Brenda Joyce Patterson is a poet, essayist, editor/publisher, public speaker, and talk show host. She writes the DIY MFA column, Writing Small, which focuses on short literary writing forms. She is a Fine Arts/Adult Programming librarian. She is Vice President/Treasurer (2003-present) of the Lakeland-based nonprofit, The Serena Bailey Foundation. She was a Mentee in AWP Writer to Writer Mentorship Fall 2018 cohort. Her mentor was poet Callista Buchen, author of Look, Look, Look (Black Lawrence Press), Double-Mouthed (dancing girl press), and The Bloody Planet (Black Lawrence Press).
Literary Talk Show Host
She debuted in 2019 as host of the Central Florida literary talk show, Writers Den. The show showcases and highlights all things literary in Polk County (FL) and beyond. In addition to local Central Florida writers/authors, she interviews award-winning authors such as Jenn Givhan, Fred Koehler, Sarah McGuire, Wiley Cash, Crystal Wilkinson, Jamie Ford, and Therese Anne Fowler.
She pens Writing Small, a column on short literary forms for DIY MFA, “the do-it-yourself alternative to a Masters degree in writing”. The website is listed annually as a best website for writers by Writer’s Digest and The Write Life.
Brenda’s published work includes essays, articles, poetry, and fiction. She has performed her poetry in Central and South Florida, New Orleans, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.
Her travel essay, The Kindness of Strangers, was published in Go Girl!: The Black Woman’s Guide to Travel and Adventure (Eighth Mountain Press, 1997).
Most recently her poetry appeared in Cultural Daily, an online arts and culture magazine, Vayavya, an art and literary online international journal, and Melancholy Hyperbole, online journal of poetry about longing. Her poetry has also appeared in WordArt 1996, which was judged by poet Robert Morgan, and Poets on the Park anthologies: Poets on the Park Anthology 94, Collection II, Collection III and Collection IV.
Brenda studied poetry under poets Frank X Walker (2019), Phyllis McEwen (1995), Peter Meinke (1996), Lola Haskins (2000) and Nicholas Samaras (2004).
Her fiction appeared in the December 2014 issue of Gravel, an online literary journal published by the University of Arkansas at Monticello.
Brenda is a former co-editor/co-publisher (1996–1998) of the (now defunct) international literary magazine, Onionhead Literary Quarterly. During her tenure at Onionhead, she worked with author/poet Fred Chappell and poet/novelist Therese Tappouni and published Pushcart Prize-nominated poets Nola Garrett and Corrine DeWinter.
For over 20 years Brenda has given talks on authors, literature, poetry and writing. She has spoken at Latt Maxcy Public Library, Larry R. Jackson Branch Library, Polk Community College [Polk State College] and Southeastern College [Southeastern University].
Fine Arts/Programming Librarian
Over the last 20 years, Brenda has organized events and programs, which include hosting author appearances, musicians, scholars and local experts, for a three-library public library system. She has worked with commentator Roxane Gay, author Tim Dorsey, and classical musician Evan Drachman as well as poets Nicholas Samaras and Lola Haskins.
For over 20 years, she has also facilitated discussion groups for books and movies.
Brenda’s varied selection of programs and events have garnered increasing attendance numbers annually. Most recently, her programs/events attendance numbers have increased from 793 in 2010 to 1442 in 2014.
Brenda was a member of WOW (Women of Words) with the late poets Margery Cunningham and KC Jarrett. WOW gave presentations on writing and poetry at Polk Community College [now Polk State College]. WOW performed their poetry at Polk Community College [now Polk State College], Birchtree Coffee (Lakeland) and Mitchell’s Coffee House (Lakeland).
She collaborated with artist Suzanne Roth on an artist’s book, Soothsaying (S. Roth/B. Patterson, 2005), which is in the permanent collection of the Bienes Center for the Literary Arts of The Dianne and Michael Bienes Special Collections and Rare Book Library at the Broward County Main Library/Florida Center for the Book.
Her poetry was used in Poetry in Motion, a dance/poetry performance art collaboration between Florida Dance Theatre, Arts on the Park and Poets on the Park in Lakeland, 2005.
She collaborated with artist Teza Lord in a performance art installation piece (poetry reading/mixed media sculpture/yoga demonstration) at the first Platform Florida (now Platform Art) in Lakeland, 2003.
She performed her poetry with poet Lola Haskins in Tampa and Lakeland in 2000.