Award Winners / Artist Profile

About the Artist

Quenton Baker (Seattle) is a poet and educator. His current focus is anti-blackness and the afterlife of slavery. His work has appeared in Jubilat, Vinyl, Apogee, Pinwheel, Poetry Northwest, The James Franco Review, and Cura and in the anthologies Measure for Measure: An Anthology of Poetic Meters and It Was Written: Poetry Inspired by Hip-Hop. He has an MFA in poetry from the University of Southern Maine and is a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee. Quenton is a 2017 Jack Straw fellow and the recipient of a James W. Ray Venture Project award from Artist Trust. His first collection, This Glittering Republic, came out from Willow Books in 2016.

Quenton received 2016 James W. Ray Venture Projects funding for Ballast, a collection of poems that looks through the slave revolt aboard the brig Creole as a sort of kaleidoscopic lens in order to consider the condition of blackness and the unavoidable violence that comes from existing within the white imagination. In 1841, a group of enslaved people led by Madison Washington commandeered the brig Creole as it was en route from Virginia to Louisiana, and steered it toward the British island of Nassau. Britain abolished slavery in 1833, meaning that no authority could be exercised over any enslaved person who landed on English soil. It is the only large scale successful revolt involving U.S.-born enslaved people in American history; 135 people gained their freedom. The collection is a combination of erasure poems of source texts—pages from the Senate document detailing the Creole case—and poems in invented form to look at what some black writers and thinkers call "the long memory" or the "long utterance" of blackness. The similarities between enslaved people's survival techniques and the coping mechanisms of myself and my loved ones—the way their bodies were pained, the enormity of the breach—are far too familiar. Not so much externally, but the utterances that we make in these moments of survival: what we think, what we feel, how we seek our flawed victories, how we survive or succumb. There is a bitter harmony between those frequencies, and this project is about mapping that modulation—across time, across space.

Information included above was provided by artist at the time of application.
From the Artist

I am honored, humbled, and thrilled; awards like this make it possible for artists to live and pursue their craft. I am grateful for the massive work that Artist Trust does in support of Washington State artists.

As an artist, you can never worry too much about appreciation or validation, but I've learned to accept it when and if it does appear. To know that folks believe in my work and want to see me succeed is a phenomenal gift. I will continue to sweat and push and grind in order to pay that belief back.

Thank you.

Quenton Baker