Anis Mojgani is Oregon’s current Poet Laureate and the author of five books of poetry. His work has appeared on HBO, NPR, and in journals Bat City Review, Rattle, Buzzfeed Reader, Thrush, and Forklift Ohio, amongst others. A two time National Poetry Slam Champion and winner of the International World Cup Poetry Slam, Anis has done commissioned work for the Getty Museum, the Peabody Essex Museum, and the Portland Timbers, and has been awarded artist residencies from the Vermont Studio Center, AIR Serenbe, and the Bloedel Nature Reserve. Originally from New Orleans, Anis currently lives in Portland, OR, where he serves on the Board of Directors for Literary Arts. His latest collection is In the Pockets of Small Gods.
Se-ah-dom Edmo, Shoshone-Bannock, Nez Perce & Yakama, is MRG’s Executive Director. She brings deep experience in community organizing for racial and social justice work across the nation. She is co-editor of the Tribal Equity Toolkit 3.0: Tribal Resolutions and Codes for Two Spirit and LGBT Justice in Indian Country and American Indian Identity: Citizenship, Membership & Blood. Prior to joining MRG served as the Sovereignty Program Director at Western States Center where she was the coalition convener of Tribal History: Shared History (Senate Bill 13, 2017) in Oregon – this law established and funded teaching of Indian History and Sovereignty in K – 12 Schools across the state. A hallmark of her career has been fostering relationships and collaborations between tribes and organizations that do social, racial, environmental, and economic justice work across the region. She is currently a member of the Steering Committee of Oregon Recovers and is an ALF Senior Fellow. She lives in Portland with her husband James and their children Siale, Imasees and Miyosiwin, as well as her parents, Ed and Carol Edmo. Se-ah-dom’s ancestors are from Celilo, a fishing village along the Columbia River and one of the oldest known settlements in the West.
Mitchell S. Jackson
Mitchell S. Jackson’s debut novel The Residue Years received wide critical praise. Jackson is the winner of a Whiting Award. His novel also won The Ernest J. Gaines Prize for Literary Excellence and was a finalist for The Center for Fiction Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize, the PEN / Hemingway Award for Debut Fiction, and the Hurston / Wright Legacy Award. His honors include fellowships from the New York Public Library’s Cullman Center, the Lannan Foundation, the Ford Foundation, PEN America, TED, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Center for Fiction. His writing has been featured on the cover of the New York Times Book Review, Time Magazine, and Esquire Magazine, as well as in The New Yorker, Harpers, The New York Times Book Review, The Paris Review, The Guardian, The Washington Post Magazine, Harper’s Bazaar, and elsewhere. His nonfiction book Survival Math: Notes on an All-American Family was published in the spring of 2019 and named a best book of the year by fifteen publications, including NPR, Time Magazine, The Paris Review, The Root, Kirkus Reviews, and Buzzfeed. He teaches in the Creative Writing program at the University of Chicago.
Jackson is also a well-regarded speaker who has delivered lectures and keynote addresses all over the world, including the annual TED Conference, the Ubud (Bali) Writers and Readers Festival, and the Sydney Writers’ Festival, as well as at esteemed institutions, among them Yale University, Brown University, Cornell University, and Columbia University. A formerly incarcerated person, Jackson is also a social justice advocate who, as part of his outreach, visits prisons and youth facilities in the United States and abroad.
Maurice King has a deep love for literature and storytelling and been a supporter of Literary Arts since 1997 when he and his wife attended their first lecture. King has served on boards, councils and community impact teams, and is currently the Immediate Past Chair of All Hands Raised. A commerce and production professional, he has worked for a variety of global companies including Gap, Inc, The Limited, The Walt Disney Company, and Nike. “As the grandson, son, brother, husband and father of educators, I believe in the power of literature to change lives. Literary Arts commitment to authors, storytelling and this community through an equity lens is inspirational. There is no better way to honor the educators in my life and support this community than by joining this board.”
S. Renee Mitchell
Award-winning former journalist S. Renee Mitchell, MBA, is best described as a Creative Revolutionist, who expresses herself through poetry, storytelling, grant writing, teaching and creating multimedia experiences. She considers creative expression, in all forms, as her heARTwork. Renee spent 25 years as a newspaper journalist in Seattle, Orlando and Detroit, among other cities, and is most known locally for her years as a Metro columnist for The Oregonian, where she was nominated twice for the prestigious Pulitzer Prize. Renee is a published author of four books of poetry, a novel, five plays and a children’s book about courage in the face of bullying, called “The Awakening of Sharyn: A Shy and Brown SuperGyrl.” Renee’s deepest desire is to use her creativity to help others let go, gather up and move on. You can find out more about Renee’s work at www.ReneeMitchellSpeaks.com
Karis J.A. Stoudamire
Karis Stoudamire-Phillips, a native of Portland, is the Vice President of DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) and Community Initiatives at Moda Health and Delta Dental of Oregon. Her focus areas are to one, develop, direct and implement the community engagement strategy and action plan throughout Oregon and Alaska; and two, to increase diversity, equity and inclusion in the workforce and corporate culture, plus coordinate efforts to insure product offerings across all businesses meet the needs of a diverse customer population. In addition Karis serves as the relationship manager of the company’s signature statewide community-building partnership with the Portland Trail Blazers. Prior to joining Moda, Karis was the Corporate Relations Officer with the Legacy Health Foundations and prior was the Foundation Administrator at Damon Stoudamire, Inc.
With her extensive background in public affairs, marketing and non-profit management, Karis currently serves as Chair of the Multnomah Exposition Recreation Commissioner (MERC), Grantmakers of Oregon and Southwest Washington Board President, Urban League of Portland Board Member, Boise Neighborhood Association Treasurer and is also active in several many other civic organizations.
Karis graduated from Saint Mary’s College of California with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology/Child Development and earned her master’s in public affairs from Washington State University.
Karis is very happily married to Mike Phillips, a world-renowned jazz saxophonist, and they are the proud parents of 11 year-old, Michael, Jr. and 6 year-old Tyson.
Facilitator | Poet
Born and raised in Portland Oregon, Alex Dang started performing poetry at 17 and hasn’t slowed down since. He was on the Portland Poetry Slam nationals team in 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016, making him the only Asian-American poet in Portland’s history to be on the team four years in a row. Alex earned his way to become the Eugene Poetry Grand Slam Champion in 2014, 2015, and again in 2017. He has been a TEDx speaker for both University of Oregon and Reno, Nevada. His work has been featured on HuffingtonPost, UpWorthy, and EverydayFeminism, and has been viewed over 2 million times on YouTube. A proud graduate of Cleveland High School, Alex has performed in over 50 cities, 30 states, 7 countries, and wants to know what your favorite food is.
Facilitator | Poet
Julia Gaskill is a professional daydreamer hailing from Portland, Oregon. Her poetry examines the tightrope we sometimes walk of feeling our voices censored and also being unabashedly ourselves. Her poems touch on everyday misogyny, parental loss, praise of femininity, mental unrest, found healing, and her deep love of being a geek. Julia has competed multiple times on national stages with her work, and she has been the featured reader on poetry mics all across this country. Her work has been published on FreezeRay Poetry, NAILED, Ink&Nebula, Rising Phoenix Review, Knight’s Library Magazine, and more, and videos of her poetry have been featured on both Write About Now and SlamFind. Her poem ‘i will not beg for scraps’ was nominated for Best of the Net in 2015. Julia is the author of four chapbooks, runs the mic Slamlandia, and co-founded the Bigfoot Regional Poetry Slam in 2019. Find Julia at facebook.com/jgaskpoetry
Facilitator | Educator, Writer, and Activist
Jacque Dixon is an educator, writer and activist residing in Portland, Oregon. She is passionate about ending the school to prison pipeline and using creative expression as a way to engage youth in standing up for social and racial justice. As a songwriter and hip-hop artist, Jacque was a founding member of Rose Bent, Portland’s favorite female hip-hop group. With over 15 years of teaching experience, she’s used her love for community and the spoken word to collaborate with organizations like Literary Arts, Up & Over, Spit/WRITE and Portland Parks & Recreation to provide supportive spaces for young creatives to thrive. Jacque is the head coach of Poetland, a local teen slam poetry team. In 2019, under Jacque’s guidance and mentorship, Poetland advanced to quarterfinals at the Brave New Voices International Slam Poetry Festival, in competition with over 50 teams from around the world.
Facilitator | Poet and Verselandia! 2019 Champion
Jordan Wolmut is a senior at Benson High School and the 2019 Verselandia! Champion. She has always been on the hunt for creative escapes, and has turned to sports and writing both since she was a kid. She plays volleyball, basketball, and runs track. Jordan has found that when nobody listened, the paper did, and so through writing has found a space to share secrets, pain, happiness, anything—without judgement. She also enjoys spreading positivity and being surrounded by plants and animals. Finally, she loves food so much—so much—she’s even written about it.
Facilitator | Poet and Artist
Jolly Wrapper is a Portland-based musical performer, spoken word poet and visual artist. His work often draws inspiration from personal experiences, interests, people, systems, and social injustices, which he has encountered and observed throughout his life. Although not confined to any one particular genre of music, his most popular songs usually consist of Hip-Hop Rap and Bedroom-Pop.
He’s established as a Portland Poet, and as an up and coming artist in the Portland rap scene, having performed all over Portland and in Houston, Las Vegas, and at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Aside from performing poetry and making music, he also loves filming music videos, photography, producing beats, drawing, painting, designing and sewing custom clothes, writing and illustrating children’s books, mentoring youth, and facilitating social justice events. He also enjoys metal detecting, collecting coins, polishing rocks, and his favorite snack is cilantro! His biggest strengths are being creative and problem-solving. Through art and self-expression, he will change the world. Support him and he’ll support you! Check out his music on all platforms @Jolly Wrapper. When asked how he’s feeling he hit us with his famous catchphrase, “I’m Feelin’ Jolly!”
Artist at Gresham High School
Lucy Anderson is a self-taught artist, an aspiring concept artist for a gaming studio and a current student at Gresham High School. She helped create the logo for the #Virtualandia! event. She has her own small shop on RedBubble called LucyCreates. This is her first time showcasing her art on such a large scale. Besides logo work, she likes doing character art, animation, and painting. You can read more about Lucy’s selection and logo design process on our Literary Arts blog.
Thank you to our vital school partners, sponsors, and Literary Arts community.