Fifteen years ago writer Carolyn Holbrook started “Twin Cities Black Women Writing” to create a space specifically for Black women writers.
“I had been in writing groups before with men, and also people who were not Black, and the experiences were okay,” said Holbrook. “But I'm finding that women–that we just sort of needed to connect with each other. And so I called a few friends and it's been going on ever since.”
At each meeting, four women share their work and receive feedback. Holbrook says the group became a space not just for creative development, but for community and belonging.
“We meet once a month on Sunday afternoon, from two to five,” explained Holbrook. “That seems like a long time, but what we've noticed is that we spent so much time just talking about life and the things that had happened to us as Black women from the last time we met till the next time, that we weren't getting into the work. We realized as Black women, we really, really need to be able to download the last month with each other. Then we just decided, you know what? It’s worth the three hours.”
Holbrook says it’s an intergenerational group, and that members are able to connect to each other’s life experiences through both creative expression and meaningful conversations.
“Intergenerational conversation is so important,” said Holbrook. “It's important for you, in your generation, to know what happened before you – and it’s important for us to know how you’re thinking, because we're still Black women. And we still have this world that we're living in that's not always easy to navigate through. And it's just holding each other's hands and giving each other that warm hug that we all need. And especially now, we've been through so much these last few years that we really do need this connection.”
In addition to hosting “Twin Cities Black Women Writing,” Holbrook is the founder and director of the Twin Cities-based conversation series, More Than a Single Story. In 2021 she won the Minnesota Book Award for Memoir and Creative Nonfiction for her memoir “Tell Me Your Names and I Will Testify.”