“Black women writers and critics are acting on the old adage that one must speak for oneself if one wishes to be heard.” —Claudia Tate, from the introduction
Long out of print, Black Women Writers at Work is a vital contribution to Black literature in the 20th century.
Through candid interviews with Maya Angelou, Toni Cade Bambara, Gwendolyn Brooks, Alexis De Veaux, Nikki Giovanni, Kristin Hunter, Gayl Jones, Audre Lorde, Toni Morrison, Sonia Sanchez, Ntozake Shange, Alice Walker, Margaret Walker, and Sherley Anne Williams, the book highlights the practices and critical linkages between the work and lived experiences of Black women writers whose work laid the foundation for many who have come after.
Responding to questions about why and for whom they write, and how they perceive their responsibility to their work, to others, and to society, the featured playwrights, poets, novelists, and essayists provide a window into the connections between their lives and their art.
Finally available for a new generation, this classic work has an urgent message for readers and writers today.
Claudia Tate was a professor of English and African-American
studies at Princeton University, known for her innovative contributions
to African-American literary criticism. Black Women Writers at Work was Tate's first book.
“Black Women Writers at Work features conversations with 14 Black writers from across the bounds of literary form. Tate pulls together Black women playwrights, novels, poets, and essayists to compile one of the most textured collections in the 20th century. Writers like Maya Angelou, Sonia Sanchez, and Toni Morrison share space under one cover thanks to Tate’s editorial creativity. Black Women Writers at Work joins works like The Black Woman, Homegirls, and But Some of Us Are Brave as a landmark Black feminist text featuring the words of some of the most notable literary figures in the tradition.” —Baltimore Beat
“When this classic collection was published in 1984, the writers Claudia Tate interviewed were engaged in the creative work that produced new Black feminist terrains. Today Black Women Writers at Work serves as a much-needed reminder that the imagination always blazes trails that lead us toward more habitable futures.” —Angela Y. Davis, author of Freedom is a Constant Struggle
”This is a gorgeous and essential collection of writings from a group of the most important Black women writers. I have turned to repeatedly over the past thirty years and I'm thrilled that Haymarket has republished it for another generation to treasure.” —Imani Perry, author of Looking for Lorraine
”[A] rare, rich source books for writers, readers, teachers,
students—all who care about literature and the creation of it... This
collection transcends its genre. It becomes a harbinger book, a book of
revelation, of haunting challenge, opening on to central concerns not
only of writing, but of life, of living, today.” —Tillie Olson, from the
“Tate’s probing, provocative and insightful questions set a new standard for the interview as a genre.” —Valerie Smith, Princeton University