Dr. Raina J. León, Cave Canem graduate fellow (2006) and member of the Carolina African American Writers Collective, CantoMundo and Macondo, has been published over 50 publications in poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and academic scholarship.  Her first collection of poetry, Canticle of Idols (2008), was a finalist for both the Cave Canem First Book Poetry Prize (2005) and the Andrés Montoya Poetry Prize (2006).  Her second book, Boogeyman Dawn (2013), was a finalist for the Naomi Long Madgett Prize (2010).  Her third book, sombra:  dis(locate) was released February 2016, Salmon Poetry.  Her first chapbook, profeta without refuge, was released in September 2016 through Nomadic Press. 

She has received fellowships and residencies with Macondo, 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 is currently an associate 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.    

León received her BA in Journalism from Pennsylvania State University (2003), MA in Teaching of English from Teachers College Columbia University (2004), MA in Educational Leadership from Framingham State University (2014) and PhD in Education under the Culture, Curriculum and Change strand at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill (2010).  She recently completed her MFA in Poetry at Saint Mary’s College of California (2016). 

Her research interests include high school engagement and the teaching of poetry, critical pedagogy, critical literacy in the high school classroom, 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 LatinX arts. 

She was named a West Catholic Preparatory (Philadelphia) Hall of Fame honoree (2013); a recipient of the SMC Provost Research Grant (2015); a SMC Faculty Early Career Awardee (2016); a recipient of the CILSA Engaged Faculty Award (2016); and a recipient of the Saint John Baptist de la Salle Faculty Service Award from the Saint Mary’s College of California Alumni Association (2017).  

Curriculum Vita Linked Here.

  • Coach: Knowing your patterns

    July 10, 2019 by

    For the last few years, I’ve been teaching courses around the business and logistics of writing through The Speakeasy Project. The reality is that many MFA programs never talk about the work of living as a writer. Particularly for POC folks who may not have the mentorship support through a MFA program or have the… Read more

  • #ThisIsTheBeginningOfAnEssay

    June 23, 2019 by

    Soon after the birth of my son, I developed a hashtag, which has started to gain some traction among my friends:  #ThisIsTheBeginningOfAnEssay.  It was an acknowledgement that my energy to write an extended essay is truncated by the energy needed for mothering and partnering.  I have been collecting snippets through Facebook especially, using the hashtag personally,… Read more

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