Medgar Evers Collegeâ€™s Center for Black Literature (CBL), in collaboration with the English department at the State University of New York (SUNY) Plattsburgh and the Paden Institute, held a retreat for emerging writers of color. The Wild Seeds Writers Retreat, formerly the North Country Institute and Retreat for Writers of Color, took place over four days, from July 16 to July 20, 2019, with workshops and readings led by this yearâ€™s poetry faculty workshop leader, Patricia Spears Jones, and fiction faculty leader, Tony Medina. The culminating event of the retreat featured a public reading at SUNY Plattsburgh, with Patricia Spears Jones, Tony Medina, several writing fellows, and a panel discussion with Spears Jones, Medina, and CBL Executive Director Dr. Brenda Greene on craft, themes, and the value of conferences and retreats for writers of color. Dr. Alice P. Green, executive director for the Center for Law and Justice in Albany, and her husband, Charles Touhey, founders of The Paden Institute and Retreat for Writers of Color in Essex County, New York, led participants in a talk about the history of Blacks in the Adirondacks. They also shared information about the Paden Institute, which offers summer opportunities for writers to pursue projects.
In 2004, the North Country Institute and Retreat for Writers of Color were launched with the dual purpose of providing a space for writers of color to work on their craft and to create cross-cultural conversations with the literary community in northeastern New York. It also provides them with the chance to work with published authors and engage in dialogue about issues related to writing and getting their work published. It was renamed the Wild Seeds Writers Retreat in honor of the late author Octavia E. Butler, and this was the first retreat since its renaming. Greene co-directs the Wild Seeds Retreat with Dr. Jose Padilla-Torres, a professor of English at SUNY Plattsburgh. Retreat participants included a Medgar Evers alum and current Medgar Evers College student Felice Patton. The Wild Seeds Writers Retreat is supported with funding by the Ford Foundation, New York City Council Majority Leader Laurie A. Cumbo, and New York City Council Member Inez Barron.
The Press-Republican, a daily newspaper in Plattsburgh, New York, covered the retreat. You can read the story here.
(Seated L to R): Tony Medina, Patricia Spears Jones, Dr. Brenda M. Greene, and Dr. Jose Torres-Padilla
(Standing L to R): Participants Jasmine Joseph, Felice Patton, Janelle Poe, Sylvia Kinard, Jannett Bailey, Diane Collins, and Tyra Akanke Washington