OutWrite 2023 Festival Schedule

We’re thrilled to release the schedule for the 2023 OutWrite LGBTQ+ Literary Festival, being held on Friday, August 11th to Sunday, August 13th. This year’s virtual festival will feature over 55 LGBTQ+ authors and a full weekend filled with readings, panels and workshops! Registration for all events is open via the links below. All OutWrite events are free and open to the public.

We’re also excited to partner with Loyalty Bookstores to feature a virtual bookshop for our OutWrite 2023 authors. Shop the books here: bookshop.org/lists/outwrite-2023

Join us on YouTube to watch the streamed/recorded events!

Friday, August 11

5:30-6:30 p.m.

Trans & Nonbinary Presents & Futures

Join Trans and Nonbinary authors as they read from their works across genres that speaks to the unsettling present in which 2SLGBTQI+ folks find themselves, and the futures that our Queerness + Transness lets us imagine as possible.

Authors: Tonee Moll (they/them), Nic Anstett (she/her), Jason B. Crawford (any), K.M. Szpara (he/himme).

7:00-8:00 p.m.

KEYNOTE: Mecca Jamilah Sullivan

Join our keynote speaker Mecca Jamilah Sullivan for a brief reading from Big Girl followed by a discussion moderated by OutWrite 2023 Chair, Emily Holland.

Mecca Jamilah Sullivan is the author of Big Girl, a New York Times Editors’ Choice selection and a Best Books pick from Time, Essence, Vulture, Ms., Goodreads, Booklist, Library Reads, and SheReads.com. Her previous books include The Poetics of Difference: Queer Feminist Forms in the African Diaspora (University of Illinois Press, 2021), winner of the William Sanders Scarborough Prize from the Modern Language Association, and the short story collection, Blue Talk and Love (2015), winner of the Judith Markowitz Award for Fiction from Lambda Literary. She is an associate professor of English at Georgetown University and lives in Washington, D.C. 

Saturday, August 12

11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

Ekphrasis Fantastic

Looking for new ways to get out of your own way and write? Are you drawn to or create other forms of art (visual, music, dance, etc…)? Curious about how poetry can enter those forms and create a dialogue? In this generative workshop, we will fall deep into the conversation between art forms, asking ourselves, what most excites me about the subject I’ve chosen, and where does that excitement intersect with my own life and creative process. You will leave this workshop with at least one poem that answers these questions. Great for both beginners looking for where to start, or experienced writers looking for a new approach. For this workshop, please bring a copy of the artwork that you would like to work with.

Workshop led by Brandon Blue (he/him).

12:30-1:30 p.m.

Writing About, With, and Through AIDS

This panel will focus on the continuing literary legacies of the AIDS crisis. Through readings of their own works and the poems of the late Haitian-born poet, Assotto Saint, whose Sacred Spells: Collected Works is forthcoming in August 2023, and the late working-class Italian-Polish-American poet, Walta Borawski, whose Invisible History: The Collected Poems of Walta Borawski won the 2023 Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry, our panelists will engage in a conversation about these legacies. How is rage, loss, grief, humor, love, and survival expressed? How does race, class, language, religion, and national origin play out in these works? Given the current book banning climate, how do we preserve the collective knowledge and experiences of our diverse communities? How do we define “survival” today?

Panel: Reginald Harris (he/him), Philip Clark, Charles Rice-Gonzalez (he/him), Steven Riel (he/him), Gerard Cabrera (he/him).

2:00-3:00 p.m.

DC Pride Poem-a-Day Reading

For the second year in a row, Kim Roberts and Jon Gann co-curated a series of short videos and released one a day throughout June 2023. United under the theme of “Heritage,” thirty DC-area poets responded with original poems. This reading brings together eight of the featured poets.

Authors: Kim Roberts (she/her), Danielle Badra (she/they), Mariah Barber (she/they), Alex Carrigan (he/him), Caly McCarthy (she/her), Natasha Saje (she/her), Malik Thompson (he/his), Dan Vera (he/him).

3:30-4:30 p.m.

Queering the Publishing Industrial Complex

What is the responsibility of Queer (LGBTQIA+) editors in publishing? In a roundtable discussion, panelists will draw on their experiences as both writers and editors to highlight the hurdles faced by Queer and other marginalized writers, provide concrete tips on how to navigate publishing, and discuss the future of publishing.

Panel: Steve Bellin-Oka (he/him), Allison Blevins (she/her), Dustin Brookshire (he/him), Caridad Moro-Gronlier (she/her).

5:00-6:00 p.m.

The Outsider: Gender and Race in a Binary World

Join Jaded Ibis Press authors Addie Tsai and David Jackson Ambrose for a reading and discussion of their recent books. Tsai’s Unwieldy Creatures is an Asian nonbinary retelling of Frankenstein, and Ambrose’s Unlawful DISorder tackles a neuroqueer Black man’s journey through the criminal justice and mental health systems. Together they will explore the ways race, gender, and sexuality create intersectional barriers to a sense of belonging, and how the outsider perspective can be key to a shared humanity. 

Authors: Addie Tsai (any/all), David Jackson Ambrose (he/him).

6:30-7:30 p.m.

At the Gay Bar: LGBTQ+ Bars in History and as Community Centers

The bars have a long history in the LGBTQ+ community. In the early days, they not only served as places to socialize, but also as community centers where organizers and activists gathered. This panel will celebrate the role of bars in our lives, and also discuss what the future holds as queer neighborhoods evolve. Panelists include Rick Karlin, the co-author of the 2022 book Last Call Chicago: A History of 1001 LGBTQ-Friendly Taverns, Haunts & Hangouts (Rattling Good Yarns Press); Eboné Bell, Editor-in-Chief of Tagg Magazine; Jo McDaniel and Coach, co-owners of As You Are, and Krista Burton, author of Moby Dyke: An Obsessive Quest to Track Down the Last Remaining Lesbian Bars in America.

Panel: Gregg Shapiro (he/him), Rick Karlin (he/him), Eboné Bell (she/her), Jo McDaniel (she/her), Coach (they/them), Krista Burton (she/her).

8:00-9:00 p.m.

OutWrite Journal Celebration

Join OutWrite and journal editor Sylvia Jones for a celebration of this year’s journal contributors. Featuring readings from Ashely Elizabeth, Chwuku Sunday Abel, Ishanee Chanda, Sara Lieto, Ronnie Sirmans, Timothy Nolan, Rose McCoy, Ben Truax, and Siew David Hii.

Sunday, August 13

11:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m.

The Queer Love Letter

How does letter writing and self-writing contribute to the queer experience? In this workshop, we will read a selection of epistolary (letters and diaries) and first-person works (excerpts of manifestos, ars poeticas, and self-portrait poems) written by Queer writers that speak to, from, and about the Queer experience. At the end, we will write our own short first-person pieces.

Workshop led by Rosario Santiago (they/we).

12:30-1:30 p.m.

Queer Stories: Writing Our Way Into Belonging

The Queer community has gained a measure of acceptance over time and also been dealt crushing blows in today’s sharply divided world. Queer literature allows us to tell our truths, our stories that show who we were, are, and hope to become. Three authentic and sometimes uneasily honest Queer voices have given us Endpapers, Another Appalachia, Red Clay Suzie, and Everything I Learned, I Learned in a Chinese Restaurant – books that show our power is more in how we receive ourselves than in how the world receives us. Join us for an empowering conversation about what it means to live fulfilled lives as our true selves in a world that, even today, does not fully embrace or understand us.

Panel: Neema Avashia (she/her), Jennifer Savran-Kelly (she/they), Jeffrey Dale Lofton (he/him), Curtis Chin (he/him).

2:00-3:00 p.m.

Neon Hemlock Speculative Showcase

Neon Hemlock is a Washington, DC-based small press publishing speculative fiction, rad zines and queer chapbooks. We punctuate our titles with oracle decks, occult ephemera and literary candles. Publishers Weekly once called us “the apex of queer speculative fiction publishing” and we’re still beaming.This reading showcases an array of authors working with the press.

Authors: dave ring (he/him), Caitlin Starling (she/her), Eboni Dunbar (she/her), Brent Lambert (he/him), Bendi Barrett (he/him), Joan Tierney (she/her), A.Z. Louise (they/them).

3:30-4:30 p.m.

Existence as Resistance: Trans Poets on Nationwide Anti-Transness

As of May 2023, 49 out of 50 states in the U.S. have attempted to pass anti-Trans legislation. Trans people are overtly in the mouths and minds of people who mean them harm on street corners, in congress, and within literary pages every day. What does one make of this? What might poetry offer this harsh reality? During this event, Trans poets will read their works of poetry, prose, and hybrid-genre lit to display Trans narratives by Trans people and to disrupt falsehoods about our personhood. Ideally, audiences will walk away ready to support these writers and support trans people in their city, state, country, and beyond. 

Panel: KB Brookins (they/them), Cyree Jarelle Johnson (he/him), Sofia Fey (they/he), K. Iver (they/them), Jzl Jmz (she/her).

5:00-6:00 p.m.

Queer Lives in Crime Fiction: LGBTQ+ Crime Writers in Conversation

In this panel, LGBTQ+ crime writers will discuss why queer characters are riveting and necessary material for crime fiction and how those stories can shape (and perhaps reshape) the landscape of contemporary crime fiction (yes, we’re being bold!). We’ll discuss how sub-genres from legal thrillers to P.I. novels to gritty noir to domestic suspense speak to our experience in this country, whether in urban, suburban, or rural spaces and how we see the genre developing in the future. How will it expand? What pitfalls may lie ahead? In general, we’ll celebrate how dark and complex storytelling can illuminate queer lives, and how intersectional queer crime fiction can spark crucial conversations about power and the subjective nature of “justice.”

Panel: John Copenhaver (he/him), Margot Douaihy (she/her), Kelly J. Ford (she/her), Robyn Gigl (she/her), Renee James (she/her), Greg Herren (he/him).

6:30-7:30 p.m.

Where We Stand: Poetry by Lesbians Over 60

Consider this – what we didn’t know before, we’ve learned over time through lovers, through demonstrations, the nightlife, the bars. We’re butch and femme, dyke and crone, earthly and wild, and altogether Queer. We are the memory and the future. And we’re not finished yet. Come hear Southern California lesbian poets share words crafted on our journeys over time. 

Authors: Ronna Magy (she/her), Bonnilee Kaufman (she/queer), Mimi Gonzalez (we/us/ours), Jennifer Abod (she/her), Susana Gonzales (she/her), Dorothy Randall Gray (she/her, Your majesty), Catherine Gewertz (she/her), and Carla Rachel Sameth (she/her).

OutWrite 2023 is Chaired by local poet Emily Holland.

Emily Holland, a white poet with blond hair wearing a dark green scarf and jean jacket, stands in front of a lush green plant wall.

Emily Holland (they/she) is a genderqueer lesbian writer. They received their MFA from American University, where she won the Myra Sklarew Award for outstanding thesis and was the Editor-In-Chief of FOLIO. Their poems have appeared or are forthcoming in publications including Shenandoah, Black Warrior Review, Nat. Brut, DIALOGIST, Homology Lit, and Wussy. Her chapbook Lineage was published by dancing girl press in 2019. Their work has been supported by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities and Sundress Academy for the Arts. Currently, she is the Editor of Poet Lore, America’s oldest poetry magazine published by The Writer’s Center and a Professorial Lecturer in English at GWU.

The 2023 festival journal is edited by Sylvia Jones.

Sylvia Jones, a Black author wearing a tan sweater and navy button up, stands in front of a building's stoop.

Sylvia Jones lives in Baltimore,MD with her partner, Agata, a translator and aspiring phenologist, and their cat, Theo. She recently served as the 2021-22 Stadler Fellow in literary editing and is currently a reader for the journal Ploughshares. She keeps the bills partially paid, working as an editor at Black Lawrence Press and by lecturing part-time as an adjunct at Goucher College and George Washington University. Her most recent writing appears in: Smartish Pace, Sprung Formal,RevoluteDIAGRAMthe Hopkins ReviewPoet LoreSpilt Milk by the Poetry Society of New YorkShenandoah, and The Cortland Review.

Thanks to our Sponsors

OutWrite is made possible thanks to support from our sponsors, AHF (AIDS Healthcare Foundation) and GILEAD, and grants from HumanitiesDC, National Book Foundation’s Literary Arts Emergency Fund, and Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers Association’s SFWA Givers Fund.