Better Things wordmark

A 5×5 Reading Event* + Open Mic

This event was held at Moon Palace Books on Tuesday, April 2nd, at 7:00pm, and featured five fantastic writers: C. Fausto Cabrera, Chavonn Williams Shen, LM Brimmer, Junauda Petrus, and Sara Dovre Wudali. The reading and open mic was hosted by Erin Sharkey and Davi Gray.

Moon Palace Books logo

Better Things is a series of events sponsored by the ReEntry Lab, in partnership with the Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop (MPWW) and Moon Palace Books. The ReEntry Lab is an organization working to connect writers and other artists leaving incarceration to a community that’s ready to receive them. You can learn more about its mission, volunteer to help, and sign up for the newsletter at reentrylab.org.


C. Fausto Cabrera (he/him) is a multi-genre writer and artist incarcerated from 2003–24. His work has appeared in the Colorado Review, the Antioch Review, the American Literary Review, and the Woodward Review. The Parameters of Our Cage is an epistle collaboration with photographer Alec Soth.

C Fausto Cabrera

Chavonn Williams Shen

Chavonn Williams Shen (she/they) is from Minneapolis, Minnesota. She was a 2022 McKnight Writing fellow and a first runner-up for The Los Angeles Review Flash Fiction Contest. She was also a Best of the Net Award finalist, a Pushcart Prize nominee, a winner of the Loft Literary Center’s Mentor Series, a fellow with the Givens Foundation for African American Literature, and an instructor for the Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop. A Bread Loaf, Tin House, VONA, and Hurston/Wright workshop alum, her writing has appeared in: Diode, Anomaly, AGNI, and others. Her debut book, Still Life with Rope and River, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press.

Junauda Petrus (she/her) is a creative activist, writer, playwright, and multi-dimensional performance artist who is born on Dakota land, West-Indian descended, and African-sourced. Her work centers around Black wildness, futurism, ancestral healing, sweetness, spectacle and shimmer. She is the author of The Stars And The Blackness Between Them, winner of the 2020 Coretta Scott King Honor Book Award.

Junauda Petrus

LM Brimmer

LM Brimmer (they/them) is a poet and educator living on Dakota and Anishinaabe-Ojibwe lands in Minneapolis, MN.
In 2019 they co-edited Queer Voices: Poetry, Prose and Pride (MNHS PRESS). Brimmer has published poems in Concision Poetry Journal, Voicemail Poems, Quarterly West and the Pleaides folio “Silences of War: Erasure Within Conflict” and has a few forthcoming from the Sonora Review. Their essays have appeared in The Public Art Review, La Raza Comíca (Chile) and The Alliance of Adoption Studies and Culture Journal. LM co-curates, with Sherrie Fernandez Williams, the Queer Voices Reading and Performance Series in collaboration with Hennepin County & Quatrefoil Libraries.

Sara Dovre Wudali (she/her) is a writer and editor living in Saint Paul. Dovre Wudali is a 2023–2024 Poetry Fellow in the Loft Mentor Series and a recipient of a Creative Support grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. Her poems and essays have been published in literary journals and anthologies such as under the gum tree, Barrel House, Blood Tree Literature, and the Saint Paul Almanac. She is the co-editor with Suzanne Swanson of the hybrid anthology chapbook, All You Need Is One Avocado. Dovre Wudali grew up on a farm in southwest Minnesota, where wind blows through the cottonwoods and box elder bugs rule. You can learn more and read her work at saradovrewudali.com.

Sara Dovre Wudali

Erin Sharkey

Erin Sharkey (she/they) is a writer, arts and abolition organizer, cultural worker, and film producer based in Minneapolis. She is the editor of A Darker Wilderness: Black Nature Writing from Soil to Stars (Milkweed Editions ’23). Erin is a founding coop member of the Fields at Rootsprings, a retreat and respite space in central MN, and co-founder, with Junauda Petrus, of an experimental arts collective called Free Black Dirt. She is the producer of film projects, including Small Business Revolution, which explored challenges and opportunities for Black-owned businesses in the Twin Cities in the summer of 2021. Sharkey has received fellowships and residencies from the Loft Mentor Series, VONA/Voices, the Givens Foundation, Penumbra Theatre, Coffee House Press, the Bell Museum of Natural History, Black Visions, Headwaters Foundation, and the Jerome Foundation. She has an MFA in creative writing from Hamline University and teaches with the Minnesota Prison Writing Workshop.

Davi Gray (they/she) is a queer, trans, nonbinary poet, writer, storyteller, artist, activist, and abolitionist. They live in North Minneapolis (Bde Óta Othúŋwe), within Mni Sóta Makoce, traditional homelands of the Dakota and Ojibwe. Gray has won prizes in PEN America Prison Writing Contests, and their work has been published in Poetry, Rogue Agent, NonBinary Review, and elsewhere. They can often be found performing around the Twin Cities. You can learn more about their work, including upcoming events, at davigray.com.

Davi Gray

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