VONA Voices Residency at University of Miami

So I'm a bit late as always, but last week I attended the VONA (Voices of Our Nation Arts) workshop during its inaugural year at the University of Miami, in a weeklong residency led by the inimitable Chris Abani.

It was indeed very awesome. VONA is specifically for 'writers of colour', and was cofounded by that other legend, Junot Diaz, as a safe space for writers from minority backgrounds to discuss their work. Myself and eight other brilliant women had been chosen to initially work with the very lovely, 'Mistress of Spices' writing Chitra Divakaruni, but at the very last minute the TED-talking, endowed professor Chris was called in, and I can't say we were too disappointed. 

After a day of craft class, each of us had the week to work one-on-one with Chris, wander around the palm-tree lined campus with our head lost in greenness, and drink at one of the beautiful bookshop bars that populate Coral Gables and the nearby inner city. It was, all in all, a good week. Most of us found what we were looking for - a community of other 'writers of colour', a lightbulb moment, craft to unpack over the coming year. Many thanks to the tireless staff who also worked hard to keep us well-fed and looked after.

Here's a shot of us all from after the faculty reading - Chris read from 'The Secret History of Las Vegas' and 'Becoming Abigail'. I'm down middle and front!