Dr. Raina J. León


About her work

“There is something of Eden adhering to any first book. Raina Leon brings us lyric reports from a place where Adam the name-giver meets Juana la Loca. "what's your name / the ones who know are dead" Readers can only hope that she is able to keep some of that moist earth visible around her roots. She'll need it. We'll need it. "Sculptors chisled my feet / on the Devil's neck" she writes. That would be the devil we know. What we don't yet know, she just might help us learn.”

--A.L. Nielsen, first winner of the Larry Neal Award and author of Heat Strings and Reading Race

“Here is the work of a poet who possesses the graceful sensuality of dusk & the unflinching eye of the butcher. One senses here, that Leon is committed to pulling back the red curtains of our historical, familial, cultural mythologies, & rendering what is found there into deep song. The result is a landscape of lyrical acuity fueled by a myriad of languages, characters, & centers. These poems give us the voice of The Marys, the sister, abuela 'Buela, the lovers. In Leon, you have an Orpheic poet who dives into the underworld of every thing--& comes back with the news.”

--Aracelis Girmay, author of Teeth

“What wonderful ideas and moods a keen, artistic observer provides. Raina Leon writes with a sense of grace and awareness of details that magnifies with elegant clarity. Through the lens of her verses, those seemingly small things appear larger, more pronounced; here, what was distant becomes close, closer. Hers is a poetic voice that deserves our attention.”

-Howard Rambsy II, professor and literary critic, Southern Illinois University - Edwardsville


Dr. Raina J. León, Cave Canem graduate fellow (2006) and member of the Carolina African American Writers Collective, has been published in Danse Macabre, Mandala, Connotation Press, Contrary Press, The Holly Rose Review, Bosphorus Art Project Quarterly, The Osprey Journal (Scotland), Verdad Magazine, The Sixers Review, The Externalist, Minglewood, The Cherry Blossom Review, Natural Bridge, African American Review, OCHO, Spindle Magazine, Black Arts Quarterly, Poem.Memoir.Story, Womb, Boxcar Poetry Review, Salt Hill Journal, Xavier Review, MiPoesias, Torch, Poetic Voices without Borders, Gathering Ground: A Reader Celebrating Cave Canem's First Decade, Growing Up Girl: An Anthology of Voices from Marginalized Spaces, AntiMuse, Farmhouse Magazine, Furnace Review, Constellation Magazine and Tiger's Eye Journal,  among others.  Her first collection of poetry, Canticle of Idols, was a finalist for both the Cave Canem First Book Poetry Prize (2005) and the Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize (2006) and is now available through Wordtech Communications.  Her second manuscript, Boogeyman Dawn, was a finalist for the Naomi Long Madgett Prize (2010) and will be published by Salmon Poetry in 2013.  She has received fellowships and residencies with Cave Canem, CantoMundo, Montana Artists Refuge, the Macdowell Colony, Kimmel Harding Nelson Center for the Arts, Vermont Studio Center, the Tyrone Guthrie Center in Annamaghkerrig, Ireland and Ragdale.  She headed the High School Literacy Project at the University of North Carolina where she recently received her doctorate in education and is currently an assistant professor of education in the Kalmanovitz School of Education at St. Mary's College of California.  She came to Saint Mary’s from the Department of Defense Education Activity, where for three years she taught military dependents in Bamberg, Germany.   Raina received her BA in Journalism from Pennsylvania State University, MA in Teaching of English from Teachers College Columbia University and PhD in Education under the Culture, Curriculum and Change strand at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill.  Her research interests include high school engagement and the teaching of poetry, critical literacy in the high school classroom, facilitating freshmen transitions and educational technology usage among high school educators.  She also is a founding editor of The Acentos Review, an online quarterly, international journal devoted to the promotion and publication of Latino and Latina arts.  In her free time, she enjoys traveling to trendy spots and little holes in the wall around the world, locating fantastic ingredients for her culinary experiments, and sampling local and far flung arts scenes.

04.2013 CV.doc

Bio and CV