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Sharan Strange Sparks a Passion for Creative Writing Locally, Nationally and Globally

August 2016

Poet Sharan Strange, Spelman College Professor Sharan Strange has been honing her craft, publishing her work of art, and delighting audiences with her creative prowess for decades. While she is often quite busy teaching creative writing at Spelman, serving as a community board member of Poetry Atlanta, and coordinating the annual Decatur Book Festival, she always finds time to write, to create and to think. Always. 

This summer, two of her  works premiered in concert performances in New York City. Her poem "Childhood" was set to music as part of the song-cycle, "Summer Songs," composed by Robert Paterson, and premiered by the American Modern Ensemble on May 26. "Yet Unheard," her commissioned collaboration with composer Courtney Bryan, was the featured new work at "Sing Her Name", a concert honoring Sandra Bland and social justice movement for Black women's lives, and performed by The Dream Unfinished Orchestra on July 13 at The Great Hall at Cooper Union. She was also selected to serve a five-year term as Elector for The Poets Corner of The Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York.
A prolific writer, Strange is the author of the full-length collection "Ash" (Beacon Press, 2001), which was selected by Sonia Sanchez for the Barnard Women Poets Prize. She is also a founding member of the Dark Room Collective; and she served as co-curator of its Dark Room Reading Series, which presented over 100 established and emerging writers, musicians, and visual artists of color to audiences in the Boston area from 1988 to 1994.

The Dark Room Collective, Then and Now | "Elbow Room: How the Dark Room Collective made space for a generation of African-American writers"

During the “Nothing Personal: The Dark Room Collective Reunion Tour” with Natasha Trethewey, Major Jackson, Thomas Sayers Ellis, John Keene, Tisa Bryant, and saxophonist James Brandon Lewis, Strange read from her work. The event was part of the Lannan Literary series.

Strange's poems and essays have appeared in many anthologies, including Bearden’s Odyssey: An Anthology of Poems Responding to the Art of Romare Bearden (2016), Revise the Psalm: Work Inspired by the Writing of Gwendolyn Brooks (2016), Inspired Georgia (2016), Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry (2013), The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South (2007), Temba Tupu! Africana Women’s Self-Portrait (2005), Dance the Guns to Silence (2005), Furious Flower: African American Poetry from the Black Arts Movement to the Present (2004), Bittersweet: Contemporary Black Women’s Poetry (1998), and Best American Poetry 1994.

Her work has appeared in journals in the U.S. and abroad, including Callaloo, the journal of African diaspora arts and letters (where she served as a contributing editor for many years); the American Poetry Review, and Agenda, a South African publication. Her writings have also been featured in The Dream Unfinished concert series #SingHerName, and in exhibitions at the Whitney Museum, the Skylight Gallery in New York, and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. Her commissioned piece, “Everyone Is a Mirror,” was featured in the catalogue for the exhibition "Black President: The Art and Legacy of Fela Anikulapo Kuti" at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York.

Strange’s honors include the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writer’s Award, an Artist Award from the D.C. Commission on the Arts, Pushcart Prize nominations, and residencies at the Gell Writers’ Center, the MacDowell Colony, and Yaddo. This year, she presented at the symposium, "Lineage: From the Black Arts Movement to Cave Canem," as part of the panel on "Organizing Founders," at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. in June.

She has served as Bruce McEver Visiting Chair in Poetry at the Georgia Institute of Technology, and faculty at the Center for the Contemplative Mind in Society Summer Session at Smith College. She has also been writer-in-residence at Fisk University, Bennington College, Wheaton College, the University of California at Davis, the California Institute of the Arts, the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and other colleges and universities. 

Raised in Orangeburg, South Carolina, Strange studied at Harvard College and earned her M.F.A. at Sarah Lawrence College.

Content for this page was aggregated from the Poetry Foundation website.

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