Tonight, April 25th, Jack Martin, Daniel Bailey, Matthew Cooperman, J. A. Tyler, & Corey Zeller read at 7pm at Equinox Brewing in Fort Collins. This reading is sponsored by the wonderful Fort Collins Press, Mud Luscious.
Tomorrow, Thursday April 26th, at Innisfree (one of three poetry only bookstores in the United States!) in Boulder, poets Michelle Naka Pierce and Chris Pusateri will read from their work. 7pm. Pierce is celebrating the publication of her book, Continuous Frieze Bordering Redout from Oxford University Press this year.
Friday, April 27th, at CU Boulder, the Creative Writing Program hosts a reading and panel discussion featuring innovative writers/publishers Roxane Gay, Joyelle McSweeney, and Diane Williams. For bios and many links to these writers’ works click here. The panel starts at 7:30 in Humanities 150.
At Counterpath in Denver on Saturday April 28th, Anne Waldman and Eleni Sikelianos will perform and read work, and present a screening of Ed Bowes’s Entanglement(2009). The film is composed with text by Anne Waldman and stars Eleni Sikelianos.
Poet and professor Akilah Oliver has died in her home in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, according to Coffee House Press, which published her most recent book, A Toast in the House of Friends (2009). Our thoughts are with the family and friends of this extraordinary writer. Below you will find a video of Oliver reading with Anne Waldman and Lavonne Caesar. We have also included links to Oliver poems and have reposted a note from Rachel Levitsky which is published on the Coffee House Press Web site.
In A Toast in the House of Friends, Oliver memorializes her son Oluchi McDonald, who died at age 20 as a result of intestinal gangrene and the apparent neglect of emergency room personnel at Martin Luther King Jr. General Hospital in Los Angeles, according to MSNBC. The book includes a letter to her son, dated two months and five days after his death.
“When reading this piece, anyone who has ever dealt with loss can relate and sympathize with Oliver while she grieves,” writes reviewer Elizabeth Stannard Gromisch at Feminist Review.
Twin Cities Daily Press reviewer Dwight Hobbes calls the book “candid” and “original” while noting the severity of her subject matter — “It’s devoted to grief.” Hobbes quotes a long passage:
“A friend told me a story,” she recalls. “Her nephew was killed in yet another unglamorous and way too common incidence of gun violence in Los Angeles. After his death, his mother stopped speaking and suffered a stroke. For me, the story is symbolic of the way grief has become internalized to the point where it chokes us, to the point where it cripples us, to the point where we are rendered silent by the commonness and horror of death. Particularly in this case, the loss of young black men we as a culture, as a people, have almost eerily accepted, as if their lives have no social currency outside of statistical reductions. So, what happens when there is no public space for grief? I think my friend’s story is all too common. The body becomes the holder of a kind of terrorizing silence that in turns decimates and continues to maim.”
Here is Oliver’s bio from Coffee House Press:
Born and raised in Los Angeles, [Oliver] has been the artist-in-residence at Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center in Los Angeles, the curator of the Poetry Project’s Monday Night Reading Series, and has received grants from the California Arts Council, The Flintridge Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation. Oliver has been on the faculty of the University of Colorado, Boulder, Department of Writing and Poetics at Naropa University, Long Island University (as the Visiting Distinguished Author, MFA Creative Writing Program), and LaGuardia Community College. At the time of her death in 2011, she was a professor at Pratt Art Institute in Brooklyn, NY in the Humanities and Media Studies Department and a PhD candidate at the European Graduate School in Saas-Fee, Switzerland.
Video: Anne Waldman, Akilah Oliver, & Lavonne Caesar Perform at Naropa University
“Grief is a complicated emotion but also an inadequate word in many ways. Maybe it isn’t so much that the term fails to encompass a range of emotional states, but I think also death itself, as an event, as a limit, as a field of investigation, is too many things at once.It’s solid and it’s slippery. For me what I’m doing in A Toast is using language to walk through that field to find out about love, the collapsible body, what it means to be human, all of that. Also, I think that I am trying to transcribe rapture. I mean that in the ecstatic sense of the word.”
Note from Rachel Levitksy on the Coffee House Press Web site:
Then I command the stage again, as embodied activism this time a gone time
from a before then if so therefore without pretense this phrase, this constituent,
this color lily I’ve never seen before a calculated blue.
(from The Putterers Notebook)
We have just learned that our beloved friend, poet, teacher, performer, activist, mother, sister, Akilah Oliverpassed away in her home in the Fort Greene section of Brooklyn, N.Y.
Akilah Oliver was born in 1961 in L.A. In the 1990’s she founded and performed with the feminist performance collective Sacred Naked Nature Girls. For several years, Akilah lived and raised her son Oluchi McDonald (1982-2003) in Boulder, Colorado where she was a teacher at Naropa University’s Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. Recently, in New York City, Akilah taught poetry and writing at Eugene Lang College, The New School, Pratt Insitute and The Poetry Project. She was a PhD candidate at The European Graduate School and a member of the Belladonna* Collaborative.
Akilah Oliver’s books include A Toast In The House of Friends (Coffee House 2009) the she said dialogues: flesh memory, a book of experimental prose poetry honored by the PEN American Center’s “Open Book” program, and the chapbooks An Arriving Guard of Angels, Thusly Coming to Greet (Farfalla, McMillan & Parrish, 2004), The Putterer’s Notebook (Belladonna 2006), “a(A)ugust” (Yo-Yo Labs, 2007) and A Collection of Objects (Tente 2010). She read and performed her work throughout the country as a solo artist and with a variety of musicians and collaborators including Tyler Burba, Anne Waldman and Rasul Siddik. She was a artist in residence at Beyond Baroque Literary Arts Center in Los Angeles, and received grants from the California Arts Council, The Flintridge Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation. Among her many other projects, she was writing a book-length theory of lamentation.
Information about services and memorial will be forthcoming.