Day 4: Sunday, March 25th, 2018

14th National Black Writers Conference

Gathering at the Waters:

Healing, Legacy, and Activism in Black Literature


Note: Program participants and schedule are subject to change.

Register now!

2018 National Black Writers Conference Schedule
Planned Programming (as of February 2018)


Day 4: Sunday, March 25th, 2018


Writing Talkshops:

10:00 AM – 11:45 AM: Book Proposals with Regina Brooks

10:00 AM – 11:45 AM: Fiction with Nicole Dennis-Benn

1:00 PM – 3:00 PM: One-on-One Sessions with Literary Agents Regina Brooks and Jocquelle S. Caiby; and Editors Carol Taylor and Monique Patterson

1:00 PM – 2: 30 PM: Roundtable Conversation, “The Influence of Race and Politics on Literary Narratives”

The interrelationship between race, power, and politics is more intricate than it has ever been. The panelists will explore the following questions: Is the country more racially divided or less racially divided than it was 15 or 20 years ago? What has been the impact of race, power, and politics in our national discourse and on political and social movements? How are the intersections of race and politics represented in the texts of Black literary texts? What is the future of race relations in American society?  What role can the public play in shaping race relations?

Moderator: Meena Alexander

Panelists: Marita Golden, Jacqueline Jones LaMon, Mychal Denzel Smith


Meena Alexander is the author of eight books of poetry, two novels, two volumes of essays, and the memoir Fault Lines. Her volumes of poetry include Illiterate Heart (2002), winner of the PEN Open Book Award; Raw Silk (2004) and Birthplace with Buried Stones 2013). She has received awards from the Guggenheim, Fulbright and Rockefeller Foundations, the Arts Council of England and the Imbongi Yesizwe International Poetry Award from South. Her poetry has been translated and set to music, most recently by the Swedish composer Jan Sandstrom. She is Distinguished Professor of English at the Graduate Center/Hunter College, CUNY.

Marita Golden is an acclaimed, award-winning author of more than a dozen works of fiction and nonfiction. As a teacher of writing, she has served as a member of the faculties of George Mason University, Virginia Commonwealth University, the Fairfield University, and Johns Hopkins University. She cofounded and serves as president emeritus of Hurston/Wright Foundation. She is the recipient of many awards, including the Writers for Writers Award presented by Barnes & Noble and Poets & Writers, and the Fiction Award for her novel After awarded by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association. The author lives in Washington, D.C.

Jacqueline Jones LaMon is the author of two award-winning collections of poetry: Gravity, U.S.A., and Last Seen; and a novel, In the Arms of One Who Loves Me.  A professor at Adelphi University, she served as the immediate past president of Cave Canem Foundation Inc.

Mychal Denzel Smith is a contributing writer at The Nation, a blogger at and a Knobler Fellow at the Nation Institute. He is also a freelance writer and author of the New York Times-bestselling book Invisible Man, Got the Whole World Watching: A Young Black Man’s Education Hard (Nation Books, 2016) and a 2017 NAACP Image Award nominee.

3:00 PM – 4:30 PM: Panel Discussion, “The State of Publishing for Black Writers”

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. Black literary agents, publishers, writers, and editors discuss the challenges of publishing in a technology driven age.  These topics include online publishing, blogging, distribution, marketing and e-books. Questions explored are: How do publishers impact the kind of literary texts that are produced by Black writers? How do the Internet, digital publishing and e-books impact the publishing of literature produced by Black writers?

Moderator: Linda A. Duggins

Panelists: Rakia A. Clark, Chris Jackson, Jamia Wilson


Linda A. Duggins is senior director of Publicity at Grand Central Publishing, an imprint of Hachette Book Group. As co-founder of the Harlem Book Fair, she has helped to create a nationally recognized venue that promotes literacy and literary expressions with writers of the Diaspora.  Duggins is the creator and producer of the Annual International Women’s History Month Literary Festival at Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, Maryland. She is on the Board of Directors of the National Book Club Conference, based in Atlanta, Georgia, whose mission is to advance literacy and knowledge through reading and dialogue; Board of Directors of Kweli, an online literary journal supporting diverse voices; as well as the Board of Directors of the Queensbridge Scholarship Fund, serving college bound students in the Queensbridge and Ravenswood housing developments in the New York City area. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Kimberla Lawson Roby, Misty Copeland, and Joy Thomas Moore are among the many great authors represented by Duggins at Hachette.

Rakia A. Clark, senior editor, joined Beacon Press in May 2015 and works from New York City. She is especially interested in books that examine social justice issues through a pop culture lens. She acquires mainly in media, technology, sports, criminal justice, race, class, narrative nonfiction and biography/memoir. Her previous editorial posts include HarperCollins, Viking Penguin, and Kensington Publishing Corp.

Chris Jackson, executive editor at Spiegel & Grau, was recently named the vice president, publisher and editor-in-chief of the One World imprint of Random House. Prior to this position, he worked at Crown Publishing with a mandate to expand the imprint’s African-American publishing program and at John Wiley.

Jamia Wilson is the director and publisher of the Feminist Press at CUNY. Wilson was honored as a Black Feminist Human Rights Defender by Black Women’s Blueprint and was recognized by Refinery 29 as one of “17 Faces of the Future of Feminism.” She’s the author of Young, Gifted, & Black: Meet 52 Black Heroes from Past and Present (Wide Eyed Editions, 2018) and the oral history portion of the book Together We Rise: Behind the Scenes at the Protest Heard Around the World (HarperCollins).

4:30 PM – 5:00 PM: Closing Program with poet Cornelius Eady

Cornelius Eady is the author of Hardheaded Weather (G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2008); Brutal Imagination (2001), which was a finalist for the 2001 National Book Award in Poetry; the autobiography of a jukebox (1997); You Don’t Miss Your Water (1995); The Gathering of My Name (1991), which was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize.