Shonda Buchanan

Creative Nonfiction Writer

Kalamazoo, MI
Michigan US

Author's Bio

Shonda Buchanan Biography 

Daughter of Mixed bloods, author of five books, including the award-winning memoir, Black Indian, Shonda Buchanan is an award-winning poet, fiction, nonfiction writer and educator. Recipient of the Brody Arts Fellowship from the California Community Foundation, a Big Read grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, several Virginia Foundation for the Humanities grants, the Denise L. Scott and Frank Sullivan Awards, and an Eloise Klein-Healy Scholarship, Shonda is a Sundance Institute Writing Arts fellow, a PEN Center Emerging Voices fellow and a Jentel Artist Residency fellow. Finalist for the 2021 Mississippi Review poetry contest, Shonda’s memoir, Black Indian, won the 2020 Indie New Generation Book Award and was chosen by PBS NewsHour as a "top 20 books to read" to learn about institutional racism. Black Indian begins the saga of her family’s migration stories of Free People of Color communities exploring identity, ethnicity, landscape and loss. Her first collection of poetry, Who’s Afraid of Black Indians? was nominated for the Black Caucus of the American Library Association and the Library of Virginia Book Awards. 

A journalist for over 25 years, Shonda has freelanced for the Los Angeles Times, the LA Weekly, AWP’s The Writer’s Chronicle, Indian Country Today, and The International Review of African American Art, and she’s published in Urban Voices: 51 Poems from 51 American Poets, Black Renaissance/Renaissance Noire, Art Meets Literature: An Undying Love Affair, Phati’tude Literary Magazine, Red Ink, Strange Cargo: An Emerging Voices Anthology, Step into a World: A Global Anthology of New Black Literature, Arise! Magazine, Def Jam Poetry’s Bum Rush the Page, Geography of Rage: Remembering the Los Angeles Riots of 1992 and Rivendell. 

Reviewer of poetry manuscripts for CavanKerry Press, Literary Editor of Harriet Tubman Press, Shonda has served as a judge for multiple writing contests including the Library of Virginia’s Poetry Book Awards, North Carolina Arts Council Poetry Fellowship, the George Floyd Youth Justice Poetry Contest, the Amanda Gorman Youth Poetry Contest, the Virginia Commission for the Arts Fiction Contest, the Metrorail Public Art Project Poetry Contest and the Creative Writing Youth Contest for the College Language Association. 

Former board member of the Poetry Society of Virginia and Hampton Roads Writers, and founding board member of the African American Alumni Association at Loyola Marymount University, Shonda is the Vice President of the Board of Trustees for Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center. A national and international lecturer and workshop leader, Shonda received an MFA from Antioch University and a BA and MA in English from Loyola Marymount University where she teaches. In addition to her work as a literary activist, a teaching artist and a mentor for young writers, she has taught at Hampton University, William & Mary College (Writer-in-Residence), Cal State Northridge and Mt. San Antonio College. Descendant of African nations, the Coharie, Choctaw and Eastern Band Cherokee, and Europeans, Shonda lives and writes in her adopted home on Tongva and Chumash land in Los Angeles, California. For more information, follow @shondabuchanan or contact her at or visit

Writers Retreats: 

Publications & Prizes

Geography of Rage: Remembering the Los Angeles Riots of 1992 (Really Great Books, 2002)
Bum Rush the Page: A Def Poetry Jam (Three Rivers Press, 2001)
The International Review of African American Art
Prizes won: 

2020  Indie New Generation Book Award for Memoir; 2021 Finalist, Mississippi Review Poetry Contest; 2010 Poem of the Year Award, LONG STORY SHORT Ezine, “At Buckroe Beach." Denise L. Scott Memorial Award, Poetry, First and Second Place 1996, 2002/Frank Sullivan Memorial Award, Short Story, First and Second 1996, 1997/Recipient, Brody Arts Fellowship, California Community Foundation, May 1994.

Personal Favorites

Favorite authors: 
Toni Morrison, James Baldwin, Langston Hughs, Li-Young Lee, Alice Walker, Leslie Maron Silko, Joy Harjo, Luis Rodriguez, Jim Daniels, Paul Vessey, Carolyn Foronda, Sonia Sanchez, Lucille Clifton, Audre Lorde, Nina Simone, Amy Tan, Tomi Adeyemi, Sharon Olds.
What I'm reading now: 
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi, Native Guard by Natasha Trethewey, When God Was a Woman by Merlin Stone, The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkerson, Pow Wow: An Anthology by Ishmael Reed, Curls by Ruth Forman

More Information

Gives readings: 
Travels for readings: 
Identifies as: 
African American
Prefers to work with: 
Fluent in: 
Born in: 
Kalamazoo, MI
Raised in: 
Kalamazoo, MI
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Last update: Jun 11, 2024