Intimate Conversation with Sisters Sippin’ Tea

12 Feb
Intimate Conversations Interview with Sharon Haynes – Coordinator
of Sisters Sippin’ Tea Literary Group – Tulsa Chapter

Ella: Welcome, Sharon Haynes, coordinator for the Sisters Sippin’ Tea Literary Group – Tulsa Chapter. It is such a pleasure to have you visit with us the chapter.

Ella: Tell us about the mission of the literary group.
The Tulsa chapter of Sisters Sippin’ Tea Literary Group is committed to providing an opportunity for women from all walks of life to come together for a common and primary goal…reading and promoting literacy through our community outreach programs. Our pledge is to transmit our passion for literary pursuits to future generations.

Ella: Sharon, tell us a few books that you would define as “Literary Hallmarks.”
The Known World by Edward P. Jones
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison
The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin
Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe
My Soul to Keep by Tananarive Due

Ella: That is a wonderful selection of books! What do you define as Quality Literature?
Quality Literature encompasses style, characters, plot and the ability for the written words to come to life and embrace you in a way that totally consumes you. We know the characters personally and can visualize the settings and after reading the book we’re wishing for more.

Ella: How did your organization develop? How many members are in the group?
There were so many aspects to how we initially started. The African American Resource Center was hosting Roslyn McMillan and extended an invitation for people to read three of her books and we would meet once a month for three months prior to her visit to discuss.

We had an awesome time and wanted the group to continue but because of prior commitments and time constraints the AARC Coordinator could not commit. A couple of us located book clubs but they were not a good fit, they lacked structure and consistency. Several months later I attended a weekend Literary Retreat with two friends at a secluded B & B in Texas hosted by Sistah Circle Book Club. We had an awesome time. I decided then that if we couldn’t find what we were looking for I would get a few ladies together and we would discuss starting our own club. My vision was to form a sisterhood who shared a passion for reading, promoting literacy and making a difference in our community.

We began as Emerging Minds Books and More. After a few months I started investigating national book clubs and brought the idea to the group of becoming affiliated with a national group where we could broaden our literary experiences and connect with other sistah’s from all around the globe. I provided the group information on three national organizations and it was a unanimous decision that we join up with Sisters Sippin’ Tea; it’s been a wonderful journey every since! The Tulsa chapter currently has 11 members.

Ella: Do you have outreach programs or events that we can support?
Yes, each October our main event is our annual Fall Books and Brunch (B&B) where the purpose is two-fold. Our first goal is to give back to our community by enhancing educational opportunities for African American high school students and recent graduates who demonstrate an interest in community and literacy, and our second goal is to discover creative ways to promote literacy.

Sisters Sippin’ Tea is dedicated to promoting literacy in our community. We are actively involved in various activities that are geared towards raising literacy awareness through mentoring, counseling and outreach programs.

In 2007 we established the SST Scholarship Fund which is subsidized by a portion of the B&B proceeds. Additionally the B&B allows us the privilege of showcasing phenomenal authors, introducing them to a Tulsa base of avid readers that are a force to reckon with. We are always looking for authors that motivate and inspire as well as entertain our audience. We happily accept donations for our scholarship fund as well as donations that can be utilized for door prizes, etc.

Each May we co-host the African American author Expo at the local library. This program highlights approximately 15 African American authors by providing a platform for the authors to showcase their written work.

Ella: What does a typical meeting consist of for the members?
We start in prayer. We fellowship while dinning on whatever delicacies the host has prepared. A short business meeting follows and then the book discussion begins. We have a pool of talented fabulous opinionated women so the discussions are pretty lively. We end with each lady providing a rating of the book. We close out in prayer. Our meetings are held the third Saturday of each month in members’ homes or a locale selected by the host. We are together officially for approximately 2 ½ hours.

Ella: Who are some of the other authors your group has featured?
We have been so fortunate to have the caliber of authors who have supported our literary endeavors. To name a few – Terrie Williams, JD Mason, Professor Charles Ogletree, Clifton Taulbert, Dr. Bertice Berry, Lorna Owens, Lee Thomas, LY Marlow, Obrey Hendricks, Travis Hunter, James Guitard, Donna Hill, Whitney LeBlanc, Lisa Teasley, Camika Spencer, Dr. Monique Anderson – the list goes on and on so a name not mentioned is definitely unintentional.

Ella: Name 3 authors you would like to have on a phone chat.
President Barack Obama, Toni Morrison, Bell Hooks.

Ella: What advice would you give authors about approaching book clubs to read their work?
If the book is self published, be sure you’ve gotten it edited to perfection. Poor spelling, bad grammar, limited plotting and characterization – these are the definite no-noes and time wasting turn-offs.

Ella: Ultimately, what do you want members to gain from your union?
The true meaning of sisterhood and community. We’d like each meeting to create a virtual retreat where for a few hours each month we share a serene and meaningful diversion as we assemble for the sake of sisterhood and reading.

Ella: How may our readers find out more about you and the group?

Sharon Haynes – Coordinator
Sisters Sippin’ Tea Literary Group – Tulsa Chapter
PO Box 184 , Tulsa Oklahoma 74133
Visit SST online:

Please join in the discussion by leaving comments or congrats below.
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