In this decade, CAALS continues to balance poetry and fiction. Novelists Walter Mosley, Paul Beatty, Andrea Lee, Matt Johnson, and Colson Whitehead, poets Harryette Mullen, Terrance Hayes, Natasha Trethewey, Claudia Rankine, and poet-novelist Elizabeth Acevedo gave spirited presentations on contemporary life, literature, and language rooted based on works of historical fiction, detective fiction, graphic novels, satire, traditional lyrics, experimental forms, spoken-word, and hip-hop.
Between 2000 and 2009, the series focused on poetry as much as fiction from authors who challenged popular assumptions about race and history. Poets Lucille Clifton, Toi Derricotte, Cornelius Eady, Marilyn Nelson, and Elizabeth Alexander and novelists Edwidge Danticat, Pearl Cleage, Edward P. Jones, Charles Johnson, and Samuel R. Delaney presented superb readings and class sessions revealing African American literature’s variety and depth.
In its first decade, the Contemporary American Authors Lecture Series (CAALS) focused on fiction. Writers included Gloria Naylor, Paule Marshall, John Edgar Wideman, Sherley Anne Williams, Octavia Butler, Jamaica Kincaid, Ernest J. Gaines, and Merle Collins in addition to US Poet Laureate Rita Dove, children’s author Virginia Hamilton, and scholar and critic Mary Helen Washington. Writers examined race and gender through topics ranging from genocide to gardening.