Obsidian cultivates, through publication and critical inquiry, Black imagination, innovation, and excellence—supporting Black, African, and African Diaspora creatives globally.

Obsidian celebrates nearly fifty years of continuous publication and is dedicated to publishing contemporary poetry, fiction, drama/performance, visual and media art biannually in print and year round online.

Since its inception, Obsidian has featured a range of acclaimed writers, artists, and critics including Elizabeth Alexander, Houston A. Baker, Sharon Bridgforth, Octavia Butler, Wanda Coleman, Thadious Davis, Melvin Dixon, Gerald Early, Victor Ehikhamenor, C.S. Giscombe, Terrance Hayes, Essex Hemphill, Davida Ingram, Gayl Jones, Yusef Komunyakaa, Delita Martin, Aldon Lynn Nielsen, Sharon Norwood, Wura-Natasha Ogunji, Brenda Marie Osbey, Claudia Rankine, Stacey Robinson, Jerry Ward, and Gloria Wade Gayles, among others.

Supported in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, Obsidian: Literature & Arts in the African Diaspora is a peer-reviewed journal published by the Publications Unit in the Department of English at Illinois State University, a body corporate and politic of the State of Illinois and a 501(c)(3) organization. Founded in 1975 and recognized for editorial achievement by the Council of Editors of Learned Journals and the Illinois Arts Council Agency, Obsidian’s full archive is available through JSTOR.


Duriel E. Harris

Sheree Renée Thomas
Associate Editor

Tara A. Reeser
Managing Editor

Danielle L. Littlefield
Assistant Editor

Bernardo Wade
Assistant Editor

Marva Jackson Lord
Web Editor

Phil Spotswood
Senior Editorial Assistant


Editorial Board

Duane Boutté, Drama & Performance Art
Tisa Bryant, Fiction & Hybrid Genre
Nicole Carr, Fiction
Nandi Comer, Poetry
Krista Franklin, Visual Art
Kermit Frazier, Drama
Danian Jerry, Fiction
Meta DuEwa Jones, Criticism
John Keene, Fiction & Hybrid Genre
Keith Leonard, Criticism
Danielle Littlefield, Fiction
Khanyisile Mbongwa, Visual Arts
Lenard D. Moore, Poetry
Opal Moore, Fiction
Rone Shavers, Fiction & Hybrid Genre
Sheree Renée Thomas, Fiction
Tyrone Williams, Poetry


Advisory & Contributing Editors

L. Rosanne M. Adderley
Lillian Allen
Houston A. Baker, Jr.
Jean-Pierre Bekolo
Kwame Dawes
Madhu Dubey
Isra El-beshir
Sally Ann Ferguson
Charlene Gilbert
Clifford E. Griffin
Tracie D. Hall
Erica Hunt
Tayari Jones
Douglas Kearney
Yakini B. Kemp
Shelia Smith McKoy
Jabari Muhammad
T. Urayoán Noel
Sterling D. Plumpp
Tomeka Reid
giovanni singleton
Nancy D. Tolson
Afaa Michael Weaver
Richard Yarborough


In 1975 Alvin Aubert founded Obsidian at SUNY (Fredonia) under the name Obsidian: Black Literature in Review. Initially funded by Aubert and the support of individual contributors, over the following decades Obsidian would be published and supported by the resources of several universities. In the late ’70s and early ’80s, the journal was published by Wayne State University in Detroit under the name Obsidian II: Black Literature in Review. In 1985, Gerald Barrax took Obsidian II to North Carolina State University. Whilst there, Afaa Michael Weaver helped to transform the journal from Obsidian II to Obsidian III: Literature in the African Diaspora. Other editors emeriti during Obsidian’s tenure at NCSU include Doris Laryea, Joyce Pettis, Thomas Lisk, and Sheila Smith McKoy.

In the fall of 2014, current editor Duriel E. Harris initiated the successful transfer of Obsidian to the Publications Unit at Illinois State University.

With the publication of the spring 2015 issue dedicated to the work of Jeffery Renard Allen, Obsidian celebrated over 40 years of continuous publication and exhibited a new subtitle, Literature & Arts in the African Diaspora (and appears sans italic to highlight the full publishing platform).

Stay in the know

Sign up to our email list for free newsletters and updates about Obsidian activities

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Share This