FREE and all are welcome.
Join us as prizewinning poets Julian Randall, author of Refuse, and Tiana Clark, author of I Can't Talk About the Trees Without the Blood, read from their acclaimed debut full length collections, both from University of Pittsburgh Press. Reading in the Target Performance Hall followed by book signing and reception. LEARN MORE.
Refuse by Julian Randall
"Though these poems meddle in binaries and duality, they refuse to split the body and instead reveal the biracial bi voice haunting these pages as whole and wholly original. This debut joins that great lineage of Cave Canem Prize winners, and, once again, gives us not just a spellbinding collection of poetry, but announces a new and necessary voice in Black poetics."—Danez Smith
Randall's work speaks to his refusal to abide by the expected boundaries and binaries set out for him. As we contemplate how to go forward in an America whose fault line runs deep, an immigrant son entrenched in the American experience, a black man owning his Dominican heritage, a sensualist uncowed by the magnetic poles of sexual appeals, a poet unabashedly forwards, interrogates, and illumines the fulsome measure of his 'I' . . . And no matter who would dare an argument, or seek to deny Randall's utter personhood, Refuseis an inscription that won't allow erasure."—Vievee Francis
Set against the backdrop of the Obama presidency, Julian Randall's Refuse documents a young biracial man's journey through the mythos of Blackness, Latinidad, family, sexuality and a hostile American landscape. Mapping the relationship between father and son caught in a lineage of grief and inherited Black trauma, Randall conjures reflections from mythical figures such as Icarus, Narcissus and the absent Frank Ocean. Not merely a story of the wound but the salve, Refuse is a poetry debut that accepts that every song must end before walking confidently into the next music.
JULIAN RANDALL is a Living Queer Black poet from Chicago. He has received multiple fellowships and was the recipient of a Pushcart Prize. His work has appeared in publications such as New York Times Magazine, The Georgia Review and Sixth Finch. His first book, Refuse (University of Pittsburgh Press), won the 2017 Cave Canem Poetry prize and will be published in Fall 2018.
I Can't Talk About the Trees Without the Blood by Tiana Clark
“If Tiana Clark’s I Can’t Talk about the Trees without the Blood were a blank book bearing that title alone, I would still feel I was in the presence of a profound lyric gift. It’s astonishing, the heft of that declaration, and the way these poems rise up to meet its rigor and clarity. The formal dexterity of these poems, the vision that takes us from Daphne to Lorca to Phillis Wheatley to Balanchine to Rihanna to Rukeyser, announces a significant new poetic talent.”—Kaveh Akbar
“Critiquing the commodification of black pain while also acknowledging and revealing your hurt as a black person is tricky as hell. It is dangerous. And that is precisely what Tiana Clark does in these beautiful, vulnerable, honest poems. It is a kind of tenderness, and a kind of belief. A reaching toward. It is a kind of care.”—Ross Gay
For poet Tiana Clark, trees will never be just trees. They will also and always be a row of gallows from which Black bodies once swung. This is an image that she cannot escape, but one that she has learned to lean into as she delves into personal and public histories, explicating memories and muses around race, elegy, family, and faith by making and breaking forms as well as probing mythology, literary history, her own ancestry, and, yes, even Rihanna. I Can’t Talk About the Trees without the Blood, because Tiana cannot engage with the physical and psychic landscape of the South without seeing the braided trauma of the broken past—she will always see blood on the leaves.
TIANA CLARK is the author of I Can’t Talk About the Trees Without the Blood (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2018), winner of the 2017 Agnes Lynch Starrett Prize, and Equilibrium (Bull City Press, 2016), selected by Afaa Michael Weaver for the 2016 Frost Place Chapbook Competition. Clark is the winner of the 2017 Furious Flower’s Gwendolyn Brooks Centennial Poetry Prize, 2015 Rattle Poetry Prize, and 2019 Pushcart Prize. She was the 2017-2018 Jay C. and Ruth Halls Poetry Fellow at the Wisconsin Institute of Creative Writing. Her writing has appeared in or is forthcoming from The New Yorker, Kenyon Review, American Poetry Review, New England Review, Best New Poets 2015, Lenny Letter and elsewhere. Clark is the recipient of scholarships and fellowships to the Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, Sewanee Writers' Conference, and Kenyon Review Writers Workshop. She teaches creative writing at Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. You can find her online at tianaclark.com.