• M. Nzadi Keita’s Pew Fellow photo

M. Nzadi Keita

Nzadi Keita, a Philly-born writer, editor, and scholar, is a Pew Fellow for the Arts in Poetry. Her book of persona poems, BRIEF EVIDENCE OF HEAVEN, gives voice to abolitionist Anna Murray Douglass, first wife of Frederick Douglass. Cited by Yale historian David Blight, the book was also a finalist for the Phillis Wheatley Prize from the Quarterly Black Book Review. Grants from the Fine Arts Work Center and Pennsylvania Council on the Arts have funded Keita’s writing. The Women’s International Study Center awarded her a fellowship. Her scholarship and community work have received the Leeway Foundation’s support. Keita is an alumna of Cave Canem and has been a Yaddo fellow. Her poems have appeared in journals such as Poet Lore and in anthologies including A Face to Meet the Faces: An Anthology of Contemporary Persona Poetry. Peace Is A Haiku Song, a collaboration with the Philadelphia Mural Arts Project, includes her prose. She has also collaborated with the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation and WHYY.




  • B.A. Temple University
  • M.A. Vermont College
  • Ph.D., Indiana University of Pennsylvania


  • Intro to Poetry Writing
  • Persona Poetry
  • Spoken Word
  • Memoir Writing in Philadelphia
  • The Black Arts Movement
  • Caribbean Literature
  • Post-War American Poets
  • Issues in African-American & Africana Studies

Research Interests

Creative Writing: Poetry, Hybrid Texts, Fiction
Scholarship: Black women writers, African-American migration, poetry pedagogy, imagery and black communities

Recent Work

BRIEF EVIDENCE OF HEAVEN (poems), 2014, Whirlwind Press

Poems published recently:
The Maine Review

The Killens Review of Arts & Lectures

Essays published recently:

About Place Journal


Presenter.  “Seeking the Brief Evidence of Anna Murray Douglass” – National Council of African-American Librarians’ Annual Conference, July, 2021

Panelist, “Interrogating the Racial Past through Research-Based Poetry” - Associated Writing Programs Convention, February, 2020

Panelist: “Frederick Douglass at 200: The Life Behind the Times,” Yale University, February, 2018


“The Other Douglass: Recuperative Agency In Brief Evidence Of Heaven: Poems from the life of Anna Murray Douglass” - July 2019, MLA Internat’l Conference, Lisbon, Portugal