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Resources & Opportunities for BIPOC Poets

As we continue to turn and face our current moment—which is infused with the violence of this country’s racist origins and history—we turn again and see acts of care, resistance, and imagination. Here is a sampling of that work as it relates to poetry and poets.

It is common knowledge that COVID-19 continues to take an undue toll on BIPOC communities, where racism compromises health, safety, and basic human rights on a daily basis. We offer a few COVID-19 relief funds for BIPOC poets and writers, along with antiracist activism that intersects with poetry and art. We also list several upcoming workshops, internships, and opportunities that support BIPOC writers; they are organized according to the soonest application/registration date first (starting July 25—don’t wait!).


COVID-19 Emergency Relief Funds and Print Activism


Shade Literary Arts


In support of queer writers of color who have been financially impacted by COVID-19, Shade Literary Arts, publisher of The Shade Journal,  has granted $35,000 to 136 writers as of June through its Queer Writers of Color Relief Fund. Shade aims to raise a total of $100,000 to continue the Fund. Priority will be given to queer trans women of color and queer disabled writers of color.


We Need Diverse Books, a nonprofit advocating for diversity in children’s book publishing, is offering an Emergency Fund for Diverse Creatives in Children’s Publishing—including authors, illustrators, and others. They also offer online COVID-19 resources at large, such as tips for creating virtual events that serve audiences with disabilities.



In March of this year, the Arts Administrators of Color Network established the Arts Leaders of Color Emergency Fund to support BIPOC artists and arts administrators impacted by COVID-19 through $200 microgrants. By June 2020, over 11,000 arts leaders have expressed financial need through the emergency fund application process.

by Patia Borja


Premier nonprofit supporter of artists’ books Printed Matter has an open call, with priority going to BIPOC creators, for anti-racist materials—zines, pamphlets, posters, signs, flyers, organizing material, and handouts—that “provide information about the ongoing fight for racial equality and the movement to protect Black lives.” These original materials will be hosted on the Printed Matter website as PDFs that can be downloaded to print at home; they also provide a list of publishers and printers offering free services for anti-racist protestors (alongside lists of Black-owned bookstores and Black artists and publishers). Printed Matter has also joined with the activist publishing initiative Press Press for Poetry for Persistence, an artist-driven distribution project that supports frontline workers, organizers and elders with care packages of art and poetry; a growing list of recipients—is being gathered with priority given to BIPOC LGBTQAI+ individuals. The sale of artwork from this project supports organizations in Baltimore, where Press Press is based, such the Sister Outsider Relief Grant of the Free Black Women’s Library  and Baltimore Action Legal Team’s Community Bail Fund. The project runs through August 18.


Writing and Poetry-Related Opportunities 


Black Lines Matter


Black Lines Matter is “a home for Black poets thinking about joy and liberation” established by Black Table Arts, a Minneapolis-based organization that provides programs centering education, social justice, and artistic development that “uplift Black lives.” Black Lines Matter is offering a virtual workshop for Black poets, starting Saturday, July 25, 6 – 7pm. Register asap!



For poets interested in working in the arena of performance, the Center for Afrofuturist Studies (CAS) presents Afro-Hemispheric Performance, a workshop to “develop projects geared towards healing the experience of modern coloniality through creative exercises and examination of performance artists and critical texts.” Classes are August 7, 11, 14 and 21. Applications are due July 25th.



Kundiman, a nonprofit organization devoted to nurturing writers and readers of Asian American literature, is offering internship positions with stipends in Development, Grants, and Programs for Fall/Spring 2020 – 2021. The Fall/Spring interns work eight-month terms from September – April. The commitment is 15 hours per week. Applications are open through August 3.


Vincent Toro


Kweli, a literary journal and community organization, is celebrating their ten-year anniversary, offering multi-genre master classes and workshops exclusively for BIPOC writers as part their International Literary Festival. Upcoming poetry workshops include Vincent Toro teaching on poetic form and intention (August 15)and Joshua Bennett on “environmental writing at the end of the world” (September 15). Keynote speakers for the Festival running through September 17 are Edwidge Danticat and Nikky Finney.



As part of their 2020-2021 season, The Poetry Project offers two opportunities that are not exclusively for BIPOC but are part of the Project’s commitment “to building and fostering creative community that challenges notions of margin and center, that is passionately antiracist and liberatory….” The Emerge–Surface–Be fellowship offers five emerging writers of poetry, nonfiction, criticism, and performance one-on-one mentorship, as well as publication and performance opportunities. In the Curatorial Fellowship, three Curatorial Fellows will be responsible for programming three events in The Project’s Spring 2021 season. The fellowship includes a $1,500 curator honorarium, as well as a budget of up to $3,600 for production and honoraria. The application deadline for both fellowships is August 16.


Mahogany L. Browne


Cave Canem, the lauded nonprofit devoted to cultivating the artistic and professional growth of Black poets, presents its annual 2020 Toi Derricotte & Cornelius Eady Chapbook Prize. This year the contest is being judged by Mahogany L. Browne, and the entry fee for the competition will be waived for all submissions. The winner will receive $500, publication by Jai-Alai Books in 2021, a featured reading at the O, Miami Poetry Festival, and more. Deadline is: Tuesday, September 15, 2020. Mahogany L. Browne is the Executive Director of the Bowery Poetry Club, Artistic Director of Urban Word NYC, and Poetry Coordinator at St. Francis College. Recipient of numerous fellowships, including from Cave Canem, she is the author of some half dozen books. She is also the founder of the Woke Baby Book Fair, a nationwide diversity literature campaign; and as an Arts for Justice grantee, is completing her first collection of essays on mass incarceration, investigating its impact on women and children.

We hope this information is helpful. And we invite you to let us know about more opportunities and resources at

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