Hurston/Wright Writers Weekend


A week before yesterday, I mounted up in the car I got after my Honda Civic was hit and totaled in December while I was idling behind a garbage truck. I bought my current car with some miles on it and was, honestly, a little worried about taking it all the way to DC. But I'd heard so much about the Hurston/Wright Foundation from the awards they give out. I had even applied for their Award for College Writers. I'd also learned more about the organization when Dr. Khadijah Ali-Coleman (the head of the organization) and Prince Shakur (Crossover Award Winner and 2023 Nonfiction Workshop leader) came to NCCU after Prince had judged a contest for our literary magazine Ex Umbra, which has been revived by Dr. Zelda Lockhart. During their visit, I learned about Writers Week. Soon afterward I applied. I was surprised to find that I was accepted given that, with other opportunities like these, it's taken me multiple tries to gain entrance or admittance. I was even given a scholarship.

Fast forward to the Sunday before last. I packed up my things into my car and made the drive, stopping once at the King's Dominion exit and continuing forward until I got to Northwest DC where my second cousin Jean and her husband Maurice live. The house they live in has been in the family for generations since it belonged to my father's aunt Hattie. I was given a warm welcome by Maurice and Jean who had food waiting for me and told me all about the neighborhood and the various real estate projects they were involved in. They also mentioned their belief in the power of writing which made me feel inspired as I went into the workshop the next day.

During the first day of workshop, we had an orientation where Dr. Ali-Coleman encouraged us to meet a stranger and then introduce them to the group of ~40 students from all of the different genres (non-fiction, poetry, screenwriting, and fiction). I was in attendance for fiction with Dr. Amina Gautier. Dr. Gautier was immediately friendly. She's a joke cracking New Yorker. I learned in the classroom that she also has a deep knowledge of the history of literature and the structure of good writing. I felt like my craft developed a great deal in a short amount of time. My fellow fiction students shared this experience with me. Everyone brought something unique to the table. Some were lawyers, others journalists, a few had MFAs like mine and some were completely new to writing. I felt that each individual was talented and had spent time making their 10 page sample as good as it could be without outside input. I was the only guy in my group. I didn't notice it though. I felt comfortable and supported throughout the week–so much so that when it was time to say goodbye, I came close to asking Maurice and Jean if I could stay another day to spend more time with the people I'd come to call friends.

Thanks Hurston/Wright for the opportunity!