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OUR TIME PRESS March 28-April 3, 2019

VOL. 23 NO. 13

Oak Bluffs Renaissance House Retreat for writers/Artists to Grant Full Scholarship to Resident and Child

R Photo: Lem Peterkin





enaissance House: A Retreat for Writers and Artists has received a grant from The Sustainable Arts Foundation to fund a full scholarship to a resident and their child. The resident will be able to complete the program while the child goes to day camp or some other activity. Applications are now being accepted for the 2019 season as well as for the scholarship. “The retreat provides the time in which to create new works or finish existing ones. Renaissance House is one of the few retreats designed for issue-oriented writers, writers of color and writers of social justice,� explained Abigail McGrath, founder and director of Renaissance House, daughter of poet Helene Johnson and niece of Dorothy West.  “The program is offered to artists who do not have the luxury of time.� “In order to write, a writer must have to just look out the window and stare�-- Helene Johnson “A woman must have  money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction�--Virginia Woolf Renaissance House is not able to give money, but they do offer a room of your own with a window to look out and stare.  Helene Johnson was a poet and summer Martha’s Vineyard resident who had to stop writing in order to support her family. Her cousin, novelist and short story writer Dorothy West, was a year-round Martha’s Vineyard island resident who worked at Harbor Side Restaurant until Jacqueline Kennedy spotted her writing in the MV Gazette and gave her the opportunity to simply “stare at the trees and do nothing.� This enabled West to write “The Wedding,� a best-selling novel inspired by the interracial marriage of Abigail and Tony McGrath. “The Wedding� was also produced as a television miniseries by Oprah Winfrey and starred Halle Berry. Tony and Caroline Grant from

the Sustainable Arts Foundation: “Renaissance House is committed to helping parents gain access to the resources, community, and most importantly, the creative time that they offer. The ripple effect of this commitment is powerful, as it helps normalize the still radical idea of a parent artist and makes the road a little less lonely for each one. We are glad to partner with Renaissance House to provide not just a short-term creative opportunity, but a reminder to each resident that their work is vital, and that there are people and organizations committed to helping them make it. Finally, they are sending a clear message to nonparents that a creative life with family is possible. The Renaissance House program includes formal sit-down dinners and salons by local residents such as: Jill Nelson, Jessica Harris, Kate Feiffer, Susan Kline, Robert Hayden, Marty Nadler, Nat Benjamin, Shirley Craig, Brooks Robards, Janet Hill, Elisabeth Benedict, Justen Ahern , Daniel Waters, Mike West and on and on. “Renaissance House admits writers to the program who span different stages in their careers—from emerging writers to notable award winners,� explained McGrath, who founded the retreat in 1999. “The point of the program is to give artists “alone� time, away from their families and their jobs and the everyday chores that make up a life. Our residents are: a hotel maid who writes poetry during her lunch hour, a single mother filmmaker,  a factory worker who learned Mandarin in order to write poetry in that language, a best-selling author of note who needed a safe place to take chances, a journalist looking for the truth, a Ph.D. candidate doing her best not to “write formulaic  for the Ph.D�.  Artists who need “a room of their own.� For more information, check out the website  or contact  and (917) 747-0367

HER STORY: Saleena R Bullard

crystal stair was not part of Saleena R Bullard’s life when she was a teen. But 15 years later, she’s encouraging other young ‌ and older ‌  to unify and pave roads to success for themselves and others.  Which exactly what she’s doing now, at 28 -- with her special inspirational awards program women in the trenches  doing great things, but whose stories are rarely told.  Here’s Saleena’s story: “Since age 13, I have worked with children and now I am presently employed as a Teacher’s Assistant at the League Education & Treatment Center. I work with special needs youngsters with learning disabilities.  I am a student at Grand Canyon University pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology/Counselling. During my first year of college, I was determined to start the journey right. 

I am proud to say that I made the Dean’s list. “Although things are looking up for me, I will never  for forget the tedious and difficult journey it took to get here.    “We often deal with so much that in the midst of it all, we lose sight of ourselves; whether it is being bullied, not feeling confident personally socially or academically, not loving the skin we are in, or simply feeling hopeless.   “Dealing with all of these kinds of things can cause us to enter a dark space that is often hard to come out of.  “There were times when I felt like no one was listening, no one cared.  These emotions made me feel like I did not want to live anymore. I was in between jobs, my finances were depleted. I felt I had hit rock bottom. I asked, “How could God say he loves me, and allow me to go through all

this turmoil?� I felt suicidal.  I tried overdosing on medications - but, each time it happened, I could not bring myself to do it. That’s when I realized God was with me and for me. “My mom and my sister telling me that we pray for help and that’s okay, but God needs to see us move for ourselves so that he can create the steps towards our blessings.� I decided to redirect my energy into something positive.  And on June 29th, 2016 Sisters N-Courage was born.  “Sisters N-Courage is for young ladies ages 10 and up; there is no age bracket because we all need an extra push.  The goal is to work together to resolve any peer-to-peer disputes that may affect our education or our everyday life; help our young ladies increase their self-esteem;  learn from one another; develop leadership skills; be involved in our community;

discover opportunities -- all of this through power of building stronger sisters,  and so much more.   “The love from --and of -- my Sisterhood family excites me!  I relate to young ladies and their experiences and I can give them advice.  It’s exciting to know that what I say to others works out in their best interests.  It gives me such joy!�  “My advice to young people who feel there’s no hope, no way out of whatever they are stuck in, is when road blocks hit you, full force, you will cry and feel defeated.  But fret not, it’s just a test! Keep your head up and keep moving forward. “Our motto is ‘On our journey to climbing to the top we may fall, but we get up and keep moving forward and encourage others along the way.’� Editor’s Note:  On Saturday, April 6,  1:30p, Sisters N-Courage will honor sisters and queens

who have inspired others in their neighborhoods. This year, the honorees include Theresa Boyd, Joanne Brister, Celeste Corniffe, Dayalitza Crespo, Grace Cunningham, Cynthia Fisher, Krisitina Grant, Lorrie AyersHutchinson, Cathy Sampson-Johnson, Maladee Lalor, Stacey Lodge, Neveah Perez, Margaret Peters, Serah Peters, Earlene Taylor and L. Joy Williams.  The formal event will be held at The Ron Brown Academy, 976 Lafayette Avenue, BK.  RSVP to Ms. Bullard at 917.773.4511.

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OUR TIME PRESS | March 28-April 3, 2019  

OUR TIME PRESS | March 28-April 3, 2019  

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