Tara Betts

(Kankakee, IL)

Biography of Tara Betts

Tara Betts is the author of the book Arc & Hue, her debut collection on the Willow Books imprint of Aquarius Press. In 2010, Essence Magazine named her as one of their "40 Favorite Poets".

Betts was born in Kankakee, IL and is the oldest of three siblings. Her first job was at the Kankakee Public Library. Betts received her B.A. in Communication at Loyola University, Chicago.

Betts worked with several non-profit organizations in Chicago, IL including Gallery 37 and Young Chicago Authors. She is still shaping and working on her dissertation as a Ph.D. candidate in English/Creative Writing at SUNY Binghamton.

Betts was a lecturer in creative writing at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ until 2011. A Cave Canem graduate, she received her MFA in Poetry from New England College and residencies from Ragdale Foundation, Centrum and Caldera, and an Illinois Arts Council Artist fellowship.

She is also currently working on a second collection of poetry, a collection of critical essays, and a translation of poems by Salomé Ureña de Henríquez. Betts was commissioned by the Peggy Choy Dance Company to write a series of poems and monologues for "THE GREATEST!: An Homage to Muhammad Ali" in 2011 & 2013. These writings were published on Winged City Press in April 2013 and were mentioned in the New York Times.

She appeared on HBO’s Def Poetry Jam[4] and in the Black Family Channel series SPOKEN with Jessica Care Moore. She has also been one of the writers/performers in girlstory-an intergenerational, multicultural women’s performance collective. Betts has also performed in plays, including two SouthWest V-Day productions of Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues at Chicago’s DuSable Museum. After winning Guild Complex’s Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Award, she represented Chicago twice at the National Poetry Slam.

Betts' work has appeared in Essence, the Steppenwolf Theater production Words on Fire, Obsidian III, Callaloo, PMS, Meridians, Drum Voices Revue, WSQ, Columbia Poetry Review, Ninth Letter, Hanging Loose, Drunken Boat, Mythium, Reverie, and WombPoetry. Her work has been anthologized in Gathering Ground (University of Michigan Press), Bum Rush the Page (Three Rivers Press), Power Lines (Tia Chucha Press), Poetry Slam (Manic D Press), Black Writing from Chicago (Southern Illinois University Press), ROLE CALL (Third World Press), These Hands I Know (Sarabande), Best Black Women’s Erotica 2 (Cleis Press), Hurricane Blues (Southeast Missouri University Press), Home Girls Make Some Noise: Hip Hop Feminism (Parker Publishing), Fingernails Across a Chalkboard (Third World Press) and Letters to the World (Red Hen Press).

Betts has also been a freelance writer for publications including XXL, The Source, BIBR, Mosaic Magazine and Black Radio Exclusive. She has written fictional blog posts in the voice of character named Madeline "Maddy" James for "Any Resemblance"-a multimedia dance show with serial webisodes in June 2013.

Betts has self-published small runs of several chapbooks: "Can I Hang?" (1999), "Switch" (2003), "Break the Habit" (2012), and "Circling Unexpectedly" (2013).

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Hip Hop Analogies

After Miguel and Erykah Badu

If you be the needle
I be the LP.
If you be the buffed wall,
I be the Krylon.
If you be the backspin,
I be the break.

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