Poetry & Spoken Word Reading with Basement Poetry, the Lehigh Creative Writing Program and the Lehigh Libraries

May 17, 2022 6:30PM to 8:00PM
LUAG Main Gallery

Join us as we extend the celebration of Poetry Month with a reading from members of the Basement Poetry, the Lehigh University Creative Writing Department and the Lehigh University LIbraries. In conjunction with the exhibition Young, Gifted and Black, readers will select works that are inspired by works on view in the exhibition.

Attendees will have the opportunity to enter their name into a drawing to win a copy of the book Young, Gifted and Black: A New Generation of Artists: The Lumpkin-Boccuzzi Family Collection of Contemporary Art.

RSVP in advance here. 

Readers include:
Deirdre Van W
Kevelis Matthews-Alvarado '21
Rashawn Allen '22
Junmoke James '23
Isaiah Frost Rivera G'23

Please see bios below.

This event is presented in partnership with Basement Poetry, Lehigh University Libraries and the Lehigh Creative Writing Program.  

Basement Poetry is a performance arts group focusing on slam poetry & movement theatre dedicated to creating a courageous & safe place to share stories. @BasementPoetry



RaShawn Allan '22 who goes by the pen name Ronald Jermaine Love has always had an aspiration for the unthinkable. For years he has been tirelessly at work to achieve a set of impossible dreams. Currently, Ronald is a full-time student and Division 1 athlete. He completed his first novel after his Freshman year in college in the summer of 2019. A remarkable achievement while also studying electrical engineering and being a star athlete on the field. The inspiration behind his first novel, The Canton Greats, comes directly from Ronald's own personal life. So far, Ronald has published two novels including the sequel The Canton Greats Take The World. Ronald says the driving force behind his work "is to make the Greatest impact on the Greatest amount of people. If just one person can find hope and inspiration from my writing then that is enough."  Read RaShawn Allen's novel "The Canton Greats."


They call me Coz. I'm 47 years young from Allentown's School of Hard Knocks. I've been writing since age 14. I cry for peace, but most of the time I'm just left in tears.

I was once asked,
"Why do you write poetry?".

My response...
"because the paper listens when people won't."

Poetry is freedom. Liberation! Emancipation! Literary exoneration! Joy's jotted manifestation! Pain's written justification! Calm's whirl-winded aspirations! A scribed quest for an explanation! An encrypted yearning for reparations!

I love to write and I may love performing even more. I love how intently people listen to me when I'm up on stage. I wanna touch the entire world with my literary enlightening.
I'm living in a dream.
One from which I hope to awaken!
A dark nightmare I hope to survive!
But if in this dream my life happens to be taken, still I'll know that I'm very much alive.



Junmoke James '23 is from Marietta, GA. She is an English major at Lehigh with a minor in Psychology. She has previously had a short story published in The Sierra Nevada Review.

Isaiah Frost Rivera G'23 is a queer Afro-Puerto Rican scholar, maker, and black digital speculator finishing their final semester here at Lehigh in the  English master's program. This fall, he will join the PhD program in African and African Diaspora Studies at UT Austin. Isaiah's writing has been featured in the Junction Magazine, Stuck in the Library, and Lolwe. To read more of his work, visit their WordPress blog: The Poetic Xenolith

Kelz (she/her) is a local lehigh valley artist & farmer whose life passion & mission persists to be at the intersection of cultuvating safe, sustainable & accessible food/creative spaces. Kelz enjoys learning & performing within the community & would like to highlight Afros in Nature, a collective of humans planting seeds of safety for bipoc, to which she has been grateful to align with their shared creative vision for the future.

Kevelis Matthews-Alvarado '21 is an Afro-Latinx scholar, activist, artist, and Lehigh alum from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Kevelis holds both a BA (2020) in Africana Studies and Health, Medicine, & Society and a MA (2021) in English from Lehigh University. At Lehigh, Kevelis was the President of the Black Student Union, a gryphon (resident assistant), staff member at the Pride Center, a LUSSI student guide for first-generation students, Martindale scholar, teaching assistant for the hip-hop theater class Act like you Know, and cofounder of the Institute on Critical Race and Ethnic Studies (ICRES). During their time at Lehigh, Kevelis earned a myriad of different awards. Additionally, ever since their first semester at Lehigh, Kevelis has been working as a student-activist and has been involved in organizing various student-led movements which sought to disrupt and address Lehigh’s institutional violence against its marginalized students, faculty, and staff. Following the protest of the institutional mistreatment of a black woman professor, in 2019, Kevelis and other student leaders met with Dr. Alang and Dr. Jimenez-Garcia who would go on to propose and eventually build what would become the Institute on Critical Race and Ethnic Studies at Lehigh University. Ultimately, for Kevelis, their research, scholarship, and art are inextricably connected embodiments of activism.

Kevelis is currently working as a pre-doctoral research associate (2021-2022) at ICRES, continuing their work with the development of the student activism archive and corresponding narratives.

Deirdre Van Walters is an actor, playwright, poet and  US Army veteran. She has studied and performed throughout the east coast. Some of her poetry was recently featured in Cedar Crest College's 2021 Spring dance program.  Her most recent roles were  Magdelena, in  the "Hidden Seed, Bethlehem's Lost Utopia", written by S. Moglen and W. George.

Prior to the pandemic, she was  scheduled to perform as 'Marianne Angelle"  in The Revolutionists, by Lauren Gunderson, directed by the late George Miller. In 2018, she was a recipient of the Bethlehem chapter NAACP  "Celebrating the Arts' Award. Deirdre loves life and all that keeps us green.
She currently serves as President to Basement Poetry, a social activist nonprofit devised theatre  ensemble based in Bethlehem, PA.


Image: Installation shot of the exhibition Young, Gifted and Black.