Helen Klonaris is a Greek-Bahamian writer and teacher who lives between Oakland, California and Nassau, Bahamas.
Her early years in the Bahamas were spent working as a human rights activist, raising awareness around issues that ranged from capital punishment to violence against women to discrimination against GLBT Bahamians. She was the founder and co-founder of several socially significant organizations, including The Rainbow Alliance of the Bahamas, and several literary journals, collectives, and associations, including WomanSpeak, a Journal for Caribbean Women’s Literature and Art.
Most recently the co-founder and co-director of the Bahamas Writers Summer Institute, Helen now spends summers teaching memoir and fiction in the Bahamas, and the rest of her time in the Bay Area, teaching creative writing in the community and at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco.
Her nonfiction and fiction have been published in a number of North American journals including Calyx, So to Speak, and HLFQ, and in Caribbean journals including The Caribbean Writer, Poui, Small Axe Salon, Proud Flesh, Anthurium, Tongues of the Ocean, Yinna, and Lucayos. Her work also appears in several anthologies including Our Caribbean: A Gathering of Lesbian and Gay Writings, edited by Thomas Glave, Caribbean Erotic, edited by Opal Palmer Adisa and Donna Weir, and Racial Imaginary: Writers and the Life of the Mind, edited by Claudia Rankine and Beth Loffreda. Her short story “Cowboy” was shortlisted in the 2014 Commonwealth Short Story Prize and she was the International Writer in Residence in the 2017 Small Wonder Short Story Festival. In 2015 she co-edited Writing the Walls Down: A Convergence of LGBTQ Voices with poet Amir Rabiyah, and in 2017 her debut collection of stories If I Had the Wings was published by Peepal Tree Press.
A writer and performer, she co-curated The Walls Project, performed at the 2011 National Queer Arts Festival, and collaborated and performed in Mixed, Blended, and Whole, NQAF 2012. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Liberation Theology from Wesleyan University, studied with renowned Caribbean writers at the Caribbean Writers Summer Institute at the University of Miami, and gained a Master of Fine Arts in Writing and Consciousness from New College of California. She combines her passion for the Sacred, social justice and the literary arts to create transformative experiences within community.