7 Young Black Writers You Should Know

Jason Parham and Jenna Wortham

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Kyla Marshell has been building a solid repertoire of award-winning published pieces for quite some time now. She has demonstrated an acute ability to dissect multifaceted issues, both social and personal, in her arsenal of poems. In "We'll Always Have Negritude," a piece about "how Black people are going to survive the apocalypse," Marshell writes, "my locs will be the chain-link fence keeping out those aliens, & your afro will be the cumulus clouds cottoning the sky, the unpicked cotton sky." A graduate of Spelman College and Sarah Lawrence College, she has also penned excellent commentary on Black hipsters and the hashtag's lament, written reviews on jazz for Okayplayer's The Revivalist, and received a Jacob K. Javits Fellowship in 2011 and a Cave Canem Fellowship in 2010 and 2011.

Jason Parham

"We as a people come out of this highly literary Black tradition where we’re trying to break down societal barriers through art and give a voice to people who often go unheard," Jason Parham, editor of the literary journal Spook, told EBONY.com in a past interview. "We create our own conversations and dictate our own conversations and show we are just as powerful and we have just as much to say as anybody else." Having noticed a dearth in the canon of great journals like The New Yorker and Harpers, Parham displayed an exemplary amount of self-determination and created a great publication "with a heavy minority focus." Sixteen Black writers (including Marshell and Browne) skilled in various genres contributed to the first issue of Spook released this past June. Parham, who has penned articles for Vibe, GQ, The Atlantic and Village Voice, told our Brooke Obie that he was transitioning to creative writing, working on his novel, and finalizing the second volume of Spook. "With Spook, I hope to show that our writing is as good as anybody else's."

Taiye Selasi

When Toni Morrison sets a deadline for you, you meet it. And that is exactly what Taiye Selasi did, according to an NPR interview. After meeting Morrison through the author's niece, Selasi ended up having dinner at Morrison's home and then her son's home. It was during that second meeting that the Pulitzer Prize winner gave Selasi an ultimatum. "She said, 'Listen, I'm going to give you a year. If you don't have something for me by then, I don't know what to say." A year later, Selasi produced the short story, "The Sex Lives of African Girls," which was published in the heralded literary journal Granta in 2011 and featured in Best American Short Stories of 2012. Born in London and raised in Massachusetts, Selasi unpacked intricate notions of identity in her 2005 seminal essay titled, "Bye-Bye, Babar (Or: What is an Afropolitan?") Ghana Must Go, her highly-anticipated debut novel, will be released in March.

Patrice Peck explores the complex intersection of culture, entertainment, race and gender as a multimedia journalist. Follow her latest work on Twitter @SpeakPatrice, and visit her website www.speakpatrice.tumblr.com for more writing and video.