The Collaboratory for Black Poiēsis

official website and public launch for The Collaboratory for Black Poiēsis Fall 2023

What is the relationship between Black art, labour, and liberation? What do theories and practices of black poiēsis [po-EE-sis] teach us about how thinkers and activists from various lifeworlds and orientations manifest concepts like “craft” “technē and technology,” “(the) archive(s),” “form(ation)s,” and “responsibility” in relation to black study / Black Studies? What needs to be adapted, unmade, or transformed and how do we develop tools to communicate and enact those metamorphoses? The Collaboratory for Black Poiēsis is an arts and research hub currently housed within the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Information and stewarded by founding director, Dr. SA Smythe. It is a space dedicated to black imaginative practices and capacities for (re)invention.

The Collaboratory for Black Poiēsis operates under five guiding principles: improvisation and an “ethics of pace,” transnationalism, freedom dreaming, collectivity and community, and trans liberation. Foundational projects for the Collaboratory for Black Poiēsis include:

1) Shared Horizons: The Transatlantic Politics and Poetics of Abolition co-led by Vanessa Eileen Thompson and SA Smythe. Shared Horizons presents a living archive and dynamic platform to support the connections of sustaining world-making projects via abolitionist practices, public dialogues, and poetics to support movements and scholar-activists in their engagements with the shared horizons of abolition on a transcontinental scale.

2) The First Day, a week-long open summer school & vehicle for community-resourcing projects

3) Crossings: Conversations from the & (the “ampersand” or “the and”) an annual lecture series at the Mark S. Bonham Centre for Sexual Diversity Studies co-convened by Dr. Qui Alexander (OISE) and Dr. SA Smythe (Faculty of Information). Crossings foregrounds trans life and liberatory thought in keeping with principles of abolition, transnationalism, disability justice and other interrelated frameworks.

4) letters of calling, a transnational freedom library and letter-writing initiative for incarcerated/detained migrants and political prisoners

5) mannish waters atelier, Smythe’s studio/lab, which in addition to being a site for their own transmedia practice, hosts community-based experimental ‘maker-thinker’ sessions.

The hub also hosts an annual Black Studies and the Archive colloquium and artists conversations, workshops on writing, tech, arts, and guided meditation; Magnitude & Bond, a monthly student-led gathering; performance and co-curated exhibitions; community-oriented arts programming and resource distribution; collaborative and accessible multi-genre publishing; skill-sharing for local Black, Indigenous, and other racialised youth in Tkaronto; and other resources and occasions that our collaborators continue to dream up or join.

Get in touch to learn more or get involved.