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Books & Toys

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Born in Brooklyn, Mark Ari is a Jacksonville-based visual artist, author, and singer-songwriter. Ari publishes fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, music journalism, and hybrid works. Ari is also a multi-award-winning assistant professor and creative writing coordinator at the University of North Florida.

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Susanna Barton has lived in Jacksonville, Florida with her husband David, their children Ben and Marley and geri-dog Dot for 25-plus years. She has written for The Austin Business Journal, The Jacksonville Business Journal, The Resident, Jacksonville University and The Bolles School during her professional life and is now exploring the realms of early retirement and normalizing conversations about senior issues through her online community and podcast, Grand Plans. In her newfound free time, Susanna really enjoys embarrassing-mom-walk exercising later in the morning, napping, reading, watching really deplorable reality television shows and catching some rays.

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Kristine Cherek is an attorney, former law professor, writer, and philanthropist. She began her career practicing real estate law at an international law firm. By age 33, she was the general counsel of one of the nation’s largest real estate development companies. She currently serves on multiple nonprofit boards where she advocates for arts education, equity and access in higher education, and animal welfare. She is a 6-time marathon runner, former college cheerleader, and avid Marquette University alumni. She and her husband reside in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, with their two rescue cats.

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 PhD, is a musician, media scholar and former university instructor from Jacksonville. He is the author of four books including the award-winning Jacksonville and the Roots of Southern Rock. He has a master’s degree in media history from University of Florida and a doctoral degree in film and television from University of Reading (UK). He started writing music criticism in the mid-1980s for Jacksonville’s Southeast Entertainer and went on to write for more than 30 local, national and international publications including the Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television.

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In 2007, Dorothy K. Fletcher retired after 35 years of teaching English in Jacksonville, Florida, and she discovered life as a writer. With her poetry already appearing in 78 literary journals, magazines, and anthologies, and her articles appearing in national markets like the Christian Science Monitor, she became a monthly columnist for the Community Sun Section portion of the Florida Times-Union. After the Community Sun section of the Times-Union was discontinued, Dorothy became a freelance writer. She and her husband Hardy love to travel, but much of their days are spent playing with their grandchildren who live nearby.

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Nathaniel Glover, born in 1943 during Jacksonville's segregation, became the first Black sheriff in the city and Florida since Reconstruction in 1995. His memoir details his journey from a pivotal encounter during "Ax Handle Saturday" to pioneering community policing, banning choke holds, and leading initiatives recognized by then-President Bill Clinton. Despite an unsuccessful mayoral run, Glover served as president of Edward Waters University, earning accolades like the "Great Floridian" designation and induction into the Florida Law Enforcement Officer's Hall of Fame. Committed to education, he spearheads the "Where They Will Shine Scholarship Fund" with Florida State College at Jacksonville's Foundation.

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Originally from Bombay, Sohrab Homi Fracis teaches literature at the University of North Florida and is a fiction and poetry editor at the State Street Review. He was awarded the 1999–2000 Florida Individual Artist Fellowship in Literature/Fiction, and his work has appeared in Other Voices, India Currents, Weber Studies, the Antigonish Review, and the Toronto Review of Contemporary Literature Abroad.

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Tim Gilmore writes about the haunted South, the “spirit of place” (or psychogeography), the South as center of America’s cultural rifts. Gilmore sees the South’s particular patterns of crime, its fundamentalism, its racial irresolution at the heart of America’s divisions and its stories, and therefore, as illustrative and necessary. Gilmore is the author of 21 books, and teaches Literature and Writing at Florida State College at Jacksonville, where he was awarded a 2018 Distinguished Faculty Award. 

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Lynn Skapyak Harlin, poet, writer, and editor worked as an educator for 20 years. She taught English, Journalism, AP and Standard classes 7-12 in Duval County. As an instructor at Florida State College Jacksonville and Jacksonville University, Lynn taught Language Arts, Writing Seminars and Adult Education. Her programs and poetry have been presented all over the country.As a reporter and photojournalist for publications in South Georgia and North Florida she tackled subjects as diverse as restaurant reviews, community features and crime news. A freelance writer for thirty years, her writing has been published in textbooks, trade magazines, literary magazines, newspaper articles and features.

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"Gregory El Harvey does not defy convention. He simply ignores it. His art is the result of years of solitary studio time, endless study of ideas that fascinate him, and a lifetime spent wandering this earth in a bit of a daze. A solitary man, he is in a quest for truth in art, relentlessly pursuing the elusive, and doggedly stripping away the pretenses of life to capture a fragile perceptive moment on canvas. His dreams are grounded in sorrow, his flights of fancy are always aware of life's pain. But he does not live in the world as most people do, but rather half in and half out of it, perhaps somewhere close to the moons he sprinkles across his paintings."

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Zora Neale Hurston (1891–1960) was a pioneering African American author, anthropologist, and filmmaker during the Harlem Renaissance. Born in Alabama, she became a prominent figure in the cultural and literary movement of the 1920s. Her best-known work, "Their Eyes Were Watching God," explores the complexities of African American identity and womanhood. Hurston's anthropological studies in the American South and the Caribbean also contributed significantly to understanding African American folklore. Despite facing challenges, her literary contributions endure, inspiring later generations and securing her legacy as a key figure in African American literature and cultural history.

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James Weldon Johnson was a civil rights activist, writer, composer, politician, educator and lawyer, as well as one of the leading figures in the creation and development of the Harlem Renaissance. After graduating from Atlanta University, Johnson worked as a principal in a grammar school, founded a newspaper, The Daily American, and became the first African American to pass the Florida Bar. His published works include The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man (1912) and God's Trombones (1927).

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The recipient of the Alice Hoffman Prize for Fiction, the Cecelia Joyce Johnson Emerging Writer Award by the Key West Literary Seminar, and a Tin House Scholarship. Her fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in The Paris Review, Tin House, Ploughshares, The Yale Review, McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern and elsewhere. Milk Blood Heat is her first book. She lives in Northeast Florida.

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 is a mixed-race, Vietnamese poet originally from California. She is the author of three poetry chapbooks, the latest titled Vasilisa the Wise (Ethel Zine Press, 2018). Her poems have appeared in or are forthcoming in Pleaides, Up the Staircase Quarterly, Hobart, Tupelo Quarterly, Potluck, and others. Her first full-length poetry collection is SAVAGE PAGEANT (Birds, LLC). She writes an ongoing poetry zine called INNANET. She is an Assistant Poetry Editor for AGNI and is a PhD student in English at Duke.

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For the past twenty years Mae Silver has been writing local history. As she moved around in her life, she was always in a place that had little or no written local history. In her view, local history is important because it helps to anchor people with their environment, place. It helps to define a person. She is lucky, she says, because local history is always around her regardless of where she is.

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PeTika Tave is a middle-school teacher that loves to read non-fiction books. Being in the classroom has taught her to write books children want and need to read, such as building confidence and loving who they are. Her books are meant to inspire, motivate, and encourage while building strong families and loving relationships.

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Nikesha Elise Williams is a two-time Emmy award winning producer, an award-winning author, and producer and host of the Black & Published podcast. Her latest novel, Beyond Bourbon Street, was awarded Best Fiction by the Black Caucus of African-American Librarians in the 2021 Self-Published eBook Literary Awards. It also received the 2020 Outstanding Book Award from the National Association of Black Journalists. Nikesha’s debut novel Four Women received the 2018 NABJ Outstanding Literary Work Award and the Florida Authors and Publisher’s Association President’s Award for Adult Contemporary/Literary Fiction. Nikesha is a Chicago native. She attended The Florida State University where she graduated with a B.S. in Communication: Mass Media Studies and Honors English Creative Writing. 

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