by Pamela Sneed
City Lights Books
A poetic memoir about coming-of-age in the AIDS era, and its effects on life and art.
In this collection of personal essays and poetry, acclaimed poet and performer Pamela Sneed details her coming of age in New York City during the late 1980s. Funeral Diva captures the impact of AIDS on Black Queer life, and highlights the enduring bonds between the living, the dying, and the dead. Sneed's poems not only converse with lovers past and present, but also with her literary forebears--like James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Audre Lorde--whose aesthetic and thematic investments she renews for a contemporary American landscape.
Offering critical focus on matters from police brutality to LGBTQ+ rights, Funeral Diva confronts today's most pressing issues with acerbic wit and audacity. The collection closes with Sneed's reflections on the two pandemics of her time, AIDS and COVID-19, and the disproportionate impact of each on African American communities.
"OH MY GOODNESS, it was amazing. I was in tears by the end. What starts off as beautiful memoir evolves into incredibly moving poetry, painful and sweet and lovely."--Marie Cloutier, Greenlight Bookstore, Brooklyn, NY
"If you wonder what political agency feels like, read this book. If you want to know what a broken heart feels like, read this book. If you're not sure how to express political agency in spite of a broken heart, read this book."--Avram Finkelstein, After Silence: A History of AIDS Through its Images
"These compositions are necessary to the very soul of art itself. Gratitude to the author. All of us should read and thank this poet repeatedly."--Gregg Bordowitz, author of General Idea: Imagevirus (The AIDS Project)
About the Author:
Poet, professor, and performer, Pamela Sneed is the author of Sweet Dreams, Kong, and Imagine Being More Afraid of Freedom than Slavery. She was a Visiting Critic at Yale, a Visiting Professor at Columbia University's School of the Arts, and is online faculty at Chicago's School of the Art Institute teaching Human Rights and Writing Art. Her work is widely anthologized and appears in Nikki Giovanni's, The 100 Best African American Poems.
She has performed at the Whitney Museum, Brooklyn Museum, Poetry Project, NYU and Pratt Universities, Smack Mellon Gallery, The High Line, Performa, Danspace, The Bessies, Performance Space, Joe's Pub, The Public Theater, SMFA, and BRIC. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.