On a cold, wet and windy night, the confines of UNT on the Square present a welcoming warmth for its residents. But simple shelter from the weather is not the function it should be most appreciated for.

It's the nights, such as during the Denton Black Film Festival, when those who find their way into its blessed refuge are treated to a regular smorgasbord of culture, that it can take pride in providing. In the lead up to the festival, the Square was host to none other than UNT's own Annette Lawrence, professor and chair of Studio Art at the school, and renowned artist. Her exhibition, Around Again, gave the local community a chance to take in choice pieces of some of her most mesmerizing work for the past month.

Shay Youngblood UNT from FB Denton author Shay Youngblood (third from right) with members of the Denton Black Film Festival organizers during her UNT on the Square talk last month. (Photo from Youngblood's Facebook)

During DBFF, however, Lawrence took a step out of the spotlight, leaving it open for the voice of another pillar of the community, Shay Youngblood. The novelist and playwright, best known for her books such as Soul Kiss and The Big Mamma Stories, was present to treat the audience with a selection of readings from both her books and her upcoming play, Widows of America: Denton County.

Youngblood's colorful and unique writing takes the reader (or rather the listener in this case) deeply into the lives of its carefully rendered characters, usually women, usually black, and always wonderfully entertaining. For a simple hour, which felt both like the blink of an eye and an eternity of the earth, the listeners are simply more-than-willing captives of Youngblood's imagination and experiences. In the short amount of time outside of her stories, Youngblood was more than happy to present account of her travels to Paris and Japan, the work she's been able to take part of there, and the multitudes of different types of people she's been blessed to meet and study, fueling her writer's tank for future projects.

Overall, the night was another fascinating descent into the minds of some of the area's most prolific women. We thank them for sharing, the Square for hosting them, and the city of Denton for continuing to push for the ability of voices like these, that have all to often have lacked a stage to be presented from, to have a place to be heard. Keep up the good work, and good job, everyone!