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Literati is thrilled to welcome Morgan Parker to the Ann Arbor District Library in support of her latest collection, Magical Negro. Morgan will be joined in conversation by Helen Zell Writers' Program Visiting Professor in Creative Nonfiction Aisha Sabatini Sloan.
Magical Negro is an archive of black everydayness, a catalog of contemporary folk heroes, an ethnography of ancestral grief, and an inventory of figureheads, idioms, and customs. These American poems are both elegy
and jive, joke and declaration, songs of congregation and self-conception. They connect themes of loneliness, displacement, grief, ancestral trauma, and objectification, while exploring and troubling tropes and stereotypes of Black Americans. Focused primarily on depictions of Black womanhood alongside personal narratives, the collection tackles interior and exterior politics—of both the body and society, of both the individual and the collective experience.
In Magical Negro, Parker creates a space of witness, of airing grievances, of pointing out patterns. In these poems are living documents, pleas, latent traumas, inside jokes, and unspoken anxieties situated as firmly in the past as in the present—timeless black melancholies and triumphs.
Morgan Parker is the author of There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé and Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up At Night. Her poetry and essays have appeared in Tin House, The Paris Review, The BreakBeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop, Best American Poetry 2016, The New York Times, and The Nation. She is the recipient of a 2017 National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship, winner of a 2016 Pushcart Prize, and a Cave Canem graduate fellow. She hosts Reparations, Live!, co-curates the Poets With Attitude reading series with Tommy Pico, and with Angel Nafis she is The Other Black Girl Collective. She lives in Los Angeles.
Aisha Sabatini Sloan is the author of The Fluency of Light: Coming of Age in a Theater of Black and White (University of Iowa Press, 2013) and Dreaming of Ramadi in Detroit (1913 Press, 2017). The latter was nominated for the Iowa Essay Prize, chosen by Maggie Nelson as the winner of the 1913 Open Prose Contest and won CLMP’s Firecracker award for Nonfiction in 2018. Her writing can be found in The Offing, Ecotone, Ninth Letter, Identity Theory, Michigan Quarterly Review, Terrain.org, Callaloo, The Southern Review, Sierra Nevada Review, Essay Daily, Tarpaulin Sky, Drunken Boat, Catapult, Sublevel, Autostraddle, Guernica, The Paris Review, LitHub and Obsidian.