In the arms of a sister
welcoming valerie boyd, sheree renee thomas, and shay youngblood TO THE KITCHEN TABLE LITERARY ARTS ADVISORY BOARD
I've been waiting to make this announcement for months, and I'm not entirely sure why. That's a lie. I do know why. I wanted the announcement to be grand, a supersized press release that put fireworks, somersaults, and a twelve-hour parade in word form.
I wanted to start off with how reading Wrapped in Rainbows before I decided to attend graduate school for writing--leaving my family for the first time and shunning a corporate career--made me feel possible. I had planned this mini-essay recalling how Zora Neale Hurston's Florida helped this Wisconsin girl make sense of Tampa Bay and how Valerie Boyd's research and writing and careful loving attention to fact, fiction, and the in-between made everything about my own writing journey, with its starts and stops, disappointments and discoveries, an exercise in trusting the divinely mysterious plan that promises to lead you right where you're supposed to be. I have a photo with Valerie Boyd from nearly every writing conference I've attended since graduating with my MFA nine years ago, and I just saw her again at Zora Fest in January. Something about seeing her is like a cosmic nod that I'm on the right track.
There's more. I wanted to write a four-page letter of gratitude to Sheree Renee Thomas, telling her how Dark Matter was the first time I truly lost myself in magic and terror and fantasy and future. The letter would detail how emerging from stories by Octavia Butler, Nalo Hopkinson, Nisi Shawl, and Samuel R. Delaney, inspiration and imagination ran so hot in my blood it blistered my skin. I was also going to talk about how I felt cheated at first, betrayed by the world of books I loved so much. The years of reading my sister's Koontz, King, and Bradbury hand-me-downs were fine, but reading each story in both Dark Matter anthologies exploded my world. I got over it, that cheated-missing-out-where-you-been feeling and realized that Sheree's work of creating and holding space for Black speculative fiction was an altar call, and though I didn't know how or when or where, I knew I wanted to be in this thing for real--not just writing, but exploring the limitless landscape that is Black imagination, and not just for myself, but for and with others. I also planned to mention, as I closed the letter, how our shared name gives me a thrill every time, all the time.
I had all these grand plans, all these dreams about how I wanted it to feel, how I wanted the announcement to be. But there is no way to make this moment any more perfect. Right here. Right now. This is the dream.
Thank you Valerie, Sheree, and Shay for sharing your work and sharing yourselves. Your guidance and support mean the absolute world to me.
In gratitude, community, and sisterhood,
Sheree L. Greer
rEAD BIOS FOR VALERIE bOYD, SHEREE RENEE THOMAS, AND SHAY YOUNGBLOOD HERE
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