Stanley Banks is an assistant professor and Artist-In-Residence at Avila University since 1997. Banks had his 5th book of poetry, Blue Issues (2013), published in 2013. His other 4 books are Blue Beat Syncopation (2003), Rhythm and Guts (1992), Coming from a Funky Time and Place (1988), and On 10th Alley Way (1981). He won the Langston Hughes Prize for Poetry in 1981, and in 1989 he was awarded the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship Grant for his poetry. He has been published in literary magazines, journals, and newspapers around the country.
Xánath Caraza is a traveler, educator, poet and short story writer. Caraza’s bilingual poetry and short story collections are Corazón Pintado: Ekphrastic Poems (2015), Sílabas de viento/Syllables of Wind (2014), Noche de Colibríes: Ekphrastic Poems (2014), Lo que trae la marea/What the Tide Brings (2013) and Conjuro (2012), and She writes the column, “US Latino Poets en español”. Caraza is a writer for La Bloga and for Revista Zona de Ocio, and teaches at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC). She is an advisory circle member of the Con Tinta literary organization.
Stacey Portillo Has been a teacher for 12 years in subjects ranging from third grade to 12th grade Spanish. Two of those years were spent at a small school in Honduras teaching English. She currently is an English Language Learner teacher for elementary students. She lives in Independence, MO with her husband, Branden, who is a school librarian. In her free time, she enjoys reading, writing real letters, cooking, and crafting.
Glenn North is currently the Director Education and Public Programs at the Black Archives of Mid America. He is a Cave Canem fellow, a Callaloo creative writing fellow and a recipient of the Charlotte Street Generative Performing Artist Award and the Crystal Field Poetry Award. Glenn provided the poetic narration for the award winning film short, May This Be Love and did a guest appearance on the popular ABC family drama, Lincoln Heights. He has shared the stage with many legendary African American poets including Nikki Giovanni, Sonia Sanchez and Amiri Baraka. His work has appeared in Kansas City Voices, One Shot Deal, The Sixth Surface, Caper Literary Journal, Platte Valley Review, Kansas City Voices, Cave Canem Anthology XII, The African American Review, and American Studies Journal. He also collaborated with legendary jazz musician, Bobby Watson, on the critically acclaimed recording project, Check Cashing Day and recently celebrated the publication of his poetry collection City of Song.
Jen Harris is a Kansas City-based Spoken Word Poet, Women's Rights and LGBT activist, co-owner of Createful Studios, founder and former SlamMaster of PoUnd SLAM. Her first book of poetry, published by Spartan Press of Kansas City, is set to release on 02/27/16. Harris graduated Cum Laude from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in May 2015 with a Bachelor of Liberal Arts, emphases in Communication Studies, English Language and Literature. She is the recipient of the 2015 Jim Wanser Pride Award for outstanding LGBT community activism. Additionally, she is the recipient of the 2014 and 2015 Pitch Top 3 Poets in KC award, and the 2009 ACP Kansas Journalist of the Year. She’s in love with her life, her miniature lion, Bertopotamus, knows she’d never make it through a day without her partner Joy, and believes in power of kindness, gratitude, herbal remedies, and chocolate.
Xiu Xin Xia -- Shu Shin Shah. Known for his energy. Known for his originality. Known for his performance poetry that actually puts you there. A native to Kansas City. Shu Shin Shah has been writing all his life.And best describes himself in his own words. "I have been locked-up then free. Been addicted then clean. Been gay and straight. Been poor and rich. Sane, insane. Theistic, atheistic. Strong, weak. Lost. Dead. And still searching for who I am."
River Cow Orchestra alters the conventions of jazz. Their music philosophy focuses on collective improvisation, similar to the New Orleans Jazz parades, paying attention to how each band member interacts with the group as a whole. They are indebted to the jazz innovators from the past 40 years who showed them the way, Butch Miles, Sun Ra, Ornette Coleman and Miles Davis (1970s). Members of the orchestra are E. E. Pointer (trumpet, spoken word), Greg Field (percussion, theremin, poetry), Michael LaGrega (violin, theremin, synth, congas), Brent Bowman (keyboard, alto sax, flute), Ryan Jones (bass, poetry). The orchestra has a large following in the Kansas City area and has performed collaboratively with poets, dance theater and visual artists throughout its history.