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Justice Poetry: Readings and Discussion with Claudia Rankine, Dawn Lundy Martin, and Messiah

Public Humanities, Explorations in the Public Humanities, Arts, Humanities, and the Carceral State

dateFebruary 24, 2015 timeTuesday, 6:15pm EST location The Schapiro Center, Davis Auditorium, Columbia University
  • The Center for Justice at Columbia University
  • Center for Race, Philosophy, and Social Justice
  • Free and open to the public
  • First come, first seated

An evening of justice poetry featuring Claudia Rankine, Dawn Lundy Martin, and Messiah Ramkissoon. Poets read from their new and published works related to issues of justice and discuss the events and experiences that inspired them. Monica Miller, Associate Professor of English at Barnard College, will introduce the poets, and a moderated discussion, led by Columbia School of the Arts professor and poet Timothy Donnelly, and questions from the audience follow the readings.

Claudia Rankine is the author of five collections of poetry: Citizen: An American Lyric (Graywolf Press, 2014); Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric (Graywolf Press, 2004); PLOT (Grove Press, 2001); The End of the Alphabet (Grove Press, 1998); and Nothing in Nature is Private (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 1995), which received the Cleveland State Poetry Prize. She is the Henry G. Lee Professor of English at Pomona College. Her latest book, Citizen, has been shortlisted for the 2014 National Book Award.

Dawn Lundy Martin, an essayist and award-winning poet is author of A Gathering of Matter / A Matter of Gathering (2007) and DISCIPLINE (Nightboat Books 2011), which was selected by Fanny Howe for the Nightboat Books Poetry Prize and was a finalist for both Los Angeles Times Book Prize and the Lambda Literary Award. Her most recent collection is Life in a Box is a Pretty Life (Nightboat Books 2015). She wrote the libretto for a video installation opera, titled "Good Stock on the Dimension Floor,"
which was scheduled to be featured in the 2014 Whitney Biennial, and is collaborating with architect Mitch McEwen on Detroit Opera House, a project which stages an opera as a house, the house and its dramas of occupancy, vacancy, demolition, and re-purposing as an opera. Her most recent essay, The Long Road to Angela Davis's Library was published on Martin is also a co-founder of the Black Took Collective, an experimental performance art/poetry group of three. She is Associate Professor of English at the University of Pittsburgh.

Messiah Ramkissoon is a poet, emcee, and youth activist who has garnered national recognition. Messiah was granted the Emerging Leader Award from the National Institute of Caribbean Studies; the Youth of The Year in 1999/2000 for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Annapolis, Greater Washington and the State of Maryland. As a result, he was awarded a $25,000 scholarship from Oprah Winfrey, which he used to attend Howard University. As a performing artist, he has have won 3 consecutive shows at Showtime At The Apollo; a legendary show/stage for black artists including the Jackson 5, James Brown, Lauryn Hill and countless others. Messiah has been awarded a Certificate from the Howard University Alumni Association recognizing him for the "Gift of Poetry." In 2008, he won a BET Hip-Hop submission contest which led him to perform in Los Angeles at the 2008 pre-event for the BET Awards; opening for Janelle Monae. Messiah has gone on to win numerous annual poetry/spoken word slams including the National Capital Jazz Fest, HBCU Battle of the Schools, etc. He is a native of Trinidad but moved to New York City at the age of 11, where he has spent most of his life.

Timothy Donnelly is the author of Twenty-seven Props for a Production of Eine Lebenszeit (Grove, 2003) and The Cloud Corporation (Wave, 2010; Picador, 2011), for which he won the 2012 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. His poems have been widely anthologized and translated and have appeared in such periodicals as A Public Space, Fence, Harper’s, The Iowa Review, jubilat, Lana Turner, The Nation, The New Republic, The Paris Review and elsewhere. He has been poetry editor of Boston Review since 1996 and is on the faculty of the Writing Program at Columbia University’s School of the Arts.

Monica L. Miller, Associate Professor of English, joined the faculty of Barnard in 2001. Professor Miller specializes in African-American and American literature and cultural studies. Her book, Slaves to Fashion: Black Dandyism and the Styling of Black Diasporic Identity, was published by Duke University Press in 2009. It received the 2010 William Sanders Scarborough Prize for the best book in African American literature and culture from the Modern Language Association. She is currently at work on two new projects: Affirmative Actions: Ways to Define Black Culture in the 21st Century, which examines very contemporary black literature and culture from five vantage points (the novel, contemporary art, documentary film, museums/archives, and politics) in order to assess the consequences of thinking of black identity as “post-black” or “post-racial" and Fyra nyanser av brunt (four shades of brown): Blackness, Browness, Diaspora and Belonging, a multi-genre investigation of multiculturalism, integration, and Afro-Swedishness and its relation to theories of diaspora and diasporic belonging.