Places of the Heart: Black Writers Explore Love

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Places of the Heart: Black Writers Explore Love

Join DOLEN PERKINS-VALDEZ, TIPHANIE YANIQUE, and MAURICE CARLOS RUFFIN in "Places of the Heart: Black Writers Explore Love" at #BKBF 2022

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The Center for Black Literature (CBL) presents "Places of the Heart: Black Writers Explore Love" as part of the 2022 John Oliver Killens Reading Series (September 28, 2022).


There are many variations of love in the Black community, and that love is uniquely distinct from any other type of love found in other communities. To explore this more deeply, the Center for Black Literature, in partnership with The Billie Holiday Theatre, will present “Places of the Heart.” This literary salon will spotlight authors who will discuss the intricacies of Black love and how Black authors incorporate and depict those feelings and emotions through their characters in an authentic way.

Leading the discussion will be Donna Hill with authors Dolen Perkins-Valdez, author of Take My Hand and Wench; Maurice Carlos Ruffin, author of The Ones Who Don’t Say They Love You and We Cast a Shadow; and Tiphanie Yanique, author of Monster in the Middle and Land of Love and Drowning.


We thank the Amazon Literary Partnership for their continued support of the John Oliver Killens Reading Series.


  1. This Is a Free Virtual Event | OPEN TO ALL | RSVP required.
  2. This program is subject to change.
  3. Registration for this free virtual event will end at 5:30 pm ET on the day of the event. Please check your email inbox, SPAM folder, or junk folder for instructions on how to log in to the event.


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  2. Media inquiries about the Center for Black Literature, the John Oliver Killens Reading Series, or the event's participants are directed to the office of AKILA WORKSONGS at (718) 756-8501 or pr @
Places of the Heart: Black Writers Explore Love image
Places of the Heart: Black Writers Explore Love image


"DOLEN PERKINS-VALDEZ is the New York Times bestselling author of WENCH, BALM, and most recently TAKE MY HAND. In 2011, she was a finalist for two NAACP Image Awards and the Hurston-Wright Legacy Award for fiction. In 2017, HarperCollins released Wench as one of eight "Olive Titles," limited edition modern classics that included books by Edward P. Jones, Louise Erdrich, and Zora Neale Hurston.

Dolen received a DC Commission on the Arts Grant for her second novel BALM which was published by HarperCollins in 2015. In 2013, Dolen wrote the introduction to a special edition of Solomon Northup's Twelve Years a Slave, published by Simon & Schuster, which became a New York Times bestseller. She followed that with an introduction to Elizabeth Keckly's Behind the Scenes published in 2016. Dolen is a 2020 nominee for a United States Artists Fellowship.

Dolen is the current Chair of the Board of the PEN/Faulkner Foundation. On behalf of the foundation, she has visited nearly every public high school in the District of Columbia to talk about the importance of reading and writing. She is currently Associate Professor in the Literature Department at American University and lives in Washington, DC with her family."


"MAURICE CARLOS RUFFIN is the author of The Ones Who Don’t Say They Love You, which was published by One World Random House in August 2021. It was a New York Times Editor’s Choice, a finalist for the Ernest J. Gaines Award for Literary Excellence, and longlisted for the Story Prize. His first book, We Cast a Shadow, was a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize, and the PEN America Open Book Prize. It was longlisted for the 2021 DUBLIN Literary Award, the Center for Fiction Prize, and the Aspen Words Literary Prize. The novel was also a New York Times Editor’s Choice. Ruffin is the winner of several literary prizes, including the Iowa Review Award in fiction and the William Faulkner–William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition Award for Novel-in-Progress. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the LA Times, the Oxford American, Garden & Gun, Kenyon Review, and Four Hundred Souls: A Community History of African America. A New Orleans native, Ruffin is a professor of Creative Writing at Louisiana State University, and the 2020-2021 John and Renee Grisham Writer-in-Residence at the University of Mississippi. Ruffin is the 2022 Grand Marshal of the Mardi Gras Krewe of House Floats."


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"TIPHANIE YANIQUE is a novelist, poet, essayist and short story writer.

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, and was listed by NPR as one of the Best Books of 2014. Land of Love and Drowning was also a finalist for the Orion Award in Environmental Literature and the Hurston-Wright Legacy 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. She has been listed by the Boston Globe as one of the sixteen cultural figures to watch out for and her writing has been published in the New York Times, Best African American Fiction, The Wall Street Journal, American Short Fiction and other places.

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."



Places of the Heart: Black Writers Explore Love image
Places of the Heart: Black Writers Explore Love image
Places of the Heart: Black Writers Explore Love image