Living For The City

Tayari Jones to Deliver Closing Keynote at 2013 Writers Digest Conference

On April 7th, Tayari Jones will deliver the closing keynote address at the 2013 Writers Digest Conference in New York City.  The address, “You Already Have Everything You Need,” will be an inspirational message drawing from Jones’s own experiences as an author. More details here.

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Fiction & Fashion In Park Slope

I admit it.  I love clothes.  And my favorite boutique in the world is COZBI in Park Slope.  When ever I want to look my best, I look to Cozbi Carbrera’s designs.  When I was preparing to go on a fifty city book tour, I knew Cozbi would hook up the perfect outfits– gorgeous fabrics & eye catching designs that a real woman can wear.

This weekend, I would like to invite you to experience COZBI.  There is a special sale all weekend long– Friday to Sunday.  On Saturday, February 2 from 11am-7pm, I will personally be at COZBI signing all three of my novels and also trying on clothes and enjoying the amazing sale.  Please come and join me.

351 5th Ave
Park Slope, Brooklyn

(and here’s a video we did together. yes, i was excited.)


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If I Had A Million Dollars Lying Around, I’d Buy Langston’s House

Langston Hughes’ townhome in Harlem is for sale for a cool million bucks.  What would he say if he knew what his dear Harlem had become.  You know the poem that most people call “A Dream Deferred” is actually titled, “Harlem.” WIth all the gentrification, the title has become ironic.

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48 Magical Hours

Sisterhood is Global

Originally uploaded by kleopatrjones

The last two days have been amazing in every way. On Thursday, I spent the morning at Cozbi where I posed for a few photographs. It was so much fun for Amilcar (Cozbi’s husband) to take the pictures while Cozbi did art direction. I’ll post some of the shots here next week.

Then, it was off to the Tenement Museum for my Q&A with Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I had never really talked to her before and I didn’t quite know what to expect. I mean, I knew she was brilliant, but I didn’t know she was going to be so, well, cool. We got down to the nitty gritty with the Q&A and many members of this blog community were in the audience. The whole thing was filmed by The Africa Channel, which is on most cable networks. (You have to click that link for the featured video alone!)

We talked about many things including writing as advocacy. She expanded upon “The Danger of A Single Story.” She also spoke moving about her reluctance to embrace the term “black” and why she changed her mind. There were also lighter moments when we talked about process and laughed at ourselves. It was a beautiful evening all around.

Friday was Part II of Chimamandapalooza. She was the headline reader at the final installment of the 2010 Chapters Reading Series, sponsored by Girls Write Now. Chimamanda read “Cell One“, from her new collection The Thing Around Your Neck. She left us all hypnotized with her reading. And then, as always, our amazing teen writers proceeded to steal the show.

Afterwards, Chimamanda was mobbed by the crowd. I watched our girls get their books signed with a little feeling of envy. Lauren Cerand said it best, “I never got to meet anybody this cool when I was a teenager.”

I didn’t either. But that’s the whole point of Girls Write Now– to give the next generation the gift of progress.

Photo taken at B Bar by the fabulous Rachel Eliza Griffiths.

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SWEET was Really Sweet

It Was All Love

Originally uploaded by kleopatrjones

This post is long overdue, but I was waiting on the photos. You may remember a few weeks ago that I told you that I was participating in SWEET!: Actors Reading Writers. It was such a wonderful event.

Here’s the idea: The writer gives an actor about 5-7 pages of work, which the actor thinks of as a script. All genres were represented– fiction, memoir, and poetry. On the big night, the actor goes up on stage and reads the piece. This the brainchild of the writer Shelly Oria and the actor Annie Levy.

(Sidebar: I met Shelly after I chose her excellent story, New York 1, Tel Aviv 0, for the Indiana Review Prize. It was such a kick to meet the woman behind the words.)
Heather Alicia Simms’ performance of The Silver Girl was first on the agenda. I really lucked out is having such a talented and accomlished actor assigned to my work! She really put her foot in it. She made my character, Laverne, pop to life. I would love it if Heather were chosen to narrate my audio book. When she was done with her outstanding performance, I leapt to my feet, clapping and hollering like a manic. I only wish I knew how to whistle. (That’s us in the photo. I was just so thrilled!)
Darin Strauss shared his brave and complex new memoir. Half A Life deals with Darin’s life after a fatal car accident in which a bicyclist was killed. I wondered what it must have felt like to see the actor, Michael Bradley Cohen, reading from Half a Life. In fiction, the “I” is not the author, but in memoir it is. How must it felt see your own words and feelings be expressed by someone who is not you, but who is saying “I” this and “me” that. Add to this that Darin’s memoir is very intense and very personal.

SWEET is on hiatus for the summer, but you should definitely check it out in the fall. You’ll have a good time, I promise.
(and here are some pictures from the event.)

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Marie Matsuki Mockett Tonight, in NYC

You all know that I believe that Girls Write Now is the most awesome after school program, but you don’t have to take my word for it. Just ask Michelle Obama.

For the third reading in our CHAPTERS reading series, we will feature Marie Matsuki Mockett, author of Picking Bones From Ash. You may remember Marie’s guest post on this blog, The Perfect Age To Be Published, which is about debuting when you’re not a spring chicken anymore.

Come on out to hear her read and also to hear from our amazing teen writers and their mentors. And if you can’t make it, how about you mozey on over to our website and make a donation to Girls Write Now.

Here are the deets:

Tonight, May 21, 2010
Center for Fiction
17 East 47th Street bet. 5th Ave. & Madison
6:00PM to 8:00PM

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This Thursday there will be a sneak-peek at my new novel, The Silver Girl, at SWEET: Actors Reading Writers. SWEET is a really cool series where the writers turn over five or so pages of material and actors interpret. My work will be read by Heather Alicia Simms, whom I met yesterday at a cafe in Brooklyn. She’s a terrific actor with gorgeous credentials– August Wilson on Broadway, y’all! (Right: Please note that in this cast photo from The Brother/Sister Plays, she is wearing a silver dress!) Also featured will be the work of Matthew Aaron Goodman, one of the Amazing Eight.

If you’re in NYC on Thursday, Come on out. Here are the deets.

Date: Thursday, May 6, 2010
Time: 7:30pm – 8:45pm
Location: Three of Cups, 83 First Ave @ 5th St.

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Amazing Line-Up in Brooklyn

Got To Be There!.

Originally uploaded by Pan-African News

The Tenth Annual National Black Writers Conference at Medgar Evers University is especially awesome this year; I am so excited to be a participant. Toni Morrison is the honorary chair, but the whole line-up is pretty delicious. Those of you who were disappointed that Dolen Perkins Valdez’s reading got snowed out will get another chance to see her. Also Bernice MacFadden will be reading from her new one, Glorious. Colson Whitehead is on board and so is my former professor, Jewell Parker Rhodes. Edwidge Danticat will be there and many many others. (I’m giving a “talkshop” about writing fiction.)

Registration is just $60 for all four days. There are also opportunities for people who want to work as volunteers!

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Go, Go, Jericho!

Last night, I went to the Whiting Awards ceremony. The Whiting has always been a little weird for me. As I understand it, the lucky winners get a magic phone call way back in September and they have to keep it under wraps until the ceremony. The winners are usually folks with one book, sometimes two. At the ceremony the ten writers were described as being at the “start” of their careers. This year, I figured I have sort of aged out of the running, so I could attend the ceremony without feeling like a kid who wasn’t picked for the kickball team.

So, with a light heart, I went to the ceremony. On the train ride over, Rigoberto and I were speculating about who the winners would be. I said JERICHO BROWN. Afterall, his debut poetry collection, Please, has won the American Book Award. He’s in Cambridge, as a Bunting Fellow. And, simply put, he’s brilliant, gorgeous, and everyone loves him. When I walked into the auditorium, there he was and I could not have been more pleased for him.

Another winner was Nami Mun. I was also tickled to death to see her wearing the signature white rose that says “I just won $50,000. I met her a couple of years ago at MacDowell when she was still trying to score an agent. Now look at her.

The charming keynote was given my Margaret Atwood. For the life of me, I can’t remember what she said. I thinkshe said something like this work won’t make you rich, unless it doees. But if you do it right it will repair your soul. (Or maybe that’s my fantasy.) Maybe said said that writing doen right will repair the world. Yeah, I think the latter. She kept glancing behind her at the winners with such affecton that made it feel like we writers are one big happy family and everything is going to work out in the end.

Other winners here. And a few random snapshots here.

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If I Wasn’t Going to Be Out of Town Next Week

I would so be at this!
Thursdat, October 8, Cornelia Street Cafe, in NYC:

6:00PM QUETZAL QUILL: An Evening of Poetry
Rigoberto Gonzales, host
BLAS FALCONER, A Question of Gravity and Light
TYEHIMBA JESS, leadbelly
HELENA MESA, Horse Dance Underwater
Cover $7 (includes one house drink)

When you go, make sure you tell them I sent you.

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