Giving Tuesday

Guess where we’ll be on #GivingTuesday!

We’ll be doing pop up events all day, both online and in person in Columbia at Truth.

Who We Are

The Watering Hole
  • Our aesthetics are deeply rooted in the African American tradition.
  • We exist for ALL poets of color and create protected environments.
  • We hold space for Southern poets, particularly ones from/in rural areas.
  • Our focus is growth through education. We level the playing field of academia.
  • We keep affordability and accessibility in the forefront of our minds.
  • We cultivate diverse community partnerships that unite our Tribe with area youth and regional artists of ALL backgrounds.
  • We believe that when one of us wins, we all win–family beyond blood.
We are a vanguard whose core purpose is to build Harlem Renaissance spaces in the new contemporary South and cultivate Tribe everywhere we go. When we come together as a village, we build poets of color from the ground up and help them reach their best work. The Watering Hole was founded by Candace G. Wiley, a Clemson University professor and FAWC Fellow, and Monifa Lemons, a decades-long spoken word veteran and mother. The Watering Hole began as a Facebook Group created by fellows of the Cave Canem South Workshops in 2009 and 2010. We draw much of our inspiration from those three-day workshops. Cave Canem South led to us attending the prestigious Callaloo Writing Workshop at Brown University and Nikky Finney’s Pencil Shout retreat at the University of Kentucky. In fact, we drew our name from those foundational moments. Nikky Finney called Cave Canem “the major watering hole and air pocket for black poetry.” Although we are not in anyway affiliated with Cave Canem, we call ourselves The Watering Hole in complete reverence and gratitude to them for the opportunity provided by Cave Canem South and to the legacy they have built for poetry. After these workshops, Candace and Monifa started researching other retreat opportunities and found them to be exorbitantly priced, extremely competitive, and mostly located in New England or California–with minimum costs of $2,000 for a week or two and acceptance rates of 1% to 5% of applicants.
Through these experiences, Candace and Monifa understood how transformative being in a community of writers could be and that writers should actively find ways to get together, rather than waiting for it to just happen. They needed a stimulating poetry environment that was affordable and accessible to Southern poets and realized that others needed the same. Thus, they launched the first retreat in 2013 and it was a success! Those retreat fellows overwhelmingly decided for us that this wasn’t a one-time retreat. Since 2013 and with the financial help of our supporters, our programming has continued and expanded. We’ve hosted annual winter retreats, seasonal adult workshops, youth Poetry with STEAM classes and camps, and online masterclasses. Our facilitators and speakers have been winners of the National Book Award, MacArthur Genius Award, NAACP Image Award, American Book Award, Whiting Writer’s Award, and National Slam Championship, among others. We’ve formed community partnerships with Columbia-based arts organizations like Tapps, Every Black Girl, NAACP Act-So, Deckle Edge, The Langston Hughes Poetry Center, and GOOD Kids, Inc. We’ve spoken at University of District of Columbia, Bowie State University, AWP 2017, SAMLA 2015, Furious Flower 2014, among others. We’ve been funded by South Carolina Arts Commission, S.C. Humanities Council, South Arts, Alternate Roots, Ecotone Magazine, The Highlander, and generous support from donors like you. You can join the Tribe, too! Click the donate button or contact us to continue the conversation about how we can work together.
Monifa Lemons

Co-Founder, Director

Monifa Lemons

Also recognized as SelahthePoet, Monifa Lemons began in Columbia, SC in the late 90s. Both Spoken Word Artist and Host at various venues since 1998, Monifa is committed to nurture the journey of artists from all disciplines. She also facilitates workshops on writing and intentional creation.

Candace Wiley

Co-Founder, Director

Candace Wiley

She is a Callaloo Fellow who writes in the mode of Afrofuturism and covers topics of black aliens, mutants, and mermaids. .

“A home for poets of color in the South.”

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