Curator’s comment from Taylor Mali: I love night’s like this one will be! Because we actually have a Pulitzer winner and a Grand Slam champion, and while not every pairing we construct delivers on the moniker “where the Pulitzer Prize meets the Poetry Slam,” this one does! Smith, who won the Pulitzer in 2012 for her book “Life on Mars,” is a veteran of Page Meets Stage.
TRACY K. SMITH is the author of three books of poetry. Her most recent collection, Life on Mars (Graywolf, 2011), won the 2012 Pulitzer Prize and was selected as a New York Times Notable Book. The collection draws on sources as disparate as Arthur C. Clarke and David Bowie, and is in part an elegiac tribute to her late father, an engineer who worked on the Hubble Telescope. Duende (2007) won the 2006 James Laughlin Award from the Academy of American Poets and an Essence Literary Award. The Body’s Question (2003) was the winner of the 2002 Cave Canem Poetry Prize. Smith was the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Writers Award in 2004 and a Whiting Award in 2005. She won the Pulitzer Prize in 2012.
THULI ZUMA is a South African poet, actor and fine quality hugs purveyor. She has been proud to represent Urbana at the Women of the World Poetry Slam 2013 and the Individual World Poetry Slam 2012 where she took 2nd place. A teller of stories and drinker of gin Thuli endeavors to make an art of her living and a living of her art, she loves adventures, naps, the magic of words and the power of human relationships. Once, she kissed a dolphin on the mouth.
a keeper of a park, forest, or area of countryside.
a member of a body of armed men, in particular.
the hard, solid, nonmetallic mineral matter of which rock is made, especially as a building material.
“the houses are built of stone”
a piece of stone shaped for a purpose, especially one of commemoration, ceremony, or demarcation.
“a memorial stone”
throw stones at.
“policemen were stoned by the crowd”
remove the stone from (a fruit).
“halve, stone, and peel the avocados”
April Ranger is a keeper of language. April Ranger is a woman that writes unabashedly of solid vulnerabilities, nonmetallic seductions, ceremonies of death and memorialized humanity.
Bianca Stone is the pit of literary lushness. Bianca Stone is a woman that writes unabashedly about the forest of nature, countryside of humanity, body of armed men’s hearts and a solid vulnerability.
These sorcerers wield their pens with an exaction often celebrated as a manly spirit.
But what is not more exact than Stone certainty as her poem offers:
“I have lost all luscious dreams
beyond all kingdoms of thought.
But then I feel a little happy thinking of you
the way we invite our love to the table
to eat what’s left;”
And here I am, wrapped up in the argument of literary equality when Ranger swims lovely with each stanza:
You girl, you.
You curved-assed woman with the rioting blood.
You know there are ways to make powerful men listen:
it’s never with words.
Tonight, we resist the urge to participate in any argument that obstructs this moment of glory. Ladies & gentlemen, please welcome the literary experience of Bianca Stone & April Ranger. – Mahogany Browne
Bianca Stone is the author of Someone Else’s Wedding Vows (Tin House/Octopus Books, 2014), and the co-author of Antigonick, a collaboration with Anne Carson. She is the co-founder and editor the Monk Books, and chair of the Ruth Stone Foundation. Her poems have appeared in magazines such as American Poetry Review, Tin House, and Crazyhorse. Her blog, Poetrycomics.com, is a space to explore the relationship between poetry and visual art. She lives in Brooklyn.
April Ranger is a 2008 National Poetry Slam finalist, a three-time member of Boston Cantab’s National Poetry Slam team, and recipient of the Nicole Dufresne Playwriting Award. Her poems have appeared in Muzzle Magazine, apt, Off The Coast. She has toured extensively across the United States. She directed the premiere of her short play, Civilized Rituals, at the 2013 Dorchester Fringe Festival. April grew up in Maine and currently lives in Brooklyn. www.aprilranger.com
If you read what critics say about Jericho Brown, you’ll notice that they often mention a performative quality in his work, as if he were once a speechwriter, which actually he was (for the mayor of New Orleans). Ilya Kaminsky notes “His lyrics are . . . alive—something that is quite rare in his generation of very bookish and very ironic poetics.” Personally, I’m often struck when reading Brown’s poems how every line seems like it’s the best of 10 others that got cut away in this final draft; I see a distilled quality. So I’m very eager to hear him read/perform, especially with a performance poet like Sean DesVignes (aka Mega) who despite his young age (he may not even be 25 yet!) is already a Cave Canem fellow and a veteran of the New York City poetry slam scene. The two poets have never met one another—that in itself is not unusual—but when I called Mega a year ago to tell him that his partner would be Jericho Brown, Mega’s response was something like, “That’s wonderful. Jericho Brown was one of my earliest influences!” I’m expecting a legendary meeting and look forward to listening, and I hope you’ll join me! —Taylor Mali
JERICHO BROWN worked as the speechwriter for the Mayor of New Orleans before receiving his PhD in Creative Writing and Literature from the University of Houston. He also holds an MFA from the University of New Orleans and a BA from Dillard University. The recipient of the Whiting Writers Award and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Radcliffe Institute at Harvard University, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and the Krakow Poetry Seminar in Poland, Brown is an Assistant Professor at Emory University. His poems have appeared in journals and anthologies including, The American Poetry Review, The Believer, jubilat, Oxford American, Ploughshares, A Public Space, Tin House, and 100 Best African American Poems. His first book, PLEASE(New Issues), won the American Book Award.
MEGA (aka Sean DesVignes), a Kinfolks Poetry Editor, is an Afro-Caribbean writer from Brooklyn, NY. A former NYC Youth Poet Laureate Ambassador, he is the author of the upcoming chapbook, Take My Eyes To The Dry Cleaners. Carrying an extensive background in performance poetry, Sean is a 2-time member of the NYC-LouderARTS Slam Team & former Grand Slam Champion of CUNY Brooklyn College. A member of the Divine Fabrics Collective, & a poetry editor at Kinfolks, his literary honors include fellowships & scholarships from Cave Canem, Callaloo & the Minnesota Northwoods Writers Conference.
ADMISSION: $12 / $6 for students
Curator’s Note: The word I keep coming back to when I think of the poems by both Aracelis Girmay and John Paul Davis is magnitude. Each poem is an ocean I am grateful to be swimming in. And even when it feels as if an entire world is contained there, they tread gently and honestly into our most human moments. Their poems have a way of gripping you by the chest and galloping away with it. Neither poet leaves you in the same place you began.
ARACELIS GIRMAY is the author of Changing, Changing: Stories and Collages (George Braziller, Inc., 2005), and the two poetry collections Teeth (Curbstone Books, 2007) and Kingdom Animalia (BOA Editions, 2011). She serves on the faculty of Drew University’s low-residency M.F.A. program and Hampshire College’s School for Interdisciplinary Arts.
JOHN PAUL DAVIS has represented Chicago at the National Poetry Slam on several occasions and is a founding member of the poetry & performance collective Real Talk Avenue. When he is not writing or saying poems to people from stages, he thinks a lot about poems, and read poems other people wrote. He likes poems. His web page is www.johnpauldavis.org
Stevie Edwards, Rachel Eliza Griffiths, and emcee Victoria Lynn McCoy after the reading.
CURATOR’S COMMENT FROM VLM: Rachel Eliza Griffiths and Stevie Edwards are two distinct, essential female voices in today’s poetic conversation. Griffiths’ poems enact an incredible, sometimes otherworldly, lyric unfolding; the poems gaze back toward history, and inward toward a collective consciousness. Edwards’ poems move deftly between the confessional and the meditative, turning their unblinking eye on the resiliency of the human spirit and what it can survive. Both women’s work burrows deep beneath the skin, leaving the reader (and the audience!) transformed.
STEVIE EDWARDS spent her formative years in the Midwest but currently resides in Ithaca, NY.
POST MORTEM COMMENTS FROM TAYLOR MALI: “Maybe because this was the first pairing of the new season after a long summer? Or maybe because I was part of the lineup and I twisted the arms of all my family & friends all summer long to attend? Or maybe because my partner Faith Shearin was and is amazing? Or maybe because of all of the above, but we broke some records at Page Meets Stage last Wednesday! Faith and I had met the previous day when i took her with me to read poetry to some old folks on the Upper East Side, and over lunch we had pretty much planned out our entire set, poem for poem. I’ve been doing this long enough that I know each poet only gets to do six or seven poems in the fist “half” and four in the second (one of which SHOULD be a poem by the other poet!). We both did poems about storing things, and all of our poems were, as Faith likes to say, ABOUT things. We don’t write pretty about otherness.” Guest host and former curator Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz did an amazing job keeping the night moving and asking good questions (“What do people SAY about your work and what do you WISH people would say about your work?”). Here is the video I made of me reading Shearin’s poem “Shackleton’s Decision.” I lay awake at night thinking of how I would do it, figuring I would just film myself talking about how awesome she is and then read the poem. How boring would that have been? Then it occurred to me that I could easily find archival photos of Shackleton and his ill-fated expedition on the internet and produce a narrated slideshow instead! Spent a day in June creating this. Click here.
FAITH SHEARIN is the author of three books of poetry and has been read aloud by Garrison Keillor on The Writer’s Almanac.
TAYLOR MALI is one of the most well-known poets to have emerged from the poetry slam movement and one of the original poets to appear on the HBO series “Def Poetry Jam.”
|11/12/2005||Billy Collins||Taylor Mali|
|2/22/2007||Mary Stewart Hammond||Taylor Mali|
|3/15/2007||Mark Doty||Patricia Smith|
|5/24/2007||Carol Muske-Dukes||Ainsley Burrows|
|9/19/2007||Gerald Stern||Lynne Procope|
|10/10/2007||Nick Flynn||Rachel McKibbens|
|11/7/2007||Thomas Lux||Marty McConnell|
|12/5/2007||C. D. Wright||Bob Holman|
|1/30/2008||Paul Muldoon||Thomas Sayers Ellis|
|4/23/2008||Jeffrey McDaniel||Sage Francis|
|5/14/2008||David Lehman||Michael Cirelli|
|9/10/2008||Stephen Dobyns||Jack McCarthy|
|10/10/2008||Marie Howe||Patrick Rosal|
|11/19/2008||Ross Gay||Jeanann Verlee|
|12/3/2008||Aracelis Girmay||Eboni Hogan|
|2/18/2009||Tracy K. Smith||Roger Bonair-Agard|
|3/11/2009||Laure-Anne Bosselaar||Suheir Hammad|
|4/29/2009||Galway Kinnell||Taylor Mali|
|5/20/2009||Aimee Nezhukumatathil||Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz|
|9/23/2009||Major Jackson||Tara Betts|
|10/14/2009||Kurt Brown||Jai Chakrabarti|
|11/18/2009||Sharon Dolin||Elana Bell|
|12/9/2009||Terrance Hayes||D. J. Renegade|
|1/27/2010||Alexandra Oliver||Chad Anderson|
|2/24/2010||Yusef Komunyakaa||Tyehimba Jess|
|3/24/2010||Susan Somers-Willett||Regie Gibson|
|4/15/2010||Martín Espada||Rich Villar|
|5/26/2010||Dorrianne Laux||Alix Olson|
|6/23/2010||Tony Hoagland||Anis Mojgani|
|9/22/2010||Mark Doty||Anne Waldman|
|10/27/2010||Kevin Young||Scott Woods|
|11/17/2010||Gregory Orr||Christa Bell|
|12/15/2010||Bob Hicok||John S. Hall|
|1/26/2011||Karen Finneyfrock||Shappy Seasholtz|
|2/16/2011||Ada Limón||Sarah Kay|
|3/9/2011||Traci Brimhall||Corrina Bain|
|4/13/2011||John Murillo||Matt Gano|
|6/15/2011||Charles Jensen||Mara Jebsen|
|9/21/2011||Suheir Hammad||Beau Sia|
|10/19/2011||Maria Mazziotti Gillan||Sean Thomas Dougherty|
|11/16/2011||Philip Levine||Adam Falkner|
|12/21/2011||Jeffrey McDaniel||Amber Tamblyn|
|1/18/2012||Afaa Michael Weaver||Willie Perdomo|
|2/15/2012||Amy Lemmon||Lemon Andersen|
|3/21/2012||Marie-Elizabeth Mali||Carlos Andrés Gomez|
|4/18/2012||Terese Svoboda||Mahogany Brown|
|5/16/2012||Keetje Kuipers||Andrea Gibson|
|9/19/2012||Thomas Lux||Jon Sands|
|10/17/2012||Joseph O. Legaspi||Cheryl Boyce-Taylor|
|12/19/2012||Jennifer Knox||Ian Khadan|
|1/16/2013||Dana Gioia||Victoria Lynne McCoy|
|2/20/2013||C. K. Williams||Angel Nafis|
|3/20/2013||Ravi Shankar||Joanna Hoffman|
|4/17/2013||Marilyn Nelson||Jamaal May|
|5/15/2013||Yusef Komunyakaa||Laura Yes Yes|