Get to know Buckham Gallery’s first Writer in Residence

FLINT, Michigan -- Flint author and poet Shea Cobb is the first writer to participate in Buckham Gallery's newly-formed Writer In Residence program. The Buckham Gallery has been predominantly known as a visual arts exhibition space in Flint but is now looking to tap into the city’s rich literary arts community.

“This residency is specifically designed to engage with writers in our community,” said Buckham’s executive director, Michele Leclaire. “There is so much creative energy in Flint and Buckham is always looking to support artists while providing opportunities to engage with challenging contemporary art and experience new ways of looking and thinking.”

Cobb, also known as Phire Sis, is a fixture in Flint’s poetry community and has authored several books of poetry, including Ruby in The Rough: A Dedication to LaToya Ruby Frazier, with fellow Flint native Amber Hasan. It was Hasan who encouraged Cobb to apply to Buckham’s residency program.

During her residency, Cobb is encouraged to immerse herself in the art at Buckham Gallery and express her experiences through words. A compilation of her work and images from the gallery will be made into a publication later in the year. 

Cobb recently spoke to Flintside about her residency, writing inspiration, her take on the writing community in Flint, and what she anticipates to learn from Buckham Gallery’s new program.

Flintside: The Writer In Residence program is brand new to Buckham Gallery's art structure. How does it feel to be the first writer selected to participate?

Shea Cobb: “No pressure! Being first always gives me butterflies, but I’m glad to have been chosen. Kathy is innovative in her approach toward art and its expression. I only pray I own up to the voice inside and let it ring true.”

Flintside: What are you looking forward to most during your residency? 

Shea Cobb: “Growth more than anything. Our culture is in the middle of a backflip, social sickness, and stress. It’s enough to kill a person. I hope to transfer some perspectives that ultimately afford some freedom.”

Flintside: What inspires you to write?

Shea Cobb: “I am most inspired while on road trips. The scenery of the sunsets, the purple pink and orange skies. The hint of lavender among the brush of the concrete and out there in the field. I tend to be minding my own business and inspiration finds me. Music, painting, sketching, cartoons, movies, real-life living. These things touch me the most.”

Flintside: What is your take on the current writing community in Flint?
 
Shea Cobb: “I'd like the literacy of elementary-age children in our communities to be taken seriously. Give them updated books to learn from and teach them how to navigate those books. Teach them until they get it right. Don’t settle with the idea that they are stubborn and want to play — we all do — but there is power in teaching children reading fundamentals before they become teenagers. 

“Flint supports the writers, we just have to take them more seriously at an early age. I think we give up on directing our young people too fast.”

Flintside: What are you hoping to take away from your experience in the Writer In Residence program?

Shea Cobb: “I hope it makes me a better writer.”

For more information on Buckham Gallery, visit their website.

Read more articles by Tia Scott.