Wednesday, April 7, 2021
5 pm PDT
Many marginalized writers celebrate the moment that they receive “a seat at the table,” and this is quite often their goal. Yet, others of us believe that having a seat at the table is another way of waiting to be included or invited to attend, thereby still centering whiteness.
Creating Our Own "Table" Panel Discussion will focus on writers of color who are creating their own tables, including San Francisco poet laureate Tongo Eisen-Martin (Black Freighter Press), Neelanjana Banerjee (Kaya Press), and Tara Betts (the Whirlwind Learning Center). The event will be moderated by journalist Pendarvis Harshaw.
Wed, April 7, 2021, 5:00 PM PDT
Tara Betts is the author of the poetry collections Break the Habit, Arc & Hue, and the forthcoming Refuse to Disappear. In addition to her work as a teaching artist and mentor for young poets, she's taught at several universities, including Rutgers University and University of Illinois-Chicago.
She is currently working on establishing The Whirlwind Learning Center on Chicago's South Side as a space for arts education, community space, and cultural programming.
Originally from San Francisco, Tongo Eisen-Martin is a movement worker and educator who has organized against mass incarceration and extra-judicial killing of Black people throughout the United States. He has taught in detention centers from New York’s Rikers Island to California county jails.
He is launching Black Freighter Press, a platform for building movement culture and supporting Black literary arts, with a specific focus on incarcerated poets, Bay Area poets of color, and Black women.
Neelanjana Banerjee's writing has appeared in Prairie Schooner, PANK Magazine, Virginia Quarterly Review, World Literature Today and many other places.
She is the Managing Editor of Kaya Press, an independent press dedicated to Asian Pacific American and Asian Diasporic literature. She teaches writing and literature classes at UCLA and Loyola Marymount University. She lives in Los Angeles, and is at work on a novel.
Pendarvis Harshaw is a journalist from Oakland, California. He's a graduate of Howard University's School of Communications and UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism. He is the director of the documentary film, TDK: The Dream Kontinues and the author of OG Told Me, a coming of age memoir about his upbringing in Oakland. He currently works at KQED, where he writes about arts and culture in Northern California, and hosts a radio show and podcast called Rightnowish.
“We want the attendees at these events to see themselves as part of a larger POC literary community. We want to give writers of color the same opportunities and structural supports found in traditional spaces like MFA programs, workshops, and conferences. Our goal is to equip writers of color with the vision and opportunity to connect to a broader literary community and build similar mentoring opportunities within their own networks, carrying the vision forward into traditionally underserved literary spaces.”
—Tamika Thompson, POC United
Building A POC Literary Community is a three-part event series in collaboration with POC United aiming to build a POC literary community independent from the disproportionately white publishing industry. This series is made possible with funds from the California Arts Council.
Our next event in the series is the Reading: Isolation, taking place on May 13th. In this 90-minute event, writers of color will share works honoring the pain, joy, injustice, comfort, and trauma of isolation. Readers are to be announced in March, 2021.