Today, in celebration of National Poetry Month, The Bronx is Reading founder Saraciea Fennell and Bronx poet and author Roya Marsh (dayliGht) announced the finalists for the inaugural Bronx Poet Laureate. Stephanie Dinsae, Janel Cloyd, Lyrical Faith, Haydil Henriquez, Bonafide Rojas, and Alondra Uribe have all been selected as finalists.
The Poet Laureate will serve two years as an ambassador for poetry, promote its inclusion across the Bronx through public readings, advocacy for engagement in literary expression, engaging local leaders within the Bronx community about the value of poetry, and participate in select The Bronx is Reading programming. Judges for the Bronx Poet Laureate position include Camonghne Felix, Peggy Robles-Alvarado, and Joel L. Daniels. The selected Poet Laureate will be announced at this year’s 4th annual Bronx Book Festival kickoff party on Friday, June 11, 2021.
About the finalists
Stephanie Dinsae is a poet and Black Classicist from the Bronx. She is a recent Smith College graduate and a second-year student pursuing a Poetry MFA at Columbia University. Stephanie is dedicated to exploring the intersections of Greco-Roman mythology and Blackness through her poetry. Her favorite things to do are dance around to music and obsess over astrology. In case you were wondering, Stephanie has major Libra, Scorpio, and Sagittarius placements.
Janel Cloyd is a Poet, Writer and Essayist. She has been awarded a Willow Arts Alliance Residency with history concentration in the Weeksville African American Cultural Arts Center. She has been awarded Fellowships from VONA, Dream Yard and the Watering Hole. Publications include but not limited to: The Black Lives Have Always Mattered Anthology edited by Abiodun Oyewole of the Last Poets, Mujeres, The Magic, The Movement, & The Muse Anthology. Raising Mother’s, Mom Egg, Poeming Pigeon,Cave Canem Digital, Gathering Round, Peregrine Journal, About Place Journal, Acentos Review, Emotive Fruition, Stone Coast Review and elsewhere
A Bronx native born and raised, Lyrical Faith is a Black American Educator, Activist and Spoken Word Poet who believes in a future for her world, much bigger than she can see. Her award-winning poetry has been a pillar of creative expression since picking up a pen to begin writing and performing at the age of 12. Forever walking by “Faith”, (the translation of her Swahili birth name, Imani), her words have graced stages beyond NYC to impact cities around the country and around the world, such as Paris, South Africa and Belize. She is the co-founder of a monthly open mic & showcase for young adults in Harlem known as the Harlem Bomb Shelter. She is the founder of a nonprofit organization that promotes public service through the arts, known as Poetry for Service. She is the 2015 Poet of the Year at Syracuse University and the 2016 recipient of the Syracuse University Martin Luther King, Jr. Unsung Hero Award. She has performed for the likes of Ilyasah Shabazz, Jasmine Mans, Mahogany L. Browne, Aja Monet, Sway Calloway, Tamika Mallory and many more.
When not onstage, she is behind the scenes as an active leader in her community by holding positions in various public service organizations and empowering the youth as an educator by professional trade.
Haydil Henriquez, born ya-i-dil; daughter of diligent Dominican parents, raised in the solemn concrete of the South Bronx. A daydreamer, auntie poet—a purveyor of the forgotten dialects of the working class. Haydil’s words unleashes mirages our warriors dreamed we’d live. Haydil is an arts educator, cultural advocate, youth development program manager and Bronx-bred poet. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology & Education from Swarthmore College in 2014, and has worked with communities across the Diaspora facilitating oral storytelling workshops for youth. Although Haydil does not possess a formal degree in writing, she witnessed the magic of poetry during her formative years in the spoken word community. Her writing challenges ideas of belonging and home, all the while offering a battle cry for liberation. Haydil’s poetry explores the juxtaposition of collective memory and black erasure while creating a platform for a voice in its most transnational nature.
Bonafide Rojas is the author of four collections of poetry: Notes On The Return To The Island (2017), Renovatio (2014), When The City Sleeps (2012) & Pelo Bueno (2004). He’s appeared on Def Poetry Jam & has been published in numerous anthologies & journals. He’s the bandleader & co-songwriter for the band, THE MONA PASSAGE, who released their 2nd album The New Myths IN 2021. He’s performed at Lincoln Center, The Brooklyn Museum, El Museo Del Barrio, Philadelphia Museum Of Art, Bowery Ballroom, Rotterdam Arts Center, Konvent Zero Barcelona, Latinale Berlin, Hafen Lesung Hamburg, Festival Kerouac Vigo & Festival De La Palabra. He lives in New York City, loves his son, the color red & pizza.
Recent high school graduate, Alondra Uribe explores the world of young adult-hood and surviving the aftermath of 2020 as an alumni of the National Students Poets program and Scholastic Writing Awards. She wishes to continue to be an ambassador for young people given all her platforms and performances, such as competing in Brave New Voices, performing at the Apollo Theater and Carnegie Hall, as well as traveling to japan with former ambassador Caroline Kennedy as a cultural exchange student. With a new year ahead, she is ready to expand her talents and see what the world has in store for her.
About the judges
Camonghne Felix, is a poet, a writer, speaker, and political strategist from the Fordham area of The Bronx with a M.A. in Arts Politics from NYU and a MFA from Bard College and has received Fellowships from Cave Canem, Callaloo & Poets House. Her forthcoming projects Dyscalculia and Let the Poets Govern, will be published by One World, an imprint of Penguin Random House. Felix’s first full-length collection of poems, Build Yourself a Boat, was long-listed for the 2019 National Book Award in Poetry, has been a finalist for the PEN Open Book Award and the Lambda Literary Award in Bisexual Poetry, and was recently listed by Black Youth Project as a “Black Girl From the Future You Should Know.” Her work has been published and featured in BuzzFeed, Poetry Magazine, Apogee, The Offing, the Academy of American Poets website, New York Women’s Foundation Magazine, Brooklyn Poets, Politico, Teen Vogue digital, Huffington Post and more.
Peggy Robles-Alvarado is Dominican and Puerto Rican Abuela born in Washington Heights who now lives in the Wakefield section of the Bronx with advanced degrees in elementary, bilingual education, and an MFA in Performance Studies and credits the borough for making her an artist. She is the author of Conversations With My Skin, Homage To The Warrior Women, and with Robleswrites Productions created The Abuela Stories Project and Mujeres, The Magic, The Movement and The Muse. Robles-Alvarado has been featured on HBO Habla Women, Lincoln Center, Poets & Writers, The Black Spirit Solstice Summit, and The BADD! ASS Women Festival. Her poetry has appeared in various anthologies including Escape Wheel and The Breakbeat Poets Vol. 4: LatiNext. She is an International Latino Book Award winner, Pushcart Prize nominee, 2020 Atticus Review Poetry Contest winner, and a BRIO award winner and has received fellowships from CantoMundo, Homeschool, Desert Nights Rising Stars, The Frost Place, VONA and The Kweli Journal. Currently, she facilitates a highly popular virtual writing workshop titled Line Breaks and Bronx Beats and continues to curate writing and performative experiences through Robleswrites Productions.
Joel L. Daniels, also known as Joel Leon, is a performer, author and story-teller who writes and tells stories for Black people.Born and raised in the Bronx, Joel specializes in moderating and leading conversations surrounding race, masculinity, mental health, creativity and the performing arts, with love at the center of his work and purpose. He is the author of Book About Things I Will Tell My Daughter and God Wears Durags, Too. He’s worked with The Gates Foundation, HBO and the TODAY Show, and has been featured in Newsweek, Blavity, Medium, BBC News, Sirius XM, Forbes, the Huffington Post and others. His recent TED talk on healthy co parenting has been viewed over 1.4 million times, globally.
About The Bronx Is Reading
The Bronx is Reading promotes literacy and fosters a love of reading among children, teens, and adults through its multidimensional initiatives including the annual Bronx Book Festival, The Bronx is Reading Literacy Program, a monthly book club, as well as our pop-up (currently closed due to CoViD-19) and online bookstore. Visit here for more information and follow us on social media @thebronxisreading.
About Roya Marsh
A Bronx, New York native, Roya is a nationally ranked poet/performer/educator/activist. She is the Poet in Residence at Urban Word NYC and works feverishly toward LGBTQIA justice and dismantling white supremacy. Roya’s work has been featured in Poetry Magazine, Flypaper Magazine, Frontier Poetry, the Village Voice, Nylon Magazine, Huffington Post, Button Poetry, Def Jam’s All Def Digital, Lexus Verses and Flow, NBC, BET and The BreakBeat Poets Vol 2: Black Girl Magic(Haymarket 2018). In Spring 2020, MCD × FSG Originals published Roya Marsh’s dayliGht, a debut collection of experimental poetry exploring themes of sexuality, Blackness, and the prematurity of Black femme death—all through an intersectional feminist lens with a focus on the resilience of the Black woman.
About Saraciea Fennell
Saraciea J. Fennell is the founder of The Bronx is Reading—Bronx Book Festival. She is also a book publicist who has worked with many award-winning and New York Times best-selling authors. She is passionate about books and devours anything SFF-related in books, TV, and movies. Brоnх Тimеs listed her as one of 25 Influential Women of 2018, she made the Bitch Media 50 list in 2018, and was included among Remezcla’s 30 Latinxs who made an impact in 2018. Her forthcoming nonfiction anthology Wild Tongues Can’t Be Tamed will be published by Flatiron Books in September 2021. She lives in the Bronx with her family. Visit here and follow her online @sj_fennell.