Scholar Len Lawson Gives Afrofuturist Poetry Reading
His far-reaching talk examined the modern landscape of Afrofuturism, a centuries-old genre, which Lawson describes in a foreword to The Future of Black.
Visiting author Len Lawson read his poems and shared pieces from his chapbook, Chime (2019), before offering a book signing at a recent evening event held in the Schellhase Commons. Many students approached the table with their copy of The Future of Black: Afrofuturism and Black Comics Poetry (2021), an anthology which Lawson had edited, and left with a personal note from the scholar.
“The Future of Black and Other Projects” was sponsored by African American and Africana Studies (AAAS), Art and Art History, Arts and Lectures, English and Creative Writing, History, the Institute for Inclusion and Equity (IIE), and Special Interest and Affinity Housing (SPINT).
“There are a lot of cosponsors as a testament to the depth and breadth of Lawson’s work,” said Patricia Lott, assistant professor of English. Lott co-coordinated the event with Nzadi Keita, associate professor of English and coordinator of AAAS.
Lawson’s far-reaching talk examined the modern landscape of Afrofuturism, a centuries-old genre, which Lawson describes in a foreword to The Future of Black. “At its nucleus, the Black imagination has always been futuristic because it yearns for its roots in Africa, the place that birthed it,” he writes. As a kid, he recalls his experiences in the classroom, the library, and in front of the TV causing him to “[try] to embody whiteness.”
He tracks back his journey with Afrofuturism and poetry to these moments of doubt. Today, the award-winning educator is an expert in the field, editing for various literary journals and serving on the board of directors of the South Carolina Writers Association and The Jasper Project, a multidisciplinary arts initiative in South Carolina, where he is an assistant professor of English at Newberry College. “This is the moment in time that I’m proud to say I chased it.”