Readings in Contemporary Poetry

David Henderson and Andrei Codrescu

Tuesday, December 5, 2017, 6:30 pm, Dia:Chelsea

Event Details
Tuesday, December 5, 2017, 6:30 pm

Dia:Chelsea
535 West 22nd Street, 5th Floor
New York City 

Free for Dia members; $10 general admission; $6 admission for students and seniors 

Advance ticket purchases recommended. Tickets are also available for purchase at the door, subject to availability. 

David Henderson was connected to the Black Arts Movement through the Umbra Workshop, where he served as an editor of their magazine and the three Umbra anthologies. His best-known books of poetry are De Mayor of Harlem (1970) and Neo-California (1998), and he has read a selection of his poetry for the permanent archives of the Library of Congress. Author of the lyrics to Sun Ra’s composition “Love in Outer Space,” he has also recorded with the saxophonists and composers Ornette Coleman and David Murray and the cornetist and composer Butch Morris. He is the author of ’Scuse Me While I Kiss the Sky: Jimi Hendrix: Voodoo Child (2009)and wrote and produced an award-winning two-hour documentary on the African American beat poet Bob Kaufman for National Public Radio and the Pacifica Foundation. Recent publications include prose and poetry in the anthologies Beats at Naropa (2009), Obama, Obama (2012), Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of African American Poetry (2013), and Cross WorldsTranscultural Poetics (2014). A poet-in-residence at the City College of New York, he has taught in CUNY’s SEEK Program and has been a visiting professor at the University of California, Berkeley, University of California, San Diego, State University of New York at Stony Brook, and Wesleyan University, Middleton, Connecticut. Most recently he became the first fellow of the Lost and Found, the CUNY Poetics Document Initiative at the Center for the Humanities. 

Kingfish, My Kingfish, Uncle Kingfish

Kingfish, my Kingfish, Uncle Kingfish, in the darkness of the country, slight smile around his perpendicular cigar. Brown face lost in the darkness, dark pants fading into the black, the white apron an apparition, a ghost of service: soda and potato chips for the boy, a swab of white cloth across  the hardwood hull of the bar that was indeed at sea for that voyage of the day to night to end in the death of dawn. Beer chasers after the Tanqueray argument, the jukebox so loud the room is bouncing, in the window screeching tires of 450 horsepowers burning eight cylinders of rubber, the smell drifts in and outside the door, becomes a smoke cloud rambling down main street. Let the good times roll for the sixty minute man, lovers too young to be in love -- Afro Mona Lisa laughing out loud all up in your face.

Andrei Codrescu was born in Sibiu, Romania. He has written poetry, novels, essays, and film. He won the Peabody Award and was a National Book Award finalist for poetry. From 1983 to 1996 he edited the multivolume publication Exquisite Corpse: A Journal of Books and Ideas, and he started to edit the ongoing website Exquisite Corpse: A Journal of Life and Letters in 1996. He taught poetry and comparative literature at Johns Hopkins University, the University of Baltimore, and Louisiana State University, where he retired in 2010 as MacCurdy Professor Emeritus. His recent books include Bibliodeath: My Archives (with Life in Footnotes) (2012) and The Art of Forgetting: New Poems (2016). Codrescu was also a regular commentator on National Public Radio’s All Things Considered from 1983 to 2016.

the new golden wretched

Google-worthy immigrants are to be found
say the fat natives wrapped in fur & fear
in the 1938-1948 wave and the post-commie
era 1989-2001 when politics was clear

after that as Gogol Bordello sings
"we are coming rougher"

we walk on desert rocks   come out of tunnels
we left our kin in a storm of shards 
barrel bombs that tore up legs eyes arms hair   
a rain of meat that we once called "love"
now mud air mushrooms roots grubs
those refugees of two decades ago
who came under the umbrella of idealism
by boat and plane and real politik
do not want us   they have forgotten

"we come rougher"
unwanted    parcelled out like fuel for the engines
of power's calculated mercy
but "rough" is just another texture of despair
whether it's 1941, 2015 or sometime imminent       and new

history doesn't take vacations
it only stops to take a breath to change
bibs continents and menus before it eats again