– james baldwin

.:  about  :.

Deesha Philyaw is the co-author of Co-Parenting 101: Helping Your Kids Thrive in Two Households After Divorce, written in collaboration with her ex-husband. Her work has been listed as Notable in the Best American Essays series, and her writing on race, parenting, gender, and culture has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, McSweeney’s, The Rumpus, Brevity, dead housekeeping, Apogee Journal, Catapult, Cheat River Review, ESPN’s The Undefeated, The Baltimore Review, TueNightEbony and Bitch magazines, and various anthologies. Deesha is a Fellow at the Kimbilio Center for African American Fiction and a past Pushcart Prize nominee for essay writing in Full Grown People. Deesha’s collection of short stories about Black women, sex, and the Black church is forthcoming from West Virginia University Press in fall 2020.

.:  new book  :.


Three decades later, and the church ladies of my youth are still with me. They keep showing up in my imagination, and, as a result, in the stories in THE SECRET LIVES OF CHURCH LADIES.

Caught between the church’s teachings, and their needs and passions, they are as nasty as they wanna be, as vulnerable as they need to be, as unfair, unfaithful, unrepentant as they care to be. As free as they deserve to be.

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Amazon pre-order coming soon

These three selections are from Deesha’s upcoming book The Secret Lives of Church Ladies (West Virginia University Press, Fall 2020):

“Not Daniel” CHEAT RIVER REVIEW | Spring/Summer 2018

I parked in the shadows behind the hospice center, and waited. I held a box of condoms on my lap, Magnum XLs. It was like being sixteen again, except this time I bought the condoms instead of relying on the boy. This time, the boy was a man I had mistaken for someone I’d gone to junior high with when our paths first crossed two weeks before at the main entrance to the hospice center. I was coming, he was going. I thought he was Daniel McMurray so I stared longer than I should have, and he stared back. Later that evening, I’d run into him again coming out of the room across from my mother’s. His mother had breast cancer, mine ovarian.

“Snowfall” BALTIMORE REVIEW | Winter 2019

Black women aren’t meant to shovel snow. Rhonda mumbles this as we are knee-deep in the stuff. We have to do it. When it snows heavy overnight, we wake before the sun comes up to get dressed, shovel ourselves out, clear off our Honda, prevent slip-and-fall lawsuits from neighbors, and still get to work on time.

But I know where Rhonda is coming from. We, who apparently are built for everything, are simply not built for this. No gloves exist that keep our hands from freezing as we move snow and ice from one spot to another and from the car windshield. No boots exist that can keep the cold from numbing our toes. No amount of layers and waterproof pants keep the chill at bay. We feel it through our chests. And no, the physical activity does not warm us up. It makes us resentful.

“Eula” APOGEE | Summer 2017

Over time, Eula had other Reeses, other almosts. But she would end up dismissing them as too old or too young. Too broke or too stupid. Or they would dismiss her once they realized they couldn’t woo or pressure her into sleeping with them. Now-days, there are fewer and fewer Reeses, and they are less and less like Boaz with each passing year.

Sometimes I wonder if Eula finds fault with all these men because secretly she doesn’t want any of them, and is just doing what’s expected of her. But these are the kinds of things Eula and I don’t talk about.


.:  events  :.

LOVE LIT | February 2020

2020 Love Lit

Join MoonLit and Tyrese Coleman for an exciting literary salon celebrating love – the good, the bad, and the sexy. Enjoy music, readings by local authors, comedy by Diana Veiga, a special burlesque performance by Eva Mystique, and a some sexy surprises. Featuring: Dan Brady, Regie Cabico, Bassey Ikpi, Thien-Kim Lam, Anthony Moll, Deesha Philyaw, Monica Prince, Rion Amilcar Scott, and Laura Zam.
Friday, February 14 at 7:30
Smith Public Trust
Tickets: $10
* Doors Open at 7:00
This event is sponsored and supported by MoonLit, Barrelhouse, Fear No Lit, Loyalty Books – Upshur Street, Mason Jar Press, Neon Hemlock Press, Split Lip Magazine, and SmokeLong Quarterly.

.:  connect  :.

I’m excited to hear from you. I’m available for readings, speaking engagements, freelance writing, and workshops on writing, race, gender and sex, and co-parenting and divorce. I live in Pittsburgh in the United States, but travel is a possibility. I love working with new people and tackling tough topics, and I’m happy to engage directly to gear our creative output in a direction that is accessible and works well for our audience. Please choose from the topics below, or feel free to propose a topic.


Ready to get in touch? Email



.:  Speaking / Reading Topics  :.

  • First, Do No Harm: Writing About Journeys Not Your Own
  • Good Girls Don’t. Black Girls Will: Black Women, Sex and the Black Church
  • Ain’t I a Mommy?: Narratives of Motherhood and Race
  • The Mythical Sisterhood of Black and White Women … and 10 Ways to Move Forward
  • The Patchwork Quilt Writing Career: How Not to be a Starving Artist
  • Choosing You, Telling the Truth: Encouragement for Women in Transition
  • Co-Parenting 101: Helping Your Kids Thrive After Divorce
  • Co-Parenting a Child Who is Adopted
  • Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Birth Mom?
  • Supporting Your Child’s Interest in Her Origins

.:  Interactive Workshop Topics Include  :.

  • Choosing You, Telling the Truth: A Writing Workshop for Women in Transition
  • Let’s Write About Sex, Baby
  • Co-Parenting 101: Helping Your Kids Thrive After Divorce
  • Co-Parenting a Child Who is Adopted
  • Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Birth Mom?: Supporting Your Child’s Interest in Her Origins
  • Write Your D*mned Book Proposal Already!
  • From Idea to Publication: Starting & Sustaining Your Book Project
  • How to Pitch for Publication
  • How to Land an Agent

.:  One-on-One Consultations Include  :.

  • Write Your D*mned Book Proposal Already!
  • From Idea to Publication: Starting & Sustaining Your Book Project
  • How to Pitch for Publication
  • How to Land an Agent

.:  featured work  :.

Deesha writes on race, gender, pop culture, parenting, divorce, and more.
Available for freelance projects. See more of her work through Contently.

Join Deesha’s Mailing List

Don’t miss a thing! I’ll make sure you’re the first to know when my new book THE SECRET LIVES OF CHURCH LADIES comes out.

You’ll also be privy to any upcoming workshops, speaking engagements, and publications.

Talk to you soon!