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2018-19 English Department Reading Series

September 7, 2018 2:49 PM

On September 19, 2018 we’ll be hosting The Black Ladies Brunch Collective, a group of Maryland-based poets whose mission it is to “promote and inspire the voices of Black women,” and on February 18, 2019 we will present novelist Michael Downs. Our focus this year is on writers who actively build and sustain Baltimore’s unique literary community. Complete bios of our guests are below.

All readings are in the Skylight Room, Commons, at 5:00 pm. Book signing and refreshments to follow the event.


Our goal is to make the arts come alive at UMBC, so that literature is experienced as a vibrant, interdisciplinary form of creation, expression, and civic engagement – for everyone. This year we are pleased to count a wide range of diverse departments as our sponsors, including:  Africana Studies; The English Department; The Dean of CAHSS; Dresher Center; Mosaic Center; Gender and Women’s Studies; History; Sociology and Anthropology.


BIOS for 2018-19 English Department Reading Series


The Black Ladies Brunch Collective (BLBC), founded in 2014 in Washington, D.C. The group’s mission is to promote and inspire the voices of Black women—who have been, as a population, historically marginalized and silenced. BLBC recognizes the artistic work of Black women, and encourages and fosters collaboration between them. BLBC serves the whole artistic community but specifically aims to inspire under-privileged/under-represented/women of color. BLBC wishes to serve as a model for other black women writers who desire to create social and professional communities that not only support their creative development but also enrich and maintain their spirits.

Teri Ellen Cross Davis is the author of Haint, winner of the 2017 Ohioana Poetry Book Award, a Cave Canem fellow, and member of the Black Ladies Brunch Collective. She is the poetry coordinator for the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C. Her website is

Katy Richey’s work has appeared in Rattle, Cincinnati Review, RHINO and The Offing. She received an honorable mention for the 2015 Cave Canem Poetry Prize and has received fellowships from Fine Arts Work Center, MD State Arts Council and The Cave Canem Foundation.

celeste doaks, a poet and journalist, is the editor of Not Without Our Laughter, and author of Cornrows and Cornfields. Doaks, a Pushcart prize nominee, received her MFA from NC State University. Currently, she is the Visiting Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Delaware.

Tafisha A. Edwards is the author of The Bloodlet, winner of Phantom Books’ 2016 Breitling Chapbook Prize. She is the Poetry Editor of Gigantic Sequins. Her poems have appeared in The Offing, The Nashville Review, Phantom, West Branch Wired, The Atlas Review and other print and publications.

Saida Agostini is a queer afro-guyanese poet and activist.A Cave Canem graduate fellow, her work is featured or forthcoming in Origins, Drunk in the Midnight Choir, the Black Ladies Brunch Collective's anthology, Not Without Our Laughter, pluck!, The Little Patuxent Review, and other publications.


Michael Downs, a Hartford native, is the author of The Strange and True Tale of Horace Wells, Surgeon Dentist, his debut novel from Acre Books. Earlier works include The Greatest Show: Stories, inspired by the true story of the Hartford, Conn., circus fire, and House of Good Hope: A Promise for a Broken City, named a finalist in memoir for the Connecticut Book Award. He lives in Baltimore, Maryland, and is a professor of English at Towson University.

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