(photo by Brett Deering, originally published in Oklahoma Magazine) 

Lauren Zuniga is an internationally touring poet and teaching artist. A three time national slam finalist and passionate activist, MoveOn. Org called her work, “the most riveting message.” Daily Kos called her “a voice that can change the game.” Born and raised in Oklahoma, she is the voice of Oklahoma City Community College's Now is Power campaign featured on television and radio. In 2012, she served as the Activist-In-Residence for the University of Oklahoma and was voted Best Local Author by the Oklahoma Gazette.  She is the author of two poetry collections, The Nickel Tour (Penmanship Books, 2009) and The Smell of Good Mud (Write Bloody Publishing, 2012). Pank Magazine said, “If imagery and language are the sea on which Zuniga’s poems sail, then her ability to reach the shared human experience is the boat in which she rides.” She lives with her two kids in an artist collective named Clementine and likes to make art with old magazines and glue.

(Oh and no big but she was recently listed as one of Autostraddle's Top 105 Hotties.)

 Here's what some respectable folks have said about her:

“Lauren was SO amazing with my students. Before her performance, she led a creative writing workshop and was able to connect to the students in a way I have never seen.  The students were actually fully engaged and excited to be writing!  The creativity she helped them express was incredible!  Lauren was so easy to work with, and my students LOVED her performance.  They very much appreciated the stories & experiences she shared with them through her art.” Robyn Stuart, Alvernia University 

"I don't even like poetry but when she does it, it's like... I love this stuff." - Robert McAlevoy, Everett Community College 

"Lauren Zuniga has been an idol of mine since I first started hearing her poetry. When she came to preform at UPenn, it was a dream come true for many of us long time poetry nerds. Lauren gave an amazing show, with the poetry that we have come to expect from one of the top female poets in the nation, but more importantly she won all of us over with her humor, excitement, and love for the craft." - Rosa Escandon, University of Pennsylvania

“Dear Lauren, It is impossible to read your book without falling in love with you.  I stopped reading right before the end so I wouldn’t show up on your Oklahoma porch wearing a baby blue tuxedo, ring in hand, begging you to stuff a fistful of cake in my mouth.”  ~ Andrea Gibson, Author,The Madness Vase, Winner of 2008 Women of the World Poetry Slam 

"Lauren’s gift is that she delivers her powerful poems in a strong, compassionate voice. It is virtually impossible to distinguish between her poems and her performance of them. They are at once deeply fierce and deeply empathetic, funny and profane, and weirdly holy. In their vulnerability, they make listeners feel engaged, protected, understood, and loved. They challenge us to be brave and radically compassionate in our actions, and to never forget that our relationship with where we live is part of who we are."  - Jessie St. Amand, University of Oklahoma 

"People often mistake loud or anthemic poetry as being "for the people." And often, these poets are rewarded for their energy, despite how topical their subject matter really is. So I thank whatever wild gods created Lauren Zuniga. Her poems are massive; brimming with the wit, heart and humanness we all crave from our leaders. Unlike so many artists, she understands her purpose. She puts her life on the line. Her poems are the quiet protesters whose existence is proof that the world can, in fact, be fixed. Think of the photograph of the man standing before a line of tanks in Tiananmen Square, and you'll get an idea of what Zuniga's poetry is willing to do for you."  - Rachel McKibbens, Author of Pink Elephant, Winner - 2009 Women of the World Poetry Slam

“Lauren Zuniga's words will have you walking along the road to a brilliant green church with pulsing lights inside.  When you step into the church, there are feathers and prayer beads and washboard breakbeats and a high priestess telling you how beautiful you are.  Even on your worst hair days. Especially on your worst hair days.   Her poems are so full of under-the-surface yes and come-as-you-are that you understand the word nirvana in fourteen new ways.  She is an edutainer, an elevator straight to the penthouse, a miracle pitcher pouring out the best in you.  Woman and mother and human and constant student,  Lauren's church of verse has a sign that plugs directly into her heart:  ALWAYS OPEN.”   -Rob Sturma, Author of Miles of Hallelujah

"Lauren Zuniga's work explores the delicious nuances of things unseen, ignored, and overlooked. Her work is exquisite, precise, boundless and soul-shaking."  ~Dane Kuttler,  Seattle, WA

"There is a certain light to Lauren’s work that is composed of a million fibers – even ones that you wouldn’t expect to be radiant. There is a weight in the vibrancy. Every time I read her work, I feel I’ve taken a lesson in breathing. I cannot help but to whisper to myself  'Ah shit, and to think I had been breathing for all these years' "  ~Sarah Morgan, Author of Animal Ballistics