Introducing WordCrew

Photo of Elizabeth KolendaWordCrew is a spoken-word youth cohort based in Baton Rouge. In watching a number of videos of their past performances, I was struck by the sheer lyrical talent of these young poets. Hailing from the slam tradition, each of these performer’s words seemed to vibrate with raw emotion, transformed into messages that are at once politically palpable and deeply personal. It is rare to find a community that supports young poets in such powerful ways, and I am excited to be welcoming them to perform at Delta Mouth this year! Elizabeth Kolenda, Community Engagement Coordinator

The only group of its kind in Baton Rouge, the WordCrew cohort (ages 13-19) meets weekly to write, perform, engage in dialogue and discourse, and plan youth spoken word and poetry events. Members coordinate the Forward Arts’ monthly teen open mic and poetry slam, Freshhhh Heat– which is the largest youth open mic in the state, participate in writing retreats, and serve as editors for Crushed Canvas.

Word Crew will be performing at our first night of Delta Mouth 2018! Come see them on Friday April 6th at 7pm in the Art & Design Auditorium Room 103 (LSU Campus). Additionally, Donney Rose of Forward Arts will be a panelist on Saturday April 7th at 1 pm in the Women’s Center (LSU Campus). See our full schedule here.

Introducing R. O. Kwon

Photo of Stephan ViauHaving R. O. Kwon attend Delta Mouth this year is a tremendous honor! Her book, The Incendiaries, has an unheard-of strict economy of words that renders everything poetic, visceral, and at hyper speed. And yet it also delivers everything good fiction does in the ways of story, character, and narrative. Kwon is a master at exploding notions of prose and showing what damage those pieces can do. Stephan Viau, Fundraiser Chair

Photo of R.O. KwonR. O. Kwon’s first novel, The Incendiaries, is forthcoming from Riverhead in July of 2018. She is a National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellow. Her writing has appeared in The Guardian, Vice, NOON, Playboy, and San Francisco Chronicle. She has received awards and fellowships from Yaddo, MacDowell, and the Norman Mailer Writers Colony. Born in South Korea, she has mostly lived in the United States.


R. O. will be reading our finial night of Delta Mouth 2018! Come see her on Sunday April 8th at 5pm at Radio Bar (3079 Government Street). See our full schedule here.

Introducing Siaara Freeman

Photo of Monterica NeilAs a queer Black woman writing my way through life, it’s going to be an absolute joy to engage with Siaara Freeman’s work off the page, up-close and personal. Siaara Freeman also moves through life as a writer. Her work gives voice to emotions I’ve yet to name, about my own coming-of-age in a life and neighborhood ravaged by the consequences of poverty, and about the loss of my seventeen-year-old brother who tried desperately to free himself from the bounds of inferiority: “What do you call a girl who has been haunted more years / than she has not?…Do you know how hard it is to protect a ghost? / Do you know how hard it is for a ghost to protect a girl?” Everyone I grew up with—dead, alive, caught somewhere in between—needs to hear Siaara read, but since I can’t bring the entire community of North Memphis to Delta Mouth, I will listen for us all. Monterica Sade Neil, Outreach

Photo of Siaara FreemanSiaara Freeman is from Cleveland Ohio. She’s been published in Glass, Pinch, Texas Borderline Review, Black Napkin Press, and the Bettering American Poetry anthology. She has toured internationally, been twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize, and named a finalist for the 2017 Button Poetry chapbook contest. Siaara is a four-year PinkDoor Fellow, co-coach of the 2017 BNV Detroit team, founder of Wusgood.Black, and a reader for Tinderbox.


Siaara will be performing our first night of Delta Mouth 2018! Come see her on Friday April 6th at 7pm in the Art & Design Auditorium Room 103 (LSU Campus). See our full schedule here.

Introducing Kiese Laymon

Photo of Cassie GrillonI’m thrilled that Kiese Laymon is coming to Delta Mouth this year. His essays in How to Slowly Kill Yourselves and Others in America were some of the first that got me interested in reading and writing nonfiction. I love the direct and honest style with which he describes his experiences as a Southern Black man, and I can’t wait to hear him read in person. Cassie Grillon, Grant Writer

Photo of Kiese LaymonKiese Laymon is a black writer from Jackson, Mississippi, who teaches at the University of Mississippi and the University of Iowa. Author of Long Division and How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America, his work has appeared in Esquire, New York Times, The Guardian, The FADER, and The Best American series. He is a contributing editor of Oxford American and has two books, Heavy and And So On, forthcoming from Scribner in 2018.



Kiese will be reading on our second night of Delta Mouth 2018! Come see him on Saturday April 6th at 7pm in the Hans and Donna Sternberg Salon (LSU Campus). See our full schedule here.

Introducing Chen Chen

Of all the amazing writers who will be gracing the Delta Mouth stage this year, I’m most looking forward to Chen Chen’s reading. It’s great to have so much LGBT representation at the festival, and as a queer man, I especially appreciate his poem “Self-Portrait as So Much Potential” for how it captures the disappointment and the systemic and familial stifling that we all face as members of a heteronormative society. Alex T, Social Media Coordinator

Photo of Chen ChenChen Chen is the author of When I Grow Up I Want to Be a List of Further Possibilities, which was longlisted for a National Book Award. His work has appeared in Poetry, Tin House, New York Times Magazine, The Best American Poetry, and The Best American Nonrequired Reading. He was featured in Poets & Writers as one of “Ten Poets Who Will Change the World” and lives in Rochester, NY with his partner and their pug dog, Mr. Rupert Giles.



Chen’s visit is cosponsored by New Delta Review.  We are excited to have him reading on our second night of Delta Mouth 2018 at 7pm on Saturday April 7th in the Hans and Donna Sternberg Salon (LSU Campus). Our full schedule of events is available here.

Introducing Lydia Conklin

Photo of Garrett HazelwoodIf you’re not already familiar with Lydia Conklin’s work, go read her immediately. Her stories are often irreverent, deeply attuned to the mundane absurdities of daily life, and awake to the painful comedy of the mistakes we can’t help but make as we navigate our relationships and the rocky landscapes of our own emotions. Her writing is funny and sad and true. It explores themes of sexuality; the abundant awkwardness of adolescence; and the transition into the equally fraught, interminable, fake-it-till-you-make it experience of becoming an adult. I couldn’t be more excited to be welcoming her to the Delta Mouth stage this year. —Garrett Hazelwood, Publicist

Photo of Emily NemensOh, I love Lydia’s stories. I’m regularly amazed by how she comes up with these big-hearted characters who are making earnest attempts at figuring out the world—with deadpan hilarity every step of the way. Somehow she makes soul-searching a fun adventure for readers, self-discovery a rollicking group activity. She’s a stellar writer, a talented illustrator, a generous teacher, and The Southern Review has been fortunate to play a little part in her budding career (if you can still call a double-Pushcart winner “emerging”). I can’t wait to welcome her to Baton Rouge. —Emily Nemens, coeditor and prose editor of The Southern Review


Photo of Lydia ConklinLydia Conklin was the 2015-2017 Creative Writing Fellow in fiction at Emory College. She has received two Pushcart prizes; fellowships from Princeton, MacDowell, and Yaddo; and has been published in Tin House, The Southern Review, Narrative Magazine, and in a compilation of the best of the last twenty-five years of the Pushcart Prize. She holds an MFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.




The Southern Review logo

Lydia’s visit is cosponsored by The Southern Review and we are excited to announce that Emily will be an opener at her reading on our second night of Delta Mouth 2018! Come see them both read on Saturday April 7th at 7pm in the Hans and Donna Sternberg Salon (LSU Campus). Our full schedule of events is available here.

Introducing M. Mack

Photo of Maria Anna ZazzarinoI recently read M. Mack’s chapbook MINE, a collection made up of scraps borrowed from a cable TV shopping channel, and I was struck by hir ability to transform the most artificial of formulas into lyrical pieces that are at once estranging, funny, and intimate. As in hir previous work, Mack implodes gender and genre categories to imagine avenues for bodily and literary reconfiguration as we navigate the incessant calls for conformity that flood our mediated realities. I am thrilled to see Mack expand the limits of the possible at Delta Mouth, this time without the page or the screen in between. Maria Anna Zazzarino, Community Engagement Coordinator

M. Mack is a genderqueer poet, editor, and fiber artist in Virginia. Ze is the author of Theater of Parts and the chapbooks Mine, Imaginary Kansas, and Traveling. Hir work has appeared in cream city review, Cloud Rodeo, Rogue Agent, Menacing Hedge, and The Queer South. Mack is a founding coeditor of Gazing Grain Press, an assistant editor for Cider Press Review, and the monster maker behind What is Reality Plushies.

M. will be reading at our first night of Delta Mouth 2018! Come see hir on Friday April 6th at 7pm in the Art & Design Auditorium Room 103 (LSU Campus). See our full schedule here.