Damilola Onwah is a Nigerian writer and culture critic whose work explores identity and belonging, unconventional family structures, the struggles and triumphs of the underdog, and how faith is gained and lost. She moved from Nigeria to the United States in 2014, and holds an MBA and a Master’s in Public Policy from the University of Chicago, where she received a Booth 1898 scholarship and a PEO International Peace scholarship. Damilola did the Monson Arts Residency in Oct/Nov 2023.


What was the best part for you about being at Monson Arts? 

 The best part for me was the unrestricted studio time and the peaceful ambience of Monson. I often left my writing studio late at night and enjoyed almost eerily quiet walks back to the house, my mind awash with gratitude. I also thoroughly enjoyed post-dinner card games with the other artists.

What’s your focus with your work now that you’ve left Monson Arts?

 Having finished a revision to my novel while at Monson Arts, I’m taking a break from it and working on a short story featuring some of the novel’s characters. The story features a scene I loved but had to cut from the novel, and I’m glad it will still go on to live in another form. I’m excited to finish polishing and to send it out into the world soon.

Name 3-5 writers and/or books that continue to inspire you.

 Marilynne Robinson’s Gilead and Tayari Jones’ An American Marriage, were books I brought along to Monson and just laid permanently on my studio desk because they have been so inspirational and aspirational to my work in progress. Also, I spent a good chunk of time in Monson reading Jami Attenberg’s The Middlesteins and I really, really enjoyed it!