In Spring 2017, the Block was honored to host the book release event for the Northwestern University Press publication “Bearden’s Odyssey: Poets Respond to the Art of Romare Bearden” Borrowing from Romare Bearden’s aesthetic palette and inspired by his Odysseus series, Bearden’s Odyssey gathers, for the first time, poems from thirty-five of the most revered African diaspora poets in the United States. Poetic echoes come forth in themes of inspiration with historical intersections of one of the greatest visual artists of the twentieth century. To celebrate the project Kwame Dawes, Matthew Shenoda and Chris Abani joined Northwestern University Press editor Parneshia Jones in conversation. The Block Museum is proud to release the full audio from this evening of art, poetry and conversation
KWAME DAWES is the author of nineteen books of poetry and numerous books of fiction, criticism, and essays. His most recent collection, City of Bones: A Testament will appear in 2016 along with A Bloom of Stones, a trilingual anthology of Haitian poetry. He is Glenna Luschei Editor of Prairie Schooner and Chancellor’s Professor of English at the University of Nebraska, as well as a faculty member of Pacific University’s M.F.A. program. He is the director of the African Poetry Book Fund and artistic director of the Calabash International Literary Festival.
MATTHEW SHENODA’s debut collection of poems, Somewhere Else, was named one of 2005’s debut books of the year by Poets & Writers magazine and was the winner of a 2006 American Book Award. He is also the author of Seasons of Lotus, Seasons of Bone and, most recently, of Tahrir Suite: Poems, winner of the 2015 Arab American Book Award. Shenoda is currently an associate professor in the Department of Creative Writing at Columbia College Chicago. He is a founding editor of the African Poetry Book Fund.
CHRIS ABANI is a novelist, poet, essayist, screenwriter and playwright. His prose includes The Secret History of Las Vegas (Penguin 2014), Song For Night (Akashic, 2007), The Virgin of Flames (Penguin, 2007), Becoming Abigail (Akashic, 2006), GraceLand (FSG, 2004), and Masters of the Board (Delta, 1985). He is the recipient of the PEN USA Freedom-to-Write Award, the Prince Claus Award, a Lannan Literary Fellowship, a California Book Award, a Hurston/Wright Legacy Award, a PEN Beyond the Margins Award, the PEN Hemingway Book Prize and a Guggenheim Award.