What is Black Literature? How do Black writers speak on their experiences and navigate the publishing industry? Questions like these and more were the topic of The Eleventh National Black Writers Conference this weekend. Held at Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, the biennial event lasted for four days. The 2012 theme was the Impact of Migration and Popular Culture on Black Writers. Saturday, I was in attendance and sat in on some great panels.
The first panel of the day dealt with the matter of Urban Literature and the controversy that often emerges around this portion of Black contemporary writing. Featuring Karen Hunter, Joan Morgan, Shaun Neblett, and Sofia Quintero, the conversation dealt with depictions of Black life in street novels. From Donald Goines to the modern urban lit, this genre continues to flourish. Which means that it merits a discussion. There was much said, but in particular the question of character complexity was grappled with in depth. Some feel that Street Lit authors do great with showing duality while some Black authors focus on showing only the best of us. There is a big debate about how Black people should be depicted in literature (all media actually) and this back and forth within our community is something that we will continue to deal with.
After this panel, I ventured into the hallway where the book vendors were and managed to get a chance to speak with Yusef Salaam of the National Writers Union. To hear the interview, click below.[audio:http://politeonsociety.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Yusef-Salaam-interview-NBWC-2012.mp3|titles=Yusef Salaam interview NBWC 2012]
In this interview, I learned that the NWU represents bloggers as well as other types of writers. A great thing to know. There is still more to this conference, as today is the last day. Today, the first panel will begin at 11. Hope some of you interested and budding writers can attend. Enjoy!
-Marc W. Polite