Playing the Changes: a reading
by poets DURIEL E. HARRIS, A. B. SPELLMAN, and RONALDO V. WILSON
co-presented and curated by
The Poetry Center at San Francisco State University
$5-10 sliding scale donation (no one refused for lack of funds)
Whether by “PLAYING THE CHANGES,” “WORRYING THE LINE,” OR OTHERWISE “TROUBLING THE WATER,” experimentation and play are ways in which accepted modes of expression within the African American literary tradition have been challenged. In this regard, the poets will discuss their approaches to innovation, including the role of music, popular culture, visual art, and politics in the development of their individual poetic practice.
Duriel E. Harris (photo above, credit: Bertram), poet, performer, sound artist and scholar, is a founding member of the Black Took Collective and Poetry Editor for Obsidian III. Extending the multivocal experiments of Drag (Elixir Press, 2003), she has launched AMNESIAC, a media art project funded in part by the UCSB Center for Black Studies Race and Technology Initiative. Writings appear in Fence, XcP, nocturnes, milk, The Encyclopedia Project, and PMS. Appearances include performances at Scena na Pietrze (Poznan), The Poetry Project (NY), and Elastic Arts Foundation (Chicago). A Cave Canem fellow and recent resident at The MacDowell Colony, Harris is a member of Douglas Ewart and Inventions free jazz ensemble; her collection Amnesiac: Poems is forthcoming from The Sheep Meadow Press.
A.B. Spellman is both a founding member of the Black Arts Movement and one of the fathers of modern jazz criticism. Before beginning his thirty-year tenure at the National Endowment of the Arts, Spellman was an active poet, radio programmer, and essayist in New York, the poet-in-residence at the Morehouse College in Atlanta, and a visiting lecturer at Emory, Rutgers, and Harvard universities. He has also been a regular jazz commentator for National Public Radio and has published numerous books and articles on the arts, including The Beautiful Days, a chapbook of poems first published by the Poets Press in 1965, and Four Lives in the Bebop Business, a classic in the field of jazz criticism that is now available as Four Jazz Lives (University of Michigan Press). He now lives in Washington, D.C. and Things I Must Have Known (Coffee House Press), his long-awaited, first full-length collection of poems was published in April of 2008. Photo: A.B. Spellman by Jim Alexander.
Between 1975 and 2005, Spellman worked at the National Endowment for the Arts, first as the Director of the Expansion Arts Program and, for the last decade of his term, as Deputy Chairman. In recognition of Spellman’s commitment and service to jazz, the NEA created the A.B. Spellman NEA Jazz Masters Award for Jazz Advocacy. Additionally, the Jazz Journalists Association voted to honor Mr. Spellman with its “A Team” award, and he received the Benny Golson Award from his alma mater, Howard University, for his service to jazz.
Ronaldo V. Wilson is the author of Narrative of the Life of the Brown Boy and the White Man, winner of the 2007 Cave Canem Poetry Prize (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2008) and the forthcoming, Poems of the Black Object (Futurepoem Books, 2009). He is a graduate of U.C. Berkeley, NYU’s Creative Writing Program, and he recently defended his Ph.D at the CUNY Graduate Center. Wilson has held numerous fellowships to include the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, Djerassi, and Yaddo. He currently teaches creative writing and African American Poetics at Mount Holyoke College, and is a founding member of the Black Took Collective. Photo: Ronaldo V. Wilson, by Dallas W. Bauman III.
giovanni singleton is founding editor of nocturnes (re)view, a critically acclaimed journal dedicated to experimental work of artists and writers of the African Diaspora and other contested spaces. She is a recipient of a New Langton Bay Area Award Show for Literature and her work has appeared in Fence, mipoesias.com, Chain, Five Fingers Review, Callaloo, Beyond the Frontier: African American Poets for the Millenium, and on the building of Yerba Buena Center for the Arts.
PLAYING THE CHANGES is supported by San Francisco Arts Commission Cultural Equity Grants, Grants for the Arts/Hotel Tax Fund (City of San Francisco), the Luggage Store Gallery, and the Poetry Center, San Francisco State University