poem index

A Brief Guide to the Dark Room Collective

Year

2004

The Dark Room Collective was founded in Boston in 1988 by a group of African American poets led by Thomas Sayers Ellis and Sharan Strange. The mission of the Collective was to form a community of established and emerging African American writers. Major Jackson, Natasha Trethewey, and Kevin Young were also members of this group.

Originally conceived as a reading series, the Collective became a small community of poets. Strange writes that "it was the sustaining practice of writing in community just as much as the activism of building a community-based reading series for writers of color that kept us engaged in collectivity" (Painted Bride Quarterly 60).

Kevin Young is the author of Jelly Roll: A Blues and Most Way Home, as well as To Repel Ghosts, a book inspired by the artist Jean-Michel Basquiat. Below is an excerpt of "Urgent Telegram to Jean-Michel Basquiat":

HAVENT HEARD FROM YOU IN AGES STOP LOVE YOUR
LATEST SHOW STOP THIS NO PHONE STUFF IS FOR BIRDS
LIKE YOU STOP ONCE SHOUTED UP FROM STREET ONLY