Advice from the Vets

Advice from the Vets

Returning Fellows Christi Cartwright (’13), Rosalyn Story (’13), and Andy Johnson (’14) will join the class of ’16 for the Annual Retreat in Taos.  We asked our vets to offer some advice to our Newbie Kimbees.

Christi Cartwright Says:

  • Accept writing friendships and kindnesses from whomever/wherever they are given. Writing is a lonely venture and kindness helps a writer to persevere.
  •  Remember every story on the page and from the mouth is a lesson (in some way) in how to be a better writer.
  • Be generous with your feedback. Try hard to help fellow writers produce their best work.  Ultimately, the helpful suggestions you extend to another writer regarding their work will end up helping you as well.

Andy Johnson Says:

  • I once met a young writer at Kimbilio in 2014. I won’t use his name, but his initials were Brian Gilmore. Brian Gilmore decided to go walk in the woods. I told him not to go. I told him bears and mountain lions think black people taste like fried chicken. I tried to help a brother out. But Brian Gilmore was hard-headed. He wouldn’t even wear the free bear repellent that comes in the Kimbilio survival kit.  Brian Gilmore got eaten by a bear.
  • Don’t be like Brian Gilmore.

Rosalyn Story Says:

  • Resist the urge to compare your work to others’. Everyone has something valuable to share, and every one of us, including the returning fellows, has an opportunity to learn. Further, I would give the first-timers the same advice I give myself – stay positive, stay flexible, and be open to change.


Announcing the 2016 Kimbilio Fellows

Announcing the 2016 Kimbilio Fellows

Kimbilio is pleased to welcome a new group of writers to its family of Fellows. Congratulations to:

Katherine Agard

Desiree Bailey

Tara Betts

Ayana Bird

Lakiesha Carr

Tyrese Coleman

Akwaeke Emezi

Wandeka Gayle

Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Avery Irons

Jade Jones

Hayward Leach

Danielle Lomas

Jeni McFarland

Ngwah-Mbo Nkweti

Enuma Okoro

Donald Quist

Icess Fernandez Rojas

Gabrielle Rucker

James Short

Brandon Taylor

Read more about our new Fellows here: THE 2016 KIMBILIO FELLOWS


Craft, White Gaze and Black Gaze by Andy Johnson (’14, ’16)

Craft, White Gaze and Black Gaze by Andy Johnson (’14, ’16)

At AWP 2016, Andy Johnson delivered the following remarks as part of a Kimbilio panel on black writers in the white world.  As a result of this presentation, Andy was offered a book contract!

In 2014, I spoke on a panel called “Crossing (Imagined) Borders: Research, Writing, and the Challenges of the 21st Century,” at the Writing Research Across Borders annual conference in Paris. My paper concerned the ways I’d heard and seen English used while I taught in Liberia – everything from conversations with palm-wine tappers and motorcycle taxi drivers, government radio, rusty signs painted by over-ambitious NGOs (like mine), or corrupt NGOs (also like mine) the soft coding of bribes, folktales, drums, aphorisms, and dances. I’d planned on describing how English has undergone a de-creolization process – after the civil war, the colonized had less affection for the language of the colonizers, and began using indigenous languages as much, if not more than English, resulting in the dissolution of a national Liberian English into 16 separate sub-regional English-es. All of this sounded good and academic and enough to get my university to pay for a trip to Paris.

The day before my presentation, a colleague and I passed a statue near the Latin Quarter. Someone had tagged the bronze with fluorescent green spray paint. My colleague asked why would anyone deface public art? I replied that the answer was right in front of us: the tagger needed to be seen. My colleague said there are ways to be seen and ways to be heard but vandalism wasn’t one of them. I replied that when you’re invisible, even being a criminal means you’re a human being with rights, with laws that apply to you and your body. But when you’re invisible – I said – they can do anything to you.

Of course, I was thinking of Sarah Baartman, a.k.a. the Hottentot Venus. In America, I teach my students about her as an intersection of race, gender, narrative, and invisibility. They react the way most of us reacted when we heard her story: shock, horror, anger, and not a few saying “and this shit still happens today…”

Read the rest of Andy’s article here:  Craft, White Gaze and Black Gaze