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Sanderia  Faye

Sanderia Faye

National Award Winning Author, Professor & Activist


Dr. Sanderia Faye (Smith) is an Assistant Professor of Practice and Executive Director of the Dallas Literary Festival at Southern Methodist University (SMU). She is also a professional speaker, activist and sommelier, where she pairs wine with books. Her novel, Mourner’s Bench, a coming of age story set in the Arkansas Delta during the height of the Civil Rights Movement, is the winner of the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, Philosophical Society of Texas Award of Merit for fiction, and Arkansas Library Association, Arkansiana Award. She is the co-leader of Pen America/DFW, co-founder of Kimbilio Center for Fiction and the founder of LitNight Reading Series. She also serves on the faculty at the Antioch University MFA Low Residency Program, and on the board of Deep Vellum Publishing. Read More >

Faye’s work has appeared in the New Yorker, New York Times, Southwest Review, Rain Taxi, Nat Brut, the Collagist and other literary journals. She received “Best Of” honors at the 2011 Eckerd College Writers’ Conference, Co –Directors Dennis Lehane and Sterling Watson, where her winning story was published in SABAL Literary Journal.

She published in the anthology Arsnick: The Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee in Arkansas, and moderated the grassroots panel for the Arkansas Civil Rights Symposium during the Freedom Riders 50th Anniversary. She coordinated the first AWP African Diaspora Caucus, and has moderated and severed on several panels.

In conjunction with resurrecting and directing the Dallas Literary Festival, a series of events featuring celebrated authors from throughout the US and internationally, she was recently named by D magazine as one of the 78 women who make Dallas, Texas great. She received grants and scholarships offers from Hurston/Wright Writers Conference, Eckerd College Writers’ in Paradise Conference, Callaloo Writers Workshop, and Vermont, Writers Studio. She attended The Writers' Colony at Dairy Hollow and Martha’s Vineyard Writers Residency. 

She holds a PhD in English from the University of North Texas where she was nominated for the University of North Texas Wingspan Presidential Award For Excellence, an MFA from Arizona State University, an MA from the University of Texas at Dallas, a BS in Accounting from the University of Arkansas.

Sanderia lives in Dallas, Texas where she is at work on her new novel Eleven about the Arkansas Correctional Facility. Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

How People Survive | Arizona PBS

Writer’s Workshop: Elements of Fiction | Fort Worth Public Library

Speech Topics

Changing Careers

With this timely speech, Sanderia Faye helps audience members untangle the process of changing careers. Whether you have been considering a career move for quite some time, or you just decided today you are ready to make a change, Faye helps you begin the process of transitioning to a new role. It is never too early or too late to follow your dreams.

The Role of Creativity in Higher Education

During the pandemic, the arts have been a key element in helping us maintain our optimism. Why did creativity play an important role in the classroom? Covid19 forced us to rapidly switch gears and helped educators guide their students to create new and meaningful ideas. Creativity in the classroom helped students take risks and to be independent and flexible.

Finding Your Voice

Self-doubt kills more dreams than fear. Give yourself permission to follow your dreams in the face of fear and doubt. Sanderia Faye gives audiences practical ways to find and use their unique voice and embrace all the possibilities that follow.

When the Police Commit the Crime

When law enforcement becomes violent and utilize excessive force, it is a civil rights violation.  Sanderia Faye presents this discussion about the police violations that leave so many feeling helpless and experiencing PTSD. The physical and emotional consequences of police brutality can be staggering.  Let’s begin by talking honestly about it.

Voter Suppression

Sanderia Faye explores the history of voter suppression from Jim Crowe to modern tactics used to prevent African Americans from voting. This a thorough examination of the countless means used to discourage or prevent citizens from exercising their right to vote.

Blacks & People of Color in Publishing

Let’s look at the numbers from MFA programs to agents and from publishing to the media. Where are the people of color?

Women & Children of the Civil Rights Movement (CRM)

Women were the backbone of the CRM especially in small towns. They played a crucial role as strategists and advocates and they brought their children with them. They participated despite the dangers including violence, homelessness, and unemployment.

What it Means to be a Literary Citizen

There is more to being an author than putting pen to paper. You belong to a local and national community of readers and writers. What is required to become a good literary citizen and activist? Sanderia Faye discusses supporting the literary community and all that entails.