The Emerging Poets Incubator
For some poets, engagement with a community is an integral part of artistic practice. Whether by hosting a regular open mic, mentoring young people, or developing shared educational resources, these poets view a commitment to their community as fundamental to what it means to be a poet. The Emerging Poets Incubator is a four-day convening in which 24 community-engaged poets from around the country come together to share ideas, resources, questions, and best practices, and support one another in developing projects that are important to their people back home--whether "home" is defined as a geographic, identity-based, or virtual community. They work with expert faculty like Ross Gay, Luis Rodriguez, Natalie Diaz, and Patricia Smith, and provide each other with peer mentorship and collaborative opportunities. The first Incubator was launched in 2016, and the project is a partnership between Crescendo Literary (which is co-directed by, and comprised entirely of, Eve Ewing and Nate Marshall) and the Poetry Foundation.
After three days of workshops, discussions, and independent work time, Incubator Fellows help to staff the Chicago Poetry Block Party, putting their community engagement skills to good use and modeling what it means to be a poet in practice with a broader public. Thanks to a generous grant from the Mellon Foundation, in 2017 Incubator participants will have the chance to apply for seed funding to generate new projects in their communities after the convening has ended. The Emerging Poets Incubator is free to attend, and housing is provided for Incubator Fellows.