Help Mel get to VONA!

Hello Friends, Family, and Community:

Exciting news! I applied and was accepted for the memoir writing class with author and activist Staceyann Chin. I am so grateful and thrilled to be attending!

I am writing to ask for support in my travels to the VONA Voices of Our Nation Writing Workshop for writers of colour happening this June in Berkeley, California.

About VONA/VOICES: Taking place June 22-28 2014, it is the only multi-genre workshop for writers of colour in the nation, bringing writers of colour from the margins to a community where their work is centralized and honored.

About Me: Mel is a black queer chronically ill poet. In her work as a writer, educator, dancer, and artist she regularly embodies themes of oppression, resilience and intersectionality. She is passionate about interdependence and in combining art and activism to create change. Among her goals are: learn to swim; write a book(s); dismantle all systems of oppression - she is a work in progress. Find her at:, or sometimes she's on Twitter @melgayle.
My own journey as a writer started when I was a kid. I began to write as a way of making sense of my complicated feelings. I loved creating characters, telling stories, sharing words, and I still do. As I've grown, I've learned more and more about the value of sharing our stories with each other and that the story I want to tell is valid.

Some of you might know that I have applied, unsuccessfully, to study creative writing and obtain an MFA.

There are a few reasons why I am interested in getting an MFA but one of the main ones is the opportunity to dedicate a wealth of time exclusively to writing and bettering my craft.

The other big attraction is the mentorship aspect. A year (or more) spent learning, experimenting, creating, all with encouragement and expert guidance? A dream! What VONA offers is the chance for a slice of that MFA pie with the added benefit of working with someone with kindred interests and experiences.

About Staceyann Chin: Writer. Poet. Activist. Lesbian. Feminist. Jamaican. Immigrant. Radical. Mother Staceyann Chin is a spoken-word poet, performing artist and LGBT rights political activist. Her work has been published in the New York Times, the Washington Post, and the Pittsburgh Daily, and has been featured on 60 Minutes [and in her stunning memoir about growing up queer and motherless in Jamaica, The Other Side of Paradise.]

Where will the money go? (all prices except tuition are approximate)

1. $900 plane fare from Detroit (where I'll be for the Allied Media Conference) to Oakland (estimate based on and 

2. $100 for cabs and public transit (based on estimates from and (to/from airport, campus etc)

3. $100 for groceries (health stuff means I have to eat particular things so that I don't get sick)

4. $300 for VONA Workshop tuition*
*I am so grateful to have received a scholarship towards tuition from Voice of Our Nation. As a result, I have only $300 outstanding to go to VONA.

5. $100 towards some of the 7.9% plus $0.30 per donation cost of this site

Asking for money is an uncomfortable thing! I thank you for reading all the way and for considering contributing to my campaign. 

Thank you for your support. 

Every bit donated or every signal boost is helpful and appreciated.


xo mel


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Patchwork Poet 
Toronto, ON
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