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S.C. public arts high school welcomes poet Danez Smith

On April 12, creative writing students at the Fine Arts Center in Greenville had the opportunity to participate in a class presented by Danez Smith, a national award-winning author and writer, through the Momentum Series, a program headed by the students of the program.

The Momentum Series is a project produced and managed by the Fine Arts Center Creative Writing Program, in which members of the class work together to bring an innovative writer of national reputation to Greenville to do a community reading and teach a class to the creative writing program at FAC. Through this, the students are able to learn from professional and accomplished writers who are active in the field while also promoting the arts within the Greenville community and strengthening the bonds between the city’s diverse cultural communities and the school district. The Momentum Series is curated, organized, implemented and publicized by students in the Fine Arts Center’s Careers In Publishing class. While usually available to the public, this year the Momentum Series will take place as a closed, virtual event for the FAC creative writing class due to COVID-19 restrictions; however, next spring we hope to be live again in the community! For this year’s installment, the organizers of the program have worked together to bring in poet Danez Smith. Danez Smith is a Black, Queer, Poz writer & performer from St. Paul, Minnesota. Danez is the author of "Don’t Call Us Dead" (Graywolf Press, 2017), winner of the Forward Prize for Best Collection, the Midwest Booksellers Choice Award, and a finalist for the National Book Award, and "[insert] boy" (YesYes Books, 2014), winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award and the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry. Danez is a member of the Dark Noise Collective and is the co-host of VS with Franny Choi, a podcast sponsored by the Poetry Foundation and Postloudness. Danez’s third collection, “Homie”, was published by Graywolf in January 2020. - Elizabeth Scott, Fine Arts Center creative writing student

The Watering Hole: an online community dedicated to poets of color

Writing can be isolating. Creative writers can go months without having a conversation with another writer. Being a poet of color compounds this artistic scarcity. The Watering Hole, a budding grassroots poetry organization, is working to alleviate this isolation by using the Internet to connect poets of color -- whether emerging or established. Nearly 200 members have joined in just one year. The Watering Hole uses their Facebook group as a free online forum for poets to meet, form community, and engage with one another. The organization hosts online master classes so that poets who want to learn in a class format can do so without finding babysitters, buying airfare, or planning a hotel stay. Watering Hole retreat For those who enjoy face-to-face interaction, The Watering Hole will host its second annual winter retreat from Dec. 26 - 30, at Santee State Park in Santee, S.C. Last December, more than 33 minority poets from across the nation gathered in the park's cabins overlooking Lake Marion (pictured right). Written and spoken word artists and lyricists sat at the same table to delve into poetic craft with facilitators Tyehimba Jess, Remica L. Bingham-Risher, and Lita Hooper. Classes are held in living rooms to recreate the atmosphere of the down-home sit-downs that black arts writer Toni Cade Bambara hosted in her own living room. The Watering Hole is focused on offering affordable services that are accessible for any income level. Thousand dollar price tags too often exclude talented poets from similar opportunities. Instead, for only $198, poets can attend the retreat for five days and four nights and interact with NAACP Image Award winner and Kentucky Poet Laureate Frank X. Walker, two-time National Slam Champion Roger Bonair-Agard, and African Voices poetry editor Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie. The organization is also working toward federal nonprofit status, and by October 31, must raise $5,000 to apply for nonprofit status and to offset the cost for participants at the upcoming retreat. The community support from an IndieGogo campaign is what enables The Watering Hole to provide affordable, accessible poetry opportunities for poets at all income levels and alleviate some of the artistic isolation that writers experience. To learn more about The Watering Hole and how to apply for the retreat, visit twhpoetry.wordpress.com, email twhpoetry@gmail.com  or check out this retreat promotion video. To donate, check out the group's IndieGogo page: TWH Hosts Poetry Retreat and Goes Non-Profit. Via: The Watering Hole