BIPOC Book Fest: A Lit Vibe

10 a.m. Inprint’s Writer Workout

[FOUNDER’S ROOM] Inprint and award-winning writer Stalina Emmanuelle Villarreal kick off BIPOC Book Fest with a reflective and autobiographical writing activity to inspire and stimulate the writer in you.

Use the session to celebrate your own story and the power of creative writing. No prior writing experience is necessary.

HOST: STALINA EMMANUELLE VILLARREAL lives as a rhyming-slogan creative activist. She is a Generation 1.5 poet (mexicanx and Xicanx), an essayist, a translator, a sonic-improv collaborator, and an instructor of Creative Writing. She has a Ph.D. in Creative Writing and Literature from the University of Houston. She co-authored an article with a historian in the book Chicana Movidas (University of Texas, 2018). Her poetry can be found in the Rio Grande Review, Texas Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, The Acentos Review, Defunkt Magazine, and elsewhere. She has published translations of poetry, including Enigmas, by Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (Señal: a project of Libros Antena Books, BOMB, and Ugly Duckling Presse, 2015), Photograms of My Conceptual Heart, Absolutely Blind by Minerva Reynosa (Cardboard House Press, 2016), Kilimanjaro by Maricela Guerrero (Cardboard House Press, 2018), and Postcards in Braille by Sergio Pérez Torres (Nueva York Poetry Press, 2021). Her debut hybrid collection Watcha is forthcoming from Deep Vellum Publishing. She is the recipient of the Inprint Donald Barthelme Prize in Poetry.

10:30 a.m.-11:15 a.m. Writers in the Schools presents … Texas Writers Lab performance


11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Inprint Poetry Buskers

[BANQUET ROOM/ENTRANCE] Celebrating the joy of poetry and marking National Poetry Month, the Inprint Poetry Buskers—talented local writers, many of whom are graduate students of creative writing at the University of Houston—will be writing free poems on the spot for the public on requested themes using typewriters. Come by the Inprint table, see the Inprint Poetry Buskers in action, and walk away with your very own poem in Spanish or English. 

11 a.m.-12:45 p.m. Teen Summit

[FOUNDER’S ROOM] Representation. Banned books. Controversy over curriculum. Teens have heard it all, but now it’s your turn to talk! Come join us in a human library experience and discussion on all things books.

Host: Tyrone Void is a husband, father, author, writer, and educator. As a former coach, Tyrone maintains a passion for improvement. That drive along with a background as an English teacher, writer, and now fatherhood inspired Tyrone to write and publish children’s books. His books, Bradley Knows Everything and Bradley Visit the Zoo, are both published as bilingual books, and feature his son Bradley as the main character.

11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. The State of Latino Literature and Publishing 

[MAIN STAGE] Writer, activist, and El Librotraficante Tony Diaz leads a discussion with Latino writers and publishers on the realities, challenges, and triumphs of being a Latino writer in the Lone Star State.

Host: TONY DIAZ Writer and activist Tony Diaz, El Librotraficante, is a Cultural Accelerator. He was the first Chicano to earn a Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Houston Creative Writing Program. In 1998, he founded Nuestra Palabra: Latino Writers Having Their Say (NP), Houston’s first reading series for Latino authors. The group galvanized Houston’s Community Cultural Capital to become a movement for civil rights, education, and representation. When Arizona officials banned Mexican American Studies, Diaz and 4 veteran members of NP organized the 2012 Librotraficante Caravan to smuggle books from the banned curriculum back into Arizona. He is a political analyst on Fox 26 Houston and hosts Latino Politics And News and the Nuestra Palabra Radio Show on 90. 1 FM, KPFT, Houston. He is the author of The Aztec Love God and editor of The Mexican American Studies Tool Kit. His forthcoming book, The Tip of the Pyramid: Cultivating Community Cultural Capital, is the first in his series on Community Organizing.


NATASHA CARRIZOSA is a poet and writer. Her work is deeply rooted in her childhood and life experiences. Raised as the daughter of a fierce African-American mother and Mexican father, her writing reflects the dichotomy of these two rich cultures. She is the author of mexiafricana, heavy light, and crown. Her work has been published in ¡Manteca! – an anthology of Afro-Latino poets, CONTRA: Texas Poets Speak Out, defunkt magazine, cutthroat magazine, raising mothers, and R2: The Rice Review (Rice University.) 

JASMINNE MENDEZ is a Dominican-American poet, playwright and award-winning writer. She is the author of a bilingual picture book, Josefina’s Habichuelas / Las habichuelas de Josefina (Piñata Books, 2021), a memoir for teens, Islands Apart: Becoming Dominican American (Piñata Books, 2022), a memoir, Night-Blooming Jasmin(n)e: Personal Essays and Poetry (Arte Público, 2018), and a multi-genre memoir, Island of Dreams (2013), winner of an International Latino Book Award. A Macondo and Canto Mundo Fellow, as well as a Voices of Our Nations Arts (VONA) alumna, she lives and works in Houston, Texas.

LUPE MENDEZ is Texas’ Poet Laureate. Originally from Galveston, TX, Lupe Mendez (Writer//Educator//Activist) is the author WHY I AM LIKE TEQUILA (Willow Books, 2019), winner of the 2019 John A. Robertson Award for Best First Book of Poetry from the Texas Institute of Letters. He is the founder of Tintero Projects which works with emerging Latinx writers and other writers of color within the Texas Gulf Coast Region, with Houston as its hub. Lupe earned his Masters of Fine Arts from the University of Texas @ El Paso.

MARINA TRISTÁN is the Assistant Director of Arte Público Press at the University of Houston, where she oversees day-to-day operations with a particular emphasis in marketing and promotions for the press’s books, authors, and programs. A native of Texas, she has worked for Arte Público Press for more than 35 years. Prior to joining the Press, she worked for the USA Today Houston Bureau and the Houston NBC affiliate. She is a graduate of the University of Houston, with a degree in journalism and Spanish.

12:40 p.m.-1:30 p.m. The Legacy of Houston’s Recipes

{MAIN STAGE] Join us for a conversation about Houston’s diverse culinary scene and the importance of documenting our foodways.

Moderator: BRITTANY BRITTO GARLEY is an award-winning journalist, the editor of Eater Houston, and a co-founder of BIPOC Book Fest. Britto Garley previously reported on culture, entertainment, and the arts at The Baltimore Sun, and higher education at the Houston Chronicle. Her passion is reporting on culture, quirky news, and marginalized communities.


CHRISTINE HA is the first-ever blind contestant and season 3 winner of the competitive amateur cooking television show “MasterChef” with Gordon Ramsay. She defeated over 30,000 home cooks across America to secure the coveted MasterChef title, a $250,000 cash prize, and a cookbook deal. Ha holds a Master of Fine Arts from the nationally acclaimed Creative Writing Program at University of Houston, where she served as Fiction Editor for Gulf Coast literary journal, and a Bachelor of Business Administration from The University of Texas at Austin. Ha’s first cookbook, Recipes From My Home Kitchen: Asian and American Comfort Food, was a New York Times best-seller. She has done several TEDx Talks, spoken about disability advocacy at the United Nations, and served as a culinary envoy overseas for the American Embassy as part of cultural diplomacy programs in Jordan, Serbia, Bosnia/Herzegovina, and Croatia. Ha was a co-host on the Canadian cooking show “Four Senses” and a judge on “MasterChef” Vietnam. Ha received the 2014 Helen Keller Personal Achievement Award from the American Foundation for the Blind, a recognition formerly bestowed upon Ray Charles, Patty Duke, and Stevie Wonder among others. Ha’s first restaurant in Houston, The Blind Goat, was named a semi-finalist for 2020 Best New Restaurant in America by the James Beard Foundation. Her second restaurant, Xin Chào, opened in September 2020, and Ha has again been named one of the James Beard Award 2022 finalists for Best Chef, Texas region. | Twitter: @theblindcook

ALBA HUERTA is an award-winning bartender, author, host, brand ambassador, and cocktail educator. Her debut cocktail book, Julep, is named after her flagship bar in Houston, and received an IACP award in the Wine, Beer and Spirits Category. Born in Mexico and raised in Texas, Alba is a proud Mexican-American and Houstonian who boasts a venerable bar pedigree that began in Las Vegas and has taken her around the world to hone her craft and back to her home in Houston. Alba worked alongside the Anvil Bar and Refuge team as general manager, helped to launch the U.S. Bartender’s Guild as the Chapter President, and created a best-in-class Mezcaleria called The Pastry War before opening her bar, Julep. 

Julep was named one of the Top Five Bars in the U.S. by Bon Appetit and was recognized by Esquire as one of the Best Bars in America. It was also a finalist for Best American Cocktail Bar at Tales of the Cocktail’s Spirited Awards and a James Beard Award finalist for Outstanding Bar Program in 2022. 

Thrillist selected Alba as one of the Best Bartenders in America. She was inducted to the Tales of the Cocktail Dame Hall of Fame, named Imbibe’s Bartender of the year, and was one of the Houston Chronicle’s 50 Most Fascinating People. Cherry Bombe included her in the Cherry Bombe 100  and Food & Wine selected her as a rising-star female mixologist. 

In 2021, Alba joined the Williams Sonoma Chefs’ Collective and hosts the Williams Sonoma Virtual Beverage Academy, where customers from across the world gather to learn to maximize their at-home bartender skills. 

Above all, Alba is known for bringing her passion for quality wine, spirits and cocktails and her Southern hospitality to her bars, her industry, and her fans across the world. 

CHRIS WILLIAMS Classically trained in French, Mediterranean, West Indian and East African cuisine, Chef Chris Williams has made a name for himself serving up well-refined Southern food with international infusions at his nationally-celebrated Museum District restaurant Lucille’s — opened as a tribute to his great grandmother and culinary pioneer Lucille B. Smith. A decade in the making, the namesake restaurant has since morphed into Lucille’s Hospitality Group — a culmination of concepts that channel the matriarch’s historic ingenuity. Williams’ most recent endeavor — his non-profit Lucille’s 1913 — mimics the ethos of his restaurant group and its namesake, functioning as a conscious community collective that is building a vertically integrated ecosystem to combat food insecurity and waste; creating training and employment opportunities in traditionally under-resourced neighborhoods; and empowering communities to discover a self-sustainable livelihood through food. To date, Chef Chris and the Lucille’s 1913 team have provided nearly 400,000 meals to Houstonians in need since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

A 2022 James Beard Award Finalist for Outstanding Restaurateur, Williams continues to make a name for himself as a community builder within the culinary world and beyond. He is part of Restaurant Hospitality’s 2021 Rising Star class; Bon Appetit’s inaugural “Heads of the Table” Awards List, which honors the trailblazing, community-building, future-making leaders changing the restaurant industry; Nation’s Restaurant News’ 2022 Power List, which highlights the most innovative and inspiring people in the restaurant industry; a recipient of the Houston Area Urban League’s Quentin Mease Community Service Award; and has served as the lone culinary cultural ambassador for the USA for three years, advancing food diplomacy in destinations like Slovenia, Croatia, and Ukraine.

1 p.m.-2 p.m. The Truth About Comics

[FOUNDER’S ROOM] Comic books are an important, and sometimes unsung, part of literacy. panelists will discuss the influence of comics, the growing diversity in the genre And enduring challenges within the comics industry.

HOST: SHARMANE FURY (she/they/Sir) aka daBlasianBlerd is the busiest Mixed Race, Bigendered, Bisexual-Polyamorous, Atheist, Comic Book Nerd, Cat Mom, award-winning Podcaster in…this…podcasting… game!

Host/co-host of  Militantly Mixed,  BLERDcoMIXed, and the  Bifurious podcasts, and former co-owner of Gulf Coast Cosmos Comicbook Co. Sharmane believes in creating a platform for POC voices to be heard. ManeHustle Media is dedicated to the for us, by us, and about us approach in all things.


LANE R. FOBBS is a comic book author and founder of Fobbs Publishing, which has published comics, including Black Facts About Each United State all the way to the mature-themed horror Becky.

PHUONG HA is the Education and Outreach Manager at Asia Society Texas with experience in developing and implementing educational programming for students of all ages. Phuong fell in love with books, especially manga at an early age and never looked back. Specializing in creative writing and building leadership skills, she has facilitated fun writing programs in Greater Houston area schools and helped professionally published students from all around the globe. As a literacy advocate, Phuong is dedicated to making education accessible for all individuals.

SAMANTHA CEBALLOS SOSA is a Chicana poet, scholar, and educator. She is an English Ph.D. student at the University of Texas at Austin, the Graduate Assistant for the Latinx Pop Lab and a co-curator for the comics section on Latinx Spaces. Her work focuses on underrepresentation in comics, Latinx popular culture, and poetry. Her creative works can be found in El Mundo Zurdo 7 and Boundless Anthology 2020.

2 p.m.-3 p.m. What’s So Scary About Books?

[MAIN STAGE] Dr. Melanye Price leads a panel discussion about the recent attacks on critical thinking, knowledge, and books, and how activists, librarians, and students are working against it all.

HOST: DR. MELANYE PRICE  is an endowed professor of political science at Prairie View A&M University and the inaugural director of The Ruth J. Simmons Center for Race and Justice. Dr. Price also serves as principal investigator for the university’s African American Studies Initiative, which is funded by grants and gifts from the Mellon Foundation. Her research and teaching interests include black politics, public opinion, political rhetoric and social movements. 

Price is the author of two books: “The Race Whisperer: Barack Obama and the Political Uses of Race” (NYU, 2016) and “Dreaming Blackness: Black Nationalism and African American Public Opinion” (NYU, 2009). “The Race Whisperer: Barack Obama and the Political Uses of Race” examines the strategic ways President Obama used race to deflect negative racial attitudes and engage with a large cross-section of voters. “Dreaming Blackness: Black Nationalism and African American Public Opinion” examines contemporary support for Black Nationalism. Price’s latest project, “Mountaintop Removal: Martin Luther King, Trump and the Racial Mountain,” uses MLK’s “Mountaintop Speech” as a lens for understanding the rise of Donald Trump and the 2016 election.

Price completed her B.A. (magna cum laude) in geography at Prairie View A&M University and her M.A. and Ph.D. in political science at The Ohio State University. Before coming to Prairie View, Price was an associate professor of Africana studies and political science at Rutgers University-New Brunswick.  

In 2017, Price served as the Black History Month lecturer for the U.S. Embassy in Germany, where she lectured at universities and community organizations across the country about the meaning of Barack Obama’s presidency. She has also done major keynotes and lectures at universities and conferences across the U.S. In 2019, Price received Prairie View A&M University’s Distinguished Alumni Award, the highest honor an alumni can receive. 

Price is a regular contributor for The New York Times Opinion section and has also done political commentary for MSNBC, CNN, Ms. Magazine, Elle Magazine and National Public Radio. She was also a contributor to Stanley Nelson’s documentary, “Obama: Through the Fire,” which aired on BET. 


DR. RHEA LAWSON’s impressive career as a library professional spans over 30 years. A strong and passionate advocate for public libraries, Dr. Lawson is keenly focused on ensuring that they remain highly visible and vibrant organizations that proactively contribute to the quality of life in their communities. She has served as the executive director of the Houston Public Library (HPL) since 2005. The Houston Public Library is the largest public library in the state of Texas, serving over 2.2 million people through a network of 42 locations. It ranks seventh among the largest public library systems in the nation according to population served. Dr. Lawson ensures that HPL is continuously evolving and moving forward a comprehensive, innovative platform of library services and programs to meet the diverse needs of Houston’s residents and the virtual environment. HPL aggressively promotes its vast resources through exemplary customer service, strategic partnerships, and strong community engagement. Under Dr. Lawson’s leadership, HPL has earned over 40 prestigious local, state, and national awards for services, programs, innovation and building projects. Active on the local, state, and national levels, Dr. Lawson serves on a number of professional and civic committees and boards. She holds a BA from Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland, an MLS from the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland, and a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, in Madison, Wisconsin.

TONY DIAZ and LUPE MENDEZ, the founders of Librotrificante, a movement that has fought the attacks on books, race, ethnicity, and LGBTQ studies for a decade. (Full bios above)

3 p.m. How to Eat a Mango: Contemporary Voices of the Asian Diaspora


HOST: TARFIA FAIZULLAH is the author of two poetry collections, REGISTERS OF ILLUMINATED VILLAGES (Graywolf, 2018) and SEAM (SIU, 2014). Her writing appears widely in periodicals and magazines in the U.S. and abroad, and has been displayed at the Smithsonian, the Rubin Museum of Art, and elsewhere. Tarfia presents work at institutions and organizations worldwide, and has been featured at the Library of Congress, the Fulbright Conference, the Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice, the Radcliffe Seminars, NYU, Barnard, UC Berkeley, the Poetry Foundation, the Clinton School of Public Service, Brac University, and elsewhere. Tarfia’s writing is translated into Spanish, Bengali, Persian, Chinese, Tamil, and other languages. In 2016, she was recognized by Harvard Law School as one of 50 Women Inspiring Change. Born in Brooklyn, NY to Bangladeshi immigrants and raised in Texas, Tarfia currently lives in Dallas.

MAHA AHMED holds an MFA in Poetry from the University of Oregon and is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Houston studying Literature and Creative Writing. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Grist, The Adroit Journal, 580 Split, Rusted Radishes, The Recluse, and elsewhere. She is the poetry editor for the Beirut-based literary magazine, Rusted Radishes. An Egyptian immigrant, her critical and creative work explores the Arab-American diaspora, translingual and transnational poetics, institutions of political transience, and the teleio-imaginary. Find her on twitter @mahaahmed81.

ROHAN CHETRI is a writer and translator. His latest book is Lost, Hurt, or in Transit Beautiful (HarperCollins/Tupelo/Platypus). A recipient of a 2021 PEN/Heim Grant for translation, his poems have appeared in The Paris Review, Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day, Revue Europe, among others, and have been translated into Kurdish, Greek and French.

DULCIE VELUTHUKARAN is a poet, curriculum writer, and avid quilter from Iowa Colony, TX – a town so small that it has zero traffic lights. Dulcie writes about her childhood as a third culture kid and the immigrant experience. When she’s not writing English curriculum or attending quilting conventions, Dulcie is running her district-wide pet projects, Write Beside Us and Let’s Book Up, initiatives developed to grow teachers as readers and writers. 

3:15 p.m.-4 p.m. An Intimate Conversation with Joya Goffney

[MAIN STAGE] Join BIPOC Book Fest co-founder Brooke Lewis for a one-on-one conversation with “Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry” author Joya Goffney, where she’ll dish about her new book, Black joy, and her writing journey. Catch Goffney after the convo for a book signing!

THE AUTHOR: JOYA GOFFNEY grew up in New Waverly, a small town in East Texas. In high school, she challenged herself with to-do lists full of risk-taking items like ‘hug a random boy’ and ‘eat a cricket,’ which inspired her debut novel, Excuse Me While I Ugly Cry. With a passion for Black social psychology, she moved out of the countryside to attend the University of Texas in Austin, where she still resides.

HOST: BROOKE LEWIS  is an award-winning journalist, who enjoys writing on a range of topics including race, history and culture.  At the Houston Chronicle, she wrote extensively about the discovery of the remains of 95 African Americans in Sugar Land, Texas, which received national media attention and renewed interest in the history of convict leasing. She was also a part of the Pulitzer finalist team for breaking news coverage of Hurricane Harvey. Brooke is currently working on a book that centers around faith, love and friendship and works with Writers in the Schools, where she teaches creative writing to students in the Houston Independent School District.  In her free time, she enjoys reading, walking at Hermann Park, finding a good brunch spot, spending time at church and having quality time with her friends and family.

4:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m. Poet Laureate Showcase

[MAIN STAGE] Texas’s top-honored poets take the stage for a special presentation you don’t want to miss.

  • NATASHA CARRIZOSA, poet and author of mexiafricana (bio listed above)
  • AVALON HOGANS, Houston Youth Poet Laureate
  • LUPE MENDEZ, Texas Poet Laureate (bio listed above)
  • GWENDOLYN ZEPEDA, Houston’s first poet laureate, is the author of several books for adults and children. Born in Houston, Texas, in 1971, she was the first Latina blogger and began her writing career on the Web in 1997 as one of the founding writers of entertainment site Television Without Pity. Since that time, Zepeda has published three critically acclaimed novels through Hachette, five award-winning children’s books through Arte Público Press, a short-story collection, and two books of poetry, Monsters, Zombies and Addicts (Arte Público Press, 2015) and Falling in Love with Fellow Prisoners (Arte Público Press, 2013). As Houston’s very first poet laureate, she served a two-year term from 2013 to 2015. EFE newswire hailed her writing as having the “potential to transform Latino literature of recent years and rid it of its bad habits and clichés.”