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Creating Community for Writers of Color: MelaNated Writers Collective at Rising Tide 8

This is just one of the compelling programs on offer at Rising Tide 8. Register now.

MelaNated Aug 2011

Far too often writers of color are unheard, under-represented, and undervalued in the literary world. MelaNated Writers Collective (@melanatednola) was established in 2010 to create a network of support and resources for writers of color in New Orleans. Members of MWC will discuss its struggles and success as a collective and why New Orleans is a ripe city for literary rebirth. Panelists will discuss how the group’s mission, vision, writers workshop, and how it engages community and partners with other locals.

Moderator: Jarvis Q. DeBerry, an editorial writer and columnist, has written for The Times-Picayune since 1997. He was on the team awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for coverage of Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. In 2007, 2011 and 2013, his column was given first prize by the Louisiana/Mississippi Associated Press Managing Editors Association. DeBerry has had poetry published in several anthologies, most recently The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South.


jewel bush writes a weekly opinion column on politics, literature, and women's issues for Uptown Messenger. Her work has also appeared in The Courier, The Washington Post and The Times-Picayune. bush has participated in the Voices summer workshop for writers of color at the University of San Francisco as well as Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop at Texas A&M University. In July 2010, she founded MelaNated Writers, a multi-genre collective for writers of color in New Orleans.

David Thaddeus Baker is a media coordinator and journalist based in New Orleans, LA. He is a native of the city and works as an associate and web editor for The Louisiana Weekly newspaper – the oldest African-American newspaper in the Southeast Louisiana region – where he has been employed since 2004. Baker earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Dillard University in 2004 and has studied Public Relations at Tulane University’s University College.

Kelly Harris – Poet and founder of Poems & Pink Ribbons, a writing workshop for breast cancer survivors and their loved ones. Her poems have appeared in Say it Loud: Poems for James Brown, Pluck Journal, and Yale University’s Caduceus. She also serves on the board of STAIRNola (Star the Adventure in Reading).

Gian Smith is a New Orleans based artist. His craft spans over several media including writing, acting, and video production, but he is probably most notably recognized as a spoken word poet. Gian has made several television appearances, some on local New Orleans stations, some international including VH1 and HBO. His poem ‘O Beautiful Storm’ was featured in a preview for season 2 of HBO’s Treme, which resulted in an interview on National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition. Smith is also well known locally for his community organization including NOYOpresents: Pass It On open mic. He and his partners have co-hosted the event since November of 2008. Smith can often be found at local high schools and middle schools when asked to speak to children and aspiring poets.

More information on MelaNated Writer’s Collective:

MelaNated Writers is a contemporary incarnation of previous black artist collectives in New Orleans such as: Negro Writers Project, a BLKARTSOUTH, the Congo Square Writers’ Union, and more recently, NOMMO Literary Society.

MWC is composed of New Orleans natives, as well as transplants from other southern cities and places like Chicago, California and London. While the group is predominantly African-American, it includes members of who have roots in the Philippines, India and Malaysia. MelaNated Writers are journalists, professors, MFA students, published fictionists and poets, and even one Pulitzer winner. Indeed, the membership roll holds clues to the names that will populate the pantheon of Southern writers in the very near future.

MWC has hosted a number of successful literary events: A MelaNated Summer (2012), a series of public readings held at locations around the city like the New Orleans Museum of Art and JuJu Bag attracted more than 300 literature lovers; MWC’s signature event, The Literary Jook Joint (December 2012) featured nationally-renowned poet and photographer Thomas Sayers Ellis as well as local legends Dr. Jerry Ward, Dr. Mona Lisa Saloy and Kalaamu ya Salaam; The Literary Jook Joint (March 2013) held in conjunction with the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival. MWC also engages a local and national audience on Facebook and Twitter.

Despite changes in the publishing world and local dismal literacy rates, MWC works to create opportunities for writers that grow the audience for literary artists of color.

Registration for Rising Tide is open now. Admission $20 in advance, $40 at the door, show student ID for discount. Breakfast and lunch included.

Rising Tide 8 is sponsored by The Center for the Advancement of Teaching at Xavier University.

Rising Tide NOLA, Inc. is a non-profit organization formed by New Orleans bloggers in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and the failure of the federally built levees. After the disaster, the internet became a vital connection among dispersed New Orleanians, former New Orleanians, and friends of the city and the Gulf Coast region. A number of new blogs were created, and combined with those that were already online, an online community with a shared interest in New Orleans and the Gulf Coast developed. In the summer of 2006, to mark the anniversary of the flood, the bloggers of New Orleans organized the first Rising Tide Conference, taking their shared interest in technology, the arts, the internet and social media and turning advocacy in the city into action.

Reposted with permission from the Rising Tide Conference Blog.

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