I’m a Black feminist writer of poetry, plays, essays, novels, and stories for children. I was born and raised in Canada, but have lived in the US for almost 30 years. I earned my PhD in American Studies from NYU in 2003; I have taught at Ohio University, Louisiana State University, Mount Holyoke College, Hunter College, Bard High School Early College, and Borough of Manhattan Community College. My poetry has been published in New Daughters of Africa, We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices, the Cave Canem anthology The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South, Check the Rhyme: an Anthology of Female Poets and Emcees, and Coloring Book: an Eclectic Anthology of Fiction and Poetry by Multicultural Writers. My novella, Plastique, was excerpted in T Dot Griots: an Anthology of Toronto’s Black Storytellers, and my plays have been staged in New York, Cleveland, and Chicago. My essays have appeared in School Library Journal, Horn Book, and Publishers Weekly. My short story, “The Ghost in Her Bones,” was published in a 2020 special issue of Obsidian.

My picture book, Bird, won the Honor Award in Lee & Low Books’ New Voices Contest and the Paterson Prize for Books for Young Readers. My young adult novel, A Wish After Midnight, has been called “a revelation…vivid, violent and impressive history.” Ship of Souls was published in February 2012; it was named a Booklist Top Ten Sci-fi/Fantasy Title for Youth and was a finalist for the Phillis Wheatley Book Award. My YA novel, The Door at the Crossroads, was a finalist in the Speculative Fiction category of the 2017 Cybils Awards, and my picture book, Melena’s Jubilee, won a 2017 Skipping Stones Honor Award. I received the Children’s Literature Association’s Article Award for my 2014 essay, “The Trouble with Magic: Conjuring the Past in New York City Parks.”

I am an advocate for greater diversity and equity in publishing, and I have self-published numerous illustrated books for younger readers under my own imprint, Rosetta Press; 3 were named Best of the Year by the Bank Street Center for Children’s Literature, and Benny Doesn’t Like to Be Hugged was a first-grade fiction selection for the 2019 Scripps National Spelling Bee. Dragons in a Bag, a middle grade fantasy novel, was published by Random House in 2018; the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) named it a Notable Children’s Book and it was selected for the 2021 Global Read Aloud. The fifth and final book in the series, The War of the Witches, will be published in January 2024.

Say Her Name, a young adult poetry collection, was published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers in January 2020; it was named a 2020 Book of the Year for Young People by Quill & Quire and a 2020 “Best of the Best” YA Title by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association; it was also a nominee for the YALSA 2021 Excellence in Nonfiction Award and a Top Ten title for Rise: A Feminist Book Project. Say Her Name won the 2021 Lion and the Unicorn Award for Excellence in North American Poetry. A stage adaptation of Say Her Name is underway.

A Place Inside of Me: a Poem to Heal the Heart from FSG was named an ALA Notable Book and a Notable Poetry Book by the National Council of Teachers of English; it won a 2021 Skipping Stones Honor Award and Noa Denmon won the Caldecott Honor Award for her stunning illustrations. Moonwalking (FSG 2022), a middle grade verse novel co-authored with Lyn Miller -Lachmann earned four starred reviews and was a Junior Library Guild Gold Standard Selection; it made the NYPL and Bank Street College of Education’s Best Books of 2022 lists, was one of Kirkus Reviews’ 100 Best Middle Grade Books, and made the 2023 Notable Books for a Global Society list. The National Education Association has selected Moonwalking for its 2024 Read Across America program. I was honored to be a 2023 nominee for the Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award. I delivered the 2023 Zena Sutherland Lecture in May. I currently live in Chicago, IL.

Other Works