Program – 13th NBWC 2016

13th National Black Writers Conference

Thursday, March 31 – Sunday, April 3, 2015

Note: Program participants and schedule are subject to change.

Register NOW!

 Key to Locations:

Bedford Building – 1650 Bedford Avenue
[B- Building on the map.]

  • Founders Auditorium -1st Floor
  • President’s Conference Center(Room B1008) -1st Floor
  • N. B. Johnson Lecture Hall (Room B2008) 2nd Floor
  • Rotunda / Ticket booth– 1st Floor in front of Founders Auditorium

Academic Complex Building – 1638 Bedford Avenue

[AB1- on the map.]Map_MEC

  • Edison O. Jackson Auditorium –1st Floor
  • Room L12, Art Gallery-1st Floor
  • Skylight Café– 2nd Floor (Cafeteria)

Student Services Building – 1637 Bedford Avenue

[S- on the map.]

  • Mary S. Pinkett Lecture Hall (Room S122) –1st Floor
  • Atrium – 3rd Floor
  • Conference Room –3rd Floor

Room numbers beginning with “CP” indicates the Carroll St. Portable Buildings-1150 Carroll St. [‘C’ on the map.]

Parking in any MEC, CUNY lots are allowed by “permit only” for Thursday and Friday.

Pre-Registration, On-Site Registration, and Check-In:

THURSDAY- DAY 1 –Location: Edison O. Jackson Auditorium, Medgar Evers College, 1638 Bedford Avenue

FRIDAY – DAY 2, SATURDAY – DAY 3, & SUNDAY- DAY 4 –Location: Founders Auditorium- Rotunda, Medgar Evers College, 1650 Bedford Avenue

  Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Opens *10 AM 10 AM 9:30 AM 9:30 AM
Closes 4:30 PM 8 PM 8 PM 4 PM

*Times subject to adjust based on need. Elementary schools should arrive between 9:00 – 9:30 AM to check in.


  • If you pre-registered on-line, please bring your barcoded confirmation (eventbrite ticket) with you to expedite your entry.
  • Students, Faculty, and Seniors are required to present identification upon check-in.
  • On-site Registration begins on the first day of the Conference.
  • Registration is required for ALL events, panels and workshops.

2016 National Black Writers Conference Schedule
Planned Programming (as of March 3, 2016)




11 A.M. – 3 P.M.

Location: Edison O. Jackson Auditorium
Medgar Evers College, Academic Building 1
1638 Bedford Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11225

11 a.m.–11:35 a.m. – Decoded: Hip-Hop

  • Hannah Silva “Live Writing: Black British Poets in Performance.”

11:40 a.m.–12:40 a.m. – Creating Dangerously

  • Renee M. Kingan “Pushing Back: Jayne Cortez and Unesco’s War on War.“
  • Ciara Miller “How [THEY] Got Ovah: Aesthetics of Three Chicago Black Women Poets”
  • Althea Tait “Rita Dove: Movement Between the Aesthetics of Discomfort and the Next.”
  • Shante Cozier “The Art of Noir & Contemporary Caribbean Short Stories.”

12:45 a.m.–2:10 p.m.- Politics of Race and Gender

  • Hilda Davis “The Political and Psychological Implications of Movement in Harlem/New Negro Renaissance Literature.”)
  • John Scrimgeour “The Steps from the Hill: Race and Class in Langston Hughes’s ‘Theme for English B’.”
  • Ilinca Diaconu- Stillo “From Trauma to Community: War, Racism, and African-American Masculinities in Toni Morrison’s Sula and”
  • Janelle Jemmott “Michael Eric Dyson: Writing Race, Embracing Difference.”
  • Janelle Morris “Service to All Mankind: Utilizing Writings by Members of Alpha Kappa Alpha in Africana Centered Bibliography.”

2:15 p.m.–3 p.m. –AfroFuturism

  • Kermit Rodriguez “Toni Morrison: Shattering the Glass Ceiling with the Fist of the African Female Trickster.”
  • Helen K Thomas “Resisting the Silence: Exploring the Radical Act of Remembering through Jacqueline Woodson and Jason Reynolds Young Adult Novels”

3:30 p.m. – 5 p.m.
Edison O. Jackson Auditorium
1638 Bedford Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11225

“Black Women Writing Memory, Writing Fate”
What does the future hold for African-Americans? Can greater knowledge of the past help us create our own destiny? Memoirists of the Elders Writing Workshop at Siloam Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn will share their wisdom, rooted in history, so we can better understand now and begin to shape a dynamic, empowered tomorrow.

5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Town Hall Forum: Legacy and Succession: The Role and Responsibility of the Black Writer and Black Institutions

Thursday, March 31, 2016
Free and open to the public.

Haki R. Madhubuti_Dr.Author, poet, and publisher Haki Madhubuti, whose latest book is titled “Taking Bullets: Terrorism and Black Life in Twenty-First Century America, a Poet’s Representation and Challenge” will lead a town hall discussion on the subject. Journalist and reporter Ashley Johnson has been invited to join this intergenerational conversation.

7:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
7th National Black Writers Conference Poetry Café
Brooklyn Public Library
10 Grand Army Plaza
Brooklyn, NY 11238

NBWC_POETRYCAFE_Display700 (2)

The 7th Annual Poetry Café is coordinated by Wendy Robinson and the host is Ashley August.

Featured are poets Liza Jessie Peterson and Nkosi Nkululeko , the 2016 NYC Youth Poet Laureate. Emerging poets include Angel S. Aviles, Chanel Dupree, Khadijah Johnson, and Shye Sales.

Participating schools are asked to arrive early to check-in students. If you are interested in this program please contact the Center for Black Literature at 718-804-8883 or e-mail This is free for all NYC schools both public and private. Limited space. Your school MUST BE PRE-REGISTERED TO PARTICIPATE.

Download  form now:  Registration form_NBWC_groups_2016

All classes are to report to FOUNDERS AUDITORIUM between 9:00- 9:30 AM.

9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.

Prom_Youth Literacy_NBWC2016-1_hudsons

Coordinated by Wade and Cheryl Hudson of Just Us Books
Presentations with Cheryl Willis Hudson, author of My Friend Maya Loves to Dance and Songs I Love to Sing; Wade Hudson, author of It’s Church Going Time and Feeling II Love to Share;

Calvin Alexander Ramsey, author of Ruth and the Green Book and Belle, the Last Mule at Gee’s Bend; Denise Lewis Patrick, author, Finding Someplace and No Ordinary Sound; Jerry Craft, author/illustrator, Mama’s Boyz and The Offenders: Saving the World While Serving Detention! A book giveaway and group wrap-up closes the program.

Visit them at

All classes are to report to FOUNDERS AUDITORIUM between 9:00- 9:30 AM.

1st & 2nd Graders remain in Founders Auditorium

9:50 AM – 10:20 AM            Presentation, Cheryl Willis Hudson, author, My Friend Maya Loves to Dance and Songs I Love to Sing

10:25 AM – 11:05                 Presentation by Wade Hudson, author, Its Church Going Time and Feelings I Love to Share

3rd, 4th & 5th Graders convene in Edison O. Jackson Auditorium

9:50 AM – 10:20 AM            Presentation, Calvin Alexander Ramsey, author, Ruth and the Green Book and Belle, the Last Mule at Gee’s Bend

10:25 AM – 11:00 AM          Presentation, Denise Lewis Patrick, author, Finding Someplace and No Ordinary Sound

1st & 2nd Graders are Rejoined with 3rd, 4th & 5th Graders- Founders Auditorium

11:15 AM – 12:00                 Presentation, Jerry Craft, author/illustrator, Mama’s Boyz; The Offenders: Saving the World While Serving Detention!

12:05 PM                               Book giveaway & Wrap-up


1 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Coordinated by Nina Angela Mercer

Founders Auditorium
1650 Bedford Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11225

Limited space must be confirmed BEFORE arrival.

Poets Jennifer Cendaña Armas, Mo Beasley, and Monique “Orisha Love” Letamendi will perform their poetry for students before facilitating writing and performance workshops. The workshops will explore such themes as place, identity, and social justice. Workshop participants will write their own poems. They will be encouraged to perform their poems in a closing cypher.

Noon –12:20 p.m.

Students assemble into auditorium and break into groups.

12:20 p.m. – 1 p.m.
Performances by Jennifer Cendaña Armas, Mo Beasley, and Monique “Orisha Love” Letamendi

1:10 p.m. –2:30 p.m.
Writing and performance, break-out workshops

2:40 p.m. –3:15 p.m.
Closing cypher (student-centered performances)



Visit them online at

NBWC Film Series
Founders Auditorium
Medgar Evers College
1650 Bedford Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11225

11 a.m.–5 p.m.
Featured Films

“The Long Night” by Woodie King Jr. (1976, 90 minutes; 11:00 a.m. -12:30 p.m.; panel, 12:30–1:15 p.m.)
One night in the life of a young boy on the street, encountering the denizens of mid-1970s Harlem and commenting on the life of an American family.

“August Wilson: The Ground on Which I Stand” by Sam Pollard (2015; 1:30 p.m.– 3 p.m.; panel, 3-3:45 p.m.)
This documentary focuses on August Wilson, the most prolific playwright of the last half of the 20th century. It features Unprecedented access to Wilson’s theatrical archives, rarely seen interviews and new dramatic readings that bring to life his seminal 10-play cycle chronicling a century of African-American life. Wilson won two Pulitzer Prizes for Drama.

BREAK 3:45 p.m. 

4:00 p.m. – 4:45 (panel 4:45- 5:45 p.m.) 
Film Shorts
“Outta My Name” Director/Writer Cathleen Campbell
A woman who’s ridiculed for her unusual name unexpectedly discovers the power of truly connecting with another person.

“Bird” Director Booker T. Mattison
The story of a college track star training for the Olympics who is accused of a crime.

“My Home” Director/Producer: Denise Khumalo
A story about an African woman’s struggle to keep her traditions and customs alive while living in an increasingly Western world.

 “Across the Tracks” Director, Co-writer, Cinematographer/DP, Editor: Michael Cooke

Two African-American sisters grow up in 1960s Georgia. But one is born with fair skin and when schools integrate, she decides to change her destiny—by passing for white.

BREAK: 5 p.m.–6 p.m.

 Special Event!

Rita Dove1 jpeg

Hosted by Cheryl Wills

Anchor and senior reporter for New York One News.

Rita Dove, Honorary Chair of the 13th National Black Writers Conference. A conversation and readings on the state of poetry in today’s society. Featured poets include Rita Dove, Rowan Ricardo Phillips, and Afaa Michael Weaver among others.


*Starred names denote confirmed participants; ** denotes tentative

Linda Michelle Baron, Emcee

10 a.m.–11:30 a.m.

  • “Afrofuturism: Reimagining the Past, Present and Future”

The genre Afrofuturism emerged in the last two decades and is related to the term coined in 1992 by cultural critic Mark Dery. In his essay “Black to the Future,” Dery describes it as an African diasporic cultural and literary movement whose thinkers and artists see science, technology, and science fiction as a means of exploring the Black experience.” Author Walter Mosley, who also wrote an essay on “Black to the Future,” notes that this genre speaks clearly to the dissatisfied through its power to imagine the first step in changing the world. Panelists will discuss how these genres are represented in the literature produced by Black writers.

Moderator: Kiini Ibura Salaam
Panelists:*Nnedi Okorafor and *Sheree Renée Thomas.

11:45 a.m.–1:15 p.m.

  1. “Decoded: Hip-Hop and Youth Culture”

Elements of poetry and creative wordplay figure prominently in the language of hip-hop and in the various ways today’s youth express themselves.  In what ways is hip-hop culture connected to literature and the works of pioneering Black writers? In what ways can hip-hop raise awareness of the African-American literary canon? What are some of the components that would comprise a hip-hop literary movement? These are just a few of the questions that the panelists will address during this conversation.

Moderator: Joan Morgan
Panelists: *MK Asante, *Joan Morgan, *Marcyliena Morgan, *David Kirkland, and *James Peterson

Lunch 1:15 p.m.–2 p.m.

2 p.m.–3:30 p.m.

  1. “Creating Dangerously: Courage and Resistance in the Literature of Black Writers”

In Edwidge Danticat’s acclaimed book Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work, the author explores the passions and the tribulations that writers and artists face in their roles as chroniclers of cultural and political events and as the voices of opposition that strive to be heard under oppressive circumstances. In this discussion, the panelists will talk about the ways literature sheds light on the risks writers take when working under challenging cultural and political situations. They will also discuss the manner in which individual and collective truths are presented in those works for readers to interpret.

Moderator: Victoria Chevalier
Panelists: *Edwidge Danticat and *Charles Johnson

3:45 p.m.–5 p.m.

  1. “The Politics of Race and Gender in the Literature of Black Writers”

In the age of President Obama, one prevailing question that comes to mind is this: Is the country more racially divided or less racially divided than it was 15 or 20 years ago? Have women honestly made significant strides in traditionally male-dominated fields? Narratives written and published today that focus on racial and gender challenges are emerging heavily in the fiction and creative nonfiction works by Black writers. How do the works of these writers impact the conversations about race in America? In this panel, the writers will discuss some of the key components in literary as well as academic writings that address issues of race and gender and examine whether the works impact the way people view race and gender.

Moderator: Wallace Ford
Panelists: *Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, **Paul Beatty, *Cora Daniels

5:15 p.m.  Videotape Presentation “Between the World and Me” and Ta-Nehisi Coates
Talkback moderated by Todd Craig


6:45 p.m.– 8 p.m. awards program – PRESENTATION TO HONOREES
Open To The General Public. Suggested Donation $10. (Included in conference registration.)

Hosted by Indira Etwaroo, PhD
Executive Director
Center for Arts & Culture, Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation

Rita Dove – Honorary Chair
Edwidge Danticat
Woodie King Jr.
Michael Eric Dyson
Charles Johnson

8 p.m.–9:30 p.m. Jazz program & benefit reception


Skylite Café
1638 Bedford Ave., 2nd FL
Donation $100
Tickets Available

Performance by Dasan Ahanu and Tai Allen, accompanied by Brooklyn Jazz Consortium, performing the works of Gil Scott-Heron and Oscar Brown Jr. and others.


SPECIAL! Register for two (2) Talkshops and receive %15 off ticketed price!

Enter Promo Code: like2talkshop

Register NOW!

 Session I
Talkshops: 10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.:

  1. Book Proposals: Regina Brooks – Room B2008- Norma B. Johnson Lecture Hall

Regina BooksIf 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.

  1. Poetry: Keisha-Gaye Anderson – Room B1023

Keisha-Gaye Anderson jpegThis talkshop will explore how memory—actual, imagined and re-imagined—is used in African American poetics to witness, communicate and construct collective realities, while also serving as a call to activism and social change. Through close examination of language, structure, form and other devices used within selected poems from the African American literary tradition, workshop participants will become familiar with approaches to this craft that focus on powerfully commemorating, documenting, and witnessing subjective and collective struggle endemic to the black experience. Participants will employ this understanding in creating their own poems for sharing with other workshop participants.


3. 10:30 a.m.–11:30 a.m.- Fiction: Victor LaValle  –     Room B1025   **Time changed from noon.

Victor LaValle photo_w-name
You want to write a novel, but as you’ve learned easier said than done. While inspiration and enthusiasm are great they don’t help you figure out how to organize all those pages you’ve written. We’ll discuss basic questions about how novels are structured, how to map out the motivations of your characters, how to identify (or create) a good antagonist, how to create a dramatically interesting narrative for the reader to follow and more. This is going to be a talk about the mechanics of a novel, nuts-and-bolts stuff.

Session II

4. 12:00 p.m.––2:30 p.m. – AALBC Publishing Workshop – Room: B2008- Norma B. Johnson Lecture Hall

Troy Johnson jpegWorkshop on fundamentals dealing with  various aspects of the publishing process, focusing on practical elements such as editing, promotion, book production, distribution presented by AABLC (African American Literature Book Club) with Troy Johnson, Carol Taylor, and Earl Cox. Visit them at


Location: Founders Auditorium
12:00 –1:15 p.m.

  1. “Creative Writing Programs and Writers of Color: Current and Future Trends”

This roundtable on creative writing programs and workshops is an outgrowth of the essays, conversations, and concerns of writers of color in MFA programs and writing workshops.

Very few writing workshops focus on writers of color and both Junot Diaz and Honoree Fannone Jeffers have recently written essays on the lack of diversity in these programs and workshops. Students and workshops participants in creative writing programs make up a part of our audience. The discussion will focus on topics such as: Do MFA programs and writing workshops offer safe spaces for writers of color and are writers of color marginalized in these programs and workshops?; and how can we address these concerns in MFA programs and writing workshops?

Moderator: Donna Hill
Panelists: *Meena Alexander, *Chris Abani, **Cornelius Eady

1:30 p.m.–2:45 p.m.

  1. “Black Writers in the Digital Age”

African-American writers have faced many hurdles in getting their works published. While the Digital Age, or New Media Age, has presented new outlets to submit works, what rewards and risks do the Digital Age offer Black writers? Has the Digital Age broadened the readership of works by Black writers? What are some challenges Black writers face in the new information age? Panelists will explore and examine these questions.

Moderator: Akiba Solomon
Panelists: Paul Miller a.k.a. *DJ Spooky, *Farai Chideya, *ReShonda Tate Billingsley, *Johnny Temple

3 p.m.–4:15 p.m.

  1. “Shaping Memories: The Odyssey to Adulthood”

This panel will address the various themes and moral values captured at historical moments of time in the journey from youth to adulthood. The novels and memoirs by these authors cross several genres and attract a cross-generation of readers.

Moderator:  Cathie Wright-Lewis
Panelists: Coe Booth, *Breena Clarke, *D. Watkins, and *Michael Datcher

4:30 p.m.–6 p.m.

  1. A Conversation with Michael Eric Dyson and Khalil Gibran Muhammad,

“Writing Race, Embracing Difference”

Michael Eric Dyson Photo Credit: Nina-Subin

In an essay titled “Writing Race in America,” which appeared in the “Chronicle of Higher Education,” on March 10, 2014, David Wright, a Black writer and associate professor of creative writing at the University of Illinois, Urbana, argues that creative writing teachers should not allow their students to avoid the difficult subject of race. Wright’s argument is based on the premise that race is socially constructed, is very much present in America, and that contrary to what people may assert about living in a postracial society, we live in a fully racial one.  This premise guides the conversation that will be held between Dr. Michael Eric Dyson and Dr. Khalil Gibran Muhammad.

For more information about The Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College, and the Center’s events and programs, please call 718-804-8883 or e-mail:

Search “Center for Black Literature” on

Major funding provided by the National endowment for the Arts, CUNY Office of Academic Affairs, and ConEdison.

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