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Zetta Elliott
Born in Canada, Zetta Elliott has spent the past fifteen years studying, writing, and teaching in the U.S. She earned her PhD in American Studies from NYU in 2003 and has taught black feminist cultural criticism at Ohio University, Louisiana State University, and Mount Holyoke College. Her poetry has been published in the Cave Canem anthology, The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean South, Check the Rhyme: an Anthology of Female Poets and Emcees, and Coloring Book: an Eclectic Anthology of Fiction and Poetry by Multicultural Writers. Her novella, Plastique, was excerpted in T Dot Griots: an Anthology of Toronto’s Black Storytellers, and her essays have appeared in The Black Arts Quarterly, thirdspace, WarpLand and Rain and Thunder.

Elliott’s picture book, Bird, was published in October 2008 by Lee & Low Books and was the recipient of a 2009 ALA Notable Children’s Book award. Her first play, Nothing but a Woman, was a finalist in the Chicago Dramatists’ Many Voices Project (2006). Her fourth full-length play, Connor’s Boy, was staged in January 2008 as part of two new play festivals: in Cleveland, OH as part of Karamu House’s R. Joyce Whitley Festival of New Plays ARENAFEST, and in New York City as part of Maieutic Theatre Works’ Newborn Festival. Her one-act play, girl/power, was staged as part of New Perspectives Theater’s NYC festival of women’s work in August 2008. She currently lives in Brooklyn.

Learn more about Elliot at

Entries by Zetta Elliott

"What's LOVE got to do with it?" Self-publishing as a Black feminist act of radical self-care

(0) Comments | Posted April 5, 2016 | 4:25 PM

Today is the birthday of my twenty-third book! I haven't arranged a book launch since 2012 and as an introvert, I'm really not much of a party girl. But I've decided that the publication of this particular book is worth celebrating. It took me over a decade to finish The...

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Kid Lit Equality -- Fantasy or Reality?

(3) Comments | Posted September 16, 2014 | 5:04 PM

When I was a child and things got hectic at home, I found sanctuary in the pages of a book (mostly British fantasy novels). The characters in those books never looked like me or lived a life like mine, but that was part of the appeal; books were mostly a...

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It's Not Me, It's You: Letting Go of the Status Quo

(0) Comments | Posted May 18, 2014 | 12:05 PM

Next month my friend will bring her two kids to visit me in Brooklyn. It has become an annual tradition and I look forward to showing my young guests all that the borough has to offer. I'm not a parent but I am a Black woman who grew up in...

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5 Things You Can Do to Promote Literacy Over the Holidays

(0) Comments | Posted December 15, 2013 | 9:30 PM

Technology has changed the way we give gifts during the holiday season, but there is one gift that is guaranteed to last a lifetime: literacy. Studies show that children who grow up in a home full of books stay in school longer. Teens who read for...

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"Plunging Into the Deep: Black Magic for Black Girls"

(4) Comments | Posted November 25, 2013 | 7:34 PM

In August I attended the Afropunk Festival for the first time. It's something I've always wanted to do but when a friend from Philly invited me to go, I finally sucked up the courage and said yes. I'm a writer and an educator, and in my classes I urge my...

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Trayvon -- Killed by an Idea

(1) Comments | Posted May 2, 2012 | 8:21 AM

In 2009, a year after the publication of my first picture book, Bird, I wrote an open letter to the children's publishing industry. I appealed to the overwhelmingly white and middle-class editors, marketers, and artistic directors in the hope that they would embrace diversity and work...

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7 Tips for Self-Published Authors

(0) Comments | Posted March 16, 2010 | 1:42 PM

Since posting my self-publishing story, the most common question I've been asked is, "Will you read my manuscript?" I'm afraid I don't provide editorial services, but it's not hard to find professional support.

Look for someone who has experience with your particular genre; if you write for...

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Tackling Terrorism in Teen Lit

(10) Comments | Posted March 10, 2010 | 2:05 PM

Women of color stand at the "intersection" of race and gender--a unique location that comes with its own set of challenges. The invisibility black women often face was perfectly encapsulated in the title of a 1982 anthology, All the Women Are White, All the Blacks Are Men, But...

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Demanding Diversity In Publishing

(12) Comments | Posted February 26, 2010 | 1:07 PM

Last week I was invited by Justine Larbalestier to write a guest post for her blog. I met Justine online last summer in the midst of the outrage over Bloomsbury USA's practice of "whitewashing" books (putting white models on the cover of books about children of color). Despite...

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Breaking Down Doors: My Self-Publishing Story

(42) Comments | Posted February 23, 2010 | 11:52 AM

Trying to break into publishing can feel like having a door slammed in your face over and over again. As a black child growing up on the outskirts of Toronto, I used to dream about doors--magical portals that opened onto distant lands. Even though all the books I read featured...

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