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August 29, 2020 @ 1:00 pm EDT - 3:30 pm EDT

1 meeting
  • Fall 2020
  • Summer 2020
Time of Day:
Room: Zoom Room 1


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Writing While White: How to be a Voice of Change

Writing While White: How to be a voice of change

These are confusing times to be a white writer with inclusive intentions. How do you address diversity in your work? What do you have permission to write about? How do you create realistic nonwhite characters? How do you be an ally when white voices are subject to so much scrutiny? This session will be a safe place to get some of your questions answered and develop a new lens through which you can be a powerful voice in the quest for racial reconciliation. This workshop will be conducted by African American lecturer, essayist, and author Desiree Cooper. Poet Terry Blackhawk and short story writer Kelly Fordon will join the panel to share their experiences as white writers addressing race in their work. This workshop will include a lecture and panel discussion, along with writing prompts to help explore new territory for white writers.

Desiree Cooper

Desiree Cooper is a 2015 Kresge Artist Fellow, former attorney and Pulitzer Prize-nominated journalist. Her debut collection of flash fiction, Know the Mother, is a 2017 Michigan Notable Book that has won numerous awards, including 2017 Next Generation Indie Book Award. Cooper’s fiction, poetry and essays have appeared in The Best Small Fictions 2018, Callaloo, Michigan Quarterly Review, The Rumpus, River Teeth, and Best African American Fiction 2010, among other publications. Her essay, “We Have Lost Too Many Wigs,” was listed as a notable essay in The Best American Essays 2019.  In 2018, she wrote, produced and co-directed “The Choice,” a short film about reproductive rights and recipient of a 2019 Outstanding Achievement Award from the Berlin Flash Film Festival, and Award of Merit from the Best Short Film Festival in Los Angeles. Cooper collaborated with the Dance Department at The College William & Mary to create a dance “Aloft” inspired by her feminist fiction which debuted in October, 2018. Cooper was a founding board member of Cave Canem, a national residency for black poets, and has received residencies at Kimbilio and Ragdale.

Terry Blackhawk

A 2019 inductee into HERstory: Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame, former Detroit Public Schools high school creative writing teacher Dr. Terry Blackhawk founded InsideOut Literary Arts Project (  in 1995 to bring the power of poetry and literary self-expression to Detroit area youth. Her five poetry collections include body & field (Michigan State University Press, 1999), finalist for the Brittingham Prize, the Larry Levis Award and the Paumanok Award; Escape Artist (BkMk Press, 2003), selected by Molly Peacock for the John Ciardi Prize; and The Light Between (Wayne State University Press, 2012). One Less River (Mayapple Press) was on two best-seller lists in October 2019 and was named a Best 2019 Indie Poetry title by Kirkus Reviews. Blackhawk’s poetry has appeared in numerous literary magazines and anthologies and on line at Poetry Daily, Solstice, Interim, One, Verse Daily and elsewhere. She received the Foley Poetry Prize from America, the Pablo Neruda Award from Nimrod International, and grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs. Terry Blackhawk was twice named Michigan Creative Writing Teacher of the Year by the Michigan Youth Arts Festival and is a 2013 Kresge Arts in Detroit Literary Fellow. She retired as Executive Director of InsideOut in 2015 and now resides near her son and grandchildren in Connecticut.

Kelly Fordon

Kelly Fordon’s novel-in-stories, Garden for the Blind, Wayne State University Press, 2015, was chosen as a Michigan Notable Book, a 2016 Foreword Reviews’ INDIEFAB Finalist, a Midwest Book Award Finalist, an Eric Hoffer Finalist, and an IPPY Awards Bronze Medalist in the short story category. Her first full-length poetry collection, Goodbye Toothless House, was a finalist for the 2020 Eric Hoffer Award in poetry, and a short story collection, I Have the Answer, was published by Wayne State University Press in April 2020 and has been listed as a Top Kirkus Indie Summer Read for 2020.

Please note: This class is an online class. To participate, students must have a stable internet connection and a computer or device with a webcam and microphone.

The MuseTeacher: Desiree Cooper