SMC Education Professor and Acclaimed Writer Raina León Named Poet in Residence at MoAD

Acclaimed Writer Raina León poses on Saint Mary's CampusSMC Kalmanovitz School of Education Assistant Professor Raina León has been named a Poet in Residence at San Francisco’s Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD). León is the author of three poetry collections, Canticle of Idols, Boogeyman Dawn, and sombra :dis(locate); and the chapbook profeta without refuge. She is a Cave Canem graduate fellow and a member of the Carolina African American Writers’ Collective, the national LatinX poetry workshop CantoMundo, and the socially engaged writers association Macondo. She is also a founding editor of The Acentos Review, an online international journal devoted to Latinx arts. León's poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and academic scholarship have been featured in over 50 publications.

“The Museum of the African Diaspora is proud to present Raina León and Tongo Eisen-Martin as our inaugural Poets in Residence,” said MoAD director and CEO Linda Harrison. “Inspired by our Community Voices program [a series that features noted African American poets reflecting on themes in MoAD exhibitions], we are thrilled to be innovators in the cross-section between visual art and poetry, a tradition that is rich in San Francisco and has been making major waves in the art world.”

León, whose residency began on Sept. 1, said MoAD’s recognition of her is a great honor, noting the museum’s important role as a center of cultural and artistic preservation and innovation in the Bay Area. “Last summer, I had the honor of being a poet within the Community Voices program organized by Arisa White, in which Cave Canem poets were asked to write ekphrastic poems, lead gallery-goers on a small tour guided by those poems, and then participate in a closing event in which all of the poets would share their work. That experience allowed for a short immersion in the immense variety of works at the museum; being a writer in residence will allow me still more, to be a part of a community dedicated to black flourishing. It is incredibly fulfilling to be seen as a poet and as an educator in the fullness of my life, and in that full, black experience, be fostered in flourish.” 

León will teach creative writing and conduct poetry workshops for budding writers through the museum’s partnership with ARISE High School in Oakland.

KSOE Interim Dean Mary Kay Moskal said the program’s educational aspect is a perfect match for León. “This recognition not only acknowledges her as a gifted poet, it taps into her abilities as a teacher committed to equity for all students, her scholarship on engaging technology and culture in the classroom, and leadership in mentoring other teachers on how to identify and make sense of societal injustices and bias in the classroom. Professor Raina León is simply an outstanding artist and educator.”

León’s appointment will culminate in a public event where she’ll share the work she’s produced over her residency, which runs until the end of December 2018. For more information about MoAD’s Poets in Residence program, visit moadsf.org.