The Eco-Arts Reading Festival is a one-day Read-In featuring the AfroSurreal Writers Workshop and local writers. Join the AfroSurreal Writers for Eco-Art workshops, food, music, poetry and an awards ceremony honoring local authors and activists.

Throughout the day, writers and artists will share poems and stories that explore nature and the urban landscape read aloud at Frank Ogawa Plaza. Featured readers include Thaddeus Howze, Audrey T. Williams, Meg Hayertz and Dera Williams. In addition, the Kiss My Black Arts Collective will have a creative making station table set up. 

The Eco-Arts Reading Festival is organized by Rochelle Spencer, Audrey T. Williams and AfroSurreal Writers Workshop as part of Spencer’s Curatorial Residency at Pro Arts during March and April.

This event follows the AfroSurreal Writers Workshop Earth Day clean-up at 3000 San Pablo, from 9:30 am-12 pm that morning.

Eco Arts Reading Festival

1:00 – 2:00 pm Selected readings by AfroSurreal Writers 

2:00 – 2:20 pm Featured Reader: Thaddeus Howze

Thaddeus Howze is a writer, essayist, author, and professional storyteller, and you can find his speculative musings at Hub City Blues, Medium and its various publications, or at Quora. Thaddeus’ speculative fiction has appeared in numerous anthologies: Awesome Allshorts: Last Days and Lost Ways (Australia, 2014), The Future is Short (2014), Visions of Leaving Earth (2014), Mothership: Tales of Afrofuturism and Beyond (2014), Genesis Science Fiction (2013), Scraps (UK, 2012), and Possibilities (2012). He has written two books: a collection called Hayward’s Reach and an e-book novella called Broken Glass.

2.30 – 3:00 pm Award Ceremony for AfroSurreal Short Story Prize and AfroSurreal Excellence Prize

Presented by Thaddeus Howze

3:00 – 3:30 pm Reading from Award Winner of the AfroSurreal Excellence Prize

3:30 pm Closing Ceremony presented by Rochelle Spencer, Founder and  Co-Director of AfroSurreal Writers Oakland


Rochelle Spencer is founder of the AfroSurreal Writers Workshop and co-editor of All About Skin: Short Fiction by Women Writers of Color (Univ. of Wisconsin Press, 2014), which has been named a “must-read” feminist book of 2014 by Ms.Magazine. Rochelle has received fellowships to the Vermont Studio Center and the Woodstock Byrdcliffe Guild, and her work appears in a variety of publications, including the African American Review, Poets and Writers, Eleven Eleven, the East Bay Review, Callaloo, the Carbon Culture Review, the LA Review, and Mosaic. Rochelle is a member of the National Book Critics Circle and a former board member of the Hurston Wright Foundation.

Audrey T. Williams is an Oakland-based writer. She is a VONA alum and is working towards an MFA in Writing at California College of the Arts in San Francisco. Audrey is currently working on several AfroSurreal short stories based on the “peculiar institutions” of American history and is writing the manuscript for Chutney and Chitlins, a mixed-race family memoir that makes use of hybrid creative nonfiction using narratives and images. Chutney and Chitlins begins with stories from her African-American father’s childhood in the segregated South and follows him as he joins the newly integrated US Marines in the late 1950’s. He was possibly the first African-American US Marine sent to US embassy duty in Rangoon, Burma. In Burma, he meets Audrey’s mother, whose heritage is a mixture of European and South Asian ancestry (Anglo-Indian-Burmese). Learn more about Audrey and her stories, here.

AfroSurreal Writers Workshop supports writers of color creating weird, surreal, or absurdist art. The AfroSurreal Writers Workshop fights for the rights of all marginalized people, including senior citizens, religious and ethnic minorities, people with disabilities, the LGBITQ communities, members of poor and working class neighborhoods, and of course, PoC. The group holds an annual conference on AfroSurrealism at the African American Museum and Library at Oakland where we celebrate local writers and artists who create unusual art. An Eco-Arts Festival and Conference is taking the place of this year’s conference.


Pop-Up Reading Room Organized by James Lee

Where: 3000 San Pablo Ave, Emeryville, CA 94608-4532

Time: 12pm – 4pm

The Pop-Up Reading Room will take place on Saturday, April 22, 2017 in Emeryville as a public installation that explores the tensions between comfort, knowledge, and human survival by building a leisure space made out of ice. This leisure space will include books that the public can read and interact with as they sit on blocks of ice covered by faux sheep skin and surrounded by space heaters. As the ice melts from the warmth of the heaters and the heat of the readers’ bodies, it represents the potential damage that we inflict (knowingly and obliviously) on the planet through our activities, a reference to human-induced climate change and other acts of environmental destruction.