Open Door: Lillian Gardner, Saleem Penny, Precious Musa & Hayley Kolding

Wednesday 15 December 2021

The Open Door series presents work from new and emerging poets and highlights writing instruction and poetic partnerships. Each event features readings by two Midwest based writers and two of their current or recent students or writing partners.


Lillian Gardner is an African and Native American poet, visual artist, musician, and dancer. She earned a BFA at Webster University from the Department of Art, Design, and Art History. Through her work, she acknowledges and promotes underrepresented groups in the arts. She believes that being an artist and writer takes a certain amount of strength and dedication. The arts are such a demanding field that draws out vulnerability, passion, character, perseverance, precision, intuition, and creativity. Her practice beckons her to translate the ongoing experiences she encounters in life into figurative tools that construct stories that change with time. Her work is a reflection of her current environment, the state of being present. She is currently writing a book of prose poetry analyzing the definition and genre of a “love story,” how relationships influence and shape us into individuals.

Saleem Hue Penny (he/him/friend) is a Black ‘rural hip-hop blues’ poet with a vestibular disorder and single-sided deafness. A Cave Canem Fellow, and winner of the BLR Review 2021 Marica and Jan Vilcek Prize for Poetry, Saleem’s writing explores how young people of color traverse wild spaces and define freedom on their own terms. He often punctuates his poetry with a drum machine, gouache, and birch bark. Nourished by the Southside of Chicago, Saleem’s spirit stretches across Pisgah Forest, forever rooted in Monck’s Corner swamps.

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