Staff Bios

Monifa HeadshotMonifa Lemons
Co-Founder and Director

Also recognized as SelahthePoet, Monifa began her poetic journey in Columbia, SC in the late 90s, where she hosted and featured at open mic venues for over 15 years. Originally from New York City, Monifa has studied theatrical arts most of her life and performed in plays, including Dreamgirls in SC at Workshop Theatre and Two Trains Running at Black Spectrum Theatre in NY. Most recently a published poet, her work can now be found in “Home is Where,” an anthology of Southern poets, edited by Dr. Kwame Dawes. She currently resides in Lugoff, SC where she is mommying her girls and writing daily towards her first manuscript.

Candace HeadshotCandace G. Wiley
Co-Founder and Director

Candace was born in S.C., graduated with her B.A. from Bowie State University, an H.B.C.U. in M.D., her M.A. from Clemson University, and her M.F.A. at the University of South Carolina. She is a Callaloo Fellow who writes in the mode of Afrofuturism and covers topics of black aliens, mutants, and mermaids. She has recently finished a Fulbright Fellowship in San Basilio de Palenque, Colombia. The town was founded by Africans who had escaped from Cartagena slavery and the people have their own language and customs that trace back to the Bantu and Kikongo in West Africa. She is now living, teaching, and writing in South Carolina. Her work has appeared in Best American Poetry, 2015, Prairie Schooner, pluck!, Jasper, The New Sound, Illuminations, Electronic Corpse, and Home is Where among others.

Jennifer Bartell13010597_743375996914_4760756691412480340_n
Communications and Public Relations

Jenn has an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of South Carolina in Columbia and a BA from Agnes Scott College in Decatur, GA. Her poetry has been published in PLUCK!, Callaloo, Blackberry: a magazine, Jasper Magazine, decomP, the musuem of americana, among others and is forthcoming in Kakalak and The Raleigh Review. Her nonfiction has appeared in The Art of Medicine in Metaphors and is forthcoming in the second edition of Limelight (Muddy Ford Press). A finalist for the 2015 S.C. Academy of Authors Poetry Fellowship and 2014 Callaloo Fellow, Jenn teaches at Spring Valley High School in Columbia.


Teri Elamtlelam_twh1 copy
Human Resources and Compliance

Teri, an Atlanta resident, has an M.Ed. from University of Georgia and a B.S. from Tuskegee University. She has studied in Cecilia Woloch’s Atlanta and Paris workshops and is a VONA/Voices Alum and a Watering Hole Graduate Fellow. Her poetry has been published in The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South, Dismantle, Silver Birch Press, Electronic Corpse, Love You Madly: Poetry About Jazz, and most recently Jasper Magazine.


Tanisha Hall
Event Coordinator

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., Tanisha performs poetry on the East Coast and was named Queen of the South in 2011. Under the psuedomym Queen It Shall Be, Tanisha has won VerseWorks Slam Competiton in Columbia, S.C., South Cak Super Slam in Greenville, S.C., and The Queen of the South Slam in Greenville, S.C. She has been a featured performer at Coffee Underground, TAPPS Art Center, and Coker College, among others. Through this work, Tanisha has established herself as an advocate for literary arts in South Carolina. She is a member of The Unusual Suspect poetry slam team; founder and host of The Writer’s Block Poetry Show, which provides a showcase for page and stage poets; co-creator of The Circle, which provides a space for poets to study performance poetry; and co-founder of OneWord Columbia, which is the collaborative home of Spoken Word poetry groups in and around the Columbia Metropolitan area. Now, Tanisha lives in Columbia with her husband and three children, balancing family, work and poetry.


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