Fire & Ink is an advocacy organization dedicated to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender writers of African descent. This past October, writers and readers, scholars and publishers, students and teachers, and curators and media geniuses all joined together in Austin, TX to inspire, support, and share powerful creations and make enduring alliances.”
Hundreds of participants came to the edge of UT Austin from all corners of the US, and from Canada, Africa, the Caribbean, and Latin America to spend three and half days immersed in presentations, conversations, workshops, and performances. Workshop topics ranged from traditional literary genres to discussions of screenwriting, playwrighting, book production, publishing, translating, and blogging. The gathering also explored issues around building a writing community, human rights, the sacred and the profane, voice and movement, facing heterosexism in homosexual hip-hop, humor writing, LGBTQ Caribbean focused writing, building black LBGTQ collections for librarians, and the preservation, interpretation, and criticism of Black queer literature. Other spaces included an on-going film festival, an altar room, open mic, an oral history booth, morning literary stretches, and play performances. These powerful panel discussions and workshops were concurrent, which made for difficult and critical choices for the duration of the conference. Other spaces included an on-going film festival, an altar room, open mic, an oral history booth, morning literary stretches, and play performances. These powerful panel discussions and workshops were concurrent, which made for difficult and critical choices for the duration of the conference.
A deeply memorable moment took place when all the volunteers, participants, co-founders, presenters, panelists, performers, and guests came together to document our presence at this historic conference. We all squeezed into one end of a large conference room. The younger people sat on the floor and the elders sat on chairs. We stood on our knees, and behind and beside one another, to be counted among those of us who dared to show up for ourselves and for each other. We applauded our profound keynote speaker, Nikky Finney, who joined in this unforgettable photo.
If you were one of the unfortunate ones who missed this dynamic conference, I urge you to attend the next one. We are hoping that it will happen sooner, rather than later. Not since the first Fire & Ink Conference back in 2002, have I seen such an outpouring of sexy, gifted, and creative LGBTQ writers of African descent. The energy was elevated to such a high level that I walked around glowing, like many others in attendance throughout the entire time in Austin and days after it ended. Upon coming home, I find that I am constantly writing. What better way to honor the diligent founders, board members, presenters, performers, and volunteers of Fire & Ink III that made this one of a kind event a success? What better way to honor us?