CHRIS MARTIN has worked with neurodivergent students for over a decade, specializing in creative writing and executive function. He earned his BA in English at Carleton College; his MA in Poetry, Performance, and Education from NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study; and his MFA in Poetry from the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. His first collection of poems, American Music (Copper Canyon Press, 2007), was selected by C. D. Wright for the Hayden Carruth Prize. Becoming Weather, his second collection, was published by Coffee House Press in 2011 and he was named one of the Poetry Society of America’s New American Poets. His third collection, The Falling Down Dance (Coffee House Press, 2015), was recognized by critic and Harvard Professor Steph Burt as “the best whole book” of poetry about fatherhood.
He was writer-in-residence at the Minnesota Historical Society in 2013 and a Bartos Fellow at United World College in 2014. He is the recipient of grants from the NEA, Minnesota State Arts Board, and Mellon Foundation. He also teaches creative writing at Hamline University and Carleton College. After growing up in Colorado Springs, he spent several years in both San Francisco and New York, and now resides in Minneapolis with his wife and two children.
BRIAN LAIDLAW is a poet, songwriter and educator from San Francisco, currently based in Minneapolis. He studied Creative Writing as an undergraduate at Stanford University, where he first began setting his poems to music; after graduating in 2005 he worked for several years as a private writing tutor for students with special needs.
In 2008, Laidlaw moved to Minneapolis to earn an MFA in Poetry at the University of Minnesota. His poems have now been published in journals including New American Writing, The Iowa Review, Handsome, Volt, Quarter After Eight and many others. He also had poems in the Arcadia Project anthology (Ahsahta Press), song lyrics in American Songwriter Magazine, and a Songwriting Consultant credit on the Grammy Award-Winning album Can You Canoe? by The Okee Dokee Brothers.
In late 2014, Laidlaw released a hybrid poetry/music project called Amoratorium, a vinyl LP with a companion poetry chapbook in the liner notes (Paper Darts Press). His first full-length collection of poems, The Stuntman, was released – also with a companion album of music – by Milkweed Editions in 2015. He teaches songwriting at McNally Smith College of Music, and tours nationally as a troubadour.
SAGIRAH SHAHID is a Black Muslim arts educator, poet and performance artist from Minneapolis, Minnesota. She is a recipient of a 2015 Loft Mentor Series Award in Poetry, a 2017 Minnesota Center for Book Arts mentorship award, and was a participant in a 2018 Twin Cities Media Alliance Our Space is Spoken For public arts and performance fellowship. Sagirah's unique performance style has led to a variety of collaborations and performances, including performances with the Minnesota Orchestra and opening for the pop music duo Faarrow. She was one of four poets selected by the city of Minneapolis to participate in Nicollet Lanterns, a collaborative public arts project which transformed original poems into functional sculptural lanterns. Sagirah’s poetry and prose have appeared in Mizna, Paper Darts, Juked, Winter Tangerine, Pollen, Minnesota Women's Press, Bird’s Thumb, AtlanticRock, Puerto Del Sol, and elsewhere.
RACHEL MORITZ has led writing workshops in elementary and middle schools, senior centers, and college classrooms since 2003. She believes that poetry offers everyone a language for connecting to self and world. In 2012, she began teaching with Alzheimer’s Poetry Project-Minnesota, serving older adults with cognitive and physical challenges. She is also on the roster of teaching artists at COMPAS, Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop, and Poetry Barn.
Moritz earned an MFA in Poetry from the University of Minnesota. Her first collection of poems, Borrowed Wave (Kore Press, 2015), was a finalist for the National Poetry Series and the Minnesota Book Award in Poetry. She is also the author of Sweet Velocity (2017), which won the Besmilr Brigham Women Writer’s Award from Lost Roads Press, and five chapbooks: How Absence (MIEL Books, 2015), many forms in water (above/ground press, 2014), Elementary Rituals (Albion Books, 2013), Night-Sea (New Michigan Press, 2008), and The Winchester Monologues (New Michigan Press, 2005). Moritz lives in Minneapolis with her partner and son.