Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Affrilachian poet Bianca Spriggs encouraged by scholarship, achieves success in the arts
Bianca Spriggs (Photo by Rachel Eliza Griffiths)
By Marina Byrd
Special to KyForward
Bianca Spriggs is a well-known, well-respected multi-disciplinary artist best known as an Affrilachian poet. Her talent was recognized early on with a Jane Allen Newman Scholarship, administered by the Blue Grass Community Foundation when she was an undergraduate at Transylvania University in 2000.
Bianca received the scholarship until she graduated in 2003.
Since 1996, this scholarship has awarded almost $350,000 in scholarships to hard-working Kentucky youth who dream of going to college.
Today, Bianca Spriggs has made her mark. As an Affrilachian poet—one of a diverse group of artists who have roots in both African-American and Appalachian culture – she has achieved success. But she has also been successful in other disciplines as well, including filmmaking and theatre.
She is a recipient of a 2013 Al Smith Fellowship from the Kentucky Arts Council and has been named one of the Top 30 Performance Poets by TheRoot.com.
Her list of publications is impressive. Last spring, she was invited by her Alma Mater, Transylvania University, to speak at commencement—less than ten years after her graduation.
One of Bianca’s current projects is Thirteen, a live performance and exhibit at Transylvania. The project, funded by the Kentucky Arts Council, tells the story of 13 women who were victims of lynching in Kentucky.
National Book Award finalist, Patricia Smith, calls Bianca’s work, “an aggressive signature that is deftly crafted, insightful and often achingly lyrical.”
Bianca is especially grateful to her many mentors, especially Nikky Finney, another Affrilachian poet and winner of the 2012 National Book Award. And she is thankful to the Jane Allen Newman Scholarship for recognizing her potential.
Jane Allen Newman was born in Morganfield, Kentucky in the early 1900’s. After high school, she wanted to continue her education, but due to the depression and hard times at home, she was unable to do so. She left home at age 17 to work for Maybelline Cosmetics in Chicago as the company’s first secretary and occasional model. Over the years, she bought stock, including Maybelline, and invested wisely over the years, until she was able to establish the Jane Allen Newman Scholarship Foundation, dedicated to educating hard-working students from Kentucky.
Thanks to the Blue Grass Community Foundation for sharing this story.