ok, it’s true, everything they have said I have eaten men as you would a tangerine: thoughtlessly, reverently, juice smeared about my mouth. — Saida Agostini, from “The Mermaid Speaks”
Saida Agostini is a queer Afro-Guyanese poet whose work explores how Black folks harness mythology to enter the fantastic. A cultural organizer and poet with deep roots in Baltimore, join Saida Agostini, Kalima Young, Blair Franklin, Teri Ellen Cross Davis and Tafisha Edwards for an evening rich in conversation, poetry, healing, and laughter to celebrate the release of Saida’s first full length collection let the dead in. Saida’s work explores blackness, pleasure, fatness, intergenerational trauma, queerness, and liberation. Participants will be invited to take part in the creation of a community altar to our dead, present and future, curated by the Rooted Collective.
Saida Agostini is a queer Afro-Guyanese poet whose work explores how Black folks harness mythology to enter the fantastic. Her work is featured in Plume, Hobart Pulp, Barrelhouse, Auburn Avenue, amongst others. Saida’s work can be found in several anthologies, including Not Without Our Laughter: Poems of Humor, Sexuality and Joy, The Future of Black, and Plume Poetry 9. _She is the author of _STUNT (Neon Hemlock, October 2020), a chapbook reimagining the life of Nellie Jackson, a Black madam and FBI spy from Natchez Mississippi. Her first full length collection released by Alan Squire Publishing (March 2022), _let the dead in, _was a finalist for the 2020 New Issues Poetry Prize and the Center for African American Arts & Poetics Poetry Prize. A Cave Canem Graduate Fellow, and member of the Black Ladies Brunch Collective, Saida is a two-time Pushcart Prize Nominee and Best of the Net Finalist. Her work has received support from the Ruby Artist Grants, and the Blue Mountain Center, amongst others. She lives online at www.saidaagostini.com
Blair (they/she) is a Black queer femme facilitator, transition doula, and community auntie deeply rooted in the city of Baltimore, MD and the marshes and forests of the Chesapeake. She has worked at the intersections of health equity and racial justice for the past 15 years – within philanthropy, government, nonprofits, and the arts. She currently does adaptive consulting and integrative healing work for individuals and organizations navigating transition through Alight Alchemy, and provides capacity building support to social justice movement leaders across the country with The Praxis Project. They are also a member of the Rooted Collective – a Baltimore-based gathering of Black LGBTQ folx who work to define, dream, and expand on the ways we heal from oppression and define joy and pleasure. In 2014, Blair was recognized as one of the 100 Black LGBTQ/SGL Emerging Leaders to Watch by the National Black Justice Coalition. In 2016 they were selected as a Gardarev Center Fellow to engage in work at the intersections of social justice and the creative arts. She is most curious about spaces for rest and reflection that center Black queer and trans activists and organizers, the healing power within our (re)connection to land and ancestry, and documenting how we embody liberation. A work in progress, they are engaged in their own healing through dance, creative writing, collaborative storytelling, and collective work.
Teri Ellen Cross Davis is the author of a more perfect Union, 2019 winner of The Journal/Charles B. Wheeler Poetry Prize and Haint, winner of the 2017 Ohioana Book Award for Poetry. She is the 2022 recipient of the Maryland State Arts Council Individual Artist Award, the 2020 Poetry Society of America’s Robert H. Winner Memorial Prize, and a Cave Canem fellow. She was recently nominated for the Hurston/Wright Legacy award in poetry. She curates the O.B. Hardison Poetry Series and is Poetry Programs manager for the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C.
Dr. Kalima Young is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Electronic Media and Film at Towson University. She received her Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Maryland College Park. Her research explores the impact of race and gender-based trauma on Black identity, media, and cultural production. A Baltimore native, videographer, and activist, Dr. Young is also a member of Rooted, a Black LGBTQ healing collective. Her new manuscript, Mediated Misogynoir: The Erasure of Black Women’s and Girls’ Innocence the Public Imagination was released by Rowman and Littlefield’s Lexington Books in June 2022.