Laili Gohartaj is a classically trained musician, writer, home baker, visual artist, raver, and professional fundraiser. She has a bachelor’s of music in clarinet performance and a master’s of English with a focus on creative nonfiction, both from Holy Names University. Laili’s personal essays are intimate meditations and reflections on her experiences with childhood homelessness, growing up in a mixed-race family, and leaving her abusive engagement.

“Summation,” her first published essay, appears in the Hennepin Review’s August 2022 edition, and “Sunflower” was chosen as a finalist for the 2021 Crazyhorse Nonfiction Prize. Laili’s poem “Things that I wish my father had said” appears in the Periplus Call & Response anthology. Laili has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area since she was eighteen, considers Jurassic Park the height of cinema, once posed as a press photographer in hopes of meeting Ta-Nehisi Coates (she didn’t,) and grows African violets.

Portrait by Brandon Parker
Omega Photography

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