On Being a Present Black Writer

by Janelle Williams, In-School and Outreach Lead Instructor

In the first year, first semester of my MFA in creative writing program, we discussed a short story by African American writer Dana Johnson, “Melvin in the Sixth Grade.” One of my favorite professors, a white man who lives on the Upper West Side, largely praised the story with one small aside- Johnson’s lyrical reference to Peabo Bryson, a Rhythm and Blues artist now in his late sixties.

“Raise your hand if you know who Peabo Bryson is,” my professor said in an effort to prove his point. I scanned the third floor room of the college’s epicenter, and decidedly raised my hand. I looked for *Matthew, who was older than me but younger than my dad, shades lighter than both of us, a high yellow that resembled chewy caramels, sitting at the far end of the long rectangular table. Matthew managed to reference Smokey Robinson and Snoop Dogg in his work, and we found each other quickly, smiling. Along with one other black writer, we were three hands raised, three out of twelve, the minority in our majority white common space. Continue reading “On Being a Present Black Writer”


by Madeline L. Taylor, Registration Coordinator and Instructor

Pride parades of the past may have been lacking in many things: equal rights for the people marching, societal acceptance, a sense of community, even inclusion of certain groups of people. But I doubt a Pride parade has ever been lacking in glitter. When Writopia staff and teens walked in this year’s parade, our assigned block was certainly no exception to this rule. On faces, on t-shirts with embossed slogans, on banners, on the sidewalk where our writers sat. Tubes of glitter, in every color of our proverbial rainbow and then some, filled the concrete and the air. The writers chatted and laughed, dousing themselves in glitter like there was no tomorrow when they would have to wash the sparkly dust out of their hair and go back to normal life. Continue reading “Glitter”