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In the year of 1997, at the age of 16, Halim Flowers was charged in the District of Columbia as an adult for being an accomplice to a felony murder. His experiences as a child inside of the DC Department of Corrections was filmed in the Emmy Award winning documentary Thug Life In DC. Flowers was taken to trial and convicted under the accomplice liability doctrine of felony murder and sentenced to a term of 40 years to life imprisonment.
During his incarceration, Flowers discovered a love for literature & the arts. He began writing rap which evolved into poetry and began his connection with spoken word. In 2005, he started his own publishing company SATO Communications (Struggle Against The Odds). SATO Communications has published eleven books covering the genres of poetry, self help, financial literacy, and Flowers’ own memoir Makings of a Menace, Contrition of a Man.
On March 21, 2019, after serving 22 years and 2 months behind bars, Flowers was released back into society. Since then, he has worked with Kim Kardashian for her documentary The Justice Project, done a spoken word performance with Kanye West at his famous Sunday Service, received the Halcyon Arts Lab and Echoing Green fellowships, and spoken on panels at universities and conferences around the country about the impact of the arts and entrepreneurship to correct our criminal injustice system. He is currently launching his fashion line Ideallionaires, which will be created in collaboration with a digital graphic novel and animated series he is also currently working on.
J.B. McLendon is thrilled to be returning to the island he called home for 10 years to delve further into another of his artistic passions: writing. Thought Key West art lovers are more used to seeing him in front of the footlights, his 30+ years in the performing arts have led him down many artistic paths between acting gigs.
His first play, The Present, was produced in New York, Los Angeles, and his hometown of Annapolis, MD. He has also had work produced in Key West. He won a playwriting competition with On The Rock Productions, and a scene of his was included in their production, Roshambo. And his monologue, Another Day In Paradise, was presented as part of Key West Fringe’s production, Key West Characters. He has several projects currently in the works, including a collection of short stories/monologues, and his first screenplay.
If all goes well with this residency, he hopes the product of his efforts will be a gift to Key West that will be shared and enjoyed for generations to come.
A MacDowell and Hawthornden Castle Fellow, Leland Cheuk is an award-winning author of three books of fiction, most recently NO GOOD VERY BAD ASIAN (2019). His work has appeared or is forthcoming in publications such as NPR, Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Salon, among other outlets. He is the founder of the indie press 7.13 Books. He lives in Brooklyn and teaches at the Sarah Lawrence College Writing Institute. You can follow him on Twitter @lcheuk and at lelandcheuk.com.