Jeni De La O is an Afro-Cuban poet and storyteller living in Detroit. She is a founding member of The Estuary Collective. Through the collective, Jeni provides free and donation-based programming for emerging writers including readings, workshops, and craft discussions. She is Managing Editor at Kissing Dynamite Poetry and authors the monthly column, BROWN STUDY, at The Poetry Question.
Originally from Hialeah, Jeni grew up all over South Florida. She relocated to Michigan in 2009, where she began performing as a storyteller. Jeni has performed with The Moth Radio Hour at the local, Grand Slam, and national levels. She has also told stories with the Secret Society of Twisted Storytellers, Let's Just Say, Lamplight Music Festival, MouthPiece Storytelling, and other organizations. Inspired by the robust culture of storytelling in Detroit and the surrounding areas, Jeni launched Relato:Detroit in 2017. The nation's first bilingual community storytelling event, her series was profiled by ABC, The Huffington Post, CultureShift on WDET (NPR), and Stateside with Cynthia Canti (NPR).
Jeni began publishing poetry in 2017 despite having maintained a practice since she was a kid in grade school. Her most recent work focuses on leveraging elements of visual poetry to transfer the gestural nature of storytelling into poetics. Her most recent project themes include porosity of language, cultural preservation, oral tradition, visual poetics, fatphobia as a means of acculturation and assimilation, and representation in craft & theory resources. Research interests include hurricanes, swampland (the Florida Redlands specifically), el exilio, transatlantic slave trade & its Caribbean legacy, Afro-Caribbean cultural practice as poetic structures, AfroLatine representation and obfuscation in the larger Latinx community, the wildness around "Latinidad" in general, Biblical anything, impacts of Gifted and Talented programs on specifically low income, non-white families (not just the student), generative submission models, cooperative learning, community storytelling, language acquisition, and the cultural impact of economic mobility.