The Write Your Block workshops wrapped up this week at Mighty Writers West. There were four wonderful sessions with great kids that were anything but predictable. West Philly's kids exceeded my imagination, and I'll miss our meetings from hereon in. Look for their poems soon on the WYB site.
The City Real & Imagined is a collaborative project with CAConrad that re-writes a City of Otherly Love. It's now available directly from the book's publisher at Factory School Books, as part of the Heretical Texts Series (vol.5.)
You can order the book here.
Erica Kaufman says:
Too often we forget about the "human" in human geography. This book emends us that every city is a peopled space. As Carl Sauer writes in his "Foreword to Historical Geography," "We know that habitat must be referred to habit, that habit is the activated learning common to a group, and that it may be endlessly subject to change." What Conrad and Sherlock really enliven in their book is this sense of "activated" or "active learning" that is (and should be) "endlessly subject to change." Cities change. Places change. "Oh bondage up/ yours. We echo this in different languages."
A year ago, I spoke at a Ukrainian rally at Independence Hall protesting the Russian occupation of Crimea. I was asked to read from Taras Shevchenko's Testament on the occasion of his 200th birthday- an event that was billed as POETRY AGAINST WAR. I was humbled by the people's appreciation and commitment to poetry as a vital art form. While reading at the event, I surprised the crowd with a poem from today's premier counterculture poet in Ukraine- Serhiy Zhadan. When I mentioned his name, there was a buzz of excitement through the crowd.
I read his poem Lukoil, which made sense in that political moment. I got to the lines "Bitches," they all say, "bitches/ he'll need bitches, good bitches/ expensive ones, without bad habits…" and I look up to see a busload of priests and nuns with their arms folded, looking at me with stern disapproval. But the young people loved it. As the poem ended, the crowd chanted "Boycott Lukoil! Boycott Lukoil!
As I moved through the rally, I was approached by Mark Andryczyk. He told me he was a good friend of Serhiy's, and let me know that Zhadan will be happy to hear I shared his work at a rally so far away.
Almost a year to the date, I was overjoyed to discover that Serhiy wanted to visit Philadelphia to read with me. I saw familiar faces from the Ukrainian community at Vox Populi, thanks to the curatorial generosity of Anthony Romero. Zhadan's work was engaging, moving and powerful. Readers of his work in English included Anthony, Mary Kalyna, Alina Pleskova, Jenn McCreary & Ryan Eckes. It was one of those unforgettable nights that reminds us what we knew all along. Poetry matters.
Serhiy Zhadan's poetry has been translated into English, but a book has yet to be published. Let's change that!
I was honored to give a toast to a polymathic master recently- the great Samuel Delany. Thanks so much to Tracie Morris for including my tribute in Jacket2's The Motion of Light: Celebrating Samuel Delany.
You can read my account of Chip, Wonder Woman, and the trucker cruise here.
Five years after the release of The City Real & Imagined from Factory School Books, CAConrad & I revisited the project, re-shaped by new works that create a new dialogue with the original text. The occasion was an exhibition by visual artists Mat Tomezsko, Roberto Lugo, Amze Emmons, Drew Leshko and Jesse Krimes. The show took our book title & went in its own direction, emerging as The City Real & Imagined: Urbanism, Identity & Identification.
Thanks to the artists, to The Painted Bride, and especially to everyone who came out to share this special night.