L. Lamar Wilson
L. LAMAR WILSON’s cross-genre work centers the voices and experiences of black, brown, and indigenous folk thriving in the rural South despite white nationalist terror. His native Marianna, just 65 miles west of Tallahassee off Interstate 10, often serves as the Yoknapatawpha where his speakers contemplate cross-cultural intimacies. After nearly 18 years of award-winning editing in several of the nation’s top newsrooms, including The New York Times and The Washington Post, and faculty appointments at Davidson College, The University of Alabama, and Wake Forest University, Wilson returns to the Big Bend to expand on documentary impulses that have produced poetry, nonfiction and scholarly prose, musical theater, and film. He’s the author of Sacrilegion—the 2012 selection for the Carolina Wren Press Poetry Series, an Independent Publishers Group bronze medalist, and a Thom Gunn Award finalist—and co-author of Prime: Poetry and Conversation (Sibling Rivalry P, 2014), with Phillip B. Williams, Rickey Laurentiis, Saeed Jones, and Darrel Alejandro Holnes. The Gospel Truth, a musical adaptation of Sacrilegion, was performed in Miami and Tallahassee, the latter time with a troupe that honors artists who, like Wilson, are neurodiverse or live with physical differences. The Changing Same, a collaboration with Rada Film Group that aired in PBS’s POV Shorts series, won the Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Best Documentary Award and a special jury prize at the New Orleans Film Festival. Vinyl nominated the poem featured in the film, “Resurrection Sunday,” for a Pushcart Prize.
In addition to The Times, The Post and NPR, Wilson’s poems and essays have appeared in the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day, African American Review, The Bitter Southerner, Black Gay Genius (Vintage Entity, 2014), Bodies Built for Game: The Prairie Schooner Anthology of Contemporary Sports Writing (U of Nebraska P, 2019), Callaloo, Crazyhorse, Furious Flower: Seeding the Future of African American Poetry (Northwestern UP, 2019), jubilat, A Literary Field Guide to Southern Appalachia (University of Georgia P, 2019), The 100 Best African American Poems (Sourcebooks MediaFusion, 2010), Obsidian, Oxford American, Poetry, Race and Utopian Desire in American Literature and Society (Palgrave Macmillan, 2019), The Root, south, and elsewhere.
Wilson, a Florida A&M University alumnus, has received fellowships from, among others, the Cave Canem, Ragdale, and Hurston-Wright foundations. He holds an MFA from Virginia Tech and a doctorate in African American and multiethnic American poetics from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. He also teaches in the Mississippi University for Women’s low-residency MFA program.
Publications, Stage Productions, Film
The Changing Same. Associate Producer. 27 August 2017- 22 July 2019 (debut date). With Rada Film Group.
- Opened POV Shorts’s 2nd season; continues airing on PBS markets and streams online through 2023.
- Won 2019 Reel Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival Best Documentary Award.
- Won special jury prize at the 2018 New Orleans Film Festival.
- Screened at 2018-2019 Full Frame (Durham, N.C.); Hot Springs (Ark.); Miami; Pan African (Los Angeles); Salem, Mass.; Smithsonian African American (Washington, D.C.); and St. Louis festivals.
- Featured on Code Switch, Up First, and White Lies in October 2019 and perennially throughout 2020.
- Inspired Rada Film Group’s POV Spark/Scatter virtual-reality experience for museums, galleries, churches, schools, and libraries, which uses the same title I developed for our film and for which an actor plays my avatar as a “virtual guide”; after a successful debut at Sundance, it is set for a 2021 release.
The Gospel Truth.
Mickee Faust Club. Adelaide Schnittman Hall. Tallahassee, FL, 2-3 June 2017.
- Full staging of one-act play with cast of three Faust players, featured on WFSU (88.9 -FM), Tallahassee Democrat, TallahasseeArtsGuide.com, and WTXL-ABC.
Reading Queer Festival. Miami Botanical Gardens. Miami Gardens, Fla. 30 August 2014.
- Dramatic reading/workshop of a draft of the one-act, with three operatic singers (tenor, baritone, and bass), featured in The Miami Herald, Miami New Times, and other local media.
Poetry (in journals & other single-issue, peer-reviewed publications)
“Winter in America, or Shoveling,” “I Held Hope in My Hand,” “In the Cat’s Cradle, An Embrace,” “PrEPositions.” Interim 37.3-4 (Winter 2020). 31 December 2020.
“Quare.” Oxford American (Winter Music Issue). 10 November 2020. (Pushcart nominee)
“How to Make Tea Cake,” “Ghazal of the Naptime Blues,” “To the Polka Dot Muumuu My Mother Loved to See Her Mother Wear.” South Writ Large. Summer 2020.
“Digging.” The New York Times. June 2019.
“Nursing.” Academy of American Poets/Poets.org. October 2018.
“From ‘Negus in Paris.’“ Hunger Mountain, vol. 22, Spring 2018, pp. 144-45.
“The Mourning After the Morning After: Oct. 3, 2017.” Talking River, January 2018, p. 143.
“How to Disclose,” “How to Pick Cotton,” “How to Bake Bread.” Crazyhorse, vol. 91, Spring 2017, pp. 38-40.
“PrEPositions.” HEArt. Spring 2017.
“Skylight, Skylark: Marshall, N.C., July 15, 2013.” Englisch betrifft uns (German textbook for tweens & teens studying English), January 2017.
“Games.” Prairie Schooner, vol. 89, no. 4, Winter 2015, p. 158. Guest Ed. Natalie Diaz.
“Cake,” “The First Shower,” “In Search of Abe in DuPoint Circle.” The Good Men Project. September and December 2014 and February 2015.
“Touch: A Letter to the Mother.” The Feminist Wire. March 2013.
“Dear Uncle Sam.” TheThe Poetry Blog. December 2012.
“Family Reunion, 1993” and “To the Green Polka Dot Muumuu Mother Loved to See Her Mother Wear.” African American Review, vol. 45, nos. 1-2, Spring/Summer 2012, p. 238.
“Times Like These: Marianna, Florida.” Callaloo, vol. 33, no. 4, 2010, p. 1005.
Poetry (in Anthologies)
“Afterword: Burden Hill, I’ve Been in the Storm Too Long” and “Burden Hill Whip-poor-Will, I Play Dead.” Race and Utopian Desire in American Literature and Society. Eds. Edward Chan and Patricia Ventura. Palgrave MacMillan, 2019. pp. 301-02.
“Eastern Whip-poor-Will: Burden Hill Whip-poor-Will, I Play Dead.” A Literary Field Guide to Southern Appalachia. Eds. Rose McLarney and Laura Gray-Street. U of Georgia P, 2019, p. 90.
“Games.” Bodies Built for Game: The Prairie Schooner Anthology of Contemporary Sports Writing. Ed. Natalie Diaz. U of Nebraska P, 2019, p. 201.
“Resurrection Sunday.” Furious Flower: Seeding the Future of African American Poetry. 2nd Ed. Eds. Joanne V. Gabbin and Lauren K. Allenye. Triquarterly/Northwestern UP, 2019, pp. 138-41.
“Times Like These: Marianna, Florida.” Vinegar and Char: Southern Food in Verse. Ed. Sandra Beasley. U of Georgia P, 2018. p. 7
“I Can’t Help It.” “Resurrection Sunday.” Reading Queer: Poetry in a Time of Chaos. Ed. Maureen Seaton and Neil de la Flor. Anhinga P, 2018. pp. 168-72
“Prelude: I Can’t Help It,” “Times Like These: Marianna, Florida,” “Dear Uncle Sam.” Anthology of Young Poetry of the U.S.A. Ed. Taras Malkovych. A-BA-BA-HA-LA-MA-HA Press, 2016.
“We Do Not Know Her Name.” Please Excuse This Poem: 100 New Poets for the Next Generation. Eds. Brett Fletcher Lauer and Lynn Melnick. Viking Penguin, 2015, p. 92.
“What of a Body.” White Space Poetry Anthology. White Space Poetry Project, 2014.
Creative Nonfiction Publications & Journalism
Peer-Reviewed Nonfiction Essays & Journalism (as L.L. Wilson, Lamar Wilson and L. Lamar Wilson)
“The South Got Something to Say: As Nasty As They Wanna Be, “Cell Therapy,” “Scarred,” “Walk It Out (Remix),” Eve.” 3 August 2020. NPR.
“Queen of Snow Hill.” Oxford American, Winter 2018, pp. 136-43.
- Revisited in Summer-Fall 2019 in several media interviews, including with NPR’s Rodney Carmichael and The Breakfast Club; hip-hop artist Rapsody acknowledges our conversation as the inspiration for the focus of her 2019 album, Eve.
“Falling to Fly: Letting the Black Female Within Guide as White Supremacy Thrives.” VIDA Review Feature. 9 April 2018.
“Queer Black Avant-Garde Poetics: On Being Guilty of Excessive Darkness in the First Degree.” The Force of What Is Possible: Writers on Accessibility and the Avant-Garde Writers on Accessibility and the Avant-Garde. Ed. Amy King and Lily Hoang. Nightboat Books, 2014.
These Mythologizing Is: On Tending to the Past and Autobiography.” Poets’ Roundtable on Person and Persona. Los Angeles Review of Books. 22 October 2013.
Silence and Shame in the Black Church.” The Root. 26 October 2011.
“‘The Help’: Missed Opportunities.” The Root. 13 August 2011.
“One Man’s Horizons Opened Through E. Lynn Harris’s Unabashed Romances.” Washington Post. 24 July 2009.
“Q&A/NIKKI GIOVANNI: ‘You have to learn to trust yourself.’” Atlanta Journal-Constitution. 30 January 2007.
“Morrison brings us face to face with the blood, pain of slavery.” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. 24 May 2003.
“Singing with dignity and defiance: Simone’s songs, style demanded attention.” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. 22 April 2003.
“Seeing ‘Souls of Black Folk’ through prism of a century.” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. 4 April 2003
Kweer: Black Maternity and the Arc of Protest in the African American Elegiac Tradition (proposal under consideration)
“ ‘The Sweet Meat of My Feelings’: The Ghost of LeRoi Jones and the (Re)Birth of a Quare Nation.” Callaloo 41.2 (Fall 2021/2018: “Elegy” Issue; ed. Joshua Bennett). pp. 124-145.
“Birthing America's Kweer: Motherless Children Preach the Gospel of Mercy.” south (formerly Southern Literary Journal) LI.1 (Fall 2019). pp. 298-317.
“‘She Is Twenty-Three Months Pregnant’: The Quaring of Black Maternity in Bob Kaufman’s Surreal Migration Narratives.” Obsidian, vol. 41, no. 2, 2015, pp. 335-431.
Brother Mine: The Correspondence of Jean Toomer and Waldo Frank. Callaloo, vol. 37, no. 3, Summer 2014, 735-39.
“The Beauty of Troubled Tongues.” Post No Ills. January 2010.
SCHOLARLY PAPERS AND LECTURES
“More Than a Metaphor: The Ethics of Writing Through a Legacy of Racialized Violence.” Frank Islam Anthenaeum Symposia Fall 2019 Series. Montgomery College. Germantown, Md. 8 October 2019.
“Lost Johnson, McKay Novels Extend the Arc of Satire in the New Negro Renaissance.” MLA International Symposium: “Remembering Lost Voices.” Universidade Católica Portuguesa-Lisbon. 25 July 2019.
“Quaring Myths: The Poetics of Sun Ra and Gil Scott-Heron and the Black Maternal.” MLA International Symposium: “Remembering Lost Voices.” Universidade Católica Portuguesa-Lisbon. 24 July 2019.
READINGS, INTERVIEWS, & PERFORMANCES
“Poetry Reading & Film Screening: Wake Forest University.” ZSR Library Auditorium (404). 15 October 2019. Old Gold & Black Interview, front page, 17 October 2019.
“Poetry Reading: Cincinnati Black Pride.” Contemporary Art Center. 21 June 2019.
“Poetry Invocation: ‘Better: Skylight, Skylark.’ ” Mellon Foundation Board of Trustees Meeting: “Enduring Injustice, Legacies of Resistance.” Alley Station—The Warehouse. Montgomery, Ala. 6 June 2019.
2019 Best Documentary Winner, Sisters of the Diaspora Film Festival, The Changing Same
2018 Special Jury Prize, New Orleans Film Festival, The Changing Same
2019 Ragdale Foundation Residency Grant