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The Spirit Room Reading

  • The Spirit Room 139 State Street Rochester, NY, 14614 United States (map)

Hosted by Sejal A. Shah at The Spirit Room, Albert Abonado, Mara Ahmed, Chen Chen, and Margaret Rhee will be reading. RSVP on Facebook here.

Albert Abonado teaches creative writing at SUNY Geneseo. His poems have appeared in Boston Review, The Margins, Zone 3, and elsewhere. He is a recipient of a NYFA fellowship for poetry. Every Thursday from 2-3PM, he hosts the poetry radio show Flour City Yawp on WAYO 104.3 FM-LP. He also curates the CityVerse column for City Newspaper. He lives in Rochester with his wife, and a hamster named Jellybean.

Mara Ahmed has lived and been educated in Belgium, Pakistan, and the United States. She has a Master’s in Business Administration and in Economics. She worked in finance until 2004, when she decided to switch careers. She is now an activist, artist and filmmaker. Her third documentary “A Thin Wall,” a film about the partition of India, was released in 2015. It premiered at the Bradford Literature Festival in England and has been screened worldwide, most recently in Taiwan. Last year, Mara gave a Tedx talk about the meaning of borders and nationalism entitled “The edges that blur.” She is currently working on a film about racism in America, for which she is interviewing women of color exclusively. It's inspired by Claudia Rankine's book, "Citizen: An American Lyric." Mara's artwork has been exhibited at the Kinetic Gallery, the Colacino Gallery, and the Oakland Asian Cultural Center in California. She writes for the Socialist Worker and blogs at

Chen Chen is the author of When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities, which was longlisted for the National Book Award and won the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize, the GLCA New Writers Award, the Texas Book Award for Poetry, and the Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry. The collection was also a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award and named a Stonewall Honor Book in Literature. His work appears in many publications, including Poetry and The Best American Poetry. He cofounded and co-runs the journal, Underblong. He is the 2018-2020 Jacob Ziskind Poet-in-Residence at Brandeis University. He lives with his partner, Jeff Gilbert and their pug dog, Mr. Rupert Giles.

Margaret Rhee is a poet, new media artist, and scholar. She is the author of chapbooks Yellow (Tinfish Press, 2011) and Radio Heart; or, How Robots Fall Out of Love (Finishing Line Press, 2015). Her first full-length poetry collection Love, Robot (The Operating System, 2017) was named a Best Poetry Book of 2017 by Entropy Magazine, and awarded a 2018 Elgin Award by the Science Fiction Poetry Association. Her new media project The Kimchi Poetry Machine was selected for the Electronic Literature Collection Volume 3. She received her PhD from UC Berkeley in ethnic and new media studies. Currently, she is a College Fellow in Digital Media Practice in the English Department at Harvard University, and an Assistant Professor at SUNY Buffalo in the Department of Media Study (starting 2019).

Sejal A. Shah is a 2018 New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA) fellow in fiction. Her essays and stories have appeared in Brevity, Conjunctions, Denver Quarterly, the Kenyon Review, the Rumpus, and elsewhere, as well as in several anthologies. She has been awarded other fellowships and residencies from the New York State Council for the Arts, the Blue Mountain Center, Kundiman, the Millay Colony, and the Ragdale Foundation. Sejal is the daughter of Gujarati parents who emigrated to the US from Kenya and India, and she lives in Rochester, NY.

Earlier Event: October 21
Winter Tangerine Food Writing Workshop
Later Event: November 2
Kundiman Poetry Prize Reading