Outside the Canon: On the Places and Poetic Forms of the Black Southern Poetry
Time & Location
About the Event
The Southern writing tradition has always been the fertile ground for fire. Dry weeds exist, yet the soil is rich. For me, the South is a living, breathing thing: a ghost, a bay window, a river’s edge, a magnolia tree, a stained-glass hymn.
Like many great poets that came before me, I am not a native of the South. I migrated to the Southern states to feel connected to my ancestors and find language and culture; to be more attuned with Zora Neale Hurston, Toni Morrison, Nikkey Finney, Maya Angelou, and more. What links these great Southern Black poets is their ability to capture the light and the darkness of the South. Each rendered the region as a dichotomy of beauty and pain: music in melancholia, the trauma, and tumbling hills. All exist here, and this juxtaposition always defined the execution of their work. This seminar will explore the poetic and craft of the Southern Black writing tradition.
Khalisa Rae is a poet, journalist, and educator in Durham, North Carolina, that speaks with fierce rebellion. She is the graduate of the Queens University MFA program, where she studied under renown authors, Claudia Rankine and Ada Limon. In 2012, her poetry chapbook, Real Girls Have Real Problems was published by Jacar Press. Her love for poetry and performance has led her to be an active member of the National Poetry Slam(NPS) community since 2010, and the host of various poetry open mics.
Khalisa went on to start the women and femme poetry organization, Poet.she Performing Arts in Greensboro, NC after graduating from N.C. A&T University in 2011. Upon relocating to Wilmington, NC, she started the Athenian Press- a BIPOC bookstore and resource center for women, femme, non-binary, and trans writers and artists. There she taught as an English professor and held the role of Community Outreach Director at the YWCA, among other advocacy titles with various nonprofits. Her work has been published widely and speaks to womanhood, anti-racism, identity, and generational trauma. Her essays are featured in Autostraddle, Catapult, LitHub, as well as articles in B*tch Media, NBC-BLK, and others. Her poetry appears in Frontier Poetry, Florida Review, Rust & Moth, PANK, Hellebore, Sundog Lit, HOBART, Flypaper Lit, and countless other places. She was a finalist in the Furious Flower Gwendolyn Brooks Poetry Prize and a winner of the Fem Lit Magazine Contest, White Stag Publishing Contest, and the Bright Wings Poetry Contest. Currently, serves as the founder of Think in Ink: A BIPOC Collective and the Women of Color Speak Reading series. She is also the Assistant Editor at Glass Poetry and a workshop facilitator at Catapult.
Her debut poetry collection, Ghost in a Black Girls Throat is forthcoming from Red Hen Press April 2021 and Unlearning Eden from White Stag Publishing.
Image: Detail of "The Welsh Window" at the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church in downtown Birmingham, Alabama.