African American

Keeping up with Samuel Delany, finalist for a Locus Award & honored by CHOICE

Samuel Delany’s In Search of Silence,The Journals of Samuel R. Delany, 1957–1969 was recently honored by Choice as a 2017 Outstanding Academic Titles

Choice presents this title to award “outstanding works for their excellence in presentation and scholarship, the significance of their contribution to the field, their originality and value as an essential treatment of their subject, and significance in building undergraduate collections.”

In Search of Silence was also selected as a finalist for the 2018 Locus Award for Non-Fiction. Winners will be announced during the Locus Awards Weekend in Seattle, WA June 22-24, 2018 according to Locus Magazine.

For more by Samuel Delany, check out his newest title, The Atheist in the Attic in the Outspoken Authors series from PM Press. The book is a “suspenseful and vivid historical narrative, recreating the top-secret meeting between the mathematical genius Leibniz and the philosopher Spinoza caught between the horrors of the cannibalistic Dutch Rampjaar and the brilliant ‘big bang’ of the Enlightenment.” (from publisher) You will also find more Delany coming from Wesleyan in the Spring of 2019, a collection of never before published letters from between 1988–1991: Letters from Amherst. The book will collect five letters written to close friends, covering such topics as the San Francisco arts community, writing practices and story development, and his family history.

Poetry @ LA Times Festival & Split This Rock

Wesleyan University Press is pleased to have authors participating in events at both Split This Rock Poetry Festival and the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books.

Camille T. Dungy and Kazim Ali are among the featured readers at Split This Rock, April 19–21

From the festival organizers:

Not only does poetry equip us to speak out against oppression but it helps to sustain us in these extremely perilous times. It reminds us of what it means to be fully human, holds the vision of what is possible, creates community, keeps alive what we value: compassion, justice, love. Poetry helps us find our voice when we feel powerless. It helps us be our best selves, so we can continue the long-term activism our current climate demands.

As we selected sessions for the 2018 festival, we were particularly interested in sessions designed to help us combat despair (or ride through it), learn from one another across generations, celebrate cultures targeted by hate, figure out what it means to live in this time, and equip us all as creative and effective citizens and activists.
Continue Reading Here….

Thursday, April 19 | 7-8:30 PM
Camille T. Dungy, Sharon Olds, Javier Zamora

Saturday, April 21 | 4:15-5:45 PM
Kazim Ali, Ellen Bass, Terisa Siagatonu

In addition, Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalists Evie Shockley and Shane McCrae
will participate in this year’s Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, April 21–22

Shane McCrae

Saturday, April 21 • 11:20am—11:40am
Shane McCrae reading from “In the Language of my Captor”
More info here…

Saturday, April 21 • 2:00pm–3:00pm
Poetry: Trauma and the Problem of Beauty, Conversation 1043
Moderated by David Baker
Speakers include Alessandra Lynch, Shane McCrae, Carol Muske-Dukes, and Patricia Smith
More info here…

Evie Shockley

Saturday, April 21 • 11:00am–12:00pm
Poetry: Self, Cultural Narratives, and Form, Conversation 1041
Moderated by Cyrus Cassells
Speakers include Mary Jo Bang, Christopher Merrill, Evie Shockley, David St. John
More info here…

Saturday, April 21 • 2:40pm–3:00pm
Evie Shockley reading from “semiautomatic”
More info here…

 

 

 

 

 

Congratulations to NBA Finalist, Shane McCrae!

Wesleyan University Press’s In the Language of My Captor, by Shane McCrae, shortlisted for the National Book Award.

Judges for the 2017 National Book Award in the category of Poetry have selected Wesleyan University Press title In the Language of My Captor as one of five finalists. The judges are esteemed poets Nick Flynn, Jane Mead, Gregory Pardlo, Richard Siken, and Monica Youn.

Acclaimed poet Shane McCrae’s latest collection is a book about freedom told through stories of captivity. Historical persona poems and a prose memoir at the center of the book address the illusory freedom of both black and white Americans. In the book’s three sequences, McCrae explores the role mass entertainment plays in oppression, he confronts the myth that freedom can be based upon the power to dominate others, and, in poems about the mixed-race child adopted by Jefferson Davis in the last year of the Civil War, he interrogates the infrequently examined connections between racism and love.

Critic Valerie Duff-Strautmann described In the Language of My Captor as reminiscent of the great Romanian poet, Paul Celan. And a review in Publisher’s Weekly noted that McCrae’s “raw honesty…refuses to shy away from the effects of oppression and faces up to those not willing to acknowledge their part in a history many want to forget.”

Past Wesleyan titles honored with the National Book Award for Poetry

Jean Valentine’s Door in the Mountain, 2004
Charles Wright’s Country Music: Selected Early Poems, 1983.
James Dickey’s Buckdancer’s Choice: Poems, 1966

In 2016, Peter Gizzi’s Archeophonics was a finalist for the Poetry award. Rae Armantrout’s Versed, which won the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Critic’s Circle Award, was a finalist in 2009. And in 1973, The Glorious Revolution in America, by David S. Lovejoy, was a finalist in the History category. ­­­

100 Years Later: Focusing on Native American Service in WWI

April 6, 1917: The United States entered World War I, when the U.S. Senate voted 82–6 to declare war on Germany. President Woodrow Wilson enacted conscription to recruit thousands of eligible young men into military service. Most of the approximately 12,000 Native Americans who enlisted were volunteers, as Native Americans were, largely, not yet citizens of the United States. In addition to this service, Native Americans purchased approximately $25 million worth of war bonds to support the cause. 

Although the Code Talkers of WWII are better known today, Natives in WWI—most notably the Choctaw—were also tasked with interrupting German spies and halting the interception of Allied communication. This was accomplished with the use of localized Native dialects, which few of the enlisted understood and none of the enemy could decipher. This would aid Allied victory as German troops no longer could predict Allied supply transport or military movements.

The Choctaw were not the only Native nation represented in military service. Other nations, such as the Anishinaabe of the White Earth Reservation, featured in Gerald Vizenor’s book, Blue Ravens, also contributed to the Allied victory. 

In his historical novel, Vizenor reimagines the lives of his great uncles—brothers who served in on the battlefields of France during World War I. He follows the travels and experiences of these two soldiers, before, during the war, and after they return home. Praised as one of our most original, and outspoken, contemporary Native American authors, Vizenor’s visionary writing addresses historic events through an imaginative, postmodern aesthetic. More information can be found at our Blue Raven reader’s companion.

Below: A video of Vizenor lecturing on Blue Ravens and WWI.

The story of Vizenor’s uncles will continue in his next novel, Night of Tributes, due out in 2018. The brothers, now combat veterans, join the Bonus Army to march on Washington DC) in his next novel, Night of Tributes, due out in 2018.

Click on the photos below to enlarge and access the captions.

George Krimsky, 1942-2017

It is with heavy hearts we share news of the death of George Krimsky. From the International Center for Journalists:

In a career spanning 45 years, George Krimsky has been a journalist, author, lecturer, media critic and non-profit administrator. Krimsky served 16 years with the Associated Press, reporting from Los Angeles, New York, the Soviet Union and the Middle East. Following his overseas service, he was appointed head of AP’s World Services News Department. In 1984, he left the AP to found ICFJ, originally known as the Center for Foreign Journalists. After 11 years as its first president, Krimsky returned to his home state of Connecticut as an independent consultant, later serving in Central Asia as a media trainer for the Center. Read the complete biography.

krimsky-making freedom

Krimsky was co-author, with Chandler Saint, of Making Freedom: The Extraordinary life of Venture Smith. Chandler recently shared his memories of working with George:

Venture Smith has lost his word guy. George Krimsky, the only person I know to use words more carefully than Venture, passed away Friday night 20 January 2017. The world lost a great journalist – I lost my best friend.

Read Chandler’s complete statement here.

“Hamilton” History Lessons & The Federalist Papers

The Federalist Papers, edited by Jacob E. Cooke

The Hamilton buzz won’t be ending anytime soon. Lin Manuel Miranda, a Wesleyan alum, has created a hit that will irrefutably change the stage and much beyond. With tickets basically impossible to lay your hands on to this phenomenal rejuvenation to both America’s early history and Broadway’s musical scene, it’s no surprise you can’t go a week without Hamilton coming up.

This Broadway musical isn’t just helping American musical practice evolve, either—the show’s ubiquitous presence in American pop culture has teachers across the nation incorporating the score into their history lessons. This contemporary, youthful take on our “founding fathers’ is helping to  revitalize interest in America’s early history. Twenty-thousand New York The Federalist Papers, edited by Jacob E. CookeCity 11th graders will be able to go further than just incorporating the soundtrack, though:

The Rockefeller Foundation and the show’s producers are financing a program to bring 20,000 New York City 11th graders, all from schools with high percentages of students from low-income families, to see Hamilton at a series of matinees. As part of the program, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History will develop curriculum.

The New York Time‘s “The Learning Network” featured a few examples for teachers, including the staging of “historic rap battles.” Another one of their wonderful examples was delving into the Federalist papers, which Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and Jon Jay wrote to defend the American Constitution after critique came of their government being too weak. Originally printed in newspapers, it can be difficult to discern which versions are the final versions, as intended by the authors. But not to fear, because editor Jacob E. Cooke created the “most complete and accurate” edition of The Federalist that has yet to appear. Fully annotated and reproduced from the original newspaper texts, The Federalist features chiefly works by Hamilton, aided by papers by Jay and Madison, to defend the government and its texts that the founding fathers so painstakingly fought to create.

Announcing Words of Our Mouth, Meditations of Our Heart from Kenneth Bilby

Celebrating the legendary studio musicians of Jamaican popular music through personal photographs and interviews

bilby wordsofourmouth

While singers, producers, and studio owners have become international icons, many of the musicians who were essential to shaping the sound of Jamaican music have remained anonymous. Words of Our Mouth, Meditations of Our Heart: Pioneering Musicians of Ska, Rocksteady, Reggae, and Dancehall, complete with 98 color photographs, is the first book devoted to the studio musicians who were central to Jamaica’s popular music explosion. Bilby delves into the full spectrum of Jamaican music, from traditional and folk genres, such as Mento, Poco, and Buru, to the popular urban styles of ska, rocksteady, and reggae. Photographic portraits and interview excerpts (with such musical pioneers as Prince Buster, Robbie Shakespeare, Sly Dunbar, Lee “Scratch” Perry, and many of Bob Marley’s early musical collaborators) provide new insights into the birth of Jamaican popular music in the recording studios of Kingston, Jamaica in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. The book illustrates how players of “traditional” Jamaican music and lesser-known singers have made fundamental and wide-ranging contributions to the music. Appendices include a recommended listening list, a bibliography of interviews and field recordings, and a glossary of terms.

Kenneth Bilby is an ethnomusicologist, writer, and lifelong student of Jamaican music. He is the former director of research at the Center for Black Research at Columbia College Chicago and currently a research associate at the Smithsonian Institution. Author of True-Born Maroons and coauthor of Caribbean Currents: Caribbean Music from Rumba to Reggae, his collection of field recordings of Jamaican traditional music is one of the largest in the world.

“Bilby celebrates his roots in Jamaica in this magnificent book through beautiful photographs and interviews with musicians. Bilby unveils the backstory of Jamaican music, and his work will be cherished by all who love Jamaican music.”
—William Ferris, author of Give My Poor Heart Ease: Voices of the Mississippi Blues

“Bilby doesn’t just tell the story that’s never been told—delivering an homage to the heroes who helped shape Jamaican music—he lets these heroes tell the story in their own words, writing their own chapter in history.”
—Baz Dreisinger, producer and writer of Black & Blue: Legends of the Hip-Hop Cop and Rhyme & Punishment

“An essential work of Jamaican musical scholarship. The interviews are engrossing on multiple levels. Our understanding of the black musics of the New World would have fewer gaps in it if there were more of the kind of thorough oral history that Bilby does here. He proves himself to be not merely a good collector but a good listener.”
—John Jeremiah Sullivan, author of Pulphead

Enjoy some musical examples!

Drums of Defiance: Maroon Music from the Earliest Free Black Communities of
Jamaica. (CD) Smithsonian/Folkways. 1992. [1970s–1990s]

Example of Nyabinghi drumming

Mento version of Amy Winehouse’s “Rehab”, performed by The Jolly Boys

Alerth Bedasse & Chin’s Calypso Sextet perform “Industrial Fair”

Cedric “Im” Brooks and the Divine Light. From Mento to Reggae to Third World
Music. (CD) VP. 2008. [1973]

Studio One Ska—The Skatalites “Beardsman Ska”

Rocksteady: The Roots of Reggae. (CD) Mollselekta. 2009. [2000s]

The Harder They Come (Deluxe Edition). (2-CD box set). Hip-O. 2003. [1960s and 1970s]

Publication date: May 10, 2016
256 pp., 7 x 10”
Paper, $29.95 x
978-0-8195-7588-3
eBook, $23.99 Y
978-0-8195-7604-0

NaPoMo16: Evie Shockley & June Jordan’s “Poem about My Rights”

National-Poetry-Month-LogoThis April marks the 20th anniversary of National Poetry Month, which was inaugurated by the Academy of American Poets in 1996. Each year, publishers, booksellers, educators and literary organizations use April to support poetry; whether you’re undertaking the National Poetry Writing Month challenge, teaching poetry in your classroom, or making efforts to read more poetry year-round. To commemorate this ever-evolving, vital genre, we asked some of your favorite Wesleyan University Press authors to share their favorite poems.

Evie Shockley, author of the new black, kicks this series off with one of her personal favorites:  “Poem about My Rights” by June Jordan.

June Jordan, “Poem About My Rights” from Directed By Desire: The Collected Poems of June Jordan (Port Townsend, WA: Copper Canyon Press, 2005). Copyright © 2005 by The June M. Jordan Literary Trust. The June M. Jordan Literary Trust, www.junejordan.com.


Poem About My Rights

Even tonight and I need to take a walk and clear
my head about this poem about why I can’t
go out without changing my clothes my shoes
my body posture my gender identity my age
my status as a woman alone in the evening/
alone on the streets/alone not being the point/
the point being that I can’t do what I want
to do with my own body because I am the wrong
sex the wrong age the wrong skin and
suppose it was not here in the city but down on the beach/
or far into the woods and I wanted to go
there by myself thinking about God/or thinking
about children or thinking about the world/all of it
disclosed by the stars and the silence:
I could not go and I could not think and I could not
stay there
alone
as I need to be
alone because I can’t do what I want to do with my own
body and
who in the hell set things up
like this
and in France they say if the guy penetrates
but does not ejaculate then he did not rape me
and if after stabbing him if after screams if
after begging the bastard and if even after smashing
a hammer to his head if even after that if he
and his buddies fuck me after that
then I consented and there was
no rape because finally you understand finally
they fucked me over because I was wrong I was
wrong again to be me being me where I was/wrong
to be who I am
which is exactly like South Africa
penetrating into Namibia penetrating into
Angola and does that mean I mean how do you know if
Pretoria ejaculates what will the evidence look like the
proof of the monster jackboot ejaculation on Blackland
and if
after Namibia and if after Angola and if after Zimbabwe
and if after all of my kinsmen and women resist even to
self-immolation of the villages and if after that
we lose nevertheless what will the big boys say will they
claim my consent:
Do You Follow Me: We are the wrong people of
the wrong skin on the wrong continent and what
in the hell is everybody being reasonable about
and according to the Times this week
back in 1966 the C.I.A. decided that they had this problem
and the problem was a man named Nkrumah so they
killed him and before that it was Patrice Lumumba
and before that it was my father on the campus
of my Ivy League school and my father afraid
to walk into the cafeteria because he said he
was wrong the wrong age the wrong skin the wrong
gender identity and he was paying my tuition and
before that
it was my father saying I was wrong saying that
I should have been a boy because he wanted one/a
boy and that I should have been lighter skinned and
that I should have had straighter hair and that
I should not be so boy crazy but instead I should
just be one/a boy and before that
it was my mother pleading plastic surgery for
my nose and braces for my teeth and telling me
to let the books loose to let them loose in other
words
I am very familiar with the problems of the C.I.A.
and the problems of South Africa and the problems
of Exxon Corporation and the problems of white
America in general and the problems of the teachers
and the preachers and the F.B.I. and the social
workers and my particular Mom and Dad/I am very
familiar with the problems because the problems
turn out to be
me
I am the history of rape
I am the history of the rejection of who I am
I am the history of the terrorized incarceration of
myself
I am the history of battery assault and limitless
armies against whatever I want to do with my mind
and my body and my soul and
whether it’s about walking out at night
or whether it’s about the love that I feel or
whether it’s about the sanctity of my vagina or
the sanctity of my national boundaries
or the sanctity of my leaders or the sanctity
of each and every desire
that I know from my personal and idiosyncratic
and indisputably single and singular heart
I have been raped
be-
cause I have been wrong the wrong sex the wrong age
the wrong skin the wrong nose the wrong hair the
wrong need the wrong dream the wrong geographic
the wrong sartorial I
I have been the meaning of rape
I have been the problem everyone seeks to
eliminate by forced
penetration with or without the evidence of slime and/
but let this be unmistakable this poem
is not consent I do not consent
to my mother to my father to the teachers to
the F.B.I. to South Africa to Bedford-Stuy
to Park Avenue to American Airlines to the hardon
idlers on the corners to the sneaky creeps in
cars
I am not wrong: Wrong is not my name
My name is my own my own my own
and I can’t tell you who the hell set things up like this
but I can tell you that from now on my resistance
my simple and daily and nightly self-determination
may very well cost you your life

Upon being invited to share a favorite poem this month, of my many, many favorites, I chose June Jordan’s “Poem About My Rights.”  Jordan is on my mind right now, because I will be participating soon in a symposium celebrating her legacies (which will already have occurred—at the University of Massachusetts Amherst—by time you are reading this). Her capacity for clear analysis, truth-telling, and unforgettable phrasing (“Wrong is not my name“) is one legacy of Jordan’s that I admire immensely and that is on display in this poem. Also on my mind right now, because of important conversations happening in the poetry community these past few weeks, is the difficulty of navigating this world as a woman—particularly as a woman of color—when Business-As-Usual is structured without our needs, aspirations, or desires (in other words, our humanity) in mind.  We humans are long overdue for a new normal around issues of gender and sexuality, and Jordan’s poem—with its urgency, its incantatory repetition, its rule-breaking language, its potent analogies, its traces of the nature poem it might have been, and its insistence on being the poem it of necessity must be—makes the case for change impassionately.
Evie Shockley


.

Evie Shockley is an associate professor of English at Rutgers University and the author of the new black, a half-red sea, the chapbook The Gorgon Goddess, and Renegade Poetics: Black Aesthetics and Formal Innovation in African American Poetry.

Be sure to check out our new poetry!

poetry

Common Sense (Ted Greenwald)

Age of Reasons: Uncollected Poems 1969–1982 (Ted Greenwald)

Azure: Poems and Selections from the “Livre” (Stéphane Mallarmé)

Fauxhawk (Ben Doller)

Scarecrow (Robert Fernandez)

The Book of Landings (Mark McMorris)

A Sulfur Anthology (edited by Clayton Eshleman)

Wesleyan University Press @ AWP2016 – Los Angeles

Join Us @ AWP 2016, in Los Angeles!

Booth #1213

AWP-16EventsImage

Don’t miss these events:

A Lunch Time Reading at Ace Hotel

Thursday, 3/31: Noon–2PM 
Ace Hotel, 929 South Broadway, Los Angeles
1913 Press, Sidebrow & Wesleyan University Press present:

Rae Armantrout
Fred Moten
Ben Doller
Sandra Doller
Amaranth Borsuk
Kate Durbin
Lily Hoang
Mathias Svalina

Just Saying: A Tribute to Rae Armantrout

Thursday, 3/31: 3-4:15pm
Room 502 A, LA Convention Center, Meeting Room Level R255

Stephen Burt
Amy Catanzano
Catherine Wagner
Monica Youn
Rae Armantrout

Four author-critics approach Armantrout’s work from a variety of angles, including her association with Language poetry, her exploration of science through verse, her treatment of pop culture and current events, and her merging of everyday experience with epistemological questions about perceptions. Read more here.

Friday Afternoon Cocktail Celebration for BAX 2015

Friday, 4/1: 4-5pm, AWP Booth #1213
Purchase a copy of Best American Experimental Writing, 2015 for $10 (50% off cover price) & enjoy a free Moscow Mule!

Book Signings @ Booth #1213

Rae Armantrout (Itself)–Thursday, 3/31, 4:30PM

Robert Fernandez (Scarecrow)–Friday, 4/1: 10AM

Ben Doller (Fauxhawk) –Friday, 4/1, 12PM

 

Stop by check out our new books!

fiction

Treaty Shirts: October 2034—A Familiar Treatise on the White Earth Nation (Gerald Vizenor)

Reality by Other Means: The Best Short Fiction of James Morrow (James Morrow)

poetry

Common Sense (Ted Greenwald)

Age of Reasons: Uncollected Poems 1969–1982 (Ted Greenwald)

Azure: Poems and Selections from the “Livre” (Stéphane Mallarmé)

Fauxhawk (Ben Doller)

Scarecrow (Robert Fernandez)

The Book of Landings (Mark McMorris)

A Sulfur Anthology (edited by Clayton Eshleman)

Ralph Lemon coming to Wesleyan University 2/25/16

As part of the World of Arts in the Heart of Connecticut series hosted by the Wesleyan University Center for the Arts, Ralph Lemon will appear at Wesleyan’s Ring Family Performing Arts Hall on February 25, 2016. His presentation, Ceremonies Out of the Air, touches upon both his new and old work in relation to an imagined South.

As a choreographer, writer, director, and conceptualist, Ralph Lemon is a dynamic voice, canonizing what is African American literature and history through his in-depth research and presentation of traditionally African American culture through dance, art, and memoir. In his latest book, Come home Charley Patton, Lemon examines and imagines the South through memoir, documenting the Civil Rights era and contemporary southern culture through his journal entries. Sketches and photographs are included, capturing the haunting sites of lynchings, Civil Rights protests, and meetings between Lemon and the descendants of musicians and activists. A few images from the book, documenting Lemon’s travels, are included below:

one of the bedrooms in Mose Toliver's home

One of the bedrooms in Mose Toliver’s home. Mose Toliver was a folk artist whose art can be found in the Rosa Parks Museum.

a framed image of Elvi Presley in Mrs. Kent's house in Memphis, TN

A framed image of Elvis Presley in Mrs. Helen Kent’s house in Memphis, TN.

Helen Kent in her living room

Helen Kent, the daughter of Frank Stokes, an African American blues musician, in her living room.

in memory of the many protests and marches of Birmingham, AL, Lemon captures an image of a hose, a common weapon to deter peaceful protestors

In memory of the many protests and marches of Birmingham, AL, Lemon captures an image of a hose, a common weapon to deter peaceful protestors.