Meet our Poets & Writers


little pi

Patti Ross

Patti (Spady) Ross graduated from Washington, DC’s Duke Ellington School for the Performing Arts, The American University and The Keller Graduate School of Management. As a lifetime learner, Patti holds a certificate in Writing for Social Justice from the University of California, Berkeley. After high-school graduation, she performed with several local theatre companies in the Washington region. In addition to her performance career, she used her college degree in print media to freelance several of her journalist pieces gaining publication in the Washington Times and the Rural America newspapers. A few years ago, Patti rediscovered her love of writing and is sharing her voice as the spoken word artist “little pi.” Her debut chapbook, St. Paul Street Provocations, was released in 2021 by Yellow Arrow Publishing; she was nominated for a Pushcart Prize for her poem “Indemnity”. She is a former board member for the Maryland  Writers Association. Patti is the first Poet in Residence for the AA Food Bank in partnership with PoetryXHunger.

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Amazon author page:

St. Paul Street Provocations at Yellow Arrow Publishing

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Terri Simon

Terri Simon’s poetry chapbook, “Ghosts of My Own Choosing,” was published by Flutter Press in 2017. Her second chapbook, “Ringing the Bell,” was published by Clare Songbirds Publishing House in 2021. Her work has appeared in “The Avenue,” “Third Wednesday,” “Poetry Quarterly,” “Ariel Chart,” “Bay to Ocean 2019,” and other print and online journals and anthologies. In 2022, she founded Fallen Tree Press, LLC with Patti Ross. Fallen Tree Press is a small press specializing in publishing poetry chapbooks. She grew up in Mount Vernon, NY, studied writing at Sarah Lawrence College, and lives in Laurel, Maryland with her dogs.


Amazon author page:

Ringing the Bell at Clare Songbirds Publishing House


Kari Martindale

Kari Martindale is a poet, spoken word artist, and writer. She discovered her love of poetry after two decades of writing and editing in other genres, including travel and children’s. Kari’s poetry has been published in various literary journals and her poem The List was a finalist for the Line of Advance Colonel Darron L. Wright Award. Kari was featured in Berks Bards’ Bardfest 2021 and has been featured at literary and ekphrastic events across Maryland. Kari sits on the Board of Maryland Writers’ Association, where she is President of the Frederick Chapter, a member of the conference committee, and co-editor of Pen-in-Hand. She has an M.A. in Linguistics and a background in translation and interpretation and has visited all 50 States and 39 countries. Kari values kindness over politeness and justice over peace.



Instagram: @Karilogue

Twitter: @martindale_Kari

Lore Nissley

Lore Nissley is a poet and essayist living and working in Maryland. Her relationship with words
drove her to earn a degree in English and Creative Writing at UMBC and to work in journalism.
She later moved into nonprofit management and early childhood education, working to bring the love of words and literacy resources to our youngest learners. Lore is currently enjoying her
newly empty nest and rediscovering the joy of writing her personal story. Her poetry was most
recently published in 45 Magazine Women’s Literary Journal.


Clifford Bernier

Clifford Bernier’s The Silent Art won the Gival Press Poetry Award. He is also the author of Dark Berries and Earth Suite, both of which were selected by the Montserrat Review as Best Chapbooks. He appears in The Write Blend poetry circle collection and accompanies the Voices of Woodlawn poets on harmonica. In addition, Mr. Bernier appears on harmonica in the Portuguese “Accumulated Dust” world music series and performs regularly in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. Mr. Bernier has been featured in readings in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Buffalo, Detroit, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and the Washington, DC area, including the Library of Congress, the Arts Club of Washington, George Washington University (where he is a member of the Washington Writer’s Collection) and the Bethesda Writer’s Center. He has been a reader for the Washington Prize and a judge for the National Endowment for the Arts’ Poetry Out Loud recitation contest. Bernier hosted the Poesis reading series in Arlington, Virginia in the mid-2000s and performed with the band Jazzpoetry at venues in and around Washington, DC. He has been nominated for two Pushcart Prizes and a Best of the Net Award and lives in Northern Virginia.

Jay Hall Carpenter

Jay Hall Carpenter is an author and artist living in Maryland. His written works include plays, musicals, children’s books, and poetry. For several years he published The ACE Occasionally, a small literary humor magazine. 

Photo credit Julia Lehman

Angela Dale

Angela H. Dale writes poetry for adults and picture books for children and the adults who read to them. Her poetry has appeared in The Skinny Poetry Journal (a skinny is an amazing poetic form, NOT a body type), Borderlands, Naugatuck Review and elsewhere. Her picture book debut BUS STOP, illustrated by Lala Watkins, hits shelves October 4, 2022.

Zorina Exie Frey

Zorina Exie Frey is a spoken word poet, SEO content writer, writing instructor, graphic designer, and video editor. Her poems are published in The American Journal of Poetry, Oyster River Pages, and Chicken Soup for the Soul, I’m Speaking Now. Zorina also contributes as a co-editor for South 85 Journal and hosts Writing Class Radio’s First Draft Happy Hour.

You can follow her at FB, IG, and Twitter: @zorinaexie  

Or join her at First Draft Happy Hour, Wednesdays at 6pm Est.

May Kuroiwa (coo-row-ee-wah)

A decade after Hawaii’s queen was forced to sign the Bayonet Constitution, making the kingdom a US territory, May Kuroiwa’s grandparents emigrated from Japan to work as field laborers on a sugarcane plantation. Her mother was pregnant with her first child – May’s eldest brother – when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. May worked as a nurse and, after studying microbiology at Douglass College, in medical research. Her short story, “Just Like the First Time”, won the 2020 Chautauqua Charles McCorkle Hauser Prize. May is researching a one-act play, “George Floyd Greets Ashli Babbitt at the Pearly Gates”. She lives in Havre de Grace with her husband, a Dutch-English-German-Irish-Slovenian-American.

Tisa Melton

Letitsa (Tisa) Melton is a poet, a self-published author of the poetry book Ever Evolving, and an entrepreneur based out of Richmond, Virginia. Tisa sees poetry as a way to heal the soul and as a means of unapologetic self-expression. She believes that there is no right or wrong way to express yourself through poetry.

Book Description: Ever Evolving is a book of poetry written from the heart. Each poem has a story behind it, whether it was life experiences or just the poet’s thoughts, feelings, perspective, and emotions. The work contains ten poems that touch on subjects of strength, trials and tribulations, perseverance, and sheer determination to overcome and move forward gracefully. The book is beautifully illustrated by Amina Coleman-Davis, an amazing artist whose drawings evoke the poems’ essence.
Link to Book:
Link to Website:

Diane Wilbon Parks

Diane Wilbon Parks is an accomplished poet, visual artist, author, and literary advocate. She has written two poetry collections and a Children’s Book. Diane was brought in as an Expert Consultant to the National Trust for Historic Preservation through a National Endowment for the Arts Grant and is the founder of The Write Blend, a culturally diverse poetry circle. She has been recognized as Prince George’s County Poet of Excellence and Literary Leader. She celebrated the permanent installation of one of her poems and artwork as a permanent sign at the North Patuxent Research Refuge. Diane’s poetry has been featured and highlighted nationally and internationally in newsletters, online magazines, and included in the Maryland Bards Poetry Review Anthology; International Anthology, “Singing in the Dark,”;  International Magazines, Wexford Women, and Beyond Words Literary Magazine. Her interviews are included in the 43rd and 44th Anniversary of Grace Cavalieri’s the Poet and the Poem at the Library of Congress. Diane is a USAF Veteran and Sr. IT Program Manager. She resides in Maryland.

Patrice Smith

Patrice Smith, life-long resident of the Washington DC area, long term educator and astute observer of the human condition has melded her experiences to become both a poet and a spoken word performer. Patrice is the ultimate educator, having worked every level from kindergarten through college and taught both English and non-English speaking students. As a mentor teacher, she has used her vast experience to train the next generation of teachers. After years of professional achievements, Patrice is fortunate to have transformed her profession into her passion.

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Janet Walenta

Janet Walenta worked in eldercare recreation for 25 years. She is now active on the local poetry open mic scene in suburban Washington, D.C.