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Zenique Gardner Perry

Artist INC Program Lead*

Zenique Gardner-Perry is both writer and freedom fighter. Passionate about racial equity, social justice and change, Zenique aspires to use her written work to complement her work on the ground. With an English Writing degree from Eastern University, Zenique has also studied African literature and creative writing while studying abroad at Uganda Christian University. In 2013, Zenique was the sole American writer selected as a Farafina Fellow by award-winning Nigerian author, Chimamanda Adichie. Zenique regards this fellowship as one of her greatest honors, allowing her to join writers across the Diaspora in a two-week residency in Lagos, Nigeria where she sat under the tutelage of Adichie, the late, great Binyavanga Wainaina and other notable, international writers. Another honor: Zenique has facilitated writing workshops with formerly incarcerated men and women and co-produced a series of plays that were written by inmates as part of her work with Philadelphia FIGHT’s Institute for Community Justice, an organization committed to advocating for the safety and well-being of folks living with HIV and detained in or returning home from prison.

In 2015, Zenique moved back to St. Louis after living in Philadelphia for over a decade. She has since worked primarily in youth violence prevention advocacy and co-founded an antiracism consulting group, Undo Bias. In all things, Zenique has found a way to incorporate a writing component in her work. Zenique earned an MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Washington University in St. Louis, where she won prizes for her essays from the university and Columbia Journalism School. She has also been awarded residencies at The Writer’s Colony at Dairy Hollow in Arkansas and the Storyknife Writers Retreat in Alaska. Zenique lives in St. Louis, Missouri with her family and their animals.