How We Do It
Black Writers on Craft, Practice, and Skill
by Jericho Brown; Darlene Taylor
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Pub Date 04 Jul 2023 | Archive Date 29 Aug 2023
More than 30 acclaimed writers—including diverse voices such as Nikki Giovanni, David Omotosho Black, Natasha Trethewey, Barry Jenkins, Jacqueline Woodson, Tayari Jones, and Angela Flournoy—reflect on their experience and expertise in this unique book on the craft of writing that focuses on the Black creative spirit.
How We Do It is an anthology curated by Black writers for the creation and proliferation of Black thought. While a creator’s ethnicity does not solely define them, it is inherently part of who they are and how they interpret the world.
For centuries, Black creators have utilized oral and written storytelling traditions in crafting their art. But how does one begin the process of constructing a poem or story or character? How do Black writers, when faced with questions of “authenticity,” dive deep into the essence of their lives and work to find the inherent truth? How We Do It addresses these profound questions. Not a traditional “how to” writing handbook, it seeks to guide rather than dictate and to validate the complexity and range of styles—and even how one thinks about craft itself.
An outstanding list of contributors offer their insights on a range of important topics. Pulitzer Prize winner Jericho Brown explores the lives personified in poetry, while Pulitzer Prize winner Natasha Trethewey explores decolonizing enduring metaphors. National Book Award finalist Angela Flournoy illuminates the pain of grief in all forms and how it can be revealed in the act of creation, and iconoclast Nikki Giovanni offers an elegiac declaration on language.
New and previously published essays and interviews provide encouragement, examples, and templates, and offer lessons on everything from poetic form and plotting a story to the lessons inherent in the act of writing, trial & error, and finding inspiration in the works of others, including those of Toni Morrison, Shakespeare, and Edward P. Jones. A handbook and a reference tool, How We Do It is a thoughtful and welcome tool that offers direction to help Black artists establish their own creative practice while celebrating and widening the scope of the Black writer’s role in art, history, and culture.
Contributors include David Omotosho Black, Jericho Brown, Breena Clark, Rita Dove, Camille T. Dungy, W. Ralph Eubanks, Curdella Forbes, Angela Flournoy, Ernest Gaines, Nikki Giovanni, Marita Golden, Ravi Howard, Terrance Hayes, Mitchell S. Jackson, Barry Jenkins, Charles S. Johnson, Tayari Jones, Jamaica Kincaid, Tony Medina, E. Ethelbert Miller, Elizabeth Nunez, Carl Phillips, Jewell Parker Rhodes, Rion Amilcar Scott, Evie Shockley, Natasha Trethewey, Frank X Walker, Afaa M. Weaver, Crystal Wilkinson, Jacqueline Woodson, Tiphanie Yanique.