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Meet Professor Destiny Hemphill, the 2022-23 Kenan Visiting Writer in the Creative Writing Program. Professor Hemphill received her B.A. at Duke University and her M.F.A. from the University of South Carolina.

Professor Hemphill’s current interests include Afro-pessimism, Black mysticism, critical geography, and Black radical traditions. One of Professor Hemphill’s current projects is her debut poetry collection titled motherworld: a devotional for the alter-life, which will be published Spring 2023 by Action Books.

When describing the structure of her book, Hemphill said, “Organized in three movements, the poems in motherworld seek to represent a world-to-come as already accessible within the now, even if only in glimmers. Both presentist and futurist in impulse, it asks: If this current world is made manifest through modes of violence ritualized and institutionalized through colonial structures, how do we undo this? What budding ways of being can be glimpsed from where we are? The project explores these questions through an engagement and enactment of a Black mysticism. However, importantly, Black mysticism in the project does not operate as an escapist fantasy to ignore brutal material realities. Rather, the project seeks to articulate Black mysticism as always already entangled with and informed by material conditions by invoking histories of Black resistance grounded in Black cosmologies. Another manuscript is bubbling slowly to the surface of my consciousness. What has so far revealed itself to me is a three-part acrostic spell that both uplifts nature as a site of Black refuge and liberation as well as reckoning with it as a site of empire’s violence and peril.”

As the Kenan Visiting Writer, Professor Hemphill will be reading a selection of her work in the Donovan Lounge on February 9th at 3:30 (Greenlaw 233).

In speaking to what drew Professor Hemphill to UNC, she says, “I have orbited UNC for a while. When I was doing my undergraduate at Duke, I collaborated with student poets and campus organizers at UNC. Most recently, what drew me to UNC is the Kenan Visiting Writers Program. It is such an amazing opportunity to devote more time to my craft and pedagogy.”

When she’s not writing or teaching, Professor Hemphill stays busy—she recently started taking pottery classes: “I am not that great at it. But! I am really enjoying being a novice and noticing how being a beginner creates space for curiosity.”

Please join us in extending a warm welcome to Professor Hemphill!

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