Brooklyn Poets Staff Picks: Megan Pinto, Jaylen Strong & Gisselle Yepes

Brooklyn Poets Staff Picks is a virtual-only quarterly reading series curated by the poets who assist with our space, web, events and office work. Each reading features a lineup of three poets nominated by different staff members as among the most essential new voices today. The series focuses on writers yet to publish a full-length collection of poetry, with an emphasis on those from underrepresented communities. The event includes readings by our three featured poets, who have all been invited to choose their own openers. Our featured poets on November 1 will be Megan Pinto, Jaylen Strong and Gisselle Yepes with opening readings by Claire Donato, Leigh Lucas and Elisabet Velasquez. All readings are free and open to the public.

Featured Poets

Megan Pinto's debut poetry collection, Saints of Little Faith, is forthcoming from Four Way Books in the fall of 2024. Her poems can be found in the Los Angeles Review of Books, Guernica, Lit Hub, Ploughshares and elsewhere. Most recently, Megan was awarded the 2023 Anne Halley Poetry Prize from the Massachusetts Review. She lives in Brooklyn and holds an MFA in poetry from Warren Wilson.

jaylen strong is a poet-worker, librarian curator, elegiac archivist, friend (to those who are their friends) and knows their enemies well. they are concerned with the necessity of the poet as a tool for revolutionary thought-struggle and steward for the people. they are currently living inside their manuscript Weep Not, a counter-narrative grief-cartography document interrogating the arena of the death-tragedy of a beloved. their work has been featured for and at Moma PS1, Artists Space, the Brooklyn Rail, Pratt Institute, Brown University, moCa Cleveland, the Center for African American Poetry & Poetics and elsewhere.

Gisselle Yepes is a Puerto Rican and Colombian storyteller from the Bronx. Their autobiographical work is rooted in the intimate relationships between grief, memory and silence within familial dynamics and domestic spheres. Yepes received their MFA in creative writing at Indiana University–Bloomington and their BA from Wesleyan University. They are a Letras Boricuas 2022 Fellowship Recipient, Tin House Scholar, and Sundress Academy of the Arts Resident. Their nonfiction piece “On Her Waters Summoning Us to Drown” won december magazine’s 2022 Curt Johnson Prose Award in Creative Nonfiction. They are an alum of Juniper Summer Writing Institute, Anaphora Writing Residency, and DreamYard's Rad(ical) Poetry Consortium. Their poetry has appeared in MoMa Magazine, Split this Rock, Apogee, Gulf Coast,, the Missouri Review and more. Their nonfiction has appeared in december magazine. Their film Recordando a Wela was featured on GIPHY and Roku via the "GIPHYxPublic Axis" Channel.

Opening Poets

Claire Donato is the author of three books, most recently the fiction collection Kind Mirrors, Ugly Ghosts (Archway Editions, 2023). Recent writing has been published or is forthcoming in Parapraxis, the Brooklyn Rail, Fence, Forever and BOMB. She lives in Brooklyn, where she currently serves as acting chairperson of writing at Pratt Institute.

Leigh Lucas is a writer in San Francisco. She holds an MFA from Warren Wilson and a BA from Stanford. She has been awarded residencies at Tin House, Sewanee and Kenyon, and her poems have appeared in Poem-a-Day, North American Review and Frontier Poetry. Her chapbook Landsickness is forthcoming from Tupelo Press in 2024.

Elisabet Velasquez is a Boricua writer from Brooklyn, now living in Jersey City. She is a Poets House Fellow, Dodge Poetry Fellow and New Jersey Council for the Arts Fellow. Her debut young adult novel in verse When We Make It received the Kirkus best YA Fiction Award and YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults award. It went on to be a 2021 Goodreads Readers Choice Nominee and a 2022 Gotham Prize Finalist and was named a New York Times Young Adult Books to Watch For. When she is not writing she is living the life she hopes to write about.

Closed captioning will be available and the text of readers' poems will be screenshared during the event. For more information and to request additional accommodations, contact us at [email protected].

Note that by attending this event, you agree to abide by our code of conduct below. Brooklyn Poets reserves the right to dismiss from our programs any participant found to be in violation of these policies.