4 books that 21 Black Futures playwright and poet K.P. Dennis loved reading
21 Black Futures now streaming on CBC Gem
K.P Dennis is a Black non-binary, multidisciplinary artist, poet, director and activist based in Vancouver.
Dennis is a contributor to 21 Black Futures, a new anthology series featuring 63 Black Canadian playwrights, directors and performers addressing the question, "What is the future of Blackness?"
Dennis's contribution to the 21 Black Futures anthology series is titled Cavities. Written by Dennis, directed by Mumbi Tindyebwa-Otu and performed by Alison Sealy-Smith, Cavities is a monodrama that looks at a future that is set the moment after the revolution takes place — examining expectations and the "what happens next?" that follows.
Dennis talked to CBC Books about four books they loved reading.
Octavia's Brood, edited by adrienne maree brown and Walidah Imarisha
"When Walidah Imarisha wrote, 'And for those of us from communities with collective historic trauma, we must understand that each of us is already science fiction walking,' my understanding of what science fiction, or visionary fiction, as Imarisha calls it, changed.
Octavia's Brood opened a whole new world to me — and I will always be grateful.
"I realized that my work, my life, which white university had not been able to categorize nor understand, was visionary fiction in motion. It is afro-surrealism, poetry and expressions of futures born from this Black, queer body, spirit and ancestors.
"Octavia's Brood opened a whole new world to me — and I will always be grateful."
"Every Black reader has that book. That first book that showed up in all its truth, sorrow and love, to make you feel seen in ways you didn't know was possible in literature. Trayvon Martin's murder, and the subsequent release of his killer, showed me the full horrors of the political landscape for the Black person in America when I was 15 years old.
Every Black reader has that book. That first book that showed up in all its truth, sorrow and love, to make you feel seen in ways you didn't know was possible in literature.
"Between the World and Me validated the bleak and undulating rage that had been lit in me (as spoken from father to son) and showed me the beauty of telling our own stories with vulnerability, conviction and emotion."
Don't Call Us Dead by Danez Smith
"Quite simply the most stunning poetry book I have ever read. A must read. You will cry."
for colored girls who have considered suicide/ when the rainbow is enuf by Ntozake Shange
"This is the first piece of poetic theatre I read by a Black artist. It influenced my style immensely. I don't think I fully understood it the first time I read it in high school, but I knew I loved poetry, I loved theatre and I hated Shakespeare.
It was liberating to see a poetic story told about Black women, by a Black woman, using dance, music and poetry to share their lives, in a full-bodied, emotional way.
"It was liberating to see a poetic story told about Black women, by a Black woman, using dance, music and poetry to share their lives, in a full-bodied, emotional way. Because of this play, I have never hesitated to infuse these elements into my work, nor be bound by realism and the box of white expectation."
K.P. Dennis's comments have been edited for length and clarity.