Funeral Diva
Funeral Diva

Review in the "Lambda Literary Review"
Feb 19, 2021

"The work in this collection—a hybrid of poetry and prose—calls a range of people, living and dead, into a community invoking a history of queer Black writers and insisting on a powerful present and future for Black queer writing."—Julie R. Enszer, Lambda Literary Review

Review in "Tribes"
Feb 19, 2021

"An educator, artist and activist, Sneed's words uplifted me as much as they brought me great sorrow. I felt hope on the same pages I felt despair. Love from the same lines that fueled hate. In the same moments I felt I couldn’t possibly withstand her loss, I also knew I had to. Mentors who I will never know did not die so I could give up. Even if it’s out of spite for the institutions that want me dead, I must keep going because staying alive is the only way I will be able to prove to them that queer, Black bodies are capable of amazing things. I cannot afford to succumb to my pain because someone, somewhere is in need of my education, my art, my activism. The way Sneed was in need of Audre Lorde’s. The way I am in need of Sneed’s."—Sanina L. Clark, Tribes

Interview at "The Body"
Jan 25, 2021

"In closing, just in general, thank you for all your years of art and activism. I think the first time I saw you was in the '90s, on the PBS show In the Life, and I think that you might have even used the phrase 'funeral diva' on that show. I have a weird memory. But I remember seeing you on one of those episodes when I was probably in my late teens/early '20s, in Ohio. And I think that your work and the work of a lot of folks that you write about in Funeral Diva is important. It helped make me. So I just want to say thank you for your work over all those years. And the work that you continue to do for us. Thank you."—Kenyon Farrow, The Body

Midwest Book Review
Jan 22, 2021

"An absorbing and inherently engaging read from first page to last, Funeral Diva is one of those collections of thoughtful introspection and observation that will linger in the mind and memory long after the book itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf. Also readily available for personal reading lists in a digital book format, Funeral Diva is especially and unreservedly recommended for community, college, and university library LBGTQ collections and supplemental curriculum studies lists."—Midwest Book Review

Excerpt on "Poetry Daily"
Jan 15, 2021

"Marked Safe" published on Poetry Daily.

Review in "Rain Taxi"
Jan 5, 2021

"Sneed's reflections provoke awareness of just how impactful our lives are upon each other, while also implicitly embracing poetry's central role in her life. . . . Funeral Diva: sure it's about Pamela Sneed, but the writing is for us all."—Patrick James Dunagan, Rain Taxi Review of Books

Saeed Jones in conversation with Pamela Sneed about Funeral Diva @McNally Jackson
Dec 15, 2020

McNally Jackson hosted a virtual event with Saeed Jones in conversation with "his queen" Pamela Sneed discussing her Funeral Diva.

Autostraddle's Best Queer Books of the Year
Dec 11, 2020

"Pamela Sneed's searing, poetic memoir tackles coming of age during the AIDS epidemic and the culture and art that shaped and was shaped by that time—late 1980s—and place: New York City. Honing in on queer Black life, Sneed reaches out both to her queer Black forebears like James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, and Audre Lorde as well as her own lovers."—Casey Stepaniuk, Autostraddle

The Paris Review Daily -- Excerpt
Dec 11, 2020

Pamela Sneed remembers a chance encounter with Toni Morrison and June Jordan.

Interview on "Out in the Bay"
Dec 8, 2020

Pamela Sneed's prose and poetry can reach out and grab you. They did me.

She reads four poems from her new memoir, Funeral Diva, on this week’s Out in the Bay and shares some of her life story. Funeral Diva, published by San Francisco’s City Lights, is a powerful collection of poems and prose described as a "coming of age in New York City during the late 1980s." 

The New York Times book critics on favorite discoveries of 2020
Dec 2, 2020
Each year around now, The New York Times's daily book critics — Dwight Garner, Parul Sehgal and Jennifer Szalai —choose their favorite books from among those they reviewed over the previous 12 months. But they also read far more than can fit on such lists, and so they've come together to discuss the rest of their thoughts about 2020. Below, they talk about reading and doing their jobs under strange new conditions, authors who inspired and disappointed them, and more.
"The questions of what to review and how to frame a review felt heavy — especially in the spring. I was very conscious of the fact that readers were no less spent; no less pinched for time or enervated by illness and uncertainty as my own family. What sorts of books could be useful? What sort of tone could ever be appropriate? My approach changed. I felt drawn to different sorts of books, different aspects of familiar writers. . . . memoirs of the early days of the AIDS epidemic felt freshly, painfully relevant."—Parul Sehgal

Celebrating World AIDS Day with the Broad Museum
Dec 1, 2020

The Broad's World AIDS Day 2020 commemoration looks to the painful past of HIV and AIDS, and the impact which the pandemic has had on inspiring perseverance and commemoration in activism and artistic output. Poet, writer, and performer Pamela Sneed reads from her latest book, Funeral Diva, a poetic memoir about coming-of-age in the AIDS era, and its effects on life and art.

Review in "Buzzfeed"
Nov 30, 2020

"There's an eerie sense of timeliness to this book, which features prose and poetry by the writer and teacher Pamela Sneed and is largely — though not entirely — about mourning Black gay men killed too soon by a deadly virus."—Tomi Obaro, Buzzfeed

Review in The New York Journal of Books
Nov 30, 2020

"Balancing and mixing, with rhyme and reason, love and anger, good and bad, memory and the created present, all to tell the story of a life, a memoir unrestrained, devoid of artificial forms. Honest. Free."—Anjanette Delgado, New York Journal of Books

The New York Times recommends Barack Obama and Pamela Sneed's memoirs!
Nov 26, 2020
"11 New Books We Recommend This Week"
The poet Pamela Sneed was vigorously involved in AIDS activism at the height of the crisis in New York City. Her new book, a blend of poetry and memoir, recaptures that time — especially the contributions and leadership of lesbians, whose labor has gone largely unacknowledged and whose grief has counted for so little. The book swoops through the many experiences of Sneed's life. “Sneed is an acclaimed reader of her own poetry, and the book has the feeling of live performance,” our critic Parul Sehgal writes. “Its strength is in its abundance, its desire for language to stir body as well as mind.”

Review in The New York Times
Nov 18, 2020

"Sneed is an acclaimed reader of her own poetry, and the book has the feeling of live performance. . . . Its strength is in its abundance, its desire for language to stir body as well as mind."—Parul Sehgal

Pamela Sneed honors friend and artist Frederick Weston in Artforum
Nov 10, 2020

"Mourning in America" -- Poetry Magazine
Nov 9, 2020

"Funeral Diva grieves both the end and the continuation of the ills of the 1980s as well as the entangled persistence of pandemics. Sneed grieves the lives lost to HIV/AIDS and, now, to COVID-19."—Tiana Reid, Poetry Magazine

LitHub cites "Funeral Diva"
Nov 4, 2020

Funeral Diva is recommended!

The Women's Review of Books reviews "Funeral Diva"
Oct 31, 2020

"In form-bending poems, Sneed creates her own system of time and meaning in order to chronicle the past, to tell us the news, to save her own and others' lives."—Rachel Levitsky, Women’s Review of Books

Gregg Shapiro's syndicated review of "Funeral Diva"
Oct 31, 2020


"Opening with a couple of personal essays before moving into her poetic voice, Funeral Diva (City Lights Books, 2020) by Pamela Sneed movingly expresses her experience of her 1980s, NYC coming of age, including the effect of AIDS on the black queer community, as well as issues encompassing police brutality, queer rights, and the through line to the current COVID-19 pandemic."


Pamela Sneed in conversation with her editor Amy Scholder!
Oct 29, 2020

Book Soup in Los Angeles virtually hosted this wonderful conversation between author Pamela Sneed and her editor at City Lights, Amy Scholder.

Interview on "LitHub"
Oct 27, 2020

Pamela Sneed discusses her new book with Peter Mishler.

"Sometimes I imagine that a poem, like an artwork, is always there/it sort of pre-exists, and our job, or my job, as an artist is to unearth it/to perform the steps to help it be born or perform the rituals to reveal it. I know this may be an odd way to think of poetry as we are always the makers/shaping it but when it emerges sometimes so beautiful and perfect I can't imagine it never having been born/so I think strangely it’s always there. This does fall in accordance with how I teach poetry in that I describe it as an act of listening/like a musician you’re training your ears to hear it."—Pamela Sneed

Pamela Sneed in conversation with Tommy Pico!
Oct 23, 2020

 Presented by Litquake and City Lights, the book launch for Funeral Diva!

Interview on "Them"
Oct 20, 2020

"I think of Black women poets whose words like hands, shoulders, arms were used to uplift, whose eyes like stars in darkness provided vision," Pamela Sneed writes in her new collection of personal essays and poetry, Funeral Diva (out today from City Lights Books). They "led us like runaways to freedom, whose poems, songs and spirits were used to eulogize, bury dead, make sense of senseless tragedy."

Review in "Publishers Weekly"
Oct 19, 2020
"The memoirlike latest from poet, performer, and visual artist Sneed (Kong and Other Works) evokes a queer and Black coming-of-age story and its wider cultural resonance. Vividly capturing an array of formative relationships with friends, lovers, and family from the late 1980s and early '90s, Sneed's recalled experiences take the reader from the Boston suburbs and AIDS pandemic-era New York to Cape Coast Castle in Ghana. Essays such as 'History' and 'Ila,' reminiscent of writing by Hilton Als and influenced by Audre Lorde, cross-pollinate with poetic considerations of the present. Frequently, Sneed's tone is affectingly elegiac: 'And all those gay boys I met and worked with at a restaurant in Boston,/ who disappeared like thousands of bits of paper,/ wind just simply took' Yet just as often, this voice can be wry and lacerating: 'This is some high-wire sawed-in-half lady shit/ This is like some Hannah Arendt the banality of evil and/ the bureaucratization of homicide shit.' Sneed's speakers welcome coplexity in poems like 'Bey' ('I have to say I envy Beyoncé/ That she gets to show up after the fact in New Orleans') and 'Survivor,' which traces the speaker’s uneasy feelings about daredevil swimmer Diana Nyad. In this book, bracing honesty reveals both the necessity and the costs of resilience."—Publishers Weekly

Pamela Sneed at the Twin Cities Book Festival
Oct 17, 2020

Pamela Sneed joined Frank Wilderson III and Adam Smyer on the panel "Personal Narrative as Political Struggle."

Greenlight Bookstore recommends "Funeral Diva"
Oct 5, 2020

"OH MY GOODNESS, it was amazing. I was in tears by the end. What starts off as beautiful memoir evolves into incredibly moving poetry, painful and sweet and lovely."—Marie Cloutier, Greenlight Bookstore, Brooklyn, NY

Autostraddle Fall 2020 recommended books
Aug 27, 2020

"This poetic coming-of-age memoir is set in the HIV/AIDS era in 90s New York. Of particular focus are the effect of AIDS on Black queer life, Sneed's Black literary forebearers, police brutality, and a closing section on the AIDS and COVID-19 pandemics and their disproportionate effects on African American communities."

Review in "Booklist"
Oct 15, 2020

"The striking title of this hard-driving collection of poems and autobiographical essays by dynamic poet, writer, performer, artist, teacher, and LGBTQIA rights activist Sneed is also the title of the first poem, a tour de force about the collision between a coalescing 1980s 'Black lesbian and gay literary and poetic movement' in New York and the onslaught of AIDS. Called upon to memorialize the dead, Sneed became a 'funeral diva,' and now brings fresh, electrifying grief to elegies for such friends as Craig Harris, who ‘worked tirelessly on the frontlines of the AIDS epidemic’ and asked, ‘Who will care for our caretakers?’ This poignant question is once again urgent in the time of COVID-19. Other poems are spurred by crucial questions about Black lives, racism, police violence toward Black people, and discrimination and worse against LGBTQIA persons. Sneed grapples forthrightly with the complexities of history, heritage, identity, sexuality, relationships, and creativity. Paying homage to Octavia Butler, Audre Lorde, Toni Morrison, and Ntozake Shange, Sneed adds her own clarion and impactful voice to the struggle for truth, equality, and justice."—Donna Seaman, Booklist


Pamela Sneed discusses "Funeral Diva" with the California Independent Booksellers Association
Aug 6, 2020

Pamela Sneed discusses Funeral Diva with CALIBA's Executive Director, Calvin Crosby.

Pamela Sneed honors Big Mama Thornton -- Poetry Project Newsletter
Jul 1, 2020

"Like Big Mama Thornton, I too was raised in the church. My grandfather was a baptist preacher. My grandmother sang spirituals. I credit the black church for my love and introduction to poetry, the music and art I was surrounded by, and through the lyricism of preachers and women's testimonies I learned poetry. Through this upbringing I identified with Big Mama Thornton and how she came to music. . . ."—Pamela Sneed

Publisher's Weekly -- Most Anticipated Fall 2020 Poetry Books!
Jun 19, 2020

Funeral Diva by Pamela Sneed (Oct. 20, $16.95 trade paper, ISBN 978-0-87286-811-3). Poet and performer Sneed revisits her coming-of-age during the late 1980s as a black lesbian during the AIDS era in New York City, and considers the lasting role of art through writing that invokes her literary forebears, including James Baldwin, Audre Lorde, and Toni Morrison.

"I Can't Breathe" featured on poem-a-day
Jun 18, 2020

About This Poem:"I wrote this poem in late March or early April 2020, after I lost two distant friends to AIDS and COVID. I knew both of them from the New York night club days when we were all younger. They were both beautiful black gay men and I was grieving. Also, the question I always ask is, if we are the threat as big black people, where do we turn for protection?"—Pamela Sneed

Interview on "Aptly"
Jun 1, 2020
"Pamela Sneed has always been ahead of her time. . . . In recent years she's begun to get the recognition she has long deserved. . . . Sneed proudly identifies as a black lesbian and some of the most interesting moments of our conversation were when she discussed her time in New York City during the AIDs crisis. . . . Her new book Funeral Diva covers her experiences during the era both as a survivor and one who mourns for the voices lost. It is forthcoming from City Lights books in October."—Quentin Greif, Aptly

Pamela Sneed reads "A Tale of Two Pandemics"
May 19, 2020

At the 56 minute mark, Pamela Sneed joins hosts Karen Finley & George Emilio Sanchez at "Cope-ah-Pandemic," a virtual event "held" by Cafe La MaMa in New York City.  Sneed reads a new work featured in Funeral Diva, "A Tale of Two Pandemics."

22 Photos of LGBTQ Writers, The Advocate
Jul 26, 2019

In the summer of 2019, Daniel Cooney Fine Art ( showed a second solo exhibition of photographs by Robert Giard. The exhibition contained 53 vintage prints from Giard's extensive series of over 600 photographs of writers, artists, and activists created from 1985 to 2002. The collection on view was curated with regard to Giard’s consciousness of presenting the under represented population of the time. The exhibition was organized to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. Robert Giard's "Particular Voices" ran thru July 26, 2019. 

Photo of Pamela Sneed, 1992, is included

Pamela Sneed reads "Funeral Diva"
Feb 9, 2015

Recorded at Artists Space Books & Talks, February 9 2015.

AIDS & ITS METAPHORS is produced in conjunction with the inaugural publication of Visual AIDS' DUETS series, Stephen Andrews & Gregg Bordowitz in Conversation (2014), which features a conversation between Gregg Bordowitz and Visual AIDS Artist Member Stephen Andrews. DUETS is a series of publications that pairs artists, activists, writers, and thinkers in dialogues about their creative practices and current social issues around HIV/AIDS. In the first publication of the series, Gregg Bordowitz speaks to longtime friend Stephen Andrews about painting, poetry, cosmology, and survival. Lynne Tillman pens the publication's foreword.