Fayetteville poet, author featured at Wednesday Night Poetry

Fayetteville poet, author, teacher, editor and Artist 360 Fellow Brody Parrish Craig will be featured at Wednesday Night Poetry at Kollective Coffee + Tea, 110 Central Ave.

The regular open mic session for all poets, musicians, storytellers will begin at 6:30 p.m. today. Parrish Craig will begin their feature set at 7:30 p.m., followed by another round of open mic. Admission is free and open to all ages. Masks are recommended. All are welcome.

Raised in Shreveport, Louisiana, Parrish Craig has lived in Arkansas for almost a decade. They have a BA from Hollins University in English and French, as well as an MFA in Poetry from University of Arkansas.

"I teach English, Creative Writing and Humanities at NorthWest Arkansas Community College during the school year and teach Creative Writing to teen writers at Kenyon Young Writers Summer Residential Workshop during the summers. I love the outdoors, music and meditation. My husband Max is also an artist, and we have two cats, Buzi and Howie," Parrish Craig said in a news release.

Parrish Craig has recently won awards and fellowships from the Mid-America Arts Alliance for their work in amplifying transgender and gender-nonconforming voices in the literary world, especially centered regionally, the release said.

"Poetry has always been my entrance into new worlds, conversations and ideas. I am able to gain new perspectives and carry on conversations with books that I may not have in my day-to-day life. Poetry opens our perceptions, creates empathy, and engages creativity -- and creates a platform for learning, unlearning, and questioning societal barriers and systems. Across genres, my writing strives to upheave expectations to open spaces for connection, unlearning and change. To this end, my artistic projects often center community practice, collaboration, and political education outside of my work in contemporary publishing," Parrish Craig said.

"My artistic practice stems from community building outside the confines of the poem. I engage in creative partnerships with others, develop free accessible arts programming, skill-share with others across age and experience levels, and strive to create space centering TLGBQ people often left out or left behind in arts institutions and creative writing pedagogies. I believe that collectively my work as a poet, educator, and artist can play an integral role in combating TLGBQ erasure and create lasting social change.

"As an artist, my work moves beyond my own disciplinary silo in order to dig deeper within myself, learn from others and build a creative future beyond my desk that matches my belief in the liberatory practice of art, and cocreating a world that prioritizes community, connection and creativity. I believe in channeling a creative space within myself where I do not seek to write 'about' but rather 'write through,' and creating spaces alongside others where we can show up authentically in our entirety regardless of previous experience, skillsets, societal narratives or academic training," they said.

Parrish Craig won the 2019 Omnidawn Chapbook Contest for "Boyish," which was published in 2021. "Boyish" reckons with themes of queer spirituality and acceptance.

"Brody is such a beautiful force in northwest Arkansas and in the greater literary conversation. I have watched as their poems and passions have emboldened others to be their most authentic and truest selves. It is an honor to welcome them down to Hot Springs and shine a light on their mission of elevating the TGNC community, especially during these times where forces are attempting to criminalize and silence their humanity. Not on my watch. As long as I am the host of WNP, this is a safe space for all, especially for anyone who lives on the margins. I am excited to hear poems from 'Boyish,' and even some of Brody's new work! It's going to be another special night of poetry and community right here in downtown Hot Springs," WNP Host and Hot Springs Poet Laureate Kai Coggin said in the release.

This week marks 1,782 consecutive Wednesdays of open mic poetry in downtown Hot Springs since Feb. 1, 1989. "WNP is the longest-running consecutive weekly open mic series in the country. Wednesday Night Poetry is a safe space," the release said. Email [email protected] for more information.

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