Dr. Brenda Greene, Executive Director at the Center for Black Literature, and author and filmmaker Raquel Cepeda join host Sandra Bookman on ABC’s TV Program, Here and Now, to discuss the upcoming Twelfth National Black Writers Conference.
The Twelfth National Black Writers Conference “Reconstructing the Master Narrative”
The Center for Black Literature Celebrates Its Tenth Anniversary at the National Black Writers Conference
Date: Thurs., March 27– Sun., March 30, 2014
Location: Medgar Evers College, CUNY
1650 Bedford Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11225
In an interview with Bill Moyers in March of 1990 for his television series A World of Ideas, Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison defines the master narrative as whatever ideological script that is being imposed by the people in authority on everybody else. In other words, the master narrative is created by those in power. Thus, the master narrative is shaped by a certain viewpoint. In analyzing the master narrative found in literature, we examine what texts are present and which ones are omitted. It is important that we consciously take the steps to ensure that the master narrative encompasses the Black literary tradition—past and present. The National Black Writers Conference (NBWC) offers us an opportunity to present to the public the complexity of the texts produced by Black writers throughout the African Diaspora.
The 2014 NBWC theme of “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. Using this theme as the premise of this public gathering of writers, students, literary agents, editors and the general public will have an opportunity to attend panels, roundtables and readings, participate in workshops, and take in performances over the four days of the Conference. Dr. Myrlie Evers-Williams is the Honorary Chair of the 2014 National Black Writers Conference. The honorees for the Twelfth NBWC are: Maryse Condé, Walter Mosley, Quincy Troupe, Derek Walcott, and posthumously to Margaret Burroughs.
The National Black Writers Conference is a public program that will provide writers, scholars, literary professionals, students, and the general public with a forum for expanding their knowledge and reading of Black literature and for engaging in dynamic and spirited conversations, panel discussions, readings, workshops, and performances on conference themes and on future trends in the literature of Black writers.
The Conference will also pay tribute to and celebrate Black writers who have made significant contributions to the literary canon and will provide emerging writers with opportunities to improve their writing craft. Conference panels, roundtables, and featured speeches will be streamed and videotaped. Selected proceedings will be published.
2014 National Black Writers Conference Preconference Events
Free and Open to the Public Date: Saturday, March 22, 2014
Time: 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Location: Medgar Evers College, Founders Auditorium
1650 Bedford Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11225
In celebration of Women’s History Month, the Center for Black Literature will partner with The Du Bois-Bunche Center for Public Policy, MEC’s English Department and the Center for Women’s Development to pay tribute to the legacy of the feminist poet and writer Audre Lorde. The program will focus on promoting dialogue concerned with the intersectionality of race, gender, class, and sexual identity in Lorde’s works. Guest participants include activist and scholar Angela Davis; Steven Fullwood, assistant curator of the Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; and asha bandele, human rights advocate, poet, journalist, and the award-winning author. During the program, there will also be a tribute to
Esther Cooper Jackson for her leadership as an editor and publisher of Freedomways Journal.
Here is a Video Clip of Angela Davis Keynote Address:
The Twelfth National Black Writers Conference will host a day of programs geared toward young readers. There will be presentations and readings during an Elementary School Program, coordinated by Just Us Books (9:30 to noon).
Just Us Books’ Youth Literacy Program 9:30 a.m.: Welcome: Coordinated by Wade Hudson & Cheryl Willis Hudson, authors and founders of Just Us Books Inc.
9:41 a.m.: Giveaway Contest
10:00 a.m. Presentation by Calvin Alexander Ramsey, author of Ruth and the Green Book and Belle, the Last Mule at Gee’s Bend 10:31 a.m.: Students Reading their Poems & Giveaway Contest
11:00 a.m. Presentation with Jerry Craft, author/illustrator, Mama’s Boyz cartoon series and Hillary’s Big Business Adventure and Looking to the Clouds for Daddy; and illustrator George Ford.
11:46 a.m.: – Noon: Giveaway Contest & Wrap-up
1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Middle School Program with Greg Walker; and a High School Program coordinated by Nina Angela Mercer
Author and poets DuEwa Frazier and Reginald Harris will share poetry and fiction and lead workshops.
Twelfth National Black Writers Conference Program
Pre-Registration for the 4 day conference is $65. This price does not include the VIP Reception or Talkshops. If you are a student, faculty member or a senior the 4 day conference is discounted to $30. Admission to the conference for one day is $25 or ($15 for student, faculty or seniors). These prices are valid until March 21, 2014. Register here.
Thursday, March 27, 2014
Elders Writing Program
3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. (*subject to change)
Location: Founders Auditorium
Medgar Evers College Campus
1650 Bedford Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11225
Members of the Elders Writers Workshop Presentation, Sponsored by JOK Workshop and Poets & Writers.
jessica Care moore
2014 NBWC Poetry Cafe
6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Location: Central Brooklyn Public Library
10 Grand Army Plaza
Brooklyn, NY 11238
This year’s Poetry Café is dedicated to the memory of Amiri Baraka, cosponsored by the Central Brooklyn Public Library and coordinated by Wendy Robinson and Tai Allen. Featured authors and poets include Tony Medina, jessica Care moore, Ed Mabrey, and the works of emerging poets.
Friday, March 28, 2014
Tour of African Burial Ground
Limited to 60 people; tour led by T. Rasul Murray 290 Broadway, N.Y.
Twelve Years a Slave Solomon Northup's Odyssey (1984)
Noon to 4:00 p.m.
Location: Medgar Evers College
1650 Bedford Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11225
A selection of short films inspired by and with literary themes. Hosted by African Voices/Reel Sisters, the film presentation will include a screening of Gordon Parks’ 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 Search for Self in Caribbean Literature: Past, Present, and Future.” 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
A Special Literary Event featuring Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott. For this special literary event, poet and playwright Derek Walcott will be joined by the Trinidad-born poet Mervyn Taylor and St. Lucian poet and producer Adrian Augier to participate in a program titled “The Search for Self in Caribbean Literature: Past, Present, and Future.” 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. This program is presented in collaboration with the Center for Black Literature, the Caribbean Research Center and the Caribbean Cultural Theatre Inc. The program is supported with a grant from the New York Council for the Humanities.
Medgar Evers College, Edison O. Jackson Auditorium
Academic Complex Building (AB1)
1638 Bedford Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11225
Author readings sponsored by the African American Literature Book Club, the Brooklyn Literary Council, the Pan-African Literary Forum, and the Center for Black Literature. 2014 NBWC John Oliver Killens Reading Series
Mũkoma wa Ngũgĩ
Brooklyn Literary Council
Noon–12:25 p.m. Elsie Augustave, author of The RovingTree;
12:25 p.m.–12:50 p.m. Morowa Yejidé, author of Time of the Locust;
12:50 p.m. –1:15 p.m. Angel Nafis, BlackGirl Mansion
African American Literature Book Club (AALBC.com)
1:20 p.m. –1:45 p.m. Kwei Quartey, author of Murder at Cape Three Points;
1:45 p.m. –2:10 p.m. Mũkoma wa Ngũgĩ, Black Star Nairobi.
Explorations into the Future: Speculative Fiction, Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror
Speculative fiction, science fiction, fantasy and horror have always challenged readers with depictions of the future and ways to imagine a different world. Drawing from their texts, panelists will explore the ways in which science fiction and fantasy, often timeless and grounded in myth and legend, provide Black writers with ways to create worlds that forecast the possible future and address alternative representations of race, gender, and class in our contemporary culture and future society.
Moderator: Tonya Hegamin; Panelists: Tananarive Due, Nalo Hopkinson, Victor LaValle
12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.
Race, Power, and Politics
The interrelationship between race, power, and politics is more intricate than it has ever been. While some argue that the intersections of race, power, and politics have produced social and political movements, others have argued that we live in a post-racial society where race no longer matters. They suggest that we have transcended race. The concepts of race, power, and politics are represented by one’s knowledge, ideology, norms, beliefs and practices, and interrelate and influence the way one is viewed by others and the shape of the discourse in our community. Drawing from their texts and their roles as public intellectuals and cultural critics, panelists will explore the impact and representations of race, power, and politics in our national discourse and on political and social movements.
Moderator: Wallace Ford; Panelists: Jelani Cobb, Marc Lamont Hill, Michele Wallace, Obery M. Hendricks, Jr.
2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
Maintaining Cultural Legacies: The Black Arts and Umbra Movements
Our cultural memory is a part of our collective domain. Black literary texts are repositories for our cultural memory; they are thus our cultural texts that transmit our memories and reveal how the present has been shaped by the past. The ideas, themes, and subjects represented in these literary texts have been discussed, debated, and enjoyed by readers worldwide. In some cases, these texts have become part of the Black literary canon and are known as Black literary classics; they make up the intellectual arsenal read by the general public and, more specifically, students of color. The writers on this roundtable will address questions such as the following: How do we define Black literature and Black literary classics? How have the traditions of the Black Arts Movement and the Umbra Movement contributed to our definitions of the Black literary tradition?
Moderator: Tonya Foster; Panelists: Sonia Sanchez, Askia Toure, David Henderson, Ishmael Reed, Steve Cannon
Jeffery Renard Allen
4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Shifting Identities in Africa and the African Diaspora
The migration of people from Africa and throughout the Americas, Europe, and Asia has impacted writers’ perceptions and definitions of themselves in a global society. These issues raise questions such as the following: How do geographical spaces, gender, race, ethnicity, and class shape the representations of the literature of writers throughout Africa and the African diaspora? How do writers address feelings of a loss of identity, traditions and cultures in their texts? How do writers manage the contradictions, paradoxes, and complexities in their lives and in the literature they produce? What kinds of texts are Black writers producing? Drawing upon their own texts, writers will explore these issues and examine the implications of these issues for Black writers in an increasingly multiracial culture and society.
Moderator: Jeffery Renard Allen; Panelists: Gillian Royes, Raquel Cepeda, Zakes Mda, Emily Raboteau
6:00 p.m. — 7 p.m.
Twelfth National Black Writers Conference Tribute and Awards Program
Awards Program in Founders Auditorium Mistress of Ceremonies Cheryl Wills Honorees:
African-Americans are among the many people of color who have traditionally been excluded by literature related to the natural environment and nature in particular. Conventional notions of the literature on the environment leave out the ways in which, as a result of issues related to oppression, freedom and equality, African-Americans have used their knowledge of the natural environment, holistic health, farming techniques, etc. to study the natural landscape, to navigate different geographical spaces and to survive the effects of slavery, natural disasters, disease, famine and war. African-Americans have been natural ecologists as they respond to these crises in their communities and in doing so have saved themselves and their communities. Drawing from their scholarship, texts, and expertise in these areas, panelists will examine and pose possible naturalistic solutions for environmental, health, and social issues that particularly impact Black communities throughout the African diaspora.
The master narrative, which promotes a certain point of view and ideology, has omitted and marginalized the individual stories and collective memories and experiences of African-Americans and people of color. The documentation of these stories and events, through the historical narrative, allows readers to imagine and analyze stories and events from alternative perspectives. By studying the literature, diaries, letters, debates, arts, and artifacts of the past and taking into account the historical context in which events unfold, writers of historical narratives have reconstructed and expanded the master narrative through biography, creative nonfiction and fiction. Drawing from their own texts and scholarship, panelists will explore the following questions: Why are historical narratives important? What are the challenges and values of presenting historical narratives? How can historical narratives be presented in authentic and creative ways? How have historical narratives shaped, informed and expanded our understanding of the master narrative?
Moderator: Komozi Woodard; Panelists: Jeffery Renard Allen, Ayana Mathis, Leonard Pitts Jr.
W. Paul Coates
4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
The State of Publishing: A 2014 Odyssey
The publishing world is in the midst of a major transition. Writers, like musicians, are faced with seeking alternative and creative ways of publishing and promoting their books. Literary agents, publishers, writers, and editors discuss the challenges of publishing in 2014 and suggest options and strategies for publishing the literature produced by Black writers. They explore issues such as self-publishing, online publishing, blogging, distribution, marketing and e-books.
Moderator: Linda A. Duggins; Panelists: Troy Johnson,Paul Coates, Latoya Smith, Ayesha Pande
If you have an idea for a book or have already written one but now you have to find an agent or editor, you’ll need a book proposal. This workshop is designed to walk you step by step through the book proposal development process. It is designed to help you understand each section of the proposal and why it’s meaningful to the publishers and the people that will ultimately bring you book to life.
“Fiction The Archetype of Our Lives”: Truth is notoriously stranger than fiction, yet readers yearn for or scoff at the lives of characters that pepper the pages of a novel. We become engaged in the worlds that the fiction writer creates and often imagine ourselves—or someone we know—living those lives. This is the magic of fiction: creating a reflection or replica of the real world with characters and places that we recognize or can imagine. How do they do it? How does the writer make us believe in his or her version of reality? Discover how to lift your characters and story ideas off the page and into the reader’s world.
How we talk about our lives is very important and how we talk about the lives of others equally so. Poetry is often a way for to explore images and ideas of self, but poetry is also imaginative. The epic, for instance, is simply a long story that tells a people’s story. The Griot culture of West Africa presents a people’s history in song. Narrative poems tell story, but in verse. And like fiction, they often have characters, sometimes dialogue, and setting and location. Participants are going to start their own new narrative poem.
3 - Book Reviews: TBA
Major Funding Provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, Con Edison, New-York Historical Society