January 2020, preferred pronouns: she/her
I had the privilege of being welcomed to Baldwin for the Arts as its first resident in January, 2020. As a practicing poet, I had just finished a yearlong book tour for a poetry collection. At Baldwin I was offered uninterrupted time, quiet, and space to begin to think about my next collection. I needed the courage to step in a different direction and at Baldwin I began to write literature for children.
Within the first few days, I wrote more than I had in a year and I had created the beginnings of several projects I was very proud of. These stories spoke to mixed race, identity, history, and the ability to harness strength as a child of color. Each day, I read, ate, slept, and wrote. These were things I had convinced myself were luxuries but the residency had me understand that rest and my own nourishment were necessities for an artist to thrive.
Being offered these realizations was a great gift as I reflect upon the current state of our nation. Baldwin for the Arts is needed more than ever as we reckon with our country’s difficult past and present. As a writer of color, I am deeply grateful to have been offered such recognition and creative shelter.
As I walked on the residency grounds hearing leaves crack beneath my footsteps, as I touched the bark of a lone tree, or caught a reflection of myself in a barn window, I was moved by Jacqueline Woodson’s gift, Baldwin’s legacy, and I continued my walk thinking about all the artists of color who may one day walk on the same ground feeling such generous power.