By Laura Wolford

Photo of Khadijah Queen

Poet Khadijah Queen

Each fall semester, Newcomb Institute invites a woman-identified poet to campus to be the Florie Gale Arons Visiting Poet. The program was established by the daughters of Florie Gale Arons (NC ’50) in 1999 in honor of their mother’s 70th birthday, and over the past 23 years, a truly remarkable group of poets have come to campus.

In 2021, Newcomb was delighted to host Khadijah Queen as the Arons Visiting Poet. Queen is the author of six books of poetry, most recently Anodyne (2020), a finalist for the Colorado Book Award and winner of the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America; and I’m So Fine: A List of Famous Men & What I Had On (2017). Earlier poetry collections include Conduit (2008), Black Peculiar (2011) and Fearful Beloved (2015). Her verse play Non-Sequitur (2015) won the Leslie Scalapino Award for Innovative Women’s Performance Writing. She is an Associate Professor in the department of English at Virginia Tech.

During her time on campus, Queen led a poetry workshop with a small group of local poets, including students and faculty from Tulane, University of New Orleans, and Willow (formerly Lusher) High School. This small group setting provided an opportunity for local emerging writers to share their work and receive feedback from a distinguished poet.

The highlight of Queen’s visit was her public reading of Anodyne, which she gave to a full house of Newcomb and Tulane alumni, students, and faculty. Student Nia Soto introduced Queen at the reading.

“As a fellow woman of color with disabilities, Queen’s work has served as an inspiration as she shares her narrative in a truly empowering way while challenging social norms and expectations,” remarked Soto. “Additionally, seeing her success within poetry publication has helped me gain hope for my own career within poetry.”

In an article published by The Tulane Hullabaloo, student Asia Thomas described Queen’s reading as “engaging, mesmerizing, and moving,” going on to comment on Queen’s infectious laughter and warm engagement with the audience.

“[Queen’s] first piece set the scene for a night of jaw-dropping, beautiful verse,” remarked Thomas.

Her time on campus truly left a memorable impact on students, staff, and visitors alike, and there is no doubt we will be seeing incredible work from Queen for years to come.