Webinars

During the Fall of 2015 we will host a series of live, online discussions with a prominent group of intergenerational award winning poets. Members of the general public and students of all levels are invited to join us.

Kwame Dawes

Kwame Dawes

Kwame Dawes has published books of poetry, fiction and nonfiction. His poetry includes Wisteria: Poems From the Swamp Country, Impossible Flying, Back of Mount Peace, Hope’s Hospice, Wheels, and Duppy Conqueror: New and Selected Poems, among many others. His novels are She’s Gone and Bivouac, and his non-fiction collections are A Far Cry From Plymouth Rock: A Personal Narrative and Fugue and Other Writings. A widely anthologized poet, Dawes has received the Forward Prize for Poetry, the Hollis Summers Prize for Poetry, a Pushcart Prize, the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship, the Musgrave Silver Medal for contribution to the Arts in Jamaica, and the Elizabeth O’Neill Verner Governor’s Award for service to the arts in South Carolina. He won an Emmy and a Webby for LiveHopeLove, an interactive website based on the Kwame Dawes Pulitzer Prize Center project HOPE: Living and Loving with AIDS in Jamaica. Dawes is co-founder and programming directory of the Calabash International Literary Festival and on the faculty of both the Pacific MFAWriting Program and Cave Canem. He is currently the Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner and Chancellor’s Professor of English at the University of Nebraska. 

Monday, September 14th, 2015
This webinar was moderated by Professor Maryemma Graham, Institute Director.

Full transcript


Sharan Strange, Photo by JMU Furious Flower Poetry Center

Sharan Strange

Sharan Strange is the author of Ash, which was selected by Sonia Sanchez for the Barnard New Women Poets Prize. Her poems have been anthologized in Best American Poetry, In Search of Color Everywhere: A Collection of African-American Poetry, and The Garden Thrives: Twentieth-Century African-American Poetry.  Her work has been featured in exhibitions at the Whitney Museum in New York City and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. Winner of the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities Artist Award, the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers Award, she has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Cofounder of the Dark Room Collective, Strange served as a contributing and an advisory editor for Callaloo. Holding degrees from Harvard University and Sarah Lawrence College, Strange has taught at Fisk University, the University of California, Davis, and the California Institute of the Arts. She is currently an English professor at Spelman College.

Wednesday, October 28th, 2015
This webinar was moderated by Laura Vrana, NEH Summer Scholar.


Nikky Finney, Photo by Rachel Eliza Griffiths

Nikky Finney

Nikky Finney has published poetry, fiction and an anthology. Her books include On Wings Made of Gauze, Rice, The World is Round, Heartwood (story cycle) and the edited collection, The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South. In 2011, her fourth book of poetry, Head Off & Split, won the National Book Award. In 2013, Northwestern University Press published hardback editions of three of Finney’s books in a special limited box set, titled Sweet Box of Words. A founding member of the Affrilachian Poets, she is also on the faculty of Cave Canem. Additional awards include a PEN America Open Book Award and the Benjamin Franklin Award for Poetry. After a long tenure at the University of Kentucky, where she was the Provost’s Distinguished Service Professor of English, she returned to her native South Carolina to become The John H. Bennett, Jr. Chair in Southern Letters and Literature. A child of activists, Finney came of age during the Civil Rights Movement and the Black Arts Movement and had an early career as a photographer.

Wednesday, November 11th, 2015
This webinar was moderated by Monifa Love Assante, NEH Summer Scholar.


Jericho Brown

Jericho Brown

Jericho Brown is the author of the books Please, which won the American Book Award, and The New Testament, winner of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, the Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry, and the Paterson Award for Literary Excellence. It was also named one of the best poetry books of the year by Library Journal, Coldfront, and the Academy of American Poets. Brown is the recipient of a Whiting Writer’s Award and has received fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, the Krakow Poetry Seminar in Poland, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University. His poems have appeared in The Nation, The New Republic, The New Yorker, and The Best American Poetry. Brown is a Louisiana native who served as a speech writer for the Mayor of New Orleans before completing his Ph.D. and MFA degrees in creative writing. Currently, he is an associate professor in English and creative writing at Emory University.

Tuesday, November 17th, 2015
This webinar was moderated by Claire Schwartz, NEH Summer Scholar


Jessica Care Moore

Jessica Care Moore

jessica Care moore’s books include The Words Don’t Fit in My Mouth, The Alphabet Verses The Ghetto, God is Not an American, Sunlight Through Bullet Holes, and a memoir, Love is Not The Enemy.  Her work has appeared in 44 on 44, A Different Image, Abandon Automobile, Listen Up!, Bum Rush The Page: A Def Poetry Jam, and the Prentice Hall Anthology of African American Women’s Literature, among others. A five-time winner of the “It’s Showtime at The Apollo” competition, moore is also the 2013 Alain Locke Award Recipient from the Detroit Institute of Arts. Her frequent media appearances include Essence, Huffington Post, Blaze, The Source, Vibe, and Bomb. moore’s poetry is also featured on albums by Nas and Talib Kweli. A returning star of Russell Simmons’ HBO Series, “Def Poetry Jam,” she created a multimedia show, God is Not an American, that was produced by The Apollo Theater and Time Warner’s NYC Parks Summer Concert Series.  She was the host, writer and co-Executive Producer of the poetry-driven television show, Spoken, which aired on The Black Family Channel. moore is the CEO of Moore Black Press, Executive Producer of Black WOMEN Rock!, and founder of the literacy-driven Jess Care Moore Foundation. She lives, writes and plays in downtown Detroit.

Thursday, November 19th, 2015
This webinar was moderated by Derik Smith, NEH Summer Scholar


Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie

Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie

Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie is the author of two books of poetry, Dear Continuum: Letters to a Poet Crafting Liberation and Karma’s Footsteps, and is also the Poetry Editor of African Voices, a literary magazine. Her work focuses on women, race, ancestry, violence and the healing power of art, has been published in North American Review, WSQ: Women’s Studies Quarterly, Black Renaissance Noire, VIDA, Crab Orchard Review, BOMB, Paris/Atlantic, and Listen Up!, and has been the subject of a short film, I Leave My Colors Everywhere. She was a runner-up in the 2014 Missouri Review Soundbooth audio poetry contest and is the recipient of a Queens Council of the Arts grant for her research on herbalists of the African Diaspora. Her work “Strut,” a collaboration with her husband, photographer Dominique Sindayiganza, deals with body-image, self-acceptance, and the role of capitalism in women’s issues about their appearances. She has taught at the City University of New York, York College and Medgar Evers College.

Thursday, December 1st, 2015
This webinar was moderated by Tara Betts, NEH Summer Scholar.


Sonia Sanchez

Sonia Sanchez

A central figure in the Black Arts Movement, Sonia Sanchez has authored sixteen books of poetry and plays, including Morning Haiku; Shake Loose My Skin: New and Selected Poems; Does Your House Have Lions?; I’ve Been a Woman: New and Selected Poems; A Blues Book for Blue Black Magical Women; Love Poems; We a BaddDDD People; and Homecoming. She received an American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation for Homegirls and Handgrenades. Other awards and honors include the Robert Creeley Award, the Frost Medal, the Community Service Award from the National Black Caucus of State Legislators, the Lucretia Mott Award, the Outstanding Arts Award from the Pennsylvania Coalition of 100 Black Women, the Peace and Freedom Award from Women International League for Peace and Freedom, the Pennsylvania Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Humanities, a National Endowment for the Arts Award, and a Pew Fellowship in the Arts. Sanchez has read and lectured in the United States and around the world. She was the first Presidential Fellow at Temple University, where she began teaching in 1977, and held the Laura Carnell Chair in English there until her retirement in 1999. 

Thursday, December 3rd, 2015
This webinar was moderated by Professor Evie Shockley, Institute Faculty


Nathaniel Mackey

Nathaniel Mackey

Nathaniel Mackey is a poet, editor, publisher, and critic. His works include Four for Trane, Outlandish, Whatsaid Serif, School of Udhra, and most recently, Blue Fasa. Splay Anthem won the National Book Award in 2006, and Eroding Witness was chosen for the National Poetry Series. He has published several book-length installments of his ongoing prose work, From a Broken Bottle Traces of Perfume Still Emanate, beginning with Bedouin Hornbook. A recording of Strick: Song of the Andoumboulou 16-25 was released with musical accompaniment by Royal Hartigan and Hafez Modirzadeh. Mackey edited Hambone and co-edited Moment’s Notice and American Poetry: The Twentieth Century. Mackey’s works of criticism are Discrepant Engagement: Dissonance, Cross-Culturality, and Experimental Writing and Paracritical Hinge: Essays, Talks, Notes, Interviews. He has received honors and awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Foundation for Contemporary Arts, the 2014 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize from the Poetry Foundation, and the 2015 Bollingen Prize from Yale University.  From 2001 to 2007, he served as a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.  A jazz and world music DJ since the late 1970s, Mackey taught for many years at the University of California, Santa Cruz and is currently the Reynolds Price Professor of Creative Writing at Duke University.

Wednesday, December 9th, 2015
This webinar was moderated by J. Peter Moore, NEH Summer Scholar