Cave Canem Presents: “with love like black, our black”: Black Poetry and Literary Citizenship

In “The Sermon on the Warpland,” Gwendolyn Brooks urges readers to “Build now your church,” and to do so “With love like black, our black.” This roundtable is a follow-up to “‘With love like black, our black’: Building Our Homes,” and features Cave Canem alumni Amanda Johnston, L. Lamar Wilson, and Yolanda Wisher, and current fellow Ryan Jones in conversation about the Cave Canem Fellowship, the meaning of citizenship in poetry communities, and the future of Black poetry.

This program will be broadcasted on Zoom, and supported by American Sign Language interpretation.

Amanda Johnston earned a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of Southern Maine. She is the author of two chapbooks, GUAP and Lock & Key, and the full-length collection, Another Way to Say Enter. She is a member of the Affrilachian Poets, a Cave Canem fellow, cofounder of Black Poets Speak Out, and founder and executive director of Torch Literary Arts.

Ryan Jones is an award-winning spoken word artist, an environmental engineer, your favorite dad and a lemon pepper wing connoisseur. Ryan is dedicated to youth and community outreach through the performing arts, and furthering action toward ending the climate crisis through his work. Ryan was born and raised in the Metro Atlanta area, where he currently resides.

L. Lamar Wilson is the author of Sacrilegion (Carolina Wren Press, 2013), a Thom Gunn Award
finalist; co-author of Prime: Poetry and Conversation (Sibling Rivalry Press, 2014); and
associate producer of The Changing Same (POV Shorts, 2019), which streams at American
Documentary and airs on PBS. Other poems and essays have been widely anthologized and have
appeared at PoetryPoem-a-DayThe New York TimesInterimTriQuarterly, NPR, Oxford
AmericanThe RootsouthThe Washington Post, and elsewhere. Wilson, who spent nearly two
decades in the nation’s top newsrooms, including the Times and the Post, has received
fellowships from the Cave Canem, Ragdale, and Hurston-Wright foundations, is an Affrilachian
Poet, and teaches creative writing, African American poetics, and film studies at Florida State
University and The Mississippi University for Women.

Yolanda Wisher was named the first poet laureate of Montgomery County, Pennsylvania and the third Poet Laureate of Philadelphia. The author of Monk Eats an Afro, Wisher performs poetry and song with her band The Afroeaters. Wisher is a Pew and Cave Canem fellow and received the Leeway Foundation’s Transformation Award. She has led numerous programs rooted in poetry as a public art, including a neighborhood festival, literary takeovers of local museums, a series of poetry church services, a radio show and podcast, and a poetic address to the nation. She works as the Curator of Spoken Word at Philadelphia Contemporary.