“I pray for peace with the same mouth I hide the razor blade in”: Javon Johnson on his new poetry collection

In this episode, Lissa speaks with Javon Johnson, about his new poetry collection, Ain't Never Not Been Black (Button Poetry, 2020). Javon Johnson, Ph.D. is a poet, performer, professor and recipient of numerous awards. According to poet Rudy Francisco, Dr. Johnson is “is one of the most brilliant writers in the world”. This conversation was recorded …

Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop: Black Minnesota poets in response to the murder of George Floyd

One of the defining events of the past year, in Minnesota and around the world, was the murder of George Floyd and the international protests demanding justice. Though Mr. Floyd's murder was shocking, for many people it fit a pattern of racism and violence inflicted upon Black people and BIPOC communities in this country. In …

VIDEO: “Art can be liberating, art is redemptive, and art is healing,” Ibi Zoboi and Dr. Yusef Salaam on their YA novel-in-verse Punching the Air

"Hope is the thing that drives us forward," says Dr. Yusuf Salaam of naming his novel's main character Amal, which means hope. "Because without hope we wouldn't see a positive future, we wouldn't imagine the opportunity to change the criminal justice system from the criminal system of injustice to the criminal justice system." Dr. Salaam …

“Change comes one at a time” – author Claudia Rankine on her latest work, Just Us: An American Conversation

Launching the sixth season of BMR, Lissa sits down with poet and essayist Claudia Rankine to dive into her latest work Just Us: An American Conversation (Graywolf Press, 2020). Rankine describes the book as the result of a challenge she set to herself to talk to white men - a group she rarely talks to …

Tell Me Your Names and I Will Testify: Author Carolyn Holbrook on her new book

"For me, the title of the book is about testifying on behalf of myself, my family, my children and adding to the conversation about the beauty of our people," says Carolyn Holbrook about her newly released collection of essays, Tell Me Your Names and I Will Testify (University of Minnesota Press, 2020). In this episode, …

From Generosity to Justice: Ford Foundation President Darren Walker on his new book and reimagining philanthropy for social justice

“As you read these pages, please consider these words to be an open invitation—an extended hand and an opportunity to learn, to grow, to get comfortable with being uncomfortable,” writes Ford Foundation President Darren Walker in his new book, From Generosity to Justice: A New Gospel of Wealth. According to Walker, embracing discomfort is a …

Watch: Conversation with Seph Rodney, Recorded Live in Partnership with the Walker Art Center

On May 21st Black Market Reads launched our first all virtual livestream event. In partnership with the Walker Art Center, The Givens Foundation for African American Literature, Platform Arts and iDream.tv, Lissa spoke with Dr. Seph Rodney about the changing role of museums. Together, they discuss Rodney’s 2019 book The Personalization of the Museum Visit, …

Poet, Essayist Justin Phillip Reed on The Malevolent Volume

"Poetry is present in pretty much every culture," says Reed. "It is present across class boundaries." But, he notes, depending on those boundaries it looks and acts differently. "I think there is a way that certain kinds of poetry are rewarded as literature and therefore are given a kind of visibility that ends up reifying …