Tellin’ the Truth Lyin’

Presenter: Ana-Maurine Lara

In this three-part workshop, we will engage Zora Neale Hurston’s work to think through how we bear witness to our communities, how we tell the truth lyin’. We will then create new work based on the principles we have identified as central to telling the truth lyin’. And, finally, we will put our work in conversation with Zora and with each other. This workshop aims to honor and build on the legacy of Zora by creating a space to witness Black (queer) life, and the richness of our creative and intellectual worlds.


Spirit Speak: Writing with the Ancestors

Presenters: Khi Armand and Langston Kahn

In this workshop, we’ll explore the role that the unconscious plays in human creativity. Drawing on West African and Black American wisdom traditions while giving a nod to the sacred roles that LGBTQ, gender-variant, and same-gender loving people have embodied in cultures around the world, we will create a space of communal affirmation of giftedness and a safe container for expression of memory and subjective experience. Within this space, participants will learn techniques of automatic writing, dream recall, divination, sacred space-making and seership for intentionally connecting to the wells of inspiration whose waters rise up in our lives and writing. Through the cultivation of intuitive senses and the exploration of methods for tapping unconscious reserves of stories and images, participants will be equipped to move through creative blocks, take their work to deeper places, and gain a glimpse of the healing journey their craft is leading them on.


Translating Black LGBTQ Writing: Expanding the Global Conversation

Presenter: John Keene

This workshop will explore the process of selection, translation and publication of non-Anglophone Black LGBTQ writing from across the globe, in order to expand our conversation about Black LGBTQ lives and cultures. In addition to presentations of translated works, the workshop will encourage participants to discuss and propose works for future translation, and strategize about ways to increase translations of Black LGBTQ translated writing in the U.S. and across the Anglophone world.



Presenter: Ashley Young

Biomythography is a combination of biography, culture and myth: biography is the story of the writer and myths are our stories of origin. We live by the myths we are given and the ones we create; we create myths to understand what we cannot explain. This has added meaning as a queer person of color. This workshop will explore writing biomythography through a three-step process: imagining to remember (to explore memory), dreaming to transform (to explore the subconscious) and re-imagining to create (to explore inventing identity). Participants will execute these steps through writing exercises and will be asked to share some of their work or their experience of the process.


Birdwatching: Witnessing the Creative

Presenter: Laura Harris

Bearing witness to the world can inspire creativity and just as often depress the creative flow. Sometimes witnessing the world is tremendously stress inducing, and can paralyze creativity. Black queer artists must seek space where creative rejuvenation may be found; to genuinely connect with nature may offer creative insight into our daily, temporal worlds. When bearing witness in the world is unproductive, a turn to witnessing the natural world through birdwatching can often inspire faith, humor, insight and creative juices. In this workshop participants engage in a birdwatching walk as a form of creative meditation motivated by the “eye” of the “I.”


Blogging for HIV Transcendence

Presenters: Tabias Wilson and Francisco White

This workshop explores the unique role and opportunity of queer, HIV-positive (poz) bloggers and digital writers of color during this period of concurrent sociopolitical movements (i.e., trans* equality, resistance to the prison industrial complex / war on drugs / HIV criminalization, and widespread response to systemic racism / Black Lives Matter, etc.). Facilitators will cover how to effectively share our truths, digital presence and branding, as well as effectively cultivate relationships with publications and movements.


How to Witness Your Own Work: Developing a Reading or Performance Style

Presenter: Rosamond S. King

You, the author, are the most important witness for your own work. Reading in public is an opportunity to literally give voice to your writing. Whether you write narrative poetry, experimental fiction or even scholarly prose, this interactive workshop will provide an introduction to the basic elements of reading literature out loud, and will expose you to a range of different performance styles. Writers should bring one page of their own work (10-20 lines of poetry or 200-400 words of prose) and should be ready to use their voice and body. Open to writers of all levels; all abilities welcome.


Queer Blood Relations: The Thickness of Witness

Presenters: Alexis De Veaux, Alexis Pauline Gumbs and Julia Roxanne Wallace

This is a workshop where we remember that we are related and witness each other on literal and literary terms. As an intergenerational team we will help participants map a lineage of texts that have allowed us to feel related, even when we faced isolation, and create a generative space for new texts that practice the life-saving work of witness and transformation. Using Alexis De Veaux’s Yabo and Alexis Pauline Gumbs’s Spill as grounding texts, this workshop will invite participants to write poems of witness for each other, testify to the queer blood connections that have made us possible, and prescribe each other life-changing literary texts. We will celebrate the family-reunion atmosphere of Fire & Ink and examine what models of being related we want to uplift and what models we want to transform.


The Black Body

Presenter: Reginald Harris

The Black Body: loved and feared, desired and reviled, under surveillance and looked upon with lust. With such contradictory impulses toward our selves, both inside and outside our community, how can we write honestly about our bodies? This workshop looks at various ways in which black LGBTQ poets have explored the body in their work, with a special emphasis on the erotic, using these poets’ themes and processes to generate ideas and structures for our own practice.


The Only Way to Write a Novel

Presenter: Yvonne Fly Onakeme Etaghene

There’s a story you love; a character you adore or can’t stand; a moment you’re fascinated by; a concept that captivates you. How do you transform the scenes, ideas and characters in your head into an exquisite, profound novel that you’re proud of? In this workshop, Yvonne Fly Onakeme Etaghene will share lessons and specific tools she learned in the process of writing her first novel, For Sizakele. This workshop will focus on the writing process, editing, character development, plot outlines, the importance of discipline, and how to answer that ever haunting and persistent question: how do you know when your novel is done?


Voyeur: Giving (In)Credible Testimony to the Act of Sex

Presenter: G. Winston James

At some point or another many of us are challenged to write a scene that involves the erotic. But when and where does the act of sex begin if not in thought and in the mind? Where and when does it end? Beyond the mechanics of thrust and groan, of licking and size and moisture, this workshop will explore how sex can be written in such a way that it credibly transcends the flesh while enhancing our characters and enriching the creative work as a whole.


Writing/Embodying Biography

Presenter: Djola Branner

One of the most powerful ways for queer folk of African descent to witness each other’s lives is writing and performing our own stories. In writing our experiences, we document and revere them; in performing our experiences, we invite memory to reside within our marrow, and reflect and build community. This three-hour workshop remedies the historical absence of LGBTQ black folk from the American stage by inviting participants to explore and dramatize autobiographical and biographical experience. Through writing and performance, we will identify and employ approaches to scripting and staging original drama that reflect and amplify our unique experiences as queer folks of color.


Your History Is Your Legacy

Presenters: Steven G. Fullwood and Shawn(ta) Smith

This workshop is a hands-on session for writers and publishers who are interested in arranging and organizing their writings, their drafts, and, of course, their personal, organization or business records. You will learn how to survey your collections, get advice on best practices for preservation, and how to be an advocate for endangered collections. A discussion on when to discard, when to keep, when to print, when to scan, and how to manage digital copies will hopefully inform the participants’ current practices, as well as develop new ones.


Hearing Voices: Creating Dynamic Plays

Presenter: Jewelle Gomez

The sound of our voices carries the stories of our happiness and loss, our triumph and tragedies. And, like poetry, the silence between these sounds also speaks loudly. This workshop will focus on the seed elements that bring these voices alive. We’ll practice developing characters, creating dramatic tension, and making your people sound like themselves. We’ll do writing exercises that build upon each other to create a successful scene. Prep: Write down five to ten sentences you’ve overheard between two random people, and a physical description of those people, and bring to the workshop.


Making Screenwriting Our Own

Presenter: Langston Kahn
Screenwriting can sometimes intimidate writers who are otherwise confident creating across a multitude of other genres and forms. The goal of this workshop is to create a safe, nurturing space to dip our toes into the waters of screenwriting and get comfortable. We will review the basics of screenwriting format, read some well-crafted scenes from screenplays and look at a few examples of how queer folks of color have crafted new (or very old) narrative structures to tell stories that might not easily fit into western structures. We will then explore a few ways to use characters and conflict to create compelling story structure and write and share some scenes with each other. Let’s all learn from each other and re-claim this uniquely visual medium to tell our own stories.

Literary Stretches

Presenter: Marvin K. White

For the uninitiated to the world of literary conferences and for the ones who return to these opportunities of learning and sharing, we offer a pre-workshop “Morning Literary Stretch” led by Marvin K. White. Consider this yoga, the gym, meditation, stretching and centering before the day’s events. Full of fun and reflection-filled, pencil and pen moving exercises and imaginings, this time is reserved for blood pumping and mind opening, to energize and welcome you into the day.