Eight local writers and artists selected to participate in the inaugural program
BALTIMORE, MD (March 3, 2022) – The Baltimore Banner, a multi-platform news organization developed by The Venetoulis Institute for Local Journalism, announced today a “Creatives in Residence” program to help amplify the work of artists and writers from the Baltimore region. The inaugural class includes poets, essayists, designers, bloggers, and experienced journalists, each with a unique perspective and Baltimore experience to inform their reporting and storytelling.
With guidance and support from D. Watkins, a New York Times bestselling and award-winning author from Baltimore, and Kondwani Fidel, Baltimore-based poet and essayist, who NPR called “one of the nation’s smartest young Black voices,” Banner Editor in chief Kimi Yoshino selected this year’s participants because of their deep ties to Baltimore and the authentic and personal stories they hope to tell.
“I’m so humbled to announce this inaugural group of Creatives in Residence — all of whom are tremendously talented and whose work has inspired me to think about our city, the people who live here and how we might better serve them,” said Yoshino. “I’m grateful to D. Watkins, Kondwani Fidel, and so many others for their insight and guidance as we build The Baltimore Banner from the ground up. It is imperative that we provide a platform for the many diverse voices in our community.”
Creatives in residence in future years will be given an opportunity to apply for the program.
D. Watkins, a native Baltimorean, is editor at large for Salon, featured in the HBO documentary The Slow Hustle and is a writer on We Own the City, an HBO miniseries from David Simon based on the book by Justin Fenton. Watkins’ work has been published in the New York Times, The Guardian, and Rolling Stone, among others. He is a lecturer at the University of Baltimore and holds a Master’s in Education from Johns Hopkins University and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Baltimore.
“Not telling your story gives society the space to kill you,” Watkins said.
Fidel, who was recently featured on The Tamron Hall Show, is the author of The Antiracist, Hummingbirds in The Trenches, and Raw Wounds. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Virginia State University, and his MFA in Creative Writing and Publishing Arts from the University of Baltimore—and is currently a professor at Coppin State University.
“Historically, Black people in this country, and in Baltimore, never had the luxury to control the narratives around their lived experiences, and sharing their own stories, when it comes to literature and mainstream media,” Fidel said. “I understand that the power of language and storytelling connects people. It equips us with tools to deal with the world, our emotions, and use our voices to take control of our own lives—while inspiring others to do the same.”
In addition to Watkins and Fidel, the inaugural Creatives in Residence class includes:
Kerry Graham lives, teaches, writes, and kayaks in Southeast Baltimore. Her vignettes — true, tiny stories about teaching — have been published in numerous literary journals. She shares her experiences with anxiety, body image, and self-compassion in her personal essays, some of which have appeared in HuffPost. A graduate of Johns Hopkins University School of Education, Kerry is grateful for the laughter she and her students (or, as she calls them, her lovelies) share daily.
“As an English teacher and a writer, I’m a witness to the power of the written word. I believe that the more stories we share, the better Baltimore will be,” Graham said.
Mikea Hugley is a graphic designer and illustrator who lives in Baltimore City.
Some of her works include cover art for Hummingbirds In The Trenches by Kondwani Fidel, animations for the Enoch Pratt Library, Don’t Make It Out, Make It Better by D.Watkins and A Tribute To Tupac and various illustrated projects for Google. Her illustrative work amplifies the people in her community and culture in which she loves. She is a graduate and faculty at Maryland Institute College of Art.
Hugley, who seeks to uplift others through design and illustration, said, “Our stories shed light on the brilliance we have and pain we possess.”
Wallace Lane is a poet, writer, and author from Baltimore. He received his MFA in Creative Writing and Publishing Arts from the University of Baltimore in May 2017. His debut collection of poetry entitled Jordan Year was also released in May 2017. Additionally, Wallace works as an English and Creative Writing Instructor with Baltimore City Public Schools. Wallace’s writing has been published in several print and online publications, including Little Paxtuxent Review, Welter Literary Journal, Lolwe Magazine, Salon.com, Poetry and Covid Magazine, The Indianapolis Review, Jupiter Review and will appear in several upcoming anthologies in 2022.
“I want to create a lifestyle and culture column that is focal in engaging Black Millennial readers and younger readers,” Lane said. “I hope to earn the trust of my readership by writing about and adding my insight to important current events. I plan to advocate and instruct those who are not able to voice their opinions on social concerns through various forms of poetry and creative writing.”
Simone Phillips is a Baltimore native and the food blogger behind @charmcitytable. Phillips began Charm City Table in spring of 2017 as a way to combine her love of food and the Baltimore area. Today, her platform has grown into a small business and well-known local brand continuing to promote Baltimore restaurants and other food concepts. Through Charm City Table, Simone works to highlight local food businesses, diversify food conversations in the Baltimore area, and elevate voices in the food scene that are typically excluded from larger media outlets. Simone also enjoys traveling, spending time with family, and online shopping.
“Baltimore is a dining destination. Continuing to share Baltimore’s stories through food is my way of breaking down the silos of the food & beverage industry and bringing people together,” Phillips said.
E.R. Shipp is a veteran journalist and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist who has held staff positions at the New York Times, New York Daily News and The Washington Post. Her work has been published in numerous publications, including NPR, The Baltimore Sun, The Root and The Grio and USA Today. She is currently an associate professor at Morgan State University and has also taught at Hofstra University and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. She was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary for her columns for the New York Daily News on race, welfare and other social issues.
“As a woman who first fell in love with newspapers when I was about seven or eight years old, I’m delighted to join this experiment in local journalism.” Shipp said. “The Banner can be a model for journalism in the digital age. I’ve been a columnist for nearly 30 years. In the Banner, I will give it to you straight with observations and insights about life in Baltimore and with an unyielding quest for solutions to what ails us.”
Dan Sparaco was born on Long Island, in Huntington, New York. He has lived in Boston, London, Philadelphia, Mexico, New York, and since 2009, Baltimore, where he’s been married, divorced, a City Hall lawyer, a political candidate, a writer about city politics, a regular Bike Party attendee and a witness to Clinchmas 2014 from behind the O’s dugout. Trained as an attorney, Dan has represented rich people, poor people, and city government – where he also spent some time as an Assistant Deputy Mayor. Dan’s work has been published on the Sun’s op-ed page, in the Baltimore Business Journal, and in Maryland Matters, as well as through a project of his called Baltimore Now. Dan owns an alley house in Greenmount West.
“Just as I was when I was a Legal Aid lawyer, I am moved by the injustice of the untold or silenced story. Freed from the burden of arguing and convincing in a courtroom or a campaign, I hope to explore and illuminate what prevents a city with potential from realizing it, to find meaning in the face of occasional despair, and to understand our city’s future, and my own.”
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