Twelve Literary Arts 

Because poetry is for the people ...


The Barbara Smith Writer-in-Residence Program 

Meet the 


All submissions for the Northeast Ohio cohort of the 2019-2020 Barbara Smith Writer-in-Residence Program are reviewed by a five-person committee chosen by the executive artistic director of Twelve Literary Arts and members of the Twelve Literary Arts board of directors. This year's committee is comprised of five writers, scholars, and arts administrators of color from across the state of Ohio. Two of this year's panelists responsible for choosing the Northeast Ohio cohort live and work in Northeast Ohio. 

Imad Rahman

Imad Rahman is the author of I Dream Of Microwaves (Farrar, Straus & Giroux). His work has appeared in One Story, The New England Review, Gulf Coast, The Fairy Tale Review, Willow Springs, among others, and in the anthology xo Orpheus: Fifty New Myths, edited by Kate Bernheimer. He is the recipient of an Individual Excellence Award from the Ohio Arts Council, a Creative Workforce Fellowship from the Community Partnership of Arts & Culture, & a James C. McCreight Fiction Fellowship from the Wisconsin Institute For Creative Writing. He is an Associate Professor of English & Creative Writing at Cleveland State University, where he also teaches in the consortial NEOMFA program.

Chiquita Mullins Lee

Chiquita Mullins Lee is an Arts Learning coordinator at the Ohio Arts Council where she coordinates the Arts Partnership and Big Yellow School Bus grant programs,

and Ohio'sPoetry Out Loud.  She has served as the chair and Mid-West regional coordinator for the Arts Education Working Group, in association with the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) and has served on the Arts Education review panel for the National Endowment for the Arts. She was writer-in-residence at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, Massachusetts and at the Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts and Sciences in Rabun Gap, Georgia. She has been published in national literary anthologies, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and writes and performs with Columbus-based Wild Women Writing. Her critically-acclaimed play, Pierce to the Soul, premiered at CATCO, Columbus' professional equity theater and toured central Ohio with A Portable Theatre Company.

Scott Woods

Scott Woods is a writer and event organizer in Columbus, Ohio. Woods is the author of Urban Contemporary History Month (2016), We Over Here Now (2013) and Prince and Little Weird Black Boy Gods (2017) and has been featured multiple times in national press, including multiple appearances on National Public Radio. He is the founder of Streetlight Guild, a performing arts non-profit. He is a 2018 Columbus Foundation 2018 Spirit of Columbus Award recipient, as well as the GCAC winner of the 2017 Columbus Makes Art Excellence Award for his event series "Holler: 31 Days of Columbus Black Art", and was named the first-ever "Face of Columbus" by Columbus Alive. He is the co-founder of the Writers' Block Poetry Night and in 2006 became the first poet to ever complete a 24-hour solo poetry reading...a feat he bested seven more times without repeating a single poem. 

Gillian Johns

Gillian Johns earned her MA and PhD degrees from Temple University in Philadelphia and is an associate professor of English and Africana Studies at Oberlin College. Her dissertation focused on modern African American authors’ acquisition of literary authority through “tall” humor and irony (entitled Going Southwest: American Humor and the Rhetoric of Race in Modern African American Fiction and Authorship), and an interest in the rhetoric of African American writing and reading extends throughout her research and teaching. Dr. Johns has published articles and reviews on Zora Neale Hurston, Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, Percival Everett, and others, and at Oberlin she has developed a full slate of courses focused on, for example, African American Detective Fiction, Black Humor and Irony, August Wilson’s Century Cycle, Black Women and Autobiography, Textualizing Orality and Literacy in Gaines, Morrison, and Wideman, Modernist Chicago and Urban Sociological Theory, and Black English and Voice (Sociolinguistics). Dr. Johns has more recently developed a general interest in linguistics and has taken some courses in cognitive linguistic theory at Case Western Reserve University, so she has begun to teach in this emerging area.

Courtenay Barton

Courtenay A. Barton joined the Cleveland Foundation  in September 2017 as a National Urban Fellow and was hired in September 2018 as Program Manager for Arts & Culture. Courtenay has more than 12 years’ experience in nonprofit management in media, arts, and education. Prior to joining the foundation, Courtenay was the Associate Director of Stewardship at the Brooklyn College Foundation. She also had roles at New York City’s public television station Thirteen/WNET and the New York Foundation for the Arts.

Courtenay earned a bachelor of arts degree in English, Creative Writing, and African American Studies from Columbia University. She also received a master of public administration degree from Bernard M. Baruch College, Marxe School of Public and International Affairs. Her Master’s thesis, “A Foundation for Equity: Philanthropic Strategies to End Racial Inequity in Cleveland” won a Philip J. Rutledge Award for Outstanding Academic Capstone Achievement.