Claudia Rankine and Pamela Sneed at UC Berkeley

Nov 8 2023 - 6:00pm


Please join us on Wednesday, November 8th at 6pm for A Conversation on Commemoration with Claudia Rankine and Pamela Sneed, hosted by Simon(e) van Saarloos. The event will be held UC Berkeley's Maude Fife Room (Wheeler Hall, Room 315). Pegasus Books will be the bookseller for this event.

About the event:

In Citizen. An American Lyric, poet, playwright and MacArthur fellow Claudia Rankine writes: “This would be your fatal flaw–your memory, vessel of feelings …” The accumulation of everyday violence and racism forms heavy memories that make it difficult to imagine a present and future different from the past.

In Funeral Diva, poet and visual artist Pamela Sneed laments surviving the AIDS crisis in NYC as a Black lesbian. While grieving the friends she lost, Sneed also mourns the erasure of Black lesbians and their labor and asks: “Who takes care of the caretakers?”

How to care for erased stories, while simultaneously creating different ways of storytelling: stories that do not rely on legibility, relatability, certainty and factual proof?

Simon(e) van Saarloos, author of Take ‘Em Down. Scattered Monuments and Queer Forgetting and Rhetoric PhD student at UC Berkeley, invites poets Claudia Rankine and Pamela Sneed for a conversation on commemoration. The event is  sponsored by the Rhetoric Department, Stone Chair Funds, Black Studies Collaboratory, Townsend Center, Arts & Research Center, Department of English, the Holloway Poetry Series, and the Othering & Belonging Institute.

About the authors:

Claudia Rankine is the author of five books of poetry, including Citizen: An American Lyric and Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric; three plays including HELP, which premiered in March 2020 (The Shed, NYC), and The White Card, which premiered in February 2018 (ArtsEmerson/ American Repertory Theater) and was published by Graywolf Press in 2019; as well as numerous video collaborations. Her recent collection of essays, Just Us: An American Conversation, was published by Graywolf Press in 2020. She is also the co-editor of several anthologies including The Racial Imaginary: Writers on Race in the Life of the Mind. In 2016, Rankine co-founded The Racial Imaginary Institute (TRII). Among her numerous awards and honors, Rankine is the recipient of the Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry, the Poets & Writers’ Jackson Poetry Prize, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the Lannan Foundation, the MacArthur Foundation, United States Artists, and the National Endowment of the Arts. A former Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets, Claudia Rankine joined the NYU Creative Writing Program in Fall 2021. She lives in New York.

Pamela Sneed is a New York–based poet, performer, and visual artist. She is the author of Imagine Being More Afraid of Freedom Than Slavery (Holt, 1998), KONG and Other Works (Vintage Entity Press, 2009), Sweet Dreams (Belladonna*, 2018), and Funeral Diva, published by City Lights in Oct 2020. Funeral Diva was featured in The New York Times, Publishers Weekly, Literary Hub, Artnet, and more. Funeral Diva won the 2021 Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Poetry. Funeral Diva was recommended by The New York Times alongside Barack Obama’s memoir. In 2021, Sneed was a panelist for David Zwirner gallery’s More Life exhibition, and she has spoken at the OSUN Center for Human Rights & the Arts at Bard College, the Ford Foundation, the Gordon Parks Foundation, Columbia University, the New School, the New York Public Library, the Brooklyn Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, Dia Chelsea, and NYU Center for the Humanities. She has published in The Paris Review, Frieze magazine, Artforum, the Academy of American Poets, and more. Her visual work was featured in the group show Omniscient (2021–22) at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Art, New York.

About the host:

Simon(e) van Saarloos is the author of Playing Monogamy, Take ‘Em Down. Scattered Monuments and Queer Forgetting and Against Ageism. A Queer Manifesto. They also write fiction. Recent productions include the short sci-fi story Dreamdead Surrender (Postmodern Culture Journal) and De Foetushemel, a theater play about abortion and violent resistance for Ulrike Quade Company at Bellevue Theater Amsterdam. Van Saarloos works as an independent curator of public programming and artistic collaborations. Recent projects include the installation Cruising Gezi Park, the spread of a mo(nu)ment, IDFA’s 2022’s queer day Not Yet Yes, the 2023 lecture series Juicy Refuge at Rietveld Academy’s Studium Generale, multi-year transnational queer community, nightlife and art project Through the Window, and the ABUNDANCE exhibition at Het HEM. Van Saarloos currently lives in the Bay Area, California and pursues a PhD in Rhetoric at UC Berkeley.

Event address: 
315 Wheeler Hall
UC Berkeley
Berkeley, CA 94720
Event Category: 
Offsite Location