Four legendary creative collaborations

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Toni Morrison with Susan Taylor, Rita Dove, Oprah Winfrey, Angela Davis, Maya Angelou, and others in Winston-Salem, NC on September 6, 1994. Photo: Will Mcintyre/The LIFE Images Collection/Getty Images

The first time I knew my words had triggered something deep in someone was when I finished a two-week summer writers workshop when I was 15. I climbed into my mother’s car, read her one of my poems, and watched her face change as she heard it. If my own flesh and blood could not wrap her head around my work, then I would have to search elsewhere for creative understanding.

As a Black teenager, I hungered for so many things, but one of the things I’m most proud that I’ve fought for over the years is the connection I’ve…


I am a writer that likes rituals, ceremonies, and holidays that feel like closing chapters. As I prepared to leave my current artist residency in Key West, I’m thinking of how the writing journey, if it really is a love-at-first-sight kind of thing, is endless. Having finished Book #1 last year and working through Book #2 right now as I’m awaiting news from submissions for Book #1, I have to be willing to give some advice to both help readers of this newsletter and myself as I try not to check my email too.

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So here are 5 ways to get excited about writing in the new year…

#1 Reread some old writing and reminisce on memories from your writing past.

While editing a video a few…


Voice is a murky thing when it comes to writing, but if you listen to any creative writing podcast, agent, or editor, they’ll usually say, “It just jumps out at you when it’s good.”

So what immediately comes to mind when you think of voice? Is it Stephen King’s penchant for trapped characters? Could voice be something as distinctively… controversial as the quiet and meek Bella Swan in Twilight attracting the vampire of her dreams? Or do you think of Toni Morrison, Octavia Butler, James Baldwin?

In the most mainstream terms, voice is defined (in this Writing Cooperative piece) as:


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For my family, the American Dream has always been a fever dream with the most painful chapters missing-my mother facing racism in a white high school during desegregation bussing, the many times that the men in my family went to prison for drug dealing, the shock I felt as a middle schooler as our class watched new clips of the post-Hurricane Katrina devastation. The American Dream I’d been taught was also the most forgetful, convenient, and white version.

This iteration of the American Dream guided the beginning of my life as a writer at the age of twelve. At twelve…


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On August 31, 2017, Jamaican authorities found the body of 35 year old man in his home in Kingston who had suffered numerous stab wounds and his body had begun to decompose after numerous days. His name was Dexter Pottinger and he was the 2016 “Face of Pride” for the Jamaican Forum for Gays, All-Sexuals and Gays.

At the time, J-FLAG had bestowed the honor onto him for his “his courage, sense of self, drive, relationship with his family and friends, and pride in being Jamaican and in being a gay man.” …


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This election, an increasing number of millennials and Gen Zers are tired of the political rat race and want more

The November 3 US presidential election approaches against the backdrop of a year that has upended many of our illusions of safety. The COVID-19 pandemic has left millions of Americans jobless, stricken with the virus, and struggling to share resources the government is failing to provide. Over 220,000 people are dead. May and the following months saw rubber bullets, wooden pellets, pepper spray, and tear gas fly, as local police departments and the National Guard inflicted brutality on protesters all around the country, and world. …


Over the past year and a half, I’ve made it a habit to apply to residencies as regularly as I can. I started freelance writing in 2017 and had a big learning curve in terms of knowing what opportunities I could apply to, how to find residencies, understanding the application materials needed, and just how to hit that sweet spot before sending in my application.

It took months of applying and getting rejections until… BOOM! In August of 2019, I got my first acceptance to a journalism fellowship. Then a few weeks later, I got another email — news of…


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Black Panther smashed records at the box office its opening weekend, demonstrating that audiences are interested in films that better represent themselves and the world around them — even if that world is filled with superheroes and armor-clad rhinos. As a piece of art, it is stunning on its own, but perhaps one of the most poignant parts of the film is its exploration of various modes of blackness and masculinity seldom portrayed in mainstream films.

The central conflict is between two characters in pursuit of black liberation (or a “home” for black people to live freely) through two modes…


Bob Marley was never able to forge true brotherhood with Black Americans. Decades later, his granddaughter’s generation is fighting to change that.

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Bob Marley at the offices of Island Records, London, July 24, 1975. Photo: Michael Putland/Getty Images

On May 31, shortly after the explosive beginnings of global unrest following the police murder of George Floyd, 24-year-old Zuri Marley uploaded a video to Instagram. In the clip, her grandfather, Bob Marley, is 28 years old. His iconic dreadlocks are only down to his shoulders as he sings the first lines of a song from the 1973 album Burnin’: “This morning I woke up in a curfew/O God, I was a prisoner, too — yeah!/Could not recognize the faces standing over me/They were all dressed in uniforms of brutality.”

As a 25-year-old, queer Jamaican American navigating my feelings about…


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A stream of black smoke rose above a building three blocks ahead. People of all ages and backgrounds surrounded me. It was May 1, 2018 and thousands were gathered in the streets of Paris. Union members carried signs and shouted into microphones. The black bloc surged faithfully ahead. Glass from the windows of a nearby McDonald’s crunched beneath boots and sneakers.

“There’s the tear gas,” an American shouted.

I heard screams as canisters shot down from the sky, streaming gray gas as they hit the streets or people. The crowd pulled out their scarves and masks. Coughing fits began. I…

Prince Shakur

Writer for @TeenVogue @DailyDot @TheAppeal | Editing debut memoir | https://solo.to/princeshakur | Twitter @prshakur

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