The literary world is teeming with talent from our community

BY KRYSTA MCKENZIE, IMAGE BY PEXELS

This Black History Month, let’s take a look at some of the Black queer writers that are at the top of their game right now. Some of my personal literary heroes include authors like Audre Lorde and James Baldwin, and as important as it is to explore their work, I think it’s also really important to celebrate the current authors and poets that they essentially paved the way for. Voices like theirs changed the literary landscape forever, and there are some truly remarkable talents that we now have access to because of that!

Akwaeke Emezi

I have to start with Akwaeke Emezi (they/them) because the versatility of their writing knows no bounds. At the age of 36, they have already published eight books, each of which are spectacular in their own right. If you’re looking for romance, speculative fiction, poetry or memoir, they have it all. A good place to start is with You Made A Fool Of Death With Your Beauty — it will make you feel… everything.

Sara Collins

Sara Collins (she/her) is the Jamaican novelist who worked as a lawyer for 17 years before embracing her desire to write. In 2019 she published her first novel, The Confessions Of Frannie Langton. This is a stunning queer historical fiction which centres a maid, Frannie Langton, accused of murdering the couple she worked for. It’s intense and haunting, so I can’t wait to see what she does next!

Jay Bernard

When Jay Bernard (they/them) published their debut poetry collection, Surge, in 2019 it was widely critically acclaimed — and rightly so. The collection is an exploration of the New Cross Fire of 1981 and the Grenfell Fire in 2017. They seamlessly blend the personal and the political with a range of poems that beautifully express anger, grief and identity. I’m so excited to continue following their work.

Jacqueline Woodson

Jacqueline Woodson (she/her) is very well known for her children’s literature, poetry and adult fiction. Her adult novel Red At The Bone, is (in Jacqueline’s words) about “love, and family and the Tulsa Race Massacre and Brooklyn and getting pregnant young… and motherhood and daughterhood”. It is an exceptional work, as is her other adult novel Another Brooklyn, so it will be exciting to see what else she has up her sleeve.

Nicole Dennis-Benn

Nicole Dennis-Benn (she/her) is an author whose books I will never get bored of raving about. Her debut novel Here Comes The Sun was an exciting, heartbreaking and compassionate story which deals with social issues that queer women in Jamaica are faced with. Her second novel was just as brilliant, so I have no doubt that she will continue to publish beautiful stories.

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