Raphael Cohen is a writer and performer committed to utilizing the word as a vehicle for social change. Fusing the craft of poetry composition with dynamic oratorical expression, his art critically assesses the multifaceted nature of oppression, exposes and explores the hidden costs of privilege, and vibrantly inspires efforts towards personal and collective liberation.

In 2007, he released his first full-length poetry collection, Scrutinizing Lines, and with it, launched Play In The Margins Press, an independent publishing and event production initiative dedicated to promoting the work of Bay area writers and performers bridging the worlds of art and activism.

A storyteller at heart, Raphael has shared his work throughout the Bay area, as well as in New York, Toronto, Montreal, and beyond. Venues of note have included Eastside Arts Alliance (Oakland), La Pena Cultural Center (Berkeley), City College of San Francisco, the Poetry Center at San Francisco State University, the Bowery Poetry Club (NYC), the Nuyorican Poets Café (NYC), Fiwi Aat Space (Toronto), Caliban Arts Theatre (Toronto), Casa Del Popolo (Montreal), and Concordia University (Montreal). He was a featured performer at the 9th and 10th annual White Privilege Conference, held in Springfield, Massachusetts and Memphis, Tennessee, and has had his poetry published in several literary journals, including Transfer and Zeek: A Jewish Journal Of Arts & Culture.

Raphael’s work as an educator has ranged from leading creative writing and performance classes with elementary through high school students to developing curriculum and facilitating anti-oppression trainings for various youth empowerment groups. In specific, he has worked as an arts program director at Lighthouse Community Charter School (Oakland) and Camp Hayden-Marks of the Fresh Air Fund (NYC), and as a literary arts teacher at Think College Now (Oakland), Reach Academy (Oakland), Lockwood Elementary School (Oakland), John Muir Elementary School (San Francisco), and Enola Maxell Middle School (San Francisco), among others. He has designed and led interactive workshops on issues of racial justice, including the history of racism in the U.S., structural racism today, power and privilege, cultural appropriation, models of resistance, and storytelling as activism, for high school students through Y-Step (Youth Step Towards Addressing Racism), JYCA (Jewish Youth for Community Action), and the Youth Leadership Component of the White Privilege Conference.

Originally from New York, Raphael has lived in Oakland since 2001. He holds a BA in creative writing from San Francisco State University, and is currently pursuing a poetry MFA at Mills College.

Raphael is available for readings/performances, school assemblies/ classroom residencies, workshops/trainings, manuscript consultation/editing, and event production/hosting.

To download a .pdf version of Raphael’s biography, click here.

all photos by d.g. gonzalez
© 2009 Raphael Cohen
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