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Aunt Lute x POC United Present: Creating Our Own "Table"

This is the second event in our three part collaboration with POC United to build a POC writers' community. Hear from three incredible writers in conversation with KQED journalist Pendarvis Harshaw.

Tara Betts, Tongo Eisen-Martin, and Neelanjana Banerjee were in conversation with Pendarvis Harshaw as they shared their experiences as writers of color creating their own literary spaces. Watch as they cover topics from their relationships with higher education institutions, to their motivations and personal values, to how they make that money!

This event took place on Wednesday, April 7th. Special thanks to the California Arts Council. Learn more about us, Aunt Lute, at, and more about POC United at Find the POC United anthology Graffiti, here.

Neelanjana Banerjee

Neelanjana Banerjee's writing has appeared in Prairie Schooner, PANK Magazine, Virginia Quarterly Review, World Literature Today and many other places. She is the Managing Editor of Kaya Press, an independent press dedicated to Asian Pacific American and Asian Diasporic literature. She teaches writing and literature classes at UCLA and Loyola Marymount University. She lives in Los Angeles, and is at work on a novel.

Learn more about Kaya Press at and follow Neelanjana on Instagram and Twitter at @NeelanjanaB.

Tara Betts

Tara Betts is the author of the poetry collections Break the Habit, Arc & Hue, and the forthcoming Refuse to Disappear. In addition to her work as a teaching artist and mentor for young poets, she's taught at several universities, including Rutgers University and University of Illinois-Chicago. Recently, she taught poetry workshops at Stateville Prison via Prison + Neighborhood Arts Project. Aside from coediting several anthologies, Tara is Poetry Editor at The Langston Hughes Review and the Lit Editor at Newcity. She is currently working on establishing The Whirlwind Learning Center on Chicago's South Side as a space for arts education, community space, and cultural programming.

Learn more about The Whirlwind Center at and follow Tara on Instagram at @chitownbetts and on Twitter at @tarabetts.

Tongo Eisen-Martin

Originally from San Francisco, Tongo Eisen-Martin is a movement worker and educator who has organized against mass incarceration and extra-judicial killing of Black people throughout the United States. He has taught in detention centers from New York’s Rikers Island to California county jails. He is launching Black Freighter Press, a platform for building movement culture and supporting Black literary arts, with a specific focus on incarcerated poets, Bay Area poets of color, and Black women.

Learn more about Black Freighter Press at and follow Tongo on Instagram and Twitter at @_tongogara_.

Pendarvis Harshaw

Pendarvis Harshaw is a journalist from Oakland, California. He's a graduate of Howard University's School of Communications and UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism. He is the director of the documentary film, TDK: The Dream Kontinues and the author of OG Told Me, a coming of age memoir about his upbringing in Oakland. He currently works at KQED, where he writes about arts and culture in Northern California, and hosts a radio show and podcast called Rightnowish (

Follow Pendarvis on Instagram and Twitter at @ogpenn and listen to Rightnowish on Spotify and other platforms.

POC United

POC United is a literary safe space of creative play far removed from the white gaze, a place where writers of color can focus on one another in solidarity. To showcase multi-genre works by writers of color, POC United created GRAFFITI, a bestselling anthology, which is a Silver Winner of the 22nd annual Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Award for Anthologies. For more on POC United, please visit

Find the POC United anthology Graffiti here.

We are looking forward to the next and final free event in our series with POC United: A Reading on Isolation. Learn more and register at this link:


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