MINNEAPOLIS (Dec. 15, 2015) — The Loft Literary Center is excited to announce recipients of the 2016 Spoken Word Immersion Fellowships: Angelique “Giddy” Perez (Tampa), Sham-e-Ali Nayeem (Philadelphia), Chaun Webster (Minneapolis), and Bolin Jue and Allyson Jeffredo (San Bernardino). Alternate Keno Evol and Honorable Mentions Khary Jackson, Jess Chen, and Nikkita Oliver were also named.
The four recipients were selected from a pool of many qualified applications from all over the United States. Each poet or team will receive $7,500 in support of a self-defined project and will perform at the Loft as part of its Equilibrium Spoken Word series. The winning projects include:
- Angelique “Giddy” Perez (Tampa, Florida)—will embark on a poetry tour during which she will volunteer at three Latino/a and Chicano/a owned barbershops, trading haircuts for conversation about race, cultural displacement, and community. Her project will culminate with the production of a chapbook of poems inspired by these conversations.
- Sham-e-Ali Nayeem (Philadelphia)—will be conducting poetry workshops exploring memories of partition in the South Asian diaspora and performing the resulting work in select cities globally.
- Chaun Webster (Minneapolis)—will be archiving audio and visual narrative for ECHO, an Oral Storytelling Project, that will be looking at the way memory, imagination, and language have worked together to co-create geographies among Black residents of North Minneapolis over the last 40 years.
- Bolin Jue and Allyson Jeffredo (San Bernardino, California)—will be conducting a year long project comprised of weekly creative writing and arts workshops at Salinas Elementary School—a primarily Latino/a and Chicano/a serving institution in an economically disadvantaged area.
The Immersion Fellowship Judges
College faculty for a decade, teaching artist for over 15 years, poet and performer for over two decades, Turiya Autry has provided performances, workshops, classes, and residencies to over 50 K-12 schools, two dozen colleges, and hundreds of venues nationwide. Her poetry collection, Roots, Reality & Rhyme, bridges the personal and political, the mythic and the real and sets the stage for her theatrical, multi-media, one-woman show adaptation.
R. Vincent Moniz, Jr. (NuEta), an enrolled citizen of the Three Affiliated Tribes in Ft. Berthold Indian Reservation, finds the influence for his work in the adventure of Urban Indian living. In his short time as a writer Moniz has had many incredible milestones. Currently they include an Indigenous Slam Championship win, 2015 Loft Spoken Word Immersion Fellowship, and the 2016 Minnesota Emerging Writers’ Grant. You can find his poetry performances at redoubted.com
Karla Cordero is a Chicana poet, educator, and activist born along the borderlands of Southern California. Cordero is the founder and editor of Spit Journal, an online literary review for performance poetry and social justice. Her first Chapbook, Grasshoppers Before Gods, release this year with Dancing Girl Press.
The Immersion Fellowships and Spoken Word
From Native storytelling to kwv kxhiaj (traditional Hmong poetry chanting), from rap to hip hop, spoken word lies at the intersection of community, individual life experience, and art. This art form has long been misunderstood, misrepresented, and pushed to the margins of the literary world. Defined by dynamic, interactive literary performance rich with cultural commentary, the Loft recognizes spoken word as its own genre. For a decade, the Loft has presented Equilibrium, a spoken word performance series in which artists of color engage audiences in provocative issues. The Minnesota Council of Nonprofits honored Equilibrium with its Nonprofit Mission Award for Anti-Racism.
The Immersion Fellowships will support artists of color or indigenous descent in self-designed projects that help them better understand the communities and issues that inform their work. Examples of projects might include a month-long mentorship with elders on a reservation or a series of performances and discussion in a neighborhood market. The goal is to buy artists time to work, to advance and catalyze their artistic development, and to increase exposure to the art of spoken word.
This program is made possible by a major grant from the Surdna Foundation and by the generous support of Loft members. The Surdna Foundation seeks to foster just and sustainable communities in the United States—communities guided by principles of social justice and distinguished by healthy environments, strong local economies, and thriving cultures.
For five generations, since 1917, the Foundation has been governed largely by descendants of John Andrus and has developed a tradition of innovative service for those in need of help or opportunity.
More information is available at www.surdna.org.