Virtual Poetrio: Shanta Lee Gander, Diamond Forde, and Ashley M. Jones

Image shows a pink border around a white box containing the text: Virtual Poetrio: Shanta Lee Gander, Diamond Forde, and Ashley M. Jones. Sunday, Feb. 6, 2022. 4 PM ET. Next to the text are photos of the poets and the covers of their books: GHETTOCLAUSTROPHOBIA, MOTHER BODY, and REPARATIONS NOW!

Join us for our monthly poetry event featuring three poets and coordinated by Mildred Barya. This month, we welcome Shanta Lee Gander, Diamond Forde, and Ashley M. Jones. 

Click here to RSVP (The form will open in a new tab or window.) Prior to the event, will send a reminder email with the link required to attend.

Like most of our events, this event is free. If you decide to attend and purchase the authors' books, we ask that you purchase from Malaprop's. When you do this you make it possible for us to continue hosting author events and you keep more dollars in our community. You may also support our work by purchasing a gift card or making a donation of any amount below. Thank you! 

Shanta Lee Gander is an artist, journalist, and public intellectual whose work has been featured in many publications. She is a regular contributor to Vermont Public Radio, Art New England, and is a Ms. Magazine blog writer. She is the 2020 recipient of the Arthur Williams Award for Meritorious Service to the Arts, and author of Ghettoclaustrophobia: Dreamin of Mama While Trying to Speak Woman in Woke Tongues, which won the 2020 Diode Press full-length book prize. Her second full length collection, Black Metamorphosis, is forthcoming with Etruscan Press. It was longlisted for the 2021 Idaho poetry prize, shortlisted for the 2021 Cowles Poetry Book Prize, and named a finalist in the 2021 Hudson prize. She has an MFA in Creative Non-Fiction and Poetry from the Vermont College of Fine Arts, an MBA from the University of Hartford, and an undergraduate degree in Women, Gender and Sexuality from Trinity College. For more, visit 

What does it mean to move away from the shadow of one’s mother, parents, or family in order to come into being within this world? As collective memory within the Black diaspora has been ruptured, GHETTOCLAUSTROPHOBIA: Dreamin of Mama While Trying to Speak Woman in Woke Tongues time travels by creating and recapturing memory from a fractured past to survive in the present and envision a future. Shanta Lee Gander navigates between formal and vernacular styles to introduce the reader to a myriad of subjects such as scientific facts that link butterflies to female sexuality and vulnerability; whispers of classical Greek myth; H.P. Lovecraft’s fantastical creature, Cthulhu; and the traces of African mythmaking and telling. Beneath the intensity, longing, seeking, wondering, and the ‘tell-it-like-it-is’ voice that sometimes tussles with sadness, there is a movement of sass and a will that refuses to say that it has been broken. Gander leaves a door ajar in this ongoing conversation of the Black female body that walks the spaces of the individual within a collective; the tensions between inherited and hidden narratives; and the present within a history and future that is still being imagined.


Diamond Forde is the author of Mother Body, selected by Patricia Smith for the Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize. She has received numerous awards and prizes, including the Pink Poetry Prize, the Furious Flower Poetry Prize, the CLA's Margaret Walker Memorial Prize, the 2019 Georgia Poetry Prize, and placed in the Frontier Poetry's New Poets Award. She is a Callaloo and Tin House fellow whose work has appeared in Obsidian, Boston Review, Ninth Letter, Tupelo Quarterly, Massachusetts Review, and elsewhere. She currently resides in Asheville with her partner and their dog. For more, visit

In this rollicking, audacious debut, Diamond Forde celebrates, mourns, and redefines the journey of the fat girl through a landscape fixed on her disappearance and destruction. Forde brands this groundbreaking work with a subversive, self-assertive signature fixed unerringly on its target--anyone and everyone who refuses to recognize the fat girl for the wonder she truly is. Mother Body is an intersectional exploration of the trauma and agency held within a body defined by its potential to mother. As Mother Body unfolds, it tasks its reader to understand the expected and unexpected manifestations of motherhood, through menstruation and womb work, but also generational, societal, and literary mothering. With a variety of forms and modes, these poems unpack the experiences of a fat, black woman’s body while also manifesting joy, resistance, and celebration. 


Ashley M. Jones is Poet Laureate of the state of Alabama (2022-2026). She holds an MFA in Poetry from Florida International University, and she is the author of Magic City Gospel (Hub City Press 2017), dark / / thing (Pleiades Press 2019), and REPARATIONS NOW! (Hub City Press 2021). Her poetry has earned several awards, including the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers Award, the Silver Medal in the Independent Publishers Book Awards, the Lena-Miles Wever Todd Prize for Poetry, a Literature Fellowship from the Alabama State Council on the Arts, the Lucille Clifton Poetry Prize, and the Lucille Clifton Legacy Award. She was a finalist for the Ruth Lily Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship in 2020, and her collection, REPARATIONS NOW! was on the longlist for the 2022 PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry. Her poems and essays appear in or are forthcoming at CNN, POETRY, The Oxford American, Origins Journal, The Quarry by Split This Rock, Obsidian, and many others. She teaches Creative Writing at the Alabama School of Fine Arts and in the Low Residency MFA at Converse University. Jones co-directs PEN Birmingham, and she is the founding director of the Magic City Poetry Festival. She recently served as a guest editor for Poetry Magazine. For more, visit

Reparations Now! asks for what’s owed. In formal and non-traditional poems, award-winning poet Ashley M. Jones calls for long-overdue reparations to the Black descendants of enslaved people in the United States of America. In this, her third collection, Jones deftly takes on the worst of today—state-sanctioned violence, pandemic-induced crises, and white silence—all while uplifting Black joy. These poems explore trauma past and present, cultural and personal: the lynching of young, pregnant Mary Turner in 1918; the current white nationalist political movement; a case of infidelity. These poems, too, are a celebration of Black life and art: a beloved grandmother in rural Alabama, the music of James Brown and Al Green, and the soil where okra, pole beans, and collards thrive thanks to her father’s hands. By exploring the history of a nation where “Black oppression’s not happenstance; it’s the law,” Jones links past harm to modern heartache and prays for a peaceful world where one finds paradise in the garden in the afternoon with her family, together, safe, and worry-free. While exploring the ways we navigate our relationships with ourselves and others, Jones holds us all accountable, asking us to see the truth, to make amends, to honor one another.


Mildred Kiconco Barya is a writer and poet. She has written short-stories and essays for various publications, features and travel articles for newspapers. Her first collection of poetry titled: Men Love Chocolates But They Don't Say won the National Award for poetry publication 2002. She is also the author of the poetry collections The Price of Memory and Give Me Room to Move My Feet. Barya is Assistant professor of Creative Writing and World Literature at University of North Carolina-Asheville. Learn more at

Event address: 
Virtual event
GHETTOCLAUSTROPHOBIA: Dreamin of Mama While Trying to Speak Woman in Woke Tongues By Shanta Lee Gander Cover Image
ISBN: 9781939728401
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Diode Editions - June 15th, 2021

Reparations Now! By Ashley M. Jones Cover Image
ISBN: 9781938235863
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Hub City Press - September 7th, 2021

Mother Body By Diamond Forde Cover Image
ISBN: 9781947817241
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Saturnalia Books - March 15th, 2021

SKU: x672389