Pittsburgh Artist Registry

Bonita Lee Penn

Bonita Lee Penn

Artistic Category Artist
Career Level Emerging
Experienced With Collaboration, For-hire services, Leading workshops, Lectures, Speaking engagements, Performances, Teaching engagements

“I am a Black woman poet and I sound like one.” (Lucille Clifton) If one sentence were to describe my stance as a poet. My poetry is influenced by the lives of Black women, globally, and through history. The poems ensure that the identity of those who write, is neither hidden nor gentrified. By this I mean poems influence by the Black Aesthetic (theme, structure and saturation) spoken in the words of the Black woman. The voice of urgency in my poems, is drawn on the works and mission of the poets of the Black Arts Movement.  Their use of identity and place within a sphere of politics, family and place. As the images in The Bean Eaters, In the Mecca and A Street in Bronzeville (Gwendolyn Brooks), offered a sense of humanity to the everyday lives of people of color from the lens of a Black woman. My poems identify with an entire community of Women of Color. This is my mission to expand the lens of the “just us” to “all of us.” The goal of my poetic style is to scream that our aesthetic is still relevant in our narratives.

The themes which I explore derive from a broad range inclusive of historical events and locations, universal treatment of women, music, art, literature and daily discourse. I believe the analysis of women’s evolution in all factors of life is an important resource for the creation of poetry. The bold language within my poems gives way to the rhythms of language, where white space and sound creates texture and meaning.  A form to define the Black woman, in the context of family, body, morality and a vision of what it is to truly be free writing poet. Though my range of interests and influences, I explore not only the struggle of women to secure their place in society; but, also, this discovery allows me to evolve as a poet woman, which plays a significant role in allowing my works to touch others in their own journey of self-discovery and acceptance.

Short Bio statement:

Bonita Lee Penn, a Pittsburgh poet, an active reader in the Pittsburgh literary scene; she volunteers as the facilitator of a monthly poetry workshop (Umbra/Pittsburgh Writers) and member of a Pittsburgh Black Feminist Reading Group; an upcoming creative project with Crossing Limits, “Common Threads: Faith, Activism, and the Art of Healing.” She received her MFA from Lesley University (Cambridge, MA) and her B.A. in Creative NonFiction/Grant Writing at Carlow University.  Her works have appeared in The Massachusetts Review, Women Studies Quarterly, RUNE Literary Journal, Voice from the Attic Anthology, and online journals, Pittsburgh City Paper’s Chapter & Verse, The “Skinny” Journal and Hot Metal Bridge. She is in search of a publisher for her manuscript; chapbook and at work on the production of her performance poetic piece.




Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15233
Download Resumé


  • Vocal
  • Spoken Word
  • Mixed-media
  • Academic
  • Autobiographical
  • Biographical
  • Blog
  • Creative Non-fiction
  • Essay
  • Fiction
  • Historic
  • Journalism
  • Non-fiction
  • Poetry
  • Prose
  • Publishing


  • Abstract
  • Alternative
  • Biographical
  • Blank verse
  • Cultural
  • Documentary
  • Electronic
  • Ethnic
  • Feminist
  • Folk
  • Gender studies
  • Narrative
  • Text
  • Zine