Meet the Instructors

Asante Salaam is a visual artist who has managed outreach for the City of New Orleans’ Mayor’s Office of Cultural Economy since 2011, by facilitating opportunities to increase income and quality of life especially for artists, culture bearers and cultural economy stakeholders in Orleans Parish. Asante’s artistry grows from reverence for the exquisite ordinariness of living life. Her artworks offer reflection and celebration of the juicy beauty of women, nature, spirit, love, life and creative processes. Her current work is informed by expertise producing graphic design, advertising and branding for notable companies including Entergy and Pizza Hut; strategizing entrepreneurial start-ups and revamps such as a coffee shop café and fashion co-op boutique; event planning and production for arts programming, Essence Festival and Jazz Fest; collaborating with Rwandan women and local artists on a bracelet project for “O” magazine; producing commissioned art for an inspirational book called Perseverance; and melding handwriting, language and images into process-enriched experiences of healing and transformation and love and beauty that live as artists’ books. Born and raised in in New Orleans by conscious change agents, Asante is passionate about creating affluence and liberating the human spirit. She believes in magic and folks being more excellent with each other. Asante travels the world and calls New Orleans home.

A New Orleans native, Danielle Gilyot received a Bachelor’s of the Arts from the University of Miami in 2003 and her Masters in Fine Arts in Fiction writing from the University of New Orleans in December 2011. After a nine year career in mortgage finance and banking, Danielle is now pursuing a full-time writing career. She’s a proud participant in the VONA workshops for writers of color and a member of the Melanated Writers Collective in New Orleans. Her story, “When the Bough Breaks,” was published in Specter Magazine in August 2012.

Maurice Carlos Ruffin is a graduate of the Creative Writing Program at University of New Orleans. He’s also a member of several writing collectives, including the Melanated Writers of New Orleans and the Peauxdunque Writers Alliance. He works as an attorney.

Maurice’s fiction and non-fiction has appeared in the Apalachee Review (“Mercury Forges” and “Cheating the Muse”) and Regarding Arts & Letters (“Mr. Face”). The South Carolina Review will publish “The Pie Man” in fall 2012. A short story entitled “And Then I Was Clean” was published in Ellipsis Magazine [University of New Orleans] in 2011. “The Pie Man” received the University of New Orleans Creative Writing Workshop’s 2011 Ernest Svenson Fiction Award; an earlier version of the story was first runner-up in the short story category at the 2010 William Faulkner-Wisdom Competition. Other stories were also finalists in 2009, 2010, and 2011. His short story, “The Winter Lion,” was selected as one of the top ten finalists in the 2012 Tennessee Williams Festival fiction contest. Maurice is currently working on a collection of short stories and a novel.

Kysha Brown Robinson is a publisher, poet and author of the collection “Spherical Woman.” She is co-founder and president of Runagate, an independent, New Orleans-based press that specializes in books on New Orleans culture and African heritage cultures worldwide. Runagate has published and Brown has co-edited (with Kalamu ya Salaam) the anthology Fertile Ground: Memories & Visions (1996), which includes noted writers from the Caribbean, Africa, England and important African-American writers such as Amiri Baraka, Kathleen Neal Cleaver, the late Stephen Henderson, Haki Madhubuti, and Sonia Sanchez. Runagate’s second publication is the critically acclaimed anthology From A Bend In The River: 100 New Orleans Poets (1998). Brown is a broadly published poet whose work appears in literary magazines and anthologies (e.g., Role Call, Drum Voices, Dark Eros,and Beyond the Frontier).

Jarvis DeBerry, an editorial writer and columnist, has written for The Times-Picayune since 1997. He was on the team awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for coverage of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. In 2007 and 2011, his column was given first prize by the Louisiana/Mississippi Associated Press Managing Editors Association. DeBerry has had poetry published in several anthologies, most recently The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South.


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