Sarita “Sincere” Goods
Sarita Goods (Sincere) has been an avid lover of poetry since she was child. She began performing and organizing open mic events in 2001 in Greenville, SC, while in college. Now, over two decades later, she has graced countless stages, facilitated workshops and performed at local schools. In addition to serving as President of the Board of Directors for Southern Fried Poetry, Inc., Sincere is also a dedicated member of the New Danger Arts Collective and was recently inducted into the Carolina “Flow Official” chapter of Black on Black Rhyme. Her work within the slam community includes both competing and coaching, but she found that she can be most impactful working on the administrative side of things. She has been attending Southern Fried since 2011 and through this community, she discovered her love for nurturing the person while helping develop their craft. Under her guidance, Southern Fried survived the pandemic, hosted the first fully virtual team/indie tournament in 2021, and has now returned with two successful in person competitions in 2022 and 2023.
Sarita currently holds a BA in interdisciplinary studies, an MA in Management and Leadership, and is currently working on a second MA in Organizational Development. She works as a licensed Realtor in both North and South Carolina and is proud to be a trusted advisor when it comes to real estate. She is an inspirational conversationalist who is always willing to share her knowledge on “how to live the Good(s) life.” She is a dedicated and hardworking wife and mother of two. She currently resides near Charleston, SC, which is where she is originally from. She considers it an honor and a privilege to continue serving on the board of directors for Southern Fried and is excited for the upcoming year.
Sharonda “Eccentrich” Richardson
Born and raised in Pompano Beach Fl. she has been in the cultural arts industry for 12 years. Eccentrich is the founder and current CEO of the arts organization Be Eccentrich Inc, where there focus is to infuse art into underserved communities and use the arts to change lives emotionally, physically, spiritually, and financially.
Eccentrich is also the founder of Free on the Inside, the poetry pipeline series, where she goes into prisons facilitating workshops and showcasing spoken word poetry, with other poets. In 2018, she created the first poetry festival in the history of the City of Pompano Beach, the Exit 36 Slam Poetry Festival and continues creating program curriculum for Be Eccentrich and serves as a cultural programmer and consultant for outside organizations.
Eddie Vega is a poet, spoken word artist, and educator originally from the Rio Grande Valley of South Texas, currently residing in San Antonio. His poetry has been displayed on VIA Buses and downtown San Antonio buildings. In 2017, he was the runner-up in the Haiku Death Match at the National Poetry Slam. His first full-length collection of poetry, Chicharra Chorus, was published in 2019 by FlowerSong Press. Vega writes about food, Tejano culture, social justice, and the intersections thereof. Known as the Taco-Poet of Texas, he can be found at an open-mic, slam, or taqueria on any given non-quarantine evening anywhere throughout South Texas.
Wendy Jones is a poet and copy editor currently residing in Durham, North Carolina. She is the Slam Coordinator for the Bull City Slam Team based at the Hayti Heritage Center in Durham, North Carolina, the President of the Black on Black Rhyme Carolina chapter, assistant tournament director for Exit 36 Poetry Festival in Pompano Beach, Florida and most recently she has been appointed to the South Carolina arts council poetry fellowship panel.
She is an artistic curator, workshop facilitator and event planner who has been an integral part of the planning and development of numerous Spoken Word projects and Slams along the southeast corridor over the past 15 years on a local and regional level, including Southern Fried Poetry Slam and Duo Slam. She has edited numerous collections of poetry and short story books for Southern based authors and is looking to expand into publishing in 2023.
She writes because she knows what it’s like to be broken, she speaks because she knows what it’s like to be silenced, she shares because she knows her gift is meant to free others. In a sea of T-Shirt and jeans, this fashion forward poet stands out.
Though at first glance one would assume Ashlee is about to walk the runway, when she walks to the mic the crowd is in for a treat. Stitching stanzas, weaving wordplay, and hemming rough topics in her poetry, she delivers a one of a kind brand.
Her style is unique, raw, and uplifting to the spirit. Writing since the age of 8 proved to be a safe place. Because of her Caribbean roots, Ashlee never gave much thought to writing being a viable career. She graduated from Georgia State University with a Bachelor’s in English with every intention to study law. Being introduced to the works of Shakespeare, Maya Angelou and Zora Neale Hurston, she knew law wouldn’t be her career. Ashlee Connors credits her creative rhetoric to her advanced life experiences. Ashlee inspires many with her writing by tapping into the emotional chambers of the heart and appealing to what the audience needs to hear.
Ashlee has been a member of the Marquis Slam team between 2016-2019. She went on to compete at WOWPS, a slam for poets who identify as womxn. The WOWPS community was uniquely designed to honor and celebrate the stories of womxn in a world that readily attempts to silence and oppress them. It is a space where we are centered, safe, and encouraged. She made final stage in March 2020 and ranked 14th. Ashlee has also served as slammaster for the Loc’d and Loaded Slam Team 2023 and the team ranked 8th place in the region.
Ashlee took an interest in serving on the back end with the administrative side. She has served on the health and wellness committee for Southern Fried. She also served as the Volunteer Committee for WOWPS. Recently, she accepted a position to be on the board for Southern Fried and is also Department Head of Poetry for the Raleigh Film and Art festival.
Ashlee is excited to serve in each of these capacities and hoped to continue to leave her mark in the art form.
LeJuane (El’Ja) Bowens
LeJuane (El’Ja) Bowens is an award-winning spoken word artist, poet, speaker, and author. El’Ja Bowens has done work with the John Kennedy Center of the Performing Arts along with featuring at many festivals including the National Folk Festival, Big Ears Festival, and Arts in the Heart of Augusta Festival. He is the founder/director for the Southeast Regional NC Poetry Festival in Fayetteville, NC and he has featured on Poetry Slam Inc and All Def Poetry on YouTube. He also hosts Nerd Slam competitions at numerous comicons across the US.
Stephanie “Steph Love” Lask
Stephanie Lask aka Steph Love is a spoken word artist, teaching artist, host and web designer, originally from Virginia Beach, VA currently residing in Norfolk, VA. She is the slammaster for the Verb Benders Slam Team. They are currently ranked 3rd out of 28 teams, after competing in the 2023 Southern Fried Poetry Festival. She hosts monthly poetry slams at the Venue on 35th St in Norfolk, VA. She also hosts numerous open mics in the 757 area. Lastly, she is a teaching artist for the non-profit organization, Arts For Learning, the Virginia Affiliate of Young Audiences. Through this organization, she teaches different styles of poetry to students, ages ranging from elementary to high school, and also to adults.