Trans and Gender Non-Conforming Youth Creative Writing Group

Group Facilitators: Andrew Spiers, Kalen McLean, Hazel Edwards

Andrew Spiers is a trans/queer writer, musician, and radical social worker. Kalen McLean, Temple Student and former board member of Girls Justice League, now helps facilitate a support group for young trans and GNC youth. Hazel Edwards is an artist, trans activist, and member of the Justice League at the Attic’s Bryson Institute.


September 9, 2017: Guest Writer Raquel Salas Rivera

Nuestra primera sesión este año será bilingüe, en español y en inglés, con lx poeta Raquel Salas Rivera! Lxs invitamos a todxs a unirse—y que sigan asistiendo a transcribez, ya que este año ofreceremos traducciones en español para cada sesión. Por favor contacta a zolfr@writing.upenn.edu si deseas asistir y requieres la presencia de unx traductorx.

Our first session of the year will be bilingual Spanish-English with poet Raquel Salas Rivera! We welcome all to join – and to keep attending transcribez as we will offer Spanish translation each session at KWH this year. Please email zolfr@writing.upenn.edu if you would like to attend and want a translator present.

Raquel Salas Rivera es unx poeta, traductorx, ensayista, y educadorx puertorriqueñx que vive y trabaja en Filadelfia. Ha publicado poemas, traducciones y ensayos en numerosas revistas y antologías; también ha publicado cuatro libros de poesía: Caneca de anhelos turbios (2011), oropel/tinsel (2016), huequitos/holies (2016) y tierra intermitente (2017). Actualmente, es editorx contribuyente y traductorx para The Wanderer. Si para Roque Dalton no existe revolución sin poesía, para Raquel no existe poesía sin Puerto Rico.

Raquel Salas Rivera is a Puerto Rican poet, translator, essayist, and educator living and working in Philadelphia. They have published poetry, translations, and essays in numerous anthologies and journals, and as well as four poetry books: Caneca de anhelos turbios (2011), oropel/tinsel (2016), huequitos/holies (2016) and tierra intermitente (2017). Currently, they are a contributing editor and translator at The Wanderer. If for Roque Dalton there is no revolution without poetry, for Raquel there is no poetry without Puerto Rico.


October 14, 2017: Guest Writer Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi

Dubbed the Ancient Jazz Priestess of Mother Africa, Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi is a Nigerian, Cuban, Indigenous, American Performance Artist, Author (Yemaya’s Daughters, Brew, Baltimore: A Love Letter, Wither, Remains: A Gathering of Bones, Keeper, Bone, and The Blood of A Thousand Roots), Teacher, Choreographer, Oracular Consultant, Spiritual Life Coach, Priestess, Speech Writer, Writing Coach, Advocate, a Founding Member of Force Collision.

She is the founder of The Inanna D Initiatives, which curates, produces and cultivates events and initiatives designed to center and celebrate the work of TGNC Artist of Color. She is the Founder, Producer and Curator of La Ti Do’s annual Celebration of Trans Artist and Capturing Fire’s Alchemy.

She is a 2016 Helen Hayes Nominee, the first Trans Woman of Color in DC to publish a work of Fiction, as well as the first Twoc Playwright to be chosen for Theater Alliance’s Hothouse Festival, having her play Absalom read at the Kenney Center’s Prelude Festival. From Baltimore Maryland, and growing up singing jazz, she has been utilizing art as a tool for healing, revolution and collective liberation since she was a child giving birth to several arts advocacy initiatives.


November 11, 2017: Guest Writer Nico Amador

Nico is a writer, community organizer, and educator who lives in Bristol, Vermont by way of Philadelphia and San Diego. His work has appeared in Poet Lore, Nimrod International Journal, MiPOesias, HOLD, Big Bell, Plenitude Magazine, bedfellows, and APIARY Magazine. He is an alumni of the Lambda Literary Foundation's Writer's Retreat and an editor with Thread Makes Blanket Press. Nico's first chapbook, "Flower Wars" was selected by Eduardo Corral as the recipient of the Anzaldúa Poetry Prize.


December 9, 2017: Guest Writer JD Stokely

JD Stokely is a trickster-in-training, hailing from Philadelphia. Stokely devises, facilitates and curates performances around nostalgia, Queerness, the Black body, and home. They received an MA in Advanced Theatre Practice from Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in 2014, and completed an apprenticeship at the Arden Theatre Company in June 2016. Stokely has worked with local companies and collectives such as the Arden, Simpatico Theatre, InterAct, Inis Nua, and The Bearded Ladies Cabaret. They have also performed and produced shows throughout the UK and in the Czech Republic. Stokely is a 2016 Leeway Art and Change grant recipient, and premiered their latest work Mouth/Piece at Sanctuary@HERE Arts Center in February 2017. They are a co-founder of SUPER|object, a Queer curating collective that supports the work of local emerging artists, and A Collective Apparition, a group of LGBTQ Black artists whose art is “rooted in the past, but poised on the crux of the present & future.”

January 13, 2018: Guest Writer CAConrad

CAConrad’s childhood included selling cut flowers along the highway for their mother and helping her shoplift. They are the author of nine books of poetry and essays, the latest While Standing in Line for Death from Wave Books (September 2017). They are a Pew Fellow and have also received fellowships from Lannan Foundation, MacDowell Colony, Headlands Center for the Arts, Banff, RADAR, Flying Object and Ucross.


February 10, 2018: Guest Writers Davy Knittle and Levi Bentley

Great news!: Guest writers Davy Knittle and Levi Bentley received a Leeway Foundation Art & Change grant to produce individual chapbooks (short books of literary writing) for youth in transcribez. This month’s transcribez will be a special session devoted to how to put together a chapbook manuscript, including tips on how to edit your work.

Davy Knittle is the author of the chapbooks empathy for cars / force of july (horse less press 2016) and cyclorama (the operating system 2015). His poems and reviews have appeared recently in Jacket2, Fence, Denver Quarterly and The Brooklyn Rail. He lives in Philadelphia where he curates the City Planning Poetics series at the Kelly Writers House.

Levi Bentley organizes the reading series Housework and edits with Jonathan Hamilton the journal Boneless Skinless. Bucolic Eclogue was released from Lamehouse Press in July 2016. They live in Philadelphia.


March 10, 2018: Guest Writer Faye Chevalier

*This session at Penn LGBT Center, 3907 Spruce St.

Faye Chevalier is the Nonfiction Editor of Apiary Magazine and a Master’s student at Temple University. Her work appears in places like BedfellowsHorse Less Review, Alien Mouth, and elsewhere.


April 14, 2018: Chapbook reading and celebration

We will celebrate the launch of chapbooks by transcribez participants with a reading and party.


Previous transcribez guest writers

September 10, 2016: Otter Jung-Allen

For our first session of transcribez we had a special guest visit from Philadelphia Youth Poet Laureate, Otter Jung-Allen


October 8, 2016: Guest Writer Kavi Ade

*This session at Penn LGBT Center, 3907 Spruce St.

Kavindu "Kavi" Ade is a writer, activist, arts educator, and nationally recognized spoken word poet. While best known for their gender identity poem titled "IT," Kavi's work most often bridges the realms of personal and political identity – navigating what it means to be Black, Transgender, Queer, and first-generation American all at once. Through their poetry the world unfolds itself in moments of cruelty, rage, and grief, but also beauty, wonder, and becoming.


November 12, 2016: Guest Writers Levi Bentley and Leah B.

Levi Bentley co-organizes the Philadelphia reading series Housework at Chapterhouse. Their chapbook of poems, Bucolic Eclogues, from a larger manuscript of the same title, was released from Lamehouse Press in July 2016.

Leah B (Ksenya Leah Basarab) creates experimental musical fragments and prose/narrative/essay-form written works. Her musical pieces are an energized form of communication that involves sharing a myraid of emotions, memories, and opinions via varying vocalizations, a bass guitar, timing effects/layers, sometimes a piano, and more rarely a cello.


December 10, 2016: Guest Writer 18

A founding member of the METROPOLARITY sci-fi collective, Eighteen is a hybrid mestiza cyborg and Philadelphia native who is frustrated/pissed with institutional distinction, empire and white supremacy, and fixed rather than fluid treatment of language and identity. They consider the spoken and written word handy and inexpensive tools for deconstructing oppressive world-ordering narratives.


January 14, 2017: Guest Writer Cyree Jarelle Johnson

Cyree Jarelle Johnson is a Black non-binary essayist and poet living and working in New York. Their writing considers disability as a cyborg femme reality, femininity as resistance and rebellion, and Black pessimism. They are a founding member of A Collective Apparition, a Black queer and trans interdisciplinary arts collective. Their work has been featured in publications both domestically and internationally including Black Girl Dangerous, Feministing, and in the anthology Poems for the Queer Revolution.


February 11, 2017: Guest Writer Trish Salah

Trish Salah is a Lebanese/Irish-Canadian feminist writer and educator whose writing addresses trans themes as well as questions of diasporic Arab identity, anti-racism, queer politics and economic and social justice. Her first volume of poetry, Wanting in Arabic, published in 2002 then reissued, won the Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Fiction in 2014. Roof Books published her second book, Lyric Sexology Vol. 1, in 2014.


March 11, 2017: Guest Writer Davy Knittle

*This session at Penn LGBT Center, 3907 Spruce St.

Davy Knittle is a poet whose chapbooks include empathy for cars / force of july (horse less press) and cyclorama (the operating system). He is a PhD candidate in English at Penn, where he thinks about what cities and poetry have to say to each other, and how poetry might help cities make room for everyone who lives in them.


April 8, 2017: End-of-year party and chapbook launch

We will have an end-of- year celebration at Kelly Writers House where the youth can share their writing with friends and family.