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.