In a 1982 interview, Audre Lorde described how black female writers derive the greatest insights from following their feelings rather than from accepting education imposed on them. “Our feelings are our most genuine paths to knowledge,” Lorde said. On March 6, poet Nabila Lovelace discussed and advocated this philosophy as part of “Black Writers Workshop x Winter Tangerine,” an hour-long workshop she led in Farkas Hall. The session also included a world-building exercise, reflections on the writing process, a reading of a Lucille Clifton poem, and a group of student writers gathered together to participate.
The collaboration between the Black Arts Festival and Winter Tangerine magazine, whose stated mission is to give voice to “traditionally uncentered communities,” arose from a feeling — specifically, Gabby S. Preston ’20’s emotional reaction to a Winter Tangerine workshop last summer. Preston felt “really moved” by the event, became determined to bring the organization into dialogue with Harvard students, and asked Winter Tangerine founder Yasmin Belkhyr on the spot for a collaboration. Preston, Scott, and Belkhyr brought Preston’s hope to fruition.
For one of the exercises Lovelace led, the pile of books — borrowed from Lamont Library’s Woodberry Poetry Room — provided words to be culled and reconfigured into fresh phrases. Another exercise centered around world building.
“There is nothing too small for the writing. There is nothing too small to make up a world of,” Lovelace said.
Zindzi L. Hammond-Hanson ’19, who attended the workshop, said that she appreciated Lovelace’s advice. “Hearing our guest, at the end, talk about taking a page out of Audre Lorde’s book — about starting from feelings versus ideas, and having the courage to let yourself be led by the most inner parts of you outwards through writing — that was great,” Hammond-Hanson said.
Preston hoped the workshop could open up paths for student writers in a way that Preston feels many spaces in Harvard do not.
“If you’re not on The Advocate, or if you’re not in these spaces that are institutionally telling you you’re an artist, it can be hard,” Preston said. “It can be hard to be here and write and and do that in ways that are artistically important to you without that sort of outside validation. I wanted to bring some validation, and some creative space, and some of the love that Winter Tangerine represents to me, to campus.”