Charis welcomes Anita Kopacz in conversation with Dr. Velma Love for a celebration of Shallow Waters: A Novel, moderated by AARL Librarian, Forrest Evans. In this stirring and lyrical debut novel—perfect for fans of The Water Dancer and the Legacy of Orïsha series—the Yoruba deity of the sea, Yemaya, is brought to vivid life as she discovers the power of Black resilience, love, and feminine strength in antebellum America. This event is co-hosted by the Auburn Avenue Research Library on African American Culture and History.
Shallow Waters imagines Yemaya, an Orïsha—a deity in the religion of Africa’s Yoruba people—cast into mid-1800s America. We meet Yemaya as a young woman, still in the care of her mother and not yet fully aware of the spectacular power she possesses to protect herself and those she holds dear.
The journey laid out in Shallow Waters sees Yemaya confront the greatest evils of this era; transcend time and place in search of Obatala, a man who sacrifices his own freedom for the chance at hers; and grow into the powerful woman she was destined to become. We travel alongside Yemaya from her native Africa and on to the “New World,” with vivid pictures of life for those left on the outskirts of power in the nascent Americas.
Yemaya realizes the fighter within, travels the Underground Railroad in search of the mysterious stranger Obatala, and crosses paths with icons of our history on the road to freedom. Shallow Waters is a nourishing work of ritual storytelling from promising debut author Anita Kopacz.
Anita Kopacz is an award-winning writer and spiritual advisor. She is the former Editor-in-Chief of Heart & Soul Magazine and Managing Editor of BeautyCents Magazine. When she is not writing, you can find her on the dance floor or traveling the world with her children. Anita lives in New York City with her family.
Velma E. Love, Ph.D. is a public intellectual whose research and writing centers on African spirituality, ancestral memory and cultural healing. Author of Divining the Self: a Study in Yoruba Myth and Human Consciousness (Penn State University Press, 2012), she conducted extensive fieldwork at Oyotunji African Village in Sheldon, SC. Her work is driven by a profound interest in narrative strategies for personal and social transformation. She is the creator of Kaleidoscope, a community storytelling project, and Ancestral Story Healing, a meditative practice for addressing troubling family patterns transmitted across generations.
Dr. Love is a descendant of the Temne people of Sierra Leone, the Balanta of Guinea Bissau, and the Mukua of Mozambique, via the Trans-Atlantic slave trade. She grew up in the Southeastern United Sates, where her formative years were shaped by storytelling, social activism, and a clarion call to the journey of a change maker.
Forrest Evans is an Atlanta-based, licensed librarian working at the Auburn Avenue Research Library. Evans has worked in various libraries from Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the south to special collections and television. The avid DC Comic Book collector combating under education, and fighting for gender equality. Their love for reading fuels my passion to circulate Black and Queer Literature, and resources.
The low country native, also known for her published poetry in Pen+Brush, Lavender Review: Lesbian Poetry and Art, TQ Review: A Journal of Trans and Queer Voices, and The Apogee Journal. When the poet is not in the library, they are with their Queer Tribe combating xenophobia or sharing joy. For more information about Evans, visit favoritelibrarian.com or their official social media. Pronouns: They/Them or She/Her.
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“Spellbinding...A captivating debut.” —Harper’s Bazaar
In this stirring and lyrical debut novel—perfect for fans of The Water Dancer and the Legacy of Orïsha series—the Yoruba deity of the sea, Yemaya, is brought to vivid life as she discovers the power of Black resilience, lo
Divining the Self weaves elements of personal narrative, myth, history, and interpretive analysis into a vibrant tapestry that reflects the textured, embodied, and performative nature of scripture and scripturalizing practices.