The National Black Writers Conference Bi-Annual Symposium will be held on Saturday, March 28, 2009, 11 AM - 5 PM at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn. This year’s theme is “Celebrating the Life and Work of Octavia E. Butler". Butler is considered a master storyteller in the genre of speculative fiction. Her work explores themes such as race, gender, power, sexism, and spirituality. This symposium is dedicated to exploring her work in particular and the impact of speculative fiction in the literature of Black writers.
"Octavia E. Butler was the first black woman to come to international prominence as a science fiction writer and she has influenced a generation of authors as well as a diverse general public who still eagerly look for her work,” said Dr. Brenda Greene, Conference Director and Executive Director of the Center for Black Literature. “Our celebration of her work and life is a testament to her impact on literature and a fulfillment of our mission to expanding the literary canon."
The program features readings and panels on the world renowned author and her contribution to literary writing. Participating writers include L.A. Banks, Steven Barnes, Tananarive Due and Nnedi Okorafor.
Registration Begins at 10 am.
No pre-registration at this time.
The National Black Writers Bi-Annual Symposium is co-sponsored by the English Department and the Up South International Book Festival and is made possible with support from the New York Council for the Humanities and Barnes and Noble. Our VIP Reception, which is invitation only, is co-sponsored by the Caribbean American Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
11:00 am - 11:15 Welcome & Opening Remarks
11:15 – 12:15 Reflections on Octavia E. Butler: The Woman, The Writer, The Mentor
Steven Barnes, Tananarive Due and Merrillee Heifetz
Facilitated by Linda A. Duggins
12: 15 – 12:45 “The Book of Martha” Reading of Work of Octavia E. Butler- with Marleen Barr
12:45 – 1:15 Book Signing
1:15 - 2:00 Program Lunch Break – Registrants are encouraged to patronize local businesses.
2:15 - 3:30 Panel Discussion- An Exploration of the Themes in the Work of Octavia E. Butler
Moderated by Brenda M. Greene
Zachari J. Curtis
Ibi Aanu Zoboi
3:30 - 5:00 The Presence and Influence of Black Writers in Speculative Fiction
Moderated by Nina Mercer
L.A. Banks and Nnedi Okorafor
5:00 Book signing
Octavia E. Butler
Octavia E. Butler has published essays and short stories and is the author of over 11 novels. She is considered a master storyteller in the genre of speculative fiction and has had an impact on science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Her work explores themes such as race, gender, power, sexism, and spirituality and addresses the human experience and issues of identity in the context of science fiction. For example in her seminal novel, Kindred, Butler explores the abuse of power from the perspective of a black woman who is drawn back to slavery in order to ensure that she and her family survive. The novel focuses on the limits of traditional gender roles as well as racial conflict. Butler’s novels, Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents are cautionary tales about the ways in which society has failed to take care of the earth and in particular the damaging effects of global warming. These novels focus on the rise in crime, gated communities, illiteracy, drugs and class divisions. Lauren, the central character in these sequential novels comes of age and provides a theory for how to survive the negative effects of neglect of the environment. Butler’s Patternmaster series explore what will happen to human kind as a result of nuclear destruction and the presence of extraterrestrial beings. Her last novel, Fledging is a study on how we treat difference and what it means to be the “other.”
Bios of Featured Writers
Leslie Esdaile Banks
L. A. Banks-- is the author of over 20 novels since she began her writing career over a decade ago. Horror is one of her specialties. Some of her works include Bad Moon, Point of No Return, The Beginning and Undead on Arrival. She is also the author of a 12-book horror series--The Vampire Huntress Legend Series. Banks has delved into the paranormal as well with her Stroke of Midnight. It made the New York Times best-seller list in 2004. It was followed by Finders Keepers and its sequel Loser’s Weeper four years lager.. She has also penned a number of crime-suspense novels. They include Betrayal of Trust, Blind Trust and Scarface: The Beginning, Volume I and Scarface: Point of No Return, Volume 2. Banks tried her hand at nonfiction in 2002 and 2003 with Soul Food: For Better For Worse and Soul Food: Through Thick and Thin. She has won several literary awards including the 2008 Essence Literary Awards Storyteller of the Year. Banks has written for magazines, newspapers.Two of the books of her Vampire Hunter Legend Series—Minion and The Awakening were used as the basis for Hollywood films by Gothambeach Entertainment and Griot Entertainment. Banks also founded The Liars Club, a networking group of professionals in entertainment and publishing. She is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania and holds a master’s degree in film and media arts from Temple University. She is currently working on her next book series and lives in Philadelphia with her family.
Steven Barnes is a science fiction writer who has published 23 novels. His Far Beyond the Stars marked the first time an African American published a novel for the “Star Trek” series. His novel The Cestus Deception was similarly the first by an African American for the “Star Wars” series. He also wrote “To See the Invisible Man,” a television script for a 1980s revival of the “Twilight Zone.” He wrote “Fusion” in 1987, a comic mini-series. His novel Lion’s Blood won the 2003 Endeavor. Another of his works, Beowulf’s Children, was a New York Times best seller. He is married to award-winning novelist Tananarive Due. They, along with actor Blair Underwood co-authored In the Heat of the Night, an erotic mystery,which won the 2009 NAACP Image Award. He won an Emmy for “A Stitch in Time,” an episode of the “Outer Limits.” He lectures and does consulting. Barnes majored in communication arts at Pepperdine University and is a licensed hypnotherapist. Martial arts are one of his other passions. A yoga instructor, he holds a black belt in Kenpo Karate and Kodokan Judo and a brown belt in Shorenji Jiu Jitsu. Barnes lives in Los Angeles with his wife, daughter Nicki and son Jason.
Tananarive Due is a journalist and award-winning novelist. She wrote her first novel while working as a columnist for the Miami Herald. It like many of her other works dealt with the supernatural. Her novel My Soul to Keep was nominated for a Bram Stoker Award for Best Novel. In 1995 she penned The Between and The Good House and Joplin’s Ghost in 2003 and 2005 respectively. She has also written a number of short stories. Due was also a contributor to the mystery-thriller novel Naked Came the Manatee. The daughter of civil rights activist Patricia Stevens Due, Due has also delved into history and politics. She wrote The Black Rose in 2000, a historical novel about Madam C. J. Walker which was nominated for an NAACP Image Award. In 2003 Due collaborated with her mother in writing Freedom in the Family: A Mother-Daughter Memoir of the Fight for Civil Rights. A Florida native, Due has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from Northwestern University. She also has a master’s degree in English literature, with an emphasis on Nigerian literature, from the University of Leeds. She is married to Steve Barnes and she and her husband reside in Glendora, California.
Nnedi Okorafor is an award-winning writer who has published numerous novels, short stories and essays. The daughter of Nigerian immigrants, her specialty is fantasy and speculative fiction and African culture. Booklist described her first novel, “Zahrah the Windseeker, as “A welcome addition to a genre sorely in need of more heroes and heroines of color.” Published in 2005, it focuses on Nigerian myths and culture in a modern context. The novel won The Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature and was nominated for numerous other awards. Oakorfor’s next novel, The Shadow Speaker, based on her doctoral dissertation, is set in Niger in 2070. It was the Winter 2007-2008 Booksense Pick. Okorafor’s children’s book, Long Juju Man won the MacMillian Writer’s Prize for Africa. Her short stories have been published in a number of magazines and anthologies. They include Strange Horizons, Moondance magazine and Writers of the Future Volume XVIII. Her story “Amphibious Green won the 2001 Hurston/Wright literary award. Okorafor has a Ph D from the University of Illinois and is a professor of creative writing at Chicago State University. She resides with her family in the Chicago suburbs.
Sunday, March 29, 2009, 5pm
The Visionary Work of Tananarive Due
Join Up South, Inc. in partnership with the Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College, CUNY as we celebrate TANANARIVE DUE, One of America’s finest contemporary authors of fiction and nonfiction and winner of the 2009 NAACP Image Award.
Faison’s Firehouse Theater
6 Hancock Place/124th St
Harlem, NY (Subway A, B, C, D to 125th Street)
General Admission: $10, $5 (for students and seniors ID required)
Click here for more info.
STEVEN BARNES, OPAL ADISA PALMER, and other special guests will read their work and discuss the themes explored in Due’s body of work. A reception and signing will follow. On-site bookseller: Hue Man Bookstore.
The Tenth National Black Writers Conference
Theme- “And Then We Heard the Thunder: Black Writers Reconstructing Memories and Lighting the Way”
Thursday, March 25 – Sunday, March 28, 2010
Medgar Evers College, CUNY
The Center for Black Literature (CBL) at Medgar Evers College is pleased to announce that Nobel Prize winning author, Toni Morrison will be Honorary Chair for the Tenth National Black Writers Conference (NBWC). The conference will feature discussions, youth workshops, talkshops, author readings and signings.
The theme of the Conference, And Then We Heard the Thunder: Black Writers Reconstructing Memories and Lighting the Way is taken from the title of John Oliver Killens’ novel on World War II. It draws upon the concepts of thunder, memory and light as a metaphor for both the historical representation of the literature of Black writers and the representation of new and future directions for contemporary and emerging literary voices.
Toni Morrison is the author of over 16 works of fiction and non fiction. Her works are known for their critical interrogations of American’s past and its relations with Blacks in American culture. The New York Times has named her most recent novel, A Mercy, one of the 10 most notable books of 2008. Dr. Brenda Greene, Executive Director of the CBL says, “Toni Morrison is a living legacy in American and African American literature and we are honored that she has agreed to be a part of this conference.”
Frequently Asked Questions [FAQ’s] about the NBWC:
- How often is the conference held?
In the last 8 years, the NBWC 3 day conference has been held bi-annually, every even year. Equally, the NBWC holds a bi-annual symposium every odd year, which is typically a one day event, and is dedicated to the memory of creative and literary icons who have had an impact on literary culture.
- Who participates in the conference?
The NBWC is open to a cross-generation of readers, writers, publishers, literary agents, editors, etc.
- Youth Audience – The Friday morning and early afternoon schedules are generally dedicated to student programming from elementary through high school. There is generally a selection of workshops, readings, and programs specifically for affiliated partner schools and each age group. There are minimal to no fees for youth who attend on this day.
- Authors / Panelists/ Workshop leaders- All authors participating as panelists and /or workshop leaders are specially invited by the NBWC Committee. If you are interested in being a participant for future conferences, please send a copy of your most recent biography, a copy of your most recent published work and your anticipated work if applicable to the attention of Dr. Brenda M. Greene at the following address:
Dr. Brenda M. Greene
Center for Black Literature
Medgar Evers College, CUNY
1650 Bedford Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11225
- General Public – The conference allows for book lovers and academics to participate in Q & A sessions after each panel discussion or presentation. Participants can choose which days they would like to attend by either registering for the conference as a whole or for the days that they would like to participate. The workshops are open to all who would like to participate, for an additional fee separate from the conference registration.
- Vendors – The vendor market is open to individuals and businesses alike. There is a fee required to vend over the 3 days. An application must be submitted for approval by the committee [this helps to diversify what is in the market as there is a limited amount of space available]. At this time the vendor application will be posted to this site in Fall 2009 for the March 2010 conference. No applications or approvals will be issued before then.
- How can I register?
Registration will be available as of Fall 2009 for the general public via online and mail. Online registration has been made available by our partners: the African American Literary Book Club at www.aalbc.com. If you are interested in becoming a partner school or would like to learn more about what this means, please speak with a representative at the Center for Black Literature, 718.270.6983.
- How long are the conference days?
Conference events are generally scheduled from 9 am – 8 pm for the first 2 days; closing activities on the Sunday will end at approximately 6 pm.
Conference Hotline: 718.270.4811