Born and raised in “urban” America but being raised by Nigerian immigrants in a traditional household has been instrumental in invoking what I would like to call a “Double Consciousness”—- One being from the perspective of a young “colored” male growing up in the inner cities of America, and the other being from the perspective a child who has had the African way of life ingrained in him from birth.

This “double consciousness” is precisely what shapes all forms of my writings, whether it be poetry, plays, or stories. As a writer, I focus on telling stories that paint vivid images of the way of life for the people of the African Diaspora as well as expressing profound universal messages of human life in general.

mary jane

Jesslyn “Mary Jane” Blue

Mary Jane is originally from the Jersey shore and sleeps best to the sound of waves clashing onto sand. She is proud to have graduated from Rutgers University with a B.A. in English.

Recently she has founded and facilitates a monthly writing workshop series, Open Words, at the Newark LGBTQ Center to promote literacy, the art of the written word, and provide a safe space for the community to express their stories. Her previously featured performances include the Nuyorican Poets Café, Mixed Pleasures Open Mic & Showcase, and Rock the Mic Night. As the guest Canvas of Resource Facilitator for Evolution Open Mic, she did live painting and gave away original sketches as game prizes.

Her first chapbook of poems, C’est La Vie, is out and available for purchase!

chris rod

Chris Rodriguez

Chris is a performance poet and educator based out of Northern New Jersey. He started his poetry track record at Montclair State University, representing the school at the College Unions Poetry Slam Invitational in 2012 and 2013. In 2014, Chris took time off of performing to serve as President of Speaking Through Silence, the MSU creative writing organization, and to complete his student teaching in East Orange. After graduating college, he was hired to teach English at Bloomfield High School, where he currently works and advises an after school Poetry Club. Chris has since returned to the slam scene, where he landed a spot on the Jersey City Slam Team, and will be competing at NPS Oakland in August.


AKASHA, wordsmith.

Akasha, aka Laneta J. Hill, was raised in Dallas, TX, reborn in Washington, DC, and currently resides in Newark, NJ. This travel junkie has recently embarked on her first nationwide indie poetry tour. She is also releasing her first published collection A Dreamer’s Intuition this summer. She has performed in historic theatres and hole-in-the-wall bars. Inspired by poets ranging from Emily Dickinson to Nikki Giovanni, this wordsmith combines traditional poetry mechanics with celestial imagery and percussive cadence. Ms. Hill found her voice through her pen and onto her wide-ruled paper in 5thgrade and has not been able to let go ever since.

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