The Short Bio
Deonna Kelli Sayed is North Florida-born. She is a writer, performer, and arts programmer.
Deonna works for the North Carolina Writers’ Network and represents the PEN America NC Piedmont Chapter. She is current working with community partners across NC for #PENWriteNow, a series of conversations on collective belonging funded by the NC Arts Council and PEN America.
She is currently working on a novel set in North Florida that explores the state’s hybrid cultural and racial history with a focus on her family’s Catawba heritage (Ayers-Kegg).
Deonna’s debut solo show, American Body, is in pre-production with support from a 2023 Artist Support Grant from ArtsGreensboro.
Follow Deonna on Twitter @deonnakelli, Instagram @deonnasayed, and TikTok @fisticmystic.
The Long Bio
Deonna Kelli Sayed is an internationally published author, a storyteller, TEDx speaker, and an award-winning podcast producer. She is an interfaith dialogue instigator and a recovering ghost hunter. Born in Florida, she is a descendant of Catawba (Iswa) John Jack Ayers (Ayers-Kegg) who arrived in the Florida Panhandle during the state’s Territorial Period.
She is the PEN Across America representative for the N.C. Piedmont area (Greensboro, Charlotte, Raleigh). She is currently working with community partners across NC for #PENWriteNow, a series of conversations on collective belonging funded by PEN America and the NC Arts Council.
Deonna is the author of Paranormal Obsession: America’s Fascination with Ghosts & Hauntings, Spooks and Spirits. Her essays are included in Love, Inshallah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women and Faithfully Feminists: Jewish, Christian and Muslim Feminists on Why We Stay. Her short stories are featured in the Press 53 anthology, Everywhere Stories: Short Fiction From a Small Planet, Red Fez, and Drunk Monkey.
Her personal essays appear at The Dirty Spoon, The Manifestation, AltMuslimah, & Patheos. Her podcast work for Yes!Weekly, OUT IN THE SOUTH, received state and national press awards (2017).
Deonna’s media appearances include NPR, WUNC-TV, WUNC’s “The State of Things,” The Monti, and local NPR affiliate, WFDD. She is the Membership Coordinator for the N.C. Writers’ Network, the 2018-2019 Festival Coordinator for Greensboro Bound: A Literary Festival,
Deonna’s short essay, Joe and the Shawl, was turned into a short film by director Nicole Ballivian.
She is currently working a novel that explores the cultural and racial mixededness of the Florida Panhandle’s magical history. Her solo show, American Body, is in pre-production with support from a 2023 Artist Support Grant from ArtsGreensboro.