The following is from the July 19, 2016, edition of Black Enterprise.
By Kenny Ryan
DALLAS (SMU) – When Lakiesha Carr decided she needed a quiet place and the support of her peers to finish her debut collection of short stories, she knew exactly where she wanted to go: The Kimbilio Retreat for African-American fiction writers at SMU-in-Taos, New Mexico.
“As a writer, it’s always great to have workshop opportunities, because you want as many eyes and insights as you can get for the work,” Carr says. “Kimbilio has a great legacy, even though it’s a young organization, of having tremendously talented and intelligent people coming there, and that in itself is a gift.”
Carr says she choose to attend Kimbilio because it’s hosted by SMU, her alma mater; because she’d heard great things about it from fellow writers; and because of the renowned beauty of northern New Mexico.
“A lot of the great retreats and MSA programs are often not just in remote areas, but places where natural life is preserved and honored,” Carr says. “I appreciate how much landscape scenery and the history of a place can inspire my creative process in particular, which I think is fairly common for a lot of writers.”
A former journalist with CNN and the New York Times, Carr says she decided to write a short story collection to tell stories with the kind of nuance that national media can’t muster.
Her debut collection will focus on the experiences of African American women going through change; whether it’s the change of flowering youth, the change of old age, or the change of becoming a mother in a community that often feels its youths are victimized by the police.
“There’s a story touching on the things we see in the news today, particularly with the police violence toward young black people, and the response of a mother who is raising two black boys and what fears, rational and irrational, it causes in her,” Carr says. “Each story is a woman experiencing something critical to her sense of self and sense of identity, and we see how that changes them or if they resist to what that change brings.”
August 1, 2016
By Safon Floyd
Kimbilio, a community of writers and scholars committed to developing, empowering, and sustaining fiction authors from the African diaspora and their stories, hosts an annual retreat for writers of color to read, write, and learn from each other.
A project of the English Department and The Dedman College of Humanities & Sciences at Southern Methodist University (SMU), the Kimbilio Retreat is seven days in which selected fellows and faculty gather in the Carson National Forest to work and share, held each July on the Taos campus of SMU.
“Writing is a solitary, isolating process, but the writer herself cannot grow in an environment of marginalization and doubt. Race permeates the water of American life, but Kimblio allows black writers to float above it—if only for one week a year—and bask in the light of a rigorous, loving, literary community,” says Desiree Cooper, 2013 Kimbilio Fellow. “Kimbilio is a safe place for African American writers to ask hard questions of their art and of the cannon itself. It is a safe place to experiment and evolve, engage and argue, explore, and discover. Kimbilio is as necessary as fire.”
Former CNN and New York Times journalist and SMU alumna, Lakiesha Carr, joins the Kimbilio Retreat as a 2016 Fellow. “As a writer, it’s always great to have workshop opportunities, because you want as many eyes and insights as you can get for the work,” she says. “Kimbilio has a great legacy, even though it’s a young organization, of having tremendously talented and intelligent people coming there, and that in itself is a gift.”
You too can become a Kimbilio Fellow; Kimbilio is open to serious-minded, committed writers with a solid grounding in the fundamentals of fictional craft.
The application process to become a Fellow is open during the late winter and early spring of every year. Applicants submit a sample of their fiction writing and a short essay about why they are interested in becoming a Kimbilio Fellow. Applications are judged blindly by outside evaluators, who are themselves accomplished fiction writers.
Other Kimbilio projects include readings, presentations at professional conferences, and social media networking.