Author Bios for Third Annual Celebration of Diverse Literary Voices of Texas

Carol Anderson

Carol Anderson is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of African American Studies at Emory University and author of White Rage: The Unspoken Truth of Our Nation’s Divide, a New York TimesBestseller, Washington Post Notable Book of 2016, and a National Book Critics Circle Award winner. She is also the author of Eyes Off the Prize: The United Nations and the African American Struggle for Human Rights, 1944-1955; Bourgeois Radicals: The NAACP and the Struggle for Colonial Liberation, 1941-1960, and One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression is Destroying Our Democracy.

Jennifer N. Baker

Jennifer Baker is the recipient of a 2017 NYSCA/NYFA Artist Fellowship and a 2017 Queens Council on the Arts New Work Grant (as well as the QCA Jr. Board Artistic Excellence Award) in Nonfiction Literature for her WIP essay collection. Her essay “What We Aren’t” was also listed as a Notable Essay in The Best American Essays 2018.

She works as a production editor, is a contributing editor to Electric Literature, and is the creator and host of the podcast Minorities in Publishing (a finalist for the 2018 Digital Book World Best Use of Podcasting in Book Marketing). Jennifer is the editor of Everyday People: The Color of Life—A Short Story Anthology with Atria Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster. Her short story “The Pursuit of Happiness” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize for 2017 by Newtown Literary Journal.

Most recently, she’s been featured on The Other Stories podcast and had a visual story posted on The Offing’s Enumerate section. In December 2013, her young adult manuscript, The Facility, won the SCBWI On-the-Verge Emerging Voices Award for underrepresented voices in children’s literature.

Daina Ramey Berry

Daina Ramey Berry is the Associate Dean of Graduate Education Transformation and Oliver H. Radkey Regents Professor of History with appointments in African and African Diaspora Studies, American Studies, and Women’s and Gender Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. She completed her BA, MA and PhD in African American Studies and U.S. History at UCLA. Dr. Berry is a specialist on the history of gender and slavery in the United States with a particular emphasis on the social and economic history of the nineteenth century.

Her first book, Swing the Sickle for the Harvest is Ripe: Gender and Slavery in Antebellum Georgia(University of Illinois Press, 2007), examined slave labor, family, and community in two distinct regions. She is the editor-in-chief of Enslaved Women in America: An Encyclopedia (ABC-Clio, 2012), which was awarded one of the 2013 Outstanding Reference Sources by the American Library Association. Professor Berry also co-edited Slavery and Freedom in Savannah (University of Georgia Press, 2014), which has received multiple book awards. In October 2018, Berry and Leslie Harris (Northwestern) co-edited Sexuality and Slavery: Reclaiming Intimate Histories in the Americas (UGA, 2018), based on a conference held at UT Austin in 2011.

Nicky Drayden

Nicky Drayden is a systems analyst, and when she’s not debugging code, she’s detangling plot lines and mixing metaphors. Her debut novel, The Prey of Gods (Harper Voyager), featured in The New York Times Best of New Science Fiction and Fantasy and The Wall Street Journal’s Summer Reading: One Expert, One Book. Drayden’s sophomore novel, Temper, is touted as an exciting blend of Afrofuturism and New Weird. Her travels to South Africa as a college student influenced both of these works, and she enjoys blurring the genre lines between mythology, science fiction, fantasy, horror, and dark humor.

Drayden learned to write novels the old fashioned way, by banging out a crappy draft during the month of November with thousands of other aspiring novelists. In between novels, she frequently dabbles in short fiction, with over 30 stories in publications such as Shimmer, Daily Science Fiction, and Space and Time Magazine.

Carrie Fountain

Carrie Fountain’s poems have appeared in Poetry, Tin House, and The New Yorker, among many others. Her debut collection, Burn Lake, was a National Poetry Series winner and was published in 2010 by Penguin. Her second collection, Instant Winner, was published by Penguin in 2014. Fountain’s debut novel for young adults, I’m Not Missing, was published in July, 2018 by Flatiron Books (Macmillan).

Born and raised in Mesilla, New Mexico, where her family’s multicultural history is deeply rooted, Fountain received her MFA as a fellow at the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas. Currently writer-in-residence at St. Edward’s University and visiting professor at the Michener Center, she travels the country teaching creative writing workshops and is the host of NPR’s This Is Just To Say, a radio show and podcast featuring intimate conversations about poetry and life with America’s most influential poets.

Jacob Grovey

Jacob Grovey is the Founding Genius and a writer for Global Genius Society. Jacob began writing early in life. At the age of eight, he first saw people actually valued his words. He was offered the opportunity to write for a magazine, but as great as the opportunity was, Jacob passed on it because he didn’t want any pressure to be associated with his writing. As the years passed, he found himself writing less and less, and before he knew it, he had gone several years without writing anything. As he thought back to the times when he wrote daily, he soon became upset with himself for going so long without putting his thoughts onto paper. In 2003, he vowed to never let that happen again.

Now he says, “I promise you, the times that you’ll catch me without some sort of notepad and pencil are gonna be few and far between because you never know when the inspiration will hit.”

Monica Munoz Martinez

Monica Muñoz Martinez is an award-winning author, educator, public historian, and active participant in developing solutions that address racial injustice. A national authority on the history of race, Martinez is an Andrew Carnegie Fellow and the Stanley J. Bernstein Assistant Professor of American Studies and Ethnic Studies at Brown University. Her research specializes in histories of violence, policing on the US-Mexico border, Latinx history, women and gender studies, and public humanities. Born and raised in Texas, Martinez received her Ph.D. in American Studies from Yale University. 

Her first book The Injustice Never Leaves You: Anti-Mexican Violence in Texas(Harvard University Press, Sept 2018) is a moving account of a little-known period of state-sponsored racial terror inflicted on ethnic Mexicans in the Texas–Mexico borderlands. She is currently at work onMapping Violence a digital research project that recovers histories of racial violence in Texas between 1900 and 1930.

Martinez is a founding member of the non-profit organization Refusing to Forget that calls for public commemorations of anti-Mexican violence in Texas. The team developed an award-winning exhibit for theBullock Texas State History Museum in 2016 that marked the first time a state cultural institution acknowledged state responsibility for this period of racial terror in the twentieth century. Martinez also helped secure four state historical markers along the US-Mexico border.

Jasminne Mendez

Jasminne Mendez is a Latino Book Awards -First Place Award Winning Author, poet, educator and performer. After selecting her work for the 2018 Cogzine Poetry Prize, Major Jackson described her as a poet who “possesses a sense of the poem as sacrament and language hammered into song.” And of her newest book Night-Blooming Jasmin(n)e: Personal Essays & Poetry, Willie Perdomo says: “Jasminne Mendez is a gift…this book is a beautiful achievement, a lasting testament to a spirit that emerged bruised, scarred but alive and ready to sing.”

She is a writing community organizer and InkWell podcast host with Tintero Projects, and she works tirelessly to amplify the voices of Afro-Latinx poets and writers on her Plátano Poetry Cafe blog.

Leonard Pitts, Jr.

In a career that now spans 43 years, Leonard Pitts, Jr. has worked as a columnist, a college professor, a radio producer and a lecturer. A nationally syndicated newspaper columnist since 1994, he won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary. He is a three-time recipient of the National Association of Black Journalists’ Award of Excellence, and was chosen NABJ’s 2008 Journalist of the Year.

He is also the author of four novels and two nonfiction books. He was born and raised in Southern California. He was awarded a degree in English from the University of California at the age of 19, having entered school at 15 on a special honors program.

Chaitali Sen

Chaitali Sen is a writer and educator based in Austin, Texas. Her debut novel, The Pathless Sky, was published by Europa Editions in 2015. Short stories, reviews, and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Brooklyn Magazine, Catapult, Chicago Quarterly Review, Colorado Review, Ecotone, LitHub, Los Angeles Review of Books, New England Review, New Ohio Review, and many other publications. She is a graduate of the Hunter College MFA program in Fiction and founder of the interview series, Borderless: Conversations in Art, Action, and Justice. She is at work on her second novel.

ire’ne lara silva

ire’ne lara silva is the author of two poetry collections, furia (Mouthfeel Press, 2010) and Blood Sugar Canto (Saddle Road Press, 2016), which were both finalists for the International Latino Book Award in Poetry, an e-chapbook, Enduring Azucares, (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2015), as well as a short story collection, flesh to bone (Aunt Lute Books, 2013) which won the Premio Aztlán. She and poet Dan Vera are also the co-editors of Imaniman: Poets Writing in the Anzaldúan Borderlands, (Aunt Lute Books, 2017), a collection of poetry and essays.

ire’ne is the recipient of a 2017 NALAC Fund for the Arts Grant, the final recipient of the Alfredo Cisneros del Moral Award, the Fiction Finalist for AROHO’s 2013 Gift of Freedom Award, and the 2008 recipient of the Gloria Anzaldúa Milagro Award. ire’ne is currently working on her first novel, Naci. Her new collection of poetry, CUICACALLI/House of Song, is forthcoming from Saddle Road Press in April 2019. Website:

Natalia Sylvester

Natalia Sylvester was born in Lima, Peru. She came to the U.S. at age four and grew up in Florida and the Rio Grande Valley in Texas.

She received a BA in Creative Writing from the University of Miami, is a faculty member of the low-residency MFA program at Regis University, and now works as a freelance writer in Texas. Her work has appeared in Bustle, Catapult, Electric Literature, Latina magazine, McSweeney’s Publishing, and the Austin American-Statesman.

Natalia’s first novel, CHASING THE SUN, was named the Best Debut Book of 2014 by Latinidad. Her latest novel, EVERYONE KNOWS YOU GO HOME, won an International Latino Book Award and has been named a Best Book of 2018 by Real Simple magazine.

Her debut YA novel, RUNNING, is forthcoming in spring 2020 from Clarion Books/HMH.

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