November 2022, preferred pronouns: she/they
One of the earliest stories that I received from my grandmother is that the living give birth to spirits, and if permitted, their aura might reside in nature. As far as I can remember, trees were perceived to be repositories that fueled our ancestral energy by serving as a pantheon of who we are and what we hope to be. In the same way, trees have been a vessel for my ancestors; the trees at Baldwin for the Arts provided me with a pool of energy that settled my soul. As a writer who wrestles with refining my prose, nature has carried me in reading deeply and writing freely. During my residency, I worked on my book, Captive Contagions, composing a chapter that focused on how incarcerated women at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility—the only women's maximum security prison in New York State—established an HIV/AIDS peer education program for each other, which affirmed their compassion even in conditions of unrelenting confinement. I am grateful to Jacqueline Woodson for giving me the time and facilities to hold space for myself and my manuscript.