Dear Readers of Yalobusha Review,
Welcome to YR’s annual summer issue dedicated to the work of young, Black youth from Mississippi. You will find poetry and prose that comes from four generous writers who reflect on nature, relationships, and pay homage to the lineage before them (both literary and personally).
This workshop has shown that community and unabridged artistic expression are invaluable, as they are essential for personal and creative growth. Reckoning with the importance of the two, it is apparent that the workshop broadened the students’ worldviews and positively influenced their perception of what it means to a young, Black writer in Mississippi.
Through the intimacy of our workshop group, we had the pleasure of learning each other’s influences and goals, leaving us with a better understanding of how writing can help mold the futures we hope for ourselves.
The Catherine Coleman Literary Arts and Justice Initiative made possible a summer workshop that centered the imagination, lived experiences, and artistic expression of Black youth in Mississippi. The initiative, which connects high schoolers to graduate students from the University of Mississippi’s MFA program in Creative Writing, aims to expand access to the literary arts for youth by exploring the state’s “rich history of arts and justice while modeling intellectual and artistic curiosity.”
We would like to thank Sadia Hassan and Ida Harris, who led the inaugural Catherine Coleman summer workshop and outlined a model towards creative excellency through their grace, time, and dedication. We would also like to thank Victoria Hulbert and Marina Leigh for working with us to continue this summer tradition.
Additionally, we thank Professors Kiese Laymon, Derrick Harriell, Wendy Pfrenger, and Caroline Wigginton for clearing the way for art when we most needed it. The initiative, dedicated to Professor Laymon’s beloved grandmother, Ms. Catherine Coleman of Scotts County, seeks “to honor and extend the tradition of Black women like Catherine Coleman who, given the choice to leave Mississippi for dreams of northern freedom, chose to stay in Mississippi and make life better for the state’s children.”
Ms. Coleman believed she and the children of Mississippi had a right to a dignified life and so, organized church-based summer arts programs in Forest, Mississippi as an active member of the Concord Missionary Baptist Church while working as a domestic and chicken plant line worker to support her family.
We honor the legacy of Ms. Coleman and Black folk alike in this incredible issue. We at Yalobusha Review are honored to be featuring the work of Mississippi’s youth, and present to you the second summer issue of YR.
Christy Conner and Joshua Nguyen,
Guest Editors, Summer Issue