Mahtem Shifferaw, Aracelis Girmay, Maaza Mengiste, Mebrak Tareke & Emmanuel Iduma

Mahtem Shiferraw is a poet and visual artist who grew up in Ethiopia & Eritrea. Her work has been published in The 2River View, Cactus Heart Press, Blood Lotus Literary Journal, Luna Luna Magazine, Mandala Literary Journal, Blackberry: A Magazine, Diverse Voices Quarterly, The Bitter Oleander Press, Callaloo and elsewhere. She won the Sillerman Prize for African Poets and her full length collection, FUCHSIA, is out now from the University of Nebraska Press. Her poetry chapbook, BEHIND WALLS & GLASS, was published by Finishing Line Press. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is currently working on her first novel. 

Aracelis Girmay is the author of the collage-based picture book changing, changing and the poetry collections Teeth, Kingdom Animalia, and the recently published the black maria. Her essays and poems have appeared in Granta, Spoon River Poetry Review, and Harvard Review, among other places. She is the recipient of grants, fellowships, and support from Cave Canem, the NEA, and the Whiting Foundation. Girmay is on the faculty of Hampshire College's School for Interdisciplinary Arts.

Maaza Mengiste is a novelist and essayist. Her debut novel, Beneath the Lion's Gaze, was selected by the Guardian as one of the 10 best contemporary African books and named one of the best books of 2010 by Christian Science Monitor, Boston Globe and other publications. Her fiction and nonfiction can be found in The New Yorker, Granta, the Guardian, the New York Times, and BBC Radio, among other places. She is a Fulbright Scholar and was awarded Runner-up in the 2011 Dayton Literary Peace Prize. Maaza writes fiction and nonfiction dealing with conflict, migration, and the relationship between photography and violence. She was a writer on the documentary projects, GIRL RISING and THE INVISIBLE CITY, and sits on the boards of Words Without Borders and Warscapes. Her second novel, set during the Fascist invasion of Ethiopia in 1935, is forthcoming.

Mebrak Tareke is a writer, curator and, an independent media & communication professional. She has written for Hyperallergic, Another Africa, Kilimanjaro, and Contemporary And on art, politics and culture in the African diaspora. She is specifically interested in exploring the aesthetics of memory, loss, longing and trauma, from a post-colonial/anthropological perspective. Mebrak has been living between Brooklyn, Europe and the Horn of Africa for a few years. In 2013, she co-founded TURF, a curatorial project that explores the arbitrary notion of Africana in the digital age, its ebbs and flows. Mebrak has also curated shows at Artsy, cutlog NY and Spring Break Art Show. In 2016, she was on the Advisory Committee at AFRICA’SOUT!, which advances radical change for the sexual rights of LGBTQIs of African descent, through art and activism. Mebrak holds an MSc in Social Anthropology from the London School of Economics (2001) and a BA in Modern European Studies (2000) from University College London.

Emmanuel Iduma is a writer and art critic. He is the author of the novel The Sound of Things to Come, and co-editor of Gambit: Newer African Writing. Born in Nigeria, he cofounded Saraba Magazine and has contributed essays and reviews to several magazines and journals. A Stranger’s Pose, his book of travel stories and meditations, is forthcoming.