Sanctuary, Haven, Asylum, Refuge.  Kimbilio can be translated variously: Even with the world’s most careful planning (and my service ARE for rent, at prices you most certainly cannot afford) the past week’s shelter and solace only happened because of the people who came together to make them happen.  There’ll be plenty of time to debrief, but first the public appreciation to those without whom none of this would have been a success.

I am humbled, stunned, and maybe even slightly mystified that nineteen women and men set aside a week of their summer, bought a plane ticket and flew cross the country to take a risk on this venture.  Many fewer than half of these people had ever met me, and the Kimbilio retreat had no track record.  Which tells you a lot about the bold and courageous character of our inaugural class. I thank them for their trust and am certain that their brash confidence and audacity will be the catalyst for building a robust and powerful community.

To my friend, student, and mentor Diana Napier, what can I say?  You gave up a week of your summer, left your beloved Emerson and Vaughn and flew to Taos on your own dime and worked from early morning until late at night, documenting every moment of the retreat on film and video, also finding the time to make sure that everyone was comfortable and happy, including me!  I’m looking forward to learning from you how to professionalize an organization so that I can work smarter and focus on the things that really matter.  My eternal gratitude.   Thank you for being my friend.

Same thing for my Dallas family: phone concierge Sanderia Smith and musical goddess Rosalyn Story, Queens of the Reality Check. both of them.  You showed Kimbilio what we’re made of down here in Texas.

Superwomen: ZZ Packer and Dolen Perkins Valdez, neither of whom I had met in person until last week, but with whom I had already fallen in love by way of their beautiful prose.  Generous, gracious friends: thank you for trusting me.  Your wit, wisdom and kindness changed lives last week.  No one is more grateful than me that you will continue on the journey with us.

Thanks to Fellow-in-Waiting Hope Wabuke, who has generously donated A LOT OF TIME AND CREATIVITY AND SKILL to help the Kimbilio community communicate with each other and the world.  We need to get this sister paid!

Thank you, Nina Schwartz for saying, “Yes!”  Thank you for being as excited about this venture as I am.  Thanks to Leslie Reid for seamlessly and invisibly helping the wheels turn.

Thanks to the rest of the English Department at SMU, to our advisory board for the invaluable guidance—with special thanks to Natalie Baszile for helping Diana to discover our amazing inaugural class.  And the staff at SMU/Taos are world class in every way; it is significant that they made twenty-two black folks feel completely at home in the mountains of rural New Mexico.

And thank you to everyone out there in the literary community and beyond, all of the folks who have sent messages of encouragement and support, whether through an email or simply by sending us your good thoughts.

I will now go to sleep for about three days.  See you on the other side.

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