AROHO Presents the 5th Gift of Freedom Finalists

Bridget Birdsall is a healer, writer, poet, teacher and a visual artist. She has a degree in Marketing Management from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College in Montpelier, Vermont.  She currently teaches classes in Creative Writing, Poetry, World Literature, and Marketing at Edgewood College and Madison Area Technical School. This summer Bridget will be offering “W(rite) to Heal” workshops at Wonewoc Spiritualist Camp in central Wisconsin.  Bridget has written three Young Adult novels: “Ordinary Angels,” an autobiographical, fictionalized, coming-of-age account of a girl dealing with the violent and mysterious death of her brother;  “August Atlas,” the story of a child born with ambiguous genitalia who changes genders at the age of fifteen; and “Bringing Home Divine,” the story of a spunky cowgirl struggling against a backdrop of fear and homophobia to define for herself the true meaning of family. Bridget lives with her son, Quinn, in Madison, Wisconsin. Samples of her art, writing, awards and publications can be viewed at Also, check out Bridget’s Reflection on finding courage, making space, and picking up that pen!

CM Burroughs is a poet and teacher based in Pittsburgh, PA. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in journals including jubilat, PLUCK!, Bat City Review, Eleven Eleven,and Tuesday; An Art Project. Burroughs is a Stanford Calderwood fellow of The MacDowell Colony, and an alumna of Cave Canem. She has received commissions from the Studio Museum of Harlem and the Warhol Museum to create poetry in response to art installations. A Pushcart Prize nominee, she received her MFA from the University of Pittsburgh, where she currently teaches poetry and creative writing.



Nathalie Handal’s work has appeared in numerous anthologies and magazines, such as, Poetrywales, Ploughshares, Poetry New Zealand, Stand Magazine, Crab Orchard Review, Perihelion, and The Literary Review. She is the author of the poetry collections, The NeverField and The Lives of Rain (short-listed for The Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize/The Pitt Poetry Series); the editor of The Poetry of Arab Women: A Contemporary Anthology (an Academy of American Poets Bestseller and winner of the PEN Oakland/Josephine Miles Award); and co-editor of Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia & Beyond (W.W. Norton, 2008).


Gail Helen Kramer wrote My Husband Betty (2003) and She’s Not the Man I Married (2007) under her nom de plume of Helen Boyd. Recent essays have appeared in the anthologies Queer and Catholic and Nobody Passes, and her essay “Cat of Nine Tale” will appear in the Spring edition of Global City Review. Her blog en|gender can be found at www.myhusbandbetty.comwhere she also moderates a forum for transgender people and their partners. She graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the City College of New York and is currently teaching Gender Studies at Lawrence University in Wisconsin.



Rashaan Alexis Meneses earned her MFA from Saint Mary’s College of California’s Creative Writing Program where she was awarded the Sor Juana Ines de La Cruz Scholarship for Excellence in Fiction and also served as editor for the online journal, MARY. She received her B.A. in English with a specialization in Fiction, Creative Writing from the University of California, Los Angeles. A 2005-2006 Jacob K. Javits Fellow, her recent publications include The University of North Carolina’s Pembroke Magazine, and Growing Up Filipino II to be released by PALH, May 2009. She teaches at Saint Mary’s College and Merritt College in the Bay Area, California.

Author: A Room of Her Own

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