Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Dark Room Collective Reunion Tour Bumrushes DC

"Total Life Is (Still) What We Want"
"Bumrush the Show"

The Dark Room Collective's "Nothing Personal" Reunion Tour continued yesterday with a reading and reception (with booksigning) sponsored by the Folger Shakespeare Library as part of its O. B. Hardison Poetry Series, at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation across the street. The lineup for this reading differed a little from the one in Chicago a few weeks ago at the Poetry Foundation: in addition to Thomas Sayers Ellis, Sharan Strange (two of the Dark Room's co-founders with Janice Lowe), Major Jackson, Kevin Young, Natasha Trethewey, and yours truly, two other members, Tisa Bryant and this year's Pulitzer Prize laureate in poetry, Tracy K. Smith, also read, as did poet Monica Hand, and participated in a conversation afterwards, led by University of Texas scholar and poet Dr. Meta DuEwa Jones. Poet and Cave Canem grad fellow Teri Cross Davis made the event possible, and to her and the Folger Shakespeare Library, I offer many thanks. I won't try to recap the reading, but will instead send J's Theater readers to this link, a writeup by DC poet Abdul Ali, in the Washingtonian, which I should note gets my personal information a little wrong, but he does spell my last name correctly, so I'm not complaining.

Dark Room Reunion Gathering, DC
(Photo by Marlene Lillian Hawthorne)

Folger O. B. Hardison series broadside of Dark Room poets
A photo of the Folger's O. B. Hardison Poetry Series
broadsides of handwritten poems by
the Dark Room Collective Reunion writers

At any rate, after the reading, conversation and reception, we all headed to celebration, in part for Tracy's Pulitzer premiation, hosted by the generous and welcoming art patron and connoisseur Darryl Atwell, M.D., and sponsored by Dr. Atwell, Graywolf Press, Tidal Basin Review, and the American Poetry Museum.  We were incredibly fortunate to have poet and photographer Rachel Eliza Griffths, who was present in Chicago, as well as photographer Marlene Lillian Hawthorne, also present, and even FLAT LANGSTON joined the party, mutely and warmly watching on.  There was lots of swag (Dark Room buttons, free books and broadsides by the Dark Room writers, copies of the extraordinary Encyclopedia) and lots of amazing writers, including--and I am going to leave folks out, so forgive me!--Dark Room member Trasi Johnson, CC Massive grad fellows and poets Brian Gilmore (also a legal warrior), Brandon Johnson, and Kyle Dargan, younger poets like Ali and Diamond Sharp, and many others. It was splendifericent, though that word (i.e., in the process of making splendid--> splendid + feri = to bear, carry + icere = to be in the process of, etc.) barely captures the liveliness of the reading or the celebration, which included a ceremony such as only Thomas Sayers Ellis could have conceived, and a cake, pictured below. Take a mental slice and enjoy! Next stop, either Boston or New York, and, I hope, there'll be a fiction gathering as well (Tisa, Trasi, Bethany, Muhonjia, et. al.)!

Teri Cross Davis, Janice Lowe, Tracy K. Smith, Sharan Strange, Thomas Sayers Ellis
Teri, Janice, Tracy, Sharan & Thomas

Tisa Bryant & Monica Hand
Tisa & Monica

Tracy K. Smith & Natasha Trethewey, Pulitzer Prize in Poetry winners!
Tracy & Natasha

Thomzilla (Hayes Davis at right)

Thomas Sayers Ellis, Natasha Trethewey, Major Jackson
Thomas, Natasha & Major

Natasha Trethewey presenting an award to Tracy K. Smith
Natasha passing an award to Tracy (Major & Hayes at right)

The Dark Room crew
Thomas, Marlene Lillian, Natasha, Major, Rachel Eliza, & Hayes

At the post Dark Room Party in DC
Janice (in red top), Flat Langston behind her

Brian Gilmore (c), Janice Lowe (r), and full house in DC
Brian (at center), Janice (at right), Brandon (behind her), Langston

Dark Room Reunion tour cake, in DC
The cake!

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