UBC’s School of Public Policy and Global Affairs is proud to host Jesmyn Ward, MacArthur Genius and two-time National Book Award winner, as part of the 2020 Phil Lind Initiative series on “Thinking While Black.”
This event will be moderated by Canisia Lubrin, a writer, editor, critic and teacher.
Reserve your ticket today for this free public event. The webinar link and passcode will be shared with registrants prior to the event.
Learn more about the 2020 Thinking While Black series here.
Blackness as a form, concept and experience, has fundamentally shaped American iconographies, language, media, and cultural productions. This series invites us to consider Blackness as both a culture and a mode of thinking. This series will meditate on the structures of race in North America and will spotlight the seemingly disconnected forms of racial violence that hide in plain sight. How, despite shifts in rhetoric and political policy, have so many forms of racial violence persisted? How, we ask, can we rethink ourselves by understanding our relations to blackness?
Bio: MacArthur Genius and two-time National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward has been hailed as the standout writer of her generation, proving her “fearless and toughly lyrical” voice in novels, memoir, and nonfiction. Betsy Burton of the American Booksellers Association has called her “the new Toni Morrison.” In 2017, she became the first woman and the first person of color to win two National Book Awards for Fiction—joining the ranks of William Faulkner, Saul Bellow, John Cheever, Philip Roth, and John Updike.Ward’s stories are largely set on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi, where she grew up and still lives. When Hurricane Katrina slammed into the Gulf Coast, Ward was forced to evacuate her rapidly flooding home. Her writing is deeply informed by the trauma of Katrina, not to mention its unimaginable social and economic repercussions. Her novel Salvage the Bones, winner of the 2011 National Book Award, is a troubling but ultimately empowering tale of familial bonds set amid the chaos of the hurricane. Likewise, Ward’s debut novel, Where the Line Bleeds, depicts what Publishers Weekly calls “a world full of despair but not devoid of hope” in the aftermath of natural disaster.Ward’s memoir, Men We Reaped, delves into the five years of Ward’s life in which she lost five young men—to drugs, accidents, suicide, and the bad luck that follows poor people and people of color. Lauded by Kirkus Reviews as a “modern rejoinder to Black Like Me [and] Beloved,” Men We Reaped is a beautiful and painful homage to Ward’s ghosts and the haunted yet hopeful place she calls home. Men We Reaped won the Heartland Prize and was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.Ward is the also the editor of the critically acclaimed anthology The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race, which NPR named one of the Best Books of 2016. Taking James Baldwin’s 1963 examination of race in America, The Fire Next Time, as a jumping-off point, this groundbreaking collection features essays and poems about race from the most important voices of our time—including Edwidge Danticat, Natasha Trethewey, Isabel Wilkerson, Mitchell S. Jackson, Kiese Laymon, and Claudia Rankine.
Subscribe to our Phil Lind Initiative Newsletter for updates regarding when tickets will be released for each event.
Artwork Credit: Sandra Brewster