Leeway Live, tonight!

Leeway grantees and awardees will be featured as part of special taping of “LIVE at the Writers House,” a long-standing collaboration between the Kelly Writers House at University of Pennsylvania and WXPN FM (88.5). This installment will feature 2010 grantees and awardees Benita Cooper (ACG ’10), Catzie Vilayphonh (LTA ’10, ACG ’10), Lorelei (Narvaja) Shingledecker (ACG ’10), Monique E. Hankerson (ACG ’10), and Tanji Gilliam. The series, hosted by WXPN on-air personality Michaela Majoun, occurs six times between September and April each year, and airs as a one-hour broadcast of poetry, music, and other spoken-word art, along with one musical guest on WXPN. “LIVE” is made possible through the generous support of BigRoc.

This special Leeway LIVE event takes place at 7:00pm on February 28, 2011 in the Arts Café in the Kelly Writers House located at 3805 Locust Walk on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania (Locust Walk is a pedestrian street between and parallel to Walnut Streets and Spruce Streets).

To reserve a seat, please contact the Writer’s House at wh[at]writing.upenn.edu.

About the Artists

In 2006, twenty-six-year-old Benita Cooper called her grandmother in Seattle just to say a quick “hello.”  The two women have not stopped talking since. Benita later founded The Best Day of My Life (So Far) storytelling project in 2009 (thebestdayofmylifesofar.com). Benita has expanded project programming to include: seniors’ writing groups in Philadelphia, Hong Kong and Seattle, public outreach events with WHYY and the Free Library of Philadelphia, and video documentaries and screenings.  In partnership with AARP, Benita is now building a national infrastructure to ensure project expansion and long-term sustainability. In addition, Benita is writing a book about her friendship with her grandmother. She has presented at regional conferences including American Society on Aging’s East Coast Conference and is a finalist for the Deaconess Innovation Award.

Catzie Vilayphonh is a Lao American poet, writer, and performer hailing from Philadelphia. A child of refugees, she was born prematurely on the way to America, and thus considers herself part of the ‘.5 Generation’. As one-half of the spoken word duo Yellow Rage, she was one of the first Asian American women to appear on HBO’s Russell Simmon’s Def Poetry Jam in 2001. Catzie has served as editor for dorkmag.com, two.one.five and Theme Magazine, while occasionally contributing to Philadelphia Weekly and Philadelphia City Paper. With her Yellow Rage partner Michelle Myers, she hosts the Family Style Open Mic every third Friday at the Asian Arts Initiative and is a Teaching Artist for the Youth Arts Workshop at Taggart Elementary. Her proudest achievement is her daughter Aditi.


Lorelei Shingledecker works at Public/Private Ventures (P/PV), a national non-profit organization that researches, evaluates and designs anti-poverty programs in the U.S.  Prior to joining P/PV, Lorelei was previously the Associate Director for the Asian Arts Initiative. Her career has largely involved project management of large-scale, federally and privately funded, programming for youth and adults, and management and development of small- to mid-sized non-profit organizations. Lorelei holds a B.A. in Media Studies with a minor in Visual Arts from Fordham University, an M.A. in Media Studies from the New School University, and a Certificate in Fundraising from the University of Pennsylvania. She resides in East Kensington.


Monique E. Hankerson is a writer, photography, and educator.  She currently serves as the Director of Housing at the University of the Arts.  A tireless student advocate, Monique was the 2010 recipient of the Advisor of the Year, an award offered annually and chosen by students for the advisor of a student group that has contributed immensely to the growth and development of their organization. After the loss of her father in 2009, Monique rekindled her love affair with art and creative expression and created Art Speaks Volumes Creative Group, which is devoted to the developmental and artistic needs of artists and art supporters (asvcreativegroup.com). Monique has a B.A. in Women and Gender Studies from The College of New Jersey and an M.S. in Community Leadership from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh.


Tanji Gilliam is a Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Center for Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. She received her Ph.D. in History of Culture from The University of Chicago in 2009 and her M.F.A. in Film, Video and New Media from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2006. Dr. Gilliam’s research interests surround gender and performance, and constructing and addressing transnational, new media Black archives. She has authored several academic publications, including the recent chapter, “Hip-Hop and Representin’,” published by University Press of Kentucky. She is also a guest editor, with Tukufu Zuberi, of the forthcoming “Perspectives on Africa and the World” a special issue of The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science. In addition to her scholarly publications, Dr. Gilliam has directed three films: It Runs Deep (2010), for da’niyah (2009) and That Crack in the Concrete (2006).


For more information visit writing.upenn.edu


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