The Dark Room Collective, Then and Now

The Dark Room Collective, Then and Now

Posted 6.11.12

The Dark Room Collective, a community of black writers founded twenty-five years ago in Boston by poets Thomas Sayers Ellis and Sharan Strange and musician Janice Lowe, regroups this year for the Nothing Personal reunion tour. This slideshow offers a look at the early days of the DRC as well as a glimpse of the poets today.

  • 1 of 15Dark Room Collective, 1989
    Credit: Courtesy of Dark Room Collective

    Dark Room Collective, 1989

    The DRC on the steps of their home base, a Victorian house on Inman Street in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

  • 2 of 15DRC Motto: Total Life Is What We Want
    Credit: Courtesy of Dark Room Collective

    DRC Motto: Total Life Is What We Want

    A flyer announcing the DRC's 1992 reading series in Boston.

  • 3 of 15DRC Then
    Credit: Courtesy of Dark Room Collective

    DRC Then

    Dark Room Collective founders Sharan Strange (left) and Thomas Sayers Ellis (top) with (left to right) Patrick Sylvain, Trasi Johnson, John Keene, and Janice Lowe.

  • 4 of 15DRC Today
    Credit: Rachel Eliza Griffiths

    DRC Today

    A group of DRC members on tour in Washington, D.C. earlier this year. Left to right: Tracy K. Smith, John Keene, Kevin Young, Tisa Bryant, Thomas Sayers Ellis, Major Jackson, and Natasha Trethewey.

  • 5 of 15DRC Winter
    Credit: Courtesy of Dark Room Collective

    DRC Winter

    An archival shot of DRC members (left to right) Major Jackson, Natasha Trethewey, Thomas Sayers Ellis, and Sharan Strange.

  • 6 of 15Early Lineup
    Credit: Courtesy of Dark Room Collective

    Early Lineup

    DRC poets (left to right) Tisa Bryant, Danielle Legros Georges, Sharan Strange, Patrick Sylvain, Trasi Johnson, John Keene, Thomas Sayers Ellis, Donia Allen, and Della Scott.

  • 7 of 15Funky Right Now!
    Credit: Courtesy of Dark Room Collective

    Funky Right Now!

    A flyer for the DRC reading series in 1993.

  • 8 of 15Natural Collaborators
    Credit: Courtesy of Dark Room Collective

    Natural Collaborators

    Left to right: Natasha Trethewey, Kevin Young, Sharan Strange (top), Adisa Vera Beatty (bottom), Nehassaiu deGannes, and Major Jackson strike a pose.

  • 9 of 15Poet Laureate, Then
    Credit: Courtesy of Dark Room Collective

    Poet Laureate, Then

    An archival shot of the newly appointed U.S. Poet Laureate, Natasha Trethewey.

  • 10 of 15Poet Laureate, Today
    Credit: Rachel Eliza Griffiths

    Poet Laureate, Today

    Natasha Trethewey in 2012, just a few months before she was named poet laureate.

  • 11 of 15Poetic Kinship
    Credit: Courtesy of Dark Room Collective

    Poetic Kinship

    Sharan Strange and Nehassaiu deGannes in the DRC's early days.

  • 12 of 15Poetic Kinship Revisited
    Credit: Rachel Eliza Griffiths

    Poetic Kinship Revisited

    DeGannes and Strange in 2012.

  • 13 of 15Pulitzer Winners Confer, 2012
    Credit: Rachel Eliza Griffiths

    Pulitzer Winners Confer, 2012

    Among the numerous honors DRC writers have received is the Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. Tracy K. Smith and Natasha Trethewey have both won the award, Smith (left) in 2012 for Life on Mars (Graywolf Press, 2011) and Trethewey in 2007 for Native Guard (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2006).

  • 14 of 15Reconvening in Springtime
    Credit: Rachel Eliza Griffiths

    Reconvening in Springtime

    Left to right: John Keene, Major Jackson, and Kevin Young today.

  • 15 of 15The Original Crew, Today
    Credit: Rachel Eliza Griffiths

    The Original Crew, Today

    The original DRC trio (left to right): Sharan Strange, Janice Lowe, and Thomas Sayers Ellis in Washington, D.C. in 2012.

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