Black Pen is a 4-month intensive creative writing program for emerging Black writers between the ages of 16-29. Facilitated by Whitney French, scholarly writer & editor, participants will have the opportunity to deeply and authentically explore their passion and skill for writing, culminating in the creation of a published book distributed across the country in Winter 2022.
Black Pen aims to embolden an understanding of how writing can be used to empower oneself and one’s community. By providing a safe and encouraging space for writers to learn practical literary skills participants get to authentically explore their literary voices through a hands-on creative process. This year we selected Yvvana Yeboah Duku, Onyka Gairey, Saherla Osman, Adeola Egbeyemi, Kais Padamshi and Omi Rodney to participate in this year’s program.
Learn more about some of our all-star writers in Black Pen 2021-22
Yvvana Yeboah Duku (she/her)
Yvvana is an 18-year-old writer, eyelash technician, freelance model and visionary residing in Ottawa, Ontario. As a natural advocate, she aims to speak to the realities of young Black women through her pieces; she pulls out the topics that are swept under the rug, and uses vulnerability in her works to relate to all those who find resonance. Find Yvvana on Instagram @myquandary
Onyka Gairey (she/they)
Onyka is a Black lesbian living in Toronto. They love storytelling, poetry, and everything fantastic. Her writing focuses on Black protagonists in extraordinary worlds and circumstances. As we grow older, we are told to accept the way things are and who we have to be. Challenging those ideas can lead to power struggles or victories defiant. In writing, there are no limits on what we can create, imagine and share. Onyka hopes their writing speaks a truth that needs to be heard.
Saherla is a Black Muslim writer. She writes to feel, to love, to learn, and to embrace everything around her. She writes mostly poetry but also dabbles in every form of writing as she loves creating and exploring different ways to grow. She’s really excited and thrilled to be a part of the program as she has always wanted to be part of a Black space to express herself, be comfortable enough to open up and share an art form that feels like she’s been working on most of my life.
Adeola is writing what she wished she had read growing up. She was raised in Halifax and Ottawa, in magic tree-houses and the Rodent’s Gazette, in half-blood cabins and Garden Heights, and with Aminata Diallo and the Akron AWOL.
Years of reading experience didn’t translate themselves (successfully, that is) into writing, until she took a class called Research & Creative Writing Inquiry in her undergrad. Since then, she’s had her short stories and poems in student magazines like PITCH and Incite, and EnviroMuslim’s Our Climate Our Stories book. Egbeyemi also enjoys theatre, film, political theory and philosophy, mythology, environmentalism and seeping these interests into her writing.
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