Taking its name and inspiration from James Baldwin's prophetic essay collection, "The Fire Next Time: Conversations in Black Thought," is a speaker series that will bring together artists, scholars, and social justice activists in conversation with one another to examine and explore questions of history, protest, nation, justice, and freedom as they relate to our precarious political present.
The inaugural conversation, which will take place on January 24, 2018 from 2:30-4:30 pm in the Community Arts Auditorium, will feature writers Kiese Laymon and Rae Paris and focus on Radical Black Love.
A professor of English and Creative Writing at the University of Mississippi, Kiese Laymon is an African American writer whose most recent and heavily anticipated work, Heavy: An American Memoir (Scribner, October 2018) has been longlisted for the Andrew Carnegie Medal and is a Kirkus Prize Finalist.
Rae Paris is an assistant professor of English at the University of Washington, and the recipient of numerous fellowships and prizes for her poetry, essays, and fiction. Her first book, The Forgetting Tree: A Rememory (WSU Press, 2017) is a revelation; in the words of Tracy K. Smith, the 2017 Poet Laureate of the United States, The Forgetting Tree "punctures our national reticence around slavery, and offers a measure of necessary healing."
Professors Laymon and Paris have each visited Wayne State University in the past, each to great excitement and enthusiasm from students, and high praise from faculty and administrators. Each of them, in their own particular and remarkable way, offers deeply personal writings that simultaneously demand we reckon with the grand and seemingly impossible questions of how we understand nation and national belonging, explore what it means to call a hostile land home, and theorize how collective love and healing can happen when the injuries feel perpetual.
Bringing two writers of their stature together will be an extraordinary experience for both our students and our larger campus community. Both Laymon and Paris are gifted teachers and their connections to our students on their past visits have been palpable. Their writings are already in conversation with one another; we are thrilled to give Wayne State students the opportunity to witness and participate in a live and urgent dialogue between the two writers.
This event is free and open to the public.
It is generously sponsored by: the African American Public Humanities Initiative, the Center for Latino/a and Latin American Studies, the Departments of African American Studies, English (Open Field Reading Series), History, Sociology, the Detroit Writers' Guild, the Program in Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies, the WSU Honors College, the WSU Office of Diversity and Inclusion, and the WSU Press.
DateThursday, January 24, 2019
2:30 PM - 4:30 PM
VenueWayne State University
Community Arts Auditorium
450 Reuther Mall