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Pamela Sneed

(Photo Credit: JAMES CAMP -- THE TECH )
New York poet Pamela Sneed reads from her new book, Imagine Being More Afraid of Freedom Than Slavery.

Pamela Sneed is a New York based poet, solo performer and actress. She is the author of a book of poetry, Imagining Being More Afraid of Freedom Than of Slavery, and she is at work on a new collection of poetry, short stories, and political essays. Her recent work appears in Her current publications include work in Brown Sugar, An Anthology of Black Erotica, The Other Countries Journal, and Role Call- An Anthology of Political Writings by Black Artists.

As a performance poet, Pamela Sneed, follows in the tradition of June Jordan and Sapphire. Her acclaimed book of poetry “Imagine Being More Afraid of Freedom Than Slavery” is "Lyrical, provocative, humorous and potent." The book deals with issues of enslavement, sexuality, psychological trauma, and physical abuse. Sneed draws on the spirit and will of Harriet Tubman, the image of the bloated body of Emmitt Till, the bombing of Philadelphia MOVE, and lesbian love to create an in-your-face, powerful and stunning depiction of one woman's search for love and fight for freedom. Imagine Being More Afraid of Freedom Than Slavery (Holt) was a finalist for the American Library Association’s Gay, Lesbian & Bisexual & Transgendered Award for Fiction/Literature, the Lambda Literary Award for Lesbian Poetry, and the Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual Book Award.

Ms. Sneed is a poet, performer and actress whose work has been seen in New York at Lincoln Center, the Whitney Museum of Art, The Studio Museum in Harlem, P.S. 122, The Brooklyn Anchorage, and in the New Works Festival at Joeís Pub in The Public Theater. She is a past recipient of grants from The Franklin Furnace and the Joyce Mertz Gilmore Commission for P.S. 122. She has appeared as well in Berlin, Manchester, Vienna, Mexico City, Scotland, and London.

Sneed's first book of poems has already been on the cover of New York magazine. An African American from the suburbs of Boston, she describes herself as "trained for docility, factory work/ to divorce city Blacks/ settle quietly/ peacefully integrate/ lead crisp cotton, pleated pant/ Sunday school existence." An antidote to docility, her work explores, if not terribly deeply, the conflict between urban and suburban culture for a person of color and the emotional difficulties of straddling that line. And as a lesbian of color, Sneed is obsessed with bad love: how self-hatred leads to self-destructive relationships. After much discouragement and many false messiahs in the guise of oppressive lovers, her final rescuer is art: "And when the principal said/ and my mother said/ I would never amount to anything/ I became an artist/ and made myself." Although it is likely that Sneed knows her live audience and how to connect with it, she does not go out of her way to create a finished written product; here is powerful subject matter but not well-crafted poetry.  Ellen Kaufman, Dewey Ballantine Law Lib., New York Library Journal





Shawn E. Rhea, The Source, July 1998
Sneed's powerful prose is a big-up to folks who feared that the voices of serious poets were being drowned by the noise of popular culture.

The Boston Globe
If a sledgehammer could whisper, its name would be Pamela Sneed. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title. ©2001

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