Skip to main content
United Against Silence

United Against Silence

By Community Building Art Works
In United Against Silence, Seema Reza (Poet, Essayist, CEO of Community Building Art Works) interviews some of the most incredible artists of our time.
Listen on Spotify
Where to listen
Apple Podcasts Logo

Apple Podcasts

Google Podcasts Logo

Google Podcasts

Pocket Casts Logo

Pocket Casts

RadioPublic Logo


Spotify Logo


Currently playing episode

Honoring the Irrational with Nisha Gupta

United Against Silence

Carrying Our Roots with Raychelle Heath
This conversation with Raychelle Heath is part of CBAW's #UnitedAgainstSilence interview series.    Find more information and Raychelle's workshop offerings, such as her twice monthly meditation workshops, at, and you can listen to her podcast, Black Women in Wellness, by clicking this link:  Raychelle Heath is a poet, artist, teacher, yoga and meditation instructor, podcaster, and digital nomad. She holds a BA in languages from Winthrop University and an MFA in poetry from the University of South Carolina. While she primarily writes poetry, she considers herself a storyteller. She uses her poetry and her podcast to tell the multifaceted stories of black women in the world. She also explores her experiences with the culturally rich communities that she has encountered in her travels. Her work has been published by Travel Noire, Fourth Wave, Yellow Arrow Journal, The Brazen Collective, and Community Building Art Works. She currently works as curriculum director, sanctuary coach, and facilitator for the Unicorn Authors Club. She also regularly facilitates workshops for BIPOC Writing Party and The World We Want workshops. For more information about CBAW workshops visit
May 06, 2022
Where a Poem is Going with Matthew Olzmann
This conversation with Matthew Olzmann is part of the #UnitedAgainstSilence podcast series.   When you shop using our Bookshop link, 10% of every purchase you make goes back to CBAW programs for military, veterans, healthcare workers, and civilians. Anything you buy from Bookshop qualifies. Just look for the CBAW Bookstore banner at the top of the page when you are shopping.  Matthew Olzmann is the author of Constellation Route as well as two previous collections of poetry: Mezzanines and Contradictions in the Design. A recipient of fellowships from Kundiman, MacDowell, and the National Endowment for the Arts, Olzmann’s poems have appeared in the New York Times, Best American Poetry, the Pushcart Prizes, Kenyon Review, and elsewhere. He is a Senior Lecturer of Creative Writing at Dartmouth College and also teaches in the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.
April 22, 2022
The Power of Defeat with Cynthia Dewi Oka
This conversation with Cynthia Dewi Oka is part of the #UnitedAgainstSilence interview series.  THU. APRIL 21 | 7PM ET | CONSIDERING OUR ANCESTORS WITH CYNTHIA DEWI OKA Cynthia Dewi Oka is the author of Fire Is Not A Country (Northwestern University Press), Salvage: Poems (Northwestern University Press) and Nomad of Salt and Hard Water (Thread Makes Blanket). She’s currently Poet in Residence at the Amy Clampitt House.Find Cynthia's books on the CBAW Bookshop page: For more information about CBAW's programs visit
April 15, 2022
Creativity Under the Soil with Angie Ebba
This conversation with Angie Ebba is part of CBAW's #UnitedAgainstSilence interview series.   Angie Ebba is a queer disabled writer, artist, educator, activist, and performer. She is a published poet and essayist, who teaches and performs across the US. She believes strongly in the power of words and art to help better understand ourselves, build connections and community, and make personal and social change. You can find Angie's free online writing community here:  and find Angie on the web and get signed up for her newsletter at  For more information about CBAW programs visit
April 08, 2022
Finding What Works for You with Ashy Palliparambil
This conversation with CBAW's Director of Programs Ashy Palliparambil is part of CBAW's #UnitedAgainstSilence interview series.  Ashy Palliparambil is an Art Therapist who has worked with service members and their families for over eight years. She has facilitated various workshops, open art sessions, and has always encouraged recovering service members to "find what works" for them. Whether it be the visual arts, music, or writing, she is always supportive in helping service members find the healing power of art. For more information about programs visit
March 11, 2022
What Lives Beyond Language with Jennifer Patterson
Jennifer Patterson is a grief worker who uses plants, breath, and words to explore survivorhood, body(ies) and healing. A  queer and trans affirming and centering, trauma-experienced herbalist  and breathwork facilitator, Jennifer offers sliding scale care as a  practitioner through her private practice Corpus Ritual and is a member of The Breathe Network and Breathwork for Recovery. She facilitates writing and breathwork workshops at healing centers,  LGBTQ centers, a needle exchange and harm reduction clinic, online with  the Transformative Language Arts Network, sexual violence resource centers, at colleges and universities, and in the past, veterans hospitals, the collective What Would an HIV Doula Do? and a Hasidic and Orthodox Jewish healing center. She is the  author of The Power of Breathwork: Simple Practices to Promote Wellbeing (Quarto). Editor of the anthology Queering Sexual Violence: Radical Voices from Within the Anti- Violence Movement (2016), Jennifer speaks across the country, and has had writing published in places like VIDA: Women in Literary Arts, 580 Split, OCHO: A Journal of Queer Arts, Nat. Brut, The Establishment, HandJob, and The Feminist Wire. She was also the creative nonfiction editor of Hematooiesis Press. A  graduate of Goddard College’s MA program, Jennifer is finishing a book  project focused on translating embodied traumatic experience through  somatic practices and critical and creative nonfiction. You can find more at Find out more about CBAW's programs at
February 11, 2022
Creating Where I Need to Create with Amber Flame
Amber Flame is an artist and performer, whose work has garnered artistic merit residencies with Hedgebrook, The Watering Hole, Wa Na Wari, Vermont Studio Center, and Yefe Nof. Flame served as the 2017-2019 poetry Writer-in-Residence at Hugo House in Seattle, and is a queer Black dandy mama who falls hard for a jumpsuit and some fresh kicks. For more information on CBAW's programs visit
January 28, 2022
First, We Gather with Hari Alluri
Hari Alluri (he/him/siya) is the author of The Flayed City (Kaya). A winner of the 2020 Leonard A. Slade, Jr. Poetry Fellowship and an editor at Locked Horn Press, he has received grants from the BC Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts and fellowships from Las Dos Brujas, Port Townsend, and VONA/Voices writers workshops. His work appears in the Watch Your Head (Coach House) and Pandemic Solidarity (Pluto) anthologies, as well as recently in Prism International, Solstice, Tinderbox, The Volta and elsewhere. For more information on workshops visit
January 14, 2022
The Abundance of Forgiveness with Dilruba Ahmed
Dilruba Ahmed is the author Bring Now the Angels (Pitt Poetry Series, 2020), with poems featured in New York Times Magazine, Best American Poetry 2019, and podcasts such as The Slowdown with Tracy K. Smith and Poetry Unbound with Pádraig Ó Tuama.  Her debut book of poetry, Dhaka Dust (Graywolf Press, 2011), won the Bakeless Prize.  Ahmed’s poems have appeared in Kenyon Review, New England Review, and Ploughshares.  Her poetry has also been anthologized in Literature: The Human Experience; Border Lines: Poems of Migration; The Orison Anthology 2020; and elsewhere.  Ahmed is the recipient of The Florida Review’s Editors’ Award, a Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Memorial Prize, and the Katharine Bakeless Nason Fellowship in Poetry awarded by the Bread Loaf Writers Conference.  Ahmed has taught with the MFA programs at Chatham University and Warren Wilson College.  She also teaches classes online with Hugo House and The Writing Lab.
December 17, 2021
What Community Should Be with Courtney LeBlanc
Courtney LeBlanc is the author of the full length collections Exquisite Bloody, Beating Heart (Riot in Your Throat) and Beautiful & Full of Monsters (Vegetarian Alcoholic Press). She is also the founder and editor-in-chief of Riot in Your Throat, an independent poetry press. She loves nail polish, tattoos, and a soy latte each morning. Read her publications on her blog: Follow her on twitter: @wordperv, and IG: @wordperv79.
December 03, 2021
The Work Wants to be Understood with Jon Sands
Jon Sands is a winner of the 2018 National Poetry Series, selected for his second book, It’s Not Magic (Beacon Press, 2019). He hosts an interview series on IG Live called Ps & Qs. You can follow him at @iAmJonSands. His work has been featured in the New York Times, as well as anthologized in The Best American Poetry. He teaches at Brooklyn College, Urban Word NYC, and for over a decade has facilitated a weekly writing workshop for adults at Baily House, an HIV/AIDS service center in East Harlem. He tours extensively as a poet, but lives in Brooklyn.
November 19, 2021
Re-Teaching Yourself with CBAW's Own Laura Van Prooyen
Laura Van Prooyen is author of three collections of poetry: Frances of the Wider Field (Lily Poetry Review Books) Our House Was on Fire (Ashland Poetry Press) nominated by Philip Levine and winner of the McGovern Prize and Inkblot and Altar (Pecan Grove Press). She is also co-author with Gretchen Bernabei of Text Structures from Poetry, a book of writing lessons for educators of grades 4-12 (Corwin Literacy). Van Prooyen is the Managing Editor for The Cortland Review, and she teaches in the low-residency MFA Creative Writing program at Miami University. She lives in San Antonio, TX.
October 29, 2021
What Joy Has Kept Us Here with Brionne Janae
Brionne Janae is a poet and teaching artist living in Brooklyn. They are the author of Blessed are the Peacemakers (2021) which won the 2020 Cave Canem Northwestern University Press Poetry Prize, and After Jubilee (2017) published by Boat Press. Brionne has received fellowships to Cave Canem, Sewanee Writers Conference, Vermont Studio Center and Hedgebrook. Their poetry has been published in Ploughshares, The American Poetry Review, The Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day, The Sun Magazine, jubilat, and Waxwing among others. Off the page they go by Breezy.
October 08, 2021
Writing for Medicine and Art with Jewel
Singer-songwriter, Poet, Actress, 2x New York Times Best Selling Author + Mental Health Expert Jewel went from a girl who grew up with no running water on an Alaskan homestead, to a homeless teenager in San Diego, to an award winning, Multi-Platinum Recording Artist who released one of the best-selling debuts of all time. Through her career Jewel has sold over 30 million albums worldwide, earned 26 Music Award nominations, including The Grammys, American Music Awards, MTV Awards, VH1 Awards, Billboard Music Awards, and Country Music Awards, winning 8 times. Jewel has been featured on the cover of TIME Magazine, Rolling Stone, performed on Saturday Night Live, at the Super Bowl, the NBA Finals, for The Pope and The President Of The United States. She has experimented with several genres over her career with top hits in Folk, Pop, Club, Country, Standards, Children’s and Holiday music. Visit for more information.
August 03, 2021
Writing To Be Understood with Brandon Wint
Brandon Wint is an Ontario born poet and spoken word artist who uses poetry to attend to the joy and devastation and inequity   associated with this era of human and ecological history. Increasingly, his work on the page and in performance casts a tender but robust attention toward the movements and impacts of colonial, capitalist logic, and how they might be undone. In this way, Brandon Wint is devoted to a poetics of world making, world altering and world breaking.    For Brandon, the written and spoken word is a tool for examining and enacting his sense of justice, and imagining less violence futures for himself and the world he has inherited. For more than a decade, Brandon has been a sought-after, touring performer, and has presented his work in the United States, Australia, Lithuania, Latvia, and Jamaica. His poems and essays have been published in national anthologies, including The Great Black North: Contemporary African-Canadian Poetry (Frontenac House, 2013) and Black Writers Matter (University of Regina Press, 2019). Divine Animal is his debut book of poetry.
July 26, 2021
Being a Pair of Eyes with Aracelis Girmay
Aracelis Girmay is the author of the poetry collections Teeth, Kingdom Animalia, and the black maria. She is also the author/collagist of the picture book changing, changing, and with her sister collaborated on the recently published What Do You Know? Girmay is on the editorial board of the African Poetry Book Fund and recently curated How to Carry Water: Selected Poems of Lucille Clifton.
July 12, 2021
Between Generations with Dare Williams
A 2019 PEN America Emerging Voices Fellow, Dare Williams is a Queer HIV-positive poet, artist, rooted in Southern California. He has received fellowships from John Ashbury Home School and The Frost Place. He is a co-producer of the reading series Word of Mouth which raises money for communities facing food and nutrition inequities. Dare’s poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net and a two-time finalist for Blood Orange Review’s contest. His work has been anthologized in Redshift 5 by Arroyo Secco press and is featured in Cultural Weekly, Bending Genres, THRUSH, Exposition Review, and is forthcoming in Limp Wrist and elsewhere. For more information on programs visit
June 25, 2021
Recess Projects with Sonya Huber
Sonya Huber is the author of six books, including the award-winning essay collection on chronic pain, Pain Woman Takes Your Keys and Other Essays from a Nervous System and the forthcoming Supremely Tiny Acts: A Memoir in a Day. Her other books include Opa Nobody, Cover Me: A Health Insurance Memoir, and The Backwards Research Guide for Writers. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Brevity, Creative Nonfiction, and other outlets. She teaches at Fairfield University and in the Fairfield low-residency MFA program.
June 15, 2021
What Does My Life Want from Me? with Ekaterina Sky
Ekaterina started her art journey at The School of Fine Arts in Yaroslavl, Russia, where she completed a rigorous fine arts program. With a solid knowledge of skills and techniques she received a scholarship at The Art School of Museum of Tel-Aviv. There she experimented with different shapes and forms while starting to develop her own style of painting. Ekaterina continued her art education through self-study with various mediums before beginning to focus on using her art to bring awareness for the conservation of wildlife. The intention behind the Animalize project is to reconnect people with nature and wildlife. We have become so focused on our daily experiences that we have lost touch with what lies beyond our urban lifestyles. This has led to a lack of awareness on how our actions affect the environment and wildlife. Animalize reminds us of nature’s brimming beauty, presence and need for care. Ekaterina’s goal is to bring love for wildlife back into people’s hearts.  Through the connections they feel when they gaze into the animals’ eyes, she intends to awaken the viewer to his or her impact on animals. She hopes to inspire each person to look deeply into their current practices and question how they affect the environment and animals. With her paintbrushes in hand, she paints colors of awareness and consideration for wildlife.
May 17, 2021
Love as an Activity of Daily Living with Seema Reza
Former guest Nisha Gupta returns to interview Seema Reza about her creative process and relationship to silence.  Seema Reza is a writer and performer and the author of the memoir When the World Breaks Open (Red Hen Press) and the poetry collection A Constellation of Half-Lives, (Write Bloody Publishing). An alumnus of Goddard College and VONA, her writing has appeared on-line and in print in McSweeney’s, The Washington Post, The LA Review, The Feminist Wire, HerKind, The Offing, and Entropy among others, and case studies on her work have appeared in Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Related Diseases in Combat Veterans. She has performed and lectured at universities, festivals, correctional facilities and theaters across the country, including Columbia University, The Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival, and the Near Future Conference. Based outside of Washington DC she is the CEO of Community Building Art Works, an organization that encourages the use of the arts as a tool for narration, self-care and socialization among a military population struggling with emotional and physical injuries. In 2015 she was awarded the Col John Gioia Patriot Award by USO of Metropolitan Washington-Baltimore for her work with service members. In 2018, the HBO Documentary “We Are Not Done Yet” featured Reza’s work. She has taught poetry in classrooms, jails, hospitals, and universities.
May 10, 2021
It's Not the Same Sh*t When You're Done with Melissa Febos
Melissa Febos is the author of the memoir Whip Smart and two essay collections: Abandon Me and Girlhood. The inaugural winner of the Jeanne Córdova Nonfiction Award from LAMBDA Literary and the recipient of fellowships from The MacDowell Colony, Bread Loaf, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, The BAU Institute, Vermont Studio Center, The Barbara Deming Foundation, and others; her essays have recently appeared in The Paris Review, The Believer, McSweeney’s Quarterly, Granta, Sewanee Review, Tin House, The Sun, and The New York Times. She is an associate professor at the University of Iowa, where she teaches in the Nonfiction Writing Program. Find out more about Community Building Art Works at
May 03, 2021
The Reward of Community with Purvi Shah
Purvi Shah’s favorite art practices are her sparkly eyeshadow, raucous laughter, and seeking justice. She won the inaugural SONY South Asian Social Service Excellence Award for her leadership fighting violence against women. Her new book, Miracle Marks, explores women, the sacred, and gender & racial equity. Terrain Tracks, her debut poetry collection on migration and belonging, won the Many Voices Project prize. Find more @PurviPoets. Find out more about Community Building Art Works at
April 25, 2021
An Animal Among Animals and Plants with Christina Olivares
Christina Olivares is the author of the books of poetry No Map of the Earth Includes Stars, winner of the 2014 Marsh Hawk Press Book Prize, and Ungovernable, forthcoming from YesYes Books in 2021. Olivares is a queer American-Cuban from the Bronx. She believes in the abolition of poverty and of the carceral state and in the radical project of imagining  our liberation. She works as an educator. Find out more about Community Building Art Works at
April 14, 2021
We Can All Respond to Stories with Bryan Doerries
Bryan Doerries is a writer, director, and translator, who currently serves as Artistic Director of Theater of War Productions. A self-described evangelist for ancient stories and their relevance to our lives today, Doerries uses age-old approaches to help individuals and communities heal from trauma and loss. During his tenure at Theater of War Productions, the company has presented diverse projects across the United States and internationally. The company uses dramatic readings of seminal plays and community conversations to confront topics such as combat-related psychological injury, end-of-life care, police and community relations, prison reform, gun violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, the refugee crisis, and addiction. Doerries’ books include The Theater of War: What Ancient Greek Tragedies Can Teach Us Today, The Odyssey of Sergeant Jack Brennan, and a collection of his translations of ancient Greek Tragedies entitled All That You’ve Seen Here is God. Among his awards, he has received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from Kenyon College, and in March 2017, he was named Public Artist in Residence (PAIR) for the City of New York, a joint appointment with the New York City Department of Veterans’ Services and Department of Cultural Affairs. Find out more about Community Building Art Works at
April 07, 2021
Soak It All Up And Learn with Hannah Grieco
Hannah Grieco is a writer, editor, and teacher in Arlington, VA. Her work can be found in a variety of publications, from The Washington Post to The Rumpus to Huffington Post, and more. She is the cnf editor at JMWW, the fiction editor at Porcupine Literary, and the founder and organizer of the monthly reading series 'Readings on the Pike.' Find her online at and on Twitter at @writesloud. Find out more about Community Building Art Works at
March 28, 2021
Learning to Adapt with Jive Poetic
Jive Poetic is a writer, organizer, and educator based in Brooklyn, New York. He is the founder of Insurgent Poets Society, Carnival Slam: Cultural Exchange, and the co-founder of the Brooklyn Poetry Slam. When he is not on tour or hosting, he teaches performance poetry and hip – hop workshops to at risk youth in New York City and surrounding tri-state area. Find out more about Community Building Art Works at
March 24, 2021
United Against Silence Trailer
For more information about Community Building Art Works visit
March 14, 2021
Learning from the Uncomfortable Places with Susanna Sonnenberg
Susanna Sonnenberg is the author of two memoirs, Her Last Death and She Matters: A Life in Friendships, both New York Times bestsellers. She has published widely in magazines and anthologies and, since 2013 has been teaching writing with a focus on memoir. She lives in Missoula, Montana. Find out more about Community Building Art Works at
March 14, 2021
Honoring the Irrational with Nisha Gupta
Dr. Nisha Gupta is an assistant professor of psychology at the University of West Georgia. She has nine years of training as a psychotherapist, with a focus on empowerment in the face of personal and societal traumas. She is also an arts-based phenomenological researcher, which is a method of creating artwork that illuminates the deeper meanings of our lived experiences for the purposes of fostering personal and societal awareness, catharsis, and transformation. @artbynisha Find out more about Community Building Art Works at
March 07, 2021
Letting Yourself Stay with Ben Weakley
Ben Weakley spent fourteen years in the U.S. Army, beginning with deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan and finishing at a desk inside the Pentagon. He writes poetry and essays about the enduring nature of war and the human experience. His work appears in the anthology, "Our Best War Stories" published by Middle West Press, LLC. Other poems and articles appear in Army University Press, The Wrath-Bearing Tree, The Ekphrastic Review, and Vita Brevis, among other publications. Book: Our Best War Stories: Our Best War Stories: Prize-winning Poetry & Prose from the Col. Darron L. Wright Memorial Awards  (Amazon - Find out more about Community Building Art Works at
February 25, 2021