Reading Akwaeke Emezi

June 2021 cover of TIME Magazine, via

Akwaeke Emezi’s website offers us the opportunity to immerse ourselves in their writing–plus images and video, too.

A quick browse takes me to a short list of their poems, a list of their fiction, and a lengthy list of non-fiction pieces.

The first piece I read, a poem entitled “self portrait as a god who is loved,” moves me to print it and share it on a bulletin board near the English Department.

The next text I chose to read, “Writers Of Color Are Making Their Own Canon,” is familiar to me. I realize that I’ve read it already as the essay entitled “Writing into the Unknown” included at the end of Freshwater. It’s an essay that gives us insight into Emezi’s life as a reader as much as their development as a writer.

Next, I decide to watch one of the videos Emezi includes in the shorts section, called “Hey Celestial.”

HEY CELESTIAL | Pantin, France | 2014, by Akwaeke Emezi

Browse through these titles and choose a few to read or watch, too–and feel free to leave a list of recommendations in the comments!

Akwaeke Emezi interview

Before Thursday’s Literary Arts Festival (have you registered yet?!), you might take some time to get familiar with the featured speaker. Here’s a quick way, through a nine-minute conversation Akwaeke Emezi had with Trevor Noah when they were a guest on The Daily Show.

Have you watched other videos featuring Emezi that you want to share with the City Tech community? Leave a link in the comments!

41st Annual Literary Arts Festival with Layli Long Soldier: March 24, 2022

Join City Tech student writers and the poet Layli Long Soldier to share ideas and creative work.Thursday, March 24, 4:30 pm on ZOOM.


After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Read about the featured guest below and consider submitting work to the creative writing contest before the March 4 deadline. Information about the contest is here: LAF 2022 Literary Arts Festival Creative Writing Contest: Deadline March 4


Photo credit:Layli Long Soldier


Layli Long Soldier is an Oglala Lakota poet, writer, feminist and activist. She is the author of the chapbook Chromosomory (2010) and the full-length collection Whereas (2017), winner of the National Books Critics Circle award and a finalist for the National Book Award. She has also won the National Artist Fellowship from the Arts and Cultures Foundation, the Whiting Writer’s Award, and a Lannan Literary Fellowship.  In 2012, her participatory installation, Whereas We Respond, was featured on the Pine Ridge Reservation. She lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.


National Poetry Foundation: 

About Layli Long Soldier:


Obligations 2


Academy of American Poets:


Whereas When Offered

Video Readings/Discussons

Whiting Foundation:

Reading of Whereas and Discussion on the Whiting Foundation:

Interview: The Freedom of Real Apologies

An interview on Krista Tippet’s On Being. In this show, available as an interview transcript or a podcast, Layli Long Soldier discusses pieces from her book WHEREAS written in response to the 2009 congressional resolution of apology to Native Americans. Long Soldier states:

“First of all what motivated me to even respond to the apology was the delivery. So that’s the heart of it — or, I should say, the non-delivery of the apology.”

The interview also discusses how the poet integrated personal stories of apology, her search for justice, and the importance of being heard.

Rowan Ricardo Phillips’ The Ground

Heaven-Photo: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux

In a discussion with poet Lawrence Joseph about his work on his debut book of poetry, The Ground, (FSG, 2012) Phillips discusses  his work as a translator and a literary critic and how these affect his creative lens. He also discusses the importance of myth, story, and disturbances of the natural world in his work, stating: “There’s something monumental and terrifying about myth when it’s allowed to become again something more than a euphemism for fiction––as in “that’s just a myth”––and it creeps with conviction into your belief system.”

The Ground will be available in the City Tech bookstore.

Featured Speaker: Rowan Ricardo Phillips

Rowan Ricardo Phillips, photo: BlueFlower Arts

We are pleased to announce this year’s guest speaker, poet and essayist Rowan Ricardo Phillips. Phillips is author of two poetry collections published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux: Heaven (2015) and The Ground: Poems (2013).  Phillips is the the recipient of a 2015 Guggenheim fellowship for poetry, the Whiting Writers’ Award, the PEN/Joyce Osterweil Award and the GLCA New Writers Award for Poetry, and the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Heaven, an award that recognizes  works that contribute to our understanding racism and cultural diversity.


Phillips’ poetry and writing has appeared in The New Republic, The New Yorker, Poetry, Granta, and The Paris Review. He is a contributing writer for Artforum Magazine and has written extensively online about soccer for The New Republic and The Paris Review, where he also contributes a column on basketball. In addition to his work in the field of poetry, Phillips writes literary criticism, art criticism, literary sports writing, and non-fiction. The author of the influential critical study of poetry When Blackness Rhymes with Blackness, Phillips is also the translator of Salvador Espriu’s story collection Ariadne in the Grotesque Labyrinth as well as numerous other works from Catalan, Spanish, and Italian.


Born in New York City in 1974 Phillips earned his BA at Swarthmore College and his PhD at Brown University. He has taught at Stony Brook, Princeton, Harvard, and Columbia. A Fellow of the New York Institute for the Humanities at NYU, he divides his time between New York City and Barcelona.

Mary Gaitskill’s The Mare

Image: Penguin/RandomHouse
Image: Penguin/RandomHouse

Mary Gaitskill’s recent novel The Mare, published in November 2005, tells the story of Ginger, a married woman in upstate New York, and Velvet, a Dominican girl from Williamsburg and Crown Heights, Brooklyn, who comes to live with Ginger and Paul intermittently through the Fresh Air Fund. As Ginger and Velvet begin to depend on and find depth through their evolving relationship, the differences between their lives are illuminated and challenged; while an unwieldy horse offers an opportunity for Velvet and Ginger to prove to themselves and others the power of individual determination and of learning how to offer and receive love.The Mare will soon be available in City Tech bookstore.The book has received critical acclaim including:

Mary Gaitskill’s Don’t Cry

Mary Gaitskill Don't CryIn her third book of short stories, Don’t Cry, Gaitskill continues her exploration of human failings and confusions in ten short stories. These works take a turn with a deeper exploration of mothering and the bewilderment of violence and its effects. The volume contains the story “The Arms and Legs of the Lake.” Don’t Cry will soon be available in the City Tech bookstore. (Image: Amazon)

Mary Gaitskill’s Bad Behavior

Bad Behavior by Mary GaitskillMary Gaitskill’s first book, Bad Behavior, contains the short stories that drew immediate critical attention to her work when it was published in 1988. Their explorations of sexuality, gender, power plays in relationships, and the fragile foundations of family of friendship are investigated in these stories that set the bar for Gaitskill’s taut and lyrical prose. This volume contains the story “Secretary,” which was made into a movie in 2002 starring Maggie Gyllenhaal and James Spader. This book will soon be available at the City Tech bookstore. Image: Amazon.


Mary Gaitskill’s Veronica

Images from the National Book Award Foundation

Mary Gaitskill’s second novel tells the story of Alison and her relationship with an older woman with a powerful presence named Veronica. The storyline belongs primarily to Alison, whose life as a teenage runaway selling flowers outside of strip clubs dramatically shifts to the glamorous but tenuous reality as a high fashion model in New York City and Paris. But as her looks and fortune fades, Alison finds herself mired in the daily grind of 1980s as a proofreader in Manhattan where she meets Veronica. Veronica’s illness (she contracts HIV) has a profound affect on Alison, as she tries to manage her ties to family and friends and learn the art of making a living. Veronica was a finalist for a National Book Award in 2005. This book will soon be available in the City Tech bookstore.

Reviews of Veronica include:
Veronica: Two Girls Alive and Dead by Meghan O’Rourke in the New York Times