Dark Room Collective: Bryant, Ellis, Jackson, Keene, Smith, Strange, Trethewey, and Young (2012)

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For the O.B. Hardison Poetry Series, the Dark Room Collective visited the Folger on April 30, 2012 with readings from eight poets: Tisa Bryant, Thomas Sayers Ellis, Major Jackson, John Keene, Tracy K. Smith, Sharan Strange, Natasha Trethewey, and Kevin Young. The conversation was moderated by Meta DuEwa Jones, Ph.D. Co-Director of the Texas Institute for Literary and Textual Studies, Associate Professor of English and African American Studies at University of Texas at Austin, and author of The Muse is Music: Jazz Poetry From the Harlem Renaissance to Spoken Word.

The Dark Room Collective

Founded in Boston in 1987 by Thomas Sayers Ellis and Sharan Strange, The Dark Room Collective began as an informal community of African American poets. It included a reading series which welcomed literary stars including Samuel Delany, bell hooks, Alice Walker, John Edgar Wideman, and Walter Moseley. The group has gone on to distinguished careers, winning literary achievements and awards, among them two Pulitzer Prizes (Tracy K. Smith and subsequent U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey), a Whiting Foundation Award in Fiction and Poetry (John Keene), a Whiting Foundation Award in Poetry (Thomas Sayers Ellis; Tracy K. Smith; Major Jackson), a Guggenheim fellowship (Kevin Young), a James Laughlin Award (Tracy K. Smith), the Cave Canem Poetry Prize (Tracy K. Smith; Major Jackson), the Barnard Women Poets Prize (Sharan Strange), and many more.


“…a group that could well turn out to be as important to American letters as the Harlem Renaissance.” —The New Yorker, June 1996