At the Harlem Arts Salon with Natasha Trethewey

The Dark Room Collective, a group of black writers founded twenty-five years ago in Boston by poets Thomas Sayers Ellis and Sharan Strange, and musician Janice Lowe was conceived as a reading series and became a small community of poets. Strange writes that “it was the sustaining practice of writing in community just as much as the activism of building a community-based reading series for writers of color that kept us engaged in collectivity” (Painted Bride Quarterly 60). Read more.

 

The poets at a glance…

 

tisa-bryantTisa Bryant is on the Critical Studies faculty at CalArts. Her book of essays, Unexplained Presence, was published in 2007. Bryant’s writing has appeared in Evening Will Come, Mandorla, Mixed Blood, in the ‘zine, Universal Remote: Meditations on the Absence of Michael Jackson and in the catalogues and solo shows of visual artists Laylah Ali, Jaime Cortez, Wura-Natasha Ogunji and Cauleen Smith.  She is co-editor, with Ernest Hardy, of War Diaries, which was nominated Best LGBTQ anthology by the LAMBDA Literary Awards. She is co-edits and publishes The Encyclopedia Project. Click here to read more about Tisa Bryant.

 

tsellis2_0Thomas Sayers Ellis was born and raised in Washington, DC. His book The Maverick Room won the Mrs. Giles Whiting Writers’ Award and the John C. Zacharis First Book Award. His most recent book is Skin, Inc.: Identity Repair Poems. His work has appeared in Poetry, Grand Street, Tin House, Ploughshares and The Best American Poetry, 1997 and 2001. He teaches at Sarah Lawrence College, at Lesley University low-residency MFA program, and at Cave Canem. A photographer, poet,  contributing editor to Callaloo and Poets & Writers, Ellis is co-founder of the Dark Room Collective.  Find more on Thomas Sayers Ellis here.

 

MajorJackson_about1Major Jackson has three books of poetry: Holding Company, and Hoops, both finalists for an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Literature-Poetry, and Leaving Saturn, winner of the 2001 Cave Canem Poetry Prize and finalist for a National Book Critics Award Circle. He has received a Whiting Writers’ Award and was honored by the Pew Fellowship in the Arts and the Witter Bynner Foundation in conjunction with the Library of Congress. Jackson is the Richard Dennis Green and Gold Professor at University of Vermont and core faculty at Bennington Writing Seminars. He was a creative arts fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced  Study at Harvard University. He is the poetry editor of the Harvard Review. Read more…

 

Keene_John600_300_287John Keene is associate professor at Rutgers University-Newark in African American and African Studies, the English Department and MFA Creative Writing Program. A novelist, poet, essayist, and translator, Keene is the author of the award-winning novel, Annotations, and the poetry collection, Seismosis, in collaboration with artist Christopher Stackhouse. Keene received a 2005 Whiting Writers Award for fiction and poetry. His work has been published in African-American Review, AGNI, Encyclopedia, Gay and Lesbian Review, Hambone, Indiana Review, Kenyon Review, Mandorla, Ploughshares, and Public Space. Read more… 

 

photo_by_Diana_YanezJanice Lowe, poet and composer, has been published in Callaloo, The Hat, In the Tradition, and American Poetry Review. She has taught creative writing and music workshops in numerous schools, libraries and community programs and was composer and songwriting consultant on the pilot episode of My Time on the Oprah Winfrey Network. Her work has been performed at Ars Nova, La Mama ETC., The Chelsea Playhouse, The Ohio Theatre, Dixon Place, The Eugene O’Neill Musical Theater Conference, NAMT Festival of New Works, NYU, among others. Read more…

 

Tracy-K-Smith-448Tracy K. Smith is the author of three books of poetry: Life on Mars, winner of the 2012 Pulitzer Prize, Duende, winner of the James Laughlin Award, and The Body’s Question, winner of the Cave Canem Poetry Prize. She has received a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Award and a Whiting Writers’ Award and has been a protégée in the Rolex Mentor and Protégé Arts Initiative. She teaches at Princeton University. Click here to learn more about Tracy K. Smith and read her poems.

 

SharanSharan Strange grew up in Orangeburg, South Carolina, was educated at Harvard College, and received an M.F.A. in poetry from Sarah Lawrence College. She is a contributing and advisory editor of Callaloo and co-founder of the Dark Room Collective. Her poetry has appeared in AGNI, The American Poetry Review, Callaloo, The Best American Poetry 1994, The Garden Thrives, In Search of Color Everywhere, and in exhibitions at the Whitney Museum in New York and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. Read more

 

natasha-tretheweyNatasha Trethewey, appointed US Poet Laureate in June 2012, is the Charles Howard Candler Professor of English and Creative Writing at Emory University.  Native Guard, her third collection of poetry, received the 2007 Pulitzer Prize.  Ms. Trethewey is the author of four volumes of poetry and one non-fiction work:  Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, published in 2010. Read more…