Photo by Dorothy Perry

Dr. Tara Betts is an author and professor.  Tara is the author of Break the Habit (Trio House Press, 2016) and Arc & Hue (Willow Books, 2009).  Her chapbooks include 7 x 7: kwansabas (Backbone Press, 2015) and The GREATEST!: An Homage to Muhammad Ali (Argus House, 2013, originally commissioned by Peggy Choy Dance Company). She is also one of the editors for The Beiging of America: Personal Narratives About Being Mixed Race in the 21st Century (2Leaf Press, 2017). Tara’s poetry and prose has appeared in various journals and anthologies. She has also contributed to interdisciplinary collaborations such as John Sims’ “Recoloration Proclamation” and “Rhythm of Structure” installations, and filmmaker Nijla Mu’min, among others.

Tara began as an influential educator in Chicago. Tara co-founded GirlSpeak, a weekly writing/leadership workshop for young women. She has also conducted short-term workshops in schools, community centers, Ms. Foundation, City Girls (a substance abuse rehabilitation center for teen girls), Cook County Jail and Cook County Juvenile Detention Center, Cooper Union, Dodge Foundation’s Poets-In-The-Schools program, London’s Roundhouse and the Binghamton Poetry Project.

Tara Betts appeared on HBO’s “Def Poetry Jam” She also appeared in the Black Family Channel series “SPOKEN” with Jessica Care Moore. She has also been one of the writers/performers in girlstory-an intergenerational, multicultural women’s performance collective. Tara has also performed in plays, including two V-Day productions of Eve Ensler’s “Vagina Monologues” at Chicago’s DuSable Museum. After winning Guild Complex’s Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Award, she represented Chicago twice at the National Poetry Slam as part of the first two Mental Graffiti slam teams. She eventually earned her MFA in Creative Writing at New England College and a Ph.D. in English at Binghamton University.

Tara appears at universities and festivals throughout the country as well. Some of her past appearances include the Dodge Poetry Festival, Yari Yari Ntoaso (Accra, Ghana), Mixed Roots Festival, The Hip Hop Theater Festival, AWP, Split This Rock Festival, the National Black Writers Conference, , and the Baltimore Book Festival. She has performed her work in Cuba, London, New York, the West Coast and throughout the Midwest at venues such as Arie Crown Theater, The New School, The Museum of Contemporary Art, Studio Museum of Harlem, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, The Metro, Cornelia Street Café, Bowery Poetry Club, Nuyorican Poets Cafe, Schomburg Center, Yerba Buena Cultural Center, the Field Museum of Natural History, Harvard University, Yale University, poetry slams, and conferences, as well as at public, private and alternative schools.

She has shared the stage with Rosellen Brown, Afaa Michael Weaver, Martín Espada, David Mura, Kwame Dawes, Luis Rodriguez, MC Lyte, and Grammy-winner Jill Scott and others. She coached and mentored countless young writers and performers that have participated in the Brave New Voices and Louder Than a Bomb teen poetry slams.

Tara’s work has appeared in:
American Poetry Review, POETRY magazine, Essence, NYLON, the Steppenwolf Theater production “Words on Fire,” The Black ScholarObsidian, Callaloo, RHINOCrab Orchard Review, CICADA, Bellevue Literary Review, Meridians, Hanging Loose, among others.

Her writings have also been anthologized in Revise the Psalm: Work Celebrating the Writing of Gwendolyn Brooks (Curbside Splendor, 2017), The Whiskey of Our Discontent: Gwendolyn Brooks as Conscience and Change Agent (Haymarket Books, 2017), The Break Beat Poets (Haymarket Press, 2015), Octavia’s Brood: Science Fiction Stories from Social Justice Movements (AK Press, 2015), DISMANTLE: An Anthology of Writing from the VONA Writers Workshop (Thread Makes Blanket, 2014), The Incredible Sestina Anthology (Write Bloody, 2014), Drawn to Marvel: Poems from the Comic Books (Minor Arcana Press, 2014), Near Kin: A Collection of Words and Art Inspired by Octavia Estelle Butler (Sybaritic Press, 2014), Saul Williams’ chorus: a literary mixtape (MTV Books, 2012), VILLANELLES (Everyman Publishing, 2012), A Face to Meet the Faces: An Anthology of Contemporary Persona Poetry (University of Akron Press, 2012). Her work also appears in Gathering Ground (University of Michigan Press), Bum Rush the Page (Three Rivers Press), Power Lines (Tia Chucha Press), Poetry Slam (Manic D Press), Black Writing from Chicago (Southern Illinois University Press), ROLE CALL (Third World Press), These Hands I Know (Sarabande), Best Black Women’s Erotica 2 (Cleis Press), and  Home Girls Make Some Noise: Hip Hop Feminism (Parker Publishing).