is a grassroots effort dedicated to improving literacy and reducing violence among youth in the Sulphur Springs neighborhood of Tampa – empowering youth through engagement in poetry/rap and martial arts.
The project is an effort to create value from the culture of physical and lyrical battling that already exists among Sulphur Springs youth. Martial arts and poetry/rap instruction provide young people with an opportunity to transform their external battling tendencies into winning the battle within.
The Battleground provides opportunities to develop literacy, creativity, self-mastery, positive self-expression, problem-solving skills, leadership and self-esteem.
You can find out more about their work here.
May 7 at 7 pm
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So many hours of 2020, and now 2021, were spent looking at a screen – to work, to connect with friends and family across the country, to read the news, to watch so many (too many) shows, to write, to see friends on their birthdays, to meet a friend’s newborn, to attend a poetry reading.
At the beginning, it felt exhausting (short of nauseating), but now I’m excited to see what happens when the eye of my computer blinks open.
On Friday, May 7 at 7 p.m. ET, I’m thrilled to be a part of a magical happening on the internet. Organized and curated by the brilliant JD Scott, Five From Florida: A Multigenre Reading features five Florida writers with dazzling debuts who will gather to share their writing. Diamond Forde, Tyler Gillespie, Dantiel W. Moniz, Gloria Muñoz (yours truly) and JD Scott will read across genres from various parts of this state of sunshine that they have all called home at one point or another.
With writing that examines identity, intersectionality, the body, race, family, intergenerational carryings, and speculation, this multi-genre reading (poetry! fiction! nonfiction!) will be sure to leave you a bit more enchanted with the possibilities of writers convening on the internet.
To make the night even more phenomenal, the reading will be emceed by Yuki Jackson, who runs The Battleground, an initiative that provides education and empowerment to youth in the Sulphur Springs neighborhood of Tampa.
The reading is free and open to the public, but donations are welcome to directly benefit The Battleground and help this group increase literacy and reduce violence by teaching youth about rap, poetry and martial arts.
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You can register for Five From Florida: A Multigenre Reading here.
You can donate directly to The Battleground’s GoFundMe here.
You can support these writers and purchase their books here.
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Learn more about the writers
Diamond Forde is author of Mother Body, winner of the 2019 Saturnalia Poetry Prize. Forde has received numerous awards and prizes including the Pink Poetry Prize, the Furious Flower Poetry Prize, CLA’s Margaret Walker Memorial Prize, and 3rd place in Frontier Poetry’s New Poets Award. She is a Callaloo and Tin House fellow, whose work has appeared in Massachusetts Review, Ninth Letter, NELLE, Tupelo Quarterly, among others. Forde serves as the forthcoming editor of Southeast Review and lives in Tallahassee. diamondforde.com
Tyler Gillespie is a poet, award-winning journalist and pale Floridian. He’s the author of Florida Man: Poems (Red Flag Poetry, 2018) and the CNF collection The Thing about Florida: Exploring a Misunderstood State (UPF, 2021). tylermtg.com
Yuki Jackson is a Black and Japanese poet whose work has appeared in Cream City Review, Four Way Review, Foundry, Entropy and other publications. She is an educator and founder of The Battleground, a youth program in the Sulphur Springs neighborhood of Tampa, Florida. Her writing is inspired by her Soka Gakkai International Buddhist practice, hip-hop lyricism and the art within daily life. YukiJackson.com
Dantiel W. Moniz is the recipient of the Alice Hoffman Prize for Fiction, the Cecelia Joyce Johnson Emerging Writer Award by the Key West Literary Seminar and a Tin House Scholarship. Her debut collection, Milk Blood Heat, is an Indie Next Pick, an Amazon “Best Book of the Month” selection, a Belletrist and a Roxane Gay Audacious Book Club pick, and has been hailed as “must-read” by TIME, Entertainment Weekly, Buzzfeed, Elle, and O, The Oprah Magazine. Her work has appeared in the Paris Review, Harper’s Bazaar, Tin House, One Story, American Short Fiction, Ploughshares, The Yale Review, McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern and elsewhere. She lives in Northeast Florida and teaches fiction at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. dantielwmoniz.com
Gloria Muñoz is a Colombian American writer, literary translator, and advocate for multilingual literacy. Her poetry book Dawn’s Early / Danzirly was awarded the Academy of American Poets 2019 Ambroggio Prize. Other honors include Lumina’s Multilingual Nonfiction Writing Award, a Las Musas Mentorship for Latinx and nonbinary authors, and a New York State Summer Writers Institute Fellowship. She is also the author of Your Biome Has Found You. A proponent of cross-disciplinary collaboration, Muñoz has worked alongside botanists, musicians, dancers, historians, artists, conservationists and neuroscientists. She is also one half of the songwriting team Moonlit Música. She teaches creative writing at Eckerd College. gloriamunoz.com
JD Scott is the author of the story collection Moonflower, Nightshade, All the Hours of the Day (&NOW Books, 2020) and the poetry collection Mask for Mask (New Rivers Press, 2021). Scott’s writing has appeared in Best Experimental Writing, Best New Poets, Denver Quarterly, Prairie Schooner, Indiana Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and elsewhere. jdscott.com