February-March 2023 Residency: Porsha Olayiwola

The University of Wisconsin–Madison Division of the Arts and the Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives (OMAI) welcomed writer, performer, and playwright Porsha Olayiwola to campus February 24–March 4 through the Interdisciplinary Arts Residency Program.

Olayiwola’s residency included participation as a performer in the annual Moonshine – A Black History Month tradition presented by the Dance Department and a panelist at the Division of the Arts’ February Arts Together event on Friday, February 24. Olayiwola was interviewed on Badger Talks Live on Tuesday, February 28 and appeared as the featured artist at OMAI’s Just Bust! Open Mic on Friday, March 3 and Workshop on Saturday, March 4.

About the Artist

Porsha Olayiwola headshot

Porsha Olayiwola is a native of Chicago who writes, lives, and loves in Boston. Olayiwola is a writer, performer, educator, and curator who uses Afrofuturism and surrealism to examine historical and current issues in the Black, woman, and queer diasporas. She is an Individual World Poetry Slam Champion and the founder of the Roxbury Poetry Festival. Olayiwola is Brown University’s 2019 Heimark Artist-In-Residence as well as the 2021 Artist-in-Residence at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum. She is a 2020 Poet Laureate Fellow with the Academy of American Poets. Olayiwola earned her MFA in poetry from Emerson College and is the author of i shimmer sometimes, too. Olayiwola is the current Poet Laureate for the city of Boston. Her work can be found in or forthcoming from with TriQuarterly Magazine, Black Warrior Review, The Boston Globe, Essence Magazine, Redivider, The Academy of American Poets, Netflix, Wildness Press, The Museum of Fine Arts, and elsewhere.


Moonshine – A Black History Month tradition

February 24 @ 3:30 pm CST
Margaret H’Doubler Performance Space, Lathrop Hall 1050 University Avenue, Madison, WI

Moonshine is a traditional performance gathering in celebration of Black History Month featuring dance, spoken word, and experimental contemporary performance.

Arts Together with the UW–Madison Dance Department

February 24 @ 4:30 pm – 7:00 pm CST
Virginia Harrison Parlor 1050 University Avenue, Madison, WI

Following Moonshine – A Black History Month tradition, join the Division of the Arts for Arts Together, a reception and panel discussion with Interdisciplinary Artist-in-Residence Porsha Olayiwola and others. Arts Together events bring faculty and staff together to meet each other, share in collaborative ideas, and explore opportunities for funding creative research as we celebrate the arts on campus.

Badger Talks LIVE Quick Picks: The Impact of Interdisciplinary Arts

February 28 @ 12:00 pm – 12:15 pm CST
Facebook Live

In this talk, learn about the Arts Residency Programs and the impact of interdisciplinary arts at UW–Madison through a conversation with Black, queer performing artist Shasparay Irvin and Black writer, performer, playwright and current Interdisciplinary Artist-in-Residence Porsha Olayiwola.

Poetry & Cultural Organizing: An Evening with Porsha Olayiwola and Crystal Valentine

March 1 @ 6:00 pm CST
A Room of One’s Own 2717 Atwood Avenue, Madison, WI

Porsha Olayiwola and Crystal Valentine will be joined by Madison’s own Ali Muldrow, who will moderate a conversation and audience Q&A.

Just Bust! Open Mic

March 3 @ 8:00 pm – 10:00 pm CST
Wisconsin Historical Society 816 State Street, Madison, WI

Madison’s long-running, all-ages open mic, Just Bust! Open Mic, includes community performances, First Wave and alumni spotlight performance, and a performance by Interdisciplinary Artist-in-Residence Porsha Olayiwola.

Just Bust! Workshop

March 4 @ 1:00 pm – 3:00 pm CST
The Bubbler at Madison Public Library 201 W. Mifflin Street, Madison, WI

An artistic workshop led by Interdisciplinary Artist-in-Residence Porsha Olayiwola.

Guest Artists

Vessna Scheff

Vessna Scheff is an artist currently based in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Beginning her artist career in San Francisco, Scheff began by playing ukulele after acquiring one from a thrift store for $14. Inspired by personal stories of growth and interpersonal relationships, she began writing intimate music and playing throughout the San Francisco Bay Area at venues such as the Bazaar Cafe, The Fillmore, The Hotel Utah, and The Lost Church. In 2014, she began experimenting with visual art, utilizing projections in her musical performances and collaborating with dancers and poets in interdisciplinary performance. In 2015, Scheff moved to the East Coast where she met and began collaborating with Lee Clarke, a Philadelphia based music producer. While in Philadelphia, she performed at venues, galleries and museums such as Johnny Brenda’s, World Cafe Live, Boot & Saddle, Urban Art Gallery, The Barnes Museum, The Affordable Art Fair, and The Philadelphia Museum of Art. In spring of 2022, she graduated with an MFA in Painting from the Rhode Island School of Design, and is currently writing and recording a visual album titled Nevermind the Moon, inspired by Adult Skate Nights, pairing 80’s beats with 90’s R&B vocal melodies in a celebratory call for intimate connection.

Crystal Valentine

Crystal Valentine is a Black, queer woman from the Bronx now residing in Boston, Massachusetts. A former New York City Youth Poet Laureate and two-time winner of the College Union Poetry Slam Invitational, Crystal has been offered fellowships from Callaloo, Tin House and Bread Loaf Writers’ Conferences. She is the winner of Palette Poetry’s 2021 Emerging Poet Prize, selected by Kelli Russell Agodon. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day, BreakBeat Poets Vol. 2: Black Girl Magic Anthology (Haymarket Books), Muzzle Magazine, TriQuarterly Magazine, Winter Tangerine and elsewhere. She received an MFA from New York University and is the Festival Manager for the Massachusetts Poetry Festival as well as an English Professor at Curry College. When she isn’t writing or agonizing over line breaks, you can find her watching anime and dreaming. Instagram: @crystalvalentine94

The February-March 2023 Interdisciplinary Arts Residency was presented by the UW–Madison Division of the Arts with aryn kresol as program coordinator and by the Office of Multicultural Arts Initiatives (OMAI) with Director Sofía Snow as residency lead.