Funeral Diva
Funeral Diva

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.