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Torch Literary Arts Juneteenth Event

Updated: Jun 13, 2023

Join Torch Literary Arts for this special event to acknowledge the historical significance of Juneteenth and celebrate the accomplishments of the African American community. Poets, writers, and guest speakers will share original work to acknowledge the federal holiday and celebrate the future of African Americans in Texas.

Note: This event takes place at 2 locations.

7 pm - Texas African American History Memorial at the Texas Capitol (speeches & readings)

8 pm - African American Cultural and Historical Facility (readings, dancing, and food)

FREE. Please RSVP on Eventbrite.

Questions? Email


Amanda Johnston is the Founder/Executive Director of Torch Literary Arts and the 2024 Poet Laureate of Texas. She 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 and a member of the Affrilachian Poets.

Stephanie L. Lang is a writer and community curator who uses the power of storytelling to explore concepts of home, resistance, and spirituality. Currently, Stephanie is working on a book of short stories centered around Black Women community organizers in the early 1900’s. After the success of her curatorial debut of the photography exhibition, Seen & Unseen: A Sunday Afternoon in Clarksville she founded RECLAIM, an organization that reimagines the archives and uses them to discover and recover hidden, stolen and lost narratives of black people throughout the diaspora and presents these findings through an artistic and thought-provoking lens.

Ebony Stewart is an international touring interdisciplinary poet, writer, and performance artist. Her work speaks to the Black experience, with emphasis on gender, sexuality, womanhood, queer-positivity, and race, with the hopes to be relatable, remove shame, heal minds, encourage dialogue, and inspire folks in marginalized communities. As one of the most decorated poets in Texas, Ebony is a respected coach & mentor, one of the top touring poets in the country, and the 2017 Woman of the World Poetry Slam Champion. She has shared stages with many prestigious figures in the art world such as the late-Amiri Baraka, Carmen Carerra, Marsha Ambrosius, Patricia Smith, Rudy Francisco, Ariana Brown, Lupe Mendez, and so many more. She has performed in 48 states, at over 200 colleges and universities across the country, as well as featured internationally in Canada, Australia, and Ghana. She is the author of BloodFresh, Home.Girl.Hood., and Love Letters to Balled Fists. Her work has been featured in Button Poetry, AfroPunk, For Harriet, Teen Vogue, The Texas Observer, Houston Public Media, The BreakBeat Poets Vol. 2: Black Girl Magic, 2021 Colorism Healing Writing Contest, Write About Now Poetry, plus countless others. As a playwright, Ebony’s one-woman shows, Hunger and Ocean, have received B. Iden Payne Awards & the David Mark Cohen New Play Award. Ebony is also a mental health advocate and former sexual health educator. With her recent Master's in Clinical Social Work, she is also soon, the hood's favorite therapist.

Tova Charles is a powerhouse-performing spoken word artist who has been taking the slam poetry community by storm since 2008. Born in Lafayette, Louisiana, and raised in Austin, Texas, and daughter of a librarian and Zydeco percussionist, her childhood was never boring! She acquired a passion for writing from her mother and for performing from her father. In the spring of 2003, she was inducted into the Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., one of the original historically Black national collegiate sororities in the U.S. An award-winning writer and dynamic performer, Tova is mother to two busy children, Harper and Harlem, serves as a primary-level literacy achievement specialist and is the creative director, CEO, and host of Austin Poetry Slam.

Florinda Bryant is the Program Coordinator for the Austin African American Cultural Heritage Facility and 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.

DJ Aquamanchill - Host of Afrobonics Radio Session on KAZI.

SOUL FOOD by Mashae’s Catering

Menu: Smothered Chicken, BBQ Beef Sausage, Candied Sweet Potatoes, Collard Greens, Four Mac & Cheese, Jalapeños Cheddar Muffins, Mini Red Velvet Bundt Cakes, Peach Tea, and Rum Punch


Take home a signed copy of Juneteenth: Our Day of Freedom by Sharon Dennis Wyeth.

Books available while supply lasts.

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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