The Eco-Arts Reading Festival is a one-day event organized by Rochelle Spencer, Audrey T. Williams and AfroSurreal Writers Workshop as part of Spencer’s Studio Lab Residency at Pro Arts during March and April. This event will take place from 1:00 – 4:00pm.

For this festival, the AfroSurreal Writers Workshop and 25 local writers will participate in a Read-In. Throughout the day, writers and artists will share poems and stories that explore nature and the urban landscape read aloud at Frank Ogawa Plaza.

The Eco Arts Reading Festival will also include members of Laney College’s eco-art class, local environmental organizations and others (who will be announced shortly) to share their work.


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.