Tribune and on international television, Nikki Patin has been writing, performing and educating for almost 15 years. She has taught hundreds of workshops on performance poetry, body image, sexual assault prevention and LGBT issues. Patin has performed, taught and spoken at the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, University of Michigan, University of Wisconsin-Madison and many others. Patin was featured on the fourth season of HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, was voted one of 30 under 30 most influential LGBTQ people in Chicago by Windy City Times and took the gold medal in the 2006 Gay Games International LGBT poetry slam. Her editorials and essays have been featured on Chicago Public Radio and The Feminist Wire. In 2009, Patin headlined a tour of her one-woman show, “The Phat Grrrl Revolution” throughout New Zealand and Australia. In 2015, she made her directorial debut at the National Black Theatre in Harlem. She has released several chapbooks, a full-length collection of writing and design, two EPs and a full-length album entitled “Bedroom Empire.” She is the founder of Surviving the Mic, an organization dedicated to creating safe space for survivors of trauma of all kinds. Nikki Patin has an MFA in Creative Non-Fiction from the University of Southern Maine. Her work can be found at and .
Casey Rocheteau was born on Cape Cod, and raised as a sea witch. She was the recipient of the inaugural Write A House permanent residency in Detroit in 2014. She has attended Callaloo Writer’s Workshop, Cave Canem, and Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference in Sicily. She is an Artist in Residence at InsideOut Literary Arts in Detroit. Her second poetry collection, The Dozen, was released on Sibling Rivalry Press in 2016.
Ebony Stewart is a touring performance arts spoken word poet and active artist in the Central Texas slam poetry scene and theater arts community for over ten years. She has coached Austin Neo Soul and Austin Poetry Slam, finishing 1st and 5th at the National Poetry Slam and They Speak Youth Slam finishing 8th in the world at Brave New Voices. The only adult female three-time Slam Champion in Austin Texas has shared stages with many brilliant artists including the late Amiri Baraka. Featured in the “Texas Observer”, “For Harriet” and “The Agenda: working for LGBT economic equality”, Ebony has published The Queen’s Glory & The Pussy’s Box and Love Letters To Balled Fists. In 2015, Ebony Stewart debuted her first one woman show, “Hunger” at The VORTEX Theatre, which was nominated for a B. Iden Payne award for Outstanding Original Script and won Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama. The former Sexual Health Educator with the resting bitch face sometimes known as The Gully Princess, writes because she has to and eats cupcakes for fun. #storyoftheblackgirlwinning