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The Writer’s Center and Day Eight have teamed up to present an event with the editors and some contributors to Diaspora Cafe: D.C., a new anthology of poetry featuring writing on the AfroLatinx experience, on Sunday, November 13, 2:00 pm at The Writer’s Center (4508 Walsh Street, Bethesda, MD 20815).
Diaspora Café: D.C. is a collective investigation of survival by writers within a system that deprioritizes their existence. The editors Jeffrey Banks and Maritza Rivera will read alongside six contributors: Hermond Palmer, Sistah Joy, Stephani E. D. McDow, Nick Leininger, and Allison Whittenberg.
JEFFREY BANKS is poetically known as “Big Homey.” His credits include: ESSENCE Magazine, Sirius/XM Satellite Radio, Radio-One Inc., the CBS Early Show, BLACK ENTERPRISE Magazine, performing nationwide, international broadcasts, multiple grant awards and publications through DC Public Libraries, the National Association for Poetry Therapy, Paris Lit Up, and Day Eight.
MARITZA RIVERA is a Puerto Rican poet and Army veteran who has lived in Rockville, MD since 1994. She has been writing poetry for over fifty years; is the creator of a short form of poetry called Blackjack and is the publisher of Casa Mariposa Press. Maritza is the author of About You; A Mother’s War, written during her son’s two tours in Iraq; Baker’s Dozen; Twenty-One: Blackjack Poems and creator of the Blackjack Poetry Playing Cards. Her work appears in literary magazines, anthologies and online publications and in the public arts project, Meet Me at the Triangle in Wheaton, MD. In 2011, Maritza began hosting the annual Mariposa Poetry Retreat, “where the magic of poetry happens,” which takes place in Puerto Rico in 2022.
HERMOND PALMER has performed his poetry in Harlem, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Atlanta and the Black Arts Festival. He has been a featured poet of the Moonstone Arts Center and on The Writer’s Haven with V. Helene. He has written several books of poetry including Echoes from the Quiet that I Keep, Open Mic Words to Fill the Light in You, What the Ancestors Told Me and I Decided to Listen, and a forthcoming novel of fiction entitled Road Kings.
J. JOY “SISTAH JOY” MATTHEWS ALFORD is the Inaugural Poet Laureate of Prince George’s County, Maryland, and has authored three collections of poetry. She is currently editing the inaugural Prince George’s Arts and Humanities Council (PGAHC) poetry anthology, Poets That Dance with Words. She has hosted and produced the nationally recognized poetry cable television program, Sojourn with Words, since its inception in 2005. She has served as president of the Poetry Ministry of Ebenezer A.M.E. Church in Fort Washington, Maryland since 2003. She is the founder of Collective Voices, an ensemble of native Washington, DC poets known for their poems of social consciousness, empowerment, and spirituality.
STEPHANI E. D. MCDOW is published internationally in anthologies and literary journals including Day Eight’s “Diaspora Cafe: DC,” Raven Chronicles Press’ “Take a Stand: Art Against Hate Anthology,” Still Point Arts Quarterly, Genre: Urban Arts No. 7, and “Femme Literati: Mixtape Anthology.” Formerly a contributing author at Woman Around Town and freelance writer/editor, Stephani’s work has been praised by award-winning editor, writer and journalist, Susan L. Taylor; and award-winning author and editor, Charlene Giannetti.
In addition to being a poet and writer, Stephani is a nonprofit, professional development and training consultant; speaker; and social justice advocate. A native D.C. Washingtonian, she currently resides in Maryland and is working on completing her first novel. Learn more by visiting http://stephanimcdow.com.
NICK LEININGER is a DC poet originally from West Chester, Pennsylvania. Nick graduated from American University in 2017 with a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations and Strategic Communications. During his days as a student, Nick had his poem “The Sin of Omission” published in the 2017 edition of Bleakhouse Publishing’s Tacenda magazine. Nick also has poems featured in BourgeonOnline, and his poem “Broken” is featured in the 2021 Day Eight poetry anthology, The Great World of Days. Nick has been using poetry as a tool of self-reflection throughout the 2020-2021 COVID19 pandemic.
ALLISON WHITTENBERG is an award-winning poet, short story writer, playwright, and novelist. Her novels are Sweet Thang, Hollywood and Maine, Life is Fine, Tutored (Random House 2006, 2008, 2009, and 2010). Her work has appeared in Flying Island, Feminist Studies, Inconclast, and The Ekphrastic Review. She is author of the full-length short story collection, Carnival of Reality (Loyola University Press, 2022). Whittenberg is a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee.
A review by Angela Maria Spring in the Washington Review of Books says [the collection] “includes a wonderful arrangement of poems by our community’s poets from the African diaspora and touches on topics from celebrating Caribbean beats on DC streets to the struggle of anti-Blackness and racism from both white people and also from within African-American and Afro-Latinx communities.”
In a review by in Washington City Paper, Emma Veon writes, “Diaspora Café: D.C. celebrates and preserves difference, recognizing the breadth of Afro Latinx people who “embody many shades of a ‘Brown.’” Banks and Rivera assembled 34 poems from 14 writers in this intimate anthology representing the region’s dynamic Afro Latinx culture… The poems are by and about Afro Latinx creatives, and the collection, so intimate and honest, generously welcomes unfamiliar readers to a fictive cafe bustling with life.”