Amidst this chaos, an invitation from Harvard University to become Visiting Scholar with the Women and Gender
Studies program enabled Ugbabe to leave Jos and continue her writing and academicwork in Cambridge, Massachusetts. As that fellowship neared its end last summer, PEN’s Artists at Risk Connection program reached out to Ugbabe with a new opportunity: a pilot visiting faculty position in the English Department at Fordham University and an apartment at Westbeth, both of which started last fall. The program has proved so successful that Fordham and PEN are planning to extend Ugbabe’s visiting scholar position for another year.
“The journey to Westbeth is a journey from fear and dislocation to safety and protection. Ensconced in a creative space (an architectural landmark at that!), I and my writing are given an opportunity to thrive and flourish,” Ugbabe explained. “What a blessing to wake up to the phrases and melodies of Chopin or Bach on the piano in the studio next door, visit the Westbeth art gallery downstairs, and hear poetry being read in the Community Room. All in one day!”