He lives near Atlanta, Georgia, where he is still trying to figure out what to do with his life. He plays guitar, listens to podcasts while lifting weights, and spends way too much time on the internet. His favorite band is Guided by Voices, and his favorite chord is G major.
His work focuses on the juxtaposition of the genuine with the surreal, and he loves writing about how everything is always so close to totally falling apart. He’s currently working on writing longer poems, writing stranger poems, incorporating various other media into the poetic process, and trying to get his first book published. In 2012 he started Epigraph Magazine (epigraphmagazine.com). Originally intended as a one-off zine featuring his friends’ writing, Epigraph quickly became a proper literary journal with a preference for experimental works.
Selected Works: “Valhalla”, “One Million Horses”, “The Golden Calf”, “3 Poems”
Born to a Tunisian father and an American mother, Leila grew up with two homelands and an ocean of distance between them. The oldest of four children, she was raised a devout Muslim, learning early how to read and recite the Qur’an, but was also deeply curious about her mother’s lapsed Catholic faith. Much of Leila’s experience in childhood and adolescence was influenced by these dualities of identity—being simultaneously American and “foreign,” and having two parent faiths, languages, and cultures. Her forthcoming chapbook Tunsiya/Amrikiya, the 2017 Editors’ Selection from Bull City Press, examines and celebrates this.
Leila has a second chapbook, Ebb, forthcoming as part of the New-Generation African Poets chapbook series and is currently at work on a full-length collection involving illness, gender, and faith. She is interested in taboos surrounding female sexuality and bodily functions and failings, and the causes and manifestations of shame.
Before receiving her MFA at North Carolina State University, Leila taught high school special education in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has since been awarded prizes from Ploughshares’ Emerging Writer’s Contest, Narrative Magazine’s 30 Below Contest, and the Academy of American Poets, scholarships from Tin House Writers’ Workshop and Dickinson House, and fellowships from the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and the Wisconsin Institute for Creative Writing, where she will be the 2017-2018 Ron Wallace Poetry Fellow come August.
When not writing, Leila’s usually thrifting, arguing with her cat, or eating something drenched in soy sauce. She knows every lyric to every Tori Amos song and has only just learned to drive. She unequivocally believes in ghosts.
Selected Works: “Confession”, “My Mother Makes a Religion”, “Motherland”, “Ode to Ugly Things”, “Muslim Christmas”, “Narcissus Brings Me Flowers”
Cortney Lamar Charleston
He is originally from the Chicago suburbs. He completed his undergraduate education at the University of Pennsylvania as a member of the Class of 2012, earning a BS in Economics from the Wharton School and BA in Urban Studies from the College of Arts & Sciences; as a student, he focused on the intersection of business and government and the physical and sociological construction of cities. Additionally, it was during this time he began writing and performing poetry as a member of The Excelano Project. His academic background, coupled with his upbringing spent bouncing between Chicago’s South Side and its South and West suburbs undoubtedly influence his written work. Charleston’s poems grapple with matters of race, masculinity, class, heteronormativity, family, body, spirit and how identity is, functionally, a transition zone between all of these competing markers. Said differently, his poetry is a marriage between art and activism, a call for a more involved and empathetic understanding of the diversity of the human experience.
Selected Works: “A Brief History of Violence“, “Devotion (‘I Am on the Battlefield for My Lord’)“, “…Everyday Something Has Tried to Kill Me and Has Failed“, “Feeling Fucked Up“, “Ghazal for the Bathing Ape”