Reading: Voices Beyond Bondage

April 29, 2016 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Whether they were freeborn, self-liberated, or born in the years after the Emancipation, African Americans had a rich cultural heritage all their own, a heritage largely subsumed in popular history and collective memory by the atrocity of slavery.

The early 19th century birthed the nation’s first black-owned periodicals, the first media spaces to provide primary outlets for the empowerment of African American voices. For many, poetry became this empowerment. Almost every black-owned periodical featured an open call for poetry, and African Americans, both free and enslaved, responded by submitting droves of poems for publication. Yet until now, these poems -- and an entire literary movement -- have been lost to modern readers.

The poems in Voices Beyond Bondage address the horrific and the mundane, the humorous and the ordinary and the extraordinary. Authors wrote about slavery, but also about love, morality, politics, perseverance, nature, and God. These poems evidence authors who were passionate, dedicated, vocal, and above all resolute in a bravery which was both weapon and shield against a world of prejudice and inequity. These authors wrote to be heard; more than 150 years later it is at last time for us to listen.

Erika DeSimone earned her undergraduate degree in English from Westfield State University (Massachusetts), ​serving as the school's first student poetry coordinator. She later earned a Certificate of Editorial Study from NYU’s School of Professional Studies. She worked at the Modern Language Association for more than a decade before leaving her position to promote Voices​ Beyond Bondage​. She is currently an independent editor in Brooklyn, whose freelancing focuses on working with authors writing in both fiction and creative non-fiction.

Fidel Louis earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees from New York University. While in graduate school, he began writing and editing articles for Haiti Observateur and The Alliance. He was later a contributing writer to the New York Amsterdam News and managing editor of the Caribbean News Network. He is fluent in five languages. Fidel is currently an entrepreneur, working to found public-private investment ventures with Haiti. ​

A Q&A will follow the talk; copies will be available for sale and signing. RSVPs to <RSVP@penandbrush.org> are encouraged but not required. 




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