2019 Literary Arts Panelists

Terry Blackhawk

LA_Blackhawk_squareTerry Blackhawk’s five full-length poetry collections include Escape Artist (John Ciardi Prize, 2003), The Light Between (WSU Press) and One Less River (Mayapple Press, forthcoming 2019)—with awards from Nimrod (2010 Pablo Neruda Prize), America (1990 Foley Prize) and others. A former high school creative writing teacher, Blackhawk is founding director emerita (1995-2015) of InsideOut Literary Arts Project and a 2013 Kresge Artist Fellow. She received a Detroit Metro Times Progressive Hero Award (1999), the MI Governor’s Award for Arts Education (2001), grants from the Michigan Council for the Arts (1998-2000), and National Endowment for the Humanities (1992-1993), and was twice named MI Creative Writing Teacher of the Year (1990, 2008). She served (2008-2012) on the board of AWP (Association of Writers and Writing Programs) and has presented for the White House and the Library of Congress. Blackhawk holds an Honorary Doctorate from Oakland University and divides her time between Connecticut and Detroit.

Desiree Cooper


Desiree Cooper is a 2015 Kresge Artist Fellow, former attorney, and Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist. Her debut collection of flash fiction, Know the Mother (Wayne State University Press, 2016), is a 2017 Michigan Notable Book that has won numerous awards, including a 2016 Foreword INDIES Finalist and a 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Award. Cooper’s fiction, poetry, and essays have appeared in The Best Small Fictions 2018, Callaloo, Michigan Quarterly Review, Hypertext Review, and Best African American Fiction 2010, among other online and print publications. Cooper is genre agnostic. In 2018, she translated one of her short fictions to video in “The Choice,” a short film about reproductive rights and recipient of a 2019 Outstanding Achievement Award from the Berlin Flash Film Festival. Cooper collaborated with the director of dance at The College William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, to create a dance inspired by the feminist themes of her short fiction. The performance called “Aloft” debuted in October, 2018. Cooper was a founding board member of Cave Canem, the pre-eminent national residency for emerging black poets, and has received residencies at Kimbilio and Ragdale.

Rob Halpern


Rob Halpern lives between San Francisco and Ypsilanti, Michigan, where he teaches at Eastern Michigan University and Huron Valley Women’s Prison. His most recent book of poetry, prose, essays, letters, and manifestos is Weak Link (Atelos 2019). Other books include Common Place (Ugly Duckling Presse 2015) and Music for Porn (Nightboat Books 2012). Together with Robin Tremblay-McGaw, he co-edited From Our Hearts to Yours: New Narrative as Contemporary Practice (Contemporary Practice), which was listed among Entropy‘s “Best Non-Fiction” books of 2017. Halpern’s critical and lyrical essays appear in Mediations, Brooklyn Rail, Journal of Narrative Theory, Modernist Cultures, Chicago Review. He is currently completing his translations of Georges Perec’s early essays on aesthetics and politics, while editing Bruce Boone Dismembered: Selected Poems, Stories, and Essays, which will be published later this year.

Casey Rocheteau

LA_Rocheteau_squareCasey Rocheteau is the author of Knocked up on Yes (Sargent Press 2012) and The Dozen (Sibling Rivalry 2016) and the creator of the Black Medusa Tarot.They are one of the co-founders of the Fortify Writing Retreat in Detroit. The inaugural winner of Write A House, Casey is also a Cave Canem, Callalloo Writers Workshop, and Bread Loaf in Sicily fellow. They have taught creative writing as an InsideOut writer in residence. Casey is formerly an editor at The Offing and the former editor in chief of Heart Online Journal.

Tyrone Williams

LA_Williams_squareTyrone Williams teaches literature and theory at Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio. He is the author of several chapbooks and five books of poetry: c.c., On Spec, The Hero Project of the Century, Adventures of Pi, Howell and As Iz. A limited-edition art project, Trump l’oeil, was published by Hostile Books in 2017. He and Jeanne Heuving edited the anthology, Inciting Poetics (2019). 

2019 Visual Arts Panelists

Cesar Cornejo

VA_Cornejo_squareCesar Cornejo’s work reflects critically on socio-political issues while exploring the relationship between art, architecture, and society. He has participated in exhibitions such as the California Pacific Triennial 2017, XII Havana Biennial, Busan Biennial 2008, Art Positions at Art Basel Miami 2011, the Biennial S-Files Museo del Barrio, NY; and V Biennial Barro de America, Venezuela. Cornejo received awards and residencies from the Creative Capital Foundation, Bellagio Center of the Rockefeller Foundation, The Brown Foundation Fellows Program at Dora Maar House, The George A and Eliza Gardner Howard Foundation, Sharpe Walentas Studio Program, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, and Art Omi, among others. He received M.A. and PhD degrees in fine arts from the Tokyo University of the Arts and a bachelor’s degree and professional license in architecture from the Ricardo Palma University in Lima Peru. He is associate professor at the School of Art and Art History at the University of South Florida.

Carole Harris


Carole Harris is a fiber artist, working primarily in the art quilt medium. Her work has extended, refined, and subverted the boundaries and concepts of traditional quilting. Her recent work is inspired by the impact of time on natural and constructed environments. It celebrates and embraces the beauty in the frayed, the decaying, and the repaired. Harris has exhibited extensively worldwide. Among the many awards and honors she has received is a 2015 Kresge Artist Fellowship. She earned a B.F.A. from Wayne State University, Detroit (1966); in interior architecture and crafts. In 1976 she established the interior design firm Harris Design Group. Her many successful clients over the next 33 years included numerous health care and educational institutions, hospitality and industrial venues, as well as private homes. The firm was dissolved in 2009, when Harris retired to commit to her studio practice full-time.

Erik Paul Howard

VA_Howard_squareErik Paul Howard is a photographer as well as co-founder of Inside Southwest Detroit, Young Nation, and The Alley Project, in southwest Detroit. He combines his passion for youth and community development with his love of photography. Through cultural and place-based activities such as lowriding and street art, Howard has been building with neighbors and youth in southwest Detroit for over 20 years. Erik’s photography documents his and others’ personal relationships and interactions in community. It captures the excitement of people in processes of development, discovery, and general life experiences.

Amitis Motevalli

VA_Motevalli_squareBorn in Iran, Amitis Motevalli explores the cultural resistance and survival of people living in poverty, conflict, and/or war. Through various media, including sculpture, video, performance, and collaborative public art, her work juxtaposes iconography with iconoclasm. Her work intends to ask questions about violence, occupation, and the path to decolonization, while invoking the significance of a secular grassroots struggle. For her current project, Motevalli is working internationally with a broad spectrum of transnational cultural Muslims in order to research what defines home, life, and labor in the urgency of survival. She is particularly concerned with conducting workshops with SWANA people who come from places of political and religious conflict and collaborating on public art projects. Currently living and working in Los Angeles, Motevalli exhibits art internationally while also working to create an active and resistant cultural discourse through information exchange in art, pedagogy, or organizing artist and educators.

Yao-Fen You

VA_You_squareYao-Fen You is senior curator and head of product design and decorative arts at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum. Prior to joining Cooper Hewitt in 2019, she was associate curator of European sculpture and decorative arts at the Detroit Institute of Arts (DIA). At the DIA, she organized “Bitter|Sweet: Coffee, Tea & Chocolate” (2016), the DIA’s first exhibition to engage all five senses; “Fabergé: The Rise and Fall, The Collection of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts” (2012); and “Designed for Convenience: Tableware from the DIA” (2011). A frequent author and invited speaker, You has lectured and participated in symposia and panels nationally and internationally. Her publications and talks reflect her diverse expertise in European polychrome sculpture, the history of collecting and art markets, the art of dining, and Northern European decorative arts. You holds a PhD and M.A. in history of art from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.