Focusing on Black Queer Writing : CLAGS at the Fire & Ink Cotillion III in Austin Texas

On October 8–11th, 2009, an historic event occurred in Austin, Texas. The Fire & Ink III: Cotillion brought together LGBT writers and artists of African descent from around the nation and beyond. In 2002, its founding year, Thomas Glave, editor of Our Caribbean: A Gathering of Lesbian and Gay Writing from the Antilles (Duke University Press) and author of The Torturer’s Wife (fiction), provided the keynote, later published in both his essay collection, Words to our Now as well as the Summer 2003 issue of Callaloo (literary journal) under the name: “Fire and Ink: Toward a Quest for Language, History and a Moral Imagination.” This year, the CLAGS Board member offered his expertise and commentary in the moderation panel, “Contemporary Caribbean LGBTQ Writing” and roundtable, “Broadened Visions: Black LGBTQ Writers and Global Human Rights.”

All of the influential talks corresponded with this years’ keynote delivered by Nikky Finney and soon to be released for a larger readership. Black writers from around the world, including Giard Fellowship Finalist and International Resource Network Fanny Ann Eddy Award recipient from Africa (IRN-Africa), Zanele Muholi, were found in the crowd. (Muholi was awarded later in October by the CLAGS’ International Resource Network (IRN) for her outstanding contributions in the study of sexuality in Africa, at the “Genders & Sexualities in Africa” conference held in Syracuse, New York.) Shawnta Smith, CLAGS’s previous Memberships and Fellowships Coordinator and now its web developer, presented a workshop entitled “To Be Constantly Writing: A Survey of Our Resources,” as an instruction session on how to receive publication opportunities and apply for CLAGS fellowships and awards. That workshop helped to make possible at least two accounts of the Cotillion by emerging black queer writers (see below). For more information on Fire & Ink, please visit their website,

Thank you to Lisa C Moore, Thomas Glave, Zanele Muholi, Dierdre Harris, and Arianne Benford for contributing to this section.