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In Conversation: James Spooner with Dawnie Walton

June 11, 2022

James Spooner, the creator of Afro-punk, joined Dawnie Walton (writer, editor, and author of one of 2021’s most celebrated books, The Final Revival of Opal & Nev) for a special conversation in celebration of the release of Spooner’s new coming-of-age graphic novel, The High Desert. Part artist talk, part cultural exploration, the discussion spanned Spooner’s career in film, music, culture, and now books. Presented by MoCADA in partnership with The Center for Fiction.

High Desert is a grabbing, angsty coming-of-age tale offers a sidewalk view of a creative subculture. It’s also a poignant ode to the power of music to fill voids left by family and circumstance, with provocations thrumming on race and identity that sound out like a smashed guitar.

In Conversation

  • photo Magda Wosinska

    James Spooner

    James Spooner

    James Spooner is an accomplished tattoo artist, illustrator, and filmmaker. He directed the seminal documentary Afro-Punk. Spooner is also the co-founder of the Afro-punk Festival. Spooner’s work has appeared in NPR, Vice, the Village Voice, the New Yorker, Vibe, Fader, MTV, NBC News, and Variety. He is an ongoing guest curator for the Broad Museum in Los Angeles, and previously programmed for the Brooklyn Academy of Music.

    Photo Credit:Magda Wosinska

  • dlw_headshot_600_4 - Claire Fennell

    Dawnie Walton

    Dawnie Walton

    Dawnie Walton is a writer, editor, and author of the novel The Final Revival of Opal & Nev, winner of the Aspen Words Literary Prize, longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction, and named one of the best books of 2021 by the Washington Post, NPR, Esquire, and former U.S. President Barack Obama, among others. The audiobook version of her debut also won the 2022 Audie Award for Fiction. Her work explores identity, place, and the influence of pop culture. Formerly an editor at Essence and Entertainment Weekly, she has received fellowships in fiction from MacDowell and Tin House, and an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her writing has appeared in Oxford American, Bon Appetit, NPR, Lithub, and Black Ballad. Born and raised in Jacksonville, Florida, she lives in Brooklyn with her husband.