Today was my first day at the National Black Writers’ Conference. I started writing this post while listening to Edwidge Danticat give an excellent response during a Q&A. It’s alwasy inspiring to sit and listen to wonderful writers sharing, laughing with the group, calling out the harder truths.
Differences from last time? So many women! In the audience, on the panels, moderating. Excellent. And, even better, (so far) no woman-bashing. And folks from all over the place: England, Ohio, Pennsylania, Georgia, Canada, Germany, Tennesse … this is definitely a more national (and international) conference than it was when I was here the first time.
Panel discussions this year are far-reaching and thought-provoking: “The Impact of Hip-Hop and Popular Culture on the Literature of Black Writers,” “The Black Writer as Literary Activist,” “Shifting Identities: The Black Writer in the African Diaspora,” “Black Writers Reconstructing the Master Narrative,” “The Impact of the Internet: Blogging, Publishing and Writing.” There are readings, music performances, a school-age program (which was yesterday and included the wonderfully talented Zetta Elliot). Sonia Sanchez, Colson Whitehead, Amiri Baraka, Gil Scott-Heron, Talib Kweli and (the heart-stoppingly-awesome) Toni Morrison are all going to be here.
It’s only my first day, and I’m already feeling the effects. Something about these kinds of conversations always makes me happy. I probably won’t be one of the people who gets up during a Q&A and furthers the dialogue by adding my question — that’s not how I process, I need time to let things sink in — but I’m loving every minute of the listening, looking forward to taking everything home and carefully savoring each bit.
Check out the rest of the slices of life over at Stacey and Ruth’s.