NYC | March 20, 2011

The web is currently abuzz with the discussion about race and our treatment of and fraught relationship with speaking about race, between poets Claudia Rankine and Tony Hoagland. The title of the Blue Parlor reading at the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, “From the Dark Tower,” comes from a poem of the same name by Countée Cullen, the focus of the text being the many ways in which our engagement with issues of ethnicity are “kept in the dark” and where he argues for taking those discussions to the heights reached by a tower which would allow us all to hear and benefit from the conversation. The “From the Dark Tower” reading has and will continue to give writers of all races a voice as they grapple in interesting and illuminating ways with collective and individual identities. This will be the second annual “From the Dark Tower” reading in NYC. Expect to be moved.

Natashia Deón is a PEN Emerging Voice Fellow, Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference scholarship recipient, award-winning screenwriter, attorney, and California native. Her work has appeared in the PEN Anthology Strange Cargo and NICI. She is currently penning her debut novel, The Spinning Wheel, a dark journey of three outcast women who, on the eve of the Civil War South, are fighting the battle of their lives.

Kaitlyn Greenidge graduated from Hunter College’s MFA program in 2010. Her work has appeared in the Tottenville Review, Afrobeat Journal and The Believer. She is the 2011 Visiting Emerging Writer at Johnson State College in Johnson, VT.

Mecca Jamilah Sullivan is from Harlem, New York. Her fiction, nonfiction and visual arts have appeared internationally in publications including Callaloo, Best New Writing, Crab Orchard Review, The Minnesota Review, 2010 Robert Olen Butler Fiction Prize Stories, Baobab: South African Journal of New Writing, and American Visions. Her plays have been staged and produced at Theatre 14, New WORLD Theatre, the Harlem Theatre Company, and other venues. She is the winner of the Charles Johnson Fiction Award, the William Gunn Fiction Award, the James Baldwin Memorial Playwriting Award. The recipient of scholarships, fellowships, and residencies from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, The Yaddo Colony, the Hedgebrook Writers’ Retreat, the New York State Summer Writers’ Institute, and other organizations, she is currently a Ph.D. candidate and Dean’s Scholar in English Literature at the University of Pennsylvania, and is completing her first novel.

Reese Okyong Kwon’s stories are published or forthcoming in the Kenyon Review, American Short Fiction, Sun Magazine, Missouri Review, and elsewhere; her nonfiction is published in the Believer, More Intelligent Life, and Rumpus. She has received scholarships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Norman Mailer Writers’ Colony, and Ledig House International. In addition, she has been named one of Narrative’s “30 Below 30” writers.

Marie Mutsuki Mockett was born in Carmel, California to a Japanese mother and American father. Marie’s essay “Letter from a Japanese Crematorium” was published in Agni 65, cited as distinguished in the 2008 Best American Essays, and anthologized in Creative Nonfiction 3. Additional poems, stories and essays appear in The North Dakota Quarterly, Phoebe, Fugue, LIT and other journals. Marie’s debut novel, Picking Bones from Ash, was published by Graywolf Press on October 1st, 2009. The LA Times said of Picking Bones from Ash: “Some fiction makes the world a little smaller; illuminates the dark corners, puts the taste of, say, breakfast in a small mountain village of Japan in the mouth of the reader.” Picking Bones from Ash was a Finalist for the Paterson Prize for Fiction, shortlisted for the Saroyan International Prize for Writing, and shortlisted for the Asian American Literary Award. In 2009, Marie attended the Bread Loaf Conference as a Bernard O’Keefe Scholar in Nonfiction.


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