Shayla Lawson with Hanif Abdurraqib

Along with our friends and colleagues at Langston, we are delighted to be helping present what should be an enlivening, provocative program as poet (I Think I’m Ready to See Frank Ocean) Shayla Lawson celebrates publication of her riveting debut book of essays, This is Major: Notes on Diana Ross, Dark Girls and Being Dope (Harper Perennial). This book is major. Helping make this even more of an occasion is that Shayla Lawson will be joined in conversation with Hanif Abdurraqib, he who also knows working in a multitude of written forms, poetry, and prose, and places in-between. 

“Written as a prose love poem in essays to black girlhood, black womanhood, and black femmehood, Shayla Lawson’s fourth book is required reading for all, but especially for black women and girls trying to hold space for their whole selves, the whole of their blackness. Lawson lunges into full-bodied critique and historicization of the hurt of white patriarchal supremacy and the white gaze with cunning wit and a fresh scalpel.” -Nafissa Thompson-Spires.

"Shayla Lawson’s This is Major is part cultural criticism, part pop music history, part memoir, part ethnography, and all conscious humor.What I love most about this book is that for all its mastery of various subjects and genres, it is always searingly honest … This is a brilliant book by a black woman aware that, from Phillis Wheatley to Nina Simone, there is a long history of her special brand of genius." -Jericho Brown.

That is just some of the early praise, with Ocean Vuong, Phoebe Robinson, Tressie McMillan Cottom, R. Eric Thomas, and numerous publications also weighing in. Hanif Abdurraqib most recent books include They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us, Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes To a Tribe Called Quest, and, last year, a new book of poems, A Fortune For Your Disaster. Next March (2021) should see publication of a new book, A Little Devil in America. This night should be something.

Co-presented by Langston and Elliott Bay Book Company.


Event Registration


This Is Major: Notes on Diana Ross, Dark Girls, and Being Dope Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062890597
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Perennial - June 30th, 2020

I Think I'm Ready to See Frank Ocean Cover Image
ISBN: 9780989979788
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Saturnalia Books - March 1st, 2018

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A Fortune for Your Disaster Cover Image
ISBN: 9781947793439
Availability: Ships in 2-10 Days
Published: Tin House Books - September 3rd, 2019

They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us Cover Image
By Hanif Abdurraqib, Eve L. Ewing (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9781937512651
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Two Dollar Radio - November 7th, 2017

Tuesday, September 29, 2020 - 6:00pm
Virtual Event
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