Sunday, October 23, 2022

Tomorrow, I'll be reading with Sharon Olds as part of the 92nd St. Y's storied reading series, so if you're in New York City, please consider a little poetry for your evening. Sharon Olds needs no introduction, but I'll note that it will feel like a bit of a reunion, since she was teaching at NYU while I was in graduate school there, though I never had the opportunity of taking a class with her.

The event starts at 7:30 and will take place not at the Y, which is under renovation, but at NYPL's Bruno Walter Auditorium, which is at 111 Amsterdam Ave. at 65th Street, right behind Lincoln Center. 

You can get more info on tickets here, and the event also will be simulcast, I believe!

Join us if you can!

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Literary Arts Lab at U of Chicago, Oct 20-22!

If you are free and in or around Hyde Park, please consider attending one of the events at the University of Chicago's Literary Arts Lab, their Fall 2022 Creative Writing festival! Participants include Eula Biss, Jennifer Croft, Suketu Mehta, Aisha Sabatini Sloan and yours truly!

You can find more information here, and all events are free and open to the public!

Friday, April 01, 2022

Imani X. Davis Reads "Napoleon Club" + Happy National/International Poetry Month


Back in 2018 I posted a clip on here of a young performer, Orlando Watt, on YouTube performing a snippet of my poem "Words," which had appeared on the Academy of American Poets' Poetry Daily, courtesy of the amazing poet Dawn Lundy Martin. It is rare to have anyone read or perform my work, and I didn't know Watt, but I loved his interpretation, which he subsequently removed from YouTube. I believe he stated that it was part of his audition reels, which I also appreciated, because if one of my poems can in any way help another young artist get a gig, that for me is an unexpected but added bonus of creating it.

This morning while scrolling on Twitter I came across a tweet by Mani (Imani X. Davis), a doctoral student I've never met but who very kindly selected another poem of mine, "Napoleon Club," which like "Words" appears in my new collection Punks, to read online, and they do so beautifully. What a marvelous way to launch National/International Poetry Month, which begins today!

Many thanks to Imani X. Davis, and thank you especially for selecting a poem from Punks. You can follow this scholar and reader at @imanixdavis on Twitter, and please do read some poetry this month if you can!

And here is the video (many thanks again!):

Monday, March 21, 2022

Punks is a Lammy & Publishing Triangle Finalist!

Last December when I posted about Punks I noted that the positive response felt almost inconceivable, in no small part because this was a book that I thought might never appear, and whose publishing history was a long and tortured one (until The Song Cave entered the picture). It has, however, continued to garner good reviews, and recently was even nominated for two different awards. 

I learned a week ago that it is a finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry, and then today, thanks to Reggie H. (thank you!), that it's a finalist for the Publishing Triangle's Thom Gunn Award for Gay Male Poetry. In both instances it is in excellent company (and all of the finalists for the Publishing Triangle Award are Black gay writers), and I extend my congratulations and best wishes to all my fellow finalists and nominees. Whatever happens, do read their books if you can, and urge your local libraries and bookstores to order them if they already have not.

2022 Lammy Award finalists in Gay Poetry:

  • Tenderness by Derrick Austin
  • Punks: New & Selected Poems by John Keene
  • Shoreditch by Miguel Murphy
  • Creep Love by Michael Walsh
  • Besiege Me by Nicholas Wong

2022 Publishing Triangle Thom Gunn Award in Gay Poetry finalists:
  • Shoreditch by Miguel Murphy
  • Punks: New & Selected Poems by John Keene
  • The Monster That I Am: Leontine Price and a Life in Verse by Kevin Simmonds
  • Mutiny by Phillip B. Williams

Sunday, February 27, 2022

Cave Canem's Tribute to Russell Atkins

This afternoon Cave Canem hosted a celebration for the great 20th century African American poet Russell Atkins, who had turned 96 just a few days earlier (February 25), and who wonderfully was able to be present, via Zoom, to experience the tribute to and for him. Hosted by Cave Canem's own Dante Micheaux, a gifted poet in his own right, the event featured thrilling readings and performances by Julie Ezelle Patton, Janice Lowe (who read one of Atkins's seemingly unvocalizable poems in marvelous, enthralling fashion), Daniel Gray-Konter, and Milena Gilgić, the first three of whom are, like Atkins, native Clevelanders, and all of whom were able, in various ways, to convey Atkins's profound originality and his abiding influence on their own work.  It would not incorrect to say that Atkins is one of the most important Black experimental writers of his generation and of the last 100 years, and yet his work remains far too little acknowledged. One of the highlights of the event was seeing Atkins onscreen and witnessing him wave and acknowledge all present.

Russell Atkins, 96 and watching
via Zoom

From Cave Canem's press release: 

Russell Atkins’ collections of poetry include the chapbooks and small-press books A Podium Presentation (1960), Phenlomena (1961), Objects (1963), Objects 2 (1964), Heretofore (1968), The Nail, to Be Set to Music (1970), Maleficium (1971), and Whichever (1978). He also wrote two verse-plays or “poems in play forms”: The Abortionist and The Corpse, both published in Free Lance. His only full-length collection, Here in The (1976), was published by the Cleveland State Poetry Center. Russell Atkins: On the Life & Work of an American Master (2013), was edited by Kevin Prufer and Michael Dumanis, and included a large selection of Atkins’ previously published work and essays from poets on his continuing influence. World’d Too Much: Selected Poems of Russell Atkins, edited by Kevin Prufer and Robert E. McDonough, was published in 2019.

Some screen captures from the event:

Host Dante Micheaux, with the sign-
language interpreters

The wall of attendees

Russell Atkins

Saturday, February 26, 2022

17th Blogiversary

Somehow, some way, I've made it to 17 years on here. Barely. As post tallies from the last several--7 especially--years have demonstrated, my blogging has dwindled almost to nil, but this period has coincided first with my increasing university workload--I have been a department chair or acting chair now for roughly 8 years, among all of my other duties--alongside all the life itself, so blogging has taken a back seat to all else. 

From 2005 or so, during a trip to DR

When I think back on those early years, which were certainly quite full with teaching, mentoring, writing, some administration, and commuting (between New Jersey and Chicago, for ten straight years!), I fill with amazement that I blogged as frequently as I did. There were, of course, days I missed, but I believe I set for myself the task--the regimen?--of blogging at least one thing every day, with my focus on arts and culture of all kinds (and politics less so because there were, I felt, already so many great political bloggers at the time). It was another form of work, but a labor, unremunerated financially at least, but spiritually and socially to a great degree, of love.

Sometimes what emerged were just announcements for events, but other days produced reviews, translations, reportage, basic documentation, my random street photos, and so on, but it has constituted a (partial) record of my life during those years. I also think of the people I was in contact with, especially early on; the community of bloggers, some friends, some acquaintances, some of them people I'd never met in person and still haven't met in person, but whom I was--and still feel, however ghostly the links today, I am still--in dialogue with, I learned and learn from, I collaborated with, and whose influence I continue to feel, in various ways. I do miss that blogging community, those blogging communities, bloggers, readers, commenters, all--what a time that was!

In recent years I have blogged very infrequently and mostly about my own work, if at all, but I do hope to find the time to blog a bit more, and to find new possibilities for this medium, especially as the net is increasingly a walled off, highly monetized and specialized world, with entire platforms in which words in particular are a second thought. So to blogging, and the future, and I hope to make it to 20 years, and more!

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Two Poems for Black History Month

It has been a while since I posted poems for Black History Month, but this year Rutgers-Newark made it fairly easy by inviting me to tape several of my poems for their annual Black History monthly commemoration, with the understanding that they would create videos for them. 

Here are the two poems with videos we taped, featuring my poems "Jackie Robinson in Sportsman's Park, 1949," and "Martin de Porres." 

The first invokes the pioneering Black baseball player who needs no introduction, and the second brings to life the Black Peruvian saint who particularly fascinated me in childhood. Both appear in my collection Punks: New and Selected Poems (The Song Cave, 2021).

I've attached two images, both copyright © Rutgers University-Newark, from the videos, which you can find at the links.

"Jackie Robinson in Sportsman's Park, 1949"

"Martin de Porres"

Saturday, January 01, 2022

Happy New Year 2022

May this year bring us all better health, more happiness and as much peace as is humanly and spiritually possible and may Covid-19 fade quietly into the scientific annals! Health, healing, hope, care, love, prosperity & real change are what we need, so may they be bestowed upon us all!

Happy New Year 2022!

Feliz año nuevo
Feliz Ano Novo
Bonne année
Buon Anno e tanti auguri
Kull 'aam wa-antum bikhayr
Aliheli'sdi Itse Udetiyvasadisv
Na MwakaMweru wi Gikeno
Feliĉan novan jaron
聖誕快樂 新年快樂 [圣诞快乐 新年快乐]
Bliain úr faoi shéan is faoi mise duit
Nava Varsh Ki Haardik Shubh Kaamnaayen
Ein gesundes neues Jahr
Mwaka Mwena
Pudhu Varusha Vaazhthukkal
Afe nhyia pa
Ufaaveri aa ahareh
Er sala we pîroz be
سال نو
С наступающим Новым Годом
šťastný nový rok
Manigong Bagong Taon sa inyong lahat
Feliç Any Nou
Yeni yılınızı kutlar, sağlık ve başarılar dileriz
نايا سال مبارک هو
Emnandi Nonyaka Omtsha Ozele Iintsikelelo
Subha Aluth Awrudhak Vewa
Chronia polla
Szczesliwego Nowego Roku
Kia pai te Tau Hou e heke mai nei
Shinnen omedeto goziamasu (クリスマスと新年おめでとうございます)
IHozhi Naghai
a manuia le Tausaga Fou
Paglaun Ukiutchiaq
Naya Saal Mubarak Ho

(International greetings courtesy of Omniglot and Jennifer's Polyglot Links; please note a few of the phrases may also contain Christmas greetings)