Reading the Black Library Poetry Fellows


Olamide Ogunbambo

Originally born in Los Angeles, Olamide Ogunbambo is a Nigerian-American ‘valley girl’ with an archival impulse who entertains outlandish ideas. She has been blessed with the opportunity to be in Chicago and impressed upon by its wealth of Black expressive modes and communities since 2014. Olamide reads, creates, and lives with liberation as a driving force.

Asha Futterman

I am a poet from Hyde Park. I do work as an investigative researcher at the Invisible Institute, and I am going to be a senior at Barnard College in New York. Louise Thompson Patterson and Lucille Clifton are my heroes!

Natia Weathers

My name is Natia Weathers, and I am a liberated Black woman. Poetry is the way in which I express my liberation best because poetry, for me, is not about changing the world, but rather, reimagining it. My life goal is to create a better world for the people not yet born, and I believe poetry has the ability to help that.

Nile Lansana

Nile Lansana is a poet, journalist, and the oldest of four Black boys from the South Side of Chicago. He is a First Wave Scholar & a rising Senior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, double majoring in Journalism & Creative Writing. He enjoys reveling in the inspiration and Black joy of his family, homies, and favorite artists.


For the summer of 2020, Four young Chicago artists and writers were selected to activate the historic collections at the Stony Island Arts Bank. The Fellows are researching and selecting materials from the Johnson Publishing Library and Ed J. Williams collection of Negrobilia as inspiration for new work, which is created under the mentorship and guidance of interdisciplinary artist avery r young. This fellowship will culminate in a material outcome, (album, performance, publication, broadsides, or combination thereof), developed in collaboration with Rebuild Foundation. This fellowship is made possible by Illinois Humanities Vision, Action, and Multiplier Grant.


Natia Weathers, photo by Chris Strong