Khalisa Rae is an award-winning multi-hyphenate poet, educator, and journalist based in Durham, NC. She is best known for her community activism and nonprofit management as the co-founder of Poet.she (Greensboro), the Invisibility Project, and Athenian Press- QPOC writer’s collective, resource center, and bookstore in Wilmington, NC.
As a former English professor and public school teaching artist, Khalisa’s passion lies in uplifting women and youth through community engagement. She has served as an outreach and program director for various nonprofits, as well as a teaching artist, and is always looking for a way to give back and serve as a mentor.
Her first chapbook, Real Girls Have Real Problems, was published in 2012 by Jacar Press and later adapted into a sold-out play called, “The Seven Deadly Sins of Being a Woman” which was accompanied by a podcast. Her early work with stage performance and slam poetry landed her on stage at the National Poetry Slam, Women of the World Poetry Slam, Individual World Poetry Slam, and Southern Fried Regional Poetry Slam, among others.
During her time as Outreach Director of the YWCA, Khalisa completed her MFA at Queens University of Charlotte where she studied under renowned authors, Claudia Rankine and Ada Limon. There she wrote Outside the Canon– a thesis dissertation on the history of spoken word and its isolation from the literary canon as a result of systematic racism.
Currently, Khalisa is a 4-time Best of the Net nominee, multi-Pushcart Prize nominee, and the author of the 2021 debut collection, Ghost in a Black Girl’s Throat, from Red Hen Press. Khalisa’s performance poetry has led her to speak in front of thousands over the course of her career. She is a seasoned conference panelist and speaker, and the founder and creator of #PublishingPaidMe BIPOC Writers/Editors Panel at the AWP conference, as well as annual speaker at the SEWSA Women’s Conference. Notably, she is the former Gen Z Culture Editor of Blavity News and former Managing Equity and Inclusion Editor of Carve Magazine.
As a champion for Black queer narratives, Khalisa’s articles appear in Fodor’s, Autostraddle, Vogue, Catapult, LitHub, Bitch Media, Black Femme Collective, Body.com, NBC-BLK, and others. Her work also appears in Electric Lit, Southern Humanities Review, Pinch, Tishman Review, Frontier Poetry, Rust & Moth, PANK, HOBART, among countless others.
Poetry has led Khalisa to be a Watering Hole Fellow, Frost Place Fellow, Winter Tangerine Fellow, among other residencies and fellowships. Currently, Khalisa serves as Senior Writer at Jezebel, Assistant Editor of Glass Poetry, and co-founder of Think in Ink and the WOC Speak reading series. You can also find her teaching Spring 2022 at Catapult Classes.
Her YA novel in verse, Unlearning Eden, is forthcoming in 2023.