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So We Can Know: Writers of Color on Pregnancy, Loss, Abortion, and Birth

Event date: 
Wednesday, February 8, 2023 - 7:30pm to 8:30pm

This event takes place on crowdcast, Charis' virtual event platform. Register here.

Charis and Haymarket present: So We Can Know: Writers of Color on Pregnancy, Loss, Abortion, and Birth, a reading and panel discussion featuring: aracelis girmay (Editor), LeConté Dill (contributor), Keeonna Harris (contributor), Maya Marshall (All the Blood Involved in Love), Mendi Lewis Obadike (contributor), Tiphanie Yanique (contributor), and moderated by Dartricia Rollins (Charis Circle). In this brave and devastatingly beautiful anthology, the illustrious poet and editor Aracelis Girmay gathers complex and intimate pieces that illuminate the nuances of personal and collective histories, analyses, practices, and choices surrounding pregnancy. Haymarket Books is a radical, independent, nonprofit book publisher based in Chicago. This event is co-hosted by Sister Song. Sister Song’s mission is to strengthen and amplify the collective voices of indigenous women and women of color to achieve reproductive justice by eradicating reproductive oppression and securing human rights.

Featuring the brilliant voices of writers such as Cheryl Boyce-Taylor, Patricia Smith, Elizabeth Alexander, and more, this book is a lighthouse--a tool and companion--for those navigating pregnancy, abortion, miscarriage, birth, loss, grief, and love.

In So We Can Know: Writers of Color on Pregnancy, Loss, Abortion, and Birthpieces range from essays to poems to interviews, with a broad entanglement of various themes, from many different perspectives including Black, Indigenous, Asian, Latinx, and more. At a time when people are becoming more and more limited in their choices surrounding pregnancy and abortion, this record is increasingly urgent and indispensable.

aracelis girmay is a poet, editor, and teacher. Her most recent poetry collection is the black maria (BOA Editions, 2016). Her essays and poems have been published, most recently, in The Paris Review, Astra, Black Renaissance Noire, and The New Yorker. Girmay is the Editor-at-Large of the Blessing the Boats Selections and is on the editorial board of the African Poetry Book Fund. She is the editor of So We Can Know: Writers of Color on Pregnancy, Loss, Abortion, and Birth

Dr. LeConté Dill was born and raised in South Central Los Angeles, California. She is a scholar, educator, and a poet in and out of classroom and community spaces. Dr. Dill holds degrees from Spelman College, UCLA, and UC Berkeley, has participated in VONA Voices and Cave Canem writing workshops, and was a 2016 Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop Fellow. Currently, she is an Associate Professor in the Department of African American and African Studies at Michigan State University. She listens to and shows up for urban Black girls and other youth of color and works to rigorously document their experiences of safety, resilience, resistance, and wellness. Her work has been published in a diverse array of spaces, such as Poetry MagazineMom Egg ReviewJournal of Poetry Therapy, the Du Bois Review, and The Feminist Wire.

Keeonna Harris is a storyteller, abolitionist, organizer, and mother-of-five.  She received her PhD in Justice Studies from Arizona State University, where her dissertation research analyzed the experiences of Black Women navigating motherhood and mass incarceration.  Her forthcoming memoir, Mainline Mama (Amistad, 2025), draws from her experiences as a Black woman, teen mother, and twenty years of raising children with an incarcerated partner while building community in the borderlands of the prison.  

Maya Marshall is the author of All the Blood Involved in Love. She is cofounder of underbelly, the journal on the practical magic of poetic revision. Marshall has taught at Emory University and Northwestern University. She holds fellowships from MacDowell, Cave Canem, Vermont Studio Center and elsewhere. Her writing has been published in Boston Review, Crazyhorse, Best New Poets, and elsewhere. She works as an editor at Haymarket Books and she is an assistant professor of English and creative writing at Adelphi University.

Mendi Lewis Obadike makes literature, art, and music. Her publications include: Armor and Flesh (2004), and with Keith Obadike: Phonotype (2012), Four Electric Ghosts (2014), and Big House / Disclosure (2014). Mendi+Keith’s albums include: The Sour Thunder: An Internet Opera (2004), Crosstalk: American Speech Music (2008), and Big House / Disclosure (2014). With her partner, Keith Obadike, Mendi has made a series of large-scale sound art works, including: Blues Speaker (for James Baldwin) at The New School in New York, Free/Phase at the Chicago Cultural Center, Sonic Migration at Scribe Video Center and Tindley Temple in Philadelphia, Fit (the Battle of Jericho) at The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and the 8 hour overnight work lull, a sleep temple.

Tiphanie Yanique is a novelist, poet, essayist and short story writer. Her most recent work is a novel and short story collection entitled Monster in the Middle, selections of which were published in The Harvard Review and The New Yorker. She is the author of the poetry collection, Wife, which won the 2016 Bocas Prize in Caribbean poetry and the United Kingdom’s 2016 Forward/Felix Dennis Prize for a First Collection. Tiphanie is also the author of the novel, Land of Love and Drowning, which won the 2014 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Award from the Center for Fiction, the Phillis Wheatley Award for Pan-African Literature, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Rosenthal Family Foundation Award. She is the author of a collection of stories, How to Escape from a Leper Colony, which won her a listing as one of the National Book Foundation's 5Under35. Her writing has won the Bocas Award for Caribbean Fiction, the Boston Review Prize in Fiction, a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers Award, a Pushcart Prize, a Fulbright Scholarship and an Academy of American Poet's Prize. Tiphanie is from the Virgin Islands. She grew up in the Hospital Ground neighborhood in St. Thomas. She lives now with her family in Atlanta where she is a tenured associate professor at Emory University.

This event is free and open to all people, especially to those who have no income or low income right now, but we encourage and appreciate a solidarity donation in support of the work of Charis Circle, our programming non-profit. Charis Circle's mission is to foster sustainable feminist communities, work for social justice, and encourage the expression of diverse and marginalized voices.

Please contact us at or 404-524-0304 if you would like ASL interpretation at this event. If you would like to watch the event with live AI captions, you may do so by watching it in Google Chrome and enabling captions: Instructions here. If you have other accessibility needs or if you are someone who has skills in making digital events more accessible please don't hesitate to reach out to We are actively learning the best practices for this technology and we welcome your feedback as we begin this new way of connecting across distances.

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Event address: 
So We Can Know: Writers of Color on Pregnancy, Loss, Abortion, and Birth By Aracelis Girmay (Editor) Cover Image
By Aracelis Girmay (Editor)
ISBN: 9781642598391
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Haymarket Books - February 7th, 2023

An anthology of nonfiction by writers of color that transcends form, So We Can Know is a record of varied and intricate relationships to pregnancy.

All the Blood Involved in Love By Maya Marshall Cover Image
ISBN: 9781642596953
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Haymarket Books - June 28th, 2022

Maya Marshall is a formidable emerging poet. With this debut, she joins a vital literary heritage of Black poets whose stewardship rivals their written contributions. Comparable titles: The Black Unicorn Audre Lorde; Seeing The Body Rachel Eliza Griffths, Horsepower Joy Priest, etc.

Monster in the Middle: A Novel By Tiphanie Yanique Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593332252
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Riverhead Books - October 18th, 2022

Reveals on every page how love can persevere and take shape over time and space.”—Boston Globe

"Transporting and deeply emotional.”Glamour

One of the most inventive and talented stylists of her generation.” Vulture

The Black Maria By Aracelis Girmay Cover Image
ISBN: 9781942683025
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: BOA Editions - April 12th, 2016

Timely and necessary poems investigate the historical and current realities of blackness in America, elegizing and celebrating human life.

Kingdom Animalia By Aracelis Girmay Cover Image
ISBN: 9781934414620
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: BOA Editions - September 20th, 2011

This highly anticipated second collection is the winner of the 2011 Isabella Gardner Poetry Award.

Teeth By Aracelis Girmay Cover Image
Email or call for price.
ISBN: 9781931896368
Published: Curbstone Books - June 1st, 2007

Winner, 2015 Whiting Award for Poetry 

Stunning, highly original poems that celebrate the richness of the author's multicultural tradition, Teeth explores loves, wars, wild hope, defiance, and the spirit of creativity in a daring use of language and syntax.

Event Summary: 
In this brave and devastatingly beautiful anthology, the illustrious poet and editor Aracelis Girmay gathers complex and intimate pieces that illuminate the nuances of personal and collective histories, analyses, practices, & choices surrounding pregnancy