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Author Talk w/ Shayla Lawson

September 29, 2020 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm PDT

This Is Major! Author Talk

featuring poet/essayist/author Shayla Lawson

Shayla Lawson with Hanif Abdurraqib

This is Major

Tuesday, September 29 at 6 p.m. PDT 


With our partners at Elliot Bay Book Co., we are delighted to present what should be an enlivening, provocative program as poet (I Think I’m Ready to See Frank Ocean) Shayla Lawson celebrates the publication of her riveting debut book of essays, This is Major: Notes on Diana Ross, Dark Girls and Being Dope (Harper Perennial). This book is major. Helping make this even more of an occasion is that Shayla Lawson will be joined in conversation with Hanif Abdurraqib, who also knows working in a multitude of written forms, poetry, and prose, and places in-between. 

About Shayla

Shayla Lawson is the author of THIS IS MAJOR: NOTES ON DIANA ROSS, DARK GIRLS & BEING DOPE (Harper Perennial, 2020) and three poetry collections: I THINK I’M READY TO SEE FRANK OCEAN,  A SPEED EDUCATION IN HUMAN BEING  and PANTONE. She has written for Tin House, PAPER, ESPN, SalonGuernica, Vulture and New York Magazine, but she mostly writes for you.

A MacDowell and Yaddo Artist Colony Fellow, Shayla Lawson curates The Tenderness Project with Ross Gay and writes poems with Chet’la Sebree (pronounced Shayla, no relation).

She was raised in Lexington, Kentucky, is a professor at Amherst College, and lives in Brooklyn, New York.

“Written as a prose love poem in essays to Black girlhood, Black womanhood, and Black femmehood, Shayla Lawson’s fourth book is required reading for all, but especially for Black women and girls trying to hold space for their whole selves, the whole of their Blackness. Lawson lunges into full-bodied critique and historicization of the hurt of white patriarchal supremacy and the white gaze with cunning wit and a fresh scalpel.” -Nafissa Thompson-Spires. “Shayla Lawson’s This is Major is part cultural criticism, part pop music history, part memoir, part ethnography, and all conscious humor. What I love most about this book is that for all its mastery of various subjects and genres, it is always searingly honest … This is a brilliant book by a Black woman aware that, from Phillis Wheatley to Nina Simone, there is a long history of her special brand of genius.” -Jericho Brown. That is just some of the early praise, with Ocean Vuong, Phoebe Robinson, Tressie McMillan Cottom, R. Eric Thomas, and numerous publications also weighing in. 

To purchase This is Major, please see:


Hanif Abdurraqib is a poet, essayist, and cultural critic from Columbus, Ohio. His poetry has been published in Muzzle, Vinyl, PEN American, and various other journals. His essays and music criticism have been published in The FADER, Pitchfork, The New Yorker, and The New York Times. His first full-length poetry collection, The Crown Ain’t Worth Much, was released in June 2016 from Button Poetry. It was named a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Prize and was nominated for a Hurston-Wright Legacy Award.  His first collection of essays, They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us, was released in winter 2017 by Two Dollar Radio and was named a book of the year by Buzzfeed, Esquire, NPR, Oprah Magazine, among others. His book, Go Ahead In The Rain: Notes To A Tribe Called Quest (University of Texas Press) became a New York Times Bestseller, and was met with critical acclaim. His second collection of poems, A Fortune For Your Disaster, was released in 2019 by Tin House.


September 29, 2020
6:00 pm - 7:00 pm PDT
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