On a chilly night in late February, Well Read Black Girl - a digital platform that amplifies the voices of black women in literature - presented "Reimagining the Literary Canon," an evening of readings by an eclectic group of poets, fiction writers and essayists at Housing Works in SoHo.
Hosted by Well Read Black Girl herself, Glory Edim, the event explored various themes including home in distant lands, ancestry, and hyphenated identities. Camille Rankine recited poetry about her genealogy and “occupying that weird space” as a first generation American of Jamaican descent. Bsrat Mezghebe’s work centered on Eritrea, and Nicole Dennis-Benn read an excerpt from her forthcoming debut novel “Here Comes The Sun,” which explored skin bleaching in Jamaica.
Other work recalled the sexualization and brutalization of black women’s bodies. Writer Ashley Ford's searing personal essay about her changing pubescent figure and the shame projected on her by the men in her community was inspiring and relatable, and Diamond Sharp read a timely poem called “Black Lady Lazarus” about the death of Sandra Bland and a slew of other black women whose lives were stolen at the hands of police.
The night was also complete with odes to #blackgirlmagic of the past and present. Ms. Sharp dedicated a poem to Lorraine Hansbery and Jenna Wortham read a draft of afro-futurist fiction inspired by Willow Smith. Other featured readers included Morgan Parker, Nicole Sealey, and Kyla Marshall.
For more information on Well Read Black Girl, please visit wellreadblackgirl.com