Named one of the “100 Most Influential People in Brooklyn Culture” by Brooklyn Magazine, Jason Koo is the founder and executive director of Brooklyn Poets and creator of the Bridge. A second-generation Korean American poet, he is the author of the poetry collections More Than Mere Light, America’s Favorite Poem and Man on Extremely Small Island and coeditor of the Brooklyn Poets Anthology. The winner of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Vermont Studio Center and New York State Writers Institute, he earned his BA in English from Yale, his MFA in creative writing from the University of Houston and his PhD in English and creative writing from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He is an associate teaching professor of English at Quinnipiac University and lives in Beacon, NY.
Design & Web Manager
Emily Blair works as a web developer and graphic designer. Her poetry has appeared in Gulf Coast, Sixth Finch, New Ohio Review, the Gettysburg Review and elsewhere. She has received New York Foundation for the Arts fellowships in both poetry and fiction, along with a Xeric Foundation Comic Publishing Grant and a Stein Scholarship from the Center for Book Arts. She holds a BA in fine arts from Wesleyan University and an MFA in graphics from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. In addition to writing, she creates artists’ books and collaborates on social practice projects with Michelle Illuminato under the name Next Question.
Mentorship Program Director
Jay Deshpande is the author of Love the Stranger (YesYes Books, 2015), named one of the top debuts of 2015 by Poets & Writers, and the chapbooks The Rest of the Body (YesYes Books, 2017) and The Umbrian Sonnets (PANK Books, 2020). A 2018–20 Stegner Fellow at Stanford University and the winner of the Scotti Merrill Memorial Award and Narrative‘s Annual Poetry Contest, he has also received fellowships from Kundiman, Civitella Ranieri, and the Constance Saltonstall Foundation for the Arts. His poems have appeared in the American Poetry Review, New Republic and New England Review, among many other places. He is an advisory editor for Northwest Review and writes criticism for Guernica, Pleiades, Kenyon Review and Boston Review. He holds a BA in English from Harvard and an MFA in creative writing from Columbia University and has taught workshops for Poets House, the Academy of American Poets and Columbia’s MFA program.
Justin Maki is a writer and editor based in New York City. He studied at the University of Colorado–Boulder and in Naropa University’s Summer Writing Program and has edited books related to global media, humanitarian crisis reporting and the politics of representation in foreign news. After four years as a teacher in Osaka, Japan, he currently works in the NYC bureau of a Japanese news agency. He joined Brooklyn Poets in 2013.
Social Media Manager & Bridge Editor
Eliana Swerdlow is originally from New Wilmington, Pennsylvania, and now lives in Davis, California. By day, she works as a client advocate at the Yolo County Public Defender; by night, she likes to take walks and read and write poetry. A recent graduate of Yale College, where she studied English and human rights, Swerdlow was awarded the Theron Rockwell Field Prize for her senior thesis, a manuscript of poetry entitled Daylight Savings, written under the direction of Louise Glück.
Community Director & Bridge Editor
Kyndal Thomas is a Texas-raised, Brooklyn-based poet. She graduated with honors from the creative writing program at Northwestern University, where she received a Faricy Award for Poetry. Her work explores multiraciality, privilege, lineage and intimacy as navigated within the everyday. She works in the literary nonprofit sphere and is passionate about inclusive and accessible creative spaces. In her spare time, you can find her listening to ghost podcasts and attempting to prove to her loved ones that she has, in fact, taught her cat how to play fetch. In the summer of 2019, she was awarded a Brooklyn Poets Fellowship.
Virtual Events Manager
Josephine Blair Cipriano (she/her) is a 2019 Brooklyn Poets Fellow whose work has been published or is forthcoming in the Rumpus, Copper Nickel, Epiphany, Yes, Poetry and elsewhere. She was shortlisted for the Frontier Magazine 2021 Emerging Poet’s Prize and lives in Tucson, AZ.
Development Manager & Bridge Editor
renée kay (they/them) is a queer poet in Brooklyn by way of Appalachia and other beautiful, strange places. Their poems can be found in Copper Nickel, Catapult, Yes Poetry, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, and elsewhere around the internet like little depressed gay easter eggs. You can find them on Twitter @reneekay__.
Office Manager & Bridge Editor
Jae Eason is from Long Island, New York. Growing up, Brooklyn was the place where they found their space within the poetry community. They graduated with a BA in English literature from Arizona State University, and the desert is where their voice flourished. Their poetry is the study of how everything in the world connects and the spaces that lay in between.
Sébastien Bernard is a Turkish poet and fiction writer based in Istanbul. His work appears in Evergreen Review, DIAGRAM, SUSAN/The Journal, KGB Bar Lit, Prelude and Queen Mob’s Teahouse, among other places. He was a 2018 Poets House Emerging Poets Fellow and has also called NYC, Poughkeepsie and Maputo home.
Lila Rutishauser is a queer poet born and raised in New York City. She is more eager with every passing day to return to Smith College in person, where she plans to study the mind, movement, creative writing, and Generalized Unemployment Studies™. By day, she works as a nursery school teacher and writes during the rare moments between yogurt spills.
Tarika Chandran is a 20-year-old college student currently taking a break from the college part of her title. Now she spends her time writing for fun and just being a student of the world. A serial procrastinator, yet ever the optimist, she believes that one day her motivational drive will catch up to her love for writing.
Paula Gil-Ordoñez Gomez is from Washington, DC, and now lives in New York City. She is a recent graduate of Tufts University, where she majored in international relations and minored in Latinx studies, focusing on human rights. She currently serves as a research assistant for a project involving transformative justice. Outside of the focus of her studies, she devoted her time in college to taking as many poetry and fiction classes as she could as well as writing outside of the classroom. While at Tufts, she was the coeditor of the poetry & prose section of the Tufts Observer. She finds joy in being part of creative communities.
Celeste Pepitone-Nahas is a writer and educator living in Brooklyn. She holds a BA in English from Williams College and an MFA in writing from Washington University–St. Louis, where she was awarded the MFA Alumni Prize for a Novel-in-Progress. Her poetry can be found in Beyond Words magazine, where she also served as an editor. She spends most of her time teaching piano and reading scores on the train.