Willow Arts Alliance (WAA)

2018 WAA East Harlem Fellows

Congrats to our NYC Fellows for 2018! They will attend the 1st Annual Randall & Ruby Salon in East Harlem, then attend our 2018 LitFest at Cassava House!

2018 WAA East Harlem Fellows: Maria Fernanda Snellings, Nkosi Nkululeko and Nicholas Nichols

2018 WAA Detroit JazzFest Fellows

Selected fellows will spend a jazz festival weekend working with professor and poet Reginald Flood in Detroit. Detroit’s annual JazzFest is the largest free outdoor festival in the world. Details TBA.



Congrats to all WAA/Weeksville Fellows!

2016 WAA/Weeksville Summer Arts Residency Fellows

Danielle Lyle is a graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts with a MFA in Dramatic Writing for Film, Television and Theatre. A few of her production highlights include working production for The Black Box, Orange Is The New Black, The Good Wife and The Rachael Ray Show.

Suhaly Bautista-Carolina describes herself as a “New Yorker by birth + AfroDominican by bloodline.” Also known as “The Earth Warrior,” Suhaly is a photographer, educator and arts administrator. Her recent work explores themes of “power, womynhood, afrofuturism + existence.” She is the founder of Black.Magic, an all womyn’s collective & Afrofuturism Book Club.

Afua Ansong describes herself as such: “I am a rebel: one of the few African children growing up in the Bronx who refused to become a nurse, lawyer or accountant. Instead, I opted for a career as a poet a few years after immigrating from Ghana at the age of 12. I have since then charged myself with the responsibility of using words as a catalyst to heal and inspire my community. I am particularly drawn to helping immigrants like myself who struggle with identity displacement in America.” She is currently a fully funded MFA student at Stony Brook Southampton, working on two poetry projects.

Jennifer Tan is a “born and raised New Yorker from Queens”. She writes fiction and nonfiction, often on topics of race, class, and feminism. She has been published in Open City Magazine, Asian American Writers’ Workshop, and The Seventh Wave. Jennifer was the prose runner-up in Brutal Nation, Blueshift Journal’s Prizes for Writers of Color, judged by Jeffery Renard Allen. She is a VONA/Voices Fiction Fellow and was a scholarship recipient to Hedgebrook VORTEXT 2016.

Rachelle Parker regularly writes with the Women of Color Creative Writing Workshop. She was chosen to participate in Cave Canem’s “Poetry Conversation: Bush Medicine” with an emphasis on the Japanese form zuihitsu led by Cheryl Boyce Taylor and for Bowery Poetry’s “Memory Can Collapse the Body” led by Mahogany L. Browne. Her work has appeared in Tupelo Quarterly, Creations Magazine, Mused – the BellaOnline Literary Review, The Path Magazine and Elohi Gadugi. She is also the poetry editor of Peregrine, the literary journal of Amherst Writers & Artists and a Callaloo Creative Writing Fellow.

Abena Koomson is a musician, performer, and educator. “I live a polyrhythmic life that has included everything from my career as a language and literature teacher, to my time on Broadway in the musical FELA, to my current work as Dean at Harlem Village Academies Charter High School. Through many phases, writing has been like the orchestra’s conductor, making clear what needs to be brought forth and what needs to be quieted in me. As I journey, I want to bear witness to what I have seen and what has seen me.”

Nicole Shanté White is “definitely the quiet one yo mama warned you about, a cluster of Midwest accents and Southern hospitality.” Currently residing in Brooklyn, Nicole writes, dances, and teaches from a black queer womanist lens. A recipient of Poets House’s 2016 Emerging Poet Fellowship, her work has been published by Wussy Mag, The Feminist Wire, 92Y, and Wall Street. Over the 2015 -16 NY public school year, she worked as a teaching artist for several organizations and is currently facilitating a bi-weekly creative writing course for The Sadie Nash Leadership Project.

Janel Cloyd is a poet, fiction writer and essayist. She is a Watering Hole Fellow, a member of Women Writers in Bloom Poetry Salon and The Poetry & Writer’s Network Exchange. Janel is a mixed media artist with a concentration in collage, paper arts, fiber, poetry, text and images. Her work explores and embraces the themes of womanhood, spirituality and the body aesthetic. “I have a strong connection to the borough of Brooklyn. I grew up in close vicinity of the Weeksville Heritage Center. This area, as well as Brooklyn as a whole, continues to enrich my life and inform my writing. The culture, the people, sights and sounds of this community has contributed to my overall becoming.”

Sokunthary Svay is a Pushcart-nominated Khmer writer and musician from the Bronx, New York. Her writing credits include an essays anthologized in Homelands: Women’s Journeys Across Race, Place and Time, FLESH, The Postpartum Year, Women’s Studies Quarterly, Blue Lyra Review, Newtown Literary, Mekong Review, and Emotive Fruition. Work is forthcoming in Prairie Schooner and LONTAR. She is the recipient of the First Friday Residency at the Jamaica Center for Arts and Learning. Her poem “Morning Song” was recently set to music by composer David Schober and received its world premiere at the Queens New Music Festival on May 20. “I’m a graduate student at the City College of New York in Harlem and live in Queens with my husband and daughter, Soriya Annabel. My family came here as refugees from Cambodia after surviving the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime. It was in the refugee camps in Thailand, where they escaped to, that I was born. We were eventually sponsored to come to the United States and settled in the Bronx.”

Gabriel Ramirez is an Afro-­Latino poet living in Brownsville, Brooklyn. He is a fellow at The Watering Hole and Callaloo as well as a mentor/teaching artist at Urban Word NYC. His work has appeared in The Volta, Jasper and will be forthcoming in The Offing, Vinyl, African Voices and Afro­Latino Poetry Anthology.

A Better Residency Experience

“As a Brooklyn native, Weeksville remains important to our community and history. I do explore memory a great deal in my work and think it is a constant allure for the artist.” –Adisa Vera Beatty, WAA Weeksville 2016 Faculty

Willow Arts Alliance (WAA) residencies provide a richer experience for the artist of color. Understanding how place and memory sparks the creative process, our carefully selected locales provide an added dimension to the residency experience not found elsewhere. Weeksville is especially unique, because it is a place founded by free people of color.


Busboys & Poets U Street Historic District Arts Residency

& Langston Hughes 50th Memorial Tribute

Washington, D.C.

February 10, 2017audience


2017 Artists-in-Residence:  Qiana Towns, author of This is Not the Exit and Gustavo Adolfo Aybar, author of We Seek Asylum

 Carr Center Sharman


South Side Arts Residency

Chicago, IL

Details TBA

The Willow Arts Alliance is a growing network of organizations promoting multidisciplinary programming for artists of color in historic districts and communities across the country and abroad. These hubs serve the motto “The Future of the Arts, with an Eye on the Past.” Core WAA Residencies are located in New York City and Detroit, with upcoming residencies in Chicago and Washington, D.C. The Alliance is a program of Willow Books, (a division of Aquarius Press).

WAA Residencies are open to multidisciplinary artists of color at all stages in their careers. Activities include master classes, readings, craft talks, performances, and historic tours. Applicants selected to attend become WAA Fellows and participate in master classes with an Artist-in-Residence. One Fellow will be awarded a featured reading and development for publication by Willow Books. An annual anthology will be published containing the work of the WAA Fellows and WAA Artists-in-Residence.

After the residency is completed, Fellows and Artists-in-Residence remain an integral part of this network and benefit from future collaborations, performances, and opportunities for publication.