Omniscient Tape Recorder: Audre Lorde Edition

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A special edition of the Omniscient Tape Recorder, in honor of Audre Lorde and held on her 85th birthday, showcasing new writing and reflections by an intergenerational pair of writers responding to rare recordings of Lorde’s readings at the Project. Working in pairs, Tracie Morris and Gabrielle Richards, and Harmony Holiday and Meagan Washington, respond to two recordings of Audre Lorde at The Poetry Project: her April 21, 1976 reading with Jean Boudin, and her October 8, 1986 reading with Diane di Prima. A discussion with Monday Night Series Curator Adjua Gargi Nzinga Greaves will follow.

The Poetry Project’s vast collection, recently processed by the Library of Congress, is a goldmine of potential knowledge and inspiration. Spanning the entirety of the Project’s existence, it includes over 4,000 hours of audio, much of it untapped as a scholarly resource. Participants in Omniscient Tape Recorder choose particularly rich poems and discuss their historical impact, the texture and grain of the work’s recitation, and the impact of these readings, poems, and people on the landscape of poetry and art. The goal of this series is both to showcase The Poetry Project’s history and to encourage engagement with the organization’s archival collection.

The event is also conceived in conjunction with Kore Press’s new publication Letters to the Future: Black WOMEN / Radical WRITING (2018), of which Morris, Holiday, and Greaves are all contributors. Audre Lorde’s writing, like the archival recordings of her readings, irrupt from the past with all the vitality of her voice, like a missive to us, future readers. Letters to the Future celebrates temporal, spatial, formal, and linguistically innovative literature. Because one contextual framework for the collection is “art as a form of epistemology,” the writing in the anthology is the kind of work driven by the writer’s desire to radically present, uncovering what she knows and does not know, as well as critically addressing the future.

Omniscient Tape Recorder: Audre Lorde Edition is organized with Wendy’s Subway as part of The Quick and the Dead, a yearlong, multi-phase project that highlights the life, work, and legacy of a deceased writer by bridging their work to that of contemporary practitioners. In its inaugural year, the program focuses on the life and work of poet, educator, and activist, Audre Lorde (1934-1992). Beginning with a six-month reading and discussion group in all 2018 facilitated by OlaRonke Akinmowo of The Free Black Women’s Library, The Quick and the Dead continues through public programming in Spring 2019. The Quick and the Dead seeks to mobilize the creative and pedagogical potential of focused engagement with a single author through sustained reflection across a variety of intimately-scaled and larger public events and opportunities for cross-disciplinary encounters.

Kore Press, Inc is a feminist, literary arts and justice organization dedicated to publishing, education, and innovative social justice community programming that keeps the margins in the center. With a focus on writers and artists who span practices, aesthetics, sexualities, races, and ethnicities, for the last 25 years, the Press has been providing a progressive platform for diverse cultural work by women and transgendered writers.

Wendy’s Subway is a non-profit reading room, writing space, and independent publisher located in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Since 2013, Wendy’s Subway has provided an open and versatile platform for expanding modes of reading, writing, and publishing together. Our interdisciplinary program presents readings, talks, performances, and workshops regularly throughout the year. Our residency program highlights the work of independent library projects and publishers. The non-circulating library holds a collection of over 3,000 titles, with a specific focus on art, literature, and critical theory. The collection is available to readers during public library hours.

Special thanks to Donna Masini, Patricia Spears Jones, Erica Hunt, Dawn Lundy Martin, Lisa Bowden, and Mark Manivong at the Library of Congress.

The Quick and the Dead is sponsored, in part, by the Greater New York Arts Development Fund of the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, administered by the Brooklyn Arts Council (BAC) and Humanities New York with Support from the National Endowment from the Humanities.

Any views, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this program do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

This event is free. RSVP at the ticket link above.

Adjua Gargi Nzinga Greaves

Adjua Gargi Nzinga Greaves (New Yorker, b. 1980) is a Pushcart-nominated poet concerned with postcolonial ethnobotany, the limits of language, and archive as medium. Greaves has most recently been published in the collections Letters to the Future: Black Women / Radical Writing (Kore Press), and Creature/Verdure (Pinsapo Journal), as well as in her chapbook Close Reading As Forestry (Belladonna*). Publications in The Brooklyn Rail and from Ugly Duckling Presse are forthcoming. Formerly a Monday Night Reading Series curator at The Poetry Project, she will be an artist-in-residence with The Robert Rauschenberg Foundation on Captiva Island, Florida in early 2020 and serves as Site Director of Wendy’s Subway in Bushwick, Brooklyn.

Harmony Holiday

Harmony Holiday is a writer, dancer, archivist, director, and the author of four collections of poetry, Negro League Baseball, Go Find Your Father / A Famous Blues, Hollywood Forever, and A Jazz Funeral for Uncle Tom. She founded and runs Afrosonics, an archive of jazz and everyday diaspora poetics, and Mythscience, a publishing imprint that reissues and reprints works from the archive. She worked on the SOS, the selected poems of Amiri Baraka, transcribing all of his poetry recorded with jazz that has yet to be released in print and exists primarily on out-of-print records. Harmony studied Rhetoric at UC Berkeley and taught for the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre. She received her MFA from Columbia University and has received the Motherwell Prize from Fence Books, a Ruth Lilly Fellowship, and a NYFA Fellowship. She is currently completing a book of poems called M a à f a and an accompanying collection of essays and memoir, Love is War for Miles, both to be released this fall, as well as a biography of jazz singer Abbey Lincoln.

Tracie Morris

Tracie Morris is writer/editor of 7 books and is a sound poet, vocalist, voice teacher and theorist. She holds an MFA in poetry from CUNY Hunter College, a PhD from NYU, and studied acting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London. She became an Atlantic Center for the Arts Master Artist in 2018. Ms. Morris is currently the 2018 WPR Fellow at Harvard University.

Gabrielle Richards

Gabrielle Richards works at AHR NYC as a Higher Education Support Professional and is finishing up her last semester at Hunter College. She has published poems in Sarah L. Webb’s book Colorism Poems, as well as in Olive Tree Review, Hunter College’s creative writing publication. Gabrielle is twenty-two years old and currently resides in Brooklyn, New York.

Photo: Cynthia Jasmin

Meagan Washington

Meagan Washington is a poet and Houston native. She received her BA in English from the University of Houston and a MFA from Hunter College. As a NYC transport, Meagan teaches composition and writing about literature at Hunter College.