Our Team


Lisa Roberts

she/her
FOUNDING DIRECTOR

Lisa earned her BA at Princeton University and MA at The University of Virginia. Over eighteen years, she taught literature and writing at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, University of Virginia, University of Nevada-Las Vegas, and the University of Nebraska. After moving to Iowa City, she served as Assistant Director of the Iowa Youth Writing Project and worked to bring free creative writing workshops to children throughout Eastern Iowa. Her poems have appeared in PlainsongsThe Untidy Season: An Anthology of Nebraska Women Poets, and Little Village. She has performed spoken word poems at a variety of shows, including Was the Word, Voicebox, and The Hook. 

Caleb Rainey

he/him
Director IC Speaks

Caleb “The Negro Artist” Rainey is an author, performer, and producer. He hails from Columbia, Missouri, and holds a B.A. in English (Creative Writing) from the University of Iowa. His debut book, Look, Black Boy, became Amazon’s #1 new release in African American poetry, and was awarded first prize in the North Street Book Prize. His second book, Heart Notes was published in 2019. In 2020 and 2021 he was named Best Poet/Spoken Word Performer in Cedar Rapids & Iowa City. In 2021 he converted the poems from his first book to create his first spoken word album, Look, Black Boy. He co-founded the literary magazine Black Art; Real Stories, was published in Iowa's Best Emerging Poets - 2019, the Little Village Magazine, and wrote a monthly column for The Real Mainstream.

As a performer he is the winner of multiple poetry slams across the country, as well as a finalist for the UNESCO City of Literature Global Poetry Slam – Iowa City. He has taken the stage in countless cities, including Kansas City, Baltimore, Washington DC, Denver, Houston, Chicago, New York City, and even internationally in London, England. He was also featured on Button Poetry and Write About Now. Outside of poetry, Caleb acted in a number of plays, some of which include Blood at the Root, I and You, and the Iowa debuts Exit Strategy and Luna Gale.

Yassie Buchanan

she/her
Assistant Director
IC Speaks

Yassie Buchanan is a senior studying English and Creative Writing with a minor in Spanish at the University of Iowa. She is passionate about creating and uplifting work that highlights minority voices and experiences. Yassie writes a variety of pieces including non-fiction, fiction, and poetry. She has worked as a columnist at the Daily Iowan, mostly writing about social justice. She was awarded first place in column by the Associated Collegiate Press awards. Yassie also serves as the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Director at the University of Iowa Dance Marathon.

Jennifer MacBain-Stephens

she/her
READING SERIES DIRECTOR

Jennifer MacBain-Stephens went to NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and now lives in Iowa where she likes to rock climb. She is the author of four full length poetry collections and twelve chapbooks. Her chapbook “Teeth Have a Hardness Scale of 5,” is forthcoming this summer from Sputnik and Fizzle Press and her chapbook “The Female Citizens of Sunshine Nation Face off with Light Sucking Demons” recently came out from Grey Book Press. Her work can be seen at or is forthcoming from The Pinch, Cleaver, Yalobusha Review, Zone 3, and Grist. She is excited to host the reading series Today You Are Perfect sponsored by the non-profit Iowa City Poetry. Find her online at her website.

KayLee Chie Kuehl

she/her
In Two Voices
Director

KayLee Chie Kuehl is a writer, poet, and filmmaker. As an adopted and multiracial woman, she has spent much of her life wondering where she fits. So, cultivating healing spaces has always been important to her, whether it be through her own material or in a collective. 

Her creative works can be found in The Atlas 11 & 12, InkLitMag 14, 15, & 18, Mirror Magazine, Multitudes, Amplify Black Voices, and Quarantine Magazine. Her short film, Nepali Negro was shown in the 2019 Bijou Open Screen. Her work focuses on race/culture, identity, and spirituality. 

Currently, she is the Editor in Chief of Black Art; Real Stories (BARS), the Senior Contracts Manager of Student Video Productions (SVP), and occasionally volunteers as a proofreader for TRANS Magazine in Amsterdam. 

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