Tara Betts


Chicago, IL
Illinois US

Author's Bio

Tara Betts is the author of Refuse to Disappear (Word Works Books, 2022), Break the Habit (Trio House Press, 2016) and Arc & Hue, as well as the chapbooks "7 x 7: kwansabas (Backbone Press, 2015), and the libretto "THE GREATEST: An Homage to Muhammad Ali (Argus House/Winged City Press, 2013). Tara also coedited Carving Out Rights from Inside the Prison Industrial Complex (Hat and Beard Press, 2021), The Beiging of America (2Leaf Press, 2017), and a critical edition of Philippa Duke Schuyler's long out of print memoir Adventures in Black & White (2Leaf Press, 2018).

She holds a Ph.D. in English from Binghamton University and an MFA in Creative Writing from New England College. Tara is a Cave Canem alum. Tara’s work has appeared in numerous publications, including POETRY magazine, The Break Beat Poets, Octavia's Brood, VILLANELLES, Gathering Ground, Bum Rush the Page, A Face to Meet the Faces: An Anthology of Contemporary Persona Poetry, and both Spoken Word Revolution anthologies. Her poems have appeared in POETRY, Essence, Crab Orchard Review, Callaloo, Ninth Letter, Court Green, and others.

Her writing has also been adapted for the stage in Steppenwolf Theater's Words on Fire," "Fingernails Across a Chalk Board" by Chocolate Chips Theater Company, Rivka's Solomon's "That Takes Ovaries!" and Peggy Choy Dance Company's production of "THE GREATEST! An Hip Homage to Muhammad Ali." Tara also appeared on HBO’s “Def Poetry Jam” and the Black Family Channel series “SPOKEN” with Jessica Care Moore. After winning Guild Complex’s Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Award, she represented Chicago twice at the National Poetry Slam. She also coached youth who participated in Brave New Voices and Chicago's Louder Than a Bomb.

Publications & Prizes

Refuse to Disappear (Word Works, 2022)
Break the Habit (Trio House Press, 2016)
Arc and Hue (Aquarius Press, 2009)
Prizes won: 

2021 Mellon Fellow/Inaugural Poet for the People Practitioner Fellow, University of Chicago. 2016 Kimbilio Fiction fellow. 2011 Bread Loaf Writers Conference. 2010 VONA scholarship for memoir and poetry. 2009 Squaw Valley Writers Workshop scholarship. 2002, 2003, 2005 Cave Canem fellow. Guild Complex's Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic Award. Illinois Arts Council fellowship. Artist-in-residence at Ragdale Foundation, Soul Mountain, Caldera, Centrum, Vermont Studio Center, and University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign.

More Information

Gives readings: 
Travels for readings: 
Identifies as: 
African American, Mixed-Race
Prefers to work with: 
Adults, At Risk Youth, Children, Disability, Homelessness, Illness/Wellness, Incarcerated individuals, LGBTQ, Naturalists/Environmentalists, Seniors, Teachers, Teenagers
Fluent in: 
Born in: 
Raised in: 
Kankakee, IL
Please note: All information in the Directory is provided by the listed writers or their representatives.
Last update: May 24, 2022