I’ve worked with community organizations like Women Against Rape, Police Athletic League and Planned Parenthood since 1998. My experience as a counselor, court advocate and community educator stems from my personal journey as a bisexual and (dis)abled black/indigenous woman of color. I hold a B.A. in Writing from the University of Pittsburgh, where I studied poetry with Toi Derricotte, co-founder of Cave Canem. I graduated from the New School University’s Creative Writing MFA program, and I hold a certificate in Diversity and Inclusion Education and Training from Cornell University Institute of Labor Relations. My academic research and professional publications are focused on historic cultural perspectives, equity and inclusion, (dis)ablity, LGBTQIA+ and intersectional womanist perspectives. My fiction books have won awards, reviews and recognition from The New York Public Library, The Christopher Award Foundation, Publisher’s Weekly, The Washington Post and Essence Magazine. I am an Assistant Professor at CUNY’s Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, NY and I am the Diversity and Inclusion Section Editor for the Journal Creative Writing Studies. I have spoken internationally about integrating diversity and inclusivity into teaching, working and creative practices and in patient advocacy. I also have the privilege to facilitate a writing workshop focused on transforming past pain into present preciousness at Griot Circle, Inc., a LGBTQIA/POC senior citizen center in downtown Brooklyn. As a Type 1 Diabetic, I create content about my invisible chronic illness and how it intersects with my gender, race and creativity.  I also share my experiences within the healthcare system, and my work with my service dog, Bobo. I started a program called #EveryDiabeticNeedsADog which helps educate Type 1 diabetics about the benefits of working with a Diabetic Alert Dog.

Why Radically Imperfect?

My essay “Radical Imperfectionism” in the academic text Creative Writing Innovations, describes my theory for teaching creative writing in inclusive classrooms as “…releasing oneself from binary thinking, giving up the idea of getting the draft or the sentence ‘right’ at any one point—it’s about giving up what is right or wrong as an answer to the construction of written language, especially creatively written language in a classroom context.” The drive of any creative endeavor, any creatively focused life must embrace the imperfect as paramount. Language is a living organism, and it must allow for all types of changes and imperfections so that communication can be effective. Creative language demands the understanding of structure but it also dances within and often outside of that structure. Poems can be a string of intentionally curated punctuation and emojis or they can be strictly hammered sonnets and all of those forms have transcended its original intent and that is utterly magical in itself. To exist, language must keep us engaged, mesmerized and that cannot happen in stagnation of perfection.  I used to get upset with myself when I would do readings of my work and I realized there was a different way I could have written something. I had to forgive myself and love my words all the more for always teaching me something new. As a person living with a chronic and incurable autoimmune disease that requires meticulous calculations with multiple variations and sensitivities, my life is a fine balancing act with few constants. Dr. Joslin, who was one of the main researchers that developed artificial insulin called life with the disease “a science and an art” because there is no absolute control when it comes to dosage, which makes insulin the life raft and the shark. Even with modern tech precision, there is a distinct margin of error when it comes to administering insulin and I have had to develop an intricate dance with my body, and above all, I must forgive myself when I step on my own foot. I choose a radical embrace with my imperfections to maintain mental and physical health; striving for “perfection” is just a distraction from living authentically, it puts production before process, which is often detrimental to the creative process.

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