AUDIO In Common Writers Series: Darius James, solo reading from Negrophobia at City Lights Books

Sunday, April 21 - 5:00 pm PS to 7:00 pm PST
City Lights Bookshop, 261 Columbus Avenue (at Broadway), San Francisco
Darius James, from The United States of Hoodoo + Negrophobia cover

Full program audio: Darius James: April 21, 2019

"This is a brilliant book whose time has come and whose time has always been now.... Darius James is an active participant in Voodoo and believes in the power and mysticism of words. His work does not trade in the 'authenticity' and 'realness' that so much black cultural production is forced to trade in when guiding non-black readers into worlds and spaces they are, in fact, physically afraid to visit. In James's work, the ghetto, the plantation, and the prison cell are set loose from their original referents to exist in the world of the symbolic racist logic that created them."  Amy Abugo Ongiri

“Darius James is a great writer.”  Kathy Acker

“I read Negrophobia when I was still in grad school…. It was one of those good but rare occasions when I thought that there might be one other person in the world who got what I was doing.”  Kara Walker

"Luridly funny and unsparingly smart, Negrophobia is American arcana of the highest order. And like all truly cool books, destined to forever be ahead of its time."  Paul Beatty

Join us at City Lights Bookstore for the final night of three in The Poetry Center's In Common Writers Series. Following a workshop performance and conversation, April 18 at The Poetry Center, and West Coast Premier performance April 19 at The Lab, both with musician and Haitian SoundChemist, VodouElectro composer and educator Val Jeanty, Darius James gives a solo reading from his newly reissued novel Negrophobia —and from other work—at City Lights Books. Supported by the Walter & Elise Haas Fund, this event, as with the other performances in this program series, is free and open to the public.  

Darius James, writer, lecturer, and spoken-word performance artist, is author of five books, among them the novel Negrophobia: An Urban Parable, newly reissued 2019 by New York Review of Books Classics; That's Blaxploitation! Roots of the Baadasssss 'Tude (Rated X by an All-Whyte Jury); and Fever Water, limited edition, with illustrations by Tân Khánh Cao. After two decades as a freelance writer in New York City, in 1998 James left the US for Berlin, where he worked as a writer, radio host, and theater director, and appeared on television and in film. The documentary film The United States of Hoodoo (2012) features James as co-writer and on-screen narrator, following the traces of New World African religion across the US, from Brooklyn to Robert Johnson's Mississippi hometown; from New Orleans to Oakland and Seattle, and back home to Connecticut where his travels began, musing over his recently passed father's collection of African masks. James has written for The Village VoiceVibe, and Spin; penned liner notes for Richard Pryor’s LPs and covered Sun Ra’s anthemic “Nuclear War” in German(!); he interviewed artist Kara Walker (“I Hate Being Lion Fodder") as well as record label founder-producer Ahmet Ertegun, for What I Say: The History of Atlantic Records. Darius James makes his home today in Hamden, Connecticut.


Related events:

In Common Writers Series
Darius James and Val Jeanty
workshop performance and conversation

Thursday April 18
7:00 pm @ The Poetry Center
Humanties 512, SF State, free and open to the public
supported by the Walter & Elise Haas Fund


In Common Writers Series
Darius James and Val Jeanty
in performance

Friday April 19
7:00 pm @ The Lab (7pm door; 7:30 performance — free admission!!)
2948 16th Street (at Capp), San Francisco 
supported by the Walter & Elise Haas Fund

In Common Writers Series Thanks to a generous grant from the Walter & Elise Haas Fund, The Poetry Center will present six double-programs (twelve events in all) during 2018–19, featuring a series of remarkable writers from across the US, paired in conversation and performance with, for the most, local area writers with whom they share strong affinities. Each featured guest writer appears at The Poetry Center—we're doing outreach in particular to students and faculty in SF State's College of Ethnic Studies—reading and in conversation with their paired guest writer and the audience. Then, moving off-campus, both writers read their work at one of the Bay Area's local bookstores. We want to recognize our bookstores as crucial cultural centers and, paradoxically maybe, among the most long-lived and durable cultural sites in this violently gentrified region. Details on our six 2018-19 programs and featured artists here.

Event contact: 
The Poetry Center
Event email:
Event phone: 
Event sponsor: 
The Poetry Center and City Lights Books