TOK Toronto Symposium

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TOK Toronto Symposium

September 20-22, 2019

 

TOK Toronto, a free three-day symposium for writers and readers that will take place September 20-22, 2019. TOK, is the digital magazine for the non-profit organization Diaspora Dialogues which publishes fiercely honest, freshly original writing from our cities, and from around the world.

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Day One will take place at the Heliconian Hall and include new workshops for emerging authors about pitching to agents and publishers. These sessions will be taped for later podcasts. All events are free but registration is required.

Day Two includes four on-stage interviews with eight authors, at Harbourfront Centre – Studio Theatre. Authors include Leslie Shimotakahara, Rebecca Fisseha, Melanie Florence, Joanne Vannicola, Zalika Reid-Benta, Becky Blake, Derek Mascarenhas and Anar Ali.

Day Three we will have two panel discussions for Word On The Street Toronto at the Harbourfront Centre  – Toronto Book Awards Tent. Writing While Black in CanLit and Writing In The Age of #MeToo.

More information: Helen Walsh, helen@diasporadialogues.com

Media enquiries, Hailee Mah, hailee@diasporadialogues.com, 647-479-8962 ext 240.

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Friday, September 20, 2019

Pitching an Agent or Publisher

Sept. 20, 2019; 10:30 – 11:30am
Heliconian Hall
35 Hazelton Ave, Toronto

You’ve written a captivating manuscript? Great, now you have to sell it. Publishing is a business, and convincing a publisher to take a chance on your first or second book can be challenging, especially in an industry that has seen many cutbacks and consolidation. Join this workshop to hear tips from one of the top literary agencies in Canada, as well as publishers; talk to them about your project and ask the questions one-on-one necessary to help your manuscript avoid the dreaded slush pile.

Registration through Eventbrite required, availability on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Speakers include Léonicka Valcius (Transatlantic Literary Agency) and Janice Zawerbny (HarperCollins Canada)

Léonicka Valcius is a Toronto-based speaker and publishing professional who advocates for diversity and inclusion in books and media. She has spoken on panels and podcasts across North America, encouraging her peers in arts and entertainment to reimagine the industry. As the founder of #DiverseCanLit and a founding member of the Festival of Literary Diversity, serving readers and writers of colour is the core of her every career move.

Janice Zawerbny has worked as an in-house editor in the Canadian publishing industry for more than twenty years. She has edited a wide variety of award-winning and critically acclaimed fiction and non-fiction books in Canada, including the current bestseller, Bush Runner: The Adventures of Pierre Esprit Radisson by Mark Bourrie, The Break by Katherena Vermette, The Best Kind of People by Zoe Whittall, Siege 13 by Tamas Dobozy to name but a few. Currently, she works at HarperCollins Canada, where she is editing a selection of fiction and commercial non-fiction. She is also an editing instructor at Ryerson University.

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Pitching a TV Agent

Sept. 20, 2019; 12 – 1pm
Heliconian Hall
35 Hazelton Ave, Toronto

Do you think your work is ready for the screen? Learn about what it takes to successfully pitch your manuscript to a TV Agent and get that on-screen portrayal your work deserves.

Speakers coming soon…

Registration through Eventbrite required, availability on a first-come-first-serve basis.

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Expressive Writing with Toronto Writers Collective

Sept. 20, 2019; 1:15 – 2:25pm
Heliconian Hall
35 Hazelton Ave, Toronto

Led by Susan Turk Mozer, founder of the Toronto Writers Collective, and Bronwyn Singleton and Susan Ksiezopolski, we will explore how expressive writing engages people at all levels of their writing journeys.

Established as a non-profit corporation in 2012, the Toronto Writers Collective has trained over 125 volunteer writing workshop facilitators in the TWC method. The Toronto Writers Collective provides free generative creative writing workshops to unheard populations honouring authentic voice. Our method encourages deep exploratory risk taking writing, often inspiring stories told for the first time. Based on the seminal book, Writing Alone and With Others, by writing teacher Pat Schneider.

Registration through Eventbrite required, availability on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Susan Turk Mozer founded the Toronto Writers Collective in 2012. Susan studied with Pat Schneider, founder of the Amherst Writers and Artist Method and author of Writing Alone and With Others, on which the TWC is based. She has led expressive writing workshops in San Francisco, New York City, Boston and in Malawi, Africa. She is a graduate of University of California Los Angeles and has made encouraging authentic voice her life’s work.

Bronwyn Singleton has a Ph.D. in Philosophy and a Diploma in Psychotherapy. She works in private practice in Toronto. Bronwyn is also a Lead Facilitator with the Toronto Writer’s Collective, a charitable organization offering free creative writing workshops in the GTA. She is thrilled to represent TWC at the Diaspora Dialogues.

Susan Ksiezopolski is an award-winning writer, HeartMath Building Personal Resilience Coach, and a Jack Canfield Certified Trainer. She has published two poetry books, “My Words” and “Writing for Change” as well as two writing aides “The Writer’s Workbook” and “Fuel Your Creativity”. Her work has also been featured in various anthologies, magazines and on-line platforms. A graduate of the Humber School for Writers and a Lead Training Facilitator with Toronto Writers Collective (TWC), Susan delivers WriteWell workshops across the GTA. To find out more, visit www.mywordsnow.com.

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Marketing Your Book/Yourself

Sept. 20, 2019; 2:30 – 3:30pm
Heliconian Hall
35 Hazelton Ave, Toronto

You’ve spent years writing and revising your manuscript, and have a publishing contract in hand. Congratulations! Or, you’ve decided to take the bull by the horns and enter the world of self-publishing. Either way, now the promotional work begins. Thousands of books are published each year in Canada; making sure yours ends up on bookshelves and in the hands of readers, is your responsibility as much as the publisher’s. Join our expert to learn tips and strategies for marketing your book and yourself. You’ve invested a lot of time and creative energy in writing your book, invest at least as much in getting it the attention it deserves. Join Sarah Miniaci, Senior Account Executive at Smith Publicity.

Registration through Eventbrite required, availability on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Sarah Miniaci holds a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Ryerson University as well as a postgraduate certificate in Editing from George Brown College. Having worked in a variety of roles in fields that include education, health and wellness, entertainment, fine arts and publishing throughout the public, private and not-for-profit sectors, Sarah brings a broad range of knowledge and experience – and a strong work ethic – to her work in public relations.

Among the outlets Sarah has placed coverage for her clients in include: ABC, CBS, NBC, NPR, FOX, CNBC, BBC, CBC, PEOPLE Magazine, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, New York Daily News, New York Magazine, FORBES, The Globe & Mail, National Post, The Toronto Star, Vulture.com, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Tribune, Canadian Living, ELLE, Glamour, Vogue UK, The Guardian UK, Telegraph UK, Boston Globe, Dallas Morning News, Houston Chronicle, San Francisco Chronicle, Vancouver Sun, Calgary Herald, The Paris Review, The Sunday Times, Village Voice, Bloomberg Businessweek, Business Insider, Flavorpill, Sydney Morning Herald, Los Angeles Times, Los Angeles Daily News, L.A. Weekly, Austin American-Statesman, Huffington Post, Huffington Post UK, Law360.com, LearnVest.com, Sirius Satellite Radio, XFM, Thomson Reuters, Associated Press, Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood, Inside Edition and Thought Catalog, amongst many, many others.

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Present Like a Champion: Dealing with Performance Anxiety

Sept. 20, 2019; 3:45 – 4:45pm
Heliconian Hall
35 Hazelton Ave, Toronto

Lisa Chisholm from Chisholm Company will be leading a workshop to help writers understand and deal with performance anxiety. If you see interviews or pitches as daunting then this workshop will help mitigate the queasy feeling you get before and during these interactions. “Present Like a Champion” is a stand-alone introductory session with no background experience or follow-up required. This session will explore Mental Skills Training, and how it helps anyone who has to perform deliver their best, consistently. You will learn a bit about Mental Skills Training for on-the-spot performance. Best of all, you’ll learn a bit about how these preparation and performance tools can apply to YOU in your pursuits.

Registration through Eventbrite required, availability on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Lisa Chisholm coaches professionals on optimal preparation and performance in high-stakes interactions, with a focus on the prevention and management of stage fright and building confidence. Her unique approach integrates her professional orchestral performing career and formal training in psychology and counselling.

Combining her elite-level performing experience with a Certificate in Psychology from Ryerson University and an Advanced Counselling Skills Certificate from George Brown College in Toronto, Lisa has developed a curriculum which brings the preparation techniques and mental skills of athletes and performing artists to professionals.

Lisa relates personally to the intricacies of high-stakes performance, bringing a performing artist’s perspective to the practitioner’s side of the fence. She has performed across Canada, the USA, and the UK. She has played as guest principal bassoonist with London’s Royal Opera House Covent Garden, London’s Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Houston Symphony Orchestra. She has held full-time positions with the Victoria Symphony Orchestra and the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, and has performed extensively with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra. Theatre freelancing has included the Stratford Festival, the Shaw Festival, and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet.

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Writing Masterclass

Sept. 20, 2019; 5 – 6pm
Heliconian Hall
35 Hazelton Ave, Toronto

Join Ibi Kaslik as she guides you through exploring your creative processes and developing your ideas as a writer.

Registration through Eventbrite required, availability on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Ibi Kaslik is an internationally published novelist, freelance writer, editor and teacher. Her most recent novel, The Angel Riots, is a rock n’ roll comic-tragedy and was nominated for Ontario’s Trillium award in 2009. Her first novel, Skinny, was a New York Times Bestseller, was nominated for the Best Young Adult novel of the year by the Canadian Library Association (2004), as well as the Borders’ Original Voices Award for Young Adult Novel (2006).

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TOK Toronto: Community Mixer

Sept. 20, 2019; 6:30 – 7:15pm
Heliconian Hall
35 Hazelton Ave, Toronto

Writing a book can be a long, lonely haul, and getting published is as about who you know to as much as how brilliantly you can write. So, step away from the computer and come have a drink and some nibblies with fellow writers as well as industry folks such as publishers, agents, book-sellers and media.

Please register through Eventbrite.

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Saturday, September 21, 2019

In Conversation with Leslie Shimotakahara + Rebecca Fisseha

Sept. 21, 2019; 12:30 –1:30pm
Studio Theatre, Harbourfront Centre
235 Queens Quay, Toronto

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On September 21, 2019 we will be hosting our TOK Toronto Symposium with Word On The Street for a live podcast taping and on-stage interview with Leslie Shimotakahara and Rebecca Fisseha moderated by Aparita Bhandari.

Free to the public, registration through Eventbrite required, availability on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Leslie Shimotakahara‘s memoir The Reading List won the Canada-Japan Literary Prize in 2012, and her fiction has been shortlisted for the KM Hunter Artist Award. She has a PhD in English from Brown University. She had a short-lived career as an English professor, before it became clear that what she really wanted to do was pursue her original passion, creative writing. Her debut novel After the Bloom, which draws upon her Japanese-American and Japanese-Canadian family history, received a starred review in Booklist, was praised by the National Post as a “deep and beautiful story,” and appeared on Bustle’s, Reading Group Choices’ and the 49th Shelf’s lists of spring/summer picks for 2017. In 2018, she served on the jury for the Governor General’s Non-Fiction Award. Her next novel Red Oblivion, a literary thriller set in Hong Kong, will be published in September 2019.

Rebecca Fisseha’s fiction and nonfiction explores the Ethiopian diaspora. Her short fiction has appeared in The Maple Tree Literary Supplement; Room Magazine; Aesthetica Magazine Creative Writing Anthology; Joyland Magazine; The Rusty Toque; and is upcoming in Addis Ababa Noir. Rebecca contributes to Selamta, the in-flight magazine of Ethiopian Airlines. Her play, wise.woman was produced by b current at the Theatre Centre in 2009 in Toronto.

Aparita Bhandari is an arts and life reporter in Toronto. She has been published in Canadian media including CBC, the Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail and Walrus magazine. Her areas of interest and expertise lie in the intersections of gender, culture and ethnicity. She is the producer and co-host of the Hindi language podcast, KhabardaarPodcast.com

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In Conversation with Melanie Florence + Joanne Vannicola

Sept. 21, 2019; 2–3pm
Studio Theatre, Harbourfront Centre
235 Queens Quay, Toronto

On September 21, 2019 we will be hosting our TOK Toronto Symposium in conjunction with Word On The Street. Join us for a live podcast taping and on-stage interview with Melanie Florence and Joanne Vannicola.

Free to the public, registration through Eventbrite required, availability on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Melanie Florence is an award-winning writer of Cree and Scottish heritage based in Toronto. She was close to her grandfather as a child, a relationship that sparked her interest in writing about Aboriginal themes and characters. She is the author of Missing Nimama, which won the 2016 TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award, the 2017 Forest of Reading Golden Oak Award and was a finalist for the 2017 First Nation Communities READ award. Her most recent picture book, Stolen Words, won the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award, was shortlisted for the Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award, and was given a starred review by Kirkus, who listed it as one of the best picture books of 2017 to give readers strength. Her other books include Righting Canada’s Wrongs: Residential Schools and the teen novels He Who Dreams, The Missing, One Night, and Rez Runaway.

Joanne Vannicola

is an Emmy award-winning actor and writer. They have been nominated for a Genie, a Gemini, and an ACTRA award. Credits include: Stonewall (TIFF), Love and Human Remains (TIFF), Wolfboy (Passe Muraille), Being Erica (CBC/ Netflix), Slasher (Netflix/Shaftsbury), Rookie Blue (Global TV), Maggie’s Secret (CBS), Stardom (TIFF), DNA (TIFF), PSI Factor, and Street Legal. Vannicola started and is the chair of outACTRAto, the new LGBTQ+ committee at ACTRA, and sits on the sexual assault adhoc committee for women in film and television.  Their recently released memoir, All We Knew But Couldn’t Say (summer 2019), is available online and in stores everywhere. Vannicola is the recipient of the Leslie Yeo award for volunteerism (2019). They have a piece in the anthology Cuarenta y Nueve, a book by 49 artists for the 49 victims of the Orlando Pulse club massacre. They are currently co-developing a new series primarily with women, and working on their second book, a YA novel. Joanne also founded the non-profit organization, Youth Out Loud, between 2004-2009, raising awareness about child abuse and sexual violence. Equity issues have always been at the forefront of Joanne’s work both in their artistic world and in their personal/political life. Vannicola can be found on Twitter and Instagram @joannevannicola and through their website www.allweknewbutcouldntsay.com as well as the organization Youth Out Loud www.youthoutloud.ca

Deborah Dundas became the Books Editor at the Toronto Star after reviewing books for the paper for more than 15 years. She has worked in the media for more than 25 years – including stints as a books editor, but also in business, lifestyle, and national and city politics. She’s worked at CTV and TVO, both as an editor/producer and reporting, interviewing or producing shows on emerging artists, popular writers and literary powerhouses. She’s also lived and worked in Northern Ireland. She feels that the books beat is the perfect marriage of her diverse experience and interests.

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In Conversation with Zalika Reid-Benta + Becky Blake

Sept. 21, 2019; 3:30 – 4:30pm
Studio Theatre, Harbourfront Centre
235 Queens Quay, Toronto

Join us for our TOK Toronto Symposium in collaboration with Word On The Street for our live podcast taping and on-stage interview with Zalika Reid-Benta and Becky Blake moderated by Ryan B. Blake.

Free to the public, registration through Eventbrite required, availability on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Zalika Reid-Benta is a born and bred Toronto writer, TV fanatic and cheeseburger enthusiast. In 2011 George Elliott Clarke recommended her as a “Writer to Watch”. Her work has appeared on the CBC website, in the TOK 7 anthology and in Apogee Journal. She is an alum of the 2017 Banff Writer’s Studio and received an MFA in fiction from Columbia University in 2014. Her work explores matters of intergenerational cycles, race, identity and culture through the lens of second-generation Caribbean Canadians. Her collection of linked short stories, Frying Plantain, was released in June and she is currently working on a fantasy YA novel.

Becky Blake is a two-time winner of the CBC Literary Prize (for non-fiction in 2017 and short fiction in 2013), Becky Blake’s stories and essays have appeared in publications across Canada. Her first novel, Proof I Was Here, was published by Wolsak & Wynn’s Buckrider Books imprint in May 2019. Becky teaches creative writing at the University of Toronto’s School of Continuing Education, and also offers private mentoring and manuscript consultation. She holds an MFA from the University of Guelph, and is currently working on a second novel and a memoir-in-essays.

Ryan Patrick is a Toronto writer, critic and arts & culture journalist. He is a producer at CBC Books, the digital destination for all CBC books and CanLit programming, including Canada Reads. His work has appeared in publications and websites such as Exclaim! Magazine, CBC Music, Huffington Post Canada and NOW Magazine.

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In Conversation with Derek Mascarenhas + Anar Ali

Sept. 21, 2019; 5 – 6pm
Studio Theatre, Harbourfront Centre
235 Queens Quay, Toronto

On September 21, 2019 we will be hosting our TOK Toronto Symposium with Word On The Street. Join us for a live podcast taping and on-stage interview with Derek Mascarenhas and Anar Ali moderated by Shanda Deziel.

Free to the public, registration through Eventbrite required, availability on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Derek Mascarenhas is one of four children born to parents who emigrated from Goa, India, and settled in Burlington, Ontario. A backpacker who has travelled across six continents, Derek currently resides in Toronto, where he balances his creative pursuits with a career in Market Intelligence. His short story collection titled, Coconut Dreams was released in April 2019.

Anar Ali was born in Tanzania and raised in Alberta. Her first book Baby Khaki’s Wings, a collection of short stories, was a finalist for the Trillium Book Award, the Commonwealth Writers Prize (Best First Book, Canada & the Caribbean), and the Danuta Gleed Literary Prize. Her writing has also appeared in The New York Times, The Globe & Mail, The Little, Brown Reader, among others. She holds an MFA from the University of British Columbia. Her second book, Night of Power debuts August, 2019.

Shanda Deziel is the Books for Young People editor at Quill & Quire. The award-winning Toronto journalist spent 12 years at Maclean’s magazine as an entertainment writer and editor. Her work has also appeared in Chatelaine, Today’s Parent, The Globe and Mail, and other national publications.

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Sunday, September 22, 2019

 

Writing While Black in CanLit

Sept. 22, 2019; 10-11am
Toronto Book Awards Tent, Harbourfront Centre
235 Queens Quay, Toronto

When discussing the primary goal for her anthology Black Writers Matter, Whitney French said: “How do we tell our stories by magnifying our dignity in the everyday?” DD explores the nuances of writing while black in Canada and the ways in which black authors are creating spaces for the community to tell their own stories with writer and founder/co-editor of the Root Zine Whitney French; poet and playwright and literary critic George Elliott Clarke and DD alumni Phillip Morgan. Moderated by Sarah Hagi.

Whitney French strives to develop, foster, facilitate and distribute unique stories that are not often heard about in the Canadian literary cannon. To encourage and eventually support this continual growth in storytelling, Whitney French Writes creates books, personalized poems and workshops that stir a love of writing within young people, marginalized peoples, community members and aspiring writers alike. While valuing self-determination, creative spirit, high aesthetic and literary experimentation, Whitney French Writes is an incubator that will propel a movement of alternative modes of learning for those seeking a holistic and life-long journey in the arts.

George Elliott Clarke is a revered poet. Now teaching African-Canadian Literature at the University of Toronto, Clarke has taught at Duke, McGill, the University of British Columbia, and Harvard. He holds eight honorary doctorates, plus appointments to the Order of Nova Scotia and the Order of Canada. His recognitions include the Pierre Elliott Trudeau Fellows Prize, the Governor-General’s Award for Poetry, the Premiul Poesis (Romania), the Dartmouth Book Award for Fiction, the Eric Hoffer Book Award for Poetry (US), and the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Achievement Award.

Phillip Dwight Morgan is a first-generation Canadian journalist, poet, and activist of Jamaican heritage. He is the inaugural rabble.ca Jack Layton Journalism for Change Fellow and his essays, op-eds, and poetry have appeared with Maclean’sCBCrabble.ca, the Toronto Star, and in BriarpatchSpacing, and Geezmagazines. Phillip is currently working on his first book, Where do we begin?, a collection of essays exploring Black identity in Canada through analyses of media representation, activism, politics, sexuality, and masculinity. Phillip views writing as a process of self-discovery, emancipation, and nourishment.

Sarah Hagi a writer of essays, journalism, television, and criticism. Apart from working as a writer at both VICE and Complex, she has been published in The New Yorker, GQ Magazine, The Guardian, Buzzfeed, The National Post, and other publications. Hagi also appeared on numerous radio shows and podcasts for networks like the CBC, BBC, and Gimlet.

Free to the public, registration through Eventbrite preferred but not required, on a first-come-first-serve basis.

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Writing In The Age of #MeToo

Sept. 22, 2019; 1:30-2:30pm
Toronto Book Awards Tent, Harbourfront Centre
235 Queens Quay, Toronto

In 2018, Molly Ringwald revisited her filmography, saying she felt The Breakfast Club was “troubling” now seen through the prism of the #MeToo era. DD examines how the movement has affected authors’ writing processes – if at all – and whether the current debate has prompted them to appreciate or denounce books, movies and art they loved in the past. With poet, essayist and thinker Gwen Benaway; award-winning poet and writer Téa Mutonji; and best-selling novelist S.K. Ali. Moderated by Aparita Bhanda.

Free to the public, registration through Eventbrite preferred but not required, on a first-come-first-serve basis.

Gwen Benaway is an emerging Queer/Two-Spirited Anishinaabe/Métis poet who has often been described as the spiritual love child of Truman Capote and Thompson Highway. Her first collection of poetry, Ceremonies for the Dead, was published by Kegedonce Press in 2013. In 2015, she was the recipient of the inaugural Speaker’s Award for a Young Author from the Speaker of the House for the Ontario Legislative. Her poetry has been published in literary magazines internationally and scrawled within bathroom stalls at truck stops across Ontario.

Téa Mutonji is an award-winning poet and writer. Born in Congo-Kinshasa, she now lives and writes in Scarborough, Ontario where she was named emerging writer of the year (2017) by the Ontario Book Publishers Organization. Shut Up You’re Pretty is her first book.

S.K. Ali is a teacher based in Toronto whose writing on Muslim culture and life has appeared in the Toronto Star. Her family of Muslim scholars is consistently listed in the The 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World, and her insight into Muslim culture is both personal and far-reaching. A mother of a teenage daughter herself, S.K. Ali’s debut YA novel, Saints and Misfits is a beautiful and nuanced story about a young woman exploring her identity through friendship, family, and faith.

Aparita Bhandari is an arts and life reporter in Toronto. She has been published in Canadian media including CBC, the Toronto Star, The Globe and Mail and Walrus magazine. Her areas of interest and expertise lie in the intersections of gender, culture and ethnicity. She is the producer and co-host of the Hindi language podcast, KhabardaarPodcast.com


View Hailee Mah’s author profile.