What is Woke Words?
Woke Words is a multi-genre creative writing and reading series for women, femme, and nonbinary writers of color (Black, Indigenous, POC) who are living in Utah. The nine-month-long program is designed to provide access and exposure to writing by women, femme, and nonbinary authors of color; encourage thoughtful discussion around issues of race, gender, and identity; and inspire writers to give voice to their experiences, forge empowering connections, and create new languages for reaching across cultures and communities.
What do you do?
Workshops are conducted monthly from September to May (each workshop is three hours long) and feature guided reading discussions, creative writing exercises, and hands-on, arts-based activities. In addition, individualized mentorship is provided for participants throughout the duration of the program, and opportunities to meet informally as a group are offered each month. Woke Words facilitators include renowned authors, activists, and instructors from around the world.
How can I join?
Participation in the series is open to BIPOC who identify as women, femme, and nonbinary and are at least 15 years of age. To promote trust and group cohesion, the group will be limited to ten participants per nine-month session. Admission will be application-based and selections will be determined by a committee comprising previous Woke Words participants, facilitators, and coordinators. If selected, the participant must commit to attending at least six out of nine workshops. All books and art supplies are provided to participants free of charge, and curbside delivery is currently available for individuals living in the Salt Lake County area. To maintain current social distancing recommendations, groups will be conducted on Zoom until further notice. When it is safe again to meet in person, groups will resume onsite at YWCA Utah.
Woke Words Facilitators 21-22 shown in order of facilitation
Sahar Mustafah (she/hers)
Trapeta B. Mayson (She/hers)
Trapeta B. Mayson is the 2020-2021 Philadelphia Poet Laureate. She is a recipient of a Pew Fellowship in Literature, Academy of American Poets Laureate Fellow, Leeway Transformation Award, Leeway Art and Change Grant, and Pennsylvania Council on the Arts Grants. Mayson is also an Aspen Words Fellow with the Aspen Institute. She is the author of She Was Once Herself and Mocha Melodies. Mayson also released two music and poetry projects, SCAT and “This Is How We Get Through”, in collaboration with internationally acclaimed jazz guitarist, Monnette Sudler. Her other publications include submissions in Toho Journal, The American Poetry Review, Epiphany Literary Journal, Aesthetica Magazine, Margie: The American Journal of Poetry among others. Mayson is a native of Liberia. She is a graduate of Temple University, Bryn Mawr Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research, and Villanova University School of Business. Currently working in the social services field, Mayson is a member of several local organizations where she uses the arts to mobilize, build community, and create change. https://trapetamayson.com/
Manón Voice (she/hers)
Manon Voice is a native of Indianapolis, Indiana, and is a poet and writer, spoken word artist, hip-hop emcee, educator, social justice advocate, and practicing contemplative. She has performed on diverse stages across the country in the power of word and song and has taught and facilitated art and poetry workshops widely, working with organizations such as Women Writing for (a) Change, Arts for Learning Indiana, Notre Dame Americorps, Regeneration Indy, Indiana’s WomIN’s Festival, Indiana Writers Center and Purdue University. Her poetry has appeared in The Flying Island, The Indianapolis Review, The House Life Project: People + Property Series, Sidepiece Magazine, The World We Live(d) In anthology, The Indianapolis Anthology, Questions for a Resilient Future and Kinship: A World of Relations. She has been featured in publications such as Indy NUVO, The Indianapolis Recorder, The Indianapolis Star, FAFCollective, and Pattern Magazine.
Holding a Master’s Degree in Organizational Leadership, Manon Voice is co-founder of Kindred Collective, LLC., (www.wearekindredcollective.com) an organization that gives voice to equity through workshops and consulting. She is a board member of the Fair Housing Center of Central Indiana, a private, non for profit organization whose mission is to ensure equal housing opportunities by eliminating housing discrimination through advocacy, enforcement, education, and outreach, and Indy Maven, a publication connecting women in central Indiana through storytelling and events. She is a teaching artist for Arts for Learning Indiana, where she utilizes poetry and spoken word to educate youth and young adults and is trained in civic reflection and has facilitated for the Powerful Conversations on Race series hosted by Spirit and Place community project. https://www.manonvoice.com/
Petrona Xemi Tapepechul (she/hers/ella)
Petrona Xemi Tapepechul is a Two-Spirit Transgender Womxn from Kuskatan, the land known internationally as El Salvador. Xemi is an activist, artist, playwright, actress, and leader in Washington D.C.’s transgender community. She was trained at the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts, and has been featured on various DC Theatre productions, including Angel Rose Artist Collective’s The Cosmic Twins, Protect & Preserve, and Siwayul (Heart of a Womxn), a group she founded in 2015 and is the artist director for. She is a student and advocate of the Nawat and Salvadoran Sign Language, Indigenous languages considered “at-risk”. Xemi is the recipient of multiple awards including the 2018 Champion of the Ask Rayceen Show Annual Poetry Slam Competition; 2018 “Hispanic Heritage Legacy Award” from the Latino GLBT History Project; 2019 “40 Under 40: Queer Women of Washington” by the DC Mayor’s Office of LGBTQ Affairs, the DC Mayor’s Office of Women’s Initiatives, and the Washington Blade; and the 2019 Engendered Spirit Award from the Capitol Pride Alliance. https://howlround.com/commons/petrona-xemi-tapepechul
Nina Feng (she/they)
Nina Feng is a PhD candidate in Writing and Rhetoric Studies at the University of Utah. She studies anti-racist language practices and pedagogy, along with game theory and storytelling. With an M.F.A. in Creative Nonfiction, Nina loves to explore intersections of multimodal expression, personal narrative, and social justice. She is currently teaching writing courses that utilize an interactive game narrative to disrupt standard language expectations—her classes often get interrupted by robots, friendly characters, food, and secret missions. Nina enjoys spending time with her family, and dance parties, when she’s not writing and reading.
Tarfia Faizullah (she/hers)
Tarfia Faizullah is the author of two poetry collections,Registers of Illuminated Villages (Graywolf, 2018) and Seam (SIU, 2014). Tarfia’s writing appears widely in the U.S. and abroad in the Daily Star, Hindu Business Line, BuzzFeed, PBS News Hour, Huffington Post, Poetry Magazine, Ms. Magazine, the Academy of American Poets, Oxford American, the New Republic, the Nation, Halal If You Hear Me (Haymarket, 2019), and has been displayed at the Smithsonian, the Rubin Museum of Art, and elsewhere. https://www.tfaizullah.com/
Jennifer Givhan (she/her/ella/la bruja)
Jennifer Givhan is a Mexican-American poet and novelist who grew up in the Imperial Valley, a small, border community in the Southern California desert. Her family has ancestral ties to the indigenous peoples of New Mexico. She earned her MFA in Poetry from Warren Wilson College in North Carolina and a Master’s in English Literature at California State University Fullerton, where she was the recipient of the Graduate Equity Fellowship. Her poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction have appeared in The New Republic, The Nation, Best of the Net, Best New Poets, AGNI, TriQuarterly, Ploughshares, POETRY, Boston Review, Crazyhorse, Blackbird, The Kenyon Review, New England Review, Salon, The Rumpus, and Prairie Schooner, among many others. https://jennifergivhan.com/
Paisley Rekdal (she/hers)
Paisley Rekdal is the author of a book of essays, The Night My Mother Met Bruce Lee; the hybrid photo-text memoir, Intimate; and five books of poetry: A Crash of Rhinos; Six Girls Without Pants; The Invention of the Kaleidoscope; Animal Eye, a finalist for the 2013 Kingsley Tufts Prize and winner of the UNT Rilke Prize; and Imaginary Vessels, finalist for the 2018 Kingsley Tufts Prize and the Washington State Book Award.She is a Distinguished Professor at the University of Utah, where she is also the creator and editor of West: A Translation, as well as the community web projects Mapping Literary Utah and Mapping Salt Lake City. In May 2017, she was named Utah’s Poet Laureate and received a 2019 Academy of American Poets’ Poets Laureate Fellowship. https://www.paisleyrekdal.com/
Masha Shukovich (she/they)
Dr. Masha Shukovich is a writer, poet, storyteller, folklorist, teacher, recovering academic, and intuitive chef with ancestry and indigenous roots in the Balkans; the Mediterranean; and West, Central, and Northeast Asia (Siberia). She is the mother of Maya and Leela, a demigirl (she/they), a neurodivergent person, and an immigrant from a country that no longer exists. Masha earned a BA in English Language & Literature from Belgrade University, Serbia; an MA and PhD degrees in Communication and Gender Studies from Texas A&M University; and an MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. Masha is the recipient of numerous writing awards. Most recently, one of her pieces was shortlisted in the Fractured Literary 2020 Flash Fiction Contest, judged by Megan Giddings, and she was selected as a semifinalist in the 2021 River Styx Microfiction Contest. Her novel-in-progress, THE TASTE OF NAMES, was shortlisted for the 2021 First Pages Prize, judged by Lan Samantha Chang of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Masha’s creative and scholarly work has appeared in anthologies, books, edited volumes, scholarly and literary journals, as well as on podcasts. She lives on Utah trails and online at mashashukovich.com.
Ways to Get Involved
We’ll keep you up to date on any developments in the Woke Words Program, and let you know when applications open!
Woke Words is made possible through generous partnerships with Utah Humanities and the Lockwood Family Foundation.
For all Woke Words-related inquiries, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.