Mission & History

We are a southern-based vanguard who builds Harlem Renaissance-style spaces in the contemporary South. Our core purpose is to cultivate and inspire kinship between poets of color from all spoken and written traditions, thus creating a tribe with a mutual focus of poetics and craft-building.

The Watering Hole was created as a Facebook Group by fellows of the Cave Canem South Workshops from 2009 and 2010. We draw much of our inspiration from those three-day workshops, which were hosted by Dr. Kwame Dawes, editor of Prairie Schooner. The sessions were led by Nikky Finney, a National Book Award winner; Patricia Smith, who was inducted into the International Literary Hall of Fame for Writers of African Descent, and Frank X Walker, co-founder of the Affrilachian Poets. We hosted our first retreat in 2013, launched the organization in 2014, and became a nonprofit in 2015.

TWH Tribe Definition

We are TWH Tribe–a communion of poets reaching for a goal together, who accept, support, and encourage each other, who open safe spaces for trust, honesty, and risk, who love, love, love each other freely and forgive each other without hesitation, who uplift and hold accountable, who bring peace and stand in solidarity, who celebrate and mourn together, who adhere to the belief that when one of us wins, we all win, family beyond blood.

~Coined and Collaborated on by Fellows of the 2014 Retreat


Monifa Lemons

Co-Founder, Director

Monifa Lemons

Also recognized as SelahthePoet, she began her career in Columbia, S.C. in the late 90s and writes about home, heritage, and mothering.

Candace G. Wiley

Co-Founder, Director

Candace G. Wiley

She is a Callaloo Fellow who writes in the mode of Afrofuturism and covers topics of black aliens, mutants, and mermaids...

Board of Directors

Dasan Ahanu, Chair
Joyce Rose-Harris, Vice Chair
Angelo “Eyeambic” T. Geter
Jevertus Burnett, Treasurer
Kayla Mallett, Secretary
Terrance Hayes

Volunteer Staff

Tanisha Hall, Administrative Assistant and Winter Retreat Coordinator
teri elam, Human Resources
Wendy Jones, Slam Coordinator

Grad. Fellows Board

Nicholas Nichols, Chair
Anna K. Stone, Website Consultant
Christopher Greggs, E-mail and Website Content Strategist
I.S. Jones, Social Media Content Strategist
Jennifer Bartell, Anthology Editor
Julian Randall, Anthology Editor
John S. Blake, Facilitator Invitations
Kirwyn Sutherland, Data Management
teri elam, Anthology Editor

Submission Readers

Amber Flame
Amoja “Mo Man” Sumler
Ashley Harris
Catherine Ntube
Camisha Jones
Dustin Pearson
DaMaris Hill
Gia Shakur
Grace Liew
Jennifer Bartell
John Blake
K.N. Marshall
Maya Marshall
Michelle Reese
Nadia Alexis
Nkosi Nkululeko
Noel Quiñones
Noor Ibn Najam
Robert E. Randolph
Safiya Washington