Wancy Young Cho Wancy Young Cho D.A. Navoti
Photos by Sherwin Eng (1, 3, 4) and Levi Fuller (2)

2017 Jack Straw Writers Program

The 2017 Jack Straw Writers, selected by Curator Jourdan Imani Keith, are afrose fatima ahmed, Quenton Baker, Jamaica Baldwin, Ellie Belew, Catalina Marie Cantú, Wancy Young Cho, Calvin Gimpelevich, Steph Kesey, Hera McLeod, D.A. Navoti, Ashlan Runyan, and Brandon Young.

The musicians of the Bushwick Book Club Seattle created original music inspired by the work of the 2017 Jack Straw Writers, which was presented via a live event in September 2017 at Ballard Homestead and a recorded album produced in the studios at Jack Straw. Stream or download the music below:

2017 Writers Program Curator Jourdan Imani Keith is a contributing writer for Orion Magazine. Her TEDx Talk "Your Body of Water"is the theme for King County's 2016-2017 Poetry on Buses program. Her essays "Desegregating Wilderness" and "At Risk" appear in the 2015 Best American Science and Nature Writing Anthology (Houghton Mifflin). Her ekphrastic poems and stories were featured at the Northwest African American Museum in 2015 as part of the Glass Orchidarium exhibit and at the Seattle Art Museum's REMIX in November 2015. 

The 2017 Jack Straw Writing Fellows

afrose fatima ahmed is a hybrid Texan-Washingtonian who writes on city streets and at the tops of evergreens. She holds an M.A. in Asian Studies from the University of Texas and is a VONA alumna. afrose is the author of four self-published poetry chapbooks. She is currently working on a full length collection of poems entitled blood gold and honey (a few of her favorite things) that takes the shape of a fictional tarot deck. She has been published in Juked, the Seattle Review of Books and other journals. afrose climbs in her spare time, in order to gain perspective.

Quenton Baker is a poet and educator from Seattle. His current focus is the fact of blackness in American society. His work has appeared in Jubilat, Vinyl, Apogee, The James Franco Review, and Cura. He is a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee and the recipient of the James W. Ray Venture Project award from Artist Trust. He is the author of This Glittering Republic (Willow Books, 2016).

Jamaica Baldwin is a graduate of the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Pacific University Oregon and a 2017 Jack Straw Writers Program Fellow. She's had her poetry published in Rattle and the Seattle Review of Books, where she was the March 2017 poet in residence. Much of Jamaica’s current work examines the liminal spaces that surround the female body, the spaces where silence becomes chaos and violence. She is particularly interested in the various ways language contributes to this silencing and erasure. Jamaica Baldwin lives in Seattle, WA and is currently working on her first book.

Ellie Belew lives in the world of stories we tell ourselves and each other. She writes them down as novels, short prose pieces, and community histories. Belew has published one novel, Run, Plant, Fly (with audio CD produced through Jack Straw’s Artist Support Program); two labor histories, Fully Involved, Bringing Power to the People; and curated and edited About Wallowa County, an anthology of multimedia contributions by the people who live there.

Catalina Marie Cantú, of Mexican/Madeiran heritage, writes essays, poetry, and prose inspired by her experiences in social justice, domestic relationships, and economic survival. She earned her BA in La Raza Studies, and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Washington. Her poetry has been published in La Bloga, Poetry on Buses, and Raven Chronicles. She received scholarships from Port Townsend Writers’ Conference, Artist Trust EDGE Professional Literary Development Program, and Richard Hugo House. Catalina is a member and former chair of Los Norteños, NW Latino Writers Group, and a co-founding member of La Sala, a Latinx artist network.

Wancy Young Cho has appeared in Salon, The Windy City Times, Ghost Factory, No Touching Magazine, and Hair Trigger. He was the recipient of the 2008 Gold Circle Award for Traditional Fiction by the Columbia Scholastic Press Association, and took First Place in the 2005 Written Image Screenwriting Competition. He holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University. Wancy lives in Seattle with his two dogs, Memo and Tiki. 

Calvin Gimpelevich is a fiction writer whose work appears in Electric Literature, Plentitude, Glitterwolf, cream city, THEM, and other publications. He is the recipient of awards from Artist Trust, Jack Straw Cultural Center, and the Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts. calvingimpelevich.com

Steph Kesey is a multimedia artist working in video, sculpture and installation. Steph is one half the collaboration KeseyPollock; KeseyPollock’s gallery and public works have been supported by The MacDowell Colony, The Rasmuson Foundation, The Seattle Art Museum, MadArt, 4Culture, Artist Trust, Tin House, and many others. Steph is currently at work on a book of nonfiction about the last year of her bipolar father’s life. Steph is originally from Seattle and studied Film and Media at La Universidad del Cine in Buenos Aires. She teaches film at SIFF.

Hera McLeod lives in Seattle, but holds true to her Washington, D.C. roots by being unapologetically blunt. She is a woman of color who seeks to empower and educate women through personal narrative. She is the author of the blog Cappuccino Queen, a blog about moving on from an abusive relationship to live the best life and is working on a memoir about the cautionary tale of a woman's journey from self-conscious to self-confident, from victim to advocate. 

D.A. Navoti is an indigenous writer and educator. His work has been featured in The Explicator, NativeOUT, and Spartan. He is a member of the Gila River Indian Community, a descendent of Hopi, Pima, Zuni, and Yavapai-Apache tribes. He writes and lives in Seattle, WA.  

Ashlan Runyan is a writer who believes that sometimes the best way to show up to your work is to switch mediums and teach yourself to knit a pair of socks, or quilt, or how to make herbal medicine, or dance. That is, Ashlan is a writer amongst a few other things. She is always learning more about how to use her art as a political tool and as a healing tool, both for herself and others. She is the world’s worst vegan and the world’s best something, probably.

Brandon Young is a spoken word artist operating primarily in the San Francisco Bay Area, currently residing in Seattle. His work combines deadpan humor with historical events. He has been a featured performer at QACon 2013, APATure 2014, the New Sh!t Show, the Racket and the San Francisco Queer Open Mic. He is published in the Dead Animal Handbook and the upcoming Tandem Vol. 3. His project for Jack Straw is a collection of essays revolving around objects that were protected from disposal, and the people that care for them.

Jack Straw Cultural Center gratefully acknowledges Seattle Office of Arts and Culture, 4Culture King County Lodging Tax Fund, Washington State Arts Commission, National Endowment for the Arts, ArtsFund, and individual contributors for their support of the Jack Straw Writers Program.

Copyright 2016 Jack Straw CulturalCenter ~ All rights reserved

About the podcasts

Jack Straw Cultural Center produces bi-monthly podcasts featuring excerpts from live readings and interviews highlighting literary artists from the Jack Straw Writers Program.

2017 Podcasts:

Jamaica Baldwin
Steph Kesey
Brandon Young
D.A. Navoti
afrose fatima ahmed
Catalina Marie Cantú
Calvin Gimpelevich
Wancy Young Cho
Quenton Baker
Ellie Belew

Previous Jack Straw Writers Program

2016 Writers
2015 Writers
2014 Writers
2012 Writers
2011 Writers

2009 Writers
2008 Writers
2007 Writers
2006 Writers
2005 Writers
2004 Writers
List of writers to date

Jack Straw Writers Program Events

Jack Straw Writers at It's About Time Reading Series
Ballard Branch Seattle Public Library
5614 22nd ave NW

Thursday, December 14, 2pm
With afrose fatima ahmed, Wancy Young Cho, Calvin Gimpelevich, and Hera McLeod.