M. Nzadi Keita, a 2017 Pew Fellow in poetry, is a first-generation urban northerner. The Philly-born writer also works as an editor, scholar and teacher. Her most recent book is Brief Evidence of Heaven: Poems from the life of Anna Murray Douglass (Whirlwind Press), a finalist for the 2015 Phillis Wheatley Poetry Prize from the Quarterly Black Book Review. Through persona poems, Keita imagines how the first wife of Frederick Douglass -- free-born and illiterate -- saw the world as an independent woman, mother, and abolitionist in her own right. Some poems portray the voices of others within Douglass’s world, including her children, Frederick Douglass, and Harriet Tubman.
Keita’s poems have appeared in literary journals such as Crab Orchard, and Poet Lore.Anthologies featuring her work include Peace Is A Haiku Song, The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South, and A Face to Meet the Faces: An Anthology of Contemporary Persona Poetry. Grants and fellowships from the Penna. Council on the Arts, the Leeway Foundation, Yaddo and the Fine Arts Work Center have supported her creative adventures. She is an alumna of the black poetry collective, Cave Canem. Keita has done consulting with the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and Philadelphia’s Mural Arts Program. She is an associate professor and co-coordinator of the African-American/Africana Studies Program at Ursinus College.