PETERBOROUGH, N.H. and NEW YORK CITY: Writer, organizer, and educator Mahogany L. Browne will receive the second annual Marian MacDowell Arts Advocacy Award on behalf of Urban Word, one of the oldest and most comprehensive youth literary arts organizations in the country, during MacDowell’s National Benefit, to be held virtually on Dec. 7.
The award was created to honor those who profoundly and uniquely support artists, aligning with founder Marian MacDowell’s legacy and her championship of artists as they create bold new works that spark imagination, illuminate the world, and celebrate humanity.
“It is my absolute honor to receive this award on behalf of Urban Word,” Browne said in a statement. “As a member of its community since 2003, I have learned from the young people as much as I have mentored. It is within the learning space of Urban Word that I am reminded of the power of literacy, voice, and civic engagement. And because of the pedagogical approach designed by Urban Word facilitators and alums, the new world can grow the culture of hip-hop, archive and affect policy-making, create spaces for compassion and self-care practices, and utilize literary text and performance to activate the people in search of liberation. Poetry and the literary arts have the power to ignite all flames, and I am excited for the next stage of Urban Word as our young people transition into professors, public speakers, authors, humanitarians, and leaders.”
Browne is the executive director of Just Media, a media literacy initiative designed to support the groundwork of criminal justice leaders and community members. She is the author of Chlorine Sky, Woke: A Young Poets Call to Justice, Woke Baby, and Black Girl Magic, and the founder of the diverse literature initiative Woke Baby Book Fair. Her latest poetry collection, I Remember Death by Its Proximity to What I Love, is a book-length poem responding to the impact of mass incarceration on women and children. She is based in Brooklyn and is the first-ever Poet-in-Residence at Lincoln Center.
This year’s theme for the National Benefit is “Met at MacDowell: Creative Collaboration.” During the evening, artists who collaborated or connected through the residency will discuss how the exchange of ideas between artists is just one of the benefits of the time and space provided by MacDowell. MacDowell Fellow and author Cathy Park Hong will host. Author, visual artist, and MacDowell board chair Nell Painter will present the award to Browne.
The benefit is open to the public, free of charge, and accessible with a link available via RSVP. It will begin at 7 p.m. ET and will include a special reading from the recently announced 2022 New York City Youth Poet Laureate Elizabeth Shvarts, and performances and testimonials from MacDowell Fellows: architect Peter Zuspan (2014), interdisciplinary artist and choreographer Raphael Xavier (2014), poet John Murillo (2017), animation artist Anne Beal (2017), composer Christopher Zuar (2017), and Tony Award winner Nikki M. James, singing a composition written by Shaina Taub (2012). This year’s award is being underwritten by Musa and Tom Mayer.
An online auction will begin on Tuesday, Nov. 30, and will stay open until Dec. 8, as well as throughout the evening, to raise critical operating funds for the 114-year-old organization. Items donated by MacDowell Fellows and supporters will represent the creativity that MacDowell engenders and range in prices to allow everyone to participate in the celebrations.
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