I am a California born, granddaughter of immigrants, documented and undocumented, who works as a writer, editor, writing coach, spoken word performer, recording artist, and poetry professor. I live as a wife, mother, grandmother, aunt, niece, cousin and friend to many who honor me with their friendship in return.
I am San Francisco’s third Poet Laureate, an award winning poet and fiction writer, creative non-fiction writer, performer, editor, and part-time senior adjunct professor at California College of the Arts as well as the poet-in-residence of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. I have toured internationally in places such as Northern and Southern Italy, Bosnia, Jamaica, Venezuela, Belgium, England and Wales, and throughout the United States both performing my poetry and serving on panels speaking on African-American poetry, Beat Poetry, and poetry of resistance. I have two novels and four books of poetry published. My first novel, An Open Weave, was awarded the First Novelist Award by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association, was released by Seal Press and later sold to Women’s Press in London and resold as a trade paperback to Signature Press. Curbstone Press released my second novel (which includes poetry), Brown Glass Windows to critical acclaim City Lights Publishing released another book of my poetry, where river meets ocean. and Creative Arts Books, Inc. released my third solo book of poetry, with more than tongue. I am the recipient of a 2002 California Arts Council Spoken Word Literary Arts Fellowship.
For over twenty years I have been a part of Daughters of Yam (a poetry performance group with Opal Palmer Adisa) which has released one book, two chapbooks, one poetry and jazz cassette and one poetry and jazz CD. My poems and short stories, and essays have been published in a number of anthologies including: So Long Been Dreaming : Post-Colonial Science Fiction, Mojo: Conjurer Tales , Drum Voices Review, So Much Thing to Say, Heartspeak, Saints of Hysteria, 100 Poets Against the War , So Luminous the Wildflowers, Rites of Passage , Black Silk , Bum Rush the Page: Def Poetry Jam , Girls Like Us , Father Songs ,Streetlights: Urban Stories of the Black Experience , Thoughts to Savor , I Hear A Symphony , Poetry Like Bread , and many magazines and journals including “The New Progressive”, “Caribbean Writer,” “Left Curve,” “Essence,” “River Styx”, “Black Scholar”, “Callaloo”, “Obsidian”, “Paterson Literary Review”, and “Zyzzyva,” I have received Pushcart recognition for her short story/poem, “A Crowded Table”. I was also a CAC Writing Fellowship in 1989.I have also written two “Start to Finish” history books for young people: Rosa Parks: Freedom Fighter and Frederick Douglas: A Hero for All Times (1999) I have edited and written introductions for six student poetry anthologies produced by the Fine Arts Museums Poets in the Galleries program.
In 2004 I was given a commission by the Oakland East Bay Symphony to collaborate with composer Guillermo Galindo to create and perform in Trade Route, a symphony with spoken word and chorus, that premiered in 2005.
In addition to teaching at CCA, I have taught at New College and lectured at San Jose State, Humboldt College, San Francisco State College, Stanford University, And San Mateo, San Jose, and San Francisco City Colleges. I have also taught poetry performance workshops at Laney College, held workshops and individual writing coaching sessions for novice and experienced poetry and/or prose writers.