UNC Asheville Wilma Dykeman Writer-in-Residence program announces second recipient, opens call for 2024-25 applicants

Shanita Jackson, second UNC Asheville Wilma Dykeman Writer-in-Residence
November 6, 2023

UNC Asheville and the Wilma Dykeman Legacy are proud to welcome Shanita “NitaJade” Jackson as the next Wilma Dykeman Writer-in-Residence in Spring 2024. 

This residency honors author Wilma Dykeman, a trailblazing advocate for social justice who promoted women’s rights, gender and class equity, and racial justice before these endeavors became widely embraced. 

Jackson, who will be returning to their hometown during the residency, said they are honored and looking forward to returning to where their journey began.

“I was born in Hillcrest, and my passion for poetry solidified with Asheville’s youth poetry slam scene. Countless poets and artists in Asheville have helped me become the poet and creative I am today,” they said. “Though my academic and career paths have taken me to Kentucky and Virginia, my heart rests in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. I am called home again and again.” 

An Affrilachian poet, Jackson is published in “Inverted Syntax,” “Auburn Avenue” and the “Zora’s Den: The Fire Inside Volume II” anthology, among others. Recently, they accepted the role of assistant professor of English at Emory and Henry College in Virginia. 

Jackson earned their BA in African and African American Studies from Berea College in 2019, where Dykeman served as the first woman on the Board of Trustees and championed Berea’s policy to maintain affordable tuition. In 2022, Jackson earned their MFA in Creative Writing (Poetry) from the University of Kentucky. 

“The Wilma Dykeman residency gifts me the opportunity to honor The Transcended, breathe new life into my writing, and practice Sankofa,” Jackson said.

Sankofa, a word from the Akan tribe in Ghana, means “it is not taboo to fetch what is at risk of being left behind.” It indicates the quest for knowledge by searching the past, and knowing the past shapes the present.

“It is a full circle and a dream come true to return to my stomping grounds with the soul purpose of creating, writing, and pouring into the community that first fostered my creative liberation,” Jackson said.

Jackson will utilize this time to further develop their poetry manuscript “FleshCrawl” and pursue publishing opportunities.


Applications for 2024-2025 Residencies Now Open

Recipients of the residency spend two consecutive months in the peaceful, quiet comfort of the Dykeman home, located in a wooded neighborhood close to both UNC Asheville’s campus and downtown Asheville. Writers-in-Residence are expected to collaborate with the University to engage with campus and surrounding communities.

Utilities, property maintenance and Wi-Fi are all provided by UNC Asheville, as well as a stipend of $4,000 to cover transportation costs, food and other incidentals. 

This residency offers one recipient two consecutive months between August 1 and November 15, 2024, or between January 15 and April 30, 2025. The successful applicant will consult with UNC Asheville to determine the exact dates of their residency.

In the spirit of Dykeman’s work and legacy, the program welcomes applications from writers whose work demonstrates a commitment to at least one of the following: social, racial, gender, and/or environmental issues. Writers of all genres are invited to apply. 

To apply, email the following as PDF attachments to wir@unca.edu with the subject line: Dykeman WIR 2024-25 Application.

  • A cover letter describing your current project, how it reflects the themes of the program and how the residency would aid you in its progress
  • an up-to-date curriculum vitae
  • a 10-20 page writing sample
  • two professional references

All applications must be submitted on or before December 15, 2023, and the recipient will be announced no later than February 1, 2024 via a joint press release distributed by UNC Asheville and the Wilma Dykeman Legacy. 

For more information on the residency, visit https://wir.unca.edu/residency/

For more information about Wilma Dykeman, please visit the Wilma Dykeman Legacy website.