Tananarive Due, N.K. Jemisin, & Airea D. Matthews

What Was, What Is, and What Will Be: A Cross-Genre Look at Afrofuturism

Tuesday, February 12, 2019, 7:30 pm
Folger Theatre
Cultural critic Mark Dery coined the term “Afrofuturism” in his essay “Black to the Future,”and its meaning has expanded to encompass alternative visions of the future influenced by astral jazz, African-American sci-fi, psychedelic hip-hop, rock, rhythm and blues, and more. This reading is co-sponsored with PEN/Faulkner Foundation as part of its Literary Conversations series and The Library of Congress's Center for the Book and Poetry and Literature Center. Fiction writer, poet, and editor Sheree Renee Thomas will introduce the writers.
Screenwriter and author Tananarive Due teaches at Spelman College in Atlanta and Antioch University Los Angeles.  An American Book Award winner and NAACP Image Award recipient, she is the author of 12 novels and a civil rights memoir. 

Speculative fiction writer N. K. Jemisin's work has been nominated for the Hugo, the Nedula, and the World Fantasy Award. She was the first black writer to win the Hugo Award for Best Novel, in 2016 for The Fifth Season, in 2017 for The Obelisk Gate,  and in 2018 for The Stone Sky.
Airea D. Matthews is the author of the poetry collection Simulacra, winner of the 2016 Yale Series of Younger Poets. Matthews creates in her poetry a world not bound by time, weaving past into the present and interrogating the present for the sake of the future. She is the executive editor of The Offing
From "Descent of the Composer"
When I mention the ravages of now, I mean to say, then.
I mean to say the rough-hewn edges of time and space,
a continuum that folds back on itself in furtive attempts
to witness what was, what is, and what will be. But what
I actually mean is that time and space have rough-hewn edges.
Do I know this for sure? No, I’m no astrophysicist. I have yet
to witness what was, what is, and what will be. But what
I do know, I know well: bodies defying spatial constraint.
Excerpt from “Descent of the Composer” from Simulacra by Airea D. Matthews © 2016, published by Yale University Press. Used with permission. 

This project was supported by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanties, which receives support from the National Endowment for the Arts.