Author Spotlight: Vanessa Irvin Morris - Part II

As promised, here's Part II of my interview of author Vanessa Irvin Morris.  Enjoy!

Earlier this year you created, “The Street Lit Book Award Medal Booklist.”  Why did you create this award and why is this honor so different from book awards?
Author, Vanessa Irvin Morris
Well, I was noticing how literary awards come out during the first quarter of the year (for the most part – especially in library world) and that there was no recognition for literary excellence in Street Lit. Street lit is a prolifically published and read genre, yet there was no measure for acknowledging the best of the literature for various reading levels (best teen, best adult, etc.). I felt this was an unnecessary void. I also felt that the Street Lit Book Award Medal would be a good way to advocate for the literari-ness of Street Lit and to also act as a collection development tool for librarians seeking to adequately add titles to their collections.

The SLBAM Committee considers books that are popularly read and requested in libraries across the U.S. We have committee members from every region of the country. This way we get a good coverage of what patrons are requesting and reading. We take those lists of titles and read or re-read the books. We discuss the books. We then do a series of rounds to advocate for the Medal ranking.

Many people reading this interview would be surprised to hear that you are currently working on your Ph.D.  How were you able to write a book and work on your Ph.D. at the same time?
Morris at her 2011 Book Signing
Well they are both related. The book is about helping librarians (and teachers) understand Street Lit; my dissertation research is about learning how librarians read Street Lit and how their reading responses inform their professional practice.

What Street Lit. titles are on your bookshelf now?
Lorton Legends by Eyone Williams
Eviction Notice by K ’wan
The Robbin’ Hoods by Ericka Williams
I’m also looking to dig into TTW3 by Takeera Allen. If you go to my blog, at, I have a Shelfari widget of all my current reads.

What's in the near future for you?  i.e. - speaking at conferences, webinars, etc.

The Reader's Advisory Guide to Street Literature, ALA Editions

There is going to be a public book launch event for The Readers Advisory Guide to Street Literature on Wednesday, November 30, 2011, at the VivantVivant Art Collection Gallery, located at Gallery Row, 60 North 2nd Street (2nd and Arch Streets) in Philadelphia, 6pm-9pm Eastern Time. It is going to be a wine and cheese event; free admission (and parking!). J We are going to offer an open forum for people to discuss the book and the genre. There are additional media plans in the works, to promote the book, but they are still tentative at this time.   You can read more about this event by checking the events page on Facebook -    You can click ‘LIKE” and “SHARE” to spread the word!

You can email me at  VANIRVINMORRIS@GMAIL.COM   to RSVP, friend me on Facebook (Vanessa Irvin Morris) or follow me on Twitter (@vanirvinmorris) for latest announcements..  See you there!

Morris is the Assistant Teaching Professor at The iSCHOOL at Drexel’s University’s College of Information Science and Technology in Philadelphia. She is the country’s foremost Street Literature Scholar and writes frequently on her blog, Street Literature.   Morris is the creator of “The Street Lit Book Award Medal Booklist.” 
Her book The Reader’s Advisory Guide to Street Literature,” published by ALA Editions has recently been submitted for nomination consideration for the NAACP Image Award – Outstanding Literacy Work. 

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