Urban Book Expo holds up local fiction, poetry and memoir for third year

by Susan Fried

Twenty authors, publishers, an online book store and several other vendors greeted more than 400 visitors to the 3rd Urban Book Expo August 26th at the Centilia Cultural Center. Attendees could talk directly with the authors, learn about publishing opportunities and listen to the writers and poets read from their works.

Jeffrey Cheatham II, one of the Expo organizers and author of the children’s book “Why is Jane So Mad?” said he was inspired to start the Urban Book Expo by a Book Fair he attended in Toronto Canada. He said he loved the atmosphere and culture of the Toronto Book Fair and wanted to bring something similar to Seattle, especially for authors of color.

“I wanted to create something,” he said. “It was that whole ‘If you build it, they will come’ type thing.”

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Hundreds of people attended the 3rd Seattle Urban Book Expo. (Photo: Susan Fried)

He said that the event continues to attract both more participants and attendees.

“I wanted to invite not just African American authors, but Latino authors, Indian authors, make it more diverse and show that we have a voice out here in the literature world to,” Cheatham said.

Many of authors at the event based their works on their own life experiences, including Terry Hill Sr., who wrote two books while serving time in prison, and Christy Lynn Abram, whose book “Little Miss Somebody” is based on her childhood growing up in St. Louis, Missouri, around adults experiencing drug addiction.

Abram, who read from her novel during the expo, answered a question from an audience member about what the experience was like reading her own words out loud.

“When I read this book, and I picked it up the book about two weeks ago before I came to the expo and started reading it again and I was back into tears, it was like I was still there,” she said. “It’s still a process of healing when you’ve gone through such traumatic things but it’s still very cathartic to know that there’s someone else out there who has a similar story and maybe this will empower them to tell their story.”

Abram’s experience writing about her own life prompted her to start Brown Girls Write, which offers workshops, sisterhood circles and retreats so women of color can use writing as a means to heal through the process of writing.

Life Chronicles Publishing Founder and CEO Sharon Blake also works with writers to help them explore their life experiences through writing. Her company motto is “Give your life a voice.” Several of the writers she published attended the Urban Book Expo, including Latoya Dukes, who wrote about sexual abuse in her book “Breakthrough the Unbreakable,” and Shanteria Tipler who wrote “Hidden Messages: Decoding Past Hurt to Unlock New Beginnings.”

In addition to children’s book authors and novelists, several poets brought their work to the expo. Poet Kamari Bright read from her book Emergence, and writer, musician and spoken word artist C.J. Dudley recited his piece “Black in America.”

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Christy Lynn Abram shows her book before doing a reading at the 3rd Seattle Urban Book Expo. Abrams also runs an organization called Brown Girls Write. Her book “Little Miss Somebody” can be purchased on Amazon. She can be contacted at Browngirlswrite.org. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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Linda Rohan talks with author Terry Hill Sr. about his book “Memoirs from a Prison Cell Trilogy: The Missteps of a Southern Boy” during the Seattle Urban Book Expo. Hill’s books can be purchased on Amazon or you can visit his website: terryhillsr.com. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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Julia Ismael and Zainab Asker owners of the online book store JuJuBeeBooks.com display some of their books at the Urban Book Expo. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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Writer Gurpreet Kaur Sidhu talks about her book “Storm” during the Seattle Urban Book expo. For more information about the book and how to purchase a copy go to Gurpreetkaursidhu.com. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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Poet Kamari Bright reads from her poetry collection “Emergence” during the Urban Book Expo. Bright can be contacted at kamaribright.com. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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Jacqueline Ware, a member of the African American Writers Alliance talks to people attending the 3rd Seattle Urban Book Fair. To book AAWA members for workshops, seminars, socials, and readings, or for more information, visit aawa-seattle.com. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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Author Jeffery Cheatham II hugs his daughter Josilyn 9 after she read his book “Why Is Jane So Mad?” during the 3rd Seattle Urban Book Expo. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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The children’s book “I Love You Just Because” was a family affair with mother Catrice Dennis (left) writing the book and daughter Assiyah Davis (center) doing the illustrations and other family members offering support. For more info on the book and its creators visit CatriceandAsiyah.com. (Photo: Susan Fried)
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Spoken word artist, writer and singer C.J. Dudley performs his piece “Black in America” during the Urban Book Expo. He can be reached at cjdudley.com. (Photo: Susan Fried)


Featured Photo: “Black in America” is one of the poems found in C.J. Dudley’s book “Letters to a Blind Man.” Mr. Dudley was one of the 20 authors at the Seattle Urban Book Expo. He can be contacted at cjdudley.com. (Photo: Susan Fried)

One thought on “Urban Book Expo holds up local fiction, poetry and memoir for third year”

  1. I think that your story on the Urban Book Expo is wonderful. It is so hard for people of color to get there books seen by others. If any one ever wanted to know about different races and culture, all they need to do is pick up a book by a POC. Wonderful story!