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The Conversation: Black Mecca Creation Workshop

  • Nightbird Books 205 West Dickson Street Fayetteville, AR, 72701 United States (map)

The Open Mouth Reading Series is honored to present The Conversation Literary Festival's Mecca Creation Workshop! This workshop is open to *all* community members--not just writers.

Join esteemed poets Aziza Barnes, Nabila Lovelace, Jeremy Michael Clark, and Jerriod Avant for an evening of writing, discussion, and interpersonal engagement at Nightbird Books. Through various exercises, the fellows of The Conversation ( will walk writers of every skill level through building an autonomous space for themselves on the page--their very own Mecca. With an emphasis on extreme imagination, Black surrealism and attention to their current landscape of America, The Conversation workshops ensure that each writer leaves invigorated by their voice, with more tools to the end of nuanced work. All you need is pen/pencil & paper.


AZIZA BARNES is blk & alive. Born in Los Angeles, she currently lives in Oxford, Mississippi. You can find her work currently or forthcoming in PANK, plsh!, Muzzle, Cllaloo, Union Station, Phantom Limb, The Rumpus, The Offing, and The Breakbeast Poets, among other journals and collections. Her first chapbook, me Aunt Jemima and the nailgun, was the first winner of the Exploding Pinecone Prize and published from Button Poetry. Her first full length collection of poems, i be but i ain't, is the winner of the 2015 Winter Tangerine Aware and 2013 Gallery Prize for Radical Presence. She is a poetry & non-fiction editor at Kinfolks Quarterly, a Callaloo fellow, a Poets' House fellow, a graduate of NYU's Tisch School of the Arts, and a current candidate for her MFA in Poetry at the University of Mississippi. She is a member of The Dance Cartel & the divine fabrics collective.

NABILA LOVELACE is a born and raised Queens native, as well as a first generation America. Her parents hail from Trinidad and Tobago and Nigeria. She is a 2015 Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop fellow, finalist for the Emerge-Be-Surface fellowship 2014, and a winner of the 2013 Poets & Writers Amy Award. Her work has been published or is forthcoming in Washington Square Review, Day One, the Winter Tangering Hands Up Don't Shoot edition & The Offing. She is a reader for Union Station magazine and the non-fiction editor for The Black Warrior Review. She is a current MFA candidate at the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa. In her spare tim she enjoys the warm weather by doing hoodrat things with her frineds.

JEREMY MICHAEL CLARK was born in Louisville, Kentucky, and his poems have appeared in Callaloo, The Offing, Vinyl, Scalawag, Horsethief, and elsewhere. In 2016, his poem "Morning Ritual" was published as a single-poem pamphlet by Monster House Press. A Cave Canem Fellow, Jeremy also attended the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop in 2014, and has received scholarships and fellowships from Squaw Valley, The Fine Arts Work Center, and The Conversation Literary Festival. Currently, he lives in New York, where he is an MFA candidate and undergraduate English instructor at Rutgers University-Newark.

JERRIOD AVANT is a native of Longtown, Mississippi and a graduate of Jackson State University. Jerriod is an alumnus of the Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop at Brown University in Providence, RI and a 2013 Pushcart nominee. His poems have appeared in the Louisville Review, PLUCK!, A Narrow Fellow, Rumpus, Callaloo, Pinwheel, H_NGM_N, Madcap Review and are forthcoming from Lumberyard. Jerriod is currently an MFA candidate and Writer in the Public Schools Fellow at New York University. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

"Our purpose is rooted in bridging of conversations between inter-regional blackness & discussing what a black mecca can look like in the United States. Central to The Conversation is documenting contemporary POC relationships to the American South, reformatting the literary conference model, engaging with Southern communities of young writers and the reclamation of land." - Mission Statement of The Conversation