Presented by AIR Serenbe, with support from the National Endowment for the Arts
Featuring Anis Mojgani, Dame Wilburn, Ray Christian, and Derrick C. Brown
Introduced by J. Brandon Hinman, Executive Director of AIR Serenbe
Join four of the country’s top writers and raconteurs for a lively conversation about the power of words and how they can change lives when spoken in just the right way. The panelists will explore the stories we tell, traveling from page to stage and beyond. Here Say is a gathering and showcase of artists using speaking as performance, funded in part by a project grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. It brings the nation’s top spoken word poets, storytellers, and emcees to Georgia for a three-day convening, with the goal of creating an atmosphere for cross-pollination among the artists, as well as presenting public talks and performances to new audiences. After the panel at AJC Decatur Book Festival, AIR Serenbe will host a performance with all Here Say artists at Serenbe on Wednesday, September 5th.
Anis Mojgani is a two-time National Poetry Slam Champion, winner of the International World Cup Poetry Slam, and multiple-time TEDx Speaker. He has been awarded residencies from the Vermont Studio Center, AIR Serenbe, The Bloedel Nature Reserve, and the Oregon Literary Arts Writers-In-The-Schools program. Anis has performed at numerous universities, festivals, and venues around the globe and has performed for audiences as varied as the House of Blues and the United Nations. His work has appeared on HBO, NPR, and in the pages of such journals as Rattle,Forklift Ohio, Paper Darts,Thrush, and Bat City Review.
Anis is the author of five books, all published by Write Bloody Publishing: Songs From Under the River, The Feather Room, Over the Anvil We Stretch, The Pocketknife Bible, and his latest, In the Pockets of Small Gods. Originally from New Orleans, Anis currently lives in Oregon and is represented by Blue Flower Arts. Anis is the recipient of AIR Serenbe’s 2016 Institute for Child Success Focus Fellowship.
Dr. Ray Christian is a storyteller whose storytelling began with his role as reader for his illiterate parents at age 10. He escaped the urban slums of Richmond, VA by joining the United States Army at 17. Here he served in a number of capacities and assignments at home, abroad during peacetime and in combat, primarily as an Infantryman and Paratrooper, where he retired after 20 years of service. Following retirement the combat-decorated veteran went back to school and earned a BS in History, MA in Public History, an EdS in Education Leadership, and a PhD in Education. Ray also teaches part time at Appalachians State University, the courses “The Souls of Black Folks”, an examination of African American social culture, and “Life in the Narrative” a course that explores the historic and contemporary use of storytelling and oral history in America.
Ray has shared his stories on The Moth Main Stage in the US and Canada. His stories have appeared in Readers Digest and have been featured on the Moth Radio Hour and Snap Judgment. In addition, as a competitive storyteller, Ray is a seven-time Moth Story Slam Champion and the winner of the 2016 National Storytelling Festival Story Slam. Ray also has his own podcast, What’s Ray Saying. Ray hopes to continue crafting stories that can serve the cause of cultural enlightenment and social justice by using oral expression to present the human experience in a compelling and memorable way. Ray currently resides in Boone, North Carolina with his wife, children, dogs, and chickens. Ray is AIR Serenbe’s 2017 Frances Focus Fellowship recipient.
Dame Wilburn is a community educator with Generation With Promise in Detroit, Michigan and Chief Marketing Director for Twisted Willow Soap Company. Dame spends her free time writing poetry, singing and working on her first book, and has performed her stories at several Moth Mainstage events. She says that she is married to the most beautiful woman in the world. Dame received AIR Serenbe’s Frances Focus Fellowship in 2016.
Derrick C. Brown
Derrick C. Brown is a novelist, comedian, poet, and storyteller. He is the winner of the 2013 Texas Book of The Year award for Poetry. He is a former paratrooper for the 82nd Airborne and is the owner and president of Write Bloody Publishing, which Forbes and Filter Magazine call “…one of the best independent poetry presses in the country.” He is the author of eight books of poetry and three children’s books. The New York Times calls his work, “…a rekindling of faith in the weird, hilarious, shocking, beautiful power of words.” He lives in Los Angeles, California. Derrick is a member of AIR Serenbe’s 2016 Gentlemen Bosses Project Residency.