Writing, fighting for ‘true liberation’

Mahogany Browne

Mahogany Browne dropped out of high school after she was told not to write poetry during an English honors class.

Now, she is a published author of poetry and fiction, the interim executive director of Urban Word NYC and poetry coordinator at St. Francis College in Brooklyn, N.Y., where she resides. She has a Master of Fine Arts degree in writing and activism from Pratt Institute, a private university in Brooklyn.

Browne will speak as part of the Washington State University Visiting Writers Series at 6 p.m. Wednesday via YouTube Live. Browne said in an email that she will discuss how to recognize one’s rage as a useful tool “to get free” during her scheduled talk.

“I write because that’s the only way I can process the world, my blood and bones, my dreams and fears — all of it is clear when I write,” she said. “And the way to survive traumatic experiences also serves as a legend in my writing.”

According to Blue Flower Arts, a literary speakers agency, Browne used her personal experiences with addiction, racism, sexism and oppression to inspire her own brand of “shameless authentic work.” Her spoken word performances create a platform for women and girls to feel empowered and heard.

With several published works under her belt, Browne wrote in the email that she is preparing for the launch of her first book-length poem called “I Remember Death by Its Proximity to What I Love” in September. It’s about the impact of mass incarceration and how it has affected her entire family.

She wrote she is also excited for her second young adult novel, “Vinyl Moon,” which will be released in January 2022.

In addition to writing, Browne is also director of Black Lives Matter at Pratt Institute.

She developed on-campus events for BLM at the institute for two years, and she has always organized events as a community member. She said she continues to volunteer, financially support and produce community events for organizations doing movement work.

“I feel like there are so many ways we can show up and engage,” Browne wrote. “My art is communal, and therefore, everything I do is intentional in our fight for true liberation. … I’ve used my platform to speak to those that may not have the articulation or understanding of how we all are affected by injustice. I practice solidarity and look forward to continuing the efforts of groups that are responding to the lack of food and food quality for neighborhoods, policy, as well as educational symposiums to challenge the antiquated curricula plaguing our young people.”

Cabeza can be reached at (208) 883-4631, or by email to gcabeza@dnews.com.

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