Queer African Diaspora: Radical Literature & Performance in These Times

Participants: Yvonne Fly Onakeme Etaghene, Kagendo Murungi and Ola Osaze

This panel honors the magical artwork and activism of Queer Africans within and outside Africa, and will center ways Queer African liberation movements are using media (particularly literature and performance) to share their stories, create safe spaces, organize and build intra-African collaboration and global allyship. What are Queer African diasporic identities? What does Queer African diasporic organizing and transcontinental art-making look like? How does traveling between one’s country of origin and the country immigrated to (within or outside of Africa) impact these identities? How does media (e.g., art, and, more specifically, literature and performance) impact, answer and challenge these questions?


Diversify Your Portfolio: Managing Your Career and Practicing Your Craft

Participants: Sheree L. Greer and Fiona Zedde

Diversifying Your Portfolio offers strategies, best practices and tools to manage your writing career and practice your craft, both essential aspects of developing a successful and fulfilling career as an artist. The workshop is an interactive, discussion-based workshop designed to challenge writers and poets in their thinking and approach to their careers. The workshop includes a presentation highlighting tools for self-publishing, querying major publishers, and creating an online presence. There will be take-away materials provided as well as introductions to online resources such as HootSuite, Submission Management tools and techniques, and WriteorDie.


Dig: Queer Archeologies

Moderator: Alexis Pauline Gumbs

Panelists: Lisa C. Moore, Jonathan Bailey, Julia Roxanne Wallace and Zanele Muholi

This is a conversation for those of us who dig; those of us interested in the dirt of black LGBTQ life, love and survival; those of us discovering and offering up an archive of experience that has been buried under oppression and misrecognition. When we hold black LGBTQ lives up to the yellow light of the photographer’s bulb, the red light of the digital recording device, the bright brown light of our faces, something changes. This conversation between people who search for and document the evidence of our existence as a resource for our continued brilliance may leave you dirty, but such is the layered quality of our love. Please join us for a public conversation between black LGBTQ archivists, researchers, oral historians and documentarians and an experiential archive activity.


Fire in the Belly: Witnessing, Writing and Thought Leadership on the Web

Moderator: Dr. Herukhuti

Panelists: Nathan James, Linda Villarosa and D. Andrea Jenkins

Social media has had an increasing presence in social movements, organizing and citizen journalism. The art of social commentary and critique on the web using text, images and video raises important and challenging questions about the nature, methods and impact of traditional and contemporary forms of activism in the 21st century. In this panel session, Black lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender thought leaders will share their experiences, lessons learned and challenges in witnessing and writing on the web. Through conversation with each other and the audience, the panelists will explore the craft of short form writing, ethical and ideological questions they confront in their work and the standards they use to evaluate the quality of their work.


Getting It Out: Producing and Publishing Our Stories

Moderator: Akhaji Zakiya

Panelists: Steven G. Fullwood, Lisa C. Moore and Fiona Zedde

Unlike never before Black LGBT stories, particularly books, film and web series, can be shared with our communities around the world to bear witness and advance visibility and human rights. This interactive session uses lively discussion, audience interaction, projected visuals and video to reimagine the possibilities for increasing visibility of Black LGBT stories on pages and screens. Participants will engage an intergenerational panel of writers, publishers and media producers to explore: 1) How our communities are evolving with the development of creative media outlets such as YouTube, Amazon’s Createspace and other self-publishing tools; 2) How we can better connect and share our stories while advocating for LGBT rights; 3) Which marketing and promotional techniques are most effective for increasing awareness about our work; 4) What stories still need to be told; and 4) What are the creative possibilities for our self-expression? Participants will leave the session with a deeper understanding of how they can create, market and distribute their work using new and traditional creative media.


Multiplying Personalities: The Writer Witnessing Self and the Many Characters We Create

Moderator: G. Winston James

Panelists: Ana-Maurine Lara, Marvin K. White and Charles Rice-González

How do we filter the array of historical and contemporary literary and media influences and develop our own uniquely resonant writer’s voice? Further, how do we do this for the range of our characters and works—rendering them not only distinct from one another, but from us as writers and narrators? How much is literary voice and character development dependent on our experiences (personal history, geography and culture) and how much is it a matter of research, listening (borrowing) or outright creation? This panel of poets and novelists will share brief selections of their work and discuss how they were influenced by other writers/artists, but managed to hone their own creative voices and apply this skill in the development of their characters and work.


Poets as Witness

Moderator: Reginald Harris

Panelists: J.P. Howard, Phillip B. Williams, Bettina Judd and Rickey Laurentiis

What relationship does the working writer have to the past? What part in shaping the present – and the future? Four emerging poets discuss the role of “witnessing” in their work and their lives.


Reconstructing Audre Lorde: An exercise in love and memory

Moderator: Linda Villarosa

Panelists: Clara Villarosa and Dr. Gloria I. Joseph

This session will look at the making of the new book, The Wind Is Spirit: The Life, Love and Legacy of Audre Lorde. A hybrid memoir-anthology, the book is written by Dr. Gloria I. Joseph, Audre Lorde’s partner in the last decade of her life. Linda and Clara Villarosa, the publishers of The Wind Is Spirit, will join Dr. Joseph to talk about how they put together the book Audre asked Gloria to write. Rather than a re-writing of history or a re-telling of familiar anecdotes, Gloria brings the past alive and reveals parts of Audre Lorde’s life that are new to readers, painting a fresh portrait of the flesh-and-blood woman she knew intimately for so long.


The Revival: Church of the Traveling Queer

Presenters: Jade Foster, t’ai freedom ford, Sekiya Dorsett and Eli Turner; moderator Natasha Miller

Via this interactive multimedia panel, we intend to present a how-to manual of sorts: How to create, produce and promote a literary tour. How to survive nine cities in eight days with seven women in one van. How to document the process and make a movie. Jade Foster, the Revival mastermind, will discuss aspects relative to organizing and fundraising. t’ai freedom ford will share insights as an artist and as creative director, responsible for booking talent for the last tour. Eli Turner will highlight logistics of the tour as road manager. And Sekiya Dorsett, the filmmaker, will discuss making the documentary.


Worlds Fall Away: A Roundtable on Black Queer Experimental Writing

Presenters: Samiya Bashir, Tisa Bryant, Alexis De Veaux, Duriel E. Harris, John Keene and Rosamond S. King

Samiya Bashir and Tisa Bryant convene a roundtable discussion about experimental work made by Black queer writers. Come consider: When we talk about experimental writing, is our focus the work itself or the process? Are they even separable? Is Black queer writing an inherently experimental expression of a radical imagination? Does the relationship between the written word and the word in performance relate to ideas of experimentation? Why experiment with form and structure? To make the world fall away, or to call a new one into being?  If we are to go the way our blood beats, why do so few seem to claim this particular drum? What’s the risk for those who do?