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Course & Subject Guides

Center for African American Poetry and Poetics (CAAPP) & the ULS Collection

A guide to the signed books by CAAPP event authors that are held in the University Library System collection.

Collective Protest & Rebellion: A Black Study Intensive - October 2020

Collective Protest & Rebellion: A Black Study Intensive
September 28, 2020 (All day) to October 2, 2020 (All day)

Co-sponsored by the Department of English, The Humanities Center, The Year of Creativity (2019/20), the Center for Creativity, the Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers Series, and the Office of the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies.

Event Schedule

Monday, September 28th
   1 PM: "Overthrowing Deadly Metaphors": Opening Talk by Yale scholar Emily Greenwood
    6 PM: "These Tyrannical Times: Poetry as Liberatory, Poetry as Undoing" Dionne Brand & Harryette Mullen: Readings, Conversation, and Q&A. Moderated by Emily Greenwood. See:

Tuesday, September 29th
    6 PM: "Looking for Language in the Ruins" JJJJJerome Ellis, Saidiya Hartman, & Erica Hunt: Performance, Readings, Conversation, and Q&A

Wednesday, September 30th
    6 PM: "The Sweetness that Survives the Slaughter" Aracelis Girmay & Zun Lee: Reading, Photography, Socially Engaged Practice, Conversation, and Q&A. Moderated by Dawn Lundy Martin.

Thursday, October 1st
    Thinking in Creative Practice: A Day of Creativity and Reflection (Prompts from all invited guests will be posted on the CAAPP website)
    1 PM: "Thinking in Creative Practice: A Masterclass with Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon"

Friday, October 2nd
    2 PM: "Love is the Great Rebellion" Charles Burnett, Julie Dash, and Daniel Alexander Jones: Performance, Film, Conversation, and Q&A

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“Overthrowing Deadly Metaphors,” featuring Yale scholar Emily Greenwood
September 28, 2020 - 1:00pm
Co-sponsored by the Department of English, The Humanities Center, The Year of Creativity (2019/20), the Center for Creativity, the Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers Series, and the Office of the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies.

Emily Greenwood’s opening talk for Collective Protest and Rebellion: A CAAPP Black Study Intensive, shows us how, without our knowing, the language we take up can have a trail of repression. But, there’s hope. “Overthrowing Deadly Metaphors” takes a single Greek phrase that has a long and difficult entanglement in American racial slavery and that is still very much of our moment, and shows how various black authors give us the tools to dismantle and subvert this phrase. This event is co-presented with the University of Pittsburgh’s Humanities Center and will be moderated by Dan Kubis, Senior Lecturer in the Department of English.
A leading figure in her intersecting fields, Emily Greenwood is a Professor of Classics and African American Studies at Yale University. She specializes in ancient Greek literature and responses to ancient Greece and Rome in Black traditions. Her publications include Afro-Greeks: Dialogues Between Anglophone Caribbean Literature and Classics in the Twentieth Century (2010), and Thucydides and the Shaping of History (2006). Her current book project is entitled Black Classicisms and the Expansion of the Classical Tradition.

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“Looking for Language in the Ruins” JJJJJerome Ellis, Saidiya Hartman, and Erica Hunt: Performance, Readings, Conversation, and Q&A
September 29, 2020 - 6:00pm
Co-sponsored by the Department of English, The Humanities Center, The Year of Creativity (2019/20), the Center for Creativity, the Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers Series, and the Office of the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies.

Composer, poet, and performer JJJJJerome Ellis’ work explores blackness, dysfluency, and music as “forces structured by, and that rearrange, time.” Conventional notions of time and time-limits, says Ellis, “assume that people have relatively equal access to time through their speech.” Saidiya Hartman’s innovative cultural histories investigate the precarity of black life as she tells the stories of the “unknown, the dispossessed, the disposable.” Using a mode she invented called, “critical fabulation,” Hartman creates the space for a new kind of knowing. Erica Hunt’s poetry and prose make starkly present “the polarization of the world,” and how the quotidian language, the language of the state and the media shrink our imaginations. What can save us? Hunt’s case, writing on the edge of language, or from the corner of the eye, provides an urgent other knowing from the cracks in America’s broken rhetoric.
JJJJJerome Ellis is a stuttering, Afro-Caribbean composer, performer, and writer. His current practice explores blackness, music, and disabled speech as forces of refusal and healing. Ellis’ work has been heard at the Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church, Sotheby’s, Soho Red, and on NPR’s This American Life. He’s a 2019 MacDowell Colony Fellow, a writer-in-residence at Lincoln Center Theater, and a 2015 Fulbright Fellow. Jerome collaborates with James Harrison Monaco as James & Jerome. Their recent work explores themes of border crossing and translation through music-driven narratives. They have received commissions from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Ars Nova.
Saidiya Hartman is the author of Scenes of Subjection: Terror, Slavery, and Self-Making in Nineteenth-Century America (Oxford, 1997); Lose Your Mother: A Journey Along the Atlantic Slave Route (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 2007) and Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments (Norton, 2019), which received the National Book Critics Circle Award for Criticism, the Mary Nickliss Prize for U.S. Women’s and Gender History from the Organization of American Historians, and the Judy Grahn Prize for Lesbian Nonfiction.  She is currently at work on a new book project, N Folio: An Essay on Narrative and the Archive.  She was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 2019, and has been a Guggenheim Fellow, a Cullman Fellow at the New York Public Library, a Fulbright Scholar in Ghana, a Whitney Oates Fellow at Princeton University, and a Critical Inquiry Visiting Professor at the University of Chicago. She received her B.A. from Wesleyan University and her Ph.D. from Yale. She is Professor of English and Comparative Literature and Gender Studies at Columbia University.
Erica Hunt is a poet, essayist, and author of six collections of poetry, the latest being Veronica: A Suite in X Parts from selva oscura press. Jump the Clock: New and Selected Poems is forthcoming from Nightboat Books in 2020. She works at the forefront of experimental poetry and poetics, critical race theory, and feminist aesthetics. Other publications include: Arcade, with artist Alison Saar, Piece Logic, and Local History. She is co-editor with Dawn Lundy Martin of Letters to the Future: Black Women/Radical Writing (Kore Press, 2018). Her essays include the widely-circulated and influential text, “Notes for an Oppositional Poetics” (The Politics of Poetic Form, ed. Charles Bernstein) and “Parabolay” (boundary 2).  Hunt has also worked as a housing organizer, radio producer, and program officer for a social justice campaign. For many years, she was Executive Director of The Twenty-First Century Foundation which supports organizations addressing root causes of social injustice impacting the Black community. She is currently the Bonderman Visiting Professor in Literary Arts at Brown University.

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“The Sweetness that Survives the Slaughter” Aracelis Girmay & Zun Lee: Poetry Reading, Photography, Socially-Engaged Practice, Conversation, and Q&A
September 30, 2020 - 6:00pm
Co-sponsored by the Department of English, The Humanities Center, The Year of Creativity (2019/20), the Center for Creativity, the Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers Series, and the Office of the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies.

Moderated by Dawn Lundy Martin & Angie Cruz
How do we bridge the gap between individuals? Is there a redemptive beauty in the representation of a black body? Where in the image (linguistic and/or visual) does resistance/refusal lie? How do poetry and photographic images open up moments for intimacy? What is the relationship between the archetypal, the stereotypical, and what we create? Where is “blackness” located in diaspora: anchor or fissure, community or dispersal? How might we consider geographical space, traveling, the natural world, belonging, and displacement in our storytelling? Poet Aracelis Girmay, whose poems often serve a moral vision and enact both a generosity and a vulnerability calling forth a cross-continental history, joins photographer and social practice artist, Zun Lee, whose photographs and archives dynamically interact with the subjects on the other side of the lens, in the service of black resistance.
Aracelis Girmay holds a B.A. from Connecticut College and an M.F.A. from New York University. She is the author of three poetry collections, Teeth (Curbstone, 2007), Kingdom Animalia (BOA Editions, 2011), for which she won the Isabella Gardner Poetry Award and which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and The Black Maria (BOA Editions, 2016). Her awards include a 2011 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and a 2015 Whiting Award in Poetry. Girmay has received fellowships from Cave Canem, The Jerome Foundation, the Watson Foundation, and the Civitella Ranieri Foundation. Originally from Santa Ana, California, she lives in New York City.
Zun Lee is an award-winning visual artist, physician, and educator. He was born and raised in Germany and has also lived in Atlanta, Philadelphia and Chicago. He currently divides his time between Toronto, ON and Charlotte, NC. Through lens-based storytelling, archival, and socially engaged practice, Lee investigates Black everyday life and family spaces as sites of intimacy, belonging, and insurgent possibility against cultural displacement and erasure.
Lee has exhibited, spoken, and taught at numerous institutions in North America and Europe. His works are widely published and represented in public and private collections around the world.
Selected honors and awards include: Guggenheim Fellow (2020), Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Practitioner in Residence (2019), Knight Foundation Grantee (2018), Ontario Arts Council Grantee (2018), Toronto Friends of the Visual Arts Grantee (2016), Magnum Foundation Fellow (2015), Photo District News Photo Annual Winner (2015), LOOK3 Educator (2015), Paris Photo/Aperture Photobook Awards Shortlist (2014), Photo District News’ 30 New and Emerging Photographers to Watch (2014).

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Thinking in Creative Practice: A Masterclass with Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon
October 1, 2020 - 1:00pm
Co-sponsored by the Department of English, The Humanities Center, The Year of Creativity (2019/20), the Center for Creativity, the Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers Series, and the Office of the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies.

After attending three days of CAAPP Black Study Intensive programming, Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon, the “official correspondent” for the week, will lead participants in a masterclass developed in conversation with the work and words of Dionne Brand, Aracelis Girmay, Emily Greenwood, Saidiya Hartman, Erica Hunt, Zun Lee, and Harryette Mullen. The masterclass will keep our themes of Collective Protest and Rebellion and black study in mind especially as they relate to the current moment. Join us for a hands-on writing experience with one of American poetry’s finest writers.
Lyrae Van Clief-Stefanon, Associate Professor at Cornell University, is the author of Open Interval, a 2009 National Book Award finalist, and Black Swan, winner of the 2001 Cave Canem Poetry Prize, as well as Poems in Conversation and a Conversation, a chapbook collaboration with Elizabeth Alexander. She is currently at work on The Coal Tar Colors, her third poetry collection, and Purchase, a collection of essays. She has written plays and lyrics for The Cherry, an Ithaca arts collective. She was one of ten celebrated poets commissioned to write poems inspired by Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series in conjunction with the 2015 exhibit One-Way Ticket: Jacob Lawrence’s Migration Series and Other Works for MoMA.

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“Love is the Great Rebellion” Charles Burnett, Julie Dash, and Daniel Alexander Jones: Performance, Film, Conversation, and Q&A
October 2, 2020 - 2:00pm
Co-sponsored by the Department of English, The Humanities Center, The Year of Creativity (2019/20), the Center for Creativity, the Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers Series, and the Office of the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Studies.

In the wake of the Watts Uprisings, against the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement and the raging Vietnam War, a group of African and African American students, including Charles Burnett and Julie Dash, entered film school at UCLA. Forming a group, now called, the L.A. Rebellion, these innovative filmmakers sought to create cinema that showed the full complexity of black life.

The films by Burnett and Dash, in particular, remove the white gaze from their characters, and approach their storytelling of black life using instead, according to Daniel Alexander Jones, lenses of love, itself a great rebellion against the limited one-dimensional characters that previously dominated American cinema. Charles Burnett has created American masterpieces such as To Sleep with Anger and Killer of Sheep. Julie Dash’s Daughters of the Dust (1991) was the first film by an African American woman to receive general theatrical release in the United States. While in a graduate theater study program at Brown University, films by members of the L.A. Rebellion, were a centerpiece of inspiration for the interdisciplinary theater artist Daniel Alexander Jones and his cohort. Jones’ distinctive dramaturgy is rooted in Black American and Queer Performance traditions, and his work explores ideas of the Afromystical (awakening awareness of the numinous in every day through ritualized performance). What might we learn about art-making from these legendary artists in the midst of our contemporary layered crises of global pandemic, necessary Black Lives Matter uprisings, global racialized populism, and global warming? Come find out!
Charles Burnett is a writer-director whose work has received extensive honors. Born in Vicksburg, Mississippi, his family soon moved to the Watts neighborhood of Los Angeles. Burnett studied creative writing at UCLA before entering the University’s graduate film program. His thesis project, Killer of Sheep (1977), won accolades at film festivals and a critical devotion; in 1990, it was among the first titles named to the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry. European financing allowed Burnett to shoot his second feature, My Brother’s Wedding (1983), but a rushed debut prevented the filmmaker from completing his final cut until 2007. In 1988, Burnett was awarded the prestigious John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur (“genius grant”) Fellowship and shortly thereafter Burnett became the first African American recipient of the National Society of Film Critics’ best screenplay award, for To Sleep with Anger (1990). Burnett made the highly acclaimed “Nightjohn” in 1996 for the Disney Channel; his subsequent television works include “Oprah Winfrey Presents: The Wedding” (1998), “Selma, Lord, Selma” (1999), an episode of the seven-part series “Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues” (2003) and “Nat Turner: A Troublesome Property” (2003), which was shown on the PBS series “Independent Lens.”
Filmmaker Julie Dash broke through racial and gender boundaries with her Sundance award-winning film (Best Cinematography), Daughters of the Dust. With its release, she became the first African-American woman to have a wide theatrical release of a feature film. In 2004, the Library of Congress placed Daughters of the Dust in the National Film Registry where it joins a select group of American films preserved and protected as national treasures by the Librarian of Congress. Dash is the only African-American woman with a feature film that has been inducted into the National Film Registry. Dash is the recent recipient of numerous awards including the New York Film Critics Special Award; the 2017 Robert Smalls Merit and Achievement Award; and the Visionary Award from Women in Film, Washington DC. She served as the 2017 Time-Warner Visiting Professor at Howard University, and a Distinguished Professor of Cinema, Television and Emerging Media (CTEMS) at Morehouse College (2015-2017). Dash recently directed multiple episodes of the award-winning dramatic series, Queen Sugar, Season 2, created and produced by Ava DuVernay and Oprah Winfrey for OWN Television. She is Distinguished Professor of Documentary Filmmaking at Spelman College.
Daniel Alexander Jones’s numerous critically-acclaimed plays and performance pieces include Black Light (Public Theater, Greenwich House Theatre); Duat (Soho Rep); An Integrator’s Manual (La MaMa, etc. and Fusebox Festival); and Radiate (Soho Rep and National Tour). Jones has recorded five albums of original songs as his alter-ego, Jomama Jones. He is recognized as a key voice in the development of Theatrical Jazz and has made a significant contribution to Black Experimental Theatre and Performance. He is currently developing ☾Altar no. 5⚡︎, a commission of the Public Theater developed in partnership with New York Live Arts. As a director, Jones has helmed world premieres of new plays by E. Patrick Johnson, Erik Ehn, Renita Martin, and Shay Youngblood, among many others. He is a company member of Penumbra Theatre Company in St. Paul, an associate company member of Pillsbury House Theatre in Minneapolis, and was a company member of Austin’s Frontera @ Hyde Park Theatre. Daniel’s numerous awards include a TED Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, Doris Duke Artist Award, an Alpert Award in the Arts, a USA Artist Fellowship, the Helen Merrill Playwriting Award, an Arts Matters Grant, an inaugural Creative Capital Grant, a McKnight National Residency and Commission, a Howard Foundation Fellowship, a NEA/TCG Playwriting Residency, a Jerome Fellowship, and a Many Voices Playwriting Fellowship. Jones was lead artist on five projects awarded support by the MAP Fund. He has been a Mellon Creative Research Fellow at the University of Washington, a Hume Fellow at Occidental College, and a Fellow at the Hemispheric Institute at NYU. Jones received a Bistro Award for Outstanding Performance Artistry, as well as a Franky Award from the Prelude Festival in recognition of his long-term, extraordinary impact on contemporary theatre and performance. He is an alumnus of New Dramatists. Daniel Alexander Jones did his undergraduate study at Vassar College in Africana Studies with a focus on literature and the arts, and graduate theatre study at Brown University.