Kendra Allen

Kendra Allen’s first collection of essaysat its core—is a bunch of mad stories about things she never learned to let go of. Unifying personal narrative and cultural commentary, this collection grapples with the lessons that have been stored between parent and daughter. These parental relationships expose the conditioning that subconsciously informed her ideas on social issues such as colorism, feminism, war-induced PTSD, homophobia, marriage, and “the n-word,” among other things. 

These dynamics strive for some semblance of accountability, and the essays within this collection are used as displays of deep unlearning and restoring—balancing trauma and humor, poetics and reality, forgiveness and resentment.

When You Learn the Alphabet allots space for large moments of tenderness and empathy for all black bodies—but especially all black woman bodies—space for the underrepresented humanity and uncared for pain of black girls, and space to have the opportunity to be listened to in order to evolve past it.

Kendra Allen is the author of essay collection When You Learn The Alphabet and the winner of the 2018 Iowa Prize for Literary Nonfiction. Other works from her have been published in brevity, december, and The Rumpus among others. Born and raised in Dallas, TX, Kendra exists as an MFA candidate at the University of Alabama where she is working on her thesis and leading freshman students astray.

Saturday, October 5, 11:30 a.m. Prairie Lights Books & Cafe, 15 S Dubuque St, Iowa City, IA 52240

Saturday, October 5, 1 p.m. Iowa City Masonic Building, 312 College St. Iowa City, IA 52240