Welcome to Art Sanctuary! 

In the Sanctuary: Author Series

In the Sanctuary is a series of interviews featuring emerging and established authors of color. In the Sanctuary recognizes the talents and contributions of our area’s diverse literary community. Through both on-site interviews and virtual recordings, artists are able to reach people well beyond Philadelphia’s borders. Authors are encouraged to share their gifts with the community, as well as the secrets and experiences that shaped their artistic journey. By making this personal connection to students and adults alike, In the Sanctuary aims to inspire the next generation of budding authors in and beyond the Delaware Valley.

Our partners include the Free Library of Philadelphia.

Chapter 18 - Leonard Pitts Jr.

"...My office is my sanctuary..."

In a career spanning more than 35 years, Leonard Pitts, Jr. has been a columnist, a college professor, a radio producer and a lecturer. But if you ask him to define himself, he will invariably choose one word.  He is a writer, period, author of one of the most popular newspaper columns in the country and of a series of critically-acclaimed books, including his latest, a novel called "Freeman".  And his lifelong devotion to the art and craft of words has yielded stellar results, chief among them the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for commentary.

For additional on Leonard Pitts Jr. and his work, vist http://www.leonardpittsjr.com/!



Chapter 17 - Tamara Winfrey-Harris

"...My sanctuary is my home..."

Tamara Winfrey-Harris is a writer who specializes in the ever-evolving space where current events, politics, and pop culture intersect with race and gender. Her first book is "The Sisters are Alright: Changing the Broken Narrative for Black Women in America​". “For black women,” Tamara explains, “the most radical thing we can do is to throw off the shackles forged by [stereotypes] and regain our full and complex humanity. [This] is a revolutionary act in the face of a society eager to mold us into hard, unbreakable things.”

Support Tamara and her work by visiting her website. 







Chapter 16 - Christopher Reel

"...My sanctuary is my creativity..."

Christopher Reel is an American writer of novels, short stories, and social commentary. He is the author of the literary novel Happy Face and short story collection, "Remember Legend." He also writes commentary via The Babbler. 

In our conversation with the Philadelphia based author, he recognized Toni Morrison and Ralph Ellison as his favorite authors.The social commentator spoke on everything from his latest work “Remember Legend,” to encouraging young authors to follow their passions and never stop dreaming.

To support Christopher and his work, visit his website today! 









Chapter 15 - Christine Platt-Patrick

"My sanctuary is being a writer..."

Christine Platt – Patrick, also known as CP Patrick, hails from West Palm Beach, FL. She released her debut novel, “The Truth About Awiti” in 2015, and continues to write everyday. The current DC resident, who formerly served as a Policy Advisor, is a student of African American History, a wife, and a mother who enjoys quality time with her family.

To support Christine and her work, visit her website today! 
















Chapter 14 - Vanna B.

“My inspiration comes from life…the things I’ve done, the things I’ve seen, the people I encounter… every one of my books has piece of me in them.”

Vanna B. is an author and publisher of fiction novels. The Hope Street Publishing CEO is a native of Philadelphia, PA and received her BA in Journalism from Temple University.  Vanna’s professional writing career began with newspapers and magazines, where she served as a restaurant reviewer, proofreader, advice columnist and staff writer covering a variety of topics, from current events and local politics, to culture. After making the decision to leave the workforce to stay home and raise her son, she began penning her first novel, Fancy. Fancy went on to be a huge success, landing on the Amazon Kindle best-sellers list for multiple categories, earning Vanna the 2012 Philly Hip Hop award for “Best Author.” She has been featured in The Source Magazine, and has received overwhelmingly positively reviews for her work. Her follow ups, Fancy 2 and Knock-off Nina, also made the Kindle best-sellers list; and Vanna has been nominated for two AAMBC Awards, as well as two Urban Literary Awards.

In the latest episode of ‘In the Sanctuary,’ Vanna sits down with Art Sanctuary  to discuss her passion for writing and daily influences. Her advice to aspiring authors? “Write. Write as much as you can. The book will come.”

 For more information and to purchase Vanna B.’s books, go to: http://www.hopestreetpublishing.com/store.php

Chapter 13 - Leonard Anderson Jr.

“Writing connects to everything in life…” 

A native of Philadelphia, Leonard Anderson Jr. is a talented author, poet, lyricist and playwright. Over the years he has written a number of children’s books, along with works of fiction and poetry. Some of his titles include “Spy King,” “Spy Queen,” and “Grandma Anderson’s Nursery Rhymes” as well as “The Blackavellian Knights,” “Royman’s Revenge,” and the “I’ll Never Let You Go” series. Many of Anderson’s stories are set in Philadelphia and the surrounding area, painting pictures of the streets and real – and fictitious – landmarks. Whether he is writing a new song, poem, book or play, Anderson is always looking for great ways to entertain his audience. When Anderson is not writing, you can find him working as a manager for the University of Pennsylvania Health System.   In the latest episode of ‘In the Sanctuary,’ Anderson  sits down with Art Sanctuary to discuss his passion for writing, how his day-to-day life influences his work, advice he would give to young writers today and – most importantly – his sanctuary.

For more information and to purchase Leonard’s books, please go to: http://www.leonardandersonjr.com/

Chapter 12 - Kimberly B. Bonner

“My sanctuary begins in my heart.”

Kimberly B. Bonner, the author of “The Righteous Ones: The Emancipatory Power of Conscious Hip-Hop and the Artists that Touch Our Hearts,” is not only a talented poet and writer, but an esteemed academic. She holds a Master‘s degree in sociology from the University of Maryland, College Park and BA in sociology from the University of South Carolina, Columbia. Bonner practices her discipline as a sociologist and within the capacity of Founding Director of SociologyWorks@Large, a social science consultancy firm located in South Philadelphia. What’s more, she served as an active duty service member in the United States Army from 1994-2002. After six and a half years in the Army, Bonner completed her enlistment with the rank of Sergeant. In the latest episode of ‘In the Sanctuary,’ Bonner chats with Art Sanctuary about her passion for writing, the advice she would have liked to receive as a young writer, her sanctuary and much more.

To read more of Kimberly’s scholarly work, please go to:

Chapter 11 - Debra Powell-Wright

“My sanctuary is within.” 

A passionate spoken word artist, Debra Powell-Wright has been writing and performing original poetry for over a decade. Since joining the group ‘In the Company of Poets’ in 2000, Powell-Wright has continued to find opportunities for creative expression through both the spoken and written word. Her work has been featured in a number of anthologies, journals and magazines, including Essence. What’s more, Powell-Wright is a former Leeway Grant recipient (2006 and 2011) producing a three-day conference for women and young girls as well as curating the book “For Women: In Tribute to Nina Simone,” which is a collection of poems and short stories. During our latest ‘In the Sanctuary,’ Powell-Wright sat down with Art Sanctuary Executive Director Valerie Gay to discuss her passion for writing, her inspiration and – most importantly – her sanctuary.

For more information on Debra or the For Women Collective, go to https://www.facebook.com/InTributeToNinaSimone

Chapter 10 - Victoria Huggins Peurifoy

“Writing is my passion.” 

Victoria Huggins Peurifoy – a 28 year resident of Philadelphia’s Germantown neighborhood – is a talented author, poet, spoken word artist, storyteller, writer and biographer. Her latest book ‘A Blade of Grace,’ an autobiography, imparts wisdom gained through her many years of living. Additionally, Victoria is an accomplished photographer, consultant, facilitator, voice talent, narrator, and public speaker. Over the years, she has self-published several albums including ‘Run Between the Raindrops’ and ‘Let That Black Man Walk.’ Currently, Victoria is the facilitator for the Poetry and Discussion group at the Center in the Park’s Senior Citizen Center, located in Germantown, and writes autobiographies for senior citizens. In the latest ‘In the Sanctuary,’ Victoria chats with Art Sanctuary’s Executive Director about what gets her creative juices flowing, her passion for writing and more.

For more information and to purchase a title by Victoria, go to: http://www.lulu.com/us/en/shop/victoria-huggins-peurifoy-and-tory-c-peurifoyartist/the-wild-spirit-behind-the-voice/ebook/product-17511616.html

Chapter 9 - Hilary Beard and Hannibal Lokumbe

“[Sanctuary] is a place to come to know the divine of who you are.”

Philadelphia’s very own Hilary Beard is a well-known author, editor, and multimedia journalist. Her book ‘Promises Kept: Raising Black Boys to Succeed in School and Life’ is the companion book to the award-winning documentary,American Promise. With ‘Promises Kept,’ Hilary hopes to help African American boys and girls reach their full potential by discussing key issues – such as ‘should you parent [your child] the same way your parents reared you?’ – and presenting key findings. World-renowned Jazz trumpeter, composer and activist, Hannibal Lokumbe, is a music legend. Throughout his career, he has studied, performed, and recorded alongside famous musicians and bandleaders including John Coltrane, Roy Haynes, Elvin Jones and Pharoah Sanders. What’s more, Hannibal, commissioned by the Kimmel Center and in partnership with Art Sanctuary composed the groundbreaking ‘Can You Hear God Crying’ project, which premiered as part of the Kimmel Center’s 10th Anniversary Season. The project detailed one man’s journey from despair and enslavement to a greater understanding of faith and spirituality. Recently, Hannibal introduced the world to his latest work, his book “Trilogy Freedom Dance Cycle.” This book is a bloody, heroic tale of the Civil Rights Movement. In the latest episode of ‘In the Sanctuary’ Art Sanctuary Executive Director Valerie Gay sits down with New York Times best-selling author Hilary Beard celebrated Jazz trumpeter Hannibal Lokumbe to discuss their passion for writing, what inspires them, their sanctuary and more.

For more information and to purchase, go to http://www.hanniballokumbe.com/ AND http://www.hilarybeard.com/.

Chapter 8 - Oni Lasana

“I don’t look at my art as trying to make a lot of money, it is just who I am.” 

For over 20 years, Oni Lasana – the author of ‘A Soul Sister From Cool World Valley’ – has inspired many with her poetry, priding herself on creating poems that come from her heart. Her works include the ‘Real Tales of Rhymes & Reasons’ and ‘Gardenia’s & Gumbeaux, a Poetic Potpourri’ poetry collections. In addition to being a poet, Oni works as a storyteller, theater director, radio producer, playwright, musician, vocalist, historical interpreter, workshop facilitator, youth mentor and – most recently – a jewelry artisan. She is also known nationally and internationally as a creative consultant for performing arts colleagues and business associates. In our latest episode of ‘In the Sanctuary,’ Oni Lasana chats with Art Sanctuary Executive Director Valerie Gay about why she started writing, how her day-to-day life influences her work, what sanctuary means to her, and much more.

For more information and to purchase Oni Lasana’s books, go to: http://www.onilasana.com/

Chapter 7 - Turiya S.A. Raheem

“I grew up thinking I could be anything I wanted to be.” 

Turiya S.A. Raheem is not only a talented author and writer, she is a gifted journalist and educator. The author of “Growing Up in The Other Atlantic City” worked as a copy editor with the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the Washington Post newspapers early in her writing career. Later, she discovered her passion for teaching while homeschooling her five daughters. Turiya taught English a several public, private and alternative schools in the Washington, D.C./suburban Maryland area as well as Northern Virginia Community College. Currently, Turiya writes a column for Atlantic City Weekly titled ‘The Other Atlantic City,’ teaches English at Atlantic Cape Community College, and spends her free time writing her own work. In the latest episode of ‘In the Sanctuary,’ Turiya sits down with Art Sanctuary Executive Director Valerie Gay to discuss her passion for writing, the encouragement that helped her discover that passion, her ‘sanctuary’ and much more. 

For more information and to purchase Turiya Raheem’s book go to: http://www.amazon.com/Growing-Up-Other-Atlantic-City/dp/1450007554

Chapter 6 - Bishop Steven Walker

“I love writing – I love the passion of it and I love creating.”

Bishop Steven Walker is not only an inspiring preacher and gifted musician, but he is also a talented writer and author of “The Audacity of Faith.” Through Steven Walker Ministries, Inc., Bishop Walker has written 21 books, including “The Winners’ Circle,” “The 12 Laws That Govern Success,” “The Power of Gratitude” and many more. As a gifted singer, songwriter, and producer, he has produced six CDs and numerous theatrical stage productions. What’s more, Bishop Walker is also a motivational speaker as well as a lecturer for college graduate courses and local and national conferences. Bishop Walker sits down with Art Sanctuary Executive Director Valerie Gay to offer words of encouragement to listeners, and to discuss his passion for writing, his ‘sanctuary’ and much more.

For more information and to purchase Bishop Walker’s books, go to: http://www.stevenwalkerministries.com/

Chapter 5 - Tracey Michael Lewis

“Realness in everything…”

A writer, editor and educator, Tracey Michae’l Lewis offers readers an opportunity to explore identity, faith, and purpose at the deepest levels. She is the author of countless novels including “The Integrated Church: Authentic Multicultural Ministry,” “Devine Nepotism,” and many more. Lewis also serves as an adjunct professor at several universities in the Philadelphia area and has had writing featured in publications such as Philadelphia Weekly and Legacy Magazine. Along with discussing a few passages from her stories, Lewis chats with Art Sanctuary Executive Director Valerie Gay about when she decided to become a writer, her writing process, and what sanctuary means to her. Listen in…

For more information and to purchase http://www.amazon.com/Tracey-Michael-Lewis/e/B002CX6IVS

Chapter 4 - Dr. Neal Hall

“Writing…is passion put into words.” Neal Hall, M.D., the author of “Hell to Pay,” evolved from a doctor to a poet and an author later in life. He began to practice ophthalmology after college and medical school, only to discover his voice and passion for writing. His other works include “Death of Cindy James” and “Now I See the Moon: A Mother, a Son, a Miracle.” Art Sanctuary Executive Director Valerie Gay chats with Hall to discuss what gets his juices flowing, when he decided to become a writer, and – most importantly – what he calls sanctuary.

For more information and to purchase Dr. Hall’s books, go to: www.surgeonpoet.com.

Chapter 3 - Dr. Mae G. Henderson

When I read ‘Beloved,’ all of the my thinking and my feelings…changed.” Dr. Mae G. Henderson is professor of English at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is the author of numerous articles on pedagogy, diasporic writing and performance, cultural studies and cultural criticism, as well as black feminist criticism and theory, including the widely anthologized essay, “Speaking In Tongues: Dialogics, Dialectics, and the Black Woman Writer’s Literary Tradition.” She is editor of Black Queer Studies: A Critical Anthology (2005), Borders, Boundaries and Frames (1995), and co-editor (with John Blassingame) of the five-volume Antislavery Newspapers and Periodicals: An Annotated Index of Letters, 1817-1871 (1980). Henderson has also published the Critical Foreword and Notes to the Modern Library edition of Nella Larsen’s Passing (2002). Henderson is also a proud graduate of Girls’ High. Art Sanctuary Executive Director, and fellow Girls’ High alumna, Valerie Gay sits down with Henderson to discuss what gets her juices flowing, whether she imagined the life that she has now, and, most of all, what is her sanctuary. 

Click for more information and to purchase her books

Chapter 2 - Lorene Cary

As the intersection between art, technology and new media continues to allow arts organizations to reach audiences beyond their communities and corridors, Art Sanctuary has launched ‘In the Sanctuary,’ a podcast featuring interviews and commentary from noted authors across the U.S. Our next edition of ‘In the Sanctuary’ features a chat between Art Sanctuary founder and author of “Black Ice”, “The Price of A Child”, and “If Sons, Then Heirs”, Lorene Cary and Art Sanctuary Executive Director Valerie Gay about the experience of writing, early career changes and where she finds her sanctuary.

For more information on Ms. Cary and to purchase her books, go to: http://lorenecary.org/ 

Chapter 1 - Terry McMillian

“Writing has to be an itch you want to scratch.” ~ author Terry McMillan

For less than quarter of an hour, Art Sanctuary chats with renowned writers about the ‘art’ of writing, the words and stories that have an inspired them the most, and most important, what guests their writing juices flowing. As these authors, writers and journalists share their gifts, secrets and talents, Art Sanctuary hopes to inspire budding writers across the region. Kicking off with acclaimed author Terry McMillan (“Who Asked You?,” “Waiting to Exhale,” “How Stella Got Her Groove Back”), conversations with include authors Edwidge Danticat, Jesmyn Ward, Solomon Jones and Art Sanctuary founder, Lorene Cary. New interviews will be posted monthly. So be sure to check back in…with the sanctuary. For more on Ms. McMillan, go to: http://www.terrymcmillan.com/

This episode of In the Sanctuary is in partnership with The Free Library of Philadelphia.


In the Sanctuary is presented by

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