The Writer In Residence Program

Students at the 2015 National Book Awards Teen Press Conference

For 14 years, Bronx Academy of Letters has hosted a vibrant Writer in Residence program. Underscoring the importance of literacy and writing, the Writer In Residence program leverages the expertise of working authors to bring an authentic contemporary writing experience to all students.


Through elective classes, students sparked by writing dive deep in the art forms of poetry and nonfiction, creating The Raven and One Pen, our news/magazine and literary journal publications. All students are served by our Writers Forum, which brings professional authors five times per year for rich assembly experiences.

Students are offered opportunities to connect to the writing world beyond school, meeting with special guests, attending field trips such as the National Book Awards, and submitting to contests. Over the years students have won awards and honorable mentions at City College’s City Outreach High School Poetry Contest!

Scroll to learn more about this year’s program.

The Writers In Residence


Caits Meissner is the author of the hybrid poetry book Let It Die Hungry, and The Letter All Your Friends Have Written You, co-written with poet Tishon Woolcock. Her work appears in Drunken Boat, Narrative, The Offing, Adroit and The Literary Review, among many others, and has been awarded first place prizes from the Pan-African Literary Forum, the Ja-Nai Foundation and City College's The Jerome Lowell DeJur Prize in Creative Writing. Caits was an integral team member in developing programs for organizations such as Tribeca Film Institute, Urban Arts Partnership, The Facing History School and The Lower Eastside Girls Club. She has taught and consulted extensively for over 15 years across a wide spectrum of organizations with a special focus on women, youth and incarcerated populations. Caits is part-time faculty at The New School University and CUNY, and is completing her MFA at City College of New York. Visit her at



Candice Iloh is a first generation Nigerian-American writer, teaching artist, youth educator, and author based in Brooklyn, New York. She has performed her work around the country and her writing has appeared in Fjords Review, The Grio, For Harriet, and elsewhere. A VONA fellowship recipient, Home School Lambda Literary Fellow and recent writing resident at the Rhode Island Writers Colony, Candice also contributes to Lambda Literary and The Black Youth Project. She is a new MFA candidate in Writing for Young People and Poetry at Lesley University and is currently working on her first full-length young adult project in verse. Candice has served as a program director and workshop facilitator with Voices UnBroken, and as a teaching artist with Split This Rock, and poetryN.O.W., and The American Poetry Museum. When not writing or teaching, you can find her in a dance class in Bedstuy and at



Writers in Residence run two classes per day dedicated to poetry and nonfiction exploration. This year’s classes are Poetry-As-Activism, where students explore social issues and develop a unique voice in service of self and community advocacy, and The Raven, where students create our school magazine/newspaper publication.

Student Publications


The Raven is BAL's magazine/newspaper.. Throughout the year students meet in class to report on pressing issues in the world, as well as in the school community, mixing both opinion and journalism. Focusing on social issues, BAL life, advice columns, media reviews, student surveys, interactive media, photos from school events, interviews with Writers Forum poets, memoir pieces, and more, The Raven has its pulse on what's new, current and important in the lives of teens. Read the latest edition here.

One Pen is the student-run literary magazine of the Bronx Academy of Letters. One Pen provides a voice to our school’s youth, in a culture where young voices are often marginalized, if not silenced.  One Pen provides a creative outlet for our students to express themselves artistically about the issues that impact their lives using poetry, fiction, and memoir as a vehicle.  Students meet after school throughout the year to edit and assemble two yearly issues.

Read our latest publications here. 

The Writers Forum


The Writers’ Forum brings a diverse array of professional writers to our school. These writers not only share their work with students, but speak intimately about how they arrived at their calling. Students interview guests for the school paper, read their work and prepare questions, and present their own writing at the assembly’s open-mic portion. The Writers’ Forum, in one single assembly, stands to have a lasting impact on every student in the school.

2016 Writers’ Forum Guests: 


September: Joshua Bennett  

Dr. Joshua Bennett is the author of The Sobbing School (Penguin, 2016). He holds a Ph.D. in English from Princeton University, and an M.A. in Theatre and Performance Studies from the University of Warwick, where he was a Marshall Scholar. He is currently a member of the Society of Fellows at Harvard University. Winner of the 2015 National Poetry Series, Dr. Bennett has received fellowships from the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop, Cave Canem, the Josephine de Karman Fellowship Trust, and the Ford Foundation. His writing has been published  in Boston Review, Callaloo, The Kenyon Review, Poetry and elsewhere. He has recited his work at venues such as the Sundance Film Festival, the NAACP Image Awards, and President Obama’s Evening of Poetry & Music at The White House. 

October: Gabriel Ramirez

Gabriel Ramirez is a writer, poet, playwright, educator, and activist. He is the 2012 Knicks Poetry Slam Champion and a member of the 2012 Urban Word NYC slam team. Featured in an off-broadway production of “Black Ink” he debuted “Sankofa” a one-man show he wrote and acted in himself, collaborating with award winning choreographer and director, Nicco Annan. Gabriel has performed on Broadway at the New Amsterdam Theatre, United Nations, New York Live Arts, Lincoln Center, Apollo Theatre and other venues & universities around the nation. He has also been featured in the Huffington Post, Vibe Magazine, Blavity, Upworthy and at a TEDxYouth Conference. Gabriel ranked 2nd in New York City in Youth Slam and won the 2013 National Poetry Youth Slam Championship in Boston and has gone on to represent New York City at the National Poetry Slam festival on teams ranking top 10 in 2014 and 2015.


Watch original poems performed by students opening our September 2016 Forum!


An original poem performed by Suly Alvarez, opening our September 2016 Forum.

Two original poems performed by Stephanie Porfill, opening our September 2016 Forum.



Among many other incredible talents, past Writers Forum guests have included:

  • Jason Reynolds, young adult author

  • Richard Price, novelist

  • Bill Bradley, author, former senator, and NBA Hall-of-Famer

  • Adrian Nicole LeBlanc, journalist

  • Bob Holman, poet

  • Willie Perdomo, poet

  • Adrienne Miller, novelist and editor

  • Hal Sirowitz, poet

  • Colin Channer, novelist

  • Lisa Schwarzbaum, film critic

  • Scratch DJ Academy

  • Dax-Devlon Ross, novelist and journalist

  • Felicia Luna Lemus, novelist

  • Rich Villar, poet

  • Bassey Ikpi, poet

  • Clay Chapman, novelist and playwright

  • Robert Lipsyte, novelist and journalist

  • Chinaka Hodge, poet

  • Jenny McPhee, novelist

  • Regie Cabico, poet

  • Adam Mansbach, novelist and poet

  • Tracy K. Smith, poet

  • Patricia Smith, poet

  • Queen GodIs, poet and MC

  • La Bruja, poet and musician

  • Rabbi Darkside, hip hop artist

  • Cheryl Boyce Taylor, poet