Jasminne Mendez is an Afro-Latina poet, educator and award winning author. She received her B.A. in English Literature and her M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Houston. Mendez has had poetry and essays published by or forthcoming in The Kenyon Review, The Acentos Review, Crab Creek Review, Texas Review, La Galeria, Label Me Latino/a, Gulf Coast, Bird’s Thumb, The Rumpus and others. Her first multi-genre memoir Island of Dreams (Floricanto Press, 2013) was awarded Best Young Adult Latino Focused Book by the International Latino Book Awards in 2015. Her poetry and essays have been named finalists and honorable mention for several awards including the Rose Metal Press Chapbook prize and the Barry Lopez Creative Non-Fiction prize. Recently she won the Cogswell College Magazine Poetry Prize judged by Major Jackson. She is the co-founder of Tintero Projects: A Reading & Writing Workshop Series, an organization that seeks to build and promote emerging and established Latinx writers in Houston. She is a 2017 Canto Mundo Fellow and an MFA candidate in the creative writing program at the Rainier Writer’s Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University.
Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton is a mother, wife, educator, and the current, and first Black, Poet Laureate of Houston, Texas. This seven-time National Poetry Slam Competitor, and Head Coach of the Houston VIP Poetry Slam Team, has been ranked the #2 Best Female Performance Poet in the World. Her work has appeared in Black Girl Magic (Haymarket Books) Houston Noir (Akashic Books), and I AM STRENGTH (Blind Faith Books) to name a few. Her work has also been highlighted on such platforms as BBC, Houston Public Media, ABC, PBS, Blavity, Tedx, and Upworthy. Her next collection, Newsworthy, is set for release Spring of 2019 by Bloomsday Literary.
Her collaborations with The Houston Ballet, The Houston Rockets, and the Houston Grand Opera have opened new doors for performance poetry. Her work has been highlighted and studied in . She had the pleasure of performing and leading a workshop at the Leipzig in Autumn literary festival in 2018, where she bridged the gap between the slam and formal publishing communities.
As the Executive Director of VIP Arts Houston, she seeks to build more bridges that amplify the voices of artists in and around the nation. Her love for community transcends the classroom and the stage making her a mentor to many and a notable force to be felt.