BONK! 149 – Jen Simpkins Brings Kyce Bello, Barracuda Guarisco, and Naomi Marie to BONK!

This month’s BONK! event will be held on Saturday, July 17th from 6 pm to 7:30 pm CST. The event will be hosted on Zoom as a webinar and streamed on Facebook Live at the BONK! Facebook page. Curated and hosted by Jen Simpkins, BONK! will feature spoken word artists Kyce Bello and Barracuda Guarisco, and musician Naomi Marie. A link to the Zoom event, Facebook feed and more information about this event can be found at https://bonkperformanceseries.wordpress.com/events/

About The Performers

A Certified Clinical Herbalist and Registered Nurse, Kyce holds an interdisciplinary degree in Southwest Studies and Creative Writing from the University of New Mexico. She earned an MFA in poetry from the Institute of American Indian Arts, which she attended as a non-Native student of Cuban and Puerto Rican descent. Her poems explore the contour between language and landscape. Kyce’s debut poetry collection, Refugia, winner of Interim’s Test Site Poetry Series, was published in 2019 by University of Nevada Press. It received a New Mexico/Arizona Book Award in 2020. Along with her husband, she raises two daughters in a Santa Fe. They live beneath a very large apple tree, a stone’s throw from an occasional river.
You can find Kyce on her website or Instagram as @kycebello.

Barracuda Guarisco / C. C. Hannett / Kris Hall is a cheesesteak obsessed, bisexual crybaby who enjoys absurdity at varying levels. Barry is the author of several books in the Spuyten Duyvil Publishing universe, as well as Uncomfortable Music (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press, 2021). Nominated for the Elgin award and Best Microfiction, he is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Really Serious Literature and reads for Screenshot Lit. He has had work placed with Maudlin House, giallo lit, Silent Auctions, Expat, Rejection Letters, and Meow Meow Pow Pow. He does not live in Portland, Oregon.

Naomi Marie is a singer/songwriter born and brought up in the North Star State of Minnesota. Pulling from winsome trips to the woods, bittersweet goodbyes, and restless nights on the road, Naomi Marie narrates intimate encounters with love, life, and loss through poetic song and story. Shortly after tracking and releasing her 5-song debut, Four Miles to Story City, in 2010, Naomi transplanted to SE Wisconsin, performing and writing along the third coast of Lake Michigan. Her full-length, Primary Colors, recorded at Skies Fall Media Group, was released in 2014 at Shank Hall in Milwaukee. New Moon, a collection of straight-forward acoustic songs was recorded at Ten Foot Studios in Roseville, MN, and was released virtually through Bandcamp on June 10th2021. The project will be available on all other online platforms on July 9th, 2021.
You can find Naomi on her website, her Facebook, or on Instagram as @naomimariemusic

BONK! 148 – Kelsey Marie Harris Brings Sparkle Motion, Gwendalynn Roebke, and Alea McHatten to BONK!

This month’s BONK! event will be held on Saturday, June 26th from 6 pm to 7:30 pm CST. The event will be hosted on Zoom and streamed to Facebook Live at the BONK! Facebook page. There is no cost to attend. Curated and hosted by Kelsey Marie Harris, BONK! will feature spoken word artists Sparkle Motion, Gwendalynn Roebke, and Alea McHatten. A link to the Zoom info, the Facebook feed, and more can be found at https://bonkperformanceseries.wordpress.com/events/

About The Performers

Sparkle Motion (a-k-a Sparkle D. Motion) is a human being. She sings, makes art and drafts proposals in her spare and main times. Her favorite dishes are Shrimp & Lobster Sauce (no MSG pls) and Tamago. She is currently seeking a producer capable of creating sounds with electronica intent – inquire within… Genres: Electronica, Experimental, Hip-Hop, Jazz, Pop, and Rock.

Gwendalynn is Black/multiracial, gender non conforming, they/them just doing their best to exist. They write and perform poems and have their first full length collection “A Bruxist Manifesto” being published by Really Serious Literature this year. Are they a poet? Debatable. Really they just want to write interesting things and design their own tattoos.

Alea McHatten is a Black, Non-binary, Milwaukee native, poet, facilitator, and student of life. Their writings have granted them performances across the nation, have appeared online, and have made room for her in local headlines and international poetry competitions.  Alea began their career in late 2010 and has yet to put down the pen. She strives to shine a light on the gray areas of the human experience using her art as a platform to spark dialogue. As an educator, she guides others through discussion and creative rhetoric in an effort to build dignity in the community while gaining further understanding of self in relation to the world. It is their mission to bring people together to share in the commonwealth of knowledge and resources. Alea furthers her service through storytelling and theater with Ex Fabula and Renaissance Theaterworks. Alea’s motto is “if you wanna break a glass ceiling, you better bring a hammer.” Their first full collection of poetry, “Garden of Ghost”,  will be published in November 2021.

BONK! 147 – Esteban Colon Brings Billy Tuggle, Donna Vorreyer, and Primo Cruz to BONK!

This month’s BONK! event will be held on Saturday, May 29th from 6 pm to 8 pm CST. The event will be hosted on Facebook Live at the BONK! Facebook page. Curated and hosted by Esteban Colon, BONK! will feature spoken word artists Billy Tuggle and Donna Vorreyer, and musician and spoken word artist Primo Cruz. A link to the Facebook feed and more information about this event can be found at https://bonkperformanceseries.wordpress.com/events/

About The Performers

Billy Tuggle is a parent, teaching artist, slam champion, and touring performance poet. Chicago native and author of The Way Of The B-Boy, Billy is 2015 National Poetry Slam Haiku Champion and, in 2020 was nominated “Best Of The Net” for the poem “Katana Black” published by The Knights Library. He has shared stages with Patricia Smith, Psalm One, Saul Williams, Æsop Rock, and Esteban Colon.
You can find Billy at his website and on Facebook and Instagram as “Backpack Files”

Donna Vorreyer is the author of To Everything There Is (2020), Every Love Story is an Apocalypse Story (2016), and A House of Many Windows (2013), all from Sundress Publications, as well as eight chapbooks. Her work has appeared in Baltimore Review, Tinderbox Poetry, Poet Lore, Sugar House Review, Waxwing, and other journals, and she serves as an associate editor for Rhino Poetry. Recently retired from 36 years in public education, she looks forward to new adventures.
You can find Donna at her website, Facebook, or on Twitter as @dvorreyer. You can also find her newest book here.

Primitivo Cruz (AKA Primo) is a Chicago native of Puerto Rican background who is always looking for the next performance opportunity. He went from singing in the shower as a child to performing in Chicago’s Latin Music scene as an adult. Primo was a vocalist with a 20 piece big band Orquesta Sabor Latino for many years as well as a Latin fusion group called NuBambu. Apart from his musical endeavors Primo has also performed his prose in various spoken word venues in Chicago that have included University of Illinois Noche de Poetas, Ponce at Night open mic, Nothing Less Open mic and the Nuyorican poets café in New York city. Apart from all of this Primo has also stepped into the theater scene in recent years and was casted to play car service owner Kevin Rosario in a Chicago production of In The Heights. He did the work of manifesting being in this play for over a decade since he saw it on Broadway in New York. Primo didn’t get the role he originally wanted but he got a role that was just challenging enough, and stretched him beyond what he thought he could do. As a life long stutterer Primo wants to use his love of performance to inspire. He wants people to know that it’s never too late or impossible to pursue what you want. Take you baby steps if you need to. Just keep going.

BONK! 146 – Kid’s BONK!

This month the BONK! Poetry and Music Series will host another virtual event, taking place on Saturday, April 24th, at 6 p.m. This special event will be the first ever “Kid’s BONK!”, where children from the region will be the performers for the evening! Over a dozen young people will present original poems, songs or other performances for the community. Currently, there are still a few slots left for interested children to perform. If you are the parent or guardian of a child who would like to be considered for this event, please send an email to Nick Demske, Community Resources Librarian at the Racine Public Library, at nick.demske@racinelibrary.info. Please include your name and relationship to the child, the child’s name, age, grade, what the genre is which they wish to perform in (poetry, music, dance, etc) and any other details of the performance (if it is a poem, what is the title and author, etc). 

All performances should be 5 minutes or shorter. Also, please note that this is a virtual event. All children will be performing from their homes (or wherever else they prefer) and will need internet access to have the performance broadcast over a Zoom meeting platform. This event will not take place in person at a centralized venue/location–only virtually.

To join as an audience member and participate in the comment thread, visit https://www.facebook.com/BONK-51655071250. If you don’t have a Facebook account, you can get the link to the livestream by visiting the BONK! event page, here.

This event is co-sponsored by Find The Light LLC (https://www.facebook.com/FindtheLightLLC)–a Racine-based organization which teaches children to share stories of challenge and triumph through their Young Storytellers Workshops, fostering up young people to express themselves with intent and purpose. The event is also co-sponsored by Bear Balkcom–the 10 year old boy who came up with the original idea for “Kid’s BONK!”.

BONK! 145 – Nick’s Last BONK!

In recognition of Demske’s departure from the organization, the BONK! March event will include him as one of its featured performers. This month’s BONK! Event will again be virtual, taking place on Saturday, March 27th, at 6 p.m. Alongside Demske, it will feature two other poets: Millissa Kingbird and Kazim Ali. BONK! is a free event and is open to the public.  This event will be live streamed via the BONK! Facebook page. To join as an audience member and participate in the comment thread, visit https://www.facebook.com/BONK-51655071250

Nick Demske is a poet, children’s librarian and County Supervisor of Racine County’s First District. His self-titled manuscript was given the Fence Modern Poets Series Award and published by Fence Books in 2010. He also had a chapbook published in 2012 called “Skeetly Deetly Deet” (Strange Cage Press). In 2010, he was included as one of the 10 debut poets to watch by Poets and Writers Magazine. The new manuscript which he is currently submitting to publishers is titled “Anti-suicidal Miraculous Dopeness.” Nick was instrumental in creating the Racine/Kenosha Poet Laureate program, serving on its board for several years, and he is currently serving as the Chair of the Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission. He has had work appear in many publications, including ACM, Artful Dodge, Colorado Review, Conduit, Fence, jubilat, Spoon River Poetry Review, Sugar House Review and others.

Millissa Kingbird holds a Master of Fine Arts from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, NM. Her poetry highlights womanhood, bodies, nature, trauma and indigeneity. She has been published in Hinchas de Poesia, Yellow Medicine Review, Red Ink, Connotations Press, The Rumpus, Heavy Feather Review and LitHub. She co-guest edited the Spring 2019 Yellow Medicine Review. An enrolled member of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe, she still lives on the rez.

Kazim Ali was born in the United Kingdom and has lived transnationally in the United States, Canada, India, France, and the Middle East. His books encompass multiple genres, including the volumes of poetry Inquisition, Sky Ward, winner of the Ohioana Book Award in Poetry; The Far Mosque, winner of Alice James Books’ New England/New York Award; The Fortieth Day; All One’s Blue; and the cross-genre texts Bright Felon and Wind Instrument. His novels include the recently published The Secret Room: A String Quartet and among his books of essays are the hybrid memoir Silver Road: Essays, Maps & Calligraphies and Fasting for Ramadan: Notes from a Spiritual Practice. He is also an accomplished translator (of Marguerite Duras, Sohrab Sepehri, Ananda Devi, Mahmoud Chokrollahi and others) and an editor of several anthologies and books of criticism. After a career in public policy and organizing, Ali taught at various colleges and universities, including Oberlin College, Davidson College, St. Mary’s College of California, and Naropa University. He is currently a Professor of Literature at the University of California, San Diego. His newest books are a volume of three long poems entitled The Voice of Sheila Chandra and a memoir of his Canadian childhood, Northern Light.

6th Annual Black History Month Read-In

The Racine Public Library, in collaboration with Find the Light LLC, Resilient by Design Healing & Consulting, LLC, The Racine Literacy Council, Coming Together Racine, Family Power Music and the BONK! Arts and Culture series invites you to The Sixth Annual “Mary Finley and Marcie Eanes Memorial Black History Month Read-In”.  This event will be held virtually on Thursday, February 25th from 6 til 7:30pm.

A Black History Month Read-In is an event where community members of all different backgrounds join together to celebrate the vibrant legacy of black contributions to world literature.  Fifteen community members will be given 5 minutes each to read a piece (or an excerpt of a piece) of writing written by someone from the black diaspora.  

Because the purpose of this event is to highlight the copious, diverse contributions of all black people to literature, and because we want to illustrate the great breadth of those contributions as much as possible in one and a half short hours, we will not be having ANY repeats of authors. This is a unique aspect of Racine’s BHM read-in and has been the practice since it was first founded in 2016.

To “attend” this event, community members are encouraged to go to the BONK! Facebook page, where it will be live streamed and where viewers dialogue in the comments section.

About the name of this event: Mary Finley and Marcie Eanes were two prominent black women residents of Racine who were inspirations both in the Racine community locally, as well as the literary community nationally–Mary as an ambassador and literary agent and Marcie as a writer herself and supporter of the arts.  They have both gone on to join the elders, Mary in 2014 and Marcie in 2015.  Shortly before Marcie passed away, she was chosen as one of the finalists for the Racine Poet Laureate position.  We are honored to be able to celebrate these two women as leaders of both Racine’s Black Community, as well as Racine’s Literary Community.

This event is made possible by the sponsors of the BONK! Arts and Culture series: The Racine Public Library, the Racine Community Foundation, the Osborne and Scekic Family Foundation, the Friends of the Racine Public Library, and Olde Madrid restaurant.  

For questions, please contact one of the 2021 Co-chairs of the BHM Read-in Committee: Genie Webb-Mitchell, author and owner of Find the Light LLC, at genie@findthelightbooks.com or 262-497-0059 or Nick Demske, Racine Public Library’s Community Resources Librarian, at nick.demske@racinelibrary.info or 262-631-0021.

BONK! 143 Live on Facebook

This month the BONK! Poetry and Music Series will host another virtual event, taking place on Saturday, January 30th, at 6 p.m. It will feature 4 poets: Madison Poet Laureate Angie Trudell Vasquez, former Wisconsin Poet Laureate Kimberly Blaeser, former Chair of the Wisconsin Poet Laureate Commission William Stobb and recent Racine Writer-in-Residence Kelsey Marie Harris. All four poets have featured at BONK! in years past, but all four have also recently released new collections of poetry, and BONK! Is very excited to bring them back to read from their new works.. This event will be live streamed via the BONK! Facebook page. To join as an audience member and participate in the comment thread, visit https://www.facebook.com/BONK-51655071250 

Angie Trudell Vasquez is a Mexican-American writer and holds an MFA in poetry from the Institute of American Indian Arts. Finishing Line Press published her third collection of poetry, In Light, Always Light, in 2019, and recently accepted her fourth collection, My People Redux, for publication. Her poems have appeared in the Yellow Medicine Review, The Slow Down, the Raven Chronicles, The Rumpus, on the Poetry Foundation’s website, and elsewhere. She is the current poet laureate of Madison, Wisconsin and the first Latina to hold the position. She recently co-edited a poetry anthology entitled, Through This Door – Wisconsin in Poems, with current Wisconsin Poet Laureate, Margaret Rozga, and released it through her small press, Art Night Books, in November 2020. With poet Millissa Kingbird, she co-edited the Spring 2019 issue of the journal the Yellow Medicine Review. Angietrudellvasquez.com. 

Kimberly Blaeser, Wisconsin Poet Laureate 2015-2016, is the author of five poetry collections including Copper Yearning, Apprenticed to Justice, and the 2020 bi-lingual Résister en dansant/Ikwe-niimi: Dancing Resistance. An Indigenous activist and environmentalist from White Earth Reservation, she also edited Traces in Blood, Bone, and Stone: Contemporary Ojibwe Poetry. Her book Copper Yearning won the Edna Meudt Poetry Book Award and was named one of the best Native Books in 2019 by the Tribal College Journal. Her photographs, picto-poems, and ekphrastic pieces have been included in exhibits such as “Ancient Light” and “Visualizing Sovereignty.”   A Professor at University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee and MFA faculty for the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, in 2020 Blaeser founded the literary organization In-Na-Po—Indigenous Nations Poets. She lives in rural Wisconsin; and, for portions of each year, in a water-access cabin near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota. 

William Stobb‘s most recent poetry collection is You Are Still Alive (2019 42 Miles Press). He is also the author of Absentia, and the National Poetry Series selection, Nervous Systems, both from Penguin Books. Stobb works as Professor of English at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse, and Associate Editor at Conduit magazine and its book-publishing arm, Conduit Books & Ephemera. 

Kelsey Marie Harris is a gardener, artist, poet, and pessimist; in no particular order. She has two chapbooks, “The Jolly Queef” and “Bury Your Horses” as well as a full length poetry book, “Spit (verb) in my mouth” published by Vegetarian Alcoholic Press. She also self published a chapbook, “Sex Wound”. Kelsey is an assistant Curator for the BONK! Poetry and Music Series, and an editor for Really Serious Literature. She was also 2020’s Racine Writer In Residence. Her poetry is fueled by anxiety, self loathing, and chronic over-thinking. She has been published in The Rust Mill, TLDR, Horror Sleaze Trash, Forklift Ohio, and Dreginald.

BONK! 142 Live on Facebook

This month the BONK! Poetry and Music Series will be another virtual event, taking place on Saturday, Dec 12th, at 6 p.m. Featured performers will be: writer Chiwan Choi, poet Kamilah Aisha Moon and poet Joaquin Zihuatanejo. This event will be live streamed via the BONK! Facebook page. To join as an audience member and participate in the comment thread, visit https://www.facebook.com/BONK-51655071250 


Chiwan Choi is the author of 3 books of poetry, The Flood (Tía Chucha Press, 2010), Abductions (Writ Large Press, 2012), and The Yellow House (CCM, 2017). He wrote, presented, and destroyed the novel Ghostmaker throughout the course of 2015. His poems and essays have appeared in numerous journals and magazines, including The New York Times Magazine, ONTHEBUS, Esquire.com, and The Nervous Breakdown. Chiwan is a partner at Writ Large Press, a Los Angeles based indie publisher, focused on using literary arts to resist, disrupt, and transgress, and a member of The Accomplices. Chiwan was born in Seoul, Korea, spent his early childhood in Asunción, Paraguay, and now splits his time between Pittsburgh and Los Angeles. He is currently working on a new book, My Name Is Wolf.


The author of Starshine & Clay (2017), a CLMP Firecracker Award finalist featured on NPR’s “All Things Considered” as a collection that captures America in poetry, and She Has a Name (2013), a finalist for both the Audre Lorde and Lambda Literary Awards, Kamilah Aisha Moon‘s work has been published widely, including in The New York Times, Best American Poetry, Harvard Review, Poem-A-Day, American Poetry Review and elsewhere. A Pushcart Prize winner and 2015 New American Poet who has received fellowships to MacDowell, Vermont Studio Center and Hedgebrook, she holds an M.F.A. from Sarah Lawrence College and teaches at Agnes Scott College.


Joaquín Zihuatanejo received his MFA in creative writing with a concentration in Poetry from the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico. His work has been featured in Prairie Schooner, Sonora Review, and Huizache among other journals and anthologies. His poetry has been featured on HBO, NBC, and on NPR in Historias and The National Teacher’s Initiative. He was the winner of the Anhinga-Robert Dana Prize for Poetry. His book, Arsonist, was published by Anhinga Press in September of 2018, and was short-listed as a Finalist for both the Writers’ League of Texas Best Book Poetry Prize and the International Latino Book Award Best Book Poetry Prize. Joaquín has two passions in his life, his partner Aída and poetry, always in that order.

BONK! 141 on Facebook!

This month the BONK! Poetry and Music Series will be another virtual event, taking place on Saturday, Nov 21st, at 6 p.m. Featured performers will be: Milwaukee-based poet Su Cho, New Jersey-based poet Cortney Lamar Charleston and Kenosha-based musician Brent Mitchell.   You can come to the event by going to https://www.facebook.com/BONK-51655071250.

Su Cho received her MA in English Literature and MFA in Poetry from Indiana University. She currently serves as Editor-in-Chief of Cream City Review after serving as Editor-in-Chief of Indiana Review. She is pursuing a PhD at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she is an Advanced Opportunity Fellow. Her poems are forthcoming and/or found in POETRY, New England Review, Gulf Coast, Colorado Review, Cincinnati Review, Pleiades, The Journal, Crab Orchard Review, BOAAT, Thrush Poetry Review, PANK, Sugared Water, and elsewhere. 

Cortney Lamar Charleston is the author of Telepathologies, selected by D.A. Powell for the2016 Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize, and the forthcoming Doppelgangbanger (Haymarket Books, 2021). He was awarded a 2017 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation and he has also received fellowships from Cave Canem, The Conversation Literary Festival and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. Winner of a Pushcart Prize, his poems have appeared in POETRY, The American Poetry Review, The Kenyon Review, Granta,The Nation and elsewhere. He serves as a poetry editor at The Rumpus and on the editorial board at Alice James Books. 

Brent Mitchell is a sculptor, painter, and songwriter/guitarist. A few years ago he was named Poet Laureate of Kenosha, and soon after published his first book of poetry:  Cowboys, Mermaids, and the Lord of Death. As a songwriter, Brent has written songs for publishing houses including Bug Music, and Tree Publishing, with writers from Sony, Decca, and SESAC, and has recorded a number of CDs. His songs are included in the movie Partners in Crime and in the 2018 film La Barracuda. In 2005 his song Hand of God was listed for a Grammy. In 2016, he obtained a Master’s degree in theology, and He continues to play music, and to write poetry, and has recently begun teaching religious studies at Carthage College where his wife, Dr. Stephanie Mitchell is a professor of history. Together they live in perfect serenity in their ivory tower just a few blocks from the college with their four impeccably behaved children. 

BONK! 140 with KPL

This month the BONK! Poetry and Music Series will celebrate its 12 year anniversary.  The event will be in special partnership with Kenosha Public Library and will be an end-cap to Hispanic Heritage Month.  It will be a virtual event, taking place on Saturday, Oct 17th, at 5:30 p.m. Featured performers will be: Former Milwaukee Poet Laureate Brenda Cárdenas, Former Kenosha Poet Laureate Esteban Colon and Racine-based singer/songwriter Marco Jaimez Jr.

Brenda Cárdenas’ books and chapbooks include Boomerang (Bilingual Press); Bread of the Earth/The Last Colors with Roberto Harrison; Achiote Seeds/Semillas de Achiote with Cristina García, Emmy Pérez, and Gabriela Erandi Rico; and From the Tongues of Brick and Stone (Momotombo Press). She also co-edited Resist Much/Obey Little: Inaugural Poems to the Resistance (Spuyten Duyvil Press) and Between the Heart and the Land: Latina Poets in the Midwest (MARCH/Abrazo Press). Cárdenas’ work has appeared or is forthcoming in Latino Poetics: The Art of Poetry, Grabbed: Take Back the Narrative, Hope Is the Thing: Wisconsinites On Hope and Resilience, Court Green, Ghost Fishing: An Eco Justice Anthology, POETRY, and many others. She has served as Milwaukee’s Poet Laureate and currently teaches at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Esteban Colon is the Poet Laureate Emeritus of Kenosha Wisconsin (2018 – 2019). He has been writing and performing poetry most of his life. Many of those poems appear in Hell Creek, Things I Learned the Hard Way, and Whispered “Soliloquy’s.”    
Marco Jaimez Jr has been playing music for over a decade with various different groups.  He currently performs with the groups Anchors of Empires, New Vices  and in his solo project, Mexico City Is Sinking.  As mexico City is Sinking, Marco released the full length album “Queen of Monster Island” in 2015.  Marco lives in Racine, Wisconsin with his fiance Shelby and their two dogs, Bobo and Egon.