Brooklyn BookBeat: Medgar Evers College Presents Most Comprehensive Gathering of Black Literary Personalities, Scholars and Professionals in the Publishing Business
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
The 12th Annual National Black Writers Conference, featuring such literary icons as Walter Mosley, Angela Davis, Maryse Conde and others, will be held from March 27-30 at Medgar Evers College.
Honorees of the 2014 NBWC include Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott; bestselling author Walter Mosley; author and poet Quincy Troupe; French-Caribbean writer Maryse Conde; and posthumously to Margaret Burroughs, co-founder of the DuSable Museum of African American History.
The 2014 theme “Black Writers Reconstructing the Master Narrative” builds on previous NBWCs and takes into account the need to expose the general public to the vast range of texts that Black writers throughout the diaspora are producing. Honoree Walter Moseley described the NBWC as “the most significant gathering of Black writers in the country.”
Throughout the multi-day celebration, there will be panel discussions, author readings, workshops and awards program for the honorees, a poetry café and a film series hosted by African Voices/Reel Sisters. The film presentation will include a screening of Gordon Park’s “Solomon Northup’s Odyssey,” which premiered in 1984 and was based on the same book as the award-winning movie “12 Years a Slave.”
“The notion of what it means to write as a Black writer is complicated. Hence, there is still a need for ‘spaces’ in which to document the writing and work of Black writers, to study the craft of writing, and to expose a cross-generation of students and the general public to a range of writers throughout the African Diaspora,” notes Dr. Brenda Greene, executive director of the Center for Black Literature.
“There is a rich history of the impact of the work by Black writers in Black culture as well as American culture. This Conference offers writers, students, scholars and professionals in the literary and publishing worlds, as well as the general public, opportunities to engage in meaningful dialogue on the ways Black literature impacts and influences their lives and the lives of people on a global scale.”
There will be an off-site concert on Friday, March 28, billed as “Words Meet Music,” featuring pianist Onaje Allan Gumbs, recording artists and poets Dasan Ahanu and Tai Allen and Abiodun Oyewole of The Last Poets.
A major highlight of the four-day conference will be a special program on Friday, March 28, called “The Search for Self in Caribbean Literature: Past, Present, and Future,” with Nobel Prize-winning poet and playwright Derek Walcott, who will be joined by Trinidad-born poet Mervyn Taylor and St. Lucian poet and producer Adrian Augier. The conversation will focus on Walcott’s writing life and explore the themes of identity, memory, belonging and spirituality in his work and in Caribbean literature.
A number of important issues pertinent to Black writers and their work will be discussed and addressed throughout the Conference: “Maintaining Cultural Legacies: The Black Arts and Umbra Movements”; “Shifting Identities in Africa and the African Diaspora”; “Reconstructing the Historical Narrative”; “Race, Power, and Politics”; and “Explorations into the Future: Speculative Fiction, Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror.”
Confirmed participants include Steven Barnes, Tananarive Due, Nalo Hopkinson, N. K. Jemisin, Victor LaValle, Emily Raboteau, Askia Touré, David Henderson, Ishmael Reed, Steve Cannon, Ayana Mathis, Sonia Sanchez, Quincy Troupe, William Jelani Cobb, Marc Lamont Hill,
Kevin Powell, Michele Wallace, Komozi Woodard, Tony Medina, Jessica Care Moore, Gillian Royes, Raquel Cepeda, Zakes Mda, Leonard Pitts Jr., Jeffery Renard Allen, Dianne Glave, Tracye Lynn McQuirter, Lauret Savoy, Linda Duggins, Paul Coates, Latoya Smith, Troy Johnson and many more.
The conference will kick off with two preconference events: a Youth Day program on Friday, March 21, and a symposium, “Audre Lorde: A Burst of Light,” on Saturday, March 22. The Youth Day program will provide programming that will enable students to engage in interactive activities with writers, focusing on using the literary arts in creative ways to strengthen and improve students’ critical reading, writing and thinking skills.
The tribute to writer, poet, and feminist Audre Lorde will focus on promoting dialogue concerned with the intersection of race, gender, class and sexual identity in Lorde’s works. Activist and scholar Angela Y. Davis will be a featured speaker at the event and other participants include Steven Fullwood, assistant curator of the Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; and Rosamond S. King, Ph.D., professor in the English Department at Brooklyn College. During the program, there will also be a tribute to Esther Cooper Jackson for her leadership as an editor and publisher of Freedomways Journal.
At the 2014 Conference, the Center for Black Literature will celebrate its 10th Anniversary with a fundraiser and gala reception on Saturday, March 29, at 7 p.m. in the Skylight Café.
The festivities will be hosted by MK Lewis and poets Quincy Troupe, Cheryl Boyce-Taylor, Tyehimba Jess, Staceyann Chin and Hermina Marcellin, along with singer Kendra Ross and actor Michael Green will be on hand to celebrate the occasion. Roman Mitchell and Medgar Evers College’s jazz quartet will also perform. The NBWC will also pay tribute to New York Assemblyman Albert Vann, along with the late Major Owens and Amiri Baraka.
This year’s Conference has received contributions and funding from the National Endowment for the Arts; Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation; Con Edison; New-York Historical Society; Target; Barnes & Noble; The Calvin Hernton Institute; Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Doubleday; and Personalized Skincare by Marcia; and Dale Allender at the National Council of Teachers of English.
For more information about the Twelfth National Black Writers Conference and a full list of events, visit our website at www.centerforblackliterature.org.