Boston-based writer and storyteller Theresa Okokon has been awarded the 2023 Foundation Trust Black Writer Fellowship at Follow Your Art Community Studios in Melrose. Her debut essay collection The Okokon Family Orchestra is slated to launch later this year.
Okokon, originally from Wisconsin, is an essayist, storyteller, a cohost of GBH’s “Stories from the Stage,” and teacher whose experience with personal narrative will deepen Follow Your Art’s writing programming over the next year. Okokon came to writing through storytelling, and is eager to share both with the community. Learn more about Theresa here: www.theresaokokon.com
The $5,000 fellowship will enable Okokon to complete her memoir manuscript and further develop her trauma-responsive approach to teaching writing, while offering writing programming and public events at Follow Your Art.
“This fellowship is granting me the intangible things that all writers need: time, space, and room to focus,” said Okokon. “In addition to moving my own memoir manuscript towards publication, I will also be dedicating my time to research and understand how writing teachers (and other creative educators) can best provide intentional, decolonized, and anti-racist pedagogy, and create community with other teachers focused on similar endeavors.”
This is the second year of the Foundation Trust Writer Fellowship at Follow Your Art, and the first time it has been offered to a Black writer. “Our ongoing collaboration with Follow Your Art is generating truly enriching opportunities for members of the community, all while advancing inclusivity in the arts. Theresa is a captivating teacher and storyteller, and we’re honored to support her work with this fellowship,“ commented Dr. Joseph Spinazzola, Executive Director of the Foundation Trust. To learn more about the Foundation Trust, whose mission includes promoting opportunities for underrepresented artists, including women, people of color, people with disabilities, and LGBTQ+ individuals, visit www.foundationtrust.org
The fellowship was a competitive application process during Fall 2022.
“We are thrilled to welcome Theresa to the Follow Your Art family as this year’s writing fellow,” said Kris Rodolico, Executive Director of Follow Your Art. “Our continuing partnership with the Foundation Trust gives us the ability to provide space and opportunity for creatives like Theresa to work and share their craft with our community.”
Upcoming events and workshops with Theresa will be announced soon at www.FYAmelrose.org.
Follow Your Art Community Studios is a 501(c)3 non-profit arts center located at 647 Main Street, Melrose. Through its Writers Studio, FYACS offers a place to write as well as workshops and occasional writing events. Learn more at www.FYAmelrose.org.