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The Twelfth National Black Writers Conference: Reconstructing the Master Narrative 3/27-30 *bklyn

Support this effort and attend. Emerging writers and literary giants! Panels! Workshops!


12th National Black Writers Conference

March 27–30, 2014

As of February 3 2014


In an interview with Bill Moyers in March of 1990 for his television series A World of Ideas, Nobel Prize-winning author Toni Morrison defines the master narrative as whatever ideological script that is being imposed by the people in authority on everybody else. In other words, the master narrative is created by those in power. Thus, the master narrative is shaped by a certain viewpoint. In analyzing the master narrative found in literature, we examine what texts are present and which ones are omitted. It is important that we consciously take the steps to ensure that the master narrative encompasses the Black literary tradition—past and present. The National Black Writers Conference offers us an opportunity to present to the public the complexity of the texts produced by Black writers throughout the African Diaspora.

The 2014 NBWC theme of “Black Writers Reconstructing the Master Narrative” builds on previous NBWCs and takes into account the need to expose the general public to the vast range of texts that Black writers throughout the diaspora are producing. Using this theme as the premise of this public gathering of writers, students, literary agents, editors and the general public will have an opportunity to attend panels, roundtables and readings, participate in workshops, and take in performances over the four days of the Conference.

The honorees for the Twelfth NBWC are: Maryse Condé, Walter Mosley, Quincy Troupe, Derek Walcott, and posthumously to Margaret Burroughs.

The National Black Writers Conference is a public program that will provide writers, scholars, literary professionals, students, and the general public with a forum for expanding their knowledge and reading of Black literature and for engaging in dynamic and spirited conversations, panel discussions, readings, workshops, and performances on conference themes and on future trends in the literature of Black writers.

The Conference will also pay tribute to and celebrate Black writers who have made significant contributions to the literary canon and will provide emerging writers with opportunities to improve their writing craft. Conference panels, roundtables, and featured speeches will be streamed and videotaped. Selected proceedings will be published.

See full NBWC program here.

12th National Black Writers Conference Program

Exact locations of specific events, where not presently listed, will be posted by March 2014.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Time Description Location
 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Elders Writing Workshop ProgramMembers of the Elders Writers Workshop Presentation, Sponsored by JOK Workshop and Poets & Writers. Founders Auditorium
10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. Presentation of Papers on 2014 NBWC Honorees
Faculty, independent researchers, scholars, and students will present papers that examine the impact and representation of race, politics, culture, identity and history in the historical and contemporary narratives present in the literature of Maryse Condé, Walter Mosley, Quincy Troupe, Derek Walcott, and Alice Walker.
Edison O. Jackson Auditorium
6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. NBWC Poetry CaféFree and Open to the Public
Featured authors and poets include Tony Medina, Jessica Care Moore, Ed Maubry and the works of emerging poets.
Host: Tai Allen
Produced by: Wendy Robinson
Sign-up to Audition TODAY!
[Auditions held 2/20/2014 at MEC, CUNY]
Brooklyn Public Library
10 Grand Army Plaza
Brooklyn, NY 11228

Friday, March 28, 2014

Time Description Location
10:30 a.m. Tour of African Burial Ground Tour is FREE to all interested conference registrants and the general public. RSVP is required via the NBWC to attend.
From about the 1690s until 1794, both free and enslaved Africans were buried in a 6.6-acre burial ground in Lower Manhattan, outside the boundaries of the settlement of New Amsterdam, later known as New York. Learn more about this national monument at: is FREE to all interested conference registrants and the general public. RSVP is required via the NBWC to attend.RSVP at
290 Broadway
New York. NY
12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Films Celebrating Activism in Black Literature
A selection of short films inspired by and with literary themes. Hosted by African Voices/Reel Sisters, the film presentation will include a screening of Gordon Parks’ Solomon Northup’s Odyssey, which premiered in 1984 and was based on the same book as the award-winning movie 12 Years a Slave.
Founders Auditorium
Medgar Evers College
4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Film Panel – African Voices / Reel Sisters Founders Auditorium
Medgar Evers College
6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott
The Search for Self in Caribbean Literature: Past, Present, and Future.A Special Literary Event featuring Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott. For this special literary event, poet and playwright Derek Walcott will be joined by the Trinidad-born poet Mervyn Taylor and St. Lucian poet and producer Adrian Augier to participate in a program titled “The Search for Self in Caribbean Literature: Past, Present, and Future.” The conversation will focus on Walcott’s writing life and explore the themes of identity, memory, belonging and spirituality in his work and in Caribbean literature.$10 donation for non-conference attendees.
Founders Auditorium
Medgar Evers College

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Time Description Location




10:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.  Explorations into the Future: Speculative Fiction, Science Fiction, Fantasy and HorrorSpeculative fiction, science fiction, fantasy and horror have always challenged readers with depictions of the future and ways to imagine a different world. Drawing from their texts, panelists will explore the ways in which science fiction and fantasy, often timeless and grounded in myth and legend, provide Black writers with ways to create worlds that forecast the possible future and address alternative representations of race, gender, and class in our contemporary culture and future society.Moderator: Tonya Hegamin
Panelists: Steven Barnes, Tananarive Due, Nalo Hopkinson, *N. K. Jemisin, Victor LaValle
Founders Auditorium
Medgar Evers College
12:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.  The 2014 NBWC Reading Series
Author readings sponsored by the African American Literature Book Club, the Brooklyn Literary Council, and the Center for Black Literature.

Participating writers include Mitchell Jackson, author of The Residue Years; Deborah Johnson, author of The Secret of Magic; Oonya Kempadoo, author of All Decent Animals; Kamilah Aisha Moon, author of She Has a Name; Kiese Laymon, author of Long Division; Kwei Quartey, author of Murder at Cape Three Points; Elsie Augustave, author of The RovingTree; Morowa Yejidé, author of Time of the Locust; Angel Nafis, BlackGirl Mansion; and Mukoma Wa Ngugi, Black Star Nairobi.

Edison O. Jackson Auditorium Academic Complex Building (AB1)
Medgar Evers College
12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.  Race, Power, and Politics
The interrelationship between race, power, and politics is more intricate than it has ever been. While some argue that the intersections of race, power, and politics have produced social and political movements, others have argued that we live in a postracial society where race no longer matters. They suggest that we have transcended race. Drawing from their texts and their roles as public intellectuals and cultural critics, panelists will explore the impact and representations of race, power, and politics in our national discourse and on political and social movements.Panelists: Jelani Cobb, *Marc Lamont Hill, *Kevin Powell, Michele Wallace
Founders Auditorium
Medgar Evers College
2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. Maintaining Cultural Legacies: The Black Arts and Umbra MovementsBlack literary texts are repositories for our cultural memory; it is thus our cultural texts that transmit our memories and reveal how the present has been shaped by the past. The ideas, themes, and subjects represented in these literary texts have been discussed, debated, and enjoyed by readers worldwide. The writers on this roundtable will address questions such as: How do we define Black literature and Black literary classics? How have the traditions of the Black Arts Movement and the Umbra Movement contributed to our definitions of the Black literary tradition?Moderator:  Tonya Foster
Panelists: Sonia Sanchez, Askia Toure, David Henderson, Ishmael Reed, Steve Cannon


Founders Auditorium
Medgar Evers College

4:00 p.m. 5:30 p.m.

Shifting Identities in Africa and the African DiasporaThe migration of people from Africa and throughout the Americas, Europe, and Asia has impacted writers’ perceptions and definitions of themselves in a global society. These issues raise questions such as the following: How do geographical spaces, gender, race, ethnicity, and class shape the representations of the literature of writers throughout Africa and the African diaspora? How do writers address feelings of a loss of identity, traditions and cultures in their texts? How do writers manage the contradictions, paradoxes, and complexities in their lives and in the literature they produce? What kinds of texts are Black writers producing? Drawing upon their own texts, writers will explore these issues and examine the implications of these issues for Black writers in an increasingly multiracial culture and society.Moderator: Jeffrey Renard Allen
Panelists: Gillian Royes, Raquel Cepeda, Zakes Mda, Emily Raboteau
Founders Auditorium
Medgar Evers College




6:30 p.m.

Center for Black Literature’s 10th Anniversary Celebration

Celebrating Ten Years of Honoring Literature by 
People of the African Diaspora

Honoring Medgar Evers College Founder and Contibutor, former
New York State Assemblyman Albert Vann
and tribute to the late Hon. Major Owens
and activist/ poet Amiri Baraka.

Since 2003, the Center for Black Literature has presented and promoted the rich legacy of literature produced by writers and poets of the African Diaspora.

Join poets Quincy TroupeCheryl Boyce-TaylorStaceyann M ChinHermina Marcellin, singer Kendra Ross, and actor Michael Green as we celebrate ten years of exploring themes, trends, and issues in Black literature.
Roman Mitchell and Medgar Evers College’s jazz quartet will also perform.

Your continued support makes our
programs possible.

Must be paid in advance. Find out how on our Registration page. Tickets will be available in the Registration Area until capacity
is reached or until 6:00 PM.
Payment will not be accepted at the door.
Donation Rates:
$100 – Donations can be made at:
$60 for conference goers registered for 4 days
A reduced admission is available to those who register
for the full conference.
Register today to receive the promo code.

Skylight Café
AB1 Bldg. 2nd Floor
Medgar Evers College, CUNY
1638 Bedford Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11225

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Fees for talkshop(s) are separate from conference admission. See registration page for fees and donation. Each talkshop is $30. Sign-up for two (2) talkshops and receive 15% off.


Time Description Location


Talkshops – Session 1

10:00 a.m. – 11:30 p.m. Creative Nonfiction: asha bandele
Bandele will guide a talkshop that will empower writers to overcome writing blocks and begin the process of developing their own strong personal narratives.

Book Proposals: Regina Brooks
If you have an idea for a book or have already written one but now you have to find an agent or editor, you’ll need a book proposal. This workshop is designed to walk you step by step through the book proposal development process. It is designed to help you understand each section of the proposal and why it’s meaningful to the publishers and the people that will ultimately bring you book to life.

Publishing in the Digital Age: C. Zawadi Morris


Talkshops – Session 2

12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. Fiction: Donna Hill
“Fiction The Archetype of Our Lives”: Truth is notoriously stranger than fiction, yet readers yearn for or scoff at the lives of characters that pepper the pages of a novel. We become engaged in the worlds that the fiction writer creates and often imagine ourselves—or someone we know—living those lives. This is the magic of fiction: creating a reflection or replica of the real world with characters and places that we recognize or can imagine. How do they do it? How does the writer make us believe in his or her version of reality? Discover how to lift your characters and story ideas off the page and into the reader’s world.

Poetry: Patricia Spears Jones
How we talk about our lives is very important and how we talk about the lives of others equally so.  Poetry is often a way for to explore images and ideas of self, but poetry is also imaginative.  The epic, for instance, is simply a long story that tells a people’s story.  The Griot culture of West Africa presents a people’s history in song. Narrative poems tell story, but in verse.  And like fiction, they often have characters, sometimes dialogue, and setting and location. Participants are going to start their own new narrative poem.




12:00 – 1:30 p.m.  Saving Ourselves, Saving Our Communities
African-Americans are among the many people of color who have traditionally been excluded by literature related to the natural environment and nature in particular.  Conventional notions of the literature on the environment leave out the ways in which, as a result of issues related to oppression, freedom and equality, African-Americans have used their knowledge of the natural environment, holistic health, farming techniques, etc. to study the natural landscape, to navigate different geographical spaces and to survive the effects of slavery, natural disasters, disease, famine and war. African-Americans have been natural ecologists as they respond to these crises in their communities and in doing so have saved themselves and their communities. Drawing from their scholarship, texts, and expertise in these areas, panelists will examine and pose possible naturalistic solutions for environmental, health, and social issues that particularly impact Black communities throughout the African diaspora.

Panelists: Dianne Glave, Tracye Lynn McQuirter, Lauret Savoy

Founders Auditorium
Medgar Evers College
2:00 p.m. –3:30 p.m.  Reconstructing the Historical Narrative
The master narrative, which promotes a certain point of view and ideology, has omitted and marginalized the individual stories and collective memories and experiences of African-Americans and people of color. The documentation of these stories and events, through the historical narrative, allows readers to imagine and analyze stories and events from alternative perspectives. By studying the literature, diaries, letters, debates, arts, and artifacts of the past and taking into account the historical context in which events unfold, writers of historical narratives have reconstructed and expanded the master narrative through biography, creative nonfiction and fiction. Drawing from their own texts and scholarship, panelists will explore the following questions: Why are historical narratives important? What are the challenges and values of presenting historical narratives? How can historical narratives be presented in authentic and creative ways? How have historical narratives shaped, informed and expanded our understanding of the master narrative?Moderator: Komozi Woodard; Panelists: Jeffery Renard Allen, Ayana Mathis, Leonard Pitts Jr., John Edgar Wideman


Founders Auditorium
Medgar Evers College
4:00 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. The State of Publishing: A 2014 Odyssey
The publishing world is in the midst of a major transition. Writers, like musicians, are faced with seeking alternative and creative ways of publishing and promoting their books. Literary agents, publishers, writers, and editors discuss the challenges of publishing in 2014 and suggest options and strategies for publishing the literature produced by Black writers. They explore issues such as self-publishing, online publishing, blogging, distribution, marketing and e-books.

Moderator: Linda A. Duggins
Panelists: Troy Johnson, Paul Coates, Latoya Smith

Founders Auditorium
Medgar Evers College
Conference Closing

*Program and schedule subject to change.

The Twelfth National Black Writers Conference: Reconstructing the Master Narrative

Sponsored by the Center for Black Literature
Medgar Evers College, CUNY

Thursday, March 27, 2014
to Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Twelfth National Black Writers Conference will provide writers, scholars, literary professionals, students, and the general public with a forum for engaging in dynamic and spirited conversations, panel discussions, readings, workshops, and performances on themes related to Reconstructing the Master Narrative.

See Conference Overview for full description.

Conference Rates:


Until March 21, 2014

4 days – General



4 day – Student/ Senior/ Faculty



1 day – General



1 day – Student/ Senior/ Faculty



Register NOW!

Honorary Chair
Myrlie Evers-Williams

2014 NBWC Honorees
Maryse Condé
Walter Mosley
Quincy Troupe
Derek Walcott
Margaret Burroughs

Key to Locations:

Bedford Building – 1650 Bedford Avenue
[B- Building on the map.]

  • Founders Auditorium – 1st Floor
  • President’s Conference Center(Room B1008) – 1st Floor
  • N. B. Johnson Lecture Hall (Room B2008) – 2nd Floor
  • Rotunda / Ticket booth – 1st Floor in front of Founders Auditorium

map of CUNY

Academic Complex Building – 1638 Bedford Avenue
[AB1- on the map.]

  • Edison O. Jackson Auditorium –1st Floor
  • Room L11-1st Floor
  • Skylight Café– 2nd Floor (Cafeteria)

Student Services Building -1637 Bedford Avenue
[S- on the map.]

  • Mary S. Pinkett Lecture Hall (Room S122)
    1st Floor
  • Atrium – 3rd Floor
  • Conference Room>3rd Floor

Room numbers beginning with “CP” indicates the Carroll St. Portable Buildings-1150 Carroll St. [‘C’ on the map.]
Parking in any MEC, CUNY, lots are allowed by “permit only” for Thursday and Friday.
Pre-Registration, On-Site Registration, and Check-In
Location: Rotunda, Medgar Evers College


Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Opens 9 AM 10 AM 9:30 AM 9:30 AM
Closes 4:30 PM 8 PM *6 PM 4 PM

*Times subject to adjust based on need.

  • If you pre-registered online, please bring your bar-coded confirmation with you to expedite your entry.
  • Students, Faculty, and Seniors are required to present identification upon check-in.
  • On-site Registration begins on the first day of the Conference
  • Registration is required for ALL events, panels, and workshops.

2014 National Black Writers Conference
Preconference Events

“Audre Lorde: A Burst of Light Symposium”

Date: Saturday, March 22, 2014
Time: 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Location: Evers College, Founders Auditorium
1650 Bedford Aveenter
Brooklyn, NY 11225

In celebration of Women’s History Month, the Center for Black Literature will partner with the Brooklyn Public Library, The DuBois Bunche Center for Public Policy, MEC’s English Department and the Center for Women’s Development to pay tribute to the legacy of the feminist poet and writer Audre Lorde.

The program will focus on promoting dialogue concerned with the intersectionality of race, gender, class, and sexual identity in Lorde’s works. Guest participants include activist and scholar Angela Davis; Steven Fullwood, assistant curator of the Manuscripts, Archives and Rare Books Division, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture; and Rosamond S. King, Ph.D., professor in the English Department at Brooklyn College.

During the program, there will also be a tribute to Esther Cooper Jackson for her leadership as an editor and publisher of Freedomways Journal.


Youth Day Program
Date: Friday, March 21, 2014
Time: 9:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Location: Medgar Evers College, CUNY
Founders Auditorium
1650 Bedford Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11225

The Twelfth National Black Writers Conference will host a day of programs geared toward young readers. There will be presentations and readings during an Elementary School Program, coordinated by Just Us Books (9:30 to noon).

Just Us Books’ Youth Literacy Program

9:30 a.m.: Welcome: Moderated by Wade Hudson & Cheryl Willis Hudson, authors and founders of Just Us Books Inc.

9:41 a.m.: Giveaway Contest

Presentation by Calvin Alexander Ramsey, author of Ruth and the Green Book and Belle, the Last Mule at Gee’s Bend

10:31 a.m.:      Students Reading their Poems & Giveaway Contest
Presentation with Jerry Craft, author/illustrator, Mama’s Boyz cartoon series, and Hillary’s Big Business Adventure and Looking to the Clouds for Daddy

11:46 a.m.: – Noon:   Giveaway Contest & Wrap-up

1 p.m. – 3 p.m.

(1)Middle School Program with Greg Walker (Invitation Only)

(2)High School Program Coordinated by Nina Angela Mercer. Author and poet DuEwa Frazier will performing her spoken-word poetry and lead a workshop. Also in the program will be writers and poets Dominique Morriseau and ReginaldHarris.

Contact the Center for Black Literature to learn how your school can be a part of this program, 718-804-8882.

See more events produced by the Center for Black Literature and our partners, visit our Calendar of Events.


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