F169. Signifyin' & Shade: Black Queer Writers' Interventions into the Black Canon

116, Pennsylvania Convention Center, 100 Level
Friday, March 25, 2022
12:10 pm to 1:25 pm


Toni Morrison implores us to write the books that we want to read. No more is this true than for Black queer writers searching for ourselves in the Black literary canon. The works that we create talk back/signify (Gates, Jr.) to the very books that shaped us as writers while ostracizing us as community members. In this reading, five Black queer writers share excerpts of their work and the specific interventions or engagements that they make in Black canonical texts.

Outline & Supplemental Documents

Event Outline: Signifyin’_Shade_AWP_Event_Outline.pdf



M Shelly Conner, PhD, is an assistant professor of creative writing at the University of Central Arkansas. Her writing uses black queer womanhood to explore the intersections of race, culture, and sustainable living. She is the creator of the webisode Quare Life and author of everyman: a novel.

Marci Blackman is the author of the novels, Po Man's Child, recipient of the ALA’s Stonewall Award for Best Fiction, and Tradition, noted in Band of Thebes as one of the Best LGBTQ Books of the year. Blackman’s third novel, Elephant, is forthcoming.

Cheryl Clarke is the author of five books of poetry, Narratives (1982; digitized 2014), Living as a Lesbian (1986; reprinted 2014), Humid Pitch (1989), Experimental Love (1993), By My Precise Haircut (2016), Also after Mecca (2005), and The Days of Good Looks: The Prose and Poetry of Cheryl Clarke, 1980–2005 (2006).

Darnell Moore is the author of the 2019 Lambda Literary Award-nominated memoir No Ashes in the Fire: Coming of Age Black & Free in America, which was listed as a 2018 New York Times Notable Book and a 2018 Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers pick.

Mecca Jamilah Sullivan is the author of Blue Talk and Love, The Poetics of Difference, and More of Everything, forthcoming. She has earned honors from Lambda Literary, the Center for Fiction, Bread Loaf, Yaddo, and the NEA. She is an assistant professor of English at Bryn Mawr College.


February 7–10, 2024
Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City Convention Center