Murmurations: Local Voices Taking Flight
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Murmurations: Local Voices Taking Flight

Past Event: Tuesday, March 19, 2024

At Common Area Maintenance

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In Person & Online

This four-part reading series features acclaimed poets, writers, and comics artists who teach in SAL’s Writers in the Schools program. Tonight’s program will feature Meredith Arena, Rasheena Fountain, Monique Franklin, Vivian Li, Cypress Manning, and Clara Olivo! These resident writers come together to read from their own works-in-progress, inspiring the same craft and performance skills they teach in the classroom.

Free (no RSVP necessary; just come)

Meredith Arena (she/they) is a queer writer and interdisciplinary human, originally from New York City, now living on the land of the Duwamish people, AKA, Seattle. She is a teaching artist, organizer, gardener, and ambivert. She began working with youth in NYC in 1999 teaching photography and zine making. Now in Seattle, her teaching draws on her roots in theater, visual arts and her current practice as a poet, essay writer, and organizer. Although not a native speaker, she is pretty good in Spanish and throughout her career, has taught bilingually. Her work can be found in various journals including, Poetry NW, Longleaf Review, Peatsmoke, and Blood Orange Review. She was the 2021 Erin Donovan fellow in poetry at Mineral School in Washington. She holds a BFA in photography, a BA in cultural studies, an MFA in creative writing and a Certificate in the Teaching of Creative Writing from Antioch University Los Angeles.

Rasheena Fountain is a writer from Chicago’s west side, now living on Coast Salish land (Seattle). Her work focuses on Black environmental memory. Fountain’s work has been published in ZORA, Penumbra Online, Jelly Bucket, The Roadrunner Review, swamp pink, You Are Here: The Journal of Creative Geography, Black Embodiments Studio Journal, The Mountaineers Magazine, and more. Her forthcoming book Starfish Blues: A Memoir will be published with Chin Music Press in April of 2024. Fountain received a 2016 Outstanding Staff Award from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for her work in Student Services (2016). She is a former Walker Communications Editorial fellow with the National Audubon Society (2017). The University of Washington awarded her the Richard J. Dunn First-Year Teaching Award (2019). Fountain received a 2021 Honorable Mention from the Trillium Arts “Miss Sarah” Fellowship for Black Women Writers and was a Top 5 Finalist for the Solstice Magazine 2022 Stephen Dunn Poetry Prize for her poem “Not an ‘other’ Climate Poem”. She earned a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and an MA.Ed. in Urban Environmental Education from Antioch University Seattle in partnership with IslandWood. She earned an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Washington Seattle, where she is currently a Ph.D. student in English literature and culture.

Monique Franklin (Verbal Oasis) is an multidisciplinary artist, scientist, healer and arts educator best known for her performance poetry. She has been referred to as “The Unofficial Poet Laureate of South Seattle,” “The Billie Holiday of Spoken Word,” and “The Verbal Manifestation of Nina Simone’s Soul”. Monique’s passion for equity and belonging is woven into everything that she does. Her poetry gives voice to social justice issues, Love, Self-discovery, Purpose, Healing, Liberation, Power, and Self-actualization. As a performer you can find her poetry commingling with the ancestors, musicians, vocalist and dancers. Locally she has performed in every manor of venue from Seattle Parks to Benaroya Hall. Monique is a 15+ year member of African American Writer’s Alliance and has self-published three volumes of poetry and has released three spoken word albums. She is also the Mother of the Mama’z Muezz Project which Includes Mama’z Muezz ( One woman play and book of Poetry), Mama’z Muezzic ( Live Show and Album), and The Mama’z Muezzeum. Monique has created, produced and .hosted poetry shows and open mics for artist expression and development for over a decade such as The Children’s Open Mic, Poetry & Jazz , Muezz Infuezzion, Acoustic Accolades, and Afrodisiac Erotic Poetry Show and the Verbal Oasis Spoken Word Festival. Monique is the Founder and Director of Inspired Child and the Founder and Board President of Inspired Child Community

Vivian Li is a comics artist and illustrator from a small town in western Illinois called Macomb. She likes drawing comics because they’re a fun, accessible storytelling tool. Her work is rooted in finding joy in everyday experiences — from connections with family and friends to exploring trees and the nature around her. In 2023, she published the first volume of her comic cookbook, ABC Cooking, with her mom, containing stories from her adventure in learning to cook Chinese food at home. She has also contributed comics to Papeachu ReviewFogland Press, and Portland Zine Symposium. You can find her on her Instagram @vivianlikesfruit posting sketches that make her smile. Since 2015, Vivian has been working with kids with a focus of education through project-based learning and hopes to give them the tools to create things that they want to share.

Cypress Manning is a queer trans writer, artist, and educator from Taos, New Mexico. They received their MFA in Poetry from Sarah Lawrence College in 2019, and are a current Hugo House Fellow (2022-2023). For Cypress, writing is a process of self-making, a way of engaging with/in community, and a powerful practice of embodiment for all people, young and old. They are in a two-person cribbage league with their mom, and live in Seattle with their partner.

Clara Olivo (she/her/ella) is an Afro-Salvi poet living in diaspora. Born and raised in South Central L.A. to Salvadorean refugees, Clara weaves history and lived experience, creating transcendental poetry that amplifies ancestral power and pride. Writing for her lost inner child, Clara steps into her poetry with the intention of healing the hurts of her past and inspiring hope for the future. Since finding her voice, she has performed in open mics and art receptions from Seattle to Washington D.C., is a 2022 Pushcart nominee and has been featured in publications such as The South Seattle Emerald, Valiant Scribe, and Quiet Lightning’s Literary Mixtape.


Event Details

Common Area Maintenance

2125 2nd Ave Seattle, WA 98121

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