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Interviews Conducted by Dr. Brenda M. Greene

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A.J. Verdelle 

A.J. Verdelle is a prize-winning fiction writer, essayist, and working mother. Verdelle’s debut novel, The Good Negress, won five national prizes—including the American Academy of Arts & Letters, the Bunting Institute at Harvard University, the American Library Association; and finalist prizes at the Los Angeles Times, the IMPAC/Dublin Award, and the PEN/Faulkner Foundation. The Good Negress has been used as a novel text in colleges and universities nationally. Verdelle has written both fiction and creative nonfiction, and published essays about wide-reaching subjects. She currently teaches undergraduates at Morgan State University and teaches Master of Fine Arts students in the low-residency program at Lesley University, in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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Anita Kopacz 

Dr. Brenda Greene interviews writer, activist, and spiritual advisor Anita Kopacz and author of Shallow Waters: A Novel (Black Privilege Publishing, Atria, 2021). Greene and Kopacz discuss the genesis for her debut novel grounded in African-centered spiritualism. Kopacz has always been moved and fascinated by African spirituality and attracted to the fantastic in fiction. Beginning in Africa in the 1500s, Kopacz takes the reader on a journey that captures historical moments such as the Transatlantic Slave Trade, the Trail of Tears, and the Abolitionist Movement and people such as Frederick Douglass, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Harriet “Moses” Tubman. Shallow Waters symbolizes her blending of these moments and people to create a novel under the umbrella of Black Speculative Fiction. Kopacz discusses what this process has been for her and why she was motivated to write this novel. When asked about writers who have influenced her, she immediately referenced Octavia Butler who illustrated that fantasy novels representing Black people could be situated in Africa. Kopacz is the former editor-in-chief of Heart and Soul magazine.

About the Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College, CUNY

For 20 years, the programs of the Center for Black Literature (CBL) have had a dynamic impact in the literary field. The highly anticipated author readings and book signings, journals, symposia, conferences, panel discussions, and writing workshops—and the Center’s intellectual and accessible approach to programming—form an integrative approach to programming that sets CBL apart from others. CBL’s events are known for the way they ensure that Black literary scholarship and conversations are valued and sustained.

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at Medgar Evers College, CUNY
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The Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College is supported in part by an American Rescue Plan Act grant from the National Endowment for the Arts to support general operating expenses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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