Erika Ayón emigrated from Mexico when she was five years old. She grew up in South Central Los Angeles.  She graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in English. Erika was selected as a 2009 PEN Emerging Voices Fellow.  She  is currently working on a collection of poetry entitled Orange Lady. The title stems from her childhood experience of selling oranges with her family on the streets of Los Angeles,  in order to survive financially. Through her writing, Erika addresses issues such as poverty, race, cultural implications, gender, and the immigrant experience.



John Boucher started writing in 2005 in HIV+ Writing Workshops sponsored by AIDS Healthcare Foundation, AIDS Project Los Angeles, and the LA Gay & Lesbian Center. His first published piece, “Speaking in Tongues,” appeared in Washburn University’s inscape literary journal, where it won the Best Nonfiction of 2009 award. A 2009 PEN Center USA Emerging Voice Rosenthal Fellow, John is compiling a collection of humorously dark nonfiction stories. John attended Corcoran College of Art and Design and earned his MFA from Claremont Graduate University. Born in 1962 and raised in Los Angeles, John lives in West Hollywood.


Rachelle Cruz is from Hayward, California (in the Bay Area). She studied poetry and history at Sarah Lawrence College in Bronxville, NY. She has taught creative writing, poetry and performance to young people in New York City, the Bay Area and Los Angeles. She has been published in Dark Phrases, Maganda, Back Room Live and Kweli Journal. She hosts “The Blood-Jet Writing Hour” Radio Show on Blog Talk Radio. She recently received the PEN Center USA Emerging Voices Rosenthal Fellowship in 2009, and is working towards her first collection of poems, tenatively titled Ascela at the World’s Greatest Fair. Read Rachelle’s blog.


Thi Dao studied creative writing at UCLA and upon graduating, left the country to live abroad. Her experiences have intensified the themes of the perpetual outsider and cultural meshes in her short stories. In her writing, she portrays the diverse neighborhoods in southern California and explores issues of class, culture, and the generation gap.


Parnaz Fountan was born in Iran to  a Jewish mother and a Muslim father.  She immigrated to Los Angeles after the establishment of the Islamic theocracy and the commencement of the Iran/Iraq war.  She grew up on the fringe of of many cross-cultural boundaries, and hence, learned to understand the nature of conflicting narratives and to search for the point in which they intersect.  She currently teaches social justice and literature, and is working on her first novel.



Sylvia Sukop writes about art, faith, community, and other good causes. Photography has been an integral part of her own journey as an artist and storyteller. A first-generation American raised in rural Pennsylvania, she is a graduate of Bucknell University and of New York University’s joint Master’s program with the International Center of Photography. Her work has appeared in Flaunt and Exposure magazines, and on the political blog, The Huffington Post. She is currently working on a memoir of her teenage brother’s death and on the story of the modern-day lesbian community on Lesbos Island. Visit Sylvia’s website.



Marissa Tinloy is working on her first novel. She was awarded the PEN USA Emerging Voices Fellowship in 2009.  An alumni of UCLA’s Creative Writing/English program, she won the University’s Annual Fiction Competition in 2007. In 2010, Nimrod International Journal selected Marissa’s short story Mail Order as a semi-finalist in the annual Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Fiction. Marissa’s editorial writing and short fiction have appeared in a variety of publications, and she looks forward to joining the Creative Writing program at UC Davis in the fall.



Mehnaz Turner was born in Pakistan and raised in southern California. She is a 2009 PEN USA Emerging Voices Fellow in Poetry. She holds degrees from the University of Arizona, The University of Texas at Austin, UC Santa Barbara, and Cal State Channel Islands. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in publications such as Cahoots Magazine, Pakistaniaat, The Pedestal Magazine, Desilit Magazine, and An Anthology of California Poets.  She has been teaching English at Moorpark High School since Fall 2006. Read Mehnaz’s blog, “The Literary Life.”


2 responses to “Who

  1. Hello everyone,
    I posted a few images from the public reading Sylvia organized at MorYork Gallery. Link below.


  2. MMIX

    Thanks, Sorin. The images are beautiful.

    The writers of MMIX

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