About

Cynthia Dewi Oka 4 - Photo by Jose QuintanaCYNTHIA DEWI OKA is the author of Salvage and Nomad of Salt and Hard Water.

A Pushcart Prize Nominee, her poetry has appeared widely online and in print. She has been awarded the Leeway Foundation’s Transformation Award; the Tupelo Quarterly Poetry Prize; the Fifth Wednesday Journal Editor’s Prize in Poetry; the Amy Clampitt Residency (2021-2022); and scholarships from Voices of Our Nations (VONA) and Vermont Studio Center. She has performed her poetry in various venues across the US and internationally, including at The New School, The Nuyorican, Poet’s House, the Langston Hughes House, Nick Virgilio Writer’s House, Noyes Art Garage, Woman Made Gallery, the Institute of Contemporary Art Philadelphia, the Philly Pigeon, the Leonard Pearlstein Gallery, Busboys and Poets, Writers Resist Philadelphia, The Laura Flanders Show, Split This Rock Poetry Festival, Hobart Festival of Women Writers, Festival Internacional de Poesia de la Habana, and the Ubud Writers and Readers Festival.

Cynthia has been a poetry mentor for The Speakeasy Project, taught Foundations of Poetry for the Blue Stoop, and served as a guest poet in classrooms at CUNY, UPenn, NYU, UCSD, and UCLA. In 2018, she visited Widener University as a featured poet in the English and Creative Writing Departments’ Distinguished Writers Series. As a Dodge Poet, she has visited and worked with young poets in high schools through mini-festivals across New Jersey. She has also facilitated poetry workshops for organizations and initiatives such as Community Building Art WorksFreeWrite Prison Writing Group, Women Writers in Bloom, Women’s Mobile Museum, and Training for Change. As a 2016 Leeway Foundation Art and Change Grantee, she partnered with Asian Arts Initiative to offer Sanctuary: A Migrant Poetry Workshop for Philly-based immigrant poets.

She is a contributor to ESPN’s The Undefeated the anthologies Soul Sister Revue: A Poetry Compilation (Jamii Publishing, 2019); What Saves Us: Poems of Outrage and Empathy in the Age of Trump (Northwestern University Press, 2019), Who Will Speak for America (Temple University Press, 2018), Women of Resistance: Poems for a New Feminism (OR Press, 2018), Best of Kweli: An Aster(ix) Anthology (Blue Sketch Press, 2017), Read Women (Locked Horn Press, 2014),  Dismantle (Thread Makes Blanket, 2014), and Revolutionary Mothering: Love on the Frontlines (PM Press, 2016). She is featured in We Are the Enemies, an episode in Love Jawns: A Mixtape, produced by Philadelphia Contemporary, and has served as a poetry editor for Kweli Journal.

Cynthia has also supported social movements for gender, racial, economic, and migrant justice for over fifteen years as an organizer, trainer, and fundraiser. She has worked with numerous organizations including No One is Illegal, the Vancouver Status of Women, Simon Fraser Public Interest Research Group, and Grassroots Global Justice Alliance. She is a founding member of Pejuang: Indonesian Coalition for Social Justice.

Originally born and raised in Bali, Indonesia, Cynthia’s family migrated to Vancouver, Unceded Coast Salish Territories, in 1995. She now lives in the Greater Philadelphia Area with her son and partner. Cynthia earned her MFA as a Holden Fellow at Warren Wilson College. She currently teaches creative writing at Bryn Mawr College and is represented by The Speakeasy Project.