The 12th National Black Writers Conference – 4 Day Program & Special Events

The Center for Black Literature would like to thank all the attendees, participants, volunteers, and supporters of the Twelfth National Black Writers Conference (NBWC). Your participation made this year a huge success.

See panel discussions from this year’s conference on CSPAN’s Book TV.

The Center for Black Literature hosts National Black Writers Conference (the 3-4 day conference) every even year and the NBWC Biennial Symposium (one day) every odd year. Learn More


The Twelfth National Black Writers Conference: Reconstructing the

Master Narrative

Sponsored by the Center for Black Literature

Medgar Evers College, CUNY


Thursday, March 27, 2014 to

Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Twelfth National Black Writers Conference will provide writers, scholars, literary professionals, students, and the general public with a forum for engaging in dynamic and spirited conversations, panel discussions, readings, workshops, and performances on themes related to Reconstructing the Master Narrative.

See Conference Overview for full description.

Conference Location:

Medgar Evers College, CUNY

1650 Bedford Ave.

Brooklyn, NY 11225


Conference Rates:


Until March 21, 2014

4 days – General $80 $65
4 day – Student/ Senior/ Faculty $45 $30
1 day – General $35 $25
1 day – Student/ Senior/ Faculty $25 $15


Register NOW!


Honorary Chair

Myrlie Evers-Williams


2014 NBWC Honorees

Maryse Condé

Walter Mosley

Quincy Troupe

Derek Walcott

Margaret Burroughs


Thursday, March 27

Friday, March 28

Saturday, March 29

Sunday, March 30


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.]

  • Edison O. Jackson Auditorium –1st Floor
  • Room L11-1st 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

Location: Rotunda, Medgar Evers College

  Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Opens 3 PM 10 AM 9:30 AM 9:30 AM
Closes 4:30 PM 8 PM *6 PM 4 PM

*Times subject to adjust based on need.

  • If you pre-registered online, please bring your bar-coded confirmation 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.

Click Here to See Pre –Conference and Youth Centered Events


12th National Black Writers Conference Program

Exact locations of specific events, where not presently listed, will be posted by March 27, 2014.


Thursday, March 27, 2014 – Day 1


3:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Elders Writing Program

Location: Founders Auditorium, Medgar Evers College – 1650 Bedford Ave.

Members of the Elders Writers Workshop Presentation, Sponsored by JOK Workshop and Poets & Writers.


6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

2014 NBWC Poetry Cafe

Location: Central Brooklyn Public Library, Dweck Center

(lower level)

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. RSVP Now!



Friday, March 28, 2014 – Day 2

10 a.m.

Tour of African Burial Ground

This Tour is FREE to all interested conference registrants and the general public. RSVP is required via the NBWC to attend.



From about the 1690s until 1794, both free and enslaved Africans were buried in a 6.6-acre burial ground in Lower Manhattan, outside the boundaries of the settlement of New Amsterdam, later known as New York.

Learn more about this national monument at:

Limited to 60 people; tour led by T. Rasul Murray

290 Broadway, N.Y.

This event is open to the public.


NBWC Registration is NOT required.




12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Films Celebrating Activism in Black Literature

Location: Founders Auditorium, Medgar Evers College

NBWC Registration required.



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.


Film Series Schedule

Section I: Short Films

12 noon – 1:30 p.m.


Urban Lullaby   

Director/Producer: Sonia Gonzalez-Martinez

Length: 8 min.; Category: Narrative

Synopsis: A stressed-out artist is at the breaking point in her noisy Bronx neighborhood.


Why Do You Have Black Dolls? 

Director: Samantha Knowles

Length: 25 min.; Category: Documentary

Why Do You Have Black Dolls?explores the history, beauty, and pride that is the Black doll. Through its characters, the film reveals that the Black doll is more than a plaything; it is a cultural artifact that represents the history of the people it depicts.


Danger Word

Director: Luchina Fisher; Producers: Tananarive Due and Luchina Fisher

Writers: Steven Barnes and Tananarive Due

Length: 18 min.

A 13-year-old girl and her grandfather, hiding in a wooden cabin after a plague, meet the challenge of their lives when her birthday trip to a trading post goes horribly awry. Stars Frankie Faison and Saoirse Scott. Nominated for best narrative short film at the Bronze Lens Film Festival and Pan African Film Festival. Danger Word is based on the YA horror novel Devil’s Wake, which Steven Barnes coauthored with his wife and collaborator, Tananarive Due


Ocoee: Legacy of the Election Day Massacre

Director: Bianca M. White

Length: 27 min.; Category: Documentary

In the early 20th century, Ocoee was home to one of Florida’s most prosperous African-American communities. On Election Day 1920, Mose Norman and July Perry attempted to vote and the African- American community was erased from Ocoee’s history until now.


The Black Cage

Director: Crystle Clear Roberson; Producers: Dianne Ashford, Latisha Fortune

Length: 11 min.; Category: Experimental

Synopsis: What would you do if you woke up trapped? Confined behind a locked door in a mysterious metal cage with no recollection of where you are or how you got there? The reality is that many people wake up in the cage every day without even realizing it. They hold the key to their own Black cage but are too nervous to release themselves from their own restricted misery. The film stars award-winning actor Mykelti Williamson (Forrest Gump).


1:30 p.m. – 1: 55 .pm. – Break


Section II:  Featured Films

 2 p.m. – 4:10 p.m.


Harriet Returns

Director:  Marquis Smalls

Producers: Tamu Favorite and Marquis Smalls

Length: 9 min.; Category: Narrative

Synopsis: Harriet Returns is a short film where Harriet Tubman urgently returns to modern times to emancipate young wannabe rappers who use the “N” word as term of endearment. She believes they have enslaved themselves.


12 Years A Slave: Solomon Northup’s Odyssey

Director: Gordon Parks; Category: Narrative

Length: 116 minutes

12 Years A Slave: Solomon Northup’s Odyssey directed by Gordon Parks was released in 1984 by PBS’American Playhouse as a television movie. Based on the true story of Solomon Northup, a free Black man who was kidnapped in 1841 and sold into slavery. The film stars actor Avery Brooks as Northup. After first airing on PBS, the film was later released on video under the title Half Slave, Half Free.


4:15 pm-5:30 pm


12 Years A Slave: Freeing Our Minds, Freeing Our Souls

Filmmakers, scholars, and writers discuss the historical significance of Solomon Northup’s compelling and brutal firsthand account of slavery as an institution and address the narratives presented in the two films inspired by his memoir.

Moderator: Michel Marriott

Guests: Barbara Krauthamer, Marquis Smalls, Janay Shabazz, and Herb Boyd


6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

A Conversation with Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott

“The Search for Self in Caribbean Literature: Past, Present, and Future.”

Location: Founders Auditorium

This event is open to the public.

$10 Donation



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.

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9:00 p.m.

2014 NBWC Concert: Words Meet Music

Jazz concert featuring pianist Onaje Allan Gumbs and recording artists and poets Dasan Ahanu and Tai Allen, and Abiodun Oyewole of The Last Poets.

Venue: Olivia

1073 Atlantic Ave. [ at Franklin Avenue]

Brooklyn, New York 11238

This event is open to the public.

$10 Donation

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Saturday, March 29, 2014 – Day 3

Note: The Main Program & Reading Series run concurrently.


Main Program

Panels and Roundtable Discussions 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Location: Founders Auditorium

Emcees: Patrick Oliver and Leroy Baylor

You must be registered for the conference to attend all panels.


10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

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 Hendricks



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



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

Founders Auditorium

Mistress of Ceremonies Cheryl Wills




Dr. Margaret T. Burroughs — Ida B. Wells Institutional Leadership Award 2014

Maryse Conde —Toni Morrison Award 2014

Walter Mosley — Richard Wright Award 2014

Quincy Troupe — Gwendolyn Brooks Award 2014

Derek Walcott — W. E. B. Du Bois Award 2014


7 p.m. — 10 p.m.

Center for Black Literature Tenth Anniversary Celebration and Fund-raiser

Skylight Café (Second Floor)

Academic Complex Building (AB1)  

1638 Bedford Ave.

Brooklyn, NY 11225

Mistress of Ceremonies MK Lewis


Poets Quincy Troupe, Cheryl Boyce-Taylor, and Tyehimba Jess, Staceyann Chin, Hermina Marcellin, and T. Rasul Murray, 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 National Black Writers Conference will also honor former New York Assemblyman Albert Vann and pay tribute to the late Major Owens and Amiri Baraka.

Must be paid in advance. Find out how on our Registration page. Tickets will be available in the Registration Area until capacity
is reached or until 6:00 PM.
Payment will not be accepted at the door.
Donation Rates:
$100 – Donations can be made at:
$60 for conference goers registered for 4 days
A reduced admission is available to those who register
for the full conference.
Register today to receive the promo code.


The NBWC Conference Reading Series 12:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Location: Edison O. Jackson Auditorium, Medgar Evers College

Academic Complex Building (AB1)

1638 Bedford Ave.

Brooklyn, NY 11225

This event is open to the public. RSVP Required.





Author readings sponsored by the African American Literature Book Club, the Brooklyn Literary Council, and the Center for Black Literature. Schedule for Participating Authors:


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

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. Mukoma Wa Ngugi, Black Star Nairobi.


Center for Black Literature

2:15 p.m.–2:40 p.m. Oonya Kempadoo, author of All Decent Animals;

2:40 p.m.–3:05 p.m. Deborah Johnson, author of The Secret of Magic;

3:05 p.m. –3:30 p.m. Kamilah Aisha Moon, author of She Has a Name;

3:30 p.m.–3:55 p.m. Kiese Laymon, author of Long Division;

3:55 p.m.–4:20 p.m. Mitchell Jackson, author of The Residue Years



Sunday, March 30, 2014 – Day 4

Medgar Evers College Campus


Enter like2talkshop and receive 15% off 2 Talkshops!

Session I

Talkshops: 10:00 a.m. 11:30 a.m

  • Creative Nonfiction: asha bandele Room: TBA

Bandele will guide a talkshop that will empower writers to overcome writing blocks and begin the process of developing their own strong personal narratives.


  • Book Proposals: Regina Brooks                         Room: TBA
  • Publishing in the Digital Age: C. Zawadi Morris Room: TBA

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.



Session II

Talkshops: 12:00 p.m. 1:30 p.m.

  • Fiction: Donna Hill Room: TBA

“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.


  • Poetry: Patricia Spears Jones                                     Room: TBA

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.


  • Book Reviews: TBA



Panel Discussions

Emcee: Lindamichelle Baron


12:00 – 1:30 p.m.

Saving Ourselves, Saving Our Communities


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.

Moderator: Jacqueline Brice-Finch; Panelists: Dianne Glave, Tracye Lynn McQuirter, Lauret Savoy


2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.

Reconstructing the Historical Narrative


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.


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


5:30 p.m.

Closing Remarks:

Dr. Brenda Greene, Executive Director, Center for Black Literature



Major Funding Provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, Con Edison, New-York Historical Society