The Inspired Word Staff


Founder: Mike Geffner

Inspired Word founder/producer Mike Geffner is a longtime journalist who has published thousands of stories in countless major publications, including USA Today, Details Magazine, The Sporting News, Cigar Aficionado, Texas Monthly, and The Village Voice. He’s interviewed everyone from former President Nixon to Kareem Abdul Jabbar to Forest Whitaker to Derek Jeter, and his work has been acknowledged seven times by the annual anthology The Best American Sports Writing. He was named Best Sportswriter in New York City by New York Press in 1990 and awarded 1st Place for Profile Writing by The Society of Professional Journalists (NJ) in 2000. You can follow him all over social media @InspiredWordNYC.

Assistant Director Emeritus: Marvin Mendlinger

Marvin Mendlinger was the original Assistant Director of The Inspired Word, holding the position from 2010-2019. A renaissance man who worked as a Wall Street investigator as well as rancher and dance dj, Mendlinger loves his coffee and corned beef sandwiches and is a connoisseur of fine wines and classic cars.

Assistant Producer: Leah Vanessa Gonzalez

The self-reflective Leah Vanessa Gonzalez aka Leah V was the Resident Poet of The Inspired Word in 2018 and 2019. She has starred and hosted with the Inspired Word Off Broadway at the famous Triad Theater several times, and became the series’ Assistant Producer in 2020. Her Beat Generation inspired wordplay examines cultural identity and feminism. She has been described as a “poetic force of nature.” You can follow her on Instagram @leahvspeaks.

Assistant Director: Katharine Goerlich

Performance poet Katharine Goerlich aka My Life in Yellow, known for her street art poetry and who will take you on a word journey through love, loss, and life, has starred Off Broadway with the Inspired Word at the famous Triad Theater several times and became the series’ Assistant Director in 2020. She says she has an “unhealthy obsession with yellow and words that make you feel something.” You can follow her on Instagram @mylifein.yellow.

Assistant Director: Justin Gratta

Poet Justin Gratta, whose raw, intense Leonard Cohen-esque rhymes explore relationships and mental health and land straight on the pulse, has starred Off Broadway with the InspiredWord at the famous Triad Theater many times. His debut book, The Storm: Poems of Love and Depression, is available on Amazon. He became the series’ Assistant Director in 2020. You can follow him on Instagram @jgrattapoetry.

Director of Community Relations: Luciann Berrios

Luciann Berrios is a published poet, author and editor. She released her first manuscript under Fly By Night Press entitled, Thunder and Sunshine in One Body in 2017. Her second book was released in 2018 entitled Women of Eve’s Garden; this was an anthology she created, curated, contributed to and edited consisting of 10 female and non-binary poets and one visual artist. This collection has since been accepted into the US Library of Congress as of 2018. She has also been published in two other anthologies; one called WORD, by A Gathering of the Tribes (Steve Cannon, recipient of the Barnes and Noble writer for writers award), that is in libraries and museums around the country and abroad and the other is being completed by Anthony Murphy and Linda Kleinbub. This will be released along with the NY Times reviewed Philip Giambri (aka the Ancient Mariner) and the Silver Tongued Devils. She continues to write, hold writing workshops in high schools for students as a way of navigating their experiences outside of harmful coping methods, and perform across New York City.  She is currently working on her third book, continuing to be a part of A Gathering the tribes and women driven initiatives.  Follow her on Instgram @lucib_poetry and @_luciann_berrios.

2020 Resident Artists: Hunter, Greisy Genao, Trevor Knight, Sav B

Singer/Songwriter Hunter Blair Ambrose has proven to be an upcoming voice and presence to watch in New York City. Hunter melds together influences of r&B, hip hop and electro pop to establish her unique sound among other rising pop acts. In 2019, she released two singles, Right Now and November, to acclaim in promotion of her debut EP titled Scorpio Rising, due out in early 2020. She is releasing a full album on Halloween 2020 titled Scorpio Season. Follow her on Instagram @hunterblairambrose.

Greisy Genao is a poet, filmmaker and Fulbright Scholar from Queens, NY with a BA in English Writing and Film Studies. She has been published in the anthologies Women of Eves Garden, Ritmo Que Late by the Dominican Writers Association, and Sarah Lawrence College’s Lumina Journal. She also has a short book of poetry on Amazon named despierta. available for purchase. Her film work can be found on her personal Vimeo account, and on La Galeria Magazine’s Facebook page. Follow her on Instagram @grayse_mg.

Originally hailing from the dirt roads of Minnesota, Trevor Knight is a versatile singer and songwriter currently based in NYC, where he writes and performs his unique brand of soulful pop. Inspired by a shameless love of catchy hooks and slick harmonies, Trevor’s sound is driven by grooving bass lines and layered vocals, harkening back to his days as a collegiate a cappella nerd. His smooth and wholesome voice blends the simplicity and nostalgia of Motown with glimmers of new-age pop. For more info and music, visit Follow him on Instagram @trevorjknight.

Sav-B is a writer/artist with a foundation in poetry from Long Island, and is a force to be heard.  His lyrics take you on a trip into real life through his first hand experience and story telling ability. From poetry slam champion to Tedx speaker to performing at the Highline Ballroom Sav-B shares his truth as much as he can.  His goal is to give more, and inspire people. Sav-B is reporting love from the underground, and wont stop and can’t be stopped. His sound is truthful and powerful.  He knows his voice brings abundance and empowers everyone listening to, Start1st don’t doubt yourself and do what you love.  Formulate a plan and get to it. Control your mind and you control your world. Follow him on Instagram @savb1st.

Official Partner: Offstage Tunes/Louise Lau

Offstage Tunes, hosted by founder Louise Lau, does video interviews of New York City musicians and appears regularly at our open mics. She and Offstage Tune became an Official Partner of the Inspired Word in October 2019. Go to for more info and follow @offstagetunes everywhere on social media.

Dance Director: Jess Grippo

Jess Grippo creates interpretive dances out of real life stuff, from dating woes to eating cheese to period problems. After leaving her classical ballet path and not dancing for years, she then started making dance videos alone in her room, which essentially brought her back to life. Since then she’s been featured at TEDxNYU, Lincoln Center’s Dance On Camera Festival, the NY Comedy Club, and more, as well as often dancing on the streets with strangers, which she documents on social media. When she’s not dancing, she’s writing, teaching, coaching, facilitating her You Can Dance Again programs, or napping with her puppy Lucy. Join her online: Follow her on IG @jessgrippo.

Dance Director: Zoë Reed Helm

Zoë Reed Helm is a multi-disciplinary performer from North Carolina with a focus in contemporary dance and theatre. She graduated from the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in 2016 with a certificate in Dance Theatre and made her professional choreographic debut in the 1970s-inspired floor show Lit Lounge. Zoë continues to create new works with Vanessa Long Dance Company and is the rehearsal director and a senior company member of VLDC as well as Co-Artistic Director of Long 2 Dance Company. Zoë has been a guest with Mignolo Dance Company and worked with both Tiffany Mills and Mari Meade as part of two Amalgamate Dance Company Guest Artist Showcases. She has performed around the U.S. as well as in Italy and Canada. In 2020, she will be performing at Lincoln Center as a part of the Booking Dance Festival and at Chisenhale Dance Space in London. To learn more, go to or follow her instagram @zoethena.

Photographer: Kyle Studstill

Kyle Studstill is a poet and published photographer who has spent the last 10 years in the Lower East Side of New York City. His creative work draws from the overlooked magic of a profoundly beautiful world: the pleasures of sadness, the subtle dance of meter and rhyme, and all those invisible things you just want to feel longer. His professional life has been spent in fields as diverse as marketing strategy and military intelligence analysis, with his work in business innovation featured in the pages of Fast Company and Monocle Magazine. You can follow him on Instagram @composure.poetry.