Zen and the Art of Vona Voices
Join us for a conversation and literary reading with five award-winning writers affiliated with VONA VOICES (Voices of our Nation Arts Foundation): Samuel Autman, Connie Pertuz-Meza, Rogelio Juárez, Vida James and M. Evelina Galang.
SAMUEL AUTMAN is a former journalist turned essayist and an associate professor of English at DePauw University, writing at the intersections of identity, place, and pop culture. He’s an alumnus of VONA Voices and became a Board Member of VONA in January of 2021. His piece “Invisible Nails” won first place in the 2015 Disquiet Literary Contest and was later anthologized in The Kept Secret: The Half-Truth in Nonfiction. His essays have appeared in The Best of Brevity: Twenty Groundbreaking Years of Flash Nonfiction, The Chalk Circle: Prizewinning Intercultural Essays, Black Gay Genius: Answering Joseph Beam's Call, The St. Louis Anthology and Sweeter Voices Still: An LGBTQ Anthology From Middle America as well as The Common Reader, Little Patuxent Review, Under the Gum Tree, Ninth Letter, and Panorama: Journal of Intelligent Travel.
CONNIE PERTUZ-MEZA is a Colombian American writer, inspired to pen pieces about her life, family, and ancestors. She is a NYC public school educator, mother of two teenagers, daughter of a journalist father, and a mother who taught herself to read with a Bible. d in The Rumpus, Kweli Literary Journal, Lunch Ticket, NYU Latinx Project, Women Who Roar, Herstry, RaisingMothers, Dreamers Creative Writing, Voices In The Middle, The Acentos Review, and MUTHA. She has a YA novel soon to be released by Scholastic Press and is a guest writer for Hispanecdotes and Epifania Magazine. Connie is also a three-time VONA alum and is a new member of VONA’s Board of Directors.
ROGELIO JUÁREZ is a writer from Arizona. He has received fellowships from the Virginia G. Piper Center for Creative Writing and support from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, and the Tin House and VONA/Voices of Our Nation workshops. He is pursuing an MFA in fiction at Cornell University and his writing can be found in J Journal: New Writing on Justice, The James Franco Review, and Zócalo Public Square.
VIDA JAMES is a Nuyorican social worker from Brooklyn, NY. She is a Delaney Fellow at the University of Massachusetts - Amherst MFA for Poets & Writers. She is the winner of the 2021 Cara Parravani Memorial Award in Fiction and a 2018 VONA/Voices alum. She has work appearing in New England Review, Epiphany, and PANK. She is working on a collection of short stories and a novel. Vida James serves as communications specialist for VONA Voices.
M. EVELINA GALANG is professor and past chair (2009-19) of the Department of Creating Writing at University of Miami and is core faculty and President of the Board of Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation (VONA/Voices). She is an award-winning writer and author of the nonfiction work Lolas’ House: Filipino Women Living With War (Curbstone Books, 2017). Among her numerous awards are the 2004 Association of Writers & Writing Programs (AWP) Prize for the Novel, the 2007 Global Filipino Literary Award for ONE TRIBE, the 2004 Gustavus Myers. In the spring of 2020, Galang was named Cornell University’s Zalaznick Distinguished Visiting Writer.