2018 MacArthur “Genius” Award-winner, John Keene is the author of Counternarratives, a series of wide-ranging stories based in the African diaspora following the introduction of the slave trade to the Americas. In addition to his other works, Keene is known for his translation of poetry and other literary works from the diaspora. In this story, Keene describes the power of fiction, and we visit him during a graduate creative writing seminar at Rutgers University-Newark, where he is a professor of English and chair of African and African American Studies. Also interviewed are Julian Lucas, Contributing Writer for the New York Times Book Review, and Tracy K. Smith, U.S. Poet Laureate (2017-19).

Produced by Susan Wallner; Videography by Joe Conlon.