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Woman. Warrior. Writer. Toni Ann Johnson

For the final December 2021 Woman Warrior Writer I’m happy to present Toni Ann Johnson!
Johnson’s short fiction has appeared in The Emerson Review, Coachella Review, Hunger Mountain, Callaloo, and elsewhere. A novel, Remedy For a Broken Angel (2014) was nominated for a 2015 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literary Work by a Debut Author. A novella, Homegoing (2021) won Accent Publishing’s inaugural novella contest. A short-story collection Light Skin Gone to Waste won the Flannery O’Connor Award and is forthcoming from The University of Georgia Press in 2022.
How did you come to author your life?
In 2007 I wanted to plant trees in my South LA neighborhood in front of a Ralphs Grocery where there was no green space.  A nonprofit was willing to cut the concrete, donate the trees, and plant them. All Ralphs would have to do was water them. They declined, disrespecting my community. I made it my mission to get those trees in the ground. I blogged, wrote letters, made a video, published an op-ed, and eventually, the trees were planted. Since then, when people won’t help me, I move them out of my way.
I want to add a little personal note here because I first met Toni Ann back in the early 1990s during the time when we were reading poetry in Los Angeles. We met through a mutual friend, Cecilia (Mamby) Hart, my neighbor and pal in Venice. It was a time of romance and creativity, uncertainty and change. There were a series of events that happened in my life: fired from a lead in a play, fired from my job working for a producer, fired from my job as a script analyst, left by my on again off again boyfriend. Dear Reader, this happened over the course of two weeks. I was depressed. I decided to take a plane home. Toni Ann told me this: if I wrote to her, she would write me back. She did. She also told me that accepting the ups and downs of what it means to be a creative person was also a part of the life of an artist. I hadn’t wanted to accept this. I learned to. I have always remembered this. Decades later we reconnected and here she is. She’s a person of kindness.
Thank you always Toni Ann for the ways that you inspire and lead through your words and actions!
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Woman. Warrior. Writer. Darien Hsu Gee

November’s Woman Warrior is Darien Hsu Gee ! Darien is the author of five novels published by Penguin Random House that have been translated into eleven languages. She is also the recipient of an IPPY award for her collection of micro essays, Allegiance (2020); a Poetry Society of America’s Chapbook Fellowship for Other Small Histories (2019); and a Hawai‘i Book Publishers’ Ka Palapala Poʻokela Award of Excellence for Writing the Hawai‘i Memoir (2015). She lives with her family on the Island of Hawai‘i and serves as series editor for Haliʻa Aloha, a micro memoir writing and hybrid publishing program.
How did you come to author your life?
I’ve never been good at listening to other people. I’ve had cheerleaders and naysayers, not to mention my own nagging doubt and self-sabotage, but I’ve always managed to right the ship and get back on course. It hasn’t been easy, but a writer’s life isn’t easy. I know the risks and sacrifices. I’ve worked hard, I’ve been lucky, I have some regrets. It’s in my bones. I’m willing to own it all, even when it’s hard or seemingly impossible. 


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Woman. Warrior. Writer. Sang Kil

I am excited to announce that October’s Woman Warrior is Sang Kil, a professor in “Justice” Studies at San Jose State University.  She chairs her faculty union’s Anti-Racism, Social Justice Transformation group and fights to defund/abolish campus police as well as the racism, sexism and other systemic social injustices at SJSU.

How did you come to author your life?

I have been a fighter for social justice ever since I was young and my parents attempted to teach me anti-blackness living outside of D.C. In challenging my parent’s immigrant racism, I have also learned to include intersectionality in my analysis as I identify as queer women of color with a hidden disability.  Both my writing and my activism reflect my lifelong commitment to social justice. My new book is in progress and is tentatively titled, ‘Reporting from the Whites of their Eyes: How Neoliberalism as White Supremacy Promotes Racism in the News Coverage “All Lives Matter”, Trump’s “Border Wall” and “Muslim Travel Ban.”’ 

Follow Sang Kil at


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Woman. Warrior. Writer. Deesha Philyaw

It’s time for our WOMAN WARRIOR tribute post, done in the spirit of Maxine Hong Kingston. I hope that by presenting women writers, creators, and leaders here, that we can learn, better our own lives, and change our communities.

Today’s WOMAN WARRIOR is award winning author of short story collection, THE SECRET LIVES OF CHUCH LADIES.

Please meet Deesha Philyaw 👩🏿📚

@deeshaphilyaw’s debut short story collection, The Secret Lives of Church Ladies, won the 2021 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction, the 2020/2021 Story Prize, and the 2020 LA Times Book Prize: The Art Seidenbaum Award for First Fiction and was a finalist for the 2020 National Book Award for Fiction. The collection focuses on Black women, sex, and the Black church, and is being adapted for television by HBOMax with Tessa Thompson executive producing. Learn more at:

✨ How did you come to author your own life? ✨

“Growing up, my dream life was a standard American dream life: Go to college, get married, have kids, have professional success. In 2005, I was a 34-year-old stay-at-home mom on the brink of divorce, trying to figure out how I would make a living as a writer. That same year, my mother, my father, and my grandmother (who helped raise me) all died. Watching my mother die of cancer at age 52 gave me a sense of urgency about my writing, as well as permission to write how and what I want, and to live how I want, unapologetically.”

➡️ Visit to learn more about this incredibly talented woman, warrior and writer.

And if you want to read and learn from–and maybe even meet–writers like this, please register for classes at

~empowering women through narrative~