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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.

Black Is...Black Ain't - Spring 2021

poster of all spring 2021 events

This semester’s event series will be variant in content and form, organized around their own themes while all exploring ideas of—to borrow language from our internal manifesto —blackness’s fugitivity, its runaway state, how it can attach to other bodies who must then take up a disparaged subjectivity, and, too, creativity.

For the first time since our founding in 2016, CAAPP’s programming will be both intentionally African diasporic and in conversation with the range of Indigenous and displaced peoples of color. In this Study, we focus our collective curatorial lens on creating, rethinking, working together to shift inherited categories and ideas of race/black/etc. We might think of the virtual events as connected to the following thought experiment: what if together in community we try to upend the blatant, subtle, and invisible modes of domination using our creative practice?

Black Is...Black Ain’t | CAAPP Black Study 2.0 Schedule:

  • Wednesday, March 3rd, 2021, 6PM “C__ P__ Time” with poet Ladan Osman, transdisciplinary artist Demian DinéYazhi´, poet and visual artist Aldrin Valdez, and poet Divya Victor as participant moderator—(curated by CAAPP Fellow Justin Phillip Reed)   
  • Wednesday, March 17th, 2021, 6PM “Culture Complex” with culture writer Lauren Michele Jackson, filmmaker and photographer Tayarisha Poe, with poet-journalist Jacqui Germain as participant moderator—(curated by Steffan Triplett)   
  • Thursday, March 25th, 2021, 7:30PM (in partnership with the Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers Series) Cecilia Vicuña & Rosa Alcalá in an evening of translation, transformation, performance & poetry   
  • Wednesday, April 14th, 2021, 6PM “Of Sounds and Re-sounds” with poet Lillian-Yvonne Bertram, poet Natalie Diaz, and novelist and poet lê thị diễm thúy—(curated and moderated by Diana Khoi Nguyen)   
  • Wednesday, April 21st, 2021, 6PM A live broadcast of an in-person salon featuring poet Terrance Hayes (with Dawn Lundy Martin and Angie Cruz)

poster of osman etc.

Courtesy of CAAPP. (Photo Credits: Photo of  Demian DinéYazhi´ by Kali Spitzer | Photo of Divya Victor by Hannah Ensor)

C__ P__ Time
March 3, 2021 - 6:00pm
It's a new year and a new Black Study. Welcome to "C__ P__ Time." The first event in our Black Study 2.0 series: Black Is...Black Ain't, made possible by the generous support of the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of the Arts & Sciences.
This event will engage poet Ladan Osman, transdisciplinary artist Demian DinéYazhí, poet and visual artist Aldrin Valdez, and poet Divya Victor as participant moderator in conversation and collaboration around and about Time. Curated by Justin Phillip Reed, follow cptxcaapp, a timekeeping quilt experiment/ience & project on Instagram.
From curator Justin Phillip Reed: “Since I've been aspiring to be delayed by default this year, witnessing the strangeness of academic urgency from this vantage, and missing the days when I guiltlessly took my damned time, I'm interested in conceptual revisions & applications of "CPT"—whether colored, capital, colonial, collective, people, perfunctory, private, etc.—activated by Demian DinéYazhi', Ladan Osman, Aldrín Valdez, and Divya Victor. Between their multimedia creation or deep considerations and concerns of land theft, migration, diasporic melancholia, and music/movement.

You already know what time it is. Steal your time back.

*  *  *
Ladan Osman is the author of Exiles of Eden, winner of the Hurston/Wright Legacy Award and The Kitchen-Dweller's Testimony, winner of the Sillerman Prize. Her work in film includes: Sam, Underground, Sun of the Soil, and The Ascendants. She lives in Brooklyn.

Demian DinéYazhi´ (born 1983) is a Portland-based Diné transdisciplinary artist, poet, and curator born to the clans Naasht’ézhí Tábąąhá (Zuni Clan Water’s Edge) & Tódích’íí’nii (Bitter Water). Their practice is a regurgitation of purported Decolonial praxis informed by the over accumulation and exploitative, supremacist nature of hetero cis gender communities. They are a survivor of attempted european genocide, forced assimilation, colonial manipulation, sexual and gender violence, capitalist sabotage, and hypermarginalization in a colonized country that refuses to center their politics and philosophies around the Indigenous Peoples whose Land it wrongfully occupies and refuses to rightfully give back. They live and work in a post-post-apocalyptic world unafraid to fail. Follow them on Instagram at @heterogeneoushomosexual.

Aldrin Valdez is a bakla writer & visual artist. They are the author of ESL or You Weren't Here (Nightboat Books), selected as a 2019 finalist for the Lambda Literary Award for Best Gay Poetry.

Divya Victor is the author of CURB (Nightboat Books); KITH, a book of verse, prose memoir, lyric essay and visual objects (Fence Books/ Book*hug); Scheingleichheit: Drei Essays  (Merve Verlag); NATURAL SUBJECTS (Trembling Pillow, Winner of the Bob Kaufman Award), UNSUB (Insert Blanc), THINGS TO DO WITH YOUR MOUTH (Les Figues). Her work has been collected in numerous venues, including BOMB, the New Museum’s The Animated Reader, Crux: Journal of Conceptual Writing, The Best American Experimental Writing, POETRY, and boundary2. Her work has been translated into French, German, Spanish, and Czech. She has been a Mark Diamond Research Fellow at the U.S Holocaust Memorial Museum, a Riverrun Fellow at the Archive for New Poetry at University of California San Diego, and a Writer in Residence at the Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibit (L.A.C.E.). Her work has been performed and installed at Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA) Los Angeles, The National Gallery of Singapore, the Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibit (L.A.C.E.) and the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). She has been an editor at Jacket2 (United States), Ethos Books (Singapore), Invisible Publishing (Canada) and Book*hug Press (Canada). She is currently Associate Professor of English at Michigan State University.

poster of jackson poe germain

Courtesy of CAAPP.

Culture Complex
March 17, 2021 - 6:00pm
It's a new year and a new Black Study. Welcome to "Culture Complex," the second event in our Black Study 2.0 series: Black Is...Black Ain't, made possible by the generous support of the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of the Arts & Sciences and The Dietrich Foundation.
The event will feature writer Lauren Michele Jackson, filmmaker and photographer Tayarisha Poe, and poet-journalist Jacqui Germain as participant moderator in a conversation about and related to culture and culture/cultural making.
Curated by Steffan Triplett.
*  *  *
Lauren Michele Jackson is an assistant professor of English at Northwestern University and contributing writer at The New Yorker. She is the author of White Negroes (Beacon Press) and the forthcoming Back: An American Tale (Amistad Press).

Tayarisha Poe is a filmmaker and photographer from West Philly, and the writer and director of Selah and the Spades. Tayarisha is a storyteller who believes that all stories are inherently multi-sensory and multi-dimensional, and thus should be told that way.

Jacqui Germain is a poet, journalist, and former community organizer living and working in St. Louis, Missouri. She has received fellowships from the St. Louis Regional Arts Commission, Jack Jones Literary Arts, Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop, and the Poetry Foundation's Emerging Poets Incubator. Her creative writing often involves an excavation of history and memory, attempting to challenge linear assumptions of time, progress, power, and experience through an intimate lens. Germain believes everyone has blind spots and is constantly striving to sharpen her analysis of the world around her. She's presently the 2021 ESP Fellow with Teen Vogue and is currently working on her first full-length poetry collection.

poster of vicuna

Courtesy of CAAPP. (Photo Credits: Photo of Cecilia Vicuña by Jane England | Photo of Rosa Alcalá by Margarita Mejía)

Liquid Stars: Translation, Digression, Transformation
March 25, 2021 - 7:30pm
Welcome to "Liquid Stars: Translation, Digression, Transformation" the third event in our Black Study 2.0 series: Black Is...Black Ain't and a featured evening in the Pittsburgh Contemporary Writers Series' 2020-2021 season.
The event features the brilliant Cecilia Vicuña & Rosa Alcalá in an evening of translation, transformation, performance, digression, and poetry.

*  *  *
Cecilia Vicuña is a poet, artist, filmmaker and activist. Her work addresses pressing concerns of the modern world, including ecological destruction, human rights, and cultural homogenization. Born and raised in Santiago de Chile, she has been in exile since the early 1970s, after the military coup against elected president Salvador Allende. Vicuña began creating "precarious works" and  quipus in the mid-1960s in Chile, as a way of "hearing an ancient silence waiting to be heard." Her multi-dimensional works begin as a poem, an image that morphs into a film, a song, a sculpture, or a collective performance. These ephemeral, site-specific installations in nature, streets, and museums combine ritual and assemblage. She calls this impermanent, participatory work “lo precario” (the precarious): transformative acts that bridge the gap between art and life, the ancestral and the avant-garde. Her paintings of early 1970s de-colonized the art of the conquerors and the "saints" inherited from the Catholic Church, to create irreverent images of the heroes of the revolution. A partial list of museums that have exhibited her work include: The Museu de Arte Moderna do Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; The Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes de Santiago; The Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) London; Art in General in NYC; The Whitechapel Art Gallery in London; The Berkeley Art Museum; The Whitney Museum of American Art; and MoMA, The Museum of Modern Art in New York. Vicuña has published twenty-two art and poetry books, including Kuntur Ko (Tornsound, 2015), Spit Temple: The Selected Performances of Cecilia Vicuña (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2012), Instan (Kelsey Street Press, 2001), and Cloud Net (Art in General, 2000). Her Selected Poems is forthcoming from Kelsey Street Press in 2017. In 2009, she co-edited The Oxford Book of Latin American Poetry: 500 years of Latin American Poetry. She edited ÜL: Four Mapuche Poets in 1997. She was appointed the Messenger Lecturer 2015 at Cornell University, an honor bestowed on authors who contribute to the "evolution of civilization for the special purpose of raising the moral standard of our political, business, and social life." She divides her time between Chile and New York.
Rosa Alcalá is the author of three books of poetry: Undocumentaries (Shearsman Books, 2010), The Lust of Unsentimental Waters (Shearsman Books, 2011), and MyOTHER TONGUE (Futurepoem, 2017). Her poems have appeared in a number of anthologies, including The Best American Poetry 2019; The Poem Is You: 60 Contemporary American Poems and How to Read Them by Stephanie Burt (Harvard UP, 2016); American Poets in the 21st Century: Poetics of Social Engagement, edited by Claudia Rankine and Michael Dowdy (Wesleyan UP, 2018): and Angels of the Americlypse: New Latin@ Writing, edited by Carmen Giménez Smith and John Chávez (Counterpath, 2014).  Her work as a translator has focused on contemporary Latin American women poets living in the U.S. Most recently, she edited and co-translated Cecilia Vicuña: New & Selected Poems (Kelsey Street Press, 2018). She is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Translation Fellowship, and a finalist for a PEN Translation Award. She is a Professor in the Bilingual MFA in Creative Writing Program at the University of Texas at El Paso, and she has given talks, readings, and workshops in both the U.S. and Latin America.

poster of bertram

Courtesy of CAAPP. (Photo credit: Photo of lê thị diễm thúy by Margarita Mejía)

Of Sounds and Re-sounds
April 14, 2021 - 6:00pm
It's a new year and a new Black Study. Welcome to "Sounds and Re-Sounds, the fourth event in our Black Study 2.0 series: Black Is...Black Ain't, made possible by the generous support of the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of the Arts & Sciences, The Dietrich Foundation, and the Humanities Center.
This event will engage poet Lillian-Yvonne Bertram, poet Natalie Diaz, and writer and performance artist lê thị diễm thúy in a conversation about sound and boundary.
Curated and moderated by Diana Khoi Nguyen.
*  *  *
Lillian-Yvonne Bertram is the author of Travesty Generator (Noemi Press), a book of computational poetry that received the Poetry Society of America’s 2020 Anna Rabinowitz prize for interdisciplinary work and longlisted for the 2020 National Book Award for Poetry. Their other poetry books include How Narrow My Escapes (DIAGRAM/New Michigan), Personal Science (Tupelo), a slice from the cake made of air (Red Hen Press), and But a Storm is Blowing From Paradise (Red Hen Press). They are an associate professor at UMass Boston where they direct the MFA in Creative Writing program.

Natalie Diaz is Mojave and an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Tribe. Her first poetry collection, When My Brother Was an Aztec, was published by Copper Canyon Press, and her second book, Postcolonial Love Poem,  was published by Graywolf Press in March 2020. She is a MacArthur Fellow, a Lannan Literary Fellow, a United States Artists Ford Fellow, and a Native Arts Council Foundation Artist Fellow. Diaz is Director of the Center for Imagination in the Borderlands and is the Maxine and Jonathan Marshall Chair in Modern and Contemporary Poetry at Arizona State University. She lives in Phoenix, Arizona.

lê thị diễm thúy—is a writer and solo performance artist. She is the author of the novel, The Gangster We Are All Looking For (Alfred A. Knopf, 2003), the solo performance works, Mua He Do Lua/Red Fiery Summer, the bodies between us, and Carte Postale, and the installation sông song / river song. She has been awarded fellowships from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and United States Artists.

A poet and multimedia artist, Diana Khoi Nguyen is the author of Ghost Of (Omnidawn 2018) and recipient of a 2021 fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. In addition to winning the 92Y "Discovery" / Boston Review Poetry Contest, 2019 Kate Tufts Discovery Award, and Colorado Book Award, she was also a finalist for the National Book Award and L.A. Times Book Prize. A Kundiman fellow, she is core faculty in the Randolph College Low-Residency MFA and an Assistant Professor at the University of Pittsburgh.

poster of hayes

Courtesy of CAAPP

A Black Is...Black Ain’t Salon Finale
April 21, 2021 - 6:00pm
The fifth and final event in our Black Study 2.0 series, Black Is...Black Ain't, made possible the generous support of the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of the Arts & Sciences and The Dietrich Foundation.
A live-streaming of an in-person salon featuring Terrance Hayes, Dawn Lundy Martin, and Angie Cruz.

*  *  *
Terrance Hayes’s most recent publications include American Sonnets for My Past And Future Assassin (Penguin, 2018) and To Float In The Space Between: Drawings and Essays in Conversation with Etheridge Knight (Wave, 2018). To Float In The Space Between was winner of the Poetry Foundation’s 2019 Pegasus Award for Poetry Criticism and a finalist for the 2018 National Book Critics Circle Award in Criticism. American Sonnets for My Past And Future Assassin won the Hurston/Wright 2019 Award for Poetry and was a finalist the 2018 National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry, the 2018 National Book Award in Poetry, the 2018 TS Eliot Prize for Poetry, and the 2018 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. Hayes is a Professor of English at New York University.