"You have to go the way your blood beats. If you don't live the only life you have, you won't live some other life,
you won't live any life at all."
- James Baldwin
My work explores the emotional politics of segregation and recovers lives historical records omit in their documentations of the way things were.
“Plant the story in a place where you know the smell of the dirt," a mentor once said. That advice led me to explore the questions history books didn’t answer. While writing "First Marriage" and "Piper’s March," I drew on my experiences in historic preservation, cultural archiving, faith, politics, art, and the legacies handed down from porch-talk storytellers to create stories. These stories engage conflict, belonging, home, faith, safety, and urges from the past that we continue to carry with us. History is a reference and guide that points me toward narratives of neglected women and girls, bruised black and brown bodies, lost land and lingering heartbeats and secrets.
I have been honored with fellowships at Kimbilio, Kweli, Callaloo, A Room of Her Own, National Museum of Women in the Arts, and the Roothbert Foundation. Workshops and master classes at the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation and support from the American Association of University Women and the D.C. Commission on Arts and the Humanities allow me to examine histories and write narratives of little-known lives.
My work appears in anthologies, Kweli Journal, Public History Commons, Portland Monthly, and Feminist Studies. I write about traveling the east coast in LA Parents. It was amazing to see my essay "Pretty Brown Girl With Big Brown Eyes" reimagined to music and performed by a dance company at the Firehouse Theatre in Newburyport, MA.
I believe in the power of books to inspire. Reading feeds my creativity and sense of purpose. I share that love with others as the founder of INKPEN. INKPEN builds community connections through literature and donates books to students at under-resourced public school libraries.
INKPEN aims to build audiences for writers of color, bring books to teens, share stories and ideas across generations, and inspire creative cultural exchange. Through partnerships with public school libraries and community library programs, INKPEN strengthens the voices of high school youth and their ability to craft stories. Our craft shops and library read-ins with diverse writers connect those students to the joy of storytelling. The books donated to students builds pride in reading. It also creates a legacy of stories they can hold on to and share. For information about INKPEN go to www.inkpen.org.
I teach at Howard University and serve on the founding board of INKPEN and the Writing for Social Justice Initiative at Stonecoast. I am an Advisory Editor of Callaloo. In support of the humanities and arts communities, I have served on the boards of the National Trust for Humanities and the Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Foundation and panels for the National Endowment for the Arts and D.C. Commission on Arts and Humanities.