From “Sea to Shining Sea”
Poet and writer Synnika Lofton teaches Literature, creates poetry, and operates a music and media production company in Chesapeake Bay, Virginia. Donnelle McGee writes poetry, operates a small publisher, and teaches at Mission College in Santa Clara California. Both artists met in Vermont at Goddard College. While three thousand miles separate them, their connection has held strong, and generated inspired work.
Through a method of “call-and-response” collaboration, the two award-winning poets dug into their shared personal history, sharing stories of Black icons, fatherhood, and the struggles and triumphs of the Black male experience.
The resulting published work is titled American Reverie. The title is meant to reflect the mission of the work, they say:
“American Reverie is a radical way of describing how Black people navigate the hostilities of living in America. With truth and healing, we all can move forward.”
A Collaboration is Born
Though they attended Goddard at different times, writing faculty Bea Gates initiated a strong connection between them. It was she who highlighted their mutual ambitions, writing styles, life experiences, and passion for education.
After McGee invited Lofton to an African-American visiting writers series at Mission College where McGee taught, the two creators sparked a plan to build a collaborative work.
The process would take three years. With the help of Google Docs, texts, and phone calls, the two poets would inspire each other with themes and images, while pushing each other to “go deeper”.
In a highly energetic interview, the authors read passages from American Reverie, discuss their unique process, and the influence Goddard College played as they worked together. They both credit the collaborative and risk-taking environment of Goddard as greatly influential in creating American Reverie.
When asked about how they recognize the finish line in a writing process of this style, McGee and Lofton both agree it was difficult to end, but McGee summarizes it simply by saying: “This is really just the beginning.”
Watch the interview here.
Read the interview from the LA Review of Books
Donnelle McGee is the author of GHOST MAN, a novel (Sibling Rivalry Press), SHINE, a novella (Sibling Rivalry Press), and NAKED, a collection of poetry (Unbound Content). He is a faculty member at Mission College in Santa Clara, California. He earned his MFA from Goddard College.
Synnika Alekzander-Chizoba Lofton is an award-winning poet, educator, and recording artist. He is the Literature instructor at Chesapeake Bay Academy and lecturer at Norfolk State University.
To purchase American Reverie, visit https://thetherabooks.com/products/american-reverie
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