“Black Poetry: A Conference is a truly historic international and inter-generational gathering. Over the span of 3 days, more than 40 black poets will come together to read from their work and consider the most urgent social, political and artistic questions of our time. This is a boon for scholars, artists, and book-lovers in Princeton and beyond.”
– Tracy K. Smith, U.S. Poet Laureate and Director of Princeton’s Program in Creative Writing
Elizabeth Alexander, Camae Ayewa (Moor Mother), Jericho Brown, Mahogany L. Browne, Kwame Dawes, Toi Derricotte, Rita Dove, Camille Dungy, Cornelius Eady, Eve Ewing, Nikky Finney, Vievee Francis, Joanne V. Gabbin, Rachel Eliza Griffiths, Myronn Hardy, Terrance Hayes, Tyehimba Jess, Taylor Johnson, Saeed Jones, Douglas Kearney, Yusef Komunyakaa, Deana Lawson, Robin Coste Lewis, Nathaniel Mackey, Haki Madhubuti, Dawn Lundy Martin, J Mase III, Shane McCrae, Jessica Care Moore, Fred Moten, Harryette Mullen, Morgan Parker, M. NourbeSe Philip, Rowan Ricardo Phillips, Koleka Putuma, Roger Reeves, Ed Roberson, Sonia Sanchez, Lemn Sissay, Patricia Smith, Natasha Trethewey, Simone White, and Kevin Young.
Tracy K. Smith, Joshua Kotin, Jaamil Olawale Kosoko
Princeton University’s Lewis Center for the Arts/Program in Creative Writing, Bain-Swiggett Fund/Department of English, Humanities Council, Department of African American Studies, University Center for Human Values, Department of Comparative Literature, Program in Canadian Studies, Program in American Studies, and Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program in the Humanities.
Free; conference registration is full. JOIN WAITLIST HERE
Conference panels on Friday and Saturday are now full with a waitlist, however the conference activities will be simulcast to the James Stewart Film Theater at 185 Nassau Street on the Princeton campus, which is free and open to the public. Guests are encouraged to attend Black Poetry: A Gala Reading on Thursday, February 14 at 7 pm at the Matthews Theatre at McCarter Theatre Center where nine of the Conference poets will be reading and most of the Conference poets will be in attendance with a book sale following where many of the poets will be available to sign copies of their books.
If the conference is full, should I register for the waitlist?
Yes, please register for the conference if you would like to attend. Additional tickets may become available. The seating capacity of the James Stewart Film Theater is 190. People on the waitlist will be given priority.
What happens if extra tickets become available?
People on the waitlist will be notified by email. You will have 24 hours to reserve your ticket after receiving notification.
What happens if extra tickets do not become available?
If we cannot accommodate everyone on the waitlist, we will simulcast the conference in the James Stewart Film Theater at 185 Nassau St. in Princeton.
Is the James Stewart Film Theater accessible?
Yes, the newly renovated James Stewart Film Theater is accessible. If you are in need of specific accommodations, please write to email@example.com at least two weeks in advance of the event.
I’m on the waitlist for one day, but not the other. Can I switch my ticket?
No. Due to limited availability, we cannot switch tickets.
Thursday, February 14
7 pm – 9 pm | Gala Reading
Friday, February 15
10 am – 10:30 am | Provocation 1
M. NourbeSe Philip: Zong!
10:30 am – 12:30 pm | Panel 1
Moderator: Roger Reeves
Panelists: Joanne V. Gabbin, Rachel Eliza Griffiths, Shane McCrae, Haki Madhubuti
Jay Wright’s essay “Desire’s Design, Vision’s Resonance” (1987) opens with the statement, “Ancestors enjoy the disturbances they create in us. They have special ways of twisting the spirit and inhibiting contrary desire.” On this panel, we hope to consider the various ways Black poets have sought to create out of a state of “disturbance.” How does Black poetry serve as a means of confronting the actual (history, politics, social reality) and conjuring the possible (joy, revolution, hope)?
Positioned as we are, just over 50 years following the Second Black Writers Conference at Fisk University, we also want to examine the very real history that has been lived, written and wrestled with in the intervening decades. What has Black poetry fostered, altered and laid the groundwork for, and how have traditional and non-traditional practices informed this process?
12:30 pm – 2:00 pm | Break
2 pm – 2:30 pm | Provocation 2
Tyehimba Jess: “No Roots, No Fruits: The Primacy of the Blues in African American Poetry”
2:30 pm – 4:30 pm | Panel 2
Moderator: Vievee Francis
Panelists: Cornelius Eady, Douglas Kearney, Jessica Care Moore, Fred Moten, Sonia Sanchez
The lyric has always been a form of celebration and commemoration, and a source of shelter from the various psychic and actual foreclosures of the world. In times of great global violence, we continue to write, sing, make music, and tell stories. In this panel, we consider the myriad possibilities set into motion by words and music, as well as what these practices are reflective of and conducive to in Black life and Black art.
5 pm – 6:30 pm | Break
8 pm | Reading in Forum
Jericho Brown, Camille Dungy, Nikky Finney, Taylor Johnson, Jessica Care Moore, Ed Roberson
Saturday, February 16
10 am – 10:30 am | Provocation 3
Jaamil Olawale Kosoko: Séancers (excerpt)
10:30 am – 12:30 pm | Panel 3
Moderator: Saeed Jones
Panelists: Deana Lawson, Robin Coste Lewis, Dawn Lundy Martin, J Mase III
A disembodiment is defined as “a soul, spirit, or consciousness that otherwise lacks a physical form.” But experience tells us that disembodiment might also be a state of refusal to accept forms of embodiment that have been delineated by hetero-normative bias and white supremacy. In other words, disembodiment is not a lack, but a way of engendering new understandings of what it means to live within a body.
On this panel, we will seek to discuss the queering of shared space and spatial awareness. We also wish to examine what notions of conscious embodiment mean to artists working today. How have a poetics of embodied experience relocated art’s engagement with the mind or imagination to the body itself? How might such a poetics foster healing and community in a moment of fractious social division?
12:30 pm – 2:00 pm | Break
2 pm – 2:30 pm | Provocation 4
Nathaniel Mackey: “The Long Song: On Seriality”
2:30 pm – 4:30 pm | Panel 4
Moderator: Eve L. Ewing
Panelists: Mahogany L. Brown, Myronn Hardy, Rowan Ricardo Phillips, Lemn Sissay, Patricia Smith, Camae Ayewa
Is there such a thing as Global Blackness? What might be the nature and function of Black identity and cultural production in the different contexts within which Blackness exists–as well as those where it is not thought to exist? Are there specific modalities that the history of Black life might alert us to? What is amplified or altered by the intersection of Black experiences from different cultures and social contexts? What new possibilities for community and survival might Blackness give birth to in America and elsewhere? This is a panel for considering the nature of Blackness as a tool, a text, a force, a manner of community, a belief system, a set of aesthetic values, and an expanding reality.
5 pm – 6:30 pm | Break
8 pm | Reading in Forum
Natasha Trethewey, Morgan Parker, Simone White, Koleka Putuma, Terrance Hayes
For additional information on the conference and for instructions on how to register, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org.