By Rochelle Spencer
from Poets & Writers Magazine | July/August 2012

The Dark Room Collective

(Photo Credit: Rachel Eliza Griffiths) The Dark Room Collective (left to right): Thomas Sayers Ellis, Tracy K. Smith, John Keene, Major Jackson, Tisa Bryant, Janice Lowe, Natasha Trethewey, Kevin Young, and Sharan Strange.

Twenty-five years ago, a group of young black poets made a pilgrimage to New York City’s Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine to pay their respects, along with a host of contemporary literary lights, to James Baldwin, who had recently passed away. While the grief accompanying the loss of a force in African American literature was palpable, poets Thomas Sayers Ellis and Sharan Strange found themselves imbued with a certain energy by the memorial service, returning to their shared house in Boston with a mission—to forge connections and help others connect with living black authors whom they saw as their elders. Earlier this year Ellis, Strange, and a group of fellow writers from the community that was formed as a result of that mission traveled to the nation’s capital to celebrate their ties as members of the Dark Room Collective (DRC).

“It’s a revival,” said Ellis after the DRC gave a group reading at Washington’s Lutheran Church of the Reformation, the second stop on the “Nothing Personal” reunion tour (the first DRC reading series to take place in fourteen years), which kicked off in April at the Poetry Foundation headquarters in Chicago. “I got the feeling onstage that we were sharing a space all over again. That’s the thing that gets carried over—the togetherness.” Read full article