Published at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in October 2020, New York-based poet Pamela Sneed’s “Funeral Diva” recalls the forgotten stories of another pandemic: the AIDS crisis of the 1990s, and the Black lesbian women who cared and advocated for the dying.
Sneed will share “Funeral Diva” in conversation with Seattle poet Shin Yu Pai on Friday, Oct. 14 from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. in the Central Library’s Level 1 Microsoft Auditorium. The event, which will also be livestreamed, kicks off a new fall Public Engagement series guest-curated by Pai, who is also a KUOW podcaster (“The Blue Suit”), events producer and former program director at Atlas Obscura and Town Hall Seattle. The series features BIPOC thinkers and authors whose work sits at the intersection of the personal and sociopolitical, said Pai.
“Pamela’s poetry rose to prominence during the pandemic,” said Pai. “She writes about the contributions of Black lesbians to caring for the community – highlighting voices and stories that don’t usually get centered, while reflecting back and forth between our present pandemic moment and the AIDS epidemic. It’s a beautiful opportunity to bring Pamela in conversation with our community, and I’m thrilled that it will happen at the Library.”
“Funeral Diva” has received widespread acclaim, including from The New York Times, which noted “its abundance, its desire for language to stir body as well as mind.” Publishers Weekly wrote that it “evokes a queer and Black coming-of-age story and its wider cultural resonance,” recalling experiences that “take the reader from the Boston suburbs and AIDS pandemic-era New York to Cape Coast Castle in Ghana.”
Other events in the series will feature Chef Sean Sherman, founder of the company The Sioux Chef, on Indigenous foodways (Nov. 4), and poet, science writer and former professional cagefighter Jenny Liou, author of “Muscle Memory” (Dec. 7).
The Library frequently works with guest curators to develop community-responsive programming. See our guest curator page for more information.
The event with Pamela Sneed is presented in partnership with AIDS Memorial Pathway (AMP), Gay City and Elliott Bay Book Company. All Library events are free to the public.
All events in the series are supported by The Seattle Public Library Foundation and the Gary and Connie Kunis Foundation.
ABOUT PAMELA SNEED
Pamela Sneed is a New York-based poet, performer and visual artist. She is the author of “Imagine Being More Afraid of Freedom Than Slavery,” “KONG and Other Works,” “Sweet Dreams” and “Funeral Diva,” published by City Lights in Oct 2020. “Funeral Diva” won the 2021 Lambda Lesbian Poetry Award. Additionally in 2021, Sneed was a finalist for New York Theater Workshops Golden Harris Award and received a monetary award. She has published in The Paris Review, Frieze Magazine, Art Forum, The Academy of American Poets and more. Her visual work was featured in the group show Omniscient at Leslie Lohman Museum; and won the 2021 Black Queer Art Mentorship Award for her leadership and literary talent. She is an online professor in the School of the Art Institute of Chicago's low-residency MFA program, where she has been a guest artist for six years. She also teaches poetry and art across disciplines at Columbia University.
ABOUT SHIN YU PAI
Shin Yu Pai, former program director for Town Hall Seattle, established the Atlas Obscura Society in Seattle and produced and curated programs for Atlas Obscura in Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Denver for five years. She is the author of 11 books of poetry and a 2022 Artist Trust Fellow. She is also the host and creator of “The Blue Suit,” a podcast on Asian American stories produced by KUOW Public Radio, Seattle’s NPR affiliate.
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