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Wednesday April 19, 10-11 a.m.
Liberal Arts Room 210
Michael Kleber-Diggs is a poet, essayist, literary critic and arts educator. His debut poetry collection, Worldly Things, won the Max Ritvo Poetry Prize, the 2022 Hefner Heitz Kansas Book Award in Poetry, the 2022 Balcones Poetry Prize, and was a finalist for the 2022 Minnesota Book Award. His essay, “On the Complex Flavors of Black Joy,” is included in the anthology There’s a Revolution Outside, My Love: Letters from a Crisis. Michael’s essay, “There Was a Tremendous Softness,” appears in A Darker Wilderness: Black Nature Writing from Soil to Stars. His poems and essays appear in numerous journals and anthologies and offer guidance on how we can move “toward radical kindness and socially responsible poetics.”
Michael is a current Jerome Hill Artist Fellow, past Fellow with the Givens Foundation for African American Literature, a past-winner of the Loft Mentor Series in Poetry, and the former Poet Laureate of Anoka County libraries. Since 2016, Michael has been an instructor with the Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop. He also teaches Creative Writing in Augsburg University’s MFA program and at Saint Paul Conservatory for Performing Artists. His work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net and has been supported by the Minnesota State Arts Board, the Jerome Foundation, and the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council. Even in the face of conflict and hardship, Michael holds on to his curiosity and wonder. He urges us to dream and seek to create a community where all can prosper. “All of us want,” after all, “our share of light, and just enough rainfall.”
Thursday April 20, 10-11 a.m.
Liberal Arts Room 210
Zaylore Stout is an attorney, advocate, activist, community Leader, researcher, and author of the award-winning book Our Gay History in 50 States and future book, Our Black History in 50 States. He was raised in Southern California and as a youth lived through the Los Angeles Riots resulting in the aftermath of the acquittal of police officers who were filmed beating Rodney King.
Zaylore received his B.A. from Cal State Fullerton in International Business Management and later moved to Minnesota in 2007 to attend the University of St. Thomas School of Law where he was elected Student Government President and graduated in 2010. He founded his own law firm, Zaylore Stout & Associates, which handles employment law matters including sexual harassment, discrimination, wrongful termination, and wage & hour disputes, and is a triple certified law firm in the State of Minnesota (minority, disability, and LGBTQ+ owned). Zaylore currently serves on the board of directors for FairVote Minnesota, which advocates for the reforming of our voting process resulting in the election of more diverse candidates.
Zaylore is a fierce advocate on LGBT issues. Through his law firm, he’s represented HIV+ and transgender employees who were discriminated against at work. He also works with employers to help them foster inclusive workplaces on a proactive basis.
In addition to his legal and activist work, Zaylore Stout is an internationally published and sought-after keynote speaker. His first book titled Our Gay History in Fifty States which highlights the most significant people, places, and “queer facts” relating to LGBTQIA+ history on a state-by-state basis won numerous domestic and international awards.
His research shows us that there is a crucial need for our stories to be told and ensure our histories aren’t forgotten. Come to his keynote and learn about the history that is going on around us, the history that is yet to be made, and the creative ways Zaylore leveraged community members to help him in his research.