OutWrite 2021

OutWrite 2021

We’re thrilled to release the festival schedule for OutWrite 2021! The 2021 OutWrite LGBTQ Book Festival, a celebration of queer literature, will run from Friday, August 6th to Sunday, August 8th.

OutWrite is the premiere LGBTQ literature festival in the Washington, D.C. area. This year’s virtual festival showcases more than 80 authors and a full weekend featuring 25 readings, panels and workshops. All OutWrite events are free and open to the public! RSVP and watch the livestreams for OutWrite 2021 events via our Facebook page.

The Luminaries Present: Building Community
A lead-up event to OutWrite 2021
July 10
1-2 p.m.

The creators of the Luminaries poetry workshop, a community-based group of poets that host free programming, events, and readings, will discuss what it takes to build a queer writing community. Watch recording.


Queering & Breaking Form
A lead-up event to OutWrite 2021
July 29
7-8 p.m.

Queer poets, in revolt, corrupt traditional poetry forms and invent new forms for body and desire. A reading moderated by Madeleine Corley, featuring winners of OutWrite’s 2020 Chapbook Contest, including: Charles Jensen, winner of the 2020 Variant Literature chapbook contest and author of “Cross Cutting”; Lannie Stabile, winner of OutWrite’s 2020 Chapbook Contest in Creative Nonfiction and author of “Strange Furniture”; Jason B. Crawford, author of “Summertime Fine”; and Khalisa Rae, author of “Ghost in a Black Girl’s Throat”. Watch recording.

Friday, August 6

7:00-8:00 p.m.

Celebrating Ten Years of OutWrite
Join us for the launch of OutWrite 2021! We’ll hear poems and stories from a journal celebrating OutWrite’s 10 years of existence, and look to the festival’s future. The reading will be moderated by Derrick Jefferson and feature Rasha Abdulhadi, Paula Molina Acosta, Stephanie K. Brownell, Sarah Fannon, Nicole Shawan Junior, and Lannie Stabile. Read the journal. Watch recording.

Saturday, August 7

11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

We Got This: Black Writers on Imagination, Joy & Liberation
Start the festival off right. Come hear readers from the OutWrite 2021 journal We Got This: Black Writers on Imagination, Joy and Liberation, featuring C.L. Brown, Kim Reynolds, Osimiri Sprowal, and Malik Welton. Read the journal. Watch recording.

Queer Boys Behaving Badly
These authors present queer men of varying ages, races, and nationalities acting like assholes. They will discuss what brought them to these characters and their writing process that results in a balance of evil deeds and likable characters. Featuring Matt Caprioli, author of “Worn Stories” and “One Headlight”, Scott Alexander Hess, author of “The Root of Everything & Lightning”, Eric Nguyen, author of “Things We Lost to the Water”, and Joe Okonkwo, author of “Kiss the Scars on the Back of My Neck”. ASL interpretation will be provided. Watch recording.


1:00-2:00 p.m.

Queer World: Stories of Migration, Diaspora & Belonging
LGBTQIA writers will discuss their books on queer love and life of literal and metaphorical immigrants who question if they belong in the society in which they find themselves. A reading hosted by Dan Dodgen, featuring Hamour Baika, author of “On the Enemy’s Side”, Francesca Ekwuyasi, author of “Butter Honey Pig Bread”, Nemat Sadat, author of “The Carpet Weaver”, and Hari Ziyad, author of “Black Boy Out of Time”. ASL interpretation will be provided. Watch recording.

Be Safe. Make Room.
This panel brings together writers in different fields who all have made their identity as part of the LGBTQIA+ community an primary element of their produced work. This writing itself serves as a form of activism, but these writers do additional work in their personal and social media lives. This panel will discuss how to balance emotional and physical safety with being out in their careers, nurturing their need for community, and making room for both themselves and other writers they admire in the industry. Moderated by Jill Fredenburg, featuring Stephanie Davies, author of “Other Girls Like Me”, Chloe O. Davis, author of “The Queens’ English: The LGBTQIA+ Dictionary of Lingo and Colloquial Phrases”, Robyn Ochs, editor of Bi Women Quarterly and two anthologies, “Getting Bi: Voices of Bisexuals Around the World” and “Recognize: The Voices of Bisexual Men”, and Karlié Rodríguez. Watch recording.

Writing Trans Characters: Beyond Disguises & Deceptions
Trans crime writers and LGBTQ writers who’ve written trans characters will discuss methods for developing complex and sensitively drawn trans characters, pitfalls to avoid, the challenge of representation in the publishing industry, how these characters have shown up in crime fiction in the past, and their future in the genre. Moderated by John Copenhaver, featuring Robyn Gigi, Edwin Hill, Dharma Kelleher, and Maddox Pennington. Watch recording.


2:30-3:30 p.m.

Queer Cookies: A Reading & Baking Demo
Queer Cookies Cookbook features poetry from 10 DMV-area LGBTQ+ poets and cookie recipes based on their poems. Come for the poetry, stay for a baking demo of cookies like triple ginger molasses, Sichuan peppercorn thumbprints with rosewater and raspberry, and toffee with lemon curd. Hosted by Regie Cabico and Tyler French, featuring Rasha Abdulhadi, Sunu Chandy, Danielle Evennou, Anqelique Palmer, Micah the Poet, and Patience Sings. Watch recording.

Twinned Interviews: Charlie Jane Anders & Aliette de Bodard
Two speculative luminaries — Charlie Jane Anders and Aliette de Bodard — in conversation with Nino Cipri. Watch recording.


4:00-5:00 p.m.

Better She Be Dead than a Tortillera: Confronting Homophobia in the Cuban-American Diaspora
In most Cuban-American households to be called a tortillera (lesbian in Español) is the gravest of insults. This panel will discuss Caridad Moro-Gronlier’s debut collection, “Tortillera”, and how she she applies the term to herself in unflinching poems that address the queer experience of coming out while Cuban, the role of language on gender its subsequent roles, the social consequences of compulsory heterosexuality, as well as the patriarchal stamp emblazoned on the Cuban diaspora. Featuring Richard Blanco, Cathleen Chambles, Kai Coggin, Omar Figueras, and Caridad Moro-Gronlier. Watch recording.

Gay Today: Reflecting on Modern Gay Life in Literature
We are now living in an era of marriage equality and corporate-sponsored pride parades, enjoying a degree of mainstream acceptance in North America that previous generations have had to fight for. This panel brings together gay authors from different backgrounds and genres — Nicolas DiDomizio, author of “Burn It All Down”, Christopher DiRaddo, author of “The Family Way” and “The Geography of Pluto”, Brontez Purnell, author of “Since I Laid My Burden Down” and “100 Boyfriends”, Zak Salih, author of “Let’s Get Back to the Party”, and Eddy Boudel Tan, author of “After Elias” and “The Rebellious Tide” — to uncover how our stories are evolving to reflect these times in which our rights are at once taken for granted and under constant threat. We’ll interrogate topics such as apathy, bandwagon optimism, marriage, sex and hook-up culture, family, heteronormative conformity, and aspiration. Watch recording.


5:30-6:30 p.m.

Murder By Zoom: A Reading Featuring LGBTQ Crime Writers
Come for a sampling of the best LGBTQ crime fiction written today — and if you’re observant and clever enough, you may be able to detect clues to a crime embedded in the reading itself. It’s like Room Rater with clues to a murder! Moderated by John Copenhaver, featuring Brenda Buchanan, Cheryl Head, Renee James, Mia Manansala, Michael Nava, and PJ Vernon. Watch recording.

Some Like it Hot
Is sex in a romance novel a must for you? If so, how hot do you like it? Join our interactive panel of women-loving-women authors for an engaging discussion where we’ll be sharing readings from our recent works that span the heat levels of the official Scoville Scale’s Range of Sex & Love, from the sweet Bell Pepper all the way to the Carolina Reaper! Our presentation will include games, great giveaways and we’re promising an hour of laughter and fun in a sex-positive space. Featuring Celeste Castro (Interlude Press), Toni Draper (Interlude Press), Tagan Shepard (Bella Books), and K.D. Williamson (Dirt Road Books). Watch recording.


6:30-7:30 p.m.

2021 Chapbook Competition Reading
Come hear the winners of the 2021 chapbook competition read from their books. The three winners — Nonfiction: Hannah Soyer, Fiction: Mari Ness, and Poetry: Jason B. Crawford — will be published by Neon Hemlock Press. Watch recording.

Poets, Queerness, & What America Looks Like
A reading featuring poets from the anthology This Is What America Looks Like. Moderator Jona Colson will lead a discussion on queerness in the U.S. and how the LGBTQ+ literary tradition is changing, featuring Regie Cabico, Emily Holland, Natalie Illum, and Kim Roberts. ASL interpretation will be provided. Watch recording.

Sunday, August 8

11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m.

Queer Debut Authors
This panel of debut authors will discuss navigating publishing as a queer author, experiences of queerphobia in the publishing industry, how they overcame it, and introduce their brand-new queer books. Featuring Michael Dumlao, the author of “The Wisdom of Guncles: Stories and Advise on Living Life from a Queer Perspective”, Anya Leigh Josephs, author of “Queen of All”, Patrick Earl Ryan, author of “If We Were Electric: Stories”, winner of the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction, and Steven Salvatore, author of “Can’t Take That Away”. Watch recording.

Resistance through Research: Re-Storying Genre Fiction by Queering Academia
This panel will explore how academic research in genre fiction can redefine — or re-story — constructed narratives that uphold mainstream understandings of young adult, fantasy, and science fiction. Panel members will discuss their resistances to institutional narratives of genre through the inclusion of queer and indigenous theories, such as those of Dr. Grace E. Dillon and Leanne Betasamosoke Simpson. In this panel, we will explore the possibilities for confronting and undoing the trauma inflicted upon queer BIPOC voices in genre fiction. Moderated by Taylor Lewis, featuring Alexander Casey, Paulina Harrison, and Kristina R. Togafau. Watch recording.

Spaceships & Dragons! Join SFF Authors As They Sweep You Away
Dive into worlds unknown with four science fiction and fantasy authors as they read from their most current works. A Q&A from the audience will follow the readings, featuring Kellie Doherty, author of “Curling Vines & Crimson Trades”, Eboni Dunbar, Catherine Lundoff, author of “Blood Moon”, and Vincent Scott, author of “The Hereafter Bytes”. Watch recording.


1:00-2:00 p.m.

Healing through Poetry
As Carrie Fisher said, “Take your broken heart, turn it into art.” Though not a replacement for professional therapy, poet and storyteller Anne Marie Wells designed this workshop for both poets and non-poets to use creative writing to process traumatic events and move the mind and spirit forward through the healing journey. No poetry writing experience necessary. Watch recording.

Queer Narratives in Tabletop Roleplaying Games
Queer writers of tabletop game books will read their work and talk about their design philosophies. This diverse panel will discuss how games can be queer and how they relate to literature, history, identity, representation, and the needs of queer communities in and beyond games. Featuring Omari Akil, Sharang Biswas, Clio Yun-su Davis, Lucian Kahn, Jonaya Kemper, Catherine Ramen, and April Kit Walsh. Watch recording.


2:30-3:30 p.m.

Our Voices in Verse: Queer Youth Building the Future Through Poetry
Listen to a panel of LGBTQ+ youth poets read their original work and discuss their plans to shape the future with their words. This group of young poets from across the country include alumni of the Brave New Voices poetry slam festival and the DC Youth Slam Team, the 2019 Youth Poet Laureate of Baltimore, and will be moderated by Charlotte Maleski, the current Youth Poet Laureate of Arlington, VA. Watch recording.

Inheriting Indelible Futures: Queer/Trans Editing/Publishing of Color
Queer/trans editors and publishers will discuss the production and maintenance of Indigenous, people of color, womanist, queer/trans, and multicultural journals, solo/co-authored books, anthologies, and presses. Collaboratively producing diverse texts, panelists will discuss navigating economic, logistical, and institutional challenges, while centering issues of culture, politics, aesthetics, and diversity. Representing two decades of international editorial/publishing experience, the panelists are pivotal leaders in community development and have published hundreds of authors from around the world, featuring Amy M. Alvarez, Ahimsa Timoteo Bodhrán, Zeyn Joukhadar, Janet McAdams, and Leiana San Agustin Naholowa‘a. Watch recording.

Introducing Amble Press
Small presses have always been the life-blood of LGBTQ literature. Amble Press is a new imprint of Bywater Books, the well-respected lesbian press. Amble is committed to publishing writers across the queer spectrum and is particularly interested in publishing queer writers of color. Meet managing editor (and mystery writer) Michael Nava and three of Amble’s writers, Joe Okonkwo, Matthew Clark Davison, and Casey Hamilton, who will discuss their new books and what it’s like to be a queer writer in today’s publishing and literary climate. Watch recording.


3:30-4:30 p.m.

Trans & Queer Poets on Gender
This is a diverse panel of four poets with a lot to say about gender. It is a focused poetry reading and a conversation, featuring Ryka Aoki, KB, Merrill Cole, and Aurielle Marie. Watch recording.

Writing the AIDS Generation
This year marks the 40th anniversary of the first reported cases of what would become known as HIV/AIDS. By 1995, one in nine gay men in the United States had been diagnosed with AIDS, and one in 15 had died, including writers and poets Reinaldo Arenas, Allen Barnett, Steven Corbin, Melvin Dixon, John Fox, Essex Hemphill, and Paul Monette. Join AIDS Generation writers Christopher Bram, Brian Malloy, and John Medeiros as they discuss the impact of AIDS on gay literature, and read from their own works about the AIDS Generation. ASL interpretation will be provided. Watch recording.


5:00-6:00 p.m.

Betwixt Bright Stars & Endless Void: A VOIDJUNK Review
An audiovisual presentation from the queer collaborative that puts out V O I D J U N K, an erotic speculative occasional in partnership with writer, artist, and performer Jacob Budenz. Featuring talents and work of collaborative members Charibdys, Tessa Fisher, Hector Gonzalez, Rose Kay, Marianne Kirby, Sarah Loch, dave ring, Hester Rook and Jay Wolf. Watch recording.

LGBQT+ Writers Reading the Apocalyptic News
Six LGBQT+ writers respond to recent events, such as the pandemic, its relationship to the AIDS epidemic, anti-Asian bias and shootings, and the efforts to exclude trans youth from sports and access to healthcare. Featuring Rahne Alexander, Steve Bellin-Oka, Anna DeVaul, Courtney Harler, Pamela Sumners, John Whittier Treat. Watch recording.


OutWrite 2021 is Co-Chaired by local poets Marlena Chertock and Malik Thompson.

Marlena Chertock, a white writer with short brown hair in a jean jacket with a space scarf holding a copy of her book.Marlena Chertock has two books of poetry, Crumb-sized: Poems (Unnamed Press) and On that one-way trip to Mars (Bottlecap Press). She uses her skeletal dysplasia as a bridge to scientific poetry. She is queer, disabled, and a 2020 Pushcart Prize nominee. Marlena serves as Co-Chair of OutWrite, Washington, D.C.’s annual LGBTQ literary festival, and on the Board of Split This Rock, a nonprofit that cultivates poetry that bears witness to injustice and provokes social change. Her poetry and prose has appeared in AWP’s The Writer’s Notebook, Breath & Shadow, The Deaf Poets Society, Lambda Literary Review, Little Patuxent Review, Neon Hemlock Press, Noble/Gas Quarterly, Paper Darts, Paranoid Tree, Plants & Poetry, Rogue Agent, Unheard Poetry, Washington Independent Review of Books, WMN Zine, Wordgathering, and more. Find her at marlenachertock.com and @mchertock.



Malik, a queer Black man, in front of a purple wall.Malik Thompson is a Black queer man proud to be from D.C. A bookseller, anime fanatic, and workshop facilitator. Malik has worked with Split This Rock, The University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Moonlit DC as a workshop facilitator. He also organized the Poets In Protest poetry series at the Black queer owned bookstore Loyalty Bookstores. Malik’s work can be found inside of Split This Rock’s Poetry Database as well as the mixed media journal Voicemail Poems. You can find Malik’s thoughts on literature via his Instagram account @negroliterati.





Thank you!

It takes a village to put on OutWrite — a small village of committed, passionate volunteers. We want to shout out and thank dave ring, John Copenhaver, Jacob Budenz, Derrick Jefferson, and Tahirah Alexander Green. dave served as Chair of OutWrite for five years and has been publishing the festival’s chapbook competition winners for the past three years through the press he founded, Neon Hemlock Press. Tahirah served as editor of the 2020/2021 OutWrite journals (read them here: We Got This: Black Writers on Imagination, Joy, and Liberation and Celebrating Ten Years of OutWrite). Derrick hosted our Friday launch event. Jacob provided us with advice on how to keep virtual events engaging and stepped in to read for panelists who were unable to join. Many of them served as tech leads during the virtual festival. These volunteers help make OutWrite the incredible LGBTQ literary community that it is. Thank you so much for your time, energy, and dedication!

We would also like to thank DC Center staff, including Kimberley Bush, Justin Johns, and interns Austin and Lizette, for all of their assistance  with helping us organize the festival, ensure the technology worked as smoothly as possible, fundraise for grants, design social media graphics, and more!