Stories From the Black South: Land, Place, and Ancestral Memory

Stories From the Black South: Land, Place, and Ancestral Memory

February 16th 2023 | 6:00 PM - 8:00 PM

As Black Southerners, how do we view our connection to the land around us, and to the places we call “home”? How does the South shape the stories we tell?

This Black History Month, join the Southern Studies Fellowship in Arts and Letters Writer-in Residence Desiree S. Evans as she moderates a panel featuring folklorist Michelle Lanier, poet Marlanda Dekine, and fiction writer Halle Hill examining the powerful roles land, place, and ancestral memory play in the Black Southern experiences they explore through their work. 

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About the Panelists

Pushcart Prize-nominated author, Marlanda Dekine, is a poet, a voice, and a presence. Their collection of poems, THRESH & HOLD, won the 2021 New Southern Voices Poetry Prize. They are the 2023 Spoken Word/Poetry Slam Fellow for South Carolina, the 2021 Castle of Our Skins Shirley Graham Du Bois Creative-in-Residence, a Palm Beach Poetry Festival Langston Hughes Fellow, Tin House Own Path Scholar, Emrys Scholar, and a Watering Hole Fellow. Their work has been published or is forthcoming in Orion Magazine, Southern Cultures, Root Work Journal, Oxford American, POETRY Magazine, Emergence Magazine, Southern Humanities Review, and elsewhere. Currently, Dekine serves as a Healing Justice Fellow with Gender Benders, a transgender advocacy group in the South.

Halle Hill is a writer from East Tennessee. She is a PEN/Dau Short Story Prize nominee, winner of the 2021 Crystal Wilkinson Creative Writing Prize, and a finalist for the 2021 ASME Award for Fiction. Her work is featured in Joyland, New Limestone Review, and Oxford American among others. Her debut short story collection, GOOD WOMEN: STORIES, will publish with Hub City Press in 2023. Halle lives and works in central North Carolina.

Michelle Lanier is an AfroCarolina folklorist, oral historian, museum professional, filmmaker, author, and educator with over two decades of commitment to her callings. Raised in both Columbia and Hilton Head, South Carolina, and having roots in the sandhills, coastal plain, and upper piedmont of North Carolina, Michelle's ancestral geography guides much of her interdisciplinary work. Michelle is a graduate of Spelman College and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and is currently pursuing a doctorate degree in Geography, also at UNC-Chapel Hill. As a seasoned public humanities professional, and former, inaugural director of the North Carolina African American Heritage Commission, in 2018, Michelle was named as the first African American director of all of North Carolina's 25 state-owned historic sites. Michelle is also a proud member of the Gullah Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor Commission.

About the Moderator

Desiree S. Evans is a writer, scholar, and activist from the bayous of South Louisiana. Her creative writing has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, and has appeared in literary journals such as Gulf Coast, The Offing, Nimrod Journal, and other venues. Her creative and scholarly work often grapples with Black life in the American South. She was recently the 2021-2022 Gulf South Writer in the Woods, appointed through a residency program of Tulane University’s New Orleans Center for the Gulf South and A Studio in the Woods. She is currently the 2022-2023 Southern Studies Fellowship in Arts and Letters Writer in-Residence through a collaborative fellowship program with the Chapman Cultural Center and the Hub City Writers Project in Spartanburg, SC. Visit her on the web at, and follow her on Instagram and Twitter at @literarydesiree.

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