Located Inside:

Antoinette Hatfield Hall

Winningstad Theatre

A Voice of the People Series: Akwaeke Emezi

Akwaeke Emezi (they/them) is a multidisciplinary artist and writer whose work—rooted in Black spirit, embodiment, legacy, and memory—spans multiple genres, experiences, and geographies. Since electrifying the literary world with their debut novel Freshwater in 2018, Akwaeke has garnered overwhelming critical acclaim and instant New York Times bestseller status with a rapidly growing body of work that includes two adult literary novels, two YA novels, a memoir, a romance, two poetry collections and counting.

Join the Portland’5 Centers for the Arts Department of Culture and Community for a talk with author and artist Akwaeke Emezi, later joined in conversation with T. Aisha Edwards, LMHC on how creativity and narrative can lead to collective healing.

The talk is part of the A Voice of the People Series, a speaker series that explores the intersections of creativity and identity, and how our social world impacts our narratives.

The event will be followed by a book signing with Akwaeke Emezi, and a special Happy Reading Hour hosted by Portland-based BIPOC, femme-led book club, Prose Before Bros.

About the Happy Reading Hour

The Happy Reading Hour is a FREE community event hosted by Prose Before Bros Bookclub on every Third Sunday of the month for all readers to come and read in community! The idea is to set aside a space and time for the reader who can never seem to make time to read, or for the reader who reads alone but doesn't want to be alone! We've made It simple for you, we've set the time and the place, we've got the dranks and the bites now all you have to do Is come!

(BYOB) Bring your own book, bring a friend or come ready to meet a new one!


  • SOCIAL TIME: First 30 minutes Is mingle time, grab something to drink/eat.
  • READING HOUR: We will set a timer for an hour, during that time folks can bring out their books to read silently. No talking, no chatting. Other silent activities are welcome including journaling, doodling etc. Feel free to use the time how you wish but it must be SILENT!
  • SOCIAL TIME: Last 30 minutes is more mingle time, chat with friends about the book you were reading, share book reccos, meet new people, get more food/drinks!

RSVP here for Happy Reading Hour!

The talk will begin at 7pm in the Winningstad Theatre, followed by the book signing and Happy Reading Hour at 8:15pm in the Antoinette Hatfield Hall Rotunda Lobby.

About Akwaeke Emezi

Selected as a “5 Under 35” honoree by the National Book Foundation, featured in a TIME Magazine cover story as a Next Generation Leader, and photographed by Annie Liebovitz for a Vogue profile, Akwaeke has also been named one of “The New Hollywood Guard: Writers” by Vanity Fair. Their memoir Dear Senthuran was awarded the 2022 Stonewall Book Award for Nonfiction. Their romance debut, You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty, was published in 2022, with the screen rights selling to Amazon Studios in a seven-figure deal, for which Akwaeke will serve as executive producer.

Akwaeke is also the author of the New York Times bestseller The Death of Vivek Oji, which was a finalist for the Dylan Thomas Prize, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the PEN/Jean Stein Award and the Dublin Literary Award; Pet, a finalist for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature, a Walter Honor Book and a Stonewall Honor Book; Content Warning: Everything, their debut poetry collection, and Bitter, their second young adult novel.

Their debut autobiographical novel Freshwater was named a New York Times Notable Book, shortlisted for the PEN/Hemingway Award, the New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award, the Lambda Literary Award, the Center for Fiction’s First Novel Prize, and is in early development as a TV series at FX, with Akwaeke writing and executive producing with Tamara P. Carter. Akwaeke was awarded a Global Arts Fund grant in 2017 for their video art, which premiered in 2018 at Gavin Brown’s enterprise in Harlem. They also received a 2017 Sozopol Fellowship for Creative Nonfiction and their short story “Who Is Like God” won the 2017 Commonwealth Short Story Prize for Africa.

Their writing has been published by T Magazine, Dazed Magazine, The Cut, Buzzfeed, Granta Online, Vogue.com, and Commonwealth Writers, among others.

Instagram: @yungdeadthing

About T. Aisha Edwards, LMHC

T. Aisha Edwards, LMHC (xe/she) is a somatic trauma therapist and educator based in Vancouver, WA. She received her Masters in Clinical Psychology from Pacific University and has concentrated on socialized oppressions, interpersonal violence, abuse and neglect in marginalized populations throughout her decade-plus career. Prior to private practice, she worked in community mental health, high acuity treatment settings and was an adjunct faculty at Portland Community College. She uniquely weaves Gestalt, Somatic Experiencing, early developmental movement, Neuro Emotional Technique and concepts from Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western Herbalism into a holistic approach to mental health that fosters the primary relationship with the body as the vehicle to wellness, wholeness and connection.

Instagram: @full_flight_wellness

About Prose Before Bros

Established in 2018, Prose Before Bros is a social book club for Women of Color (WOC) in Portland, Oregon. PBB is a community that provides a safe space for WOC to exist without explanation. We read literature that centers and prioritizes the Black and Brown woman. We seek to amplify their voices and value their stories and perspectives. We currently have over 800 members (and counting) who attend our monthly book events and activities. Prose Before Bros is also proud to call the forever first lady Michelle Obama an Honorary member! Please check out our IG for more information and check out some of our fun local coverage here and here and here and here.

About Nanea

Nanea Woods is a Black bibliophile born and raised in Portland, Oregon. She has a passion for building community around her love of books while advocating to make the literary space more inclusive.

Nanea is the founder and President of Prose Before Bros, a social book club for WOC in Portland, Oregon. PBB is a community that centers and prioritizes the Black and brown woman and provides a safe space for them to exist without explanation. Through their shared love of books, PBB aims to amplify their voices and stories. In its 5 years as a book club, PBB boasts over 1,000 members (and counting).

Nanea is also the founder and Executive Director of The Freadom Festival, the first and only Black book festival in the PNW. The Freadom Festival is an annual celebration of Juneteenth honoring the power of books and literacy and recognizing its role in the fight to end the enslavement of Black people in the US. At the same time, The Freadom Festival is a celebration of literature that centers the BIPOC community and their stories.

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