Richmond, VA

VCU launches residency for Indigenous writers and artists

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News flash for Indigenous writers and artists: Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) launched the Karenne Wood Native Writer/Artist Residency program.

With that, an Indigenous writer or artist will be offered the opportunity spend time at VCU in Richmond, VA and connect with local tribes, give public talks and readings, and help enrich VCU students’ learning experience.

The university’s Humanities Research launched the program in honor of Karenne Wood, Ph.D., a member of the Monacan Indian tribe. She was a poet, activist, tribal historian and educator whose resume included lecturing at VCU. Two of her poetry collections, Markings on Earth and the more recent Weaving the Boundary are used in education across North America, according to VCU.

Wood died in the summer of 2019 from a battle with cancer. She was 59. “Karenne was a fierce advocate for the rights of Virginia Indians and indigenous people, and she did that hard work knowing that she might never see the full impact of it in her lifetime,” Matthew Gibson, executive director of Virginia Humanities, said. “And yet, her work will flourish for generations to come,” UVA Today quoted him as saying.

VCU launched the Wood-inspired residency program last month at the Pocahontas Reframed Film Festival at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

“The Karenne Wood residency is part of a broader effort to bring institutional awareness and acknowledgment of the past, present and future of Indigenous peoples in Virginia,” said Cristina Stanciu, Ph.D., the director of the Humanities Research Center and an associate professor in the Department of English. “It aims to enhance the visibility of Virginia Indigenous cultures and communities and to be more intentional and reciprocal in promoting cultural exchanges between the university and the local Native communities.”

An endowment is currently being sought for the program.

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