Featuring Arisa White, Leila Weefur, and Angela Hume
This special event, co-sponsored by The Poetry Center and Women and Gender Studies, San Francisco State, and supported in part by a grant to the Academy of American Poets from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in support of Poetry Coalition programs, is free and open to the public, and as all Poetry Center events, wheelchair accessible.
The Poetry Center at San Francisco State University, as part of a nationwide series of Poetry Coalition programs under the shared rubric “I am deliberate / and afraid / of nothing”—Poetry and Protest, has dedicated Thursday March 19, 2020, as a day to honor the legacy of poets Audre Lorde and Pat Parker. This daylong series of events will be a gathering of writers and artists, students, and public audience, “after” and in honor of the work, spirit, and continued influence of these two Black lesbian friends, dedicated activists, and outstanding, outspoken poets.
In the afternoon at 1:00 pm we feature three renowned Bay Area writers who knew Lorde and Parker— Judy Grahn, celebrated poet-essayist and teacher; poet and novelist Jewelle Gomez; and poet-musician and public radio stalwart Avotcja—speaking to and reading from Lorde’s and Parker’s work, and talking with one another and the audience. Then, in the evening at 7:00 pm, three younger writers with strong Bay Area ties present their own new work and engage with one another and the audience—poet and teacher Arisa White; artist-writer Leila Weefur; and poet-scholar Angela Hume. In between these two events (circa 3:30 pm), there is an informal presentation of significant historic recordings, including The Poetry Center video of the February 1986 reading by Lorde and Parker at The Women’s Building; Lorde’s first, September 1974 reading for The Poetry Center; and the 1976 Olivia Records LP devoted to Pat Parker and Judy Grahn each performing their own poetry.
Pat Parker’s Complete Works, followed by Sister Love: The Letters of Audre Lorde and Pat Parker 1974–1989 (both edited by Julie R. Enszer, for Sapphic Classics, from A Midsummer Night’s Press), are recent facts in the world. There is great and widespread awareness of Audre Lorde’s work and its international influence—and the sudden appearance this year of Audre Lorde: Dream of Europe, Selected Seminars and Interviews 1984–1992 (ed. Mayra A. Rodriguez Castro, from Kenning Editions, 2020). Also, online for the first time, we have the remarkable video of Lorde’s and Parker’s landmark February 7, 1986 reading together at The Women’s Building in San Francisco, alongside Lorde’s earlier September 26, 1974 reading for The Poetry Center—as featured in ‘Black Women in the Archives,’ a collection of historic original videos selected by Arisa White, at Poetry Center Digital Archive.
“I am deliberate / and afraid / of nothing”—Poetry and Protest: a day in honor of Audre Lorde & Pat Parker is one of some 30 Poetry Coalition programs taking place across the US in March 2020 under a common heading, after a line from Lorde’s poem “New Year’s Day.” Support comes from the Academy of American Poets, via a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in support of Poetry Coalition programs.
Arisa White is a Cave Canem fellow and the author of Perfect on Accident, You’re the Most Beautiful Thing That Happened, Black Pearl, Post Pardon, A Penny Saved, and Hurrah's Nest. Her poetry has been nominated for a Lambda Literary Award, NAACP Image Award, California Book Award, and Wheatley Book Award. The chapbook “Fish Walking” & Other Bedtime Stories for My Wife won the inaugural Per Diem Poetry Prize. She's the co-author of Biddy Mason Speaks Up, the second book in the Fighting for Justice series for young readers, and forthcoming in 2021 from Augury Books is her poetic memoir, Who's Your Daddy? Arisa is a member of the Jack Jones Literary Arts’ speakers bureau and is an assistant professor of creative writing at Colby College. Photo by Nye' Lyn Tho. arisawhite.com
Leila Weefur (She/They/He) is an artist, writer, and curator based in Oakland, CA. Through video, installation, writing, and lecture-performances they examine the performativity intrinsic to systems of belonging present in our lived experiences. Their work brings together concepts of the sensorial memory, the abject, hyper surveillance, and the erotic. Weefur is a recipient of the Hung Liu award, the Murphy & Cadogan award, and the Walter & Elise Haas Creative Work Fund. Weefur has worked with local and national institutions including SFMOMA, The Wattis Institute, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, and Smack Mellon in Brooklyn, New York. They are a member of The Black Aesthetic.
Angela Hume is a scholar at work on a book that historicizes the roles health activist poets have played in multiethnic women’s and LGBTQ+ health movements from the 1970s to present and that shows how these writings have laid crucial groundwork for today’s environmental poetry and politics. Drawing on archival research, a foundational section of the book explores Audre Lorde's and Pat Parker's critical contributions to black women’s health movements along with today's environmental justice politics. Hume is also a poet. Her full-length poetry book is Middle Time (Omnidawn, 2016), and a second full length will be published by Omnidawn in 2021. She is an assistant professor of English at University of Minnesota, Morris.
“I am deliberate / and afraid / of nothing” Poetry and Protest
a day in honor of Audre Lorde and Pat Parker (Part One)
Thursday March 19, 2020
1:00 pm Judy Grahn, Jewelle Gomez, and Avotcja
@ The Poetry Center
Humanities 512, San Francisco State University
free and open to the public
co-sponsored by The Poetry Center and Women and Gender Studies, San Francisco State
supported in part by a grant to the Academy of American Poets from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in support of Poetry Coalition programs