On Saturday, August 4, famed author, playwright, professor, and radio personality LaShonda Katrice Barnett will be at the Oak Bluffs library at 11 am to speak about her book “Jam on the Vine,” and share her interest in culture and writing with listeners.
The event is part of the African American Literature and Culture Festival held every year by the Oak Bluffs library. It features acclaimed African American writers, poets, musicians, and teachers.
According to her website, “Jam on the Vine” was designated a Stonewall Honor Award by the American Library Association in 2016, was chosen as an editors’ pick in the Chicago Tribune, and won ElIe Magazine’s Belle Lettres 2015 Reader’s Prize, earning her the Emerging Writers Award at the 2015 Tennessee Williams Literary Festival.
The book received national praise from book-review websites and other authors. On goodreads.com, a popular book review website, Dawn Reno Langley writes, “One of the reasons ‘Jam on the Vine’ succeeds is because it’s an honest and heartfelt story about family, love, and ambition. The characters are real, their hardships test them but do not break them, and the historical references are accurate.”
Barnett has held residences at the Noepe Center for Literary Arts, the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, where she was a Tennessee Williams Fellow, and the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown.
She is known for her full-length plays, which explore race, culture, gender, and many other topics. Her collection of plays called “The Appropriate Ones” considers these things from different angles. Each is centered around interracial couple June Hensley and Helen Drake. “Homewood,” “Menemsha,” and “L’Echange” address issues of aging, sexuality, illness, identity, friendship, and love.
As a lover and scholar of music of the African diaspora, Barnett hosted her own jazz radio program on WBAI in New York. She taught a class called “Women in Jazz” at New York City’s Jazz at Lincoln Center, and has lectured on music nationally and in Austria, Brazil, France, Germany, and South Africa.
She received her B.A. in English language and literature and linguistics from the University of Missouri, and an M.A. in women’s history from Sarah Lawrence College. She obtained her Ph.D. in American studies from the College of William and Mary.
She has taught history and literature at Columbia University, Sarah Lawrence College, Hunter College, and Brown University. Currently a visiting professor at Northwestern University, she teaches full-time in the African American studies and gender and sexuality departments.
For more information, contact the Oak Bluffs library at 508-693-9433. LaShonda Katrice Barnett is also part of the annual “Islanders Write” event on August 5 and 6 at the Grange Hall in West Tisbury.