Photography by Sheree Swann of Lens of Life Photography
Shanna T. Melton is an award winning Poet, Painter and Art Consultant from Bridgeport, CT. Performing, exhibiting and creating performance venues since 1997 has offered great opportunities to share her work with diverse communities. Shanna has performed in poetry venues from Atlanta through Canada. Her work carries the essence of humanity and poetry. She began facilitating workshops like The Writer’s Group and creating poetry venues like Lyrical Voices Night of Poetry and Arts out of a strong desire to build a strong network of artists who can encourage one another to continue creating.
Shanna is a Historical Preservationist and Art Ambassador for The Mary & Eliza Freeman Center for History and Community. She has curated many poetry events presenting local and international artistry to the Bridgeport Community as the Ambassador of Poetry for The Housatonic Museum of Art. Transcending Continents was a showcase which brought local artists together with a music group from Senegal, Africa for a night of poetry and music. The Women Gather is an event inspired by the Nikki Giovanni poem of the same name. Women poets are celebrated and share their experiences through poetry and storytelling. This event is balanced with the celebration of male poets called In His Words. In the summer of 2013 and 2014, she brought excellent poets together at The Bridgeport Arts Fest for The Poem Mobile sponsored by Housatonic Community College and City Lore. This stage featured artists from Bridgeport and the surrounding areas including the former Poet Laureate of Connecticut Dick Allen.
The Writer's Group is created and presented by Shanna and sponsored by City Lights Gallery. The participants use writing prompts which inspire the creative writing process. The program has been presented to students at New Beginnings Family Academy one day per week, a transitional housing program through the YMCA and Life Bridge Community Services Agency through their Food Stories Workshop and Urban Scholars Program. The group also had a retreat guided by Shanna titled “Writing from the Inside Out” at The Wisdom House, Litchfield, CT. The New Canaan Library has also hosted a monthly gathering of The Writer's Group in their art gallery.
Shanna is the founder of Lyrical Voices Night of Poetry & Arts and co-founder of Verses a night of poetry at the Nuyorican Poets Café presented by Urbintel Productions. She is also the author of two collections of poetry titled “A Voice in the Symphony” and most recently published “Unraveling My Thoughts”.
In January 2011, Shanna was presented with a citation from The State of Connecticut through Bridgeport's Black Pride with their Woman to Know Award which is given to people who create positive change in their community in line with the vision of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Shanna was honored with a 2017 Humanitarian Award from The Al-Aziz Islamic Center for “Being a Positive Example in the Community”. This award was accompanied by a proclamation and citation from The City of Bridgeport. In June 2017, She was the honored Artist when she received the Arts & Culture Empowerment (ACE) Award from The Cultural Alliance of Fairfield County. Shanna was also presented with the Bridgeport Girls Rock Award presented by The Polished Pearls Foundation and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. - Theta Tau Omega Chapter. The State of Connecticut Office of the Arts has given Shanna the 2018 Arts Hero Award. She was formerly nominated to represent The State of Connecticut at Poet Laureate. The Art-To-Go Billboard Project featured Shanna Melton at the February 2019 Artist of the Month for the Bridgeport Art Trail. The New Canaan Library also featured Shanna as Poet of the Month for National Poetry Month in April 2019. In 2021, Shanna became certified in WIBO (Workshop In Business Opportunities. She also became certified in teaching Martin Luther King Jr.'s Six Principles of Nonviolence through the Connecticut Center for Nonviolence and the Connecticut Office of the Arts.
Her paintings have been exhibited in many poetry venues throughout the tri-state area. She had solo exhibitions in venues which include The Barnum Museum, Bridgeport, CT. Her art is featured in “A Silent Genocide”, and “Soldier Blues” a documentary and play created by Tantra~Zawadi. She was among many talented artists exhibiting in The Margaret E. Morton City Hall Annex, Bridgeport, CT for the 2014 Black History Month Celebration. She was also on exhibit for the 2014 Beautiful Crime exhibit at The Ground Floor Gallery in the Read's Art Space, Bridgeport, CT. Fairfield University’s Dogwood Journal of Poetry & Prose chose Shanna’s “Esperanza Falling In” painting to grace the cover of their spring 2015 journal. This painting was also chosen by Southern Connecticut State University’s 64 Days of Nonviolence, 2015. African Voices Magazine recently featured Shanna’s portrait of Kalief Browder in a tribute to his story in their Winter 2015-2016 publication. This painting was also featured in Time: The Kalief Browder Story, a documentary produced by Jay-Z, presented on Spike TV. Shanna exhibited in the 10 Women - 10 Years Exhibit at City Lights Gallery, Bridgeport, CT. She also had a solo exhibit in Work_Space, Manchester, CT. In April 2020, Shanna was honored with. the Yellow Rose Award from the Fairfield County Chapter of Chums Incorporated for her work in the education system. Shanna had a five month solo exhibit at The Barnum Museum titled "Her Dragons Fly". This exhibit was also presented online through Charter Oak Cultural Center, Hartford, CT.
The future holds many possibilities for this artist. Shanna plans to take her words, paintings, and ideas around the world so that people can be inspired by her work. The mission is to turn all her visions into reality. She knows that the world is the best inspiration for creativity and she will take in as much of it as possible. Visit www.PoeticSoulArts.net to learn more about Shanna and stay up to date on upcoming events.