Personal Narrative as Political Struggle

Saturday, October 17th, 5:30 pm

This cross-genre conversation brings together three authors with incredibly different approaches to addressing structural racism and processing personal experiences of Blackness, whether through critical theory, humor, memoir, essay, or poetry. Featuring Pamela Sneed (Funeral Diva), Adam Smyer (You Can Keep That To Yourself), and Frank Wilderson III (Afropessimism); moderated by Lissa Jones

Replay of this event is available throughout 2020!

Purchase books by these authors from Magers & Quinn Booksellers!

Poet, professor, and performer Pamela Sneed is the author of Sweet Dreams, Kong, and Imagine Being More Afraid of Freedom than Slavery. She was a Visiting Critic at Yale, a Visiting Professor at Columbia University’s School of the Arts, and is online faculty at Chicago’s School of the Art Institute teaching Human Rights and Writing Art. Her work is widely anthologized and appears in Nikki Giovanni’s The 100 Best African American Poems. She has performed at spaces from the Whitney Museum to The Public Theater, and her latest work, the multi-genre memoir Funeral Diva (City Lights Books), is forthcoming in October.  She lives in Brooklyn, NY.

photo by Ed Newman

Adam Smyer is an attorney, martial artist, and self-described mediocre bass player. His nonfiction has appeared in the Johannesburg Review of Books, and his debut novel, Knucklehead, was the sole title short-listed for the 2018 Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence. His latest book, You Can Keep That to Yourself: A Comprehensive List of What Not to Say to Black People, for Well-Intentioned People of Pallor (Akashic Books)was just published in September. “A balm for tongues bitten and comments swallowed,” wrote Kirkus, “a bitingly humorous compendium of the absurd subtle racism of the American workplace.” Smyer lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife and cats. Learn more at

photo by John L. Blom

Frank B. Wilderson III is an award-winning writer, activist, and critical theorist who spent five and a half years in South Africa, where he was one of two Americans who have held an elected office in the African National Congress during the country’s transition from Apartheid. He has worked as a dramaturg for Lincoln Center Theater and the Market Theater in Johannesburg, and is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, the Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship for Experienced Researchers, a Zora Neale Hurston/Richard Wright Legacy Award for Creative Nonfiction, and the American Book Award, among other literary honors. His books include Incognegro: A Memoir of Exile and Apartheid and Red, White, & Black: Cinema and the Structure of U.S. Antagonisms; his latest release, the critically acclaimed  Afropessimism (Liveright), was published in April 2020. Wilderson is the chair of African American studies at the University of California, Irvine.

Lissa Jones is the host for the podcast Black Market Reads and the creator, executive producer, and host of Urban Agenda, the longest continuously running program on KMOJ Radio, Minnesota’s oldest Black radio station. She authored “Voices of the Village,” a column in the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder, and is a frequent presenter on the intersection of Black history and present-day thought.