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UPDATE 11/3/23: Last evening, Patricia Berne experienced a health emergency. As she is necessarily being attended to and given care, she will not be joining us to deliver her scheduled keynote address today. We kindly ask that you join us in wishing her well and sending her love. 

Today, we are grateful to be joined by her colleague Cyrée Jarelle Johnson, who joins us via Sins Invalid. 


Cyrée Jarelle Johnson 

Friday, November 3, 2023  |  1:00-2:30 PM Central Time

keynote presenter Cyrée Jarelle Johnson

Cyrée Jarelle Johnson is a poet from Piscataway, New Jersey. He is the author of SLINGSHOT (Nightboat Books, 2019), winner of a Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry. Johnson was awarded a Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation and served as the inaugural poet-in-residence at the Brooklyn Public Library. His poems have appeared in Poetry, Apogee, Foglifter, WUSSY, and Atmos among other publications. WATCHNIGHT, his forthcoming book of poetry, considers ancestry as history in the context of the Great Black Migration of the 20th century, familial estrangement, and queer family.

Personal Statement
As an artist of the disability justice movement, I have come to believe that the shape of a poem can act as a body does—carving out a distinctive shape that helps us better understand both the poem itself and the background from which it emerged. When meter is layered above those shapes, when rhyme arrives, when a tradition is evoked, abandoned, or remixed this adds complexity to the body of a poem. This new texture may approximate or recall whiteness, queerness, disability, or any other embodied way of being without announcing such a project.

In form, the unfamiliar stoops beneath the cloak of tradition. The ear loves rhyme because rhyme is pleasurable. What additional depth of feeling, of knowing does that pleasure permit? How does structure force a reader to more completely interact with a poem’s concerns? If we are creatures of breath, how can the poet and the poem compel a reader to breathe like another, and what do we learn from such an exercise?


Joy DeGruy, PhD 

Wednesday, November 1, 2023  |  1:00-2:30 PM Central Time

image of keynote presenter Joy DeGruy

Writer, speaker, and social scientist

Dr. DeGruy is a world renowned writer, speaker, and social scientist with two master degrees in Social Work and Clinical psychology. Her doctorate degree is in Social Work research. Throughout her career, she has held numerous workshops and seminars and given lectures about her research focused on the intersection of racism, trauma, and American chattel slavery. Her book Post-Traumatic Slave Syndrome: America’s Legacy of Enduring Injury and Healing shows its readers how the persistence of that intersection suffuses our daily lives. Indeed, Dr. DeGruy travels across the globe to share this message and has held these aforementioned lectures almost everywhere. She has graced her presence, time and thoughts with—Morehouse School of Medicine, Smith College, Stonybrook College, Harvard University, Tulane University, Everett Community College, Fisk University, Oxford University, the Essence Music Festival, and the County of LA department of mental health. She has also done consulting work with Oprah Winfrey.

Patrick Phillips

Thursday, November 2, 2023  |  1:00-2:30 PM Central Time

image of keynote presenter Patrick Phillips

Author, Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America

Patrick Phillips is currently a fellow of the Cullman Center for Writers at the New York Public Library, as well as a Carnegie Foundation Fellow. His first book of nonfiction, Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America, was published by W. W. Norton and named a best book of the year by The New York Times, The Boston Globe, and Smithsonian. Elegy for a Broken Machine appeared in the Knopf Poets series in 2015, and was a finalist for the National Book Award. A past fellow of the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggennheim Foundation,

​Phillips is also the author of Chattahoochee, Boy, and Song of the Closing Doors, which was published by Knopf in 2022. ​His work has appeared in many publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Nation. Phillips lives in San Francisco and teaches writing and literature at Stanford.