Celebrated Women: Our 35-artist lineup for April 15 revealed. (And where are your donations going?)

Tamara here! Our annual  “In Celebration of Women” event first partied at the Central Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia, then at Penn Bookstore, and now it will be held at Arcadia University. I created this event because over the past decade of being in the arts field, I have met so many wonderful, talented, strong women who were working so hard with their events, families, and publications. I thought, “Why don’t I create an event where we can see each other, talk to each other, eat with each other and share our work?” When I saw the turnout for the first celebration, I had a second thought, “And why don’t we raise money for women’s issues?” I mean, we have events like 100 poets where 100 poets get together and celebrate poetry with a book attached (which I love!!), so why not have a celebration of women!              (Author bios after the jump.)

This year, “In Celebration of Women” is co-hosted by: APIARY Magazine and University Relations at Arcadia University (formerly an all-female school). It is only fitting that we celebrate alumni, faculty, and students, their voices and their achievements. But what’s a celebration without the Philadelphia arts community? We have invited awesome women from Philadelphia and the suburbs to join in the evening’s festivities. Our lineup now numbers 35 female authors, musicians, and dancers. We hope this kind of epic literary feast will be nourishing for the spirit, the brain, the community, and for the women helped by Women Organized Against Rape, the organization to which all donations will be made.

The event is free and open to the public. We are asking that people purchase a copy of the “In Celebration of Women” book for $7 because we are donating proceeds from the event’s book sales to WOAR (www.woar.org). The book will include submissions from the fabulous performers who will be at the event, with their books and materials also available for purchase and autographs. Also for sale for $5 will be “E Pluribus Unum: An Anthology of Diverse Voices” whose proceeds will also benefit WOAR.

We are asking you to buy a book, but every little bit counts. $1 is better than nothing. If you cannot purchase a book, a WOAR representative will attend until 7pm, and you can donate directly to the cause. All monies received after 7pm for WOAR will be remitted to WOAR.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. 1 in 3 American women will be sexually abused during their lifetime.1 in 4 women will be sexually assaulted before the age of 18. In 2002, 247,730 people were raped/sexually assaulted in the US. Every 2 minutes someone somewhere in America is sexually violated. 2008-2009 Women Organized Against Rape reported that over 2,400 calls were answered on their hotline in Philadelphia alone. In 1996, one of those women was me. This cause is my cause, your cause, our cause. WOAR offers free counseling to the Philadelphia population and a host of other very important services. Help us raise money to keep them free!

These fabulous women (alphabetical order) will perform poetry, spoken word, fiction/non-fiction, essay, music, and dance:


Deborah Derrickson Kossmann won the Short Memoir Competition at the 2007 First Person Arts Festival in Philadelphia. Her essay, “Why We Needed a Prenup With Our Contractor” was published as a “Modern Love” column in The New York Times. Her other essays have appeared in journals and magazines including Tiferet, A Journal of Spiritual Literature, Psychotherapy Networker, and Families, Systems, & Health. In 2004, Deb received a Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Poetry Fellowship. Her poetry has appeared in Runes: A Review of Poetry, Cape Cod Literary Voice, Iris: A Journal about Women, Conscience-Catholics for a Free Choice, The Mad Poets Review, Philadelphia Poets and upcoming in Rhino and Interpoezia. She is currently working on a book of poetry and a humorous collection of essays. Deb is a clinical psychologist in private practice with offices in Langhorne and Havertown, Pennsylvania. She is also an Alumni Trustee on Arcadia University’s Board of Trustees.

More info: http://www.nytimes.com/2007/10/28/fashion/28love.html

Michelle Reale is an academic librarian on faculty at a university in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Her work has been published in a variety of venues including Eyeshot, Smokelong Quarterly, elimae, Pank, The Los Angeles Review and others. She was included in Dzanc’s Best of the Web 2010.  Her fiction chapbook Natural Habitat was published by Burning River in 2010.  Chapbooks, Like Lungfish GettingThrough the Dry Season (Thunderclap Press) and If All They Had Were Their Bodies (Burning River Press) will be forthcoming in 2011.

More info: http://www.wordriot.org/archives/1624

Michelle Tooker grew up in an area known as Poets Corner in Middletown, NY. Now a resident of suburban Philadelphia, she lives with her fiancé and a rambunctious cat. When she’s not writing poetry or fiction, Michelle is traveling. She’s been to 33 countries and plans to visit at least 100. Her work has appeared in the Schuylkill Valley Journal, Ampersand, Foundling Review, Red River Review, Sex and Murder, and Gutter Eloquence.

More info: http://elevatedifference.com/reviewer/michelle-tooker

Sunshine O’Donnell: Sunshine is her real name, given to her by hippie parents in 1971. Despite this, O’Donnell has developed a long and diverse professional history in both teaching and writing, including the publication of her novel, Open Me, which was selected for the 2007 Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Series and has been translated into Dutch and Hebrew. Her nonfiction work was recently published in W.W. Norton’s Anthology of Best Creative Nonfiction. For the past sixteen years, O’Donnell has been teaching creative writing, art, and science to underserved children in poverty-stricken schools and social-service residential facilities throughout Pennsylvania through The Coffeehouse Project, a mobile literacy classroom she founded in 1994. She has published hundreds of literary magazines written and edited by abused and abandoned youth, and facilitates regular community art exhibits featuring student photography, painting, performance, and found-object installations. On the side, O’Donnell sculpts chocolate and sugar for CakeLab Studio in Philadelphia and makes sculptures out of pieces of abandoned houses and trash. O’Donnell lives in the Germantown section of Philadelphia with her husband and her awesome four-year-old son, Kieran.

More info: http://www.sunshineodonnell.com/


A Pushcart Prize nominee, Anne Kaier’s recent work, in poetry and nonfiction, appears in The Gettysburg Review, Paradigm, Tiny Lights, Under the Sun, The Journal of Investigative Dermatology, Philadelphia Poets, American Writing and other venues. Her poetry chapbook, InFire, was published in 2005. She reviews poetry for The Wild River Review. Holding a Ph.D.from Harvard University, she teaches literature and creative writing at Arcadia University and Rosemont College in suburban Philadelphia.

More info: http://annekaier.com/

Elizabeth Ann Murphy, a lyric soprano, is an active performer and voice instructor. She is a native of York County, Pennsylvania and studied voice with Margaret Moul Carli. Elizabeth is the winner of numerous awards and competitions, including scholarships from the Pottstown Symphony Orchestra and the Kennett Symphony Orchestra. She was employed for nine years as the soprano soloist and section leader at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Chestnut Hill, Pennsylvania. Elizabeth maintains an active performing career. Some career highlights include engagements as soprano soloist for Mozart’s “Missa Brevis” in Graz, Austria, as well as the role of Nerina, in Haydn’s “Le Pescatrici,” a U.S. Premiere. In December 2009, she was the soprano soloist in Handel’s “Messiah” at Bethany Lutheran Church in Denver, CO. In February 2010, Elizabeth performed the role of Mrs. McLean in Carlisle Floyd’s opera “Susannah” with the Rutgers Opera Theater. In 2002, she became adjunct music faculty at Arcadia University in Glenside, PA where she teaches Voice, Introduction to Music Listening, and Music History.

For More Info: http://www.elizabethamurphy.com/

Kalenda Eaton, Ph.D., joined the English Department at Arcadia University in fall 2010. Specializing in African American Literature her teaching and research interests include Black Women’s Literature, Historical Fiction, Social Movements, and Migration Novels. Her latest book, Womanism, Literature, and the Transformation of the Black Community, 1965-1980 published by Routledge Press in 2008, examines the representation of the post-Civil Rights Black community in fiction written by Black women. Currently, she is working on a new book which will be an analysis of historical fiction chronicling the lives of African American settlers in the American West. Eaton is a native of Northern California, and currently resides in Philadelphia, PA with her husband and three-year old son (whose superpowers protect her, daily).

More info: http://www.arcadia.edu/academic/default.aspx?id=34188


Allegra Fletcher is a 20-year-old singer songwriter. Born in Boston, MA, Allegra also spent time in Honduras, where her family is from, and New Orleans. It was in New Orleans, at the age of twelve, that she began songwriting. Shortly after she began piano lessons, but stopped them when she and her mother moved back to Boston. In the 9th grade Allegra discovered that the guitar was her instrument, and she has been accompanying herself on it ever since. Allegra receives inspiration for her songwriting based on her own life experiences traveling and living as a Black Latina, and also from the experiences of family, friends, and even momentary acquaintances. Allegra has made appearances on BNN TV, a local Boston television station, and at local cafes and bars such as Haley House, Dot2Dot, and Slade’s Bar and Grill. Also in the New England area, Allegra has performed at the Block Island Music Festival in Rhode Island, the Gap Store and was a featured artist in the music series Acoustic Music Works, based out of Pittsfield, MA. She has also done shows in Philadelphia, where she attends Bryn Mawr College, both on and off campus. Be sure to watch out for her first album effort, coming soon.

More info: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5sLSWJye7ts

Bonnie MacAllister concerns herself with transforming fragments across media, the soundtrack of her deconstructed breath verse set on a visual plane of stills, film, and paintings.  A Fulbright-Hays recipient and Pushcart nominee, she is active with the Women’s Caucus for Art, Green Light Arts, and the Plastic Club (Philadelphia’s historic woman founded art club). A playwright, she is the author of She Should Have Written It: A Story of Bohemian Surveillance (Shubin Theatre) and Crowning the May Queen (Philadelphia Fringe Festival). She has also published Written in Paste (forthcoming), Paid in Goats, Some Words Are No Longer Words, Women and Children of Ethiopia, and Coptic: Ethiopian Mysticism. She curates the collaborative multimedia magazine Certain Circuits (www.certaincircuits.org), and she has recently shown her visual artwork at the Delaware Art Museum (along with her husband Victor Thompson), the Center for Green Urbanism (DC), University of Pennsylvania, Montclair State University (NJ), and Florissant Valley Art Gallery in St. Louis, MO.

More info: www.bonniemacallister.com

Dilruba Ahmed’s poems have appeared in Crab Orchard Review, Columbia: A Journal of Literature and Art, The Asian Pacific American Journal, and elsewhere. Her work is forthcoming in Writing the Lines of Our Hands, an anthology of South Asian American poetry. She is a project coordinator at the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching in Stanford, California, and co-editor of Going Public with Our Teaching: An Anthology of Practice (Teachers College Press, 2005). She received a BPhil in English Writing and a MAT in Instruction and Learning from the University of Pittsburgh. She currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.

More info: http://www.blackbird.vcu.edu/v4n2/poetry/ahmed_d/index.htm

Eileen D’Angelo a paralegal by day and a mad poet at night, has been nominated for a Governor’s Award in the Arts and a Pushcart Prize in Poetry.  She judged Philadelphia area poets in open auditions for the HBO pilot/series, Def Poetry Jam  and also for the Four State Poetry Slam, sponsored by Minority Business Focus, at New Market Caberet in Philadelphia.   Her manuscript, True Tales from the Home Front, was a finalist in both the University of North Carolina’s Palanquin Press Chapbook Competition and Byline Chapbook Competition.  She has read her work on several television arts programs — most recently on “Poet’s Pause” on BCTV-Berks County Community Television, WXPN’s (88.5 fm) World Cafe Live, and Cafe Improve, a live television broadcast in Princeton, NJ, and surrounding areas. She was interviewed by Kenn Michael for WBIY (88.1 fm) for the Lehigh Valley and by Dee Patel of KYW-1060 News Radio in Philadelphia. A two time finalist in the Allen Ginsberg Competition sponsored by the Paterson Literary Review, Eileen has been the Director of the Mad Poets Society since 1988 and has coordinated hundreds of events, over 60 poetry readings per year since 1990.  She has served as Editor of the Mad Poets Review since the first issue in 1990, and has been a Contributing Editor for the literary journal, HELLAS, A Journal of Arts and Humanities.

More info: madpoetssociety.com
Educator, singer, songwriter, poet and thespian, Micki Barocca, has just begun her journey, even with these accomplishments under her belt. This southern girl from South Carolina has made Philly her home for nine years, but aims to do as much as she can to touch the world. Her passions are being a mother to her daughter (Ala), writing, performing and saving our youth. “As an educator for ten years, I have had first-hand experience at seeing the problems that plague young people. It is no surprise that they are losing interest in being children, with so many adult situations that they are put into and have to face. They are the results of a nation gone mad. I am moved and challenged to bring about positive change for them, if only through a compassionate word or action every day. We have to start somewhere.”

More info: www.mickibarocca.com

Shaily Dadiala, the Artistic director for Usiloquy Dance designs who lives and teaches Bharatnatyam (a type of classical Indian dance) here in Philadelphia. Shaily has dedicated her life to bringing about an awareness regarding Bharatnatyam. She works with musicians of local and international fame to create original dance compositions that are an amalgamation of various cultures. We will be performing a few excerpts from ‘Chandroutie’, an Indo-carribean fusion.

More info: http://www.usiloquydance.org/

Wings of Worth is:

Adriann “The Pen” Bautista is a Playwright and Poet who has been writing since her early teen years but realized her lifelong passion through the Pen in 2008. She has four Christian play productions to her credit; “My name is Struggle/ Victory”; “Sister, You Better Change your Hat!”; “Don’t you know, He rose and He lives!”, and the most recent “RESTORED”. Her plays have been warmly received and have been ministered in Chester, Philadelphia and the Morton area of Pennsylvania.  Those who have experienced the messages of hope through these stage productions have all agreed that they have been life-altering and inspirational. A newly professed Poet, Adriann has expanded her gift to the art of Poetry and since November 2009 has penned over 200 poems.  She has published one Chap book entitled “Ballad of a Beautiful Brown King” and a full length book entitled “Sanctuary of Snow”, available on Amazon.com, Barnes&Noble.com and Borders.com. A native of Philadelphia, PA, Adriann is the mother of two children and is a Grants Administrator for Thomas Jefferson University.

Transplanted from a rural horse farm to downtown Philadelphia in her teens, much of Angel Hogan’s writing is fueled by her non-traditional upbringing, which she describes as “a heap of multicultural embarrassments.” After studying Literary Theory at Bucknell University, Angel traveled cross country with a Chow-pit puppy in a diaper, and spent time at her Mom’s home in the Yucatan. As a toddler, her favorite foods were coffee and pan-fried liver. Angel currently works at the University of Pennsylvania and lives in West Philly with her cat Mamacita, and Sauce! the dog. She is a storytelling champ with First Person Arts and has been selected as a 2011 teaching artist with the Philadelphia Literacy through Photography project (LTP).

More info: www.angelhogan.com

Ebony Malaika Collier is a poet who has lived in the Philadelphia area most of her life. She has been a featured poet at the Mad Poets Festival 2008 and 2009, for several reading series at Robins Bookstore including the Womens Writing & Spoken Word Series. She has read at such venues as The Last Word, Aziza’s First Fridays on Vine, Panoramic Poetry, CCE at Copa, the Poetic Arts Performance Project (PAPP) and the Light of Unity Artists and Writers Series. She has published poems in Mad Poets Review. She has a BA in English and is also a visual artist.

Lina Baker was born and raised in Philadelphia. She is a well-known spoken word performer known as Alllisss. She has performed at different venues such as Panoramic Poetry, Soul Connection NJ, The Harvest and many others. She has appeared on Conscious Poetry TV and World Café Live. Lina is also a musician and has performed at The Arts Bank, Kimmel Center and Liacouras Center. A mother of two, Christian, scholar, composer and writer, Alllisss continues to reach many that hear her works. Alllisss continues to be used as a vessel so that all will see God’s light through her.

For those who are hungry for something not knowing quite what it is, but truly need that hint of spice in their Latte, we share with you Mrs. Elle Vintage who impacts the spiritual, natural, and physical dreams of life canvas’ them and plants them in the minds and hearts of you who will allow yourselves to hear what she has to say!!! L’Oreal “Elle” Chrisp- Seels, an artist starving and thriving to make the best of everything in eyesight, or should we say seen, and unseen. At 29 yrs of age there so much people say this young lady is not ready for and/or hasn’t experienced, but let it be known, please don’t judge a book by its cover as we unveil passion fresh and uncorked!!!! The Co-Author of Beacons in the Park, an excerpt of short stories and poetry, Elle has already begun her walk on these streets, swift and with a bang. Host of The Soul Connection in South Jersey, a part of the 1-2 punch duo of Diverse Verses, and a foursome of artist called The Guild; Elle, is ready to take the ambiance of poetry to its next level. Keep up and stay tuned.

Naila Mattison-Jones has been writing poetry since the age of 6, but began sharing her works during Philadelphia’s coming of age in the mid 1990’s, adding her voice to the burgeoning “neo-soul” movement. These days she is found most often contributing her talents to other artists, using her marketing background to help promote those wishing to make their impact on the world. Naila is the author of two books of poetry, Lyrically Gifted and Altered Spaces.

Na Koikoi Aziza Zenzile Kintehg (which means After the Queen, Precious, One Who Controls Her Destiny) is a Poet/Activist, Griot, Author, Vocalist, Educator, and Hair Culturalist, who utilizes her gift to uplift her culture, promote black womanhood in a positive light, and cultivate a consciousness for social change. Alumna of Eckerd College and Temple University’s School’s of Journalism and Communications; Aziza has been a featured Poet at venues worldwide  and her work has been published in several anthologies. She recently celebrated her seventh  anniversary as host to a venues that provides an outlet for free form expressions of art and  culture  in the community; 1st Friday’s On Vine housed at Jose Sebourne’s Graphic Design and Art Gallery, located at 12th & Vine in downtown Philadelphia. She self published her first book of poetry titled  I Am Azizag , and is currently working on the final touches of  her second book  “Traveling Lite” scheduled to be released in the early part of  this year. Aziza is also featured in “The Connection” a documentary short about African American couples and relationships directed by Nisa RA coming to a theatre near you!

More info: http:www.Aziza-lockdiva.com

Tamara G. Oakman, a graduate of Temple University, has won awards in poetry, fiction, creative non-fiction, and drama. She has been published by Poetry Ink, Versadelphia, Fox Chase Review, Many Mountains Moving, Philadelphia Stories Magazine and Best of Anthology, Unbreakable and Other Poems On Domestic Abuse, Mad Poets Review, and other journals; reads poetry and fiction everywhere in Philadelphia and the tri-state area; judged a fiction and drama contest for Hidden River Arts, is judging a poetry contest at the Philadelphia Writer’s Conference 2011, and has completed her Master’s of English thesis, a book of poetry entitled “Snatched,” at Arcadia University. She is commissioned to write a poem for The African American Heritage Collection for Mural Arts. She has hosted many venues, leads The Business of Words poetry workshop and Hope Writers (writing for therapy), is co-founder, co-editor for APIARY (theapiarycorp.com), and is the executive director of The Light of Unity Association. She lives and loves in Philadelphia.

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One Response to “Celebrated Women: Our 35-artist lineup for April 15 revealed. (And where are your donations going?)”

  1. […] the monthly Harvest open mic, to our own readings at Giovanni’s Room and Arcadia University, to the Asian Arts Initiative’s Family Style and the youth open mic at Art Sanctuary, our […]

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